Patriots

Here is how NFL Draft experts graded the Patriots’ 2021 class

The Patriots made eight selections over the three-day span.

Mac Jones Patriots
Mac Jones after being picked by the Patriots. AP Photo/Tony Dejak

The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone.

Over the weekend, the Patriots added eight new players, with their first-round selection of quarterback Mac Jones making the biggest headlines.

But they also added a pair of defensive lineman on Day 2 of the draft and on Day 3, they added a running back and a wide receiver.

Here is how draft experts graded the picks the Patriots made over the weekend.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: B. ESPN’s top draft expert graded the Patriots’ draft in the middle-of-the-pack among their NFL peers, giving them a B grade for their eight selections.

Kiper wrote that he was a fan of the Patriots’ decision to draft Jones because of their need for a quarterback, especially after going on a spending spree in free agency earlier this offseason. He also liked that the Patriots didn’t need to move up from pick No. 15 in order to get Jones.

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“I really like this pick,” Kiper wrote. “If any team knows how to win with a pocket passer, it’s the Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Jones is not going to scramble and out-run defenders, but he can maneuver the pocket, and he is accurate when he finds a target. Can Jones beat out (Cam) Newton in Year 1? Yes, but it won’t be easy. New England’s ceiling as an offense is higher with Jones under center — now.”

In addition to being a fan of the Jones pick, Kiper believed that Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins could be steals, adding Perkins “went more than 50 spots lower than he is in my rankings.” In addition to praising the Patriots’ Day 2 picks, he also compared Rhamondre Stevenson to LeGarrette Blount, saying he has the potential to be what the former bruising running back was for the Patriots.

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He did have a couple of issues with the Patriots’ draft class, but thought highly of the players they selected.

“And so Belichick takes a first-round quarterback for the first time, and Patriots fans have to be excited,” Kiper wrote. “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.”

Pro Football Focus: A+. The analytical website was as high on the Patriots draft class as possible, making them one of only four teams that received an A+ for their draft.

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Like Kiper, PFF was also high on Jones because of what he did at Alabama last season.

“The narrative surrounding Mac Jones for the past few weeks was focused on whether he was worth not just the No. 3 overall pick, but the three first-round selections the 49ers invested in that draft slot,” the website wrote. “At No. 15 overall, it’s an entirely different conversation. Jones led the nation last season in overall PFF grade (95.8) and was the most accurate college quarterback in terms of adjusted completion rate (84.2%) PFF has seen. This is an outstanding pick.”

PFF also ranked Barmore as the top defensive tackle prospect in the draft, writing “he should have been a first-round draft pick.” It also commended the picks of Perkins and Cameron McGrone, adding that they liked what they saw from both players in limited action this past season.

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“Perkins burst onto the scene with a 90.5 PFF grade last season,” PFF wrote. “The problem was that his stellar play came on only 262 snaps, and some of that was against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. If that production is real, he is an excellent steal at this pick.”

NFL.com’s Chad Reuter: A-. Like PFF, Reuter was also high on the Patriots’ draft class. And like Kiper and PFF, he’s also really high on the Patriots’ selection of Jones.

“For months, we thought Jones would be a perfect fit in New England because of his similarities to Tom Brady,” Reuter wrote. “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.”

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Reuter also believes Barmore could be a solid starter but questioned the Patriots’ price of giving up two fourth-round picks to move up from pick No. 46 to No. 38. He did like the Patriots’ third-round selection of Perkins, writing that the defensive end was one of his top 50 prospects.

The only other concern Reuter had was that they didn’t add a cornerback at all in the draft and that they didn’t pick a receiver until late, but he did like the players they grabbed on Day 3.

“Stevenson’s power running complements Sony Michel, Damien Harris, and James White,” Reuter wrote. “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. (William) Sherman similarly fits the mold of other New England linemen: short, big-bodied, and tough.”

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Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr: B. Orr trended toward the same grade as Kiper, grading teams on a curve and ranking the Patriots’ draft class in the middle-of-the-pack.

“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),” Orr wrote of the Patriots’ first-round pick. “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.”

Sporting News’s Vinnie Iyer: B+. Iyer ranked the Patriots as having the 16th-best draft class this year, giving some quick compliments for most of their selections.

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“The Patriots got their next quarterback and will work to get the most out of Jones’ high floor,” Iyer wrote. “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. (Tre) Nixon can be a steal helping their passing game late.”

The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia: B for the Jones pick, A for the Barmore pick, and B+ for the Perkins pick. Kapadia ranked each pick in the first three rounds, and liked each pick the Patriots made.

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“Jones isn’t a great athlete, and he doesn’t have a huge arm. But he completed 77.4 percent of his passes last year and threw 41 touchdowns to four interceptions,” Kapadia wrote. “Jones should never be compared to Tom Brady, but the Patriots’ coaching staff knows how to scheme around a pocket passer.”

In grading the Barmore pick, Kapadia noted that while Barmore hasn’t played as much compared to his peers, it’s still risk worth taking for the Patriots.

“Barmore wasn’t the most consistent player in college, but the flashes were impressive. He had eight sacks and three forced fumbles last season,” Kapadia wrote. “The body of work is relatively small — he started just six games in three seasons — but if Barmore reaches his potential, he could offer huge upside as some version of Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones.”

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On Perkins, Kapadia noted that while the Oklahoma defensive end served a six-game suspension for a failed drug test, getting him in the third round is well worth it due to his “pass-rush upside.”

Washington Post’s Mark Maske: A. Like several of the experts mentioned before, Maske liked that the Patriots didn’t have to trade up to get Jones and believed they got good value with their Day 2 picks.

“It has been a bountiful offseason for the Patriots, from their uncharacteristic spending spree in free agency to this highly productive draft, as they attempt to bounce back from their miserable 2020 season,” Maske wrote. “Trade up for QB Mac Jones? Why? There was no need, as the Patriots stayed put at No. 15 and landed the QB believed to have been in the running for the No. 3 choice by the 49ers. The Patriots then got tremendous value with their Day 2 selections of DT Christian Barmore and DE Ronnie Perkins.”

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