Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been doing things their own way for 20 years, probably going back to cutting lawyer Milloy when everyone thought they were crazy. It turned out pretty well for them, culminating in the biggest dynasty in major American professional team sports.
Therefore, each rating comes with a disclaimer. Not everyone likes the Patriots ranks, but…these are the Patriots. They’re just smarter than everyone else.
What if they aren’t this time? What if hitting a round or two on just about every pick wasn’t the right move? Tom Brady is no longer there to hide problems; it’s a new era of Patriots.
It’s possible all the grades are good and it’s just a bad draft, just when New England needs to move on.
the Los Angeles Rams laughed in the first round of the Patriots, Tennessee-Chattanooga goaltender Cole Strange. And if you want to believe the Rams’ reaction was misunderstood, that’s fine, but it reflected the opinion of others. The Patriots went from No. 21 to No. 29 and took Strange, who wasn’t on anyone’s radar for a first-round pick. Belichick said the Patriots could have taken him all the way to 21st if the team hadn’t traded (“Probably a good chance it was him,” Belichick said). Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton was considered at least a one-round reach, and if there’s one negative thing about Belichick that no one can argue with, it’s that he struggles to recruit recipients.
There’s nothing wrong with being unconventional, but the whole project felt like a reach.
“Generally most of their picks – other than Marcus Jones – were taken about a round higher than we would have liked, and there were repeats (Jack Jones, Bailey Zappe) for the tracks that they already have it on the list,” Yahoo Sports editorial expert Eric Edholm wrote.
There were choices for smaller schools and choices that felt like litters and others that didn’t seem to meet a need. Of course, the Patriots don’t care what you think.
“We try to ignore the noise here,” said Matt Groh, director of player personnel for the Patriots.
It’s a Patriots draft, for better or for worse. It will rely heavily on their own scouting views, which has worked in the past. But this is perhaps the most fascinating draft class of all. Either the haters of the Patriots finally laugh at New England or, as usually happens, the Patriots will be the last to laugh.
Here’s our look back at the NFL Draft and picking the winners and losers:
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are really good at drafting.
They stayed put and got Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with the 14th pick. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Hamilton ended up having the best career of any player in this draft class. Later in the first round, after trading the receiver Marquise Brown they got their starting center, Tyler Linderbaum from Iowa, who slipped a bit but is a very good player. Second-round pick David Ojabo is a risk because the Michigan rusher just suffered an Achilles injury, but he could hit big if he recovers. Defensive tackle Travis Jones, a third-round pick, was considered by some to be a borderline first-round pick.
Each pick felt like a batting practice fastball for the Ravens. They filled needs, obtained value, landed impact players from day one. The Ravens were a strong team last season that was decimated by injuries. They will be back in contention this season, with a strong class of rookies to help them out.
Malik Willis: Willis, the Liberty quarterback who many thought would be the best quarterback on the board in the NFL Draft, couldn’t have been happy to slip to the third round, but it could work out just fine. .
the Tennessee Titans took Willis with the 86th pick. It’s not the worst. First-round quarterbacks should play. There’s not the same pressure on teams to play third-round quarterbacks. Willis has tremendous skills but will need time. The Titans aren’t replacing Ryan Tannehill anytime soon, but he’ll be 34 this season. If Willis comes along and lands the NFL well, there could be a clear succession plan without him being unduly pressured to play too soon.
“I’m just blessed to have a place to go, a place to call home,” Willis said, via TitansWire. “I appreciate the opportunity to play at the next level, and I’m just ready to come in and work hard and be the best teammate I can be.”
The draft slide must have been frustrating, but Willis found himself in a great position.
Jalen hurts: The quarterback who could have been the biggest first-round winner was probably Hurts.
A healthy AJ Brown makes any quarterback look better. Hurts enters a key third season, still unsure of being the future quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, but having shown some good times. The Eagles made the playoffs last season, and now they have Brown, DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and a solid running game that had the most yards in the NFL in 2021. All of that helps a quarterback -back.
Hurts has a great opportunity. Brown is going to make it better. Nothing is stopping the Eagles from making the playoffs again. With a big season, Hurts could establish himself as the Eagles’ starter for the foreseeable future, just as his rookie contract is one year away from expiring. He’s well placed, and the Eagles could be too.
Tennessee Titans: Maybe the Titans don’t need anyone on offense other than Derrick Henry. We could find out.
Titans tipped AJ Brown then traded him to Philadelphia Eagles, saying they couldn’t bridging the gap with its contractual requirements. With that, the Titans lost their second-best offensive player.
It might end up looking smart, especially if Treylon Burks has a great career. The Titans picked Burks with the first-round pick they got for trading Brown. But a No. 1 seed in the AFC last season is suddenly quite thin in the passing game. Burks is impressive physically but might need time to adjust to NFL play. Robert Woods, acquired from the Los Angeles Rams, is a very good player but he is 30 years old and has an ACL.
We’ll see where the Titans go from here. But abandoning Brown sets them back.
Justin Fields: There’s more than one way to help a quarterback. Writing a good defense to take the pressure off him can help.
But the Bears didn’t go all-in to put coins around Fields before his second season. They had three picks in the top 167 and used their first two on defense. The third pick, receiver Velus Jones Jr., might go well, but he’s more of a gimmick player than an alpha receiver.
It’s a big year for Fields, and practically speaking, he’ll have the same offense around him, but without Allen Robinson II. We’ll see how it goes. You might hear a lot this season that the Bears haven’t done enough to help Fields’ development.
The enemies of the jets: It’s fun to make jokes about the New York Jets. Sometimes they make it easier.
But it’s hard to do after this draft. Yes, making three first-round picks will improve any team’s draft, and it’s not like the Jets haven’t paid for those picks. They did well with the picks, however, with the top four being players who should start right away and make an impact: cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson, setter Jermaine Johnson II and carry Breece Hall ball. Many would agree that Gardner, Wilson and Hall were the best in their respective positions in this draft class.
Last year’s Jets draft was also deep, and those players should continue to improve this season. The development of quarterback Zach Wilson is huge and we will see how he evolves. But the Jets gave him some help and improved the roster overall. The AFC East is tough, but the Jets are coming in strong with a core of young talent. They could soon be suitors.