Tom Brady naturally headlines best draft picks for Patriots

The selection of Tom Brady changed the course of Patriots history. Howard Smith/US Presswire

The New England Patriots have been drafting players since 1960. Here’s a look at the best draft picks by position for the Patriots:


Quarterback: Tom Brady, sixth round, 2000, Michigan. It doesn't get much easier than this one. Six quarterbacks were selected before Brady at 199th overall, a group which later earned the nickname of "The Brady 6" as part of a popular documentary. Brady, who turns 40 on Aug. 3, is showing no signs of slowing down.

Running back: Jim Nance, 19th round, 1965, Syracuse. One of just two running backs in the Patriots Hall of Fame, Nance played for the team from 1965 to 1971 and was the AFL's Most Valuable Player in 1966 when he rushed for 1,458 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also was the first AFL back to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in consecutive seasons.

Wide receiver: Stanley Morgan, first round, 1977, Tennessee. The "Steamer" played for the Patriots from 1977 to 1989 and totaled 534 career receptions, a franchise record that stood for 17 years. Morgan remains the franchise-record holder with 10,352 receiving yards, and his career average of 19.2 yards per catch still stands as an NFL record for those with more than 500 career receptions.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, second round, 2010, Arizona. A back injury led to Gronkowski slipping to the second round, and the Patriots made a trade to ensure they wouldn't lose out on him at the No. 42 spot. Still active, Gronkowski has battled some injuries over the years, but when healthy he has proven to be a transcendent player. He edges out Ben Coates (fifth round, 1991, Livingstone College) for this spot.

Tackle: Bruce Armstrong, first round, 1987, Louisville. The 23rd overall pick in the draft, he protected the blindside of Patriots quarterbacks from 1987 to 2000 and played in 212 games (a franchise record later broken by Tom Brady). Armstrong started every game and was voted to six Pro Bowls. His battles with Bills Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith were often a highlight.

Guard: John Hannah, first round, 1973, Alabama. Playing his entire career with the Patriots from 1973 to 1985, he was once called "The Greatest Offensive Lineman of All Time" by Sports Illustrated. Hannah was one of only two Patriots voted to the NFL's 75th anniversary team; he was also selected to nine Pro Bowls and named Offensive Lineman of the Year four straight seasons (1978-81). Hannah was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

Center: Jon Morris, fourth round, 1964, Holy Cross. The only center in the Patriots Hall of Fame, Morris appeared in 130 games for New England from 1964 to 1974 and played in the AFL All-Star Game from 1964 to 1969. He was the AFC's Pro Bowl center in 1970. Morris' seven league all-star selections rank second in Patriots history behind Hannah (9). Morris was the first Patriots player to be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl.


End: Willie McGinest, first round, 1994, Southern Cal. He played both outside linebacker and end for the Patriots from 1994 to 2005 -- depending on what scheme the Patriots were running -- and was part of three Super Bowl championship squads. He often saved some of his best work for the playoffs, and his 78 career sacks rank third in team history.

Tackle: Richard Seymour, first round, 2001, Georgia. A first-year eligible candidate to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2017, Seymour was a dominant player whose stats didn't always tell the whole story. Had he not been traded to the Raiders in 2009 and instead finished his career a lifetime Patriot, he might be more widely viewed as one of the game's all-time great tackles.

Linebacker: Andre Tippett, second round, 1982, Iowa. He set the franchise record for career sacks (100). His 35 combined sacks from 1984-85 highlighted how dominant a force he was at that time. Tippett spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 1999, and later the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Cornerback: Mike Haynes, first round, 1976, Arizona State. Haynes, who played for the Patriots from 1976 to 1982, is arguably the greatest player at the position in team history. Haynes is one of just two Patriots (along with Hannah) selected to the NFL's 75th anniversary team, as he combined top-notch man coverage with prolific punt return skills (he was the first Patriots player to return a punt for a touchdown). Haynes was selected to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Safety: Fred Marion, fifth round, 1982, Miami. The Patriots don't have a safety in their team Hall of Fame, which made this one of the tougher choices, with Roland James, Tim Fox and Lawyer Milloy all worthy of consideration. Marion was part of the Patriots' All-Decade team for the 1980s after playing for New England from 1982 to 1991. He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in 1985 and is a member of the Patriots' 35th and 50th anniversary teams.


Kicker: Gino Cappelletti, inaugural team, 1960, Minnesota. There were no rounds in the 1960 draft -- and technically Cappelletti wasn't a draft pick -- but we've taken some liberties in this setting to ensure Cappelletti's place among the franchise's greats. Known as "The Duke" and the "Original Patriot," Cappelletti is a team Hall of Famer who played wide receiver and kicker for the Patriots from 1960-70 and was the franchise's all-time leading scorer until 2005, when he was surpassed by Adam Vinatieri. He led the AFL in scoring five times and in 1964 was named the AFL’s Most Valuable Player. Cappelletti was voted an AFL All-Star five times.

Punter: Rich Camarillo, 1981, Washington. The Patriots' history of drafting punters is not plentiful, so there were a few options: Identify the best of a modest lot (e.g. Zoltan Mesko) or color a bit outside the lines with the likes of Tom Yewcic (1961-65) and Camarillo (1981-87). In the end, Camarillo -- who joined the squad as an undrafted free agent -- got the nod due to his 1985 season, when he led the NFL in punting yards.