You know, conventional wisdom, history, and simple common sense would all tell you that it takes a good three years or so to properly measure the success of an NFL draft. But right now I care about none of those things. I think a week is plenty of time. I like my gratification one way, and that is most definitely instant. As Kyle Shanahan would like to point out, he can't guarantee I'll be alive Sunday. So why would I not jump to all sorts of ridiculous, fully formed conclusions about the Patriots 2021 draft?
I mentioned earlier in the week that a compilation of the grades from 18 of the top draft experts gave the Pats a GPA of 3.57, which was good for sixth best in the league. I think it deserves to be higher, but given the fact they were pickpocketed of their 3rd rounder because a documentary crew with no connection to the football operations pointed a camera in the direction of the Bengals, sixth best is still pretty damned impressive.
But that's just 18 expert opinions. As the days go by and more grades come in, that GPA keeps climbing. At this rate, they'll be getting close to the 4.0 Mac Jones earned at that impressive institution of higher learning, the University of Alabama. Take, for instance the ranking by CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson. His preferred method was to judge the value each team got from their picks by comparing where they selected a player to where he was expected to come off the board. "So, for example, if a team took a safety in the middle of the third round but we had him going in the middle of the second round, that team got second-round value in Round 3," he says. "Likewise, if a team takes a safety in Round 3 who we had graded as a fourth-rounder then they've overdrafted that player."
Got it? Good. By that standard, no one got better players at a lower draft price than New England:
1. New England Patriots ...
Favorite pick: Alabama's Christian Barmore continues the Tuscaloosa-to-Foxborough pipeline, and is the first defensive lineman off the board. We had him as a late first-rounder.
Best value: Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins has first-round talent (we gave him a late first-round grade) but needs to refine his pass-rush moves and play with more consistency, something that will certainly be impressed upon him with the Patriots. Still, to get a high-upside pass rusher two full rounds later than we expected is one of the reasons the Patriots are atop our 2021 rankings.
Most surprising pick: Alabama QB Mac Jones. We're joking. Other than San Francisco there was no better landing spot for Jones who told former GM Scott Pioli back in the fall that he didn't care where he was drafted he just wanted to play for the Pats. We had Jones as our No. 11 player on our Big Board.
And as far as some of the others, RB Rhamondre Stevenson was considered a late 3rd and New England got him in the middle of the 4th. LB Cameron McGrone was expected to go where they took Stevenson, but they got him in the 5th. And they pulled a 5th round projection, safety Joshua Bledsoe, off the board in the 6th.
Meaning that, according to CBS Sports' predraft rankings, each of the first six players they took were bargains. As Bill Belichick is so often quoted as saying, his team "let the draft come to you." The patience - and straight up the balls of pure vibranium - he showed staying at No. 15 for Mac Jones to fall to him without having to spend more draft capital to get him, set a tone for the entire draft. Even when he gave up a pair of 4ths (Nos. 122 and 139) to move up eight spots to take Christian Barmore, it was a deal. Because Barmore was the first interior defensive lineman in the entire class. And ranked the 13th best overall prospect by NFL.com going in. And yet the guy they got the cheapest, relevant to where he was ranked, is Ronnie Perkins. A 1st rounder they got at No. 96.
Anyone of them alone would make for a successful draft. Getting three such picks, or six, could be historic. Belichick was wildly aggressive in free agency, then showed the patience of a Buddhist monk in the draft. And that is how you do one of the most important offseasons in your franchise's history. Don't take my word for it. Take the collective word of the NFL draft experts from across the country.
P.S. I just found where two years ago, meaning the draft where they took N'Keal Harry, Joejuan Williams and Jarrett Stidham, the Pats got the highest GPA according to those same 18 experts. Which worried me at the time. But I'm sure this time they're right on the money. Nothing to be concerned about here.