Robert Kraft’s draft analysis was right on target
"I’m happy that we, I think, we had a great draft last year and it made up for what happened the previous four years or so,” Kraft told reporters Tuesday at the league meetings in Palm Beach, Fla."
Whoa. This poignant reminder flies in the face of the popular wisdom that the Patriots — and their football operations department, in particular — can do no wrong. It’s a myth and Mr. Kraft’s uncharacteristically frank and public commentary over the past two offseasons has unequivocally and unquestionably reinforced that actuality.
Frankly, the Patriots’ personnel management for many of the years while they had the greatest of the greats (Tom Brady) at the helm of their offense was lacking in many respects. The most obvious fault was not providing the all-time greatest slinger with top receiving tools to be all that he could be all of the time.
That was a story for another day, but suffice to say, Brady, the greatest safety valve in NFL history, bailed the personnel department out of gaffes in many seasons. One need only look to 2007 to see what the past could have been like if the personnel operation had made it a top priority to bring in first-class receiving talent like Randy Moss every year. Let’s just say six Super Bowl titles could have easily been 12, or a baker’s dozen. That’s enough on that for now.
Regarding the past four drafts, as noted, the 2021 draft was a welcome anomaly. Three top players came aboard. In the prior four years of drafts, however, things weren’t so rosy, as Mr. Kraft specifically noted. Let’s take a good look at what resulted. In the 2017 draft, the team’s top picks — two third-rounders in edge Derek Rivers and offensive tackle Antonio Garcia — both flopped. One site gave the draft a D. No problem at all here with that.
The 2018 draft also underwhelmed. The team had two first-round picks, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel. They passed up much better players at both picks in that one. Wynn has been injured a lot and has been OK when he has played, but nothing more. Michel was a bit above average and, accordingly, he was dealt in 2021 to the ultimate Super Bowl-winning Rams for an embarrassingly paltry sixth-round pick. Second-round pick cornerback Duke Dawson was a complete flop. That draft’s grade has to be a gift C-. D+ would be reasonable as well.