ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is reviewing each team's 2014 draft class and re-grading them based on his initial thoughts from last season. Kiper sets his parameters for the grades at the beginning of the piece, and from a New England Patriots perspective, he has them improving based on his first impressions.
Kiper had given the Patriots a C grade immediately after the draft. And the mark improved in his re-grade.
"A great get was landing eventual starting center Bryan Stork in Round 4 and also getting likely keepers Cameron Fleming and Zach Moore. ... Yes, they got less out of their rookies than many teams with worse grades. But, divide that by winning," Kiper writes.
Undrafted free-agent cornerback Malcolm Butler could also be included in that mix, and he played some meaningful snaps for the team this season (16.6 percent, 182 snaps).
The Patriots were one of 13 teams improving their grades in Kiper's estimation.
One general thought from reading Kiper's piece: This year's Super Bowl teams, the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, are good examples of how the draft helps them fortify their roster with the future in mind, not necessarily in the first year.
That reminds us of a comment from Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, via Peter King of TheMMQB.com: "What's the worst thing about the league? ... The draft. I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane. The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior. They come in just like me and you come in as freshmen in high school or freshmen in college, or your first year on the job at Sports Illustrated -- you're not telling people what to do, you're just trying to figure out what room to go to. I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there's so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them. Then when they get picked, they're a very, very good prospect, but there's a learning curve when you go from any job out of college into a company. If you take a job at Wells Fargo when you get out of college, your first day of the job they don't say, 'He's our first-round draft pick, he's the savior to the company!'"