What overall grade would you assign to the Patriots for their 2014 draft haul?
Jason: This was a C- draft for me. Forget the value in the late rounds, which was a fairly nice haul. The first pick is a guy who has a high ceiling and an exceptionally low floor, and the second selection isn’t likely to ever see the field in a meaningful situation over the next 2-3 years. That’s not a recipe for success. The trio of 4th round picks saved this draft from potentially being a disaster. RB James White may have been one of the steals of the draft, and it’s likely that at least one of the two linemen they nabbed in the 4th (C Bryan Stork and OT Cameron Flemming) will grow into a starting role by 2015.
Kyle: While there are many media curmudgeons who say, “I won’t grade the draft, it’s too soon,” half of the fun of ignoring your family for nearly half a week is the instant reaction and corresponding grade. I would give them a B, which could become a B+. I liked the Easley pick, along with the Stork and Fleming additions to the offensive line depth. I think James White is going to be a steal who gives them a ready replacement for Shane Vereen (their physical stats are almost identical). They needed to draft a tight end, which is why I gave them a B for the draft.
Rick: I would give the Patriots a B in this draft. There is a lot of risk in these picks with Easley and Garappolo, but they are picks that can reap the Patriots a big reward in the long run. I liked the picks they made in the later rounds by addressing the offensive line with the selections of offensive linemen Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, and Jon Halapio. James White in the 4th round could be a solid pick for New England because he has experience in a power back system at Wisconsin. The sleeper pick in this draft could be Jeremy Gallon. The 7th round WR from Michigan has experience in the return game and he was a receiver at Michigan who could go up and get the football. Now, he gets an upgrade at QB by going from Devin Gardner/Denard Robinson to a future Hall-Of-Famer in Tom Brady. All in all, Belichick and company made the picks to improve depth on the team in 2014 and develop potential impact players for 2015 and beyond.
Raj: B-. This was a really weird draft. First of all, this draft class was lame. I felt like there was much better talent last year and they year before. The Patriots didn’t do their usual thing where they usually trade their first rounders for more picks in later rounds like how they’ve done in most recent years. I’m giving them a B- because they players that they did draft are talented. In addition to the draft, they also picked up an undrafted player from Rutgers University, Jeremy Deering. Since I go to school at Rutgers, I’ve watched the football team closely and Deering is a dynamic safety who is not afraid to step up when need be. He handles pressure very well too. I’m surprised he wasn’t drafted. So if you take into consideration everything that New England has done, I think they had a pretty successful draft but made a few questionable decisions. But then again, there’s only so much you can do when the entire draft class isn’t impressive.
Derek: In the long run, we will likely look back at this draft as an A or an F. Does Dominique Easley manage to stay healthy and become a cornerstone of the defense, or is he Ras-I Dowling 2.0? Does Jimmy Garappolo become the starting quarterback for this team and have a long and successful career leading the Patriots offense, or is he just the next Brian Hoyer? Since I don’t have a crystal ball, I’ll go in the middle and say this draft is a C, which is extremely frustrating. I wanted to come out of this draft feeling good about the Patriots, not with more questions than answers. It looks like “wait and see” is all we’re going to get. These moves could be utter failures or huge helps for this team. Until we find that out, it’s time to hope for the best and trust in Bill.