Here is a look at last season's draft and the contributions each pick made during their rookie year. In parentheses is the number of games played, followed by the number of starts for each player.
RB Laurence Maroney (14/0) – Backed up Corey Dillon and made an instant impact as a running back and kick returner. Maroney was second on the team with 745 yards rushing and six touchdowns, while also averaging 28.0 yards per kickoff return. He split carries with Dillon this season but Maroney could become the Patriots primary ball carrier in 2007.
WR Chad Jackson (12/1) – Battled a hamstring injury in training camp and never made an impact, despite the fact New England really needed help at receiver. Jackson finished his rookie campaign with just 13 receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns. He never caught more than two passes in a single game and barely saw the field during the playoffs. He needs to become much more of a factor next season.
TE David Thomas (15/3) – Started three games while Daniel Graham was injured and showed some promise as a receiver. Thomas caught 11 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. He has soft hands and runs nice routes. With Graham possibly leaving as a free agent this offseason, Thomas could have a much bigger role in the Patriots offense next year as their second tight end.
TE Garrett Mills (0/0) – Never played a down for the Patriots and was placed on injured reserve in November. Mills could see the field more next year if Graham departs but after one season, this peculiar draft-day selection did little to justify being taken one round after Thomas.
K Stephen Gostkowski (16/16) – Had a terrific first season replacing Adam Vinatieri. Gostkowski was 20-of-26 in field goal attempts, including converting on all of his tries in the postseason. He was also very effective on kickoffs, helping the Patriots with field position. It appears that after a slow start, the Patriots have found their kicker for the foreseeable future.
OL Ryan O'Callaghan (11/6) – Started the Patriots first six games of the season at right tackle and then served as a back when Nick Kaczur returned. O'Callaghan had his ups and downs as a rookie but showed enough promise to suggest he could be a full-time starter at right tackle for the Patriots if he's called upon.
OLB Jeremy Mincey (0/0) – Was released by the team before the start of the year and picked up by the San Francisco 49ers during the regular season.
G Dan Stevenson (0/0) – Began the year on the practice squad but was released and picked up by the Miami Dolphins.
DT Le Kevin Smith (3/0) – Played in three games but was inactive for most of the season. Will have to fight for a backup spot as a defensive tackle in training camp.
DB Willie Andrews (15/0) – Didn't see the field much on defense but became a key member of the Patriots special teams unit, serving as a gunner on kick coverage. Andrews tied for the team lead with 15 special teams tackles and should be able to stick around for at least another season in that capacity.
OLB Pierre Woods (8/0) – Undrafted free agent who made his way onto the team as a backup outside linebacker. With the Patriots lack of depth at the linebacker position, Woods could see an expanded role in 2007 assuming he develops and picks up the system quickly enough to contribute as a pass rusher.
ILB Corey Mays (8/0) – Another undrafted free agent, Mays saw the majority of his time on special teams, recording nine tackles. Mays is nothing more than a special teams/emergency backup linebacker at the moment but he's a smart guy who could move up the depth chart with a strong training camp.
OVERVIEW OF THE LAST FIVE PATRIOTS DRAFTS
The Patriots have been one of the NFL's best drafting teams over the past five years. The 2002 draft produced three starters in Daniel Graham, Deion Branch and David Givens, as well key reserve Jarvis Green. The Patriots 2003 draft may go down as one of the best in team history. Ty Warren and Eugene Wilson were New England's first two picks that year but New England found gems Asante Samuel (4th round), Dan Koppen (5th round) and Tully Banta-Cain (7th round) later on. Second-round selection Bethel Johnson never lived up to expectations and was released before the start of the 2006 season. The 2004 draft wasn't great by Patriots standards. It landed starters Vince Wilfork and Benjamin Watson early, but the rest of the draft was filled with busts like Marquise Hill and Guss Scott. Four starters - Logan Mankins, Ellis Hobbs, Nick Kaczur and James Sanders – came out of the 2005 draft, along with backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Mankins is on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl guard, while Hobbs and Sanders have shown signs of becoming future leaders in the Patriots secondary. The latest draft is still up in the air. Other than Laurence Maroney and Stephen Gostkowski, no one really made a big splash in their first season with the team, although tight end David Thomas looks like he's a keeper.
The table shows the current state of the Patriots last five drafts. For instance, David Givens is listed under "Other Teams," even though he started for New England in the past.
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