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New England Patriots Links 5/02/11 - A Belichick Draft Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

Clifton Brown (Sporting News) grades the Patriots: A+

No pass rusher, but a slew of talented players led by Nate Solder, Ras-I Dowling, Shane Vereen and Ryan Mallett. Plus they have two picks next year in both the first and second rounds.

NBC Sports Grades the Draft. New England Patriots: B+

Another predictably unpredictable Patriots draft. They took players other teams were afraid to: Ryan Mallett fell to round three because of off-field concerns, while Marcus Cannon fell to round five because of a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis. Both were arguably first-round talents. A pair of mid-round running backs (Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley) should help right away, but passing on front seven help was curious. Nate Solder was perhaps the most talented tackle in this class and could replace Matt Light immediately. Line coach Dante Scarnecchia will know what to do with Solder. Oh, and by the way: The Patriots picked up an extra first- and second-round pick in next year’s draft.

Nate Davis (USA Today) Patriots are winners in the 2011 Draft.

Yet again they worked the board to their advantage and already have two first-rounders and two second-rounders for the 2012 draft ... potentially even more advantageous if the expected rookie wage scale doesn't go into effect for another year. For 2011, they come away with Nate Solder, likely QB Tom Brady's new blindside bodyguard; a deeper talent pool in their offensive and defensive backfields; and two value picks -- QB Ryan Mallett (third round) and OL Marcus Cannon (fifth round) -- potential Round 1 choices who plummeted due to perceived off-field concerns in Mallett's case and medical ones for Cannon. Assuming Mallett never displaces fairly young Brady (34 this season), he could be a valuable trading chip in future years while Cannon, if healthy, could earn a spot on a line in transition.

Andrew Perloff (SI) The Patriots are one of the teams that still have holes to fill following the draft.

The Patriots didn't have a player with more than 5.5 sacks last season and struggled to get teams off the field on third down. But even though they entered the draft with six picks in the first three rounds and this was supposed to be one of the best defensive end drafts ever, they didn't take any pass rushers in the early rounds. Now they'll have to find someone who can get after the quarterback in free agency.

Adam Caplan (Fox Sports) New England Patriots are losers after the Draft.

The Patriots had a major need for pass rushers, but Bill Belichick ignored the outside linebacker position. They could have selected outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, but chose to go with a cornerback instead in the second round. The Patriots were already in decent shape at cornerback, but all the good cover guys in the world won’t matter if you can’t consistently get to the quarterback.

WEEKEND LINKS

  • Patriots Links from Saturday - 4/30/11
  • Patriots Links from Sunday - 5/01/11

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