The New England Patriots would not have won Super Bowl 52 without two players picked in the 2014 NFL Draft. Find out how Sports Illustrated re-graded them.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo kicked off the 2016 campaign for the New England Patriots by winning the regular-season opener on the road. Running back James White ended it by scoring the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl 52. What do Garoppolo and White have in common? Both were selected by the Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Picking up two key contributors for a Super Bowl champion apparently was not enough to impress Sports Illustrated writer Chris Burke. In his article posted on SI.com last Tuesday, Burke seemed to put a higher emphasis on failed first-round pick Dominique Easley. Burke re-graded the 2014 NFL Draft for all 32 NFL teams based on how the players turned out.
Here’s what Burke had to say about New England’s 2014 draft class that he re-graded a B-:
"Even though he entered the draft whilst rehabbing an ACL injury, Easley projected as a potential steal. He wound up to be a disappointing bust instead, and is now trying to save his career as a Ram. Of course, the Patriots also selected QB Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 62) in 2014, and what happens with his contract could be a defining development next off-season. The Patriots found role players in this class: RB James White (No. 130), C Brian Stork (No. 105, now retired), OL Cameron Fleming (No. 140)."
Calling White a role player is fair, but his performance in Super Bowl 52 was MVP-worthy. Garoppolo was also in high demand leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft — and still is. In 2016 player grades here on MusketFire.com, I gave each player an A- because of how important they both were.
While Easley never panned out, he was one of Bill Belichick’s rare misses in the draft. Hitting on Garoppolo and White more than made up for that one. Coincidentally, Burke also said the best pick for the New Orleans Saints in 2014 was wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Of course Cooks is now a member of the Patriots, so give Belichick an A for that move.