New England Patriots Draft Grade

Round 1: Dominique Easley 

Easley a debatable pick

Easley a debatable pick

With their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Patriots selected Dominique Easley from Florida. The first thing that surprised me was that the Patriots did not trade this pick to gain later picks especially in the second round. While Easley does offer versatility on the defensive line, a key in the Patriots defense, the problem is that they would have been better off with a run stopping nose tackle. Also, the value here is questionable. At best Easley was a third or fourth round pick. Why? Despite his pass rushing and play-making ability Easley has multiple red flags when it comes to health. With two ACL injuries in college already, durability is a major concern. Despite his flexibility in the Patriots defense, Easley being just on the field is a major concern in 2014. Also, with multiple late round picks, the Patriots could have picked him up much later and addressed safety position or added another play-maker on offense. A reach pick with injury concerns, this could come back to haunt New England. Grade: C –

Round 2: Jimmy Garoppolo 

Tom Brady's heir?

Tom Brady’s heir?

A great pick in terms of preparing for the future. Ryan Mallet is a great backup, but with his quick release and accuracy Garoppolo is a perfect fit for New England’s passing attack. One great thing about the Patriots is that they plan for the future. The hope is that in three or four years if Tom Brady decides to retire Geroppolo will be ready to step right in. This would be an A+ pick, except that it doesn’t help the Patriots in the present. Grade: A- 

Round 4: Bryan Stork 

Versatile backup

Versatile backup

Stork is a versatile center who can play all along the offensive line. A long-term project in terms of becoming a full-time starter his versatility makes it easy to see why the Patriots drafted him. Once again, the Patriots stretched for a player who would have been available much later. With some very good cornerbacks and tight end prop sects available, the stretch for Stork could have cost the Patriots a starter. Grade: B –

Round 4: James White 

White the right choice?

White the right choice?

After losing their leading rusher to free agency, the Patriots needed to beef up the running back position. By passing on the talented Andre Williams earlier in the round New England took White late in round four. Despite never being the full-time back at Wisconsin, White excelled as a rotational player.  He will be a nice rotational piece in the Patriots offense, but it will be hard to imagine White getting more than a handful of touches in 2014. Another reach for a player who could have been picked much later. Fills a need, but nothing more than adding to the depth chart.  Grade: C

Round 4: Cameron Fleming 

Beefing up the offensive line

Beefing up the offensive line

A steal in round four, Fleming is the best value pick for the Patriots to this point. A massive right tackle with quick feet, Fleming  is a powerful run blocker who has steadily improved in pass protection. With an offensive line starting to get long in the tooth, Fleming could push for a starting job at right tackle or inside at guard. Worse case scenario is that he will be a backup this season, but he has the upside to be a starter within three seasons for New England. Very smart player and a great football student, sounds like a Belichick kind of football player. Grade: B+

Round 6: Jon Halapio 

Threes company

Threes company

A head scratcher especially with two picks already being used on the offensive line. The offensive line maybe aging, but it’s not the biggest concern on the Patriots. Halapio is a decent run blocker, but his athleticism has been called into question. With poor pass blocking in college, it’s hard to imagine Halapio seeing action in 2014. A practice squad player at best, he could be released by Patriots before the season. Costs the Patriots a pick they could have used somewhere else. Grade: D+

Round 6: Zach Moore 

Edge rusher

Edge rusher

A division 2 standout at 6’5 and 270 pounds, Moore defiantly has the raw tools to be an effective pass rushing outside linebacker. The good news is that Belichick could use him as an effective situational pass rusher until he fully develops into an everyday player. With a great upside and a low side of being a situational pass rusher, Moore could be a dark horse for the best pick for the Patriots in this draft. Grade: B +

Round 6: Jemea Thomas 

Addressing the secondary

Addressing the secondary

Even with Darrelle Revis, you still need more than one corner. Thomas could compete with Logan Ryan as the number 2 corner, but will probably play in the slot. His flexibility to play at safety also adds versatility to the Patriots defense. At 5’9 his size does limit him, but he is an all around solid football player. No great attributes, but no major flaws wither. Could be a versatile role player in 2014. Grade: B

Round 7: Jeremy Gallon 

Finally a weapon, but too late

Finally a weapon, but too late

A small 5’7 receiver, Gallon could be used as a slot receiver in New England. With an offense that utilizes the middle field and especially the slot receiver, Gallon could be another great weapon for Brady. He will have to have a great training camp to make opening roster and could help his chances if he can show potential as a punt/kick returner. This pick does address the offense, but waiting until the last pick was a mistake by the Patriots: Grade: B 

Overall Grade: C2005-tom-brady-bill-belichick

This was a very uncharacteristic draft for the Patriots. With no trading down to accumulate additional picks, the Patriots stood pat in 2014. Unfortunately, they stretched in the early rounds for players and while they did get some great value picks late and the Patriots have the tendency to draft a questionable player who turns into a star, this draft has more questions than answers. If anything, the late round picks have more upside then the early picks. The other problem is that this team did not address all of their needs. They ignored the tight end position, which has been devastated over the past two seasons and safety. With the importance of both these positions for what the Patriots like to do, completely ignoring both of these positions came as a big surprise. Finally, while they did shore up the future at quarterback, they did not help their current quarterback. Can the Patriots give Brady some weapons? With the lack of tight ends and wide receivers, it was a shock that the Patriots waited until round seven to get Brady a target. Round 7! If the Patriots want to win another Super Bowl, surround Brady with weapons. Tom Brady can make average players into good players, but he needs elite play-makers to make New England a Super Bowl contender. Take a note from Denver, give your quarterback some weapons. With a great group of receivers and tight ends in this draft, the Patriots missed the boat. The Patriots are still a playoff team, but with this poor draft they are not a true Super Bowl Contender.

 

 

 

 

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