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If there's one thing we can all agree on, this year's draft by the Patriots was a little bit underwhelming. No big splashes were made to improve the team for this year. The biggest thing the team did was draft a quarterback in the second round, something that has driven many Patriots fans up a wall.

Here's what some of our writers took away from all that transpired in Radio City Music Hall. Be sure to chime in with your final thoughts in the comments!

Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady):

Time will eventually tell whether this was a great draft or a disaster for the Patriots, but there's no denying that it was a polarizing three days in Foxborough. While I like many of the players the Patriots did select, my overall impressions of the draft are soured a little bit, both by the Jimmy Garoppolo pick and their failure to address a few needs.

Don't get me wrong, Garoppolo has some intriguing skills and Bill Belichick is right when he says the Pats are "better off being early rather than late" in adding a potential successor to Tom Brady. However, it seems odd to draft a quarterback that early when Tom Brady will presumably be under contract for the entirety of Garoppolo's deal. My guess is that the Patriots liked the depth at the quarterback position this year and decided to land a QB they liked now when they knew they'd have good options available, but spending a second round pick on a guy who will ideally be a backup for the foreseeable future is certainly a bold move.

The depth of good quarterbacks available is another reason I didn't like the Garoppolo pick, as many quarterbacks wound up sliding down the board. Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, a prospect who arguably has a higher upside than Garappolo, wound up lasting into the fourth round, and both Aaron Murray and AJ McCarron lasted into the fifth round. Would the Patriots be better off taking one of those QBs in the fourth round and using the second rounder to fill a more pressing need?

While I disagreed with the Garoppolo pick, I loved the emphasis on fortifying the offensive line. Bryan Stork was a great value pick that reminds be of the Pats 2003 selection of Dan Koppen; he'll have a decent chance of unseating Ryan Wendell as the team's starting center and playing right away as a rookie. Cameron Fleming was another great value pick, as many thought he'd go on Day 2, and his presence as a backup tackle should give the team more flexibility if they choose to move Marcus Cannon to guard. Even if Cannon winds up taking over Dan Connolly's starting right guard spot, the Jon Halapio pick at least brings the team some depth at the position, which could become important in coming years with Connolly and Cannon both set to hit free agency next year and Logan Mankins possibly becoming a cap casualty in the future. The Patriots should be much stronger up front now, which should help maximize the last years of Tom Brady's career.

As for Dominique Easley, I like the pick because of it's immense upside. While Easley probably isn't a good bet to have a long career because of his medical history, the pick will be well worth it if the team can squeeze a few healthy years out of him while they are still in contention. Easley was a one-man wrecking crew at Florida and is an intriguing fit for a Patriots defense that is becoming a faster and more explosive unit by the year. No matter where you line him up, he's simply too quick and explosive for linemen to block. I still liken the pick as a parallel to the Rob Gronkowski selection in 2010: it's risky but the risk is worth it because the player is such a clear difference-maker when on the field.

With that said, you can make a case that trading back from the 29th pick instead and landing more top 100 picks would have been a more prudent move, especially given the needs that went unaddressed over the weekend. Despite having no proven depth behind their starting trio, the Patriots continued to pass on linebackers throughout the draft. They also didn't add a safety until the sixth round, where Jemea Thomas has some potential but is unlikely to push Duron Harmon for playing time any time soon.

Trading back would have landed an extra middle round pick to fill one of those needs, and it would also put them in contention for one of the top tight ends: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro and Troy Niklas were all off the board by the time the Patriots 62nd pick came up. The Patriots were in a tough situation, having one of their biggest needs at one of the draft's weakest positions. Without many exciting options beyond the top five prospects, the Pats were forced to strike early or come away empty handed at the position. I don't necessarily blame them for resisting the temptation to overdraft for need, but the result is that tight end is still a hole on the team, at least for the opening stretch of the season while Rob Gronkowski is out. Perhaps they feel good about Dustin Keller's knee and a signing is coming down the line.

With several needs neglected, several risky picks, and a reach (I think RB James White is solid, but you could probably land a comparable player a round or two later), I couldn't go higher than giving the pick a B-. However, that grade probably jumps up to an A- if the Pats do manage to get a few good years out of Easley, and obviously vaults to an A+ if Garoppolo turns out to be a starting caliber quarterback. We'll just have to wait and see.

Final Grade: B-

Conor Frederick (@C_Frederick1016):

Draft day is over. Now time to sit back and listen and read endless analysis on each team's draft class. As for the Pats, they came out of this draft with a solid group of draftees, but still a lot of questions to answer.

Dominique Easley, the Patriots 1st round pick has the potential to be a stud if he can stay healthy. That's a big if, though. He's had a torn ACL in 2011 and a torn ACL and MCL in 2013, so that's a big question mark. Looking at his highlight video, he does have upside potential, which shows in his athleticism. He recorded 72 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks with the Florida Gators, but was hurt 3 games into his senior year - solid numbers given he only played 32 games. If he puts up those kind of numbers with the Pats, he could be a steal.

The Pats also selected Tom Brady's potential successor, Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois. I like the idea of selecting Brady's successor, but I thought there were better options than him. Personally, I would have gone with A.J. McCarron over Garoppolo, but he's still a solid QB. I don't see the next Tom Brady in this guy, but I do think he could be a good quarterback given time. I might have saved a QB for a later round and drafted a tight end or running back in the 2nd round, but maybe the Pats know something we don't.

The Pats spent a lot of picks beefing up the offensive line in the later rounds, which was a good move on their part, but again, there are still holes to be addressed. The biggest for me that the Pats haven't done anything about yet is tight end - Rob Gronkowski is a big question mark health-wise and the Pats don't have a lot of depth there. Also, the Pats lost a big weapon in LeGarrette Blount and they haven't replaced him. So, unless they're planning on getting by with the backs on their roster, they still have to add another running back.

The Pats did well, but still plenty of questions that have to be answered if they want Super Bowl #4.

Final Grade: B

Mike Saver (@MikeASaver):

It's always hard to really evaluate a draft so soon after, as usually we won't have a good idea if any of these picks will live up to their potential for another year at the earliest.

The Patriots are in the enviable position of not really needing much. They do have holes on their roster, sure, but there are no gaping ones. If the Patriots had 0 picks in this year's draft, it would not have effected their ability to compete on the field, or even for a Super Bowl. That much is certain.

And so, the Patriots attacked this year's draft from that mindset.

They took a flier on Dominique Easley, whom they thought was the most talented player left at pick 29. Easley's medical baggage has been well documented, and so it's obviously a risk. Still, the Patriots defensive front will be fine with or without Easley and so that luxury gave the Patriots the ability to take that kind of chance. If Easley lives up to his potential, bonus. The Pats just went from having a good defensive line to a great one. If he doesn't, they still may make the AFC Championship game.

The rest of the Patriots draft picks were really made with the future or the back end of the roster in mind. The Pats took three offensive lineman, giving the team some much needed depth at the position. For those confused by this move, remember they have not drafted an offensive lineman in two years. They were hit particularly hard with injuries at the position last year, at one point having to start guard Logan Mankins at left tackle. Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly have been serviceable on the interior of the offensive line, but both are high earners that should be worried about their position on the team.

Bryan Stork, the Patriots fourth round selection, could push Wendell for the starting center job at some point this year. Stanford tackle Cameron Fleming, also taken in the fourth, could have a trickle down effect for Dan Connolly. If Fleming develops he could allow the Patriots to move Marcus Cannon to guard, making Connolly expendable (he has the 9th highest cap hit on the team).

The controversial pick was in the second round though, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The young quarterback is now the heir apparent to Tom Brady, but most fans would've preferred the team focus on helping out the quarterback they have now. The team certainly had that option, but chose to focus on the future instead. From a long term perspective, it's tough to argue with it. Tom Brady will eventually no longer be the quarterback of the team, and while we could care less right now, our future selves probably would like the team to still be good when he leaves.

Much more than that though, I think we'd all rather the Patriots win a fourth ring before Brady is gone. Did the Patriots do enough in this draft to help that cause? The answer is no.

Certainly, they did not make a splash, but they didn't need to. They took some chances on high talent players and gave themselves some much needed depth on the offensive line. They also added depth at running back (James White, 4th), defensive end (Zach Moore, 6th), defensive back (Jemea Thomas, 6th) and receiver (Jeremy Gallon, 7th).

The Pats had already done enough in free agency (Revis, Browner, Wilfork kind of) to improve their team considerably. They still have holes that maybe some rookies could've filled, but they are a championship level team regardless.

I can't knock their strategy of taking risks and thinking mostly of the future, given the state a team like the Patriots is in (which is a good one). Still, it doesn't make for a particularly exciting draft. This grade could change depending on how some of these prospects develop but it's hard to say the Pats improved considerably in 2014 from this draft. They won't necessarily be relying on any of these players this year, barring injuries, and still most of the pressure at key areas of need falls to last year's draft picks: Duron Harmon at safety and Aaron Dobson at receiver.

Final Grade: C

Unknown 5/12/2014 04:29:00 PM Edit
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