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What Draft Analysts Said About the Patriots Draft

The New England Patriots generally got solid, if not glowing reviews, for their 2021 NFL draft

After their wild free agency shopping spree, the New England Patriots went about the 2021 NFL draft with a more tempered approach and the result, by all accounts, was a solid haul.

The Patriots draft class generally got solid grades from national draft analysts, with a couple going as far as handing out A's.

Here's a sample of those national reviews and grades:

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports

Analysis: Belichick played the hits early with the two semi-predictable Bama selections, followed by the double-dip on Sooners in Rounds 3 and 4. The one outlier for this class is the riskiness of the prospects they selected. All in all, landing a potential starting QB at 15 without having to trade up was a win, and they grabbed a few interesting projects on Day 3. This class banks on Jones following in Tom Brady’s shadow and having to make his way past Cam Newton, but if there’s a spot for Jones to make it, this is it. Grade: B-

Nate Davis, USA Today

QB Mac Jones (in Round 1) and DE Ronnie Perkins (in Round 3) fell to the Pats, and they (wisely) climbed the board to get DT Christian Barmore in the second round, the Alabama-to-Foxborough pipeline alive and well. The defense should get a nice boost after its ranking dropped to 15th in 2020, and Bill Belichick also used a dash of his draft capital to reacquire Pro Bowl OT Trent Brown. The big question here might be how New England designs an offense that both suits veteran QB Cam Newton while making it comfortable enough for Jones, whose skill set is pocket-based. Grade: A-

Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network

This draft felt extremely Patriots-like. I wish they would have been a little aggressive to go get Fields instead of Jones, but they hit QB at the top and got some high upside players throughout. Cam McGrone in the fifth was their best value pick. Grade: B+

Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated

The narrative around Bill Belichick’s laziness seems a bit confounding after just one 7–9 season. Yes, Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl with another great coach and a stacked roster leads us to believe that he was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty, but equating his penchant for drafting Alabama players with a lack of zest for the job feels irresponsible. Mac Jones can represent a youthful energy within the Patriots system, perhaps like a less toolsy Josh Allen (who is also more accurate and less turnover prone initially). Whether or not he starts right away remains to be seen, but his accuracy and the Patriots’ improved weapon set should be putting opponents on notice for 2021. Belichick loves layering talent at the outside linebacker and edge positions. Despite signing Matt Judon and developing Chase Winovich, the Patriots added a tremendous value in Ronnie Perkins, who could help bolster New England’s pass rush and shift the balance of power a bit, from a back-end focused defense to a more balanced unit that can bring pressure without perfect coverage. Grade: B

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

And so Belichick takes a first-round quarterback for the first time, and Patriots fans have to be excited. I think this is a great fit for Jones. I expect him to start a handful of games as a rookie. Barmore will have a role in Year 1 as well. My issue with this class: no receiving help for Jones until Round 7, and no corner at all. That's a missed opportunity, particularly in a deep class of cornerbacks. Grade: B

John McClain, Houston Chronicle

Bill Belichick was fortunate QB Mac Jones fell into his lap. He’ll learn behind Cam Newton and eventually replace him. DT Christian Barmore was the top-rated inside player. He’ll help the run defense and provide an inside push. DE Ronnie Perkins needs time to develop, but at some point he should be able to help the pass rush. Grade: B

Chad Reuter,

Analysis: For months, we thought Jones would be a perfect fit in New England because of his similarities to Tom Brady. With the 49ers passing on Jones at No. 3, Bill Belichick just waited out the process and found the Alabama passer waiting for a phone call at No. 15. Jones doesn’t have to be Brady to have success, just the accurate passer that the team, and offense, needs. Barmore flashed potential as a quality starter, but time will tell as to whether giving up two fourth-round picks to move up eight spots to get him was better than just seeing which D-linemen were available at the Pats' original slot. They found a top-50 talent in Perkins late in Round 3. Stevenson’s power running complements Sony Michel, Damien Harris and James White. He was a top-125 pick on my board, though the team could have used a corner or receiver. McGrone is a typical Patriots linebacker prospect who could thrive under Belichick. Sherman similarly fits the mold of other New England linemen: short, big-bodied and tough. Grade: A-

The Score

It's no secret the Patriots needed a quarterback, and they got their man without having to trade up, as prognosticators suspected they would. Jones may not have "superstar" written all over him, but his skill set is compatible with the complex, quick-pass offensive system New England deploys. In the second round, the Patriots wisely moved up for Barmore, the top defensive tackle prospect by a wide margin. The rest of their class is more likely to produce role players than stars, and that includes McGrone, who slid to the fifth round amid concerns he'll spend the 2021 season recovering from a torn ACL. Grade: B+

Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post

Analysis: Learning from past mistakes, the Jets picked Wilson and then used three picks to help him. Trading up from No. 23 to No. 14 landed the coveted Vera-Tucker (without giving up any first- or second-rounders). Four top-60-caliber players. Too bad they waited too long on cornerbacks. Grade: A

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire

Another class with a strong blend of need and value, the Pats went heavy on defense after loading up on offense in free agency. Their patience was rewarded with Mac Jones in the first round, then they pounced up the board for one of this year’s top interior defenders in Christian Barmore. Ronnie Perkins was a steal at the end of the third round, and both Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe are great upside picks for the defense. Rhamondre Stevenson is a fun back, but that felt like a luxury pick after coming out of this draft without a single cornerback. Grade: B

Doug Farrar and Mark Schofield, Touchdown Wire

The New England Patriots had what you might consider a typical Bill Belichick draft. On the second night they added Christian Barmore at interior defensive line, drafting perhaps the premier player at a rather thin position, and they followed that with pass rusher Ronnie Perkins, who put together some impressive production on limited snaps in 2020. Then on the third day they added an athletic linebacker in Cameron McGrone from Michigan and Joshuah Bledsoe, a safety from Missouri that started for three seasons in the SEC. Ultimately, of course, this draft will hinge on the selection at 15 overall, when the Patriots added Mac Jones, the Alabama quarterback. For a franchise looking to solidify the QB position after the departure of Tom Brady, the success — or failure — of Jones will determine just how strong a draft this was. On paper this is a solid class with great upside, but until we see Jones in the NFL, there is a bit of uncertainty. Still, drafting Jones when they did, without giving up future assets in a trade to move up for him, looks like it could pay off in the end. Grade: A-

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News

The Patriots got their next quarterback and will work to get the most out of Jones’ high floor. Bill Belichick also got three more exciting versatile players for his rebuilding defense with Barmore and Perkins boosting them vs. the pass and McGrone helping vs. the run. Stevenson is their ideal pure power back. Nixon can be a steal helping their passing game late. Grade: B+

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

I’d be more excited about the Patriots’ draft if they had traded up to take Justin Fields instead of waiting for Jones to fall into their laps at no. 15. Yet while the Alabama quarterback doesn’t match Fields’s potential, he’s a great fit for this offense who instantly raises this team’s offensive ceiling. Later, the Pats moved up in the second round to take a first-round-caliber talent in Barmore. And they grabbed a few intriguing playmakers on day three: Perkins provides some juice off the edge, and Stevenson―his former college teammate―should play a rotational role as a rookie.Grade: B