CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: Pats' defensive woes start with Belichick

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Updated Nov. 8

Want to know why the New England Patriots are ranked last in the NFL in total defense?

Bill Belichick.

Not Belichick, the coach, but Belichick, the talent evaluator.

Study his drafts from 2005-2009 and you'll see why the Patriots, once a defensive nightmare for the opposition, suddenly can't stop anybody. For the five-year period from 2005-2009, Belichick, the man making the football decisions, had 23 picks in the first four rounds.

Of those 23 picks, 12 were used on defense. Of those 12, two started against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Two.

Those two were inside linebacker Jarod Mayo, a high first-round pick, and safety Patrick Chung (second round, 2009).

That's it, folks. Now we know why the Patriots have lost two consecutive games to fall down to the No. 13 spot in our CBSSports.com Power Rankings.

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For all the cachet Belichick has as a personnel guy, his five-year draft window from 2005-2009 will make you think differently. The perception is far from the reality.

Of those 12 picks on the defensive side of the ball, only three are still on the team. The only other one besides Mayo and Chung is nose tackle Ron Brace. He was inactive Sunday.

Do the names Brandon Meriweather, Ellis Hobbs, Darius Butler and Shawn Crable mean much to Patriots fans? They are some of the defensives picks from those drafts not on the roster anymore.

This isn't to single out Belichick. There are a lot of teams that blew premium picks in those years. But the perception out there is that he hasn't, that he stockpiles picks and then uses them to build his team.

For those five years, that's far from the truth. Now he's been better the past two years, getting two more defensive starters in corner Devin McCourty and linebacker Brandon Spikes.

But there are big problems on defense, and poor drafting is the reason why.

Even Belichick, the defensive wizard, can't overcome Belichick, the drafter.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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