Three years later, assessing '08 class

NFL coaches and personnel men often say it takes three years to fairly evaluate a draft, so Nate Davis of USA Today looks back on 2008 and gives his marks.

One aspect stands out: The Patriots, Colts and Steelers, who are generally praised for their draft-day decisions, had off years. All were given a C-plus.

Writes Davis, "They secured future all-pro LB Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick, the highest-drafted player of the Bill Belichick era besides DL Richard Seymour (No. 6 in 2001). Mayo's selection came courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers, who dealt the pick to New England in the 2007 draft (though the Patriots slipped down three pegs from the original No. 7 slot in 2008 in a later deal with the Saints). However New England essentially struck out with its own picks: the first rounder was forfeited as penance for the Spygate scandal while the next three picks — second-round CB Terrence Wheatley, third-round LB Shawn Crable and third-round QB Kevin O'Connell — have been released."

Those who also give credit to rookie free-agent signings note that the Patriots signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis that year, as well as linebacker Gary Guyton.