Here’s how low Pro Football Focus graded the Patriots’ latest draft class originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
By now, it’s no secret that the New England Patriots have taken some flak for their haul in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Outlets both local and national have taken aim at New England’s 10-player class, with ESPN’s chief draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., rating the Patriots’ draft as the worst in the NFL.
Kiper now has even more company when it comes to placing New England last among 32 teams in the form of analytics-based Pro Football Focus, the latest outlet to go scorched earth on the selections from Bill Belichick, Matt Groh and Co. last week.
Perry: Final grade for a Patriots draft class loaded with outliers
After Kiper gave the Patriots a C +, PFF nearly flunked New England, giving it a D – only four other teams were even in the C range – as the perceived reaches for offensive lineman Cole Strange and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton in the first 50 picks received yet another dose of criticism.
“Cole Strange is the biggest reach of Round 1,” PFF wrote, noting that Strange – the 29th overall selection – was 86th on its own big board. “His anchor and footwork are suspect, making it highly unlikely he slots in as a major contributor early on.”
Thornton, meanwhile, the 50th overall pick, had been 192nd on PFF’s board – a slot which falls in the sixth round.
The former Baylor Bear ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.28 seconds, but PFF questioned the rest of his skill set.
“While those wheels are a huge plus, his play strength at the next level is cause for concern,” the outlet wrote. “Thornton isn’t much of an after-the-catch threat, as evidenced by averaging 3.9 yards after the catch and breaking just 11 tackles on 143 career receptions.”
PFF had some tepid praise for third-round pick Marcus Jones, a cornerback and return specialist, while it said fourth-round quarterback Bailey Zappe projects as an “ideal backup” for Mac Jones. So the Patriots have that going for them, which is nice.
Two of New England’s division rivals graded out just fine with PFF, with the New York Jets receiving an A- and the Buffalo Bills a B +. The Miami Dolphins, with only four picks, still managed to eke out a B-.
The actual impact of New England’s 2022 draft class still won’t be known for several seasons, but with nearly unanimous sentiment across the board that it was a weak haul, Strange, Thornton and others are going to have to prove themselves sooner than later to avoid that perception turning to reality.