With the 2019 NFL draft in the rear-view mirror, the so-called experts start handing out their grades. Among them is veteran ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr, who published his thoughts on the 32 teams’ haul earlier today. Apparently, Kiper liked what he saw from the New England Patriots as he gave the team and its ten draft selections an A- grade. Only one team — the Indianapolis Colts — is graded better.
Why the praise? Kiper noted in his draft grades rationale that he liked the combination of New England filling its needs on both sides of the ball, and adding talent from the top to the bottom of the draft. “There are a lot of needs filled here, and if [N’Keal ]Harry, [Joejuan] Williams and [Chase] Winovich can get on the field early, I feel good about this being one of the draft’s best classes from top to bottom,” wrote Kiper.
Specific to the selections made by the Patriots, the draft guru had to say the following:
1-32 WR N’Keal Harry: “Harry has the best hands in this class. He will be a weapon in the red zone.”
2-45 CB Joejuan Williams: “Williams is a rare 6-foot-4 cornerback and had first-round tape in 2018; he dropped because he ran a curiously slow 4.64-second 40 at the combine. I thought he needed to land in the right scheme, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Belichick match him up on tight ends early in his career.”
3-77 DE Chase Winovich: “Winovich is a versatile edge player and a great fit for Belichick’s multischeme defense.”
3-87 RB Damien Harris: “Harris is underrated as a runner, though he might not play many snaps with Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead ahead of him on the depth chart.”
3-101 OT Yodny Cajuste: “Cajuste is raw — he played just one year of high school football — but has some upside as a potential down-the-road starter at offensive tackle.”
4-118 OG Hjalte Froholdt: “They also handed O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia a guard prospect with upside in Round 4 in Hjalte Froholdt. The track record with that strategy is excellent.”
4-133 QB Jarrett Stidham: “Stidham can make Round 1 throws and Round 7 interceptions. This is an excellent upside developmental play behind Tom Brady.”
5-159 DE Byron Cowart: “Cowart was a five-star recruit at Auburn before transferring to Maryland. He has some tools.”
5-163 P Jake Bailey: “Belichick also got Jake Bailey, my top-ranked punter.”
Despite excluding seventh-round selection Ken Webster, the athletic cornerback out of Mississippi, from his list for some reason, Kiper sums up New England’s draft pretty well: the club addressed its most pressing need — outside receiver help — in the form of N’Keal Harry in round one and invested in versatility and upside with its other selections. All in all, it is therefore unsurprising to see an A- grade handed out.
What do you think about it?
How would you grade the Patriots’ 2019 draft class?
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