NFL

NFL Draft Grades 2021: Evaluating the Patriots Performance on Day 2

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Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and for the last several years it always seems like the minute the draft kicks off, time goes into hyperdrive kind of like it does when you’re on a beach vacation and suddenly you look up from your mai tai and think “how is it the last day already? We just got here!”

That being said, Pats fans that may have been a little underwhelmed and in their feelings about the selection of QB Mac Jones on Thursday night certainly didn’t have to wait long for the Patriots to start playing Monopoly with real cash on Friday night. After just the first few picks of the second round, Bill Belichick packaged the Patriots second-round pick (46) and two fourth-rounders (122 and 139) to slingshot themselves into pick 38 and draft the consensus top defensive tackle, Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who honestly, with the admission that trench guys are my love language, New England could’ve probably taken Barmore at 15th overall and nobody would’ve batted an eyelash.

Next up, the team sat out the action until pick 96, when the Patriots used their Tom Brady compensatory pick to select Oklahoma EDGE Ronnie Perkins. In keeping with the tradition of some of New England’s more recent edge selections, Perkins checks in at 6’2’’ and 253 lbs, similar to several other players the Patriots have stocked up on the last couple years such as Chase Winovich (6’3’’, 250 lbs), Josh Uche (6’1’’, 245 lbs), and Anfernee Jennings (6’2’’, 256 lbs). The team definitely still has a prototype for the stand-up outside linebacker type position, and while the league seems to be trending smaller and faster, Bill and the Patriots clearly still require a requisite amount of sand in the pants if your jersey number starts with “5” or “9”.

You know the drill by now; we’ll start with the Pats Pulpit community’s grades for the Day 2 picks, then work our way into grades and analysis from the good, the bad, and the ugly of both national and local draft media. Let’s ride.

First up, here’s how you all viewed the selection of DT Christian Barmore at pick 38: suffice to say, most of you enjoyed kicking off your Friday night in style with this pick.

The selection of DE Ronnie Perkins polled similarly well, although not quite as overwhelmingly positive as Barmore’s:

Whether you loved the Boogeymen nickname or hated it, it seems like just about every fan’s on board with beefing up the defense and trying to get back to that level of shutting other teams down before they can even get a drive going, as opposed to last year’s defense that frequently found themselves on the field for far too long and got flat-out smoked on a few occasions too.

Here’s a few choice reader comments on Barmore:

oldpatsfan23: Like it, consolidating those picks to draft that guys that can actually make this team.

Alecinoz: Looks like another excellent pick. We need a young stud on the D-Line.

DumpTruck617: Barmore’s a good pickup. He wasn’t a starter at Alabama, but he really put it together during the playoffs. He’s easily the best DT in the draft, though this is an ugly draft for DTs.

Audrey Horne: Man, I absolutely love this pick.

Yes, we have more-pressing needs at other positions (CB, WR, LB, OT) and the price we paid could be considered high, I guess, but I honestly believe Barmore is worth it. He’s, hands down, the best defensive tackle coming from this draft. First-Round talent, no doubt. If you’ve seen him play, you know I’m right. Such a powerful, athletic pass-rusher at DT. Great selection.

And for Ronnie Perkins:

IluvuMaryJane: Yo, BB is not joking around! The Front 7 was embarrassing last year; worst since the McPherson era. There is now at least a 50% chance that either one of the new Front 7 FA signings or one of the more recent draft choices are cut. Bye Bye Biddy Bye— good riddance. We need 3 down players, not a bunch of role players who can’t do more than one thing semi-competently. Let the competition begin!

wphurley: Another Chase Winovich. Motor, ferocity & a nose for the ball. So much for the future of the so-called Mahomes model. If these wandering QBs can’t run past the edge rush, they’re doomed.

BB changing the landscape all over again

ChosenOneBoston85: Good good pick. This guy Is motor and heart. Good speed off the edge. Steal!

FightingPols: Saw some people had him in the 35-45 range and didn’t like him there as he’s another classic tweener edge guy size wise but at 96 I’m on board. Despite being more of a 3-4 linebacker size, he seems to do well against the run when he played with his hand in the dirt.

Analysis: Barmore flashed real ability at times in Alabama, and the Patriots hope they can get that out of him on an every-down, every-game basis. Giving up two fourth-round picks to move up eight spots for Barmore downgrades the trade a bit, but he has the potential to make the deal worth the price.

The Patriots take a shot on Perkins, who has top-50 talent but isn’t elite in his size (6-foot-2 1/2, 253 pounds) or bend off the edge. Questions about a suspension, which forced him to miss a playoff game in the 2019 season and five games in 2020, may have pushed him down draft boards. Still, Perkins buying into the Patriot Way could pay big dividends down the line.

38. Patriots: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama

Grade: B+

New England likes oversized defensive linemen and that’s what Barmore is. Tall, heavy-handed pass-rushing specialist. Proper value for him here because his film is inconsistent. Will play many spots for Bill Belichick.

96. Patriots: Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma

Grade: A-

Nice hand work. And some juice around the corner. Faster than he is impressive with short-area quickness. Speed-to-power conversion is there too. The rich get richer up front.

R2 (38) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: DI CHRISTIAN BARMORE, ALABAMA

Pick Grade: Very Good

Christian Barmore is the best interior defender in this draft, and he should have been a first-round draft pick. He is the only consistently high-level pass rusher from the interior in this class, posting a 90.3 PFF pass-rushing grade against true passing sets last year. Barmore was the No. 12 overall player on the PFF Big Board.

R3 (96) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: EDGE RONNIE PERKINS, OKLAHOMA

Pick: Very Good

Perkins burst onto the scene with a 90.5 PFF grade last season. The problem was that his stellar play came on only 262 snaps, and some of that was against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. If that production is real, he is an excellent steal at this pick. He has all the physical traits that the NFL covets at the position, and the Patriots can work with him to find a role on their defense. He needs to work on his hand usage but has everything else one could ask for in an edge rusher.

This year’s interior defensive line class is weak, but after none of them went in the first round, moving up for Barmore was a solid move by the Patriots here. He’s big, athletic, powerful and versatile, which makes him a perfect for for New England’s defensive front. He was inconsistent in college and didn’t always live up to his ability, but his performance in the national title game proved what he’s capable of when he’s playing his best.

GRADE: B

The youth movement on the Patriots’ defense continues with a huge steal in Perkins, who makes up for his lack of ideal size and athleticism with polished technique and fantastic instincts as a pass rusher. A great value for the Pats here.

GRADE: A

Alabama’s Christian Barmore stands alone in a defensive tackle class bereft of talent. He is a rare first-round talent in a group with poor overall depth. However, the reigning National Championship Defensive MVP presents “war daddy” potential along the defensive interior.

The Patriots are one of the few teams that still highly values massive interior defenders. Barmore can immediately contribute as a sub-package pass-rusher. He has the potential to grow into a dominant force.

Grade: A

  1. From a traditional standpoint, Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins should have been in the conversation among the draft’s top edge-rushers. While watching his games, anyone can see a gifted athlete capable of beating blockers off the snap, dipping his shoulder and closing on opposing quarterbacks.
  2. On the field, Perkins displays consistent effort both as a pass-rusher and run defender. Furthermore, he never gives up on plays. Questions arise about his off-field status. A suspension because of a failed marijuana test delayed the start of his 2020 season.

Grade: A

6. New England PatriotsDT Christian Barmore, Alabama – New England gets in on the action early, moving up eight spots to land a highly promising but unrefined talent on the interior. Some scouts wondered about Barmore’s work ethic and inconsistent play, but he has the most upside of any interior player in this weak DT class. A boom-or-bust pick, but we can’t imagine Nick Saban not telling Bill Belichick exactly what he’s getting here. Grade: B+.

32) New England Patriots (compensatory): EDGE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma — This is one of our favorite Day 2 picks. Perkins in no way, shape or form should be going this late. A failed drug test and a so-so pro-day workout likely led to his fall, but this value is absurd. In the Patriots’ system, he might need to learn to play on his feet, but Perkins has pass-rush juice with a great long-arm go-to move and can develop into a really good player in time. Grade: A.


And finally, for a few of the local writers….

In talking to scouts and evaluators prior to this year’s draft, I was told Barmore was easily a first-rounder talent-wise. The tape is not an issue with him. It was easy to see his size (6-foot-4, 310 pounds, 34-inch arms) and explosiveness create problems against two of the nation’s best offensive lines in last season’s college football playoff. He was the most dominant player on the field at times against Ohio State and Notre Dame offensive lines loaded with NFL talent.

Barmore is an ideal fit for what Bill Belichick wants in a 3-4 defensive end. We identified Barmore as the best player at that spot when it came to fitting Belichick’s wish list of traits laid out for Browns scouts all the way back in 1991.

Between Barmore, the free agent pickups of Henry Anderson and Davon Godchaux and the re-signings of Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise, the Patriots front is better than it was in 2020 when it lost Danny Shelton in free agency and got nothing from free agent pickup Beau Allen who was injured all season.

That group will keep heat off a linebacker group that’s improved as well by the returns of Kyle Van Noy and Donta Hightower and the addition of Matthew Judon. And Perkins will probably start as a situational pass-rusher with Chase Winovich while 2020 high-upside draftees Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings make the Patriots front-seven one that will – at least on paper – make offensive coordinators sweat a lot more than they did last year.

While interior defensive lineman are not, by anyone’s standards, the sexiest picks, you also cannot function without them. Everyone loves the sunroof, detailing and boss racing stripe, but it’s the brake drums and rotors that make the vehicle functional. The Pats defense was Pro Football Focus’ [paywall] 22nd graded when it came to stopping the run. As we’ve learned in the past from Ted Washington, Vince Wilfork, Danny Shelton and others, you cannot have enough of big, wide-body, space eating war daddies with sand in their pants who can occupy two blockers to free up the rest of the defenders to make stops. That’s not me predicting Barmore will be the guy they need. I haven’t done homework on him. And we won’t know until he plays.

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