The Patriots have had the worst draft in the NFL. Or so it seems.

The New England Patriots had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad draft. Ask both national and local analysts alike and they will tell you this based on a team of 10 players selected between the first and seventh rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Whether it was using the Boston Herald’s word “confounding” to describe the team’s haul, the ESPN questioning the Patriots received their early-round picks, or the Boston Globe even going so far as to refer to New England as a ” laughingstock, “New England’s draft was not particularly well-received by media and fans alike.

The Patriots finishing dead-last in a composite ranking Of the 18 grades handed out by the draft experts did not come as a surprise. The writing was already on the well, when the Patriots selected a player out of the left field in the first round.

But, let’s back up a little. What did Bill Belichick and the company do to trigger such a reaction? Well, they pretty much went against the grain. Again. And again.

As noted above, it all started in the first round on Thursday night. Following is a trade-down with move to Kansas City from No. 21 to No. 29, the Patriots selected Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange. One of the most athletic players in the entire draft and a projected plug-and-play starter at left guard, Strange had a problem with those analyzing picks from the outside of the eye: He was ranked as a third-round pick on various big boards.

Big-school pedigree? Name recognition? The Patriots’ newest first-round pick did not have a significant degree, and compared to his rankings – a consensus board created by Arif Hasan at The Athletic had a Strange as the 76th best prospect in the class – he was quickly classified as a ” reach. “

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay was filmed laughing after the selection was announced not helping matters either, even though he later clarified his reaction. It was already too late, though: the tone for what was to follow was set.

While some picks such as Houston cornerback Marcus Jones were evaluated in the third round in a mostly positive light, others were questioned just like or even more than Strange selection. Tyquan Thornton at No. 50? Two running backs? Bailey Zappe in Round 4 with Mac Jones already undisputed starting quarterback? For as positive as last year’s draft was, this one was questioned almost universally.

At the heart of the criticism stands those big boards mentioned above. These are the basis for the graphics like the following, shared by Pro Football Focus’ Kevin Cole:

Kevin Cole / Pro Football Focus

Based on this evaluation, the Patriots received the least value among all teams relative to the draft capital. Compare it to other teams such as the Baltimore Ravens or New York Jets, and you have a team coming up short to add talent to its roster in serious need at multiple positions.

The following table shared by Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis makes this even more obvious:

Warren Sharp

Here we can see the Patriots overextending in both the first and second rounds. Graphics like these shared by reputable sources can quickly shape a draft class, and in New England’s case make it an unpopular one even before a snap of football has been played by the men selected.

Perception is not reality, however.

For starters, Bill Belichick doesn’t care what the media or fans think about his draft success or how prospects are evaluated. Neither does the rest of the NFL as both the aforementioned Sean McVay and San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan explained over the weekend.

“The hardest thing for us is when you ask a question like, ‘Where do you think they are going? Do you think he over-went? ‘”Shanahan said. “Everyone understands everyone ranks guys and there is a perception of when everyone’s going to go, but the reality of when someone’s going to go is when someone picks them. You don’t know when that happens. You see it all over when people freak out, but a lot of these guys are really good players.

“We saw that with the first round in New England. That [didn’t] surprise me at all, or us. It surprised you based on the perception that everyone in the world was saying there was no way, but everyone who watched that tape was like, ‘Well, he looks like a first-rounder, who’s going to pull the trigger?’ “

The reality is that fans and media members alike have only a limited set of information to work with. Scheme fits, medical data or interview performance are the only three areas not included in the rankings like the ones referenced above, simply because they are not available to those outside the league.

Make no mistake about it, the draft community is doing a good job with what is available. It’s also shooting in the dark compared to what the NFL’s 32 teams know.

That doesn’t mean the clubs are infallible – they aren’t very much – but the decisions behind the process are far more complex than just ranking players based on the available film. That process led to Cole Strange being seen much more favorably than outside the league circles, but that doesn’t mean the process is a wrong one.

It just means that the Patriots’ draft board will look different from the 49ers, which in turn will look different than that of the other 30 clubs. And those will look hugely different form what the media and fan scouting community comes up with, simply because the foundation upon which they are built is a different one.

The portrayal of a draft class, especially this early in the process, is therefore based on a shred of information compared to what the NFL is working on.

So, does that mean the Patriots didn’t have the worst draft in football? Is all New England rest easy now? Well, not necessarily. The answers, as always, will come on the field and not through spreadsheets or YouTube cut-ups of college games.

Ball, as they say, don’t lie.

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