The NFL had a busy day on Wednesday. Not only was the salary cap for the 2021 season finally set (teams will have $182.5 million to operate with) and the value of fifth-year contract options for 2018 first-round draft selections announced (a group that includes Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel), the league also awarded its compensatory picks for the draft in late April.
The New England Patriots received two such selections, including the highest one awarded after losing quarterback Tom Brady in free agency. The 96th overall pick in the third round as well as the 139th overall in the fourth have therefore now been added to their portfolio.
In total, the Patriots have nine total selections available in this year’s draft, tied for fifth most in the league:
- Round 1, No. 15 overall
- Round 2, No. 46 overall
- Round 3, No. 96 overall
- Round 4, No. 120 overall
- Round 4, No. 139 overall
- Round 5, No. 158 overall
- Round 6, No. 194 overall
- Round 6, No. 196 overall
- Round 7, No. 241 overall
While having more picks at its disposal increases a team’s ability to maneuver around the board, the real value of draft selections cannot be measured simply based on raw totals. Four picks in the first 100 selections are obviously worth more than four picks in the last 100, for example.
In order to properly analyze what the Patriots’ current capital is worth compared to the rest of the NFL, we therefore need to dig a bit deeper and bring back the draft value chart created by Pats Pulpit’s own Rich Hill back in 2018 — a modification of the chart attributed to former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson.
If we take the Patriots’ nine selections and assign each one a number of points based on Rich’s chart, we get the following values:
- 1-15: 315.20 points
- 2-46: 127.71 points
- 3-96: 39.38 points
- 4-120: 23.10 points
- 4-139: 15.13 points
- 5-158: 9.91 points
- 6-194: 4.45 points
- 6-196: 4.25 points
- 7-241: 1.56 points
In total we get a value of 549.69 points, which is below the projection from earlier this offseason due to New England getting fewer compensatory selections out of the process. Still, the value is considerably increased compared to last year when the Patriots had just 404.29 value points available ahead of the draft. Back in 2019, meanwhile, they had 527.53 points to work with.
How does this compare to other teams in the NFL? As a look at the league-wide values shows, the Patriots are in the middle of the pack:
2021 NFL draft values
|1||Jacksonville Jaguars||1,692.81||17||Las Vegas Raiders||506.19|
|2||New York Jets||1,311.48||18||Arizona Cardinals||491.75|
|3||Miami Dolphins||1,167.64||19||Tennessee Titans||485.88|
|4||Atlanta Falcons||796.41||20||Cleveland Browns||462.10|
|5||Philadelphia Eagles||762.84||21||Chicago Bears||447.87|
|6||Cincinnati Bengals||743.93||22||Pittsburgh Steelers||429.26|
|7||Detroit Lions||681.09||23||Indianapolis Colts||397.56|
|8||Carolina Panthers||674.45||24||New Orleans Saints||387.56|
|9||Dallas Cowboys||654.61||25||Green Bay Packers||380.64|
|10||Denver Broncos||652.11||26||Baltimore Ravens||376.49|
|11||New York Giants||605.28||27||Kansas City Chiefs||356.74|
|12||Los Angeles Chargers||598.15||28||Buffalo Bills||343.85|
|13||San Francisco 49ers||576.13||29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||331.88|
|14||New England Patriots||549.69||30||Los Angeles Rams||230.74|
|15||Washington Football Team||540.29||31||Houston Texans||153.09|
|16||Minnesota Vikings||530.01||32||Seattle Seahawks||128.43|
Naturally, the two teams that finished the 2020 season with the worst records in the NFL — the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars and 2-14 New York Jets — lead the list given that their first selections alone are worth 1,000 and 717 points, respectively. They are joined by the Miami Dolphins, who obtained the third overall selection this year via trade with the Houston Texans and are therefore among the league leaders despite their 10-6 record last year.
New England is forced to operate in different spheres in terms of value, but is still in a better position than last year: the Patriots are ranked 14th after being 23rd in 2020. Of course, the team will need all the capital it can get to improve a roster that has holes across the board.
New England’s $64.5 million in salary cap space helps as well, but when it comes to obtaining cheap talent there is no better avenue than the draft. Luckily for the Patriots, they are in a solid position.