The 2015 NFL Draft is in the rear-view mirror and now it is time to take a step back and analyze it. Of course, it is impossible to properly evaluate a draft without a single player of that particular draft class even having stepped on an NFL field field yet – it is still fun, though, to take a look at what the self-proclaimed experts say about the New England Patriots' 2015 Draft.
First, let's take a look at whom the Patriots selected:
|111||Tre' Jackson||OG||Florida State|
|131||Shaq Mason||OG||Georgia Tech|
|178||Matt Wells||LB||Mississippi State|
Now, let's take a look at how the Patriots' 2015 draft class was graded by the media.
Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN In$ider): B-
The Patriots got two of the biggest steals in the draft and also did the usual by taking a player relatively early (No. 97) that I thought they could have gotten about six hours of draft picks later. They did well overall, but I'm not sure why they didn't take at least one wide receiver or cornerback. Malcom Brown was an absolute steal at No. 32. The defensive tackle out of Texas actually isn't at all like Vince Wilford [sic] – repeat after me: he's not a replacement for Big Vince – but he's really good and should be a part of the D-line rotation out of the gate. Jordan Richards is a smart, versatile fit in the secondary, which is exactly the kind of guy they like. I had him going lower, but if you think the guy can help and he's there for a team this good? Take him. Trey Flowers was another outstanding value down at No. 101 overall. I had him going off the board early in round 2. That's a steal. I also like the additions of Tre' Jackson as O-line depth (he played with Bryan Stork at FSU), and they got their long-snapper in Joe Cardona. Matt Walsh is also an interesting athlete to watch. The reach? That was Geneo Grissom, who I'm pretty sure would have been available later. Again, I wished they would have done more at CB and WR, and that drops them some, but you can't say they didn't get some good players, for a Super Bowl champ, no less.
Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated): B
Everyone knows what to expect from a Bill Belichick draft every year: at least a couple trades, several smart picks and one or two selections that completely fly in the face of conventional wisdom when it comes to player value. Belichick took safety Jordan Phillips at least two rounds before he would have drawn heavier interest, then repeated the trick with long snapper Joe Cardona in round 5.
Elsewhere, the Patriots landed a bunch of players who should contribute. The 319-pound Malcom Brown will aid a defensive line that lost Vince Wilfork, while third-rounder Geneo Grissom and fourth-rounder Trey Flowers have the versatility Belichick craves on defense. Guard Tre Jackson and C/G Shaq Mason kick in some O-line depth. Mason actually might be the better of the two.
Bryan Fisher (NFL.com): B+
Day 1 grade: A+
Day 2 grade: C
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: Every year Bill Belichick seems to land a future star, and he might have done so again with Brown. Many thought Brown would be off the board in the middle of the first round, but instead he fell to the defending champs and can immediately contribute to the rotation along the defensive line. The Pats grabbed Richards way too early, but he's a smart player who meets a team need and is also a nice fit for the defensive system. Grissom is Mr. Versatility and can play all over the field -- a nice value late in the third round. Jackson might wind up being the best of the Florida State offensive linemen in this draft, and Mason is a great interior presence. The Pats' only flaw on a fantastic Day 3 was taking a long snapper in the fifth round.
Bottom line: The Pats got better by grabbing quality players in the trenches who were great values for the most part. None are likely to be superstars, but there could be a lot of quality pros from this class.
Dan Kadar (SB Nation): B-
Best pick: Jackson - There were some concerns about Jackson's knee, but he's a starting-caliber guard.
Questionable pick: Richards - The Richards choice was shocking if only because most thought he would be available much later in the draft.
As expected, the Patriots cleaned up on Day 3 of the draft after making some questionable choices on the second day of the draft. Jackson, Mason and Flowers could be starters for the Patriots. The Patriots' biggest need was at interior offensive line and Jackson and Mason will get an opportunity early. Grissom seemed like an odd choice at No. 97, but New England likes his versatility. Wells may not be a well-known name, but he's a speedy special teams ace. Cardona was the most obvious fifth-round pick ever, but that's fine. What really knocks this class is the lack of cornerback play after the Patriots lost Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. While Roberts was a very good pick, one of the strengths of this draft was cornerback and New England largely ignored it.
Pete Prisco (CBS): B-
Best Pick: It was their first pick, defensive tackle Malcom Brown from Texas. This kid is a power player who can step in and help right away in an area that needs help.
Questionable move: Second-round safety Jordan Richards probably went two rounds too high, but Bill Belichick likes to take chances with secondary players.
Third-day gem: Fourth-round defensive end Trey Flowers is a heck of a pick. This kid has a ton of pass-rush ability and is great value in this spot.
Analysis: Brown will be a good player, but I have some questions about Richards and some others in this draft. But it's hard to argue with the success of this team over the years.
Rob Rang (CBS): B
The defending Super Bowl champs had been rumored to be looking to trade out of the No. 32 overall pick, but when steady defensive tackle Malcom Brown slid to them, it was an easy choice to stand "Pat" and plug in the massive hole left by Vince Wilfork moving on. Brown isn't as flashy as last year's top pick Dominique Easley, but they should complement each other well. Of the remaining picks, the Patriots did best in the fourth round, where future starters may have been unearthed in tough-guy edge rusher Trey Flowers and nasty offensive linemen Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson.
Ty Schalter (Bleacher Report): B
OK, look: The Patriots are the Duke of the NFL. Much like Duke's recruits automatically earn anticipatory honors just for being Duke recruits, sometimes the Patriots get great draft grades because every pick is certified as being made by the Patriots and therefore automatically smart.
Malcom Brown is a legitimately great pick, especially at No. 32. The Patriots have a crying need for athleticism—not necessarily speed but athleticism—and he has it.
Richards is a little more of the former, a guy the world declares a good pick because the Patriots must know something no one else does (or because we know the Patriots coaches will use him appropriately).
Grissom is another perfect fit for the depleted Patriots front seven. He's perhaps a man without a clear position, but Bill Belichick will simply use him wherever he works best. Flowers isn't as versatile as Grissom but again meets that need for beef up front.
Back-to-back interior line picks make sense at the bottom of the fourth round. Both Jackson and Mason are mashers who can develop into more. In the sixth round, Derby, a quarterback-turned-tight-end, is the quintessential Patriots prospect.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): B+
New England always has a high draft floor because of volume of picks alone. The theme of this Bill Belichick haul was getting stronger on the interior of both lines to boost the run defense and running game. He also has a few edge rushers to toy with in Grissom and Flowers. The slight slide is for no corner or wide receiver.
Evan Silva (Rotoworld): C+
In case you were wondering what New England netted from the day-three Brett Hundley trade, the Patriots turned that pick (147) into long snapper Cardona and long-shot Roberts. The defending Super Bowl champions made some goofy selections on guys with special teams ceilings, so I'll just focus on the positive first. Brown addressed a big need and has surprising versatility for a man his size. Jackson and Mason are butt kickers in the trenches and could have futures as interior-line starters. Derby drew very little pre-draft buzz, but was one of my favorite tight end prospects in a weak tight end draft. Watch Derby's game tape; he loves football and will play his rear end off. Flowers is a power end who I think could develop into an NFL regular. Richards, Wells, Grissom, Cardona, Roberts, and Dickson are the low-ceiling picks I didn't love. While I fully expect the Pats to be in the Lombardi hunt once again in 2015, my guess is it won't be because they tore up the 2015 draft.
Mark Maske (Washington Post): B
The Patriots made one of the best selections in the entire draft on the final choice of the first round, and all it took was a little bit of luck. They stayed put and DT Malcom Brown fell to them. He fits in nicely after the Patriots parted with veteran Vince Wilfork earlier in the offseason. Some questioned whether the Patriots took S Jordan Richards too soon by selecting him late in the second round. But third-round DE Geneo Grissom could play a role on the defense.