Of course, without seeing the players selected perform on the field, it's silly to access a draft class. But, on a basis of value, here is my accessment: 1.) PICK #17: OT Nate Solder, Colorado: http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?Prospect_ID=2431
Though it's true that the Pats have a great need at DE, there was an equal or, arguably, a greater need at LT. Matt Light is an UFA, and turns 33 in June. At this stage of his career, he's not worthy of the big money that he may be demanding. So, when BB had a shot at Solder, a 6'8", 319 pound dancing bear of a man, with all the attributes you look for in an top NFL LT, he took him. The LT is of vital importance to a successful offense, second only to QB.GRADE: A;
2.) PICK #28: Traded to Saints for the 56th overall pick in 2011, and the Saint's #1 pick in 2012:
The question here is, whether BB got sufficient value for this pick? The Pats dropped 28 spots
in making this deal. A look at the NFL draft-value chart shows that the numerical value for the 28th overall pick is 660 points. The 56th overall selection is valued at 340 points. What's the Saints' #1 pick in 2012 going to be worth? Likely the same as the 56th overall pick is today. Why? Because when a team waits a year to make use of a pick, the present value of a #1 pick in 2012 is considered to be worth a second rounder today...a seconder rounder in 2012 is considered to be worth a 3rd rounder today, and so on. So...in making this trade, it appears that the Pats did nothing more than break even.
That being the case, why did the Patriots pass on a much needed 3-4 DE, Muhammad Wilkerson? Wilkerson would have filled a major need, and would not have gone to their chief rival, the New York Jets. The answer must be the BB did not think much of Wilkerson as a player. If Wilkerson flops in NY, the trade should be rated as a good one. But, if Wilkerson pans out, this trade could be a disaster.
As for Mark Ingram, the Patriots had no intention of taking him at #28. BB determined that there was equal or greater value at RB in the second and third rounds. Ingram is another player that bears watching, in order to determine whether the Pats got value in this trade. The bottom line is that the Pats apparently didn't view any
player available to them at the 28th pick, including Ingram and Wilkerson, to be worthy of such a high pick. Time will tell.GRADE: C;
3.) PICK #33: CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?prospect_id=2156
Dowling wasn't ranked nearly as high as he was selected. But, he has all the attributes a team looks for in a starting CB. He's tall, standing over 6'1", has good speed, and good ball skills. The rub on him is that he's injury prone. He's suffered through a fractured left ankle, a hamstring strain, and an injury to his right knee. The first thing that popped into my head when the Pats chose him was former Pats' second round pick, Terrence (steel rod in wrist) Wheatley...and we all painfully remember how he turned out.
In taking Dowling, BB passed on edge rushers, OLB/DE Brooks Reed (taken by Houston, at #41), and DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard (taken by Cleveland, at #37). If either Reed or Sheard evolves into the second coming of Clay Matthews, depending on how well Dowling plays, this pick must go down as a disaster...and could cost the Pats a championship or two. Due to his horrid injury history, Dowling is a major gamble. It seems that that Pats could have gotten more value for so high a pick. GRADE: D
4.) PICK #56: RB Shane Vereen, California: http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?prospect_id=2703
Say goodbye to Kevin Faulk. But, this was inevitable. Faulk is 34 years old, and needed to be replaced. What made Vareen a Patriot is that he's an excellent receiver, coming out of the backfield. He hauled in 74 passes during his career at Cal.. But, didn't the Pats have Faulk's replacement already, in Danny Woodhead? All purpose power RB Mikel Leshoure was available at #56, and was taken by the Lions at pick #57. Couldn't Leshoure have been the second coming of Corey Dillon? Couldn't he have backed up, or eventually replaced, BLGE? Couldn't Vareen had been had at pick #60?
The tandum of Vereen and Woodhead could serve to prolong each others' careers. But, the Pats were in a position where they could have strengthened their RB position immeasurably, by adding both Vereen and
Leshoure. WR was also a need...and guys like Torrey Smith (taken at #58 by the Ravens), Randall Cobb (taken at #64 by the Packers), and Greg Little (taken at #59 by Cleveland), all were available at pick #56. Vereen is a good player. But, he likely could have been had in the third round. BB could have, and should have, gotten a lot more value out of this pick:GRADE: D;
4.) PICK #60: Traded To the Houston Texans, for the 73rd and 138th overall picks:
Pats could have taken a top WR, or RB Mikel Leshoure at #56. Then, they could have used this pick to draft Shane Vereen:GRADE: D;
5.) PICK #73: RB Stevan Ridley, LSU: http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?prospect_id=2839
The Pats could have taken RB Leshoure, or a quality WR, as described above. Ridley is a power runner, who may turn out to be a good player. But, he likely could have been had in the 4th or 5th round. Again, BB could have, and should have, gotten more value for this pick:GRADE: D; 6.) PICK #74: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/michael_rosenberg/04/26/ryan.mallett/index.html
I have always felt that Mallett was the best QB in this draft class. But, there's got to be a compelling reason why the QB starved teams have passed on him. There likely are some serious, yet unpublicized issues, involving this kid. Nonetheless, he's a kid,
who may be salvageable. If so, the Patriots have drafted the heir apparent to Tom Brady. Mallett has loads of talent, and physical attributes that can't be coached. An excellent gamble, at this point in the draft;GRADE: A;
7.) PICKS #92 & #125: Traded to the Oakland Raiders, in return for the Raiders' 219th overall selection, and their second round draft choice in 2012:
This trade, along with BB's decisions on picks #33, 56, and 60 above, indicates that he sees the 2011 draft class as weak. BB could have used this selection on a needed OG/C. But, a second round draft choice is a valuable chip for next season. GRADE: B;
8.) PICK #138: OG/OT Marcus Cannon, TCU:
Huge man, who should become an eventual starter at RG for the Pats. Health concerns pushed Cannon back to the 5th round. But, there supposedly is a 90% chance that Cannon will experience a complete recovery. The Pats might "redshirt" Cannon this season, by placing him on the physically unable to perform list...much as they did with Brandon Tate. Excellent value on this 5th round selection, that fills a need:GRADE: A; 9.) PICK #159: TE Lee Smith, Marshall: http://www.fftoolbox.com/nfl_draft/profile_display.cfm?prospect_id=2628
In Smith, the Pats hope they found another Christian Fauria...a good back-up with dependable hands, who doesn't mind blocking. Solid 5th round pick;GRADE: B;
10.) PICK #194: DE/OLB Markell Carter, Central Arkansas: http://cdsdraft.com/profile.php?id=5676
At last, BB drafts a 3-4 OLB! Borderline prospect, as one would expect with such a low pick. Was not expected to get drafted. Why not throw away the pick, if you're going to waste it? TE Virgil Green, a Aaron Hernandez type, would have been worth a look;GRADE: C-;
11.) PICK #219: DB Malcolm Williams, TCU: http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/extra_points/2011/04/analysis_of_7th.html
Yawn!! This guy couldn't even start for TCU!GRADE: F; SUMMARY:
I wish BB had gotten more value in the second round, as I described above. Had he done so, this could have been a monster draft for the Pats. Solder and Dowling must develop into quality starters in order for this draft to be labeled as a success. Far more damage could have been done with picks #56 and 60. The addition of a deep threat like Torrey Smith, or a Deion Branch clone, like Randall Cobb, would have made a lot of sense. From the standpoint of value only, this draft appears to be somewhat of a disappointment. It will be interesting to see how players the Pats could have had, but passed on, such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Mark Ingram, Jabaal Sheard, Brooks Reed, Mikel Leshoure, Torrey Smith, and Randall Cobb, evolve.
That said, I loved the Ryan Mallett pick!! Mallett could be the heir apparent to Tom Brady...or could be traded at a later time for a high draft choice. The kid, under the tutorage of BB and Tom Brady, simply has too much talent to fail. As an added bonus, this pick could motivate Tom Brady to even greater heights...if that's possible!
BB also scored in round 5, landing RT/OG Marcus Cannon and Lee Smith. His selections late in round 6 and round 7 were gargantuan reaches.
Yes...the Pats did add the Saints' #1, and the Raiders' seconder rounder for 2012...which oif course adds value. But, the Pats should have gotten more mileage out of picks #56 and 60. Oh well...it is what it is!:GRADE: B-