Examining a Bequette breakthrough

May, 27, 2013
5/27/13
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Jake BequetteAP Photo/Elise Amendola
In his Saturday breakdown of the Patriots' 2012 draft class on ESPNBoston.com, Field Yates made the point that defensive end Jake Bequette shouldn't be counted out when it comes to carving out a notable role on the roster.

"Seems a little crazy to suggest a guy who hardly saw the field in 2012 could be a factor in 2013, right? Well, don't be entirely surprised if Bequette does earn time as a player who can be utilized in a role comparable to Rob Ninkovich's in the Patriots' defense," Yates wrote. "We saw the two working together during the individual drill portion of Tuesday's OTA, and the reality of life in the NFL is some rookies need a 'redshirt' season to develop."

Bequette, the team's third-round draft pick in 2012 (91st overall), was on the field for just 29 snaps last season. His lack of action led to the following thought: What are some of the primary examples from Bill Belichick's coaching tenure of a draft pick who did little in his first year before breaking through in the second year?

We've seen plenty of players develop behind the scenes on the practice squad for a year before getting their shot, but in terms of a draft pick essentially being re-shirted for a year and then emerging, the list isn't too deep.

Here are the top three players to come to mind:

1. Tom Brady (2000-2001) -- Kept on the roster as a fourth quarterback in his rookie season, Brady exploded in the 2001 offseason to seize the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, positioning himself for the breakthrough when starter Drew Bledsoe was sidelined by injury. Brady played in one game as a rookie, attempting just 3 passes. He'd finish the 2001 regular season with 413 pass attempts.

2. David Givens (2002-2003) -- A seventh-round draft choice who carved out a spot on the game-day roster as a rookie because of special teams contributions, Givens totaled just nine catches in his first NFL season. In year two, he had a team-high six touchdown receptions.

3. Shane Vereen (2011-2012) -- Mainly because of injuries, the 2011 second-round pick was limited to 26 offensive snaps played in his rookie season. He upped the total to 158 last season and emerged as a speedy playmaker who is primed to see even more time in 2013 if healthy.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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