Patriots 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web
The New England Patriots have made their nine selections in the 2014 NFL draft. Now begins the lunacy of grading the freshly selected rookie classes before the ink has dried on the draft cards that bore their names.
Here is a look at how five national pundits ranked the Patriots' draft class, and what I think of their grades.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: B-
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com loved their first-round pick, but he only gave the New England Patriots a slightly above-average grade: B-.
"I know first-round pick Dominique Easley is a risk with double knee surgery, but he is worth it. I didn't like the pick of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second. With the window closing on Tom Brady, get him some more players. Try to win now."
Prisco's shortsighted strategy of "win now" is what gets many teams in long-term trouble.
Prisco has a point: Jimmy Garoppolo won't help in 2014. That said, if you wait until you need to draft a quarterback to start, you've waited far too long. Incumbent backup Ryan Mallet is on the final year of his contract, while Tom Brady has at least a couple of productive years left.
Garoppolo is the bridge that will transition the Patriots into the post-Brady era.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN.com: C
Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (subscription required) gave the New England Patriots the lowest grade I've seen: C.
I really like Bryan Stork, and adding him, Cameron Fleming and Jon Halapio really strengthens the depth chart. James White hits a need at RB, and he holds on to the ball. Jeremy Gallon is dangerous after the catch, and offers depth in the slot. I can see him becoming a factor.
In Jimmy Garoppolo, you have a nice developmental talent, and potentially a commodity. If Easley stays healthy, this draft looks a lot better. New England just placed a pricey bet that he will.
While Kiper gave the Patriots an average grade, I'm not sure what more he wanted to see. He mentions strengthening the depth chart on the offensive line, adding a capable and sure-handed running back in White and he even praises the Garoppolo selection.
Kiper talks a lot about value, so perhaps he feels that New England could have squeezed another couple of picks—or future picks—out of this draft and still have picked the same players.
Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report: B-
Alessandro Miglio from Bleacher Report was kind enough to give the New England Patriots an above-average grade: B-.
Belichick stayed put instead of trading up or down, a bit uncharacteristic for New England's head coach. No matter—the Patriots got a much-needed upgrade at defensive tackle.
Were it not for a torn ACL, Easley might have gone in the top 15 of the draft. The big defensive tackle was injured early enough last season that he could be ready to play in Week 1, however, which is likely why the Patriots were willing to take him in the first round here.
The Patriots nabbed their quarterback of the future in the second round in Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois.
Miglio mentioned Belichick's relative lack of movement—just one trade—which makes me think that he was happy with the value he was getting throughout the 2014 NFL draft.
As Miglio mentioned, Easley being ready for Week 1 would be huge for New England. Newly signed cornerback Brandon Browner already has a four-game suspension, and the Patriots will need all hands on deck.
Matthew Fairburn, SB Nation: C+
Matthew Fairburn from SB Nation graded the New England Patriots out as slightly above average: C+.
The Easley pick was a good one at the end of the first round, but drafting Jimmy Garoppolo seems like a mistake. It was too early for a player with as many flaws as he has. On day three, the Patriots didn't have a ton of picks that stood out as particularly good. They added a bunch of offensive linemen, but it's unclear how ready they are to contribute right away.
Jeremy Gallon and Jemea Thomas were both decent value late in the draft, but New England made its best pick on the first night of the draft. Bill Belichick once again showed quite a bit of interest in Florida players.
I give Fairburn a lot of respect; he didn't blast the Garoppolo pick because of the draft position or Brady. He has been a noted critic of Garoppolo throughout the draft process, ranking him below David Fales and Zach Mettenberger.
Fairburn is right on with the value of Gallon and Thomas. They might not be starters, but each should be able to find a role where they can contribute. You can't ask for more with sixth- and seventh-round picks.
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: C+
Chris Burke and Doug Farrar gave the Patriots draft a C+ at Sports Illustrated:
The Tom Brady championship window is closing slowly, and yet New England may not have added a single player that will have a major impact in 2014. DT Dominique Easley has the best chance, both this year and beyond, if he’s healthy, but he is still recovering from an ACL injury.
A couple others, RB James White and WR Jeremy Gallon, might push their way into the lineup. Everyone else, most notably QB Jimmy Garoppolo, appears to have someone firmly planted in front of them on the depth chart. Having depth is a must. Did the Patriots miss out on the opportunity for more?
I disagree with their assessment of the draft on two accounts. The interior linemen drafted by the New England Patriots—Jon Halapio and Bryan Stork—have Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly in front of them on the depth chart. I'd hardly call that having someone "firmly planted in front of them."
Secondly, they lamented the closing championship window while in the same breath panning the Garoppolo pick. When one window starts to close, you don't move. You just open another window.