Draft Class Reviews – 2007-2009 Revisited

Sebastian Vollmer (#76) is one of the 2009 draft selections that made that year the Patriots' best draft from 2007-09. (Image via "patriotworld" on flickr)

Last year I took a look at the Patriots’ draft classes from 2007 to 2009. Today I’m just going to have another quick look back to those draft classes again to see how the progression of the remaining players went in 2010.

2007 Draft Class

As I noticed last year, the only remaining player that the Patriots selected in the 2007 NFL Draft is Brandon Meriweather who they took at #24 overall. Last year I gave the pick 4/5 but I’ve got to say with another year of watching Meriweather’s flaws, I was too generous. Meriweather was selected to the Pro Bowl again, but clearly on name alone, as he had a terrible season. It seemed like the only noticeable things he did were mistakes. Tackling his own players, missing tackles and taking bad angles were commonplace things for him. He was fined for a clear cheap-shot helmet-to-helmet hit on Todd Heap. Meriweather is one of the worst multiple-Pro-Bowlers I’ve ever seen.

2008 Draft Class

Last year I said the 2008 draft class was disappointing. Terrence Wheatley was cut before Week 9 this year, and Shawn Crable was cut a week or so later. That only leaves Jerod Mayo, Jonathan Wilhite and Matthew Slater remaining with the team. Mayo had an All-Pro season and he’s starting to make more big plays. Solid starter for years to come.

Wilhite ended the year on IR and might get another chance next year, but I think he’s a backup/depth player at best. McCourty, Bodden and Arrington have to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Slater led the team in special teams tackles so I guess he has a role on the team. I’m still not convinced he deserves a roster spot given his lack of return ability or any offensive or defensive role but the coaches evidently disagree.

2009 Draft Class

Last year I stated I was impressed by this draft class. Some of those guys had good years, but unfortunately some others took a step (or two) back in 2010.

Patrick Chung stepped up to one of the starters at safety, and also blocked a kick and a punt and had a INT return for a TD all in one game in Miami. He had 133 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 picks on the year.

Ron Brace had an up-and-down year, failing physicals in training camp but then playing in 13 games. He’s still a disappointment for a 2nd round pick in my book.

Darius Butler took a big step back in 2010. Two big penalties and several plays made against him in the Jets game in Week 2 led to him being dropped. He regained a small role as the season continued but was still a liability even in a limited role in a couple of games.

Sebastian Vollmer started all 16 games at right tackle and was named a 2nd team All-Pro. One of my favourite picks from this draft along with Chung. It’ll be interesting to see what the Patriots do with Matt Light in the off-season because that might affect whether Vollmer lines up on the left or right next year.

Brandon Tate started the year fantastically on special teams with two kickoff return touchdowns, but seemed to drop off as the season went on and teams started kicking to Dan Connolly but at receiver he was average at best. He caught 24 passes for 432 yards and 3 TDs. He did have some good plays but also some bad ones. He needs to improve in his third year if he’s going to have a place as a starting receiver.

Tyrone McKenzie was on the practice squad for a while but then got released and is with the Buccaneers now. Rich Ohrnberger was active for 2 games but mostly spent the year on the practice squad. George Bussey got an injury settlement and was released. Jake Ingram snapped for 8 games but was cut and replaced my Matt Katula for the last 8. Ingram played one game for the Saints but is now with the Titans. Darryl Richard was on the practice squad until he went to IR to finish the season.

Myron Pryor played the first half of the season before a back injury getting 12 tackles and half a sack. After a promising rookie year, Julian Edelman saw limited playing time at receiver but did well on punt returns including a Patriots record-long 94 yard punt return TD in Week 17 against the Dolphins. I think Edelman still has a key role on the team, and might be adequate insurance for Wes Welker as he enters the final year of his contract.

Despite Butler’s bad year, Edelman’s reduced role etc., I still think the ’09 draft was a good on for the Pats. You still have 7 players there with some active role for the team on game days and starters at tackle and safety for the next few years at least.

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