The Pats have found their share of diamonds in the rough, with one most notable above all others...

  1. Mosi Tatupu, RB/FB/ST: (Drafted by the Pats in 1978; Rd. 8, #215th overall)

- The Patriots likely didn’t expect much of Tatupu when taking a late-round flyer on him in the ’78 draft. But what they got was a serviceable back who contributed on special teams, became a fan favorite, and carved out a 14-year career (13 seasons with the Pats). Tatupu was never a featured back, but compiled 3200+ yards from scrimmage in his career and 20 TD’s, while earning a Pro Bowl selection during his time in the NFL.

  1. Ray Hamilton, DT: (Drafted by the Pats in 1973; Rd. 14, #342nd overall)

- Back when the NFL draft used to be a zillion rounds, the Pats found a sleeper in ’73 when they took “Sugar Bear” out of Oklahoma. Nose tackle certainly isn’t a flashy position, but Hamilton was a pillar of stability during his nine years in the league, playing 132 games and starting 117, all with the Pats.

  1. Ronnie Lippett, CB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1983; Rd. 8, #214th overall)

- Ronnie Lippett was one of two draft picks from the ’83 draft that stuck for the Pats. (The other being 4th-round pick Johnny Rembert, a linebacker who played in 126 games for the Pats). Lippett played eight seasons in Foxborough and his career highlights included starting all 16 games for the ’85 squad en route to the Super Bowl. All told, Lippett played 122 games for the Pats and recorded 24 career picks.

  1. Fred Marion, FS: (Drafted by the Pats in 1982; Rd. 5, #112th overall)

- The highest selection on this list coming in a 112th in the ’82 draft, Marion teamed up with Lippett [see above] to form a strong secondary for the Pats in the mid-‘80s. He played 10 seasons for the Pats and appeared in 144 games, nabbing 29 picks and was named a Pro Bowler during the Pats 1985 Super Bowl season.

  1. Steve Grogan, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1975; Rd. 5, #116th overall)

- When looking back through the years, it seems like Grogan played for the Pats for roughly 32 years. In reality, he was a Patriot from 1975-’90, serving as a starter for five seasons and always popping up randomly during the other years to remind folks he in fact still was on the team. Grogan played in 149 games, started 135 and compiled a career record of 75-60. His best season came in 1979 when he threw for 3286yds, and a league-leading 28 TD’s, though he was picked 20 times. Grogan came off the bench to relieve Tony Eason in the ’85 Super Bowl, who started the game 0-6 with a fumble. Grogan didn’t fare much better, as the Pats were shellacked 45-10 by Da’ Bears. He tallied 177yds/1td/2int on 17-for-30 passing in the losing effort. Grogan retired after the 1990 season as the Patriots all-time leading passer with 26,886yds/182td/208int, with an additional 2176yds/35td on the ground. Grogan was inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame in 1995.

  1. Ben Coates, TE: (Drafted by the Pats in 1991; Rd. 5, #124th overall)

- Long before there was Gronk, there was Ben Coates. The greatest tight end the organization had ever seen. It was slow going at first for the Livingstone College product (fun fact, he’s one of only three Livingstone alum’s to play in the NFL. Bonus points for you if you can name the other two). Coates started just four games over his first two seasons in the NFL, catching 30 passes for 266 yards and four TD’s. Coates then became the starter part-way through the ’93 season and never looked back. He erupted for 96rec/1174yds/7td in ’94, becoming just the 4th player in Patriots history to have a 1000-yard receiving season. Coates was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1994-’98 and was a two-time All Pro. His career numbers - 499rec/5555yds/50td (9rec/84yds in 2000 with the Ravens). Coates made his way into the Pats’ HOF in 2008.

  1. Jim Nance, RB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1965; Rd. 19, #151st overall)

- No, not that Jim Nant(z), but this Pats product wasn’t too shabby either. I think the 19th round certainly qualifies as a sleeper, and that’s where Nance was scooped up by the Pats in 1965 out of Syracuse. The Quincy, Massachusetts-native was the franchise’s first premier rusher and quickly took the job from Tommy Mason, the organization’s first-ever draft pick in 1961. Nance led the AFL in rushing in his 2nd and 3rd years in the league, compiling 1458yds and 1216yds, respectively. He was named the 1966 AFL Player of the Year and compiled over 5300yds during his 7-year Patriots’ career. Nance was a 2-time Pro Bowl selection, twice an All Pro, and was posthumously inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2009.

  1. Nick Buoniconti, LB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1962; Rd. 12, #102nd overall)

- From the 13th round to Canton, that is the football journey Nick Buoniconti made which saw him spend his first seven seasons in New England. The Notre Dame product and Springfield, Mass-native was a force in the middle of the Boston Patriots defense during the ‘60s. Buoniconti was an 8-time Pro Bowler and a 5-time All Pro selection, and garnered five of those Pro Bowls and four of the All Pro’s as a Patriot. The linebacker spent 14 years in the NFL all told, playing in 91 games for the Pats and 92 with the Dolphins, where he won two Super Bowl titles. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

  1. Troy Brown, WR/KR/CB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1993; Rd. 3, #198th overall)

- Regarded by many (including Bill Belichick) as the ultimate Patriot, Troy Brown was the ultimate steal of the ’93 draft for the Patriots, who took the receiver out of Marshall with their final pick. Brown spent his first seven seasons as a staple in the Pats special team’s efforts. He then became the team’s leading offensive weapon, hauling in 101 passes for 1199 yards as the Pats won their first Super Bowl title in 2001, and followed it up with 97 receptions in ’02. If that wasn’t enough, Brown hopped over to the other side of the ball in 2004 and became a lockdown corner who picked off three passes. Brown totaled over 11000yds in his career (6544 from scrimmage, 4487 return) to go with 34 TD’s. Brown was a no-brain edition to the Pats Hall of Fame in 2012.

  1. Julian Edelman, WR: (Drafted by the Pats in 2009; Rd. 7, #232nd overall)

- The Kent State quarterback was the Pats’ penultimate pick in the 2009 draft. Jules wasted no time making the transition to receiver, catching 37 passes his rookie year before injuries slowed him down from 2010-12. Once Wes Welker left Foxboro, it was Edelman’s time to shine, and that he did, catching 105 passes for 1056 yards in his first season as a featured target. Edelman has posted two 100+ catch seasons, three 1000+ yard receiving seasons and would have three more of each had injuries not derailed him in 2014, ’15 and ’18. Jules has tallied 599rec/6507yds/36td to date and is a borderline Hall of Famer thanks to his postseason resume which includes a Super Bowl MVP and the 2nd-most receptions and yards in playoff history (118 receptions/1442 yards). Oh, and let’s not forget that he likes to huck the pigskin when given a chance (5-6/142yds/1td for his career) and at one point was one of the most prolific punt returners in league history (career average of 11.2yds per return with four TD’s.)

  1. Tom Brady, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 2000; Rd. 6, #199th overall)

- The G.O.A.T.