Maybe I'm seeing the results through rose-colored glasses, but I thought the New England Patriots draft was fine. It wasn't spectacular and there were some reaches and head-scratchers, but by no means did I think it was awful.
Apparently I might be in the minority with this opinion.
Football Outsiders compiled the draft grades of seven popular media evaluators to come up with a final grade for each team. The Jaguars, Bears, and Ravens lead the rankings due to the great value at which each team was able to acquire a projected starter. The Jaguars grabbed top 5 prospect Myles Jack in the second round, the Bears added a top 40 prospect in Jonathan Bullard in the third round, and top 60 prospect Kenneth Dixon was one of five potential starters the Ravens added in the 4th.
New England is praised for the Cyrus Jones pick in the 2nd round, but the 3rd round trio of Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, and Vincent Valentine is generally reviled as the average grade for the Patriots was less than a C+.
The draftniks note that the Patriots didn't add any immediate contributors, manage to replace Chandler Jones, or add a running back, and they also think that Brissett is a bad prospect at quarterback. I think that's extremely harsh.
First, where would the Patriots add a starter? Adding rotational players like Jones, Valentine, and Malcolm Mitchell is a pretty good start on the Patriots roster.
Second, the Patriots prepared for the loss of Jones by adding two pass rushers from the 2014 draft class in Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers. They will get a chance to prove their value, along with Rufus Johnson.
Third, the Patriots signed LeGarrette Blount and Donald Brown so they wouldn't need to add a back in the draft. Perhaps if a player fell to the 5th round the team might be interested, but the Patriots never felt that a prospect aligned with their value. Still, I can understand the critics because players like Dixon were selected in the 4th round.
Fourth, I've talked about Brissett at length here and think he has more potential than many give him credit for.
That said, Football Outsiders adds a note about Brissett in their quarterback evaluation ratings that will make people cringe, noting that their model projects Brissett with one of the ten worst prospect scores ever. The model accounts for a player's performance adjusted for his teammates, a player's experience, and a player's projected draft spot per draftnik rankings (the model only looks at players in the top 100).
Brissett actually ranks with the 7th lowest score of any quarterback in this model, one rank ahead of Patriots 2008 3rd round pick Kevin O'Connell and alongside 2011 3rd round pick Ryan Mallett, as one of 23 players to rate negatively.
Whatever the Patriots look for in a college quarterback seems to be the exact opposite of the traditional successful quarterback in the NFL.
The room for comfort is that the only quarterback in the 2016 class worse than Brissett happens to be New York Jets 2nd round pick Christian Hackenberg, who has the 5th worst score and ranks one ahead of former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Overall, the draftniks are killing the Patriots for their class, but it's obvious that Bill Belichick used this class to fill in the projected holes on the roster in 2017: Cyrus Jones for Logan Ryan, Joe Thuney for literally any other offensive lineman, Jacoby Brissett for Jimmy Garoppolo, and Vincent Valentine for Alan Branch or Terrance Knighton.
Let's revisit the grades after 2017 to see if these picks have panned out.