The New England Patriots added nine players through the 2016 NFL Draft and all look to be fairly promising- but do they answer any of the major questions that the Patriots had prior to the draft? We ranked the team's biggest needs entering the draft, so let's take a look to see if those needs have been met.
1. Defensive Tackle
Drafted: Vincent Valentine
While Valentine isn't a player that was on many radars, he definitely fits the type of player that the Patriots want to add to their defensive line. He's surprisingly athletic and offers unique upside.
Drafted: Cyrus Jones
Jones had been telegraphed to the Patriots over the past few weeks and he certainly fills the need. He has plenty of upside and should be ready to contribute the second Logan Ryan departs for more money elsewhere.
The Patriots filled both of the immediate needs in the top three rounds of the draft.
3. Offensive Tackle
Drafted: Joe Thuney (?)
It remains to be seen whether or not Thuney will move inside, but he was a great pass blocking tackle last season and that's why I'll leave him in this category until further notice. If he doesn't play tackle, then the Patriots still have a big question mark once Sebastian Vollmer and/or Marcus Cannon become free agents after 2016.
4. Running Back
The Patriots actively ignored the position, even though 2nd round prospects like Kenneth Dixon were available late in the draft. New England seemed set on ignoring the position and will head into 2017 with LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis as the team's top rushers.
5. Wide Receiver
Drafted: Malcolm Mitchell, Devin Lucien
I could shed a tear for these two picks. Both come from pro style route trees and should fit nicely with the Patriots. It's an uphill battle for Lucien to make the team as a 7th round pick, but crazier things have happened- and both of these guys are good. I wouldn't be shocked to see a veteran on the roster bumped in favor of these rookies.
6. Edge Defender
This had less of a need with the trio of Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, and Rufus Johnson on the roster. The Patriots will let them fight for a spot this year and possibly serve as a long term replacement after Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, and Chris Long become free agents in 2017.
The Patriots picked their battles here and operated like they were comfortable with the future talent at edge defender already on the roster, and will likely add a running back in 2017.
The Patriots seem fine with the depth on the roster as Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, and Jordan Richards hold down the position in 2016.
Drafted: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts
Both are late round prospects and will likely compete with the likes of Jonathan Bostic and Jonathan Freeny for roster spots. KGH is a two-time First Team All Conference linebacker (who technically projects to a safety in the NFL due to his 205 lbs frame), while Roberts would have been a top prospect if he were three inches taller. Both will be valuable special teams players with defensive upside.
Both positions were looking for primary special teams players and KGH and Roberts fit the ticket- and they offer possible upside on defense.
9. Tight End
Drafted: Jacoby Brissett
While it wasn't a need, the Patriots are just following their blueprint of adding a quarterback every other year in order to replenish the blood lines. As Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio say- they'd rather be a year early with a starting caliber quarterback than a year late. The Patriots are projecting Jimmy Garoppolo to play the first four weeks of the 2016 season and to possibly play himself into a nice trade piece for 2017. New England wants Brissett to have a year in the system before moving on from Garoppolo.
11. Interior Offensive Line
Drafted: Joe Thuney (?), Ted Karras
I'll add both here. Thuney could very well be a fantastic guard in the NFL, while Karras has 43 games of starting experience at right guard. Karras rated extremely well by Pro Football Focus as one of the top pass blocking guards in the country, so don't be surprised if he beats out the less polished Shaq Mason or the lower upside Tre Jackson for time during camp.
We've discussed the Brissett pick, and it's increasingly clear that the Patriots just want to improve their offensive line by any means necessary; no incumbent is safe.