Pro Football Focus once again confirms the Patriots draft for 2021 was great

In recent years there has been a kind of Deadpool and/or Nickelodeon show-esque breaking of the fourth wall when it comes to sheet music. Almost no matter where you go, including here, whoever is handing out the superlatives will acknowledge the inherent ridiculousness of saying that a draft class was CRUSHED or ACED or FLUNKED, or bindingly declaring every team a winner or loser at the end of April ….

…..and then of course we all do it anyway. While we make fun of what we do in real time. And still do. It’s ok, it’s fun, no reason to take it too seriously.

That being said, it’s awfully nice when a draft course looks exactly as the doctor ordered on paper. The draftniks all agree that the New England Patriots groceries like a fifth-year veteran in Panama City Beach on day one of spring break, and a year later 10 out of 10 draft nerds agree that just as well was as we thought.

We’re talking Pro Football Focus, of course, so if the expert analysis of the 2022 draft left a sour taste in your mouth, you’ll enjoy the following two:

  1. The same guys who are, by and large, pissing off the Patriots draft this spring are flat-out saying that Bill Belichick and his friends have been hitting hit after hit last year, and
  2. At least part of the stellar ratings for the Class of 2021 is due to the draft picks lining up favorably with PFF’s draft value analysis, which of course is what the Class of ’22 is crushed for. not necessarily that the players drafted by the Patriots are bad, just that almost all of them seemed to be at least a round or three over-drafted.

So, early criticism of the Patriots’ 22 drafters notwithstanding, let’s do a lap of honor as last year’s class is as good as advertised and maybe even better.

Here’s the full Draft class, some of which haven’t even seen the field:

R1 (15): QB MacJones, Alabama

R2 (38): DI Christian Barmore, Alabama

R3 (96): RAND Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma

R4 (120): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma

R5 (177): LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan

R6 (188): CB Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri

R6 (197): OT William Sherman, Colorado

R7 (242): WR Tre Nixon, UCF

Here was PFF’s take on the rookies heading into the 2021 season:

Day 1: The narrative surrounding Mac Jones for the past few weeks has focused on whether he was not only worthy of #3 overall pick, but also the three first-round picks the 49ers invested in this draft slot. At number 15 overall, it’s a whole different conversation. Jones led the nation in overall PFF grades (95.8) last season and was the most accurate college quarterback in adjusted graduation rate (84.2%) PFF has ever seen. This is an excellent choice.

Day 2: Christian Barmore is the best centerback in this draft, and he should have been a first-round draft pick. He’s the only consistently high-quality domestic pass rusher in this class, posting a 90.3 PFF pass rushing grade against true pass sets last year. Barmore was the No. 12 overall player on the PFF Big Board.

Perkins appeared last season with a PFF rating of 90.5. The trouble was, his stellar play only managed 262 snaps, and quite a few of them against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. If this production is genuine, it is an excellent bargain in this choice. He has all the physical traits the NFL craves at this position, and the Patriots can work with him to find a role in their defense. He needs to work on his hand usage but has everything else an edge rusher could ask for.

Day 3: McGrone has a legitimate speed from sideline to sideline. Its combination of range and reliable tackle makes it well-suited to repelling outside attacks and cover sights. And at the age of 20, McGrone has room to grow and improve on some of the concerns surrounding his reporting ability.

Draft grade: A+

Looking good kids, looking good!

And here’s PFF’s shot after watching McCorkle and Friends in action for a year, despite the Patriots, shall we say: inglorious exit from the postseason.

Spoiler alert: the grade is still an A+, probably because, if I remember correctly, they stop giving A’s after third grade or so.

First draft note: A+

1-year re-evaluation: A+

This was a draft that came straight off the PFF board when it happened and might look even better now. Mac Jones was by far the highest-rated rookie quarterback (80.4 overall). However, Christian Barmore was the real steal as he had one of the best pass rushing seasons we’ve seen from a rookie defensive tackle. He finished the year with 48 presses — the most from a rookie defensive tackle since DeForest Buckner in 2016.

You know you’re doing something right when Rhamondre Stevenson, who statistically is more likely to rip off a monster game than Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey and Patriots legend Cordarrelle Patterson, isn’t even included in the reappraisal of the greatest hits synopsis.

(see ‘Mondre at #3)

Of course, a few notable sophomores from the class of 2021 are still the Family Guy mystery box; Despite his rave reviews on the season, Ronnie Perkins is yet to see the field after being inactive for most of the season and finally being placed on injured reserve just before Christmas. And after what looks like a thorough rebuilding of the linebacker corps, expectations/fantasies are sky high for fifth-round linebacker Cameron McGrone, who certainly looks like he’s long past the mend and is trending in the right direction:

Enjoy the weekend and get to Celtics, everyone.

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