You can read about our thoughts on New England’s first two rounds in Part 1 of our 2011 NFL Draft Review.
Here is what we liked, and didn’t like, from the third round on.
Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU
Why we liked it: The Patriots now have four complementary running backs – tons of youth and depth. Ridley is a strong inside-runner that can provide injury and future insurance for Green-Ellis.
Why we didn’t: We thought this pick was a bit of a reach, but we don’t know what other teams were targeting Ridley. Unless Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor are both being released (which we think will happen), we also don’t see the need for this pick.
Preliminary Grade: C
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Why we liked it: Mallett was the best player on the board – by far. By selecting him, the Patriots have taken a big step to securing their future at the most important position in the NFL. Mallett also seems to be a football guy that has been a great teammate in the past – we think he’ll do just fine in the Patriot locker room.
Why we didn’t: The long-term approach doesn’t help the team now. Belichick must think that he has the defensive pieces to win a Superbowl. We also don’t think the Patriots would have spent a Top 100 pick on a guy that they feel would be a distraction off-the-field.
Preliminary Grade: A-
Trade 3rd and 4th Picks for Oakland’s 2nd in 2012
Why we liked it: We stated during the draft that Bill Belichick punted on the middle round of the draft. He obviously sees more value in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Why we didn’t:Again, there were some decent DE/OLB prospects taken in this area: Sam Acho and KJ Wright come to mind.
Preliminary Grade: B-
Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU
Why we liked it: With a mere 5th round pick, the Patriots picked up a Top-50 talent in Cannon. He is a spectacular run-blocker that will kick inside and play guard for the Patriots. After his treatments for non-hodgkins lymphoma, he is expected to be near 100% by training camp starts
Why we didn’t: Nothing to dislike here – great risk/reward.
Preliminary Grade: A
Why we liked it: Smith is an incredible blocker that has the ability to be a decent red-zone threat as well. He will eventually be Alge Crumpler’s replacement.
Why we didn’t: If Alge Crumpler sticks around for another year, we’re not sure Smith will make the roster.
Preliminary Grade: B
Markell Carter, OLB, Central Arkansas
Why we liked it: The Patriots needed a pass-rusher and that is exactly what Carter brings to the table. Small-school guru Matthew Elder told us that he is a great speed-rusher with a bit of power in him as well.
Why we didn’t: We have not scouted Carter, so we really can’t pick on his game.
Preliminary Grade: B
Malcolm Williams, CB, Marshall
Why we liked it:We didn’t. The only way we’d get on board with this pick is if the Patriots feel he can unseat Matthew Slater as the special-teams star.
Why we didn’t:There were a lot of players still available that we felt could make the Patriots roster – Greg Romeus, Mark Herzlich, Jeremy Beal, and many more. Here is a list of our top Undrafted Free Agents out there.
Preliminary Grade: D-
The Patriots upgraded many positions on their team – which is exactly what the NFL Draft is for. Even if the Patriots didn’t address some areas of perceived need, their team is better today than it was a week ago.
Overall Draft Preliminary Grade: A-