Quick Thoughts On The Patriots Draft



The draft has come and gone, so what did we learn and what still needs to be answered?

The draft has come and gone, so what did we learn and what still needs to be answered?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

And just like that, the 2016 NFL Draft is over. We all spent so much time watching players, analyzing the current roster and trying to figure team needs so we could be prepared for three of the craziest days where no actual football is played. And for what? Well, for me, it was a slap of reality right to my face because no matter how much I try and study these players and this process, I have no clue what the Patriots are looking for or what they will do when they are on the clock. It was a little bit of a different experience for me this year as I was lucky enough to be in Chicago and experience the Draft live for the first time. My friends and I had a lot of fun and it is an experience anyone who loves the draft should experience, but with limited access to the internet (stupid Iphone 4 decided to stop charging) I have been itching to get back in front of my computer, recheck my notes and see what I missed and how I was so off on this draft class. I have notes on all the drafted and a few of the UDFA’s and will be doing individual post draft scouting reports on them, but for now, here are some general thoughts on the Patriots draft class and the draft in general.


      1. Another Quarterback?: My friends and I were in selection square for most of the draft and it was loud and chaotic, so it was difficult at times to hear the picks. When the selection was made, I thought the Patriots had traded out and I was desperately trying to hear what the compensation was. This is a pick I still cannot wrap my head around if I am being completely honest. It has nothing to do with Brissett either. Brissett was my 168 ranked player but I ranked him last in a tier of 32 players because of need, so he could have been ranked as high as 136. Obviously the Patriots thought the need and value added up to a 3rd round pick, but this was that WTF pick usually reserved for a 2nd round safety.

2.  No Runningback drafted: If you told me I had to put money down on a position that the Patriots would select a player from, it would have been Runningback. On paper, you could make an argument that no RB was needed, but between the injuries, ineffectiveness, and the unknowns of the group, I would have guessed the team would grab a young back to compete with Blount for that bigger back role.

3.  The Patriots do indeed double dip: Throughout this process I said that I thought the Patriots would double dip at some position. Turns out, this is one of the few things I got right….sort of. I had hinted at WR as a potential position but backed off that after what I saw the team do in free agency. I also thought Tackle would be a position they could take two players at, and they double dipped at Guard instead….maybe (more on that later)

4. Where does Joe Thuney play?: Funny story, remember when I said Brissett was in a tier of 32 players, well, Joe Thuney was in that same group and came in at 152, just missing the all important top 150 board. I loved his versatility and in my notes wrote “similar to Tuerk but without the feet. ” I think the Patriots are going to give him a shot at Tackle. He needs to add bulk and needs technique work in his kick slide, but he is a hard worker and studies the game. He has shorter than ideal arms for the position, but listening to Belichick talk, I think they view him as a Tackle.

5. Up is Down, Down is Up: Looking back at my board relative to where players were being selected, it seems I was consistently off by about a round up or down. I felt like the first round had a bunch of guys go earlier than I would have expected and by the time the 3rd day rolled around, I was shocked to see some of the talent that was still on the board. Obviously I am not privy to all the background information that the teams have, but it was interesting to see where some of the names went and when they went.

6. Did the Patriots lose out on “their” guys?: I heard a couple of reports talk about how the Patriots were all set to take Jaylon Smith if the Cowboys didn’t steal him away from them. This may be true, but unless the Patriots were planning a major trade up, the Cowboys took him almost 30 picks before the Patriots were to be on the clock. To say they stole him away from the Patriots seems like funny wording to me. I also heard that the Patriots had worked out Sterling Shepard late in the process and wanted to keep it very quiet. This one does sting a little bit because Shepard was very high on my board and I think he could have been great in this offense but…….

7. I love the Patriots new Wide Receivers!: Malcolm Mitchell has been one of my favorite players in this draft for many reasons. Most importantly, I think he is a really good football player. He is quick and fast, and while he is not a tradition deep threat, he has speed to run away from just about anyone. He does most of his damage in the intermediate range with great hands and amazing body control. His story is another reason why I like him so much. He took a negative and made it into a positive through hard work. He didn’t blame others and he didn’t just look the other way, he met the challenge head on it just shows to his character. Lucien is a guy I know many of you readers here really like and I will be honest, I didn’t get on him until late, and while I gave him a UDFA grade, I do see the intrigue and upside. He played really well down the stretch and his best football is probably ahead of him.

8. The Big Board vs. The Picks, where I did well: Well, this list is fairly short. I can live Jones where they took him, I was about a round lower. Same with Thuney and Brissett. I was really close on Mitchell, Lucien, Roberts (208 big board)

     9. The Big Board vs. The Picks, where I sucked: I clearly missed on Vincent Valentine as I had him ranked 211th and I did not watch or grade Grugier-Hill or Karras. I had made a note of KGH’s pro day results but never got a chance to watch any of his tape. Karras was on a list I had and when I watch him it will be for the first time. Those two are the most disappointing for me. I hate the idea of putting in this much time and then the day after the draft not having any real knowledge on these guys. That will change in the next 24 hours.

      10. Final thoughts, who will end up being right?: I had to miss most of yesterdays draft because of travel, so I still find myself going through the rounds and finding guys being drafted late than I had high grades on. Like I said before, we as fans are limited in the amount of information that we can get on all these players and the teams know more than they probably need to, but to see some of the names still on the board late in the draft at positions I felt like the Patriots needed or position they already addressed was crazy. I know I have a handful of names I still think are going to be solid contributors or even more in the NFL that went really late in the draft.

I am an open book when it comes to this. I do it because I love it and I do not claim to be an expert at scouting or evaluating players. This draft clearly shows that. I went into Thursday night feeling very good about my process and my rankings and as I sit here today, I realize just how little I know and how much more I need to learn. I hope that you  will continue that journey with me and as I said before, I will be doing write ups for each of the picks over the next several days, so please check back often if you want my very uneducated opinion on all the newest Patriots. 🙂


32 Responses to “Quick Thoughts On The Patriots Draft”

  1. Todti says:

    With Thuney projected to play inside, his fast feet and quality pass protection, and the addition of receivers in the short-to-intermediate range I’m coming back to something I wrote about earlier during the offseason. The Patriots go all-in on the quick passing game. The focus in pass protection will be not to get beat inside with the OTs being required to be just good enough to give Brady those low 2.xx seconds (on average, of course). They only failed on a large scale against the Broncos, an other-wordly pass rush, when they were plagued by injuries. The expansion of the receiving corps is probably envisaged to make sure that Brady has enough options to get rid of the football that quickly.
    If that’s the way it unfolds that would be typically Patriots-esque. They know where to adjust in the offseason and it’s mostly counterintuitive to the noise during the off-season.

  2. GM-in-Training says:

    Is the Pats’ OT strategy genius or just crossing their fingers?

    So…I really fixated on upgrading at OT in the draft and UDFA process.

    I wanted an OT with fast feet, 36″ arms and a target weight of 320#. Technique could be added later.

    Le’Raven Clark was available when the Pats drafted Thuney.

    Dominique Roberts was available as a UDFA.

    Looking at what the Pats did, in hindsight, I guess they didn’t think those guys were smart enough or hungry enough, or versatile enough or something to be worth even a practice squad spot.

    I’ve heard the Pats might try to make a swing Tackle out of Thuney, and maybe his extra fast feet can make up for his shorter arms. Certainly the Pats know more about why Cannon underperfomed in a sub role last year, and what Waddle is capable of.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Shut the front door! Pats confirm Thuney will play inside! http://www.patspulpit.com/2016/5/2/11568892/dante-scarnecchia-confirms-patriots-rookie-joe-thuney-will-play-on

      That means they have Thuney, Cooper and Stork as their 3 most talented interior linemen (though Cooper has to live up to it). They just extended Kline. Andrews played well as a starting Center and is super affordable. Mason and Jackson were just drafted last year. Karras was just drafted this year. Barker is a long shot for the practice squad at this point. Odds are one of them will not make it through camp healthy. I guess it’s the right amount of candidates.

      ….now about that OT position… Solder, Vollmer, Cannon, Waddle, ?

      • J H TARBORO says:

        On SB nation “Scar” reported that Joe Thuney is one of the best pass protectors in this draft and will play on the inside and will play tackle in a pinch.

  3. J H TARBORO says:

    After going back over tape of our draft picks and UDFAs, this summer will be the most interesting, many story lines and positional camp battles. This will be a roster turnover year and some vets will be put on notice. Biggest battles will be at RB,WR,DE,LB,CB,OL and at QB. RB/WR DJ Foster should become a slot receiver because of his toughness,route running, and hands and don’t sleep on QB Jacoby Brissette, he may offer things that Tom and Jimmy don’t have.

  4. Philip says:

    Just saw Loyko’s tweet on moving Stork to RT.

    Here are my thougths on it …

    With an offseason programm at RT, he could be quiet solid.
    Thuney would play at C/G in his first season.
    Vollmer gets a Mankins treatment (maybe to the Browns for a 3rd or 4th + Mingo, who will play MLB for BB).
    I still think Cannon will be cut and they go with 3 OT (Solder, Stork and Waddle, Flemming joins PC again).

    • acm says:

      Let’s not read too much into that tweet – Loyko was simply speculating there, nothing more that that.
      From a physical/athletic standpoint, Thuney is 10 times more suited to play RT than Stork.

    • Russell says:

      I look for Fleming to be cut, not sure he can even be on the P-Squad. But BB needs bodies for preseason.

  5. Pat says:

    Thuney will be our right tackle. Arms are only 1 ” shorter than matt Light, who did pretty well for a decade. Don’t worry about evaluating, Belichek is playing a different game than everyone else.

    • Todti says:

      I agree to some degree. They will likely try Thuney at OT, but he will certainly play at some position along the OL. If he’ll make it at OT, fine. If he’ll be an OG, good, they’ll have a solid OG duo then. If he’ll be a C, great, trade either Stork or Andrews.

  6. Big W says:

    If Henry Melton is alive and well pats should take a look.

  7. Stephen J says:

    Who were you more excited about when drafted Jimmy G in the 2nd or Jacoby Brissett in the 3rd
    What about Ryan Mallet in the 3rd or Jacoby Brissett in the 3rd
    For me Jimmy G then I would say Ryan Mallet but I do believe Jacoby could possibly turn out to be better than Ryan

    • Jeff says:

      I’d put Brissett last on the list in terms of QB potential when drafted. However, if the Pats are hoping that Brady plays through the rest of his contract, then you’re really just hoping that Brissett can be a decent backup for 3-4 years. If Jimmy plays 4 games this season and does well, then you hope Brissett allows you to move Garapollo for draft assets next year when (unlike this year), you have like 9 thousand free agents and a lot of potential holes to fill. Brissett is then your backup for the next couple of years, at which point you pick a potential successor to play with Brady for a season or so before taking over, letting Brissett walk after his rookie deal concludes. Of course, if he sucks he might be cut next year, and if he’s great, he’s your successor, but at this point, even fans of the pick aren’t really expecting that Brissett will be a great quarterback.

  8. Todti says:

    Regarding the Patriots draft, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein was on The Ringer’s NFL draft podcast last Thursday and actually talked about Grugier-Hill and (a couple minutes later) Thurney. So that might give us a bit more inside.
    You should start around 25:00.

  9. R vd Berg says:

    Hey Mike Gerken.
    Thank you for all the information you provided for the 2016 draft,
    for me as an PATS fan from HOLLAND it is a great way to learn about players and positions.
    dont be to hard on yourself because nobody can predict the way BB thinks.
    Keep up the good work!

  10. ukpatfan says:

    Like many fans I find the draft absolutely fascinating and love reading about it as much as I can from a Patriots perspective.
    I don’t have the knowledge or frankly the time to study the prospects so I really appreciate the effort quality amateur guys like yourself put in.
    Your features make the draft so much more enjoyable and I think you have already developed quite a following so a big thank you and please keep putting your articles together.

  11. Mike Gerken says:

    I just want to thank you all for the kind words and support. I hope this did not come off as a pitty party for me, that was not my intent.
    I just wanted to be brutally honest and own up to the fact that my process clearly does not follow that of the New England Patriots and that is okay.
    I hope I am wrong, because my thoughts have no real consequences and do not affect the team whatsoever, so I hope they are right and I was the one off.
    If we come back in 3 years and my list of players was more accurate, then maybe I will send a copy to BB and see if there is a job opening in the front office. 🙂

    Again, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy lives to visit the site and read my stuff. I am currently watching some NC State tape so I will be putting up post draft reports soon.

    • carlo strada says:

      The fact that Belichick sees the game in a unique way, doesnt mean you suck as an analyst. Youre very good at it while keep the data of players entering our brains.

      You may think you suck for not being able to read Belichick´s mind, but believe me none of us saw this draft spectacle coming (more if we talk about the strong DT class).

      Dont distorsion your perception of things, and keep the hard work, you made a really nice job get to appreaciate the time invested on it

    • td says:

      No one could predict what the Patriots will do in the draft because we are not privy to their strategies on offense, defense and special teams. It does look like they are trying to seriously upgrade the talent of the inside OLine in order to keep Brady from getting sacked.

      The Cowboys on the other hand can be predicted due to Jerry Jones’s need to “make a splash”. He continues to spend way too many resources on the OLine and running back to the detriment of the defense.

  12. Drew OMalley says:

    Mike, I think I speak for everyone when I say we, as fans, truly appreciate all the time, energy and dedication you put into your analysis every year. You are an informed, educate resource that I very much look forward to reading year round. Keep up the amazing work!

  13. Ryan says:

    1. I am 100% with you here. Brisset’s not bad but I don’t understand the pick.
    2. I am equally puzzled.
    5. One guy that confused me was Andrew Billings. What do NFL teams know that we don’t?
    6. I think that this definitely happened with Sean Davis and the Steelers. Cyrus Jones screams plan B just as much as Artie Burns did for the Steelers in round one. The Pats preferred Davis, but the Steelers were in the way.
    7. I don’t think that you can ask for much more than Mitchell and Lucien. I’m psyched.

    Great job Mike, we all appreciate your efforts this time of year.

  14. Big W says:

    Again a year when could have got the DE that Baltimore got A way better DT , and a first rate or a lot better running back than anyone on the roster. Don’t know , just don’t know.

  15. Yohy says:

    I certainly enjoy all the work you put in to bring the common fan knowledge. Keep up the good work.

    I agree with all of your observations and applaud your courage to ask the tough questions even though we might never get the answers.

    Sometimes fans have unrealistic expectations, we want our team to make the right move 100% of the time.

    I will watch the season unfold and continue to come to this site for news, info or just to celebrate and/or commiserate with other fans.

    Like I said, keep up the good work.

  16. Ryan says:

    Day Two Grades:

    Cyrus Jones: B-. Undersized but very good and can return punts, keeping Edelman healthy. My third-rated corner when they took him.
    Joe Thuney: B. Very versatile O-linemen who fits what the Pats want to do. Rating is a B be has this was the wrong time to draft a guard, with so many good ones falling as other players are scooped up.
    Jacoby Brisset: C-. I like Brisset as a prospect but there are other need on the roster and Brisset is going to be a backup for four games, then a backup’s backup the rest of the way. He’s a long-term pick for an organization that should be thinking short-term.
    Vincent Valentine: D+. Valentine’s combine numbers are ugly, and while that doesn’t mean he’s bad it does mean he could’ve probably been had three rounds later. Picking him over Billings, Ridgeway, and Day is hard to understand, but it’s at a position of need so the Pats can’t fail here.

    Day 3:

    Malcolm Mitchell: A-. He’s a bigger receiver who is a great athlete and a hard worker, though perhaps not the brightest young man. No matter; he’s going to fit in very well here, though he may take a year to escape the 4th receiver role.
    Kamu Grugier-Hill: C+. Grugier-Hill seems like a hybrid, and nothing better defines his versatility than the fact that ESPN had him listed as a cornerback when he was drafted. He tested well but will probably be nothing more than a special teams guy. However, he has the potential to be a mobile linebacker, so I like the upside.
    Elandon Roberts: B+. I would’ve preferred Tyler Matakevich, to be completely frank. Still, his pro day numbers are good, his intangibles are better, and his production at Houston this year was outstanding. I’m very happy to have ended up with Roberts for linebacker depth.
    Ted Karras: B-. We needed guard depth, so if the Patriots believed in Karras I can’t argue a ton. I would’ve rathered Landon Turner or Vadal Alexander, but Karras could be a better fit for our system anyway. If Karras can replace Josh Kline, then I’m happy.
    Devin Lucien: A+. I am perhaps a little biased here, but I see Lucien as a fluid athlete with great hands whose weakness is short routes. Basically, with Brady less able to throw the deep ball and all of our short routes taken care of, I see Lucien as a perfect fit in our offense. Getting this kind of player in the 7th makes it a slam dunk.

    I have two ways of grading a draft. First, I take the letter grades and average them. Then, I give the team a numerical score where a day one pick can be worth up to 3 points, a day two pick up to 2 points, and a day three pick up to 1 point. I total these and give the team a numerical score. This helps to account for value of picks on each day.

    With that in mind, I give the Pats a B- and a 9 out of 13 in this year’s draft. Not bad, but certainly reflective of the fact that there was plenty of talent that they passed on. Most needs were met in some way and I got to see my favorite player selected, but the draft as a whole was good, not great.

  17. munchkin says:

    Look, people like keep coming back here because we enjoy your insight and honesty. The comments section is generally positive as well. There is a lot of negativity out there regarding a lot of things. Football is a hobby and a distraction for many. I, for one, love this guessing game.
    I have no clue how any of these players will plan out. I look forward to training camp and everything else that falls in between the start of the new League year.
    The process is what makes it so interesting. That and following a team that has been so successful:)
    Thanks for all the perspective this site brings to the table.

  18. pacman75 says:

    Great job! Trying to predict a Patriots draft is like trying to predict the weather a month in advance. You might get a pick or two right if you’re lucky. If they were high on Brissett, that’s fine, because he was taken at about the right spot. It’s the Valentine pick that still confuses the heck out of me. The guy was rated a 5th or later, and there were other run much higher rated DT’s available. Surely they could find something better than an injury prone lazy DT for a 3rd round pick.

  19. EdgeX says:

    Mike don’t beat yourself up.

    Keeping in mind that the Patriots have not just 1 person scouting these players they have a team that consists of probably 30 people (I don’t know how big is their scouting department?) or more that goes into this decision process.

    Let’s put that into perspective: Even if you start scouting players and watching tape of next years class RIGHT NOW – you still probably won’t have even 50% of the collective knowledge the Patriots have when they are picking next April.

    Remember it’s just a hobby. I hope.

  20. Todti says:

    “I do it because I love it”
    We really notice that, Mike, and it’s what makes these “amateur” draft websites so great. People inform themselves and discuss out of interest, and that’s how it should be. We all got smarter because of your work.

    Regarding Brissett, I think pretty much everyone expected the Patriots to draft a QB. They need a long-term replacement for Jimmy G, and Brissett could make him be trade-bait after this season. Also, the Patriots need a second QB for the first 4 games and we all know how much BB values security at the QB position. I think the pick makes sense and Brisset seems to be an interesting prospect.

  21. Russell says:

    Mike you did a great job with all your research, CB Jones and WR Mitchell were highlighted. We are always at a disadvantage not meeting prospects, and knowing what/how BB is planning to use his draft picks.
    Every year I learn more, some info is useful, other stuff is not. You must just plain enjoy the study and research process. I must say at this very point, 2 guys BB picked I would not have FOR SURE! The rest I can live with, to see their future with the club.

  22. steve earle says:

    Don’t feel bad Mike you do a great job and keep the rest of us here informed and involved during the long off season. I guantee not one of those of us that came up with a mock draft was any where near close. And that goes for all the pro’s who put them out too. I can choke down CB Jones, the 2 WR.s, maybe Thuney, maybe after I stew a couple days, after that I give it a big wet rasberry, pttttttttsss.

  23. macspak says:

    thank you for your honesty and humility and for your hard work and knowledge. We all get taken down a peg or two come draft time proving while we think we know we actually know s’it.

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