According to Pro Football Focus, the New England Patriots were among the 2021 NFL Drafts’ biggest winners. The football grading and evaluation site gave the Patriots an A+ grade for the players they secured from April 29-May 1.
The Patriots did not do as much trading during the NFL Draft as some projected, but they still addressed multiple needs on the roster, including QB.
Day 1 is All About Mac Jones
There was rampant speculation the Patriots would trade up to select Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Perhaps the Patriots had some interest in Fields. However, the more quarterback-thirsty Chicago Bears made the New York Giants an offer they couldn’t refuse at No. 11 and secured the potential star for two first-round picks, a fourth and a fifth-round selection.
Perhaps that price was too steep for the Patriots, or maybe they just wanted Alabama’s Mac Jones all along. In any case, New England got the man many said was the best fit for the franchise, and they didn’t have to give up any draft assets to get him.
Here’s what PFF said about the Jones pick:
The narrative surrounding Mac Jones for the past few weeks was focused on whether he was worth not just the No. 3 overall pick, but the three first-round selections the 49ers invested in that draft slot. At No. 15 overall, it’s an entirely different conversation. Jones led the nation last season in overall PFF grade (95.8) and was the most accurate college quarterback in terms of adjusted completion rate (84.2%) PFF has seen. This is an outstanding pick.
Day 2 was all about defense for the Patriots. Rather than trading up in the first round, Bill Belichick and Co. waited until Friday to pull off the only trade of the draft for them this year.
New England moved up seven spots to grab another Alabama product in stud defensive tackle Christian Barmore. He could be an instant replacement for Adam Butler, who was big for the Patriots in 2020.
New England was battered on the ground by opposing teams last season. Based on the free-agent signings to strengthen the defensive line and this selection of Barmore, Belichick seems determined not to allow that to happen again in 2021.
With the 96th pick in the draft, New England selected potentially dynamic edge rusher Ronnie Perkins out of Oklahoma. Here is what PFF said about Barmore and Perkins:
Christian Barmore is the best interior defender in this draft, and he should have been a first-round draft pick. He is the only consistently high-level pass rusher from the interior in this class, posting a 90.3 PFF pass-rushing grade against true passing sets last year. Barmore was the No. 12 overall player on the PFF Big Board. Perkins burst onto the scene with a 90.5 PFF grade last season. The problem was that his stellar play came on only 262 snaps, and some of that was against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks. If that production is real, he is an excellent steal at this pick. He has all the physical traits that the NFL covets at the position, and the Patriots can work with him to find a role on their defense. He needs to work on his hand usage but has everything else one could ask for in an edge rusher.
Plugging Other Gaps
On Day 3, the Patriots waited until their final pick to draft a wide receiver. That was a little surprising, considering many felt they still needed an explosive player at the position to complement the dual-tight-end approach most are expecting to see the team run in 2021.
For now, Tre Nixon, a speedy slot receiver out of UCF, will have to be enough for the team unless there is an upcoming trade or late signing to add a dynamic performer at the position.
Before selecting Nixon, the Patriots took a battering-ram-like running back in Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson, an athletic but injured inside linebacker in Cameron McGrone from Michigan, a versatile defensive back in Missouri’s Joshuah Bledsoe, and an offensive lineman in Colorado’s William Sherman.
Here is a look at all of the Patriots’ draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- R1 (15): QB Mac Jones, Alabama
- R2 (38): DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
- R3 (96): DE/OLB Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
- R4 (120): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
- R5 (177): ILB Cameron McGrone, Michigan
- R6 (188): DB Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri
- R6 (197): OT William Sherman, Colorado
- R7 (242): WR Tre Nixon, Central Florida