Not every pick in the NFL Draft brings a big return on a team’s investment. But some turn out to be especially bad, and the Patriots have had their fair share. Examine the worst selections in team history (Also see: best picks in Patriots history):
1. Hart Lee Dykes
Selected: First round, No. 16 overall, in 1989
Dykes never came close to being the complement to Irving Fryar he was projected to be when he was drafted. The chronically injured receiver played in 26 games over his first two seasons, then never played again. A broken kneecap suffered in the preseason knocked him out in 1991. And then Dykes re-broke the kneecap the next season at the start of training camp while simply catching a pass in a non-contact drill. He would be cut the following year.
2. Chris Singleton
Selected: First round, N0. 8 overall, in 1990
Optimism abounded after the 1990 draft when the Patriots turned one top-10 pick into two (by dealing the No. 3 selection to Seattle for Nos. 8 and 10) that they used to bolster their defense. Only problem was, the Seahawks used their pick to welcome a future Hall of Famer in DT Cortez Kennedy while the Patriots continued to flounder in the draft. In Singleton, they got a linebacker who would hardly make an impact in New England and whom Bill Parcells would cut mid-year in 1994. At No. 10, they took Ray Agnew, a defensive lineman who became a role player.
3. Kenneth Sims
Selected: First round, No. 1 overall, in 1982
Sims wouldn’t have made this list had he been drafted in the second round, or maybe even lower in the first round. But when a team drafts a player No. 1 overall, it can’t miss. And the Patriots missed on Sims, a defensive end who never lived up to the high ceiling he brought to New England. Dogged by injuries and drug problems throughout his career, he played all 16 games in a season only once, in 1984. (Notably, the Patriots hit gold in the second round of this draft, when they selected future Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett.)
4. Phil Olsen
Selected: First round, No. 4 overall, in 1970
Olsen, the brother of Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, never played a down for the Patriots. After being drafted, he suffered a season-ending knee injury while practicing for a college all-star game. The next year, the NFL invalidated the defensive tackle’s contract because of a technicality, and the Patriots essentially lost his rights before working out a trade with the Rams for a future No. 1 pick. Olsen went on to play six seasons for the Rams and Broncos.
5. Dennis Byrd
Selected: First round, No. 6 overall, in 1968
Byrd, a defensive end, had played just one season with the Patriots when the team cut him during training camp in 1969. “We could be wrong,” new coach Clive Rush said at the time. He wasn’t. Byrd never played another game in the NFL. He had suffered a knee injury as a senior at North Carolina State that the school said he never recovered from.
6. Chad Jackson
Selected: Second round, No. 36 overall, in 2006
What makes Jackson’s failure to develop especially bad is that the Patriots traded second- and third-round picks to the Packers to move up and select the receiver. Jackson would catch just 13 passes for the Patriots before being cut after the preseason of his third year. He would play just four more games in the NFL, for Denver.
7. Chris Canty
Selected: First round, No. 29 overall, in 1997
Canty’s bust was notable as the first selection of personnel chief Bobby Grier after Bill Parcells left for the Jets. The defensive back/returner was with the Patriots for just two seasons, and never had much of a positive impact. He was mocked for his dance celebrations that often followed insignificant plays. Canty would be out of the NFL after the 2000 season.
8. Christian Peter
Selected: Fifth round, No. 149 overall, in 1996
The Patriots essentially wasted this pick when they renounced their rights to Peter days after the draft because of questions about his off-field behavior, which included criminal violence against women. Peter, a defensive tackle, went on to play six seasons in the NFL.
9. Eugene Chung
Selected: First round, No. 13 overall, in 1992
Chung, an offensive lineman, lasted just three seasons in New England after arriving in Dick McPherson’s final season as coach. In his second year, he was working under new coach Bill Parcells, and he seemed to lack the instincts Parcells wanted in his linemen. In 1994, he played in just three games, sitting out many times as a healthy scratch. In 1995, the Patriots exposed him in the expansion draft, and he was selected by Jacksonville.
10. Aaron Hernandez
Selected: Fourth round, No. 113 overall, in 2010
From a purely football perspective, Hernandez was a fantastic pick. But it’s his non-football issues that put him on this list. The Patriots rolled the dice in the fourth round on a tight end whose stock slipped because of character concerns. They struck gold — it seemed — when he turned into one of Tom Brady’s biggest targets, with 175 catches and 18 touchdowns in three seasons. But the chance the Patriots took came back to haunt them when they cut Hernandez mere hours after he was charged with murder in June 2013.
■ Mike Ruth: Injuries prevented the Boston College nose tackle from making an impact after being selected 42d overall in 1986. He was cut just prior to his third season.
■ Rich Gannon: On the surface, getting a future NFL MVP in the fourth round in 1987 seems like great value. But the Patriots didn’t think Gannon could make it as a quarterback, so they traded him to the Vikings before he ever played a down for them. “We thought he was a terrific prospect as a running back, receiver, or defensive back,” personnel chief Dick Steinberg said.
■ Scott Sisson: When you draft a kicker, you expect him to be able to make field goals. But Sisson missed on 12 of the 26 he attempted after Bill Parcells selected him in the fifth round in 1993. Sisson didn’t return for a second season.
■ Tony Simmons: The wide receiver couldn’t live up to his billing as the 52d overall pick in 1998 during his first two seasons. His problems were magnified when he clashed with Bill Belichick in the coach’s first season in 2000 (which was also the final year for Simmons in New England).
■ Andy Katzenmoyer: The Ohio State product came to New England as the 28th overall pick in 1999 with a lot of hype after winning the Butkus Award as the best college linebacker. But a neck injury limited his effectiveness, and he left the Patriots after just two seasons.
■ Adrian Klemm: The first player drafted by Bill Belichick (46th overall in 2000), he never materialized as an anchor in front of his draft classmate, Tom Brady. He played in just 26 games over four seasons and was too often injured. Though he had little impact, he was a member of the Super Bowl-winning teams in 2001, 2003, and 2004.
■ Ron Brace: Brace was part of a highly touted second-round class in 2009 that included Patrick Chung (34th overall), Darius Butler (41st), and Sebastian Vollmer (58th). Only Vollmer became an impact player for the Patriots, but Brace (a defensive tackle chosen 40th overall) might have been the biggest disappointment.
■ Ras-I Dowling: The defensive back was the first pick of the second round (33d overall) in 2011 and was expected to bolster the Patriots’ 30th-ranked passing defense. He didn’t. Injuries limited him to nine games over two seasons before he was cut.