Like them or not, cliches are here to stay. Here’s one you’ve probably heard before: “defense wins championships”. The Patriots are going to test it out in the near future.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Patriots are in the Super Bowl this year and it might be worth noting how their strategy to get their differed from so many other teams.
Specifically, look at their defense this year. Is it outstanding? Probably not the right word. Have they allowed the least amount of points in the NFL? Yes. So, essentially, they have the best defense in the NFL, right? Arguably.
Take a look at their draft strategy too: spending their top picks on defense.
Their quarterback was a 6th rounder. Julian Edelman was a 7th rounder. Even though they weren’t drafted by the Pats, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan were undrafted free agents. But then you look at the Pats defense…
Here’s a list of their top draft picks since 2007:
Brandon Meriweather — safety
Jerod Mayo — linebacker
Patrick Chung — safety
Devin McCourty — safety
Nate Solder — left tackle
Chandler Jones — defensive end
Jamie Collins — linebacker
Dominique Easley — defensive tackle
Malcom Brown — defensive tackle
Cyrus Jones — cornerback/not punt returner
That’s a decade worth of top draft picks and nine defensive players (and a left tackle). Do all of those guys still play for the Pats? No. Half of them do plus Dont’a Hightower was also a first-rounder in 2012 (alongside Chandler).
It’s easy to understand the philosophy though, right? There’s some bargains on offense (David Andrews undrafted, LeGarrett Blount undrafted by Tampa Bay, the Pats got Martellus Bennett for a sixth rounder, etc…) but when it comes to defense, they pay for these guys — until they have to let them walk because they don’t take a hometown discount. That’s the downside.