Few teams have undergone a bigger transformation since the end of the 2020 season than the New England Patriots, and they made perhaps their biggest addition of the offseason when they selected quarterback Mac Jones in the recent NFL draft.
But how are national media members viewing the Patriots and where they stand in their effort to bounce back from last year's uncharacteristic losing season.
Based on a survey of 10 national media outlets that released post-draft power rankings this week, there's a big difference of opinion in how they're viewed.
Three of the 10 media outlets had the Patriots at 10, 11 or 12 while another four had them at either 18 or 19. The average ranking for New England was 15.1, which would put them just outside of playoff range.
Here are the reviews of the Patriots in the post-draft power rankings (with previous ranking in parentheses where applicable):
Ranking: 12 (21)
Analysis: The Patriots brought back Cam Newton, drafted Mac Jones and moved up nine spots in our rankings. Is this because their players who opted out of the 2020 season are back? Because of their free-agent splurge at tight end? Because of Belichick and some sort of Patriots Mystique? Some of our voters are going to be asked to defend themselves.
Rankings: 10 (18)
Analysis: Cam Newton is back, but first-round pick Mac Jones will present a nice challenge to be the starting quarterback. Whoever starts will be set up in a nice situation.
Ranking: 15 (16)
Analysis: They've added a slew of talent this offseason. But how do you design an offense that both serves QB Cam Newton's talents and helps first-round QB Mac Jones get ready to play?
Ranking: 16 (15)
Analysis: While Cam Newton didn't produce a good 2020 campaign, he should still hold off Jones for the starting job, at least to start the season. If the 2015 MVP can't rebound, it won't be due to a lack of talent around him this time. Meanwhile, Jones is a solid Plan B for the Patriots.
Mac Jones lands in a great place in New England. He's a high-floor quarterback who will have success in Josh McDaniels' offense. Fit is everything for quarterbacks and this is a great fit.
Analysis: Mac Jones will start by Halloween, and the Patriots will have a winning record.
Ranking: 19 (18)
Analysis: The Patriots kept up their bridge with Cam Newton, but now have a totally different rookie waiting in Mac Jones. Bill Belichick's team remains a a bit of a wild-card, bound to be on the slightly better side of .500.
Ranking: 18 (20)
Analysis: Sure, the Patriots would have "won" the draft had Justin Fields ended up in Foxborough, but that ultimately doesn't matter. Fields is in Chicago, and the Pats will move forward with Mac Jones, the Alabama star who was purportedly pegged as the third pick in the draft for weeks before the Niners pulled their rope-a-dope routine in Cleveland. Jones is known for his accuracy and decision-making, cherished traits in a Josh McDaniels offense. The question is, how long it will take Jones to crack the starting lineup? Jarrett Stidham becomes a franchise afterthought, but a camp battle between Jones and Cam Newton promises some of the best theater of the summer.
Analysis: No team in the NFL has undergone a bigger transformation in 2021 than the New England Patriots.After slogging through a seven-win season in 2020 and missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, the Pats took a buzzsaw to their roster. They were the NFL's most active team in free agency, adding veteran tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry on offense and edge-rusher Matthew Judon and linebacker Kyle Van Noy of defense.The Patriots continued that aggressiveness in the draft, trading up in Round 2 to draft Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. But the centerpiece of New England's draft class has to be Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, whom it drafted 15th overall.
Analysis: The Patriots were a tough team to rank. Will it be Cam Newton or Mac Jones? One thing is for sure: Bill Belichick has a far better group of players to work with now than he did in 2020.