NFL

NFL Draft grades: Patriots draft is a ‘strong blend of need and value’

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Despite trading that pair of fourth-round picks to move up the board and take Alabama DT Christian Barmore on Friday night, the New England Patriots still had plenty of ammo to play with and ended up making at least one pick in every round on Saturday, including a duo of picks in the sixth.

Related note: the next analyst who thinks they’re making a clever joke about how sixth-round picks have worked out OK for the Patriots in the past is getting pistol-whipped.

Since Day 3 of the draft is a bit of a different beast in the sense that most players selected are either depth pieces at best or camp bodies/practice squad candidates, we’re going to do the grades rundown a bit differently today. Most of the grades below are going to be related to the Patriots’ 2021 draft as a whole body of work, and if we can find some specifics on what the analyst(s) in question thought of the Day 3 selections, we’ll throw that in there too.

Cool? Good. Grab your McMuffin and hash browns and let’s do this.

First up, your verdict from our reader’s poll last night

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots’ 2021 draft performance?

  • 48%

    A

    (1451 votes)

  • 44%

    B

    (1333 votes)

  • 6%

    C

    (188 votes)

  • 0%

    D

    (22 votes)

  • 0%

    F

    (24 votes)



3018 votes total

Vote Now

Also, some comments to support those grades:

AlecinOz: With hits in the 1st and 2nd, I’m scoring this draft an ‘A’ for the Pats. The stand out is getting one of the top QBs in this draft class w/o having to trade up.

That was not the only A handed out, though. There was this…

JCRpatsfan: A based on first 2 picks…. Everything else was gravy.

…and this…

Kid_Bengala: I give an A. After getting a QB on 1st round, it was always an A from me, didn’t matter if it was Lance, Fields or Jones or whatever what was done after, although i like Barmore and Henry. This was the move that had to be happen, no matter who or how. It would still an A from if BB traded up to 11 for Fields or even to 7 or 8. Mac Jones is for what this class will be remembered. Let’s hope that in 3 or 4 years the memories will be good about this draft.

…and this…

Joe T8: A-

…and this:

Pats Fan stopping by: The draft is an A- in my mind. The Pats did not cave in to the Monte Hall Hysteria with the QBs and held firm and got the best QB suited for them in Mac Jones. A+ at that point. I’m not a big believer but the Pats are and that tops a Chemist all day long. I dropped it to a A- as I love Barmore but thought they over paid for the spot. Perkins is a football player who never stops on the field. He is the leader in the locker room and has the teams respect so we may have a keeper with him. Stevenson has a huge upside and just needs more reps. The others are always lump free gravy if they work out.

There was also an “interesting”…

PleaseDon’tRetireBB: Well, it’s an interesting class. Barmore I’m happy about, Jones I’m very hopeful he works out. Perkins I’m kinda questioning the need for, though I think he’s a good edge I feel like we could’ve taken a CB or WR here instead and been better off. Only taking a flyer on a WR in the 7th is just weird to me. Powell in the 5th instead of McGrone even would’ve been worth it to me, though we seem to have done well picking his teammates so McGrone will probably work out in NE too.

…and the good old “How could anyone give a D or F?”

bob3339: How on earth could people seriously give this draft a D or F. Hysterical the haters.


Now, on to the media guys.

NFL.com – Chad Reuter

Day 1 grade: A

Day 2 grade: B+

Day 3 grade: B+

Analysis: For months, we thought Jones would be a perfect fit in New England because of his similarities to Tom Brady. With the 49ers passing on Jones at No. 3, Bill Belichick just waited out the process and found the Alabama passer waiting for a phone call at No. 15. Jones doesn’t have to be Brady to have success, just the accurate passer that the team, and offense, needs. Barmore flashed potential as a quality starter, but time will tell as to whether giving up two fourth-round picks to move up eight spots to get him was better than just seeing which D-linemen were available at the Pats’ original slot. They found a top-50 talent in Perkins late in Round 3.

Stevenson’s power running complements Sony Michel, Damien Harris and James White. He was a top-125 pick on my board, though the team could have used a corner or receiver. McGrone is a typical Patriots linebacker prospect who could thrive under Belichick. Sherman similarly fits the mold of other New England linemen: short, big-bodied and tough.

CBS Sports – Chris Trapasso

120. Patriots, Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma

Grade: C+

Big, bruiser with impressive quicks for a bigger back. Elusiveness is good, not great. Is this a need?

177. Patriots, Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan

Grade: B

Sideline to sideline speed specialist at the linebacker spot. Young and not super experienced. Flashed but wasn’t overly consistent and didn’t tap into coverage capabilities yet. New England had to get more athletic at LB.

188. Patriots, Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri

Grade: C+

Short-area quickness type at the safety spot who can cover short routes, but doesn’t have the acceleration and hip smoothness to stick down the field with WRs or TEs.

197. Patriots, William Sherman, OT, Colorado

Grade: C+

Played tackle in college, will be a guard in the NFL. The short-area quicks are impressive, but he tends to play a little out of control. Needs to dial that back a little, especially in pass pro, so he doesn’t lunge.

242. Patriots, Tre Nixon, WR, UCF

Grade: B

Productive season at UCF and tested like a big-time athlete. Didn’t see that type of movement on the field. Quick feet but has CBs glued to him more than they should. Serious downfield speed.

Yahoo Sports – Thor Nystrom

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | Snap grade: B+

Draft capital: 15 | Talent acquired: 16 | Value: 12

It feels weird to be giving the team that drafted Mac Jones a B+ — a B+ being a real compliment in these parts — after I spent the last two months attempting to correct false narratives about him that cropped up as part of San Francisco’s ruse and the media’s gullibility. A portion of my industry’s willingness to credit Shanahan’s genius for seeing in Mac — a quarterback Shanahan didn’t actually want, seeing as though he could have had him and his next two first-round picks back by merely staying put. The tweet below isn’t a hot take. It only feels like one because Shanahan and Lynch were willing to go to the lengths of tainting Adam Schefter’s reporting record by feeding bad information, and then a mythologizing period began to justify the reports. The 49ers smokescreen was the greatest in NFL Draft history — and I can say that definitively, because it had the effect of turning Mac Jones — a perfectly solid quarterback prospect with a starting future ahead of him — from a boring late-R1 prospect that everyone agrees on into the most polarizing prospect of the class, with some evoking Phil Rivers and Tom Brady. This was a dark period indeed for my industry. But it’s no indictment of Mac himself. I rate him lower, but I had no problem paying a slight premium for quarterback when you had a situation like New England’s. This class went to the next level for me, however, after that. Barmore was a mega-steal. Nice value on Oklahoma teammates Perkins and Stevenson. I may have been highest in the industry on Stevenson — ranking him RB6 and No. 111 overall — and it naturally piqued my interest that New England in particular was feeling the same vibes, popping the bruiser with sweet feet at 4.120. McGrone has upside and could blossom in this system. Really liked what New England did.

Pro Football Focus

Day 1: The narrative surrounding Mac Jones for the past few weeks was focused on whether he was worth not just the No. 3 overall pick, but the three first-round selections the 49ers invested in that draft slot. At No. 15 overall, it’s an entirely different conversation. Jones led the nation last season in overall PFF grade (95.8) and was the most accurate college quarterback in terms of adjusted completion rate (84.2%) PFF has seen. This is an outstanding pick.

Day 2: 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.

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.

Day 3: McGrone has legitimate sideline-to-sideline speed. His combination of range and reliable tackling makes him well-suited to shut down outside rushing attacks and screens. And at 20 years old, McGrone has room to grow and improve on some of the concerns surrounding his coverage ability.

Draft Grade: A+

Sports Illustrated

The narrative around Bill Belichick’s laziness seems a bit confounding after just one 7–9 season. Yes, Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl with another great coach and a stacked roster leads us to believe that he was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty, but equating his penchant for drafting Alabama players with a lack of zest for the job feels irresponsible.

Mac Jones can represent a youthful energy within the Patriots system, perhaps like a less toolsy Josh Allen (who is also more accurate and less turnover prone initially). Whether or not he starts right away remains to be seen, but his accuracy and the Patriots’ improved weapon set should be putting opponents on notice for 2021.

Belichick loves layering talent at the outside linebacker and edge positions. Despite signing Matt Judon and developing Chase Winovich, the Patriots added a tremendous value in Ronnie Perkins, who could help bolster New England’s pass rush and shift the balance of power a bit, from a back-end focused defense to a more balanced unit that can bring pressure without perfect coverage.

NBC Sports Boston – Phil Perry

Biggest statement pick: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma (No. 120)

If ever there was any doubt as to what kind of team the Patriots want to be in 2021 and beyond, the selection of a 230-pound running back in the fourth round buried ‘em. The Patriots are going to be a heavy-personnel attack featuring two tight ends at a time, two backs or both. They’re going to try to overpower teams with a power running game that leans on big backs running behind big linemen.

Stevenson, who like Perkins also served a suspension after reportedly failing a drug test, fits that mold nicely with his size and his uncommon agility for a man with his frame. An admirer of LeGarrette Blount’s game, Stevenson isn’t quite the same athlete Blount was. (He didn’t make our list of Prototypes but popped up on our “Best of the Rest” list in this year’s class of backs.)

Unless the team plans to have him “redshirt” — as drafted Patriots backs like Damien Harris, James White and Shane Vereen have in the past — Stevenson could find himself in the rotation quickly since this team is going to ask a lot of its backs. He also has experience on special teams so perhaps he makes a push for an immediate role in the kicking game.

This would have been another good spot for a wideout, as several went off the board soon thereafter who looked like Patriots fits — including North Texas slot dynamo Jaelon Darden, who was drafted to play with Tom Brady a few picks later.

Most forward-thinking pick: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan (No. 177)

For the third straight year, the Patriots have taken a Don Brown pupil to play in their front-seven. It started with Winovich. Then came Uche. Now McGrone, who is an eye-popping athlete as an off-the-ball linebacker. Brown — the former Wolverines defensive coordinator who has a good relationship with Belichick and now works under former Belichick assistant Jedd Fisch at Arizona — likes to blitz his ‘backers just like the Patriots do. McGrone was a force in that role because of his explosiveness and his change-of-direction ability.

Perhaps the reason we didn’t see this one coming — even if we should’ve because of the school connection — was because McGrone has been injured. Belichick acknowledged after the draft he may not contribute until 2022. If that’s the case, that the Patriots were filling out roster spots for next year at this point in the draft, it’s pretty clear they feel comfortable at the wideout spot.

The More-You-Can-Do-iest pick: Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri (No. 188)

According to Pro Football Focus, Bledsoe played all over the field for Missouri over the last four years. In 2018, he was primarily a slot corner and free safety. In 2019, he saw more time in the slot but also aligned plenty as a box safety. In 2020, he saw some time on the outside, aligned on the line of scrimmage and in the slot.

Playing a whopping 46 games over the course of his career in the SEC, Bledsoe is considered to have a high football IQ and a nose for the football (17 pass breakups in 22 games the last two years). He should be a kicking-game contributor as well.

USA Today Draft Wire – Luke Easterling

Another class with a strong blend of need and value, the Pats went heavy on defense after loading up on offense in free agency. Their patience was rewarded with Mac Jones in the first round, then they pounced up the board for one of this year’s top interior defenders in Christian Barmore. Ronnie Perkins was a steal at the end of the third round, and both Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe are great upside picks for the defense. Rhamondre Stevenson is a fun back, but that felt like a luxury pick after coming out of this draft without a single cornerback.

GRADE: B

USA Today Touchdown Wire – Doug Farrar and Mark Schofield

Editor’s Note: sup, Mark?

New England Patriots: A-

The New England Patriots had what you might consider a typical Bill Belichick draft. On the second night they added Christian Barmore at interior defensive line, drafting perhaps the premier player at a rather thin position, and they followed that with pass rusher Ronnie Perkins, who put together some impressive production on limited snaps in 2020. Then on the third day they added an athletic linebacker in Cameron McGrone from Michigan and Joshuah Bledsoe, a safety from Missouri that started for three seasons in the SEC.

Ultimately, of course, this draft will hinge on the selection at 15 overall, when the Patriots added Mac Jones, the Alabama quarterback. For a franchise looking to solidify the QB position after the departure of Tom Brady, the success — or failure — of Jones will determine just how strong a draft this was. On paper this is a solid class with great upside, but until we see Jones in the NFL, there is a bit of uncertainty. Still, drafting Jones when they did, without giving up future assets in a trade to move up for him, looks like it could pay off in the end.

DK Nation

Final draft grade: B

In the first round, the Patriots let the draft come to them, halting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones’ freefall at No. 15 overall. They reversed course early on Day 2, trading up to nab fellow Crimson Tide Christian Barmore to reinforce the defensive line. While head coach Bill Belichick’s infatuation with Alabama players might raise some red flags, the two represent reasonable values at their respective spots and addressed areas of need.

The rest of the draft class looked like a more typical Patriots group, with a pair of Oklahoma Sooners — Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson — adding depth to the defensive line and offensive backfield and pieces added to address the back end of the defense. The group might not have many (or any) starters out of the gate, but several should emerge within the next few years.

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