By Travis Lazarczyk
Welcome to New England, Jamie Collins. Everything I know about you, I learned in about 10 minutes Friday night, right after you were the Patriots’ first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. I know you are 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, can play defensive end or linebacker and you had 10 sacks last season while playing for Southern Mississippi.
I know you arrived at Southern Miss as a heralded quarterback/defensive back and played safety for the Golden Eagles before moving first to linebacker then to defensive end. The draft experts, such as they are, tell me you’re a very good athlete, you along with Chandler Jones, should give the Patriots a strong pass rush for years to come.
Or so we think. Collins joins an exclusive club, this gang of New England’s first overall draft picks. Some achieved greatness, some are still building promising careers and some busted like a carton of eggs dropped down a flight of stairs. Here’s a look at the last 20 years of Patriots first picks.
2012, Chandler Jones. This Syracuse product had a promising rookie season with six sacks, but he spent some time injured, too. If he can stay on the field, Jones will be a strong pass rusher.
2011, Nate Solder. When Matt Light retired, Solder inherited the job of left tackle, and with it, became one of the most important men in New England, protecting Tom Brady’s blind side. The best thing for Solder would be for us to never hear his name during a game. That means he’s doing his job.
2010, Devin McCourty. After a great rookie season, McCourty struggled at corner. Now he seems to be settled in at safety, where hopefully he’ll be a solid player, especially since he’ll help replace...
2009, Patrick Chung. Like Collins, Chung was a second-round pick. The nicest thing you can say about Chung is, he made up for his inconsistent play at safety with plenty of injuries. Chung signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.
2008, Jerod Mayo. One of the best picks of the Bill Belichick era. Mayo is always among the top tacklers on the team and has become one of the Patriots’ leaders.
2007, Brandon Meriweather. Another safety, Meriweather was a walking, talking 15-yard penalty. If you need a player to leave his feet and lead with his helmet, Meriweather is your guy. Meriweather’s appearance in two Pro Bowls is the best argument for the abolition of the Pro Bowl.
2006, Laurence Maroney. Coming out of the University of Minnesota, Maroney was supposed to replace Corey Dillon as the Patriots’ lead running back. Instead, Maroney was the lead bust in a draft class that produced just one decent player, kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
2005, Logan Mankins. One of the best guards in the NFL. Mankins would be the best guard in Patriots history if it weren’t for Hall of Famer John Hannah.
2004, Vince Wilfork. One of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, Wilfork seems to get better each season. Wilfork should get a spot in the Hall of Fame someday just for causing the Mark Sanchez butt fumble last Thanksgiving.
2003, Ty Warren. A solid, never spectacular defensive lineman for eight seasons with New England. Early in his career, Warren visited Waterville a few times to coach at a football clinic. He was great with the players and a nice guy to boot.
2002, Daniel Graham. Graham was always OK in his five years with the Patriots. Now that we’ve seen what can be done with tight ends in the play of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Graham is a forgotten player. He was never great, never embarrassingly bad, Graham was just there.
2001, Richard Seymour. A team leader and key to the defensive line on three Super Bowl winning teams. Seymour, who played four seasons for the Oakland Raiders, is the rare player who had success for years after he left the Patriots.
2000, Adrian Klemm. A second-round pick, Klemm played all 16 games in a season just once, in 2002. After four seasons with the Patriots, Klemm played one more year with the Green Bay Packers. When he played, Klemm wasn’t a turnstile on the offensive line, but he played so rarely, he has to be called a bust.
1999, Damien Woody. A good center who left the Patriots in 2004 for a big payday with the Detroit Lions. Woody moved to guard, then tackle later in his career and had a nice 12-year run.
1998, Robert Edwards. Edwards is New England’s “what could have been.” Edwards ran for 1,115 yards in his rookie season, but a horrific knee injury suffered while playing flag football on the beach at the Pro Bowl destroyed his career. Thanks, NFL.
1997, Chris Canty. The worst first pick in New England Patriots history. Canty lasted just four years in the NFL, only the first two with the Patriots. We always knew where he was on the field, because we always saw the name on the back of his jersey as he chased another open wide receiver down the sidelines.
1996, Terry Glenn. The pick coach Bill Parcells didn’t want to make. Glenn had a very good rookie season, catching 90 passes for 1,132 yards and six touchdowns, but he was a knuclehead who couldn’t stay out of trouble. Glenn is a bust just for showing us what he could have been, then never living up to it.
1995, Ty Law. I think Law is the second-best cornerback the Patriots have ever had, behind Mike Haynes. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame someday.
1994, Willie McGinest. One of the all-time great Patriots, and because of his role on three Super Bowl winning teams, McGinest is a borderline Hall of Famer.
1993, Drew Bledsoe. The second-best quarterback in team history and there’s no shame being runner-up to Brady. Along with Bill Parcells and Bob Kraft, Bledsoe saved the Patriots from a move to St. Louis.
Will Collins be a Wilfork, or will he be a Graham?
Let’s hope he’s not a Canty.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
© 2014 The Morning Sentinel - All Rights Reserved.
31 Front Street, Waterville, Maine 04901