Rookie watch: is this the Patriots best draft class in over 10 years?

Patriots QB #4 Bailey Zappe gets a tap on the helmet from head coach Bill Belichick after he ran the ball in the 4th to set up a Patriot field goal.17 Patslions 100922 Bb
Patriots QB #4 Bailey Zappe gets a tap on the helmet from head coach Bill Belichick after he ran the ball in the 4th to set up a Patriot field goal.17 Patslions 100922 Bb /

When it comes to Patriots draft classes, there are a few that stand out. 1977 saw the team hit on cornerback Raymond Clayborn and wide receiver Stanley Morgan in the first round. 1996 set the tone for a dynasty with Terry Glenn, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi and undrafted free agent Adam Vinatieri. 1995 is the only Patriots draft class (so far) to produce two Hall of Famers in Ty Law and Curtis Martin. I’m not saying the 2022 draft class is on the level of those drafts but through five games, it’s trending to be the best since the 2010 class which saw Devin McCourty and Rob Gronkowski come to New England. Here’s how the rookies performed during Sunday’s victory over the Detroit Lions.

Bailey Zappe, A-

Making his first start, the Patriots could not have asked more out of Zappe on Sunday and even Bill Belichick was quick to lavish praise on the rookie quarterback. While the Patriots ran the ball at will against the worst rush defense in the NFL, Zappe still completed over 80% (17/21) of his passes and the one interception was not his fault. He showed poise in the pocket and read the defense well enough to look off the safety and hit Jakobi Meyers for a touchdown.

Jack Jones, A-

Another week, another highlight from Jack Jones, this time making a leaping grab of a Jared Goff pass inside the redzone to keep the Lions off the scoreboard.

With Jalen Mills back in the fold this week, Jones saw his playing time decrease from last week (99% to 61%) but was only six snaps behind Mills and had the second-highest snap percentage among New England corners. Aside from the interception, Jones made three tackles and defended two passes.

Cole Strange, B+

A starter from day one, Strange continues to be solid up front for the Patriots. He helped the team run for a season-high 176 yards and kept Zappe clean for the entire game. Strange also continues to be the lone offensive lineman without a penalty. While he came into the NFL with people high on his run-blocking abilities, Strange has proven to be decent in pass protection as well.

Marcus Jones, C+

After popping in the return game last week, Jones saw his first playing time on defense since week one as there seems to be an opportunity for him to take advantage of Myles Bryant’s struggles. In 15 snaps on defense, Jones was able to make two tackles but also allowed completions both times he was targeted, including an 11-yard reception on a third-and-10. Jones only got to return one punt this week, taking it back 12 yards.

Tyquan Thornton, C-

Activated off of IR, the second-round pick finally made his NFL debut on Sunday and saw 25 snaps on offense with most of those coming after Nelson Agholor was seemingly benched for the second half. Zappe was able to find Thornton twice for seven yards and could have had him for a long gain with some more time. It will be interesting to see how Thornton is incorporated into the offense moving forward.

Sam Roberts, C-

Roberts finally saw action on defense, playing 17 snaps on Sunday with Lawrence Guy missing his second straight game. Roberts was able to make one tackle in the run game.

Brenden Schooler, C-

Strictly a special teamer, Schooler did not record any tackles on Sunday as the kicking unit was active. They limited Detroit to only 16 return yards on two punts but allowed a 47-yard return on a kickoff.

Chasen Hines, Incomplete

Hines was once again active but did not see the field.

Inactives: Pierre Strong, DaMarcus Mitchell