BSJ Analytics: How have the Patriots’ draft picks performed compared to the rest of the league?

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(Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The NFL draft starts Thursday. In preparation, I wanted to look back at how the Patriots have done in the draft since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season with the franchise.

One tricky aspect of looking at a team’s draft history is that not all picks are created equal. For example, the Patriots’ first pick in the 2017 draft wasn’t until No. 83, used on defensive end Derek Rivers. By that point, however, the Browns had already made five picks, including three selections in the first round. As a result, the Browns should have had a better draft haul than New England last year, at least in terms of cumulative player performance.

A better way to look at draft pick success is to compare a player’s actual performance to how other players drafted at a similar spot in the draft have done. Using Pro-Football-Reference’s Career Approximate Value and a bit of statistical modeling, here’s a chart of all NFL players drafted since 2000. Patriots players are shown in red, while players on other teams are shown in grey. The two lines -- red for the Patriots, black for the rest of the NFL -- reflect an overall trend between pick number and performance.