1. Patriots “reached” way too often in the draft
Well, the Patriots reached in the draft for certain. Major national and local draft pundits as well as beat writers almost routinely determined that. Additionally, well-respected draft publications rated several players the Patriots selected as being penciled in as significantly lower-round picks compared to where they were taken.
First-round pick and offensive lineman Cole Strange was one of those perceived reaches. First, he was routinely rated as a second- or third-round value and one publication had him as a center, not a guard, as his presumptive position.
Like Strange, second-round pick Tyquan Thornton (for whom the Patriots traded up in the round), the uber-speedy yet rail-thin wide receiver from Baylor, was also often rated lower than a second-round pick. He was rated as more of a third-rounder or even Day 3 pick.
That’s where, as the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan (who rated the draft a D+) and this space would point out is where the “opportunity cost” comes in. That cost comes in the form of the player(s) the Patriots could have drafted before the players they did, while still quite possibly adding Strange and Thornton. No one will ever know, but it’s a plausible theory, nonetheless.
Cornerback Marcus Jones, though only 5-foot-8, is a player and pretty much everyone else thought so too. Yet, the team’s three fourth-round picks raised all kinds of questions. They were all questionable in some way.
Cornerback Jack Jones of Arizona State is another very small cornerback who was rated lower. Running back Pierre Strong Jr. of South Dakota State is fast, but was running back a real position of need? And, with their last fourth-round pick, the team selected quarterback Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky.
Quarterback was in no way a team need. While some pundits may think that drafting for backups in the fourth round is all you ever do, that opinion is a bit off mark. You should draft for starters or not at all. After all, you never know when a Tom Brady might appear in a later round. Do you?
The team then took yet another running back, Kevin Harris from South Carolina. Then they selected two offensive linemen — LSU’s Chasen Hines and Michigan’s Andrew Steuber — who just may make the team. Both can play.
In totality, the team reached mightily and the players/positions they could have selected were much more highly rated than those they selected. They should have done better. This draft was rated here as a weak C+. It seems safe to say that this draft did little to close the gap with Buffalo. Yet, one never knows, right?
From a spectator’s standpoint, it’s hard to believe the Patriots, who got bludgeoned by the Bills to end the 2021 season, did much of anything here to change the balance of power in the AFC East.