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Best draft picks in New England Patriots history, ranked

Bill Belichick, Patriots, Tom Brady

The New England Patriots quickly became the most heralded franchise in the history of the NFL over the course of the last two decades. Under the direction of both team owner Robert Kraft and longtime head coach Bill Belichick, the AFC East powerhouse has reached nine Super Bowls while winning a total of six titles since the start of the 21st century.

Blowing the rest of the league out of the water in such a regard, the Patriots have obviously found a way to not only evaluate talent throughout the league in the form of picking up free agents and acquiring players via trade but also through the NFL Draft. Hardly ever missing when it comes to NFL Draft picks, five players, in particular, helped change the face of the Patriots — and landscape of the league for that matter — forever.

1. Former Michigan Wolverines QB Tom Brady: Round 6, 2000 NFL Draft (Pick No. 199)

This is obviously a no brainer. Considered to be the best NFL Draft steal of all time, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady spent two decades as a member of the New England Patriots after originally breaking into the league as a sixth-round pick out of Michigan. With the Patriots selecting Brady with the No. 199 overall pick back in 2000, the longtime New England signal-caller promptly led the team to six titles and nine Super Bowl appearances. Not only that, but Brady’s success was nearly instant as the Patriots won the team’s first title in the former Michigan quarterback’s second, fourth and fifth seasons.

2. Former Arizona Wildcats LB Tedy Bruschi: Round 3, 1996 NFL Draft (Pick No. 86)

Although becoming a second-round pick typically comes along with some lofty expectations, former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi definitely took things to a whole new level. Quickly becoming a staple of the team’s defense, Bruschi finished his more than decade-long NFL career — all of which was spent in New England — with three Super Bowl titles to his name. He also held down the fort on defense regardless of who was playing alongside him for head coach Bill Belichick, who is one of the top defensive minds that the game has ever seen. It should also be noted that Belichick isn’t the easiest person to get along with and certainly doesn’t just trust anyone, so Bruschi was surely a very special kind of player.

3. Former Kent State Golden Flashes QB Julian Edelman: Round 7, 2009 NFL Draft (Pick No. 232)

Originally selected by the New England Patriots as a quarterback out of Kent State, wide receiver Julian Edelman has since made a living by catching passes as opposed to throwing them. While initially serving as a fringe seventh-round pick that had a slim chance of making the team’s roster, Edelman now serves as one of the best wideouts in team history in addition to becoming one of the best all-around players in NFL postseason history. Becoming a go-to target for quarterback Tom Brady, Edelman’s bread and butter is going over the middle through traffic, which is no easy task to specialize in.

4. Former Arizona Wildcats TE Rob Gronkowski: Round 2, 2010 NFL Draft (Pick No. 42)

The legend of “Gronk” took off in a hurry for the New England Patriots. Despite encountering a slew of injury trouble throughout his seemingly brief NFL career, former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made a name for himself both on and off the field en route to becoming one of the most dominant tight ends that the league has ever seen. A perennial Pro Bowler and multi-time Super Bowl Champion, “Gronk” was a force to be reckoned with every time he took the field. Although New England had some high aspirations for Gronkowski as he was a second-round pick back in 2010, there is no way that the Patriots could have ever envisioned what ultimately became of the future Hall of Fame tight end.

5. Former Fresno State Bulldogs G Logan Mankins: Round 1, 2005 NFL Draft (Pick No. 32)

Although longtime NFL guard Logan Mankins didn’t spend his entire playing career as a member of the heralded New England Patriots, he did become a stalwart along the offensive front for head coach Bill Belichick, which allowed quarterback Tom Brady to succeed year-in and year-out. Living up to the hype that surrounds a first-round NFL Draft pick, Mankins spent eight years in New England en route to earning seven Pro Bowl selections, six All-Pro nods and a spot on the 2010s NFL “All-Decade Team.”

Unfortunately, despite setting the tone for the Patriots offensive line for almost a decade in addition to setting a standard for years to come, Mankins never won a Super Bowl in New England.