So what did you think?
Did the New England Patriots have a good draft? Maybe. We may not know for a while because this year, more than any other in the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots drafted for the future.
Perhaps the better question would be: Did the Patriots fill all their needs in the draft?
The answer to that is, simply, no.
They selected nine players in the three-day NFL draft. They got a couple of disruptive defensive linemen in first-rounder Dominique Easley and sixth-rounder Zach Moore. They added a lot of size and competition at the offensive line, with three picks.
And they may have addressed Life After Tom with the selection of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round.
But they didn’t get a tight end, one of their top needs entering the draft.
For the Patriots’ offense to be really effective, it needs to have a couple of really good tight ends, receivers who can make the tough catch down the middle and open up the outside for everyone else.
Rob Gronkowski may be one of the two or three best players in the NFL at that position when he’s healthy. But he’s recovering from ACL surgery to his right knee. And the other two tight ends, Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams, don’t exactly frighten secondaries.
There were five really good ones in the draft. Four went in the first two rounds, the fifth just a couple of picks after the Patriots took Garoppolo. At that point it made little sense to reach for a tight end who might not even make the roster, so the Patriots will have to look at free agency to find one.
And really, that’s what the draft is all about. Teams seldom fill all their needs.
Several years back, after a similar draft night that had some people scratching their heads, Coach Bill Belichick said, “You need to go with what you believe in.’’
If this draft showed one thing, it’s that the Patriots believe they already have a good team.
So over the last three days, while fans moaned the lack of a tight end, or the selection of Garoppolo, or the lack of a linebacker, the Patriots made their moves for depth, for the future.
Sure, they took some players much earlier than anyone else projected, like Florida State center Bryan Stork and Wisconsin running back James White, both in the fourth round. But they do that every year.
And yeah, they took some players with histories of injuries, like first-round pick Easley, who is coming off ACL surgery (his second while in college), Stork, who couldn’t compete at the scouting combine because of injuries to his left knee and both shoulders, and Florida guard Jon Halapio, who played last fall with a torn pectoral muscle. But that’s no different from other drafts.
New England took Gronkowski despite a back injury in college, then selected offensive lineman Marcus Cannon after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He’s now one of the most valuable linemen on the team.
This is how the Patriots operate.
So they selected Easley because, if healthy, he would have been a top-15 pick, he’s that good. They took Zach Moore out of tiny Concordia-St. Paul because he has great potential as a pass rusher.
They took Stork (6-foot-4, 315 pounds), Stanford tackle Cameron Fleming (6-5, 323) and Florida’s Halapio (6-3, 323) because their offensive line got pushed around last year. They needed to get bigger and younger inside. And they need to protect Brady better. They may not start but they’ll make the veterans earn their positions.
They took Wisconsin’s White because he’s a good change-of-pace back who fumbled only twice in 754 career touches. Ball security is all-important; just ask Stevan Ridley. They took Garoppolo because Brady isn’t going to play forever and he has great potential. Heck, he threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns last year.
No, this wasn’t a perfect draft for the Patriots.
At least not yet.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: