While we won't put a final grade on this draft until 2013, we can start to evaluate now how the draft addressed the Patriots' perceived roster needs and if the Patriots were able to get good value at their picks.
Mel Kiper, Jr. gave us a C+, as he feels that we reached on our picks at linebacker and better options were available at corner.
I'm sure Belichick was quite upset to hear that. (Note sarcasm.)
The Patriots came in with needs across the back seven on defense. Belichick and Pioli addressed that need early and often with the picks of Mayo, Wheatley, Crable, Wilhite, and Ruud.
Mayo will be in the ILB rotation immediately, while Crable will bring much needed depth to the OLB position.
Wheatley will probably contribute mainly as a slot corner to begin with, while Wilhite might crack the dime or quarter rotations. Ruud and Wilhite might help on special teams as well.
Considering that the Patriots scored a bazillion points last year, they didn't have many needs on the offensive side of the ball. Some felt that they needed to look at their offensive line, but free agency and development can help there.
Kevin O'Connell obviously doesn't fill a need for starting QB, but he does help bring competition and upside to a below-average backup QB corps.
Matt Slater should contribute on special-teams and is, at best, a homeless man's Troy Brown.
Value = Need x Rarity
The Patriots had Jerod Mayo as the number one linebacker on their board, so regardless of whether experts have labeled him a reach, Belichick got his guy.
Because Rivers was off the board at 10, ILBs were incredibly rare. Therefore, the Patriots got excellent value for the pick: high need, high rarity.
Wheatley was a slightly different story. Cornerback was definitely a high need area, but the rarity was low, as Charles Godfrey, Terrell Thomas, Justin King, and others were still on the board.
Belichick obviously had Terrence rated higher than the others, and we are not inclined to argue. Even with the low rarity, still a good value.
The O'Connell pick presents a lot of opportunities for the Patriots. He could be a good backup, or he could eventually replace Tom Brady because of injury or retirement.
Another option would be to treat him like Matt Schaub, who brought two second round picks to the Falcons from the Texans. His present value is low, but in the future that could grow exponentially.
NE Patriots Draft Grade: Incomplete (Check back in five years.)