Patriots Rookie Contributions

Greekca

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Feb 26, 2017
63
Given the bye week and being slightly more than halfway through the 2019 season, I thought now was a good time to check in on the 2019 rookie class. The 2019 rookie class is one of the larger outlays of draft capital for the Patriots in some time. However, the contributions do not stack up well compared to past classes when looking at snap counts. Chase Winovich is clearly the most productive rookie so far this season. Other contributors include Jake Bailey, Jakobi Meyers, and Gunner Olszewski. The rest of the class has not contributed much so far.

I took a look at snap counts for rookies drafted by the Patriots since 2012 in the first 4 rounds. To do more rounds would require quite a bit more work and if you are drafted after the 4th round you aren't even really guaranteed of making the roster. While contributions from lower drafted players is not entirely luck based, if you are 100% certain a player would turn into a productive contributor to your team you would take them well before the end of the 4th round. None of the players drafted in rounds 1-4 were cut during training camp due to performance issues. The 2019 snap counts are extrapolated for a full season based on snap counts through week 9. Total snaps includes offensive, defensive, and special teams.

Year
# of Picks (Round 1-4)
Avg. Draft Position
Total Snaps
Avg. Snaps per Player
Most Notable Pick
Snaps
% of Draft Snaps
Least Notable Pick
Snaps
% of Draft Snaps
2019*​
7​
85​
647​
92​
Chase Winovich​
519​
80%​
N'Keal Harry​
0​
0%​
2018​
3​
37​
341​
114​
Sony Michel​
341​
100%​
Isaiah Wynn​
0​
0%​
2017​
3​
100​
576​
192​
Deatrich Wise​
576​
100%​
Derek Rivers​
0​
0%​
2016​
5​
87​
2,422​
484​
Joe Thuney​
1,195​
49%​
Cyrus Jones​
198​
8%​
2015​
6​
89​
2,779​
463​
Shaq Mason​
805​
29%​
Trey Flowers​
4​
0%​
2014​
5​
93​
1,449​
290​
Bryan Stork​
853​
59%​
Dominique Easley​
283​
20%​
2013​
5​
77​
2,661​
532​
Logan Ryan​
722​
27%​
Josh Boyce​
200​
8%​
2012​
4​
46​
2,125​
531​
Chandler Jones​
787​
37%​
Jake Bequette​
29​
1%​


The first thing I noticed is that the years with the lowest average snaps per player were generally tied to injuries. Only 1 member from the 2018 and 2017 classes played in their rookie year and then the 2014 class included Dominique Easley's bad knees and a backup QB (Garoppolo). A similar story could be said about 2019 with N'Keal Harry, Yodny Cajuste, and Hjalte Froholdt missing the entire season so far due to injury.

The second thing you notice in going through the individual players is that generally players that contribute over 500 snaps their rookie year go on to have decent NFL careers. Notable exceptions to that though include Aaron Dobson, Bryan Stork, Tre' Jackson, and Malcolm Mitchell. Obviously injuries played a significant part in most of those players exits from the NFL. On the flip side, playing very sparingly your rookie year does not mean you are done for. James White only played 31 snaps his first year and Trey Flowers played a total of 4 snaps before going on IR in December of his rookie year.

Here are some of my takeaways that apply to the 2019 class:

1. The Patriots seem a bit quick to IR rookies. Very few rookies are expected to contribute as full time starters their rookie years regardless of draft position. It seems the view is that it isn't worth carrying an injured rookie on the active roster. They are better off heading to IR and continuing their education from the sidelines and meeting rooms. An interesting change to this in recent years though is the "designated to return" aspect of IR.

2. The Patriots don't have issues redshirting high draft picks. In typical Belichick fashion, he doesn't mind drafting a guy a year early at a position group he knows may see quite a bit of turnover the next offseason. He does seem more willing recently to take guys who need a medical redshirt though.

So, I would say when it comes to the 2019 class that it looks like Chase Winovich has a good shot of getting to second NFL contract and there is no reason to write off anyone in the class just yet. The verdict is still very much out, but based on the overall lack of contribution from the 2016-2018 classes the Patriots could certainly benefit from some big year 2s.

However, Belichick only gives guys one year to figure it out. If your playing time reduces from year 1 to year 2, don't plan on a second contract in the NFL. He is batting close to 1.000 in that regard.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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South of North
Some of your takeaways are going to be skewed if based on snaps. In other words, snaps will be heavily affected by OL since the amount of snaps they play is much closer to 100% than a WR or a defensive specialist for example. Normally I wouldn't think much of this, but with Stork, Mason, and Thuney on the list I figured it was worth mentioning.