But with shrinking cap space and only three picks to follow, New England finagled four picks for its one, allowing itself a bit of flexibility and a chance at a chunk of middle-round talent. (photo: Arnold Tijerina, Flickr)
And that's exactly what owner Robert Kraft & Co. got, grabbing five total selections in the top 102, which was the most of any team. Kraft talked with the media Thursday about the decision to flip the No. 29 spot and the thought that went behind that choice.
"The real strength of the draft … if we had drafted in the top 20-25, we would have taken the same players that we took later," Kraft said via WEEI.com. "For us, from a cap point of view of having financial flexibility, and the talent, I think this draft wound up very well for us. I understand fans who don’t have the full knowledge of what goes and the value that’s there, how they could be disappointed.
"But I think we got the equivalent of first-round draft choices in the second and third round, the way I look at it. Time will tell."
While the Pats certainly got some bang for their buck and filled multiple needs, whether any in the group are first-round talent is certainly something that will take some time to figure out. Kraft's opinion on his picks is pretty optimistic (no surprises there), particularly given the fact that none of them received a grade higher than 80 from NFL.com.
On average, the five picks — Jamie Collins, Aaron Dobson, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Josh Boyce, respectively — had a draft score of 66.4, according to the site. And while we're not huge fans of draft grades and the like, it's worth noting that a number of players that were drafted in the second and third round had grades of 80 or even higher. Cornerback Jamar Taylor for instance, who was drafted by the Dolphins two picks after Collins, held a grade of 85.5. Ryan, the Pats' CB pick a round later, was a 69.
The same can be said for No. 59 Dobson. The Marshall wildcard held a grade of 71.7 and was picked likely for his presence on the perimeter. Two wideouts — Terrance Williams of Baylor and Keenan Allen of California — both held grades in the mid-80s and had similar strengths as Dobson. Each lasted until the middle of the third round (74 and 76, respectively).
So while New England's acquisitions obviously showed the talent to come off the board with the elite group of draft hopefuls, it'll be interesting to see whether coach Bill Belichick's knack for finding diamonds in the rough pays off once again, or if the team is left wondering what could have been at No. 29.