FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the Boston Celtics winning the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday to land the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, the New England sports region is buzzing about the franchise’s standing both in the draft and as it prepares to host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night.
All of which got this football reporter thinking about No. 1 picks and the Patriots.
Since 1967, it has happened just a handful of times.
1993 – QB Drew Bledsoe (Washington State)
1984 – WR Irving Fryar (Nebraska)
1982 – DE Ken Sims (Texas)
1971 – QB Jim Plunkett (Stanford)
Meanwhile, in 1991, the team had the first overall pick but traded it to Dallas. In turn, the pick of Fryar was a result of a trade up.
The selection of Bledsoe came in Bill Parcells’ first year as head coach, and the choice was between two quarterbacks – Bledsoe or Rick Mirer. There was plenty of debate leading into that selection, but history has proved the Patriots correct.
Meanwhile, Fryar’s career in New England was up-and-down, while Sims was once rated by the Boston Globe as one of the worst picks in franchise history because he didn’t live up to the potential of the No. 1 pick.
Plunkett had an outstanding rookie year for the Patriots, but didn’t sustain it, in part because of injuries and a coaching change. His was traded after five seasons, and his emergence later came with Oakland.
Of the Patriots' No. 1s, Bledsoe leads the way.