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Patriots' Draft Grades: Belichick Receives Overwhelmingly Positive Reviews

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- It's everybody's favorite time of year. No, not NFL Draft season ... but NFL Draft grading season.

Of course, placing grades based on predictions that can't really be made accurately at all is beyond a specious endeavor. The list of prognostications proven to be terribly, terrifically wrong is so large that an entire cottage industry has been born out of it.

But, well, we won't get to see these guys in pads for a while, and we won't get to see them playing in games that matter for another five months. And we won't know whether their careers are hugely successful or dreadfully awful for even longer. It'll take years. Who's got the patience for that?

So, looking around the trusty old internet, here's how the EXPERTS have graded the Patriots for their work over the weekend. For a refresher, here are the players drafted by the Patriots:

1st Round, 23rd Overall: Isaiah Wynn, LT/G, Georgia
1st Round, 31st Overall: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
2nd Round, 56th Overall: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
5th Round, 143rd Overall: Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
6th Round, 178th Overall: Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
6th Round, 210th Overall: Braxton Berrios, WR/PR, Miami
7th Round, 219th Overall: Danny Etling, QB, LSU
7th Round, 243rd Overall: Keion Crossen, CB, Western Carolina
7th Round, 250th Overall: Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco
Patriots' Grade: B

Prisco Says: "[Michel] is perfect for their system. Both Georgia players do come with injury concerns."

Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit
Patriots' Grade: A+

Benoit Says: "The grade has nothing to do with the trades and everything to do with a once-again Super Bowl ready franchise having the wisdom to build around its legendary MVP QB rather than taking guesses at how to one day replace him."'s Chad Reuter
Patriots' Grades:
Day 1: A
Day 2: A
Day 3: A
Overall: A

Reuter Says: "Michel has the versatility to be a star in the Patriots' system, working as a receiver and slashing through defenses as a runner. They needed to replace Dion Lewis, so they did. ... [Dawson will] contribute right away. ... Berrios was the perfect New England pick on Day 3. He's a quick slot receiver who will fight for passes from Tom Brady."

Yahoo's Frank Schwab
Patriots' Grade: C

Schwab Says: "The first-round selection of running back Sony Michel, ignoring some defensive needs there, was curious. The Patriots might be the best team in the league at identifying cheap running back talent and it seemed strange they'd invest a first-round pick in one. Cornerback Duke Dawson isn't considered a can't-miss NFL starter, but the Patriots needed cornerback depth. ... Bill Belichick's moves could pay off down the line, but it's hard to get excited now."

USA Today's Nate Davis
Patriots' Grade: A-

Davis Says: "Their evaluation always requires a deeper dive, though Bill Belichick did fill several needs (even if he'd cringe at that framing). Isaiah Wynn, assuming he can handle an NFL tackle's responsibilities despite projections he'd fit better at guard, could take over for Nate Solder. RB Sony Michel is far more explosive than Dion Lewis was. Second-round CB Duke Dawson eases the Malcolm Butler divorce. ... The head scratcher was the decision not to take a quarterback who could develop behind Tom Brady ... unless LSU's Danny Etling surprises on a Brady-esque level."

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.
Patriots' Grade: B+

Kiper Says: "If it wasn't such a crowded backfield, I'd peg Sony Michel as a Rookie of the Year candidate -- he's an explosive SEC-tested running back who is scary in space. I'm typically down on first-round RBs, but he was No. 28 on my board, and the Patriots nabbed him at 31. ... Every year we ask if the Patriots could have done more, but this team annually picks at the end of Round 1. You have to develop when you pick where they do, and to their credit, they do. The big question will be whether they could have used the Michel pick for needed defensive help."

The Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer
Patriots' Grade: A

Iyer Says: "The trade for Trent Brown and the Wynn pick gives the Patriots options to replace Nate Solder at left tackle. Michel, Dawson and Berrios are built like the three veterans they lost in Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler and Danny Amendola. Bentley and Sam help them hedge their bets with Dont'a Hightower. They also got their developmental, efficient QB to sit behind Tom Brady, a mild surprise in Etling."

SB Nation's Dan Kadar
Patriots' Grade: B-

Kadar Says: "If his health holds up, a lot of people expect Michel to be this year's Alvin Kamara. ... It was strange the Patriots traded up for [Dawson]. ... Christian Sam was a sneaky good choice at No. 178."

Walter Football
Patriots' Grade: B

Walter Says: "Belichick made a couple of questionable decisions. The first occurred at No. 23 when Isaiah Wynn was announced as a tackle. Given his 32-inch arms**, Wynn may struggle at the position, and he seemingly would be better off in the interior. ... [Dawson] was considered a third-round prospect, so it was unnecessary to make a move for him. ... That said, the Patriots had some positives in this class. Sony Michel is a dynamic running back who resembles Alvin Kamara, and he was an outstanding choice at No. 31 overall."

**Hurley Says: Wynn's arms are actually 33 3/8 inches, which would seem to be long enough to play tackle. But I suppose we will see.

Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo
Patriots' Grade: Average

PFF Says: "[Dawson] allowed a passer rating of only 41.0 when lined up in the slot last year, eighth-best in the nation, after allowing a rating of only 64.6 (38th) in 2016. Given the value of slot defenders in today's NFL, Dawson fills an important need for the Patriots' defense. ... Ja'Whaun Bentley is a downhill thumper who posted the nation's top grade against the run at 95.0 while ranking fourth in the draft class with a run-stop percentage of 13.3."

The experts have spoken. Will they proven right or wrong in five years? Maybe! Will anybody keep track? Probably not! But now it's time for you to weigh in with your own expert opinion. (It's 2018; everybody's an expert.)

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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