With the 2011 NFL Draft quickly approaching, here are the top 10 Patriots draft gems not named Tom Brady:
10 – David Givens, WR, 7th round (253rd overall), 2002 NFL Draft
Givens had 158 receptions for 2,214 yards and 12 touchdowns in four seasons and 53 regular season games with the Patriots. He played in eight playoff games and scored at least one touchdown in seven straight playoff games, including both Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIX.
9 – Asante Samuel, CB, 4th round (120th overall), 2003 NFL Draft
Samuel has 22 interceptions for 313 yards during five seasons with the Patriots. He started 55 of 75 games during that time with three interception returns for touchdowns. He is ranked 10th on the Patriots all time interceptions list. In 14 playoff games in New England he also had three interception returns for touchdowns. He helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004 and was selected to the 2007 Pro Bowl.
8 – Larry Eisenhauer, DE, 6th round, 1961 AFL Draft
Eisenhauer played for the Boston Patriots from 1961-1969. He was selected to the AFL All Star team in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1966, and is a member of the Patriots All-1960s (AFL) Team and the Patriots 35th Anniversary team in 1994. He played in 115 regular season games and ranks eighth all-time in team history with 45.5 career sacks. He led the team in sacks four straight seasons (1962-65).
7 – Steve Grogan, QB, 5th round (116 overall), 1975 NFL Draft
Grogan played in 149 games over his 16-year career from 1975-1990. A strong rusher, Grogan rushed for an NFL record 12 touchdowns for a quarterback in 1976 and for 35 touchdowns during his career. Grogan led the 1976 team to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, a team many considered one of the best in team history. He also helped lead the Patriots to their first AFC Championship in 1985 and to an appearance in Super Bowl XX. Grogan ranks among the leaders in team history in nearly every passing category. Grogan was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1995.
|Grogan with the famous neck brace. (Ken Levine/Getty Images).|
Marion played 144 games in his career at safety, all in a Patriots uniform. Marion led the Patriots in interceptions four times in his career with seven picks in ‘85, four in '87, four in '88, and four in '90. He was named AP All-Pro honorable mention in 1988. He was also selected to the Patriots 35th Anniversary team in 1994, the Patriots Team of the Century in 2000, and the Patriots 50th Anniversary team in 2009. As a Pro Bowl selection in 1985, Marion helped lead the Patriots to their first Super Bowl berth when he intercepted seven passes for 189 yards to lead the team. He's tied for second (Roland James and Ron Hall) on the all-time Patriots interception list with 29 picks.
5 – Troy Brown, WR, 8th round (198th overall), 1993 NFL Draft
Brown became the Patriots all-time reception leader with 557 catches for 6,366 yards and 31 touchdowns in 15 seasons with the Patriots. He played in 192 regular season games and 20 playoff games, including four Super Bowls and three Super Bowl Championship teams. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver in 2001. He is the Patriots all-time punt returner, including two punt returns for touchdowns. He also played defensive back and has three interceptions for 22 yards.
4 – Curtis Martin, RB, 3rd round (74th pick overall), 1995 NFL Draft
Martin is fourth on the all-time Patriots rushing list with 3,799 yards in just three seasons in New England. He's ranked 16th on the club's all-time scoring list (226 total points); he's sixth in rushing attempts (958); fifth with 32 rushing touchdowns; and he was tied for third with a 4.0 average yards per rush. He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award after rushing for a franchise record 1,487 yards and averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 14 touchdowns in 1995. He was selected to two Pro Bowls and rushed for three 1,000 yard seasons. He also rushed for a franchise record 166 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first career playoff game against the Steelers. The Patriots went on to Super Bowl XXXI, where Martin rushed for 42 yards, caught 3 passes for 28 yards, and scored a touchdown in the game against Green Bay.
3 – Tedy Bruschi, LB, 3rd round (86th pick overall), 1996 NFL Draft
During Bruschi's 13-year Patriots career, he has been a part of nine playoff seasons, eight division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowl titles. He played in 189 regular-season games for the Patriots, more than any other linebacker in team history. Bruschi has played in 22 career playoff games, the highest total in Patriots history. Bruschi has played in five Super Bowls with the Patriots, tying the NFL's second highest Super Bowl appearance total, trailing only Mike Lodish (six Super Bowls with Buffalo and Denver). Bruschi's five Super Bowls ties the NFL record for a linebacker. From 2002-07, Bruschi averaged 105 tackles per season. He led the team in regular-season tackles in 2006 (124) and 2007 (99) and also led the team in playoff tackles both years. Bruschi was a defensive captain for seven straight years until he retired in 2009.
2 – Ben Coates, TE 5th round (124th overall), 1991 NFL Draft
Coates played in 142 games over nine seasons as a Patriot with 105 starts. Coates is third all-time in team history in receptions (490), fourth in receiving yards (5,471) and second in receiving touchdowns (50) – all tops among tight ends in Patriots history. In 1994, Coates set a single-season record for receptions by a tight end with 96 (now tied for third) and still holds the franchise record for receptions by a tight end. He also led the team in touchdown receptions for six straight seasons between 1993 and1998 and led the team in overall receptions five times. Coates was named to the Patriots Team of the Century in 2000 and ranks in the top 10 all time among NFL tight ends in career receptions, yards and touchdowns. He was selected to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2008.
1 – Nick Buoniconti, LB, 13th round, 1962 AFL Draft
Buoniconti played linebacker for the Patriots from 1962-68 and was voted an AFL All-Star five times, including 1966 when he was the top vote getter. In 1970, Buoniconti was named to the All-AFL team, commemorating the best players in that league's history. Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson said of Buoniconti, "if you are lucky enough to knock him down, you have to lay on him or he'll get right back into the play." In 1992, he was the second Patriots player named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2001.
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin (here. )