The New England Patriots entered the draft in unchartered territory, as their selections were higher than usual. This is what happens when you make the best sixth-round pick in the history of the sport. The front office was incredibly busy in the free-agent market and they did a good job further rounding out the roster in the draft. Below are the grades for New England’s 2021 Draft Class.
1. Round 1 (Pick 15) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
There is just something about the Patriots and picking quarterbacks with unimpressive draft day photos. Jones is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the class regardless of position. He has a high football IQ and goes through his projections quickly and accurately. Jones makes throws with anticipations.
He has the least physical tools of the first-round quarterbacks but will be in arguably the best team situation. Jones can start right away, but at the same time, stay on the sidelines first and learn behind Cam Newton. He will be playing one of the most consistently great offensive lines in the league and have much better weapons than what Newton had to work with last season.
By staying still and not giving up any assets, New England got its hands on someone who can be their next franchise quarterback.
2. Round 2 (Pick 38) – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Back-to-back Crimson Tide selections. Barmore regularly received first-round grades entering the draft and it was surprising that he was available at number 38. He is the best interior defensive lineman in the class and is an impactful pass rusher.
Barmore uses his strong hands to get rid of blockers and make a play. His run stopping is not at the same level as his work in passing downs, but there is no reason why he should not be a positive in the run game sooner rather than later.
Grade A +
3. Round 3 (Pick 96) – Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
Perkins is another draft day slider. He adds depth to the Patriots’ edge-rushing group that already includes Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy. Perkins is athletic and comes off the edge with a lot of speed. He has sound fundamentals and has quite the assortment of moves to beat his matchup.
Perkins plays with a lot of effort in the run game, although he should probably add some more weight, so he can be more versatile in the defense.
4. Round 4 (Pick 120) – Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
The double-dipping from schools continues. At 6’0, 231 pounds, Stevenson is the type of back, who can wear a defense out with his running style. While he has the size to shake off tacklers, he has the agility to elude them altogether. Stevenson has good vision and does well in pass protection, which is an often-overlooked trait in evaluating running backs.
He does not have elite speed, but still can be a productive member of the Patriots’ running back committee.
Grade B –
5. Round 5 (Pick 177) – Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
Ironically, McGrone has a similar build to Stevenson as he stands at 6’0, 235 pounds. He has great sideline-to-sideline speed, which is essential for the position. McGrone is a fearless tackler and its shows in the big hits he delivers, especially in the run game. He can be utilized in blitzes.
It remains to be seen if he can be used in coverage by the Patriots, although this can be developed through time. He does have an injury history, but he is a good value selection at this spot.
6. Round 6 (Pick 188) – Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri
Bledsoe is one of those safeties that can play in the box and at the same time cover the slot. Despite his versatility, New England is stacked when it comes to versatile defensive backs and he will be way down in the depth chart.
Nevertheless, he can develop into a key cog on the Patriots’ defense.
Grade B –
7. Round 6 (Pick 197) – Will Sherman, OT, Colorado
New England was able to add one of the best offensive linemen in the league with a sixth-round pick in Michael Onwenu. That is not to say that Sherman will end up like Onwenu, but the Patriots have an eye for talent and development when it comes to offensive linemen.
Sherman can be a rotational piece for the line and will probably play one of the guard spots, although he does have experience playing tackle. He displays good agility and plays with sound fundamentals.
8. Round 7 (Pick 242) – Tre Nixon, WR, UCF
Nixon can be used in the slot receiver role by the Patriots. He is quick and has a good burst. Should the offseason additions of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne not pan out, Nixon could see some snaps.
Grade B –