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Sorting through the grades

Posted by Albert Breer  April 25, 2010 11:28 AM

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Might seem a little silly to grade the NFL draft a few hours after it ends, after months of talking about how "no one knows."

Still, doesn't do much harm ... And the Patriots are getting high marks ... So let's take a look at them:

Charles Robinson over at Yahoo! thinks the Patriots are one of this draft's winners:
Just from the standpoint of warm bodies, you have to tip your hat to the Patriots. After selecting 12 players in the 2009 draft, they come back with another double-digit whopper, including six players in the first 113 selections. The three defensive selections in the first two rounds will be key to rebuilding that fading unit. No doubt, Belichick is casting a wide net in recent years while trying to prove that past personnel success wasn’t just a function of having Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff doing the behind-the-scenes dirty work.
My old colleague Clifton Brown of the Sporting News gives New England a "B":
This was an inside-info draft for Bill Belichick, who took three Florida players coached by buddy Urban Meyer. The Patriots slipped last season, so this was an important draft because they had more holes to fill than usual. Devin McCourty is a cover corner who can help on special teams. Inside linebacker Brandon Spikes could be a second-round steal. The Patriots, however, might regret passing on wide receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas by trading out of the No. 22 spot.
The draft king Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, who's got a formula for these kinds of things, put the Patriots at an "A":
The Patriots had the best second round in this draft. Gronkowski is a walk-in starter at tight end, and Spikes provides a run-support presence next to Jerod Mayo. New England also took the best punter in the draft.
And Rob Rang, of CBSSports.com and NFL Draft Scout, uses the "V" word in giving the Patriots a "B":
No one gets better value in the draft than the Patriots. They masterfully move back in the draft, pick up extra picks and then add players who should have been taken earlier. As the Patriots did last April with the selections of defensive backs Patrick Chung and Darius Butler, they traded down in the first round (twice) and found steady cornerback Devin McCourty still on the board. McCourty isn't as flashy in man coverage as Kyle Wilson or Patrick Robinson, but he's a sound overall defender and could be a force on special teams. The Patriots gave QB Tom Brady downfield targets with arguably the best all-around tight end in the 2010 draft in Rob Gronkowski and speedy Ohio WR Taylor Price in the third round. Gronkowski slipped due to questions about the health of his back, but he'll provide the team with a quality security blanket in the middle and, unlike most tight ends in today's NFL, is a physical blocker. The Patriots addressed their need for young linebackers with a pair of former Florida Gators in the second round -- Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham. Spikes' poor speed in workouts won't matter as an inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 scheme. Cunningham might have a more difficult time adjusting. He'll be making the transition from defensive end to rush linebacker and has only marginal overall agility. A pair of SEC defensive linemen, Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston address the Patriots' concern for depth."
What do you guys think?
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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