Leading up to the NFL Draft, I will be compiling various snapshots of the Pats' draft history over the years. Here are 11 players that went on to bigger and better things outside of New England.

  1. Steve Freeman, DB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1975; Rd. 5, #117th overall)

- Freeman never played a game in a Patriots uniform despite being drafted by New England. The Mississippi State product broke into the league in 1975 with the Bills and went on to have a 13-year career and played in 190 games tallying 23 picks including three pick-6’s.

  1. Ernie McMillan, T: (Drafted by the Pats in 1961; Rd. 29, #226th overall)

- McMillan was the second to last selection by the Patriots in the 1961 expansion draft out of Illinois. McMillan got lost in the shuffle of a roster full of new faces, but found his way to St. Louis, where he embarked on a 15-year NFL career. McMillan played in 190 games, started 185, and was a 4-time Pro Bowler.

  1. Matt Cassel, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 2005; Rd. 7, #230th overall)

- The Pats took a flyer on Cassel, a skillset QB who rarely saw the field at USC where he backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Linehart. In fact, his college stats where a grand total of 20-33 through the air for 192 yards, no TD’s and 1 pick in 34 mop-up duty appearances. Cassell continued the mop up duty in New England, appearing in 14 games from 2005-07 and throwing for 253 yards with 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s. Then came 2008, when Brady tore his ACL on Opening Day and Cassel was thrust into the role of starter for the first time since high school. Cassel finished the ’08 year with 3693yds/21td/11int and guided the Pats to an 11-5 record, though the team fell short of the postseason. Cassel bounced for KC during the offseason, where he threw for 27td/7int in 2010 and earned a Pro Bowl nod, before once again becoming a career backup. All in all, Cassel hung around in the NFL for 14 seasons and played in 108 games, accumulating 17,508yds/104td/82int and a career record of 36-45.

  1. Vencie Glenn, DB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1986; Rd. 2, #54th overall)

- Glenn was not a late round pick that didn’t make it out of camp, rather a 2nd rounder spent by the Pats after their trip to the Super Bowl the season prior. Glenn played in four games for the Pats in ’86 before heading west to San Diego in a mid-season move. He made additional stops in New Orleans, Minnesota and New York over a 10-year stint in the NFL. Glenn played in 153 games in total and made nearly 650 tackles and picked off opposition QB’s 35 times.

  1. Tommy Mason, RB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1961; Rd. 1, #3rd overall)

- Mason was the Pats first-ever pick in their inaugural 1961 expansion draft. Despite that, the Tulane product never played a game with the Pats and latched on with Minnesota as a kick returner for the ’61 season. Mason stuck in the league for 11 seasons, predominantly with Vikings and Rams, and accounted for over 6500 career yards from scrimmage with 45 TD’s. Mason was a 3-time Pro Bowler and an All Pro selection during his career.

  1. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 2014; Rd. 2, #62nd overall)

- Ahh, the prodigal son. The chosen one. Jimmy G played in a grand total of 17 games for the Pats (2 starts), throwing for 650yds/5td/0int. After the reported insecurity of Brady, and at Kraft’s demand, Belichick generously dealt Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2nd round pick. We finally got to see what Jimmy G could bring to the table as a starter for a full season in 2019. At times, there were flashes of brilliance. At other times, it seemed his head coach Kyle Shannahan didn’t have full faith in him. Either way, Jimmy threw for 3978yds/27td/13int this past season and guided San Fran within 6-minutes of a Super Bowl title.

  1. Jim Plunkett, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1971; Rd. 1, #1st overall)

- The #1 overall pick in 1971 out of Stanford, Plunkett factors to be the longest tenured Patriot on this list. He featured in 61 games over five unsuccessful seasons, passing for 9932yds/62td/87int. He then left town and made a pit stop in San Francisco before winding up in Oakland where he twice came off the bench mid-season to lead the Raiders to a pair of Super Bowl titles. Plunkett certainly wasn’t the main reason he owns two rings, but he did hang around in the NFL for 15 years, compiling 25,882 career yards, with 164td and 198int.

  1. Chandler Jones, DE/OLB: (Drafted by the Pats in 2012; Rd. 1, #21st overall)

- The moral of this story, kids: don’t do synthetic marijuana and stumble naked into the parking lot of your local police station. Jones was dynamite in his four years with the Pats and just starting to scratch the surface of his potential when he made the aforementioned booboo during the 2015 postseason. Bill shipped him to the desert that offseason and Jones has since blossomed into one of the league’s fiercest edge rushers, tallying 60 sacks in 64 games with the Cardinals, including an NFL-leading 17 in 2017 and 19 this past year. Jones is already a 3-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All Pro and seemingly only getting better.

  1. Rich Gannon, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1987; Rd. 4, #98th overall)

- Let’s continue the trend of Raiders Super Bowl QB’s, started by Plunkett above. Gannon never played for the Pats, and started out as a backup with the Vikings. He continued holding the clipboard for Washington (1 year) and Kansas City (4 years) before becoming Oakland’s starter in 1999. Gannon made his money as a gun-slinger, and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002, while leading the NFL in yards (4689). All told, Gannon’s 17-year run saw him throw for 28,743 yards, 180td’s and 104int’s while bringing home an MVP, four Pro Bowl selections and two All Pro nods.

  1. Curtis Martin, RB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1995; Rd. 3, #74th overall)

- The Pittsburgh product put together three damn impressive seasons in New England to begin his career, rushing for 1487, 1152, and 1160 yards respectively. He also found the end zone 14 times each during his first two seasons and was named the ’95 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Martin made his way 4-hours down I-95 to Gotham for the ’98 season and would go on to rush for an additional 10,302 yards in eight seasons as a Jet. Martin retired from the NFL as the league’s 4th-leading rusher of all-time, a 5-time Pro Bowler and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame 2012.

  1. Fran Tarkenton, QB: (Drafted by the Pats in 1961; Rd. 5, #35th overall)

- 35 picks into the ’61 expansion draft, the Pats stumbled upon Francis Asbury Tarkenton, a QB out of Georgia. Tarkenton never played for the Pats and rather suited up for the Vikings in 1961. It was the start an 18-year Hall of Fame career which saw Tarkenton eclipse 47000 career yards, throw for 342td’s and run for an additional 32 td’s. Tarkenton was a 9-time Pro Bowler, an MVP, and obliterated Johnny Unitas’ records, retiring as the NFL’s all-time leader passer in both yards and touchdowns. One of the most prolific passers in NFL history, and years ahead of his time, Tark made his way to Canton in 1986, capping an all-time great NFL career. What could have been.

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