It’s impossible to grade an NFL draft class too early considering pundits are handing out marks minutes after (and even during) the annual event.
So, let’s take a look back at the Patriots’ 2020 NFL Draft class to see how New England fared last spring.
Here’s a refresher on who the Patriots selected:
Second round, 37th overall: S Kyle Dugger
Second round, 60th overall: LB Josh Uche
Third round, 87th overall: LB Anfernee Jennings
Third round, 91st overall: TE Devin Asiasi
Third round, 101st overall: TE Dalton Keene
Fifth round, 159th overall: K Justin Rohrwasser
Sixth round, 182nd overall: OL Michael Onwenu
Sixth round, 195th overall: OL Justin Herron
Sixth round, 204th overall: LB Cassh Maluia
Seven round, 230th overall: C Dustin Woodard
On first glance, the Patriots had some hits (Onwenu) and major whiffs (Rohrwasser).
Onwenu started 16 games and played four different positions for the Patriots. Woodward didn’t even make it to training camp before retiring from the NFL. Rohrwasser never emerged from the Patriots’ practice squad after veteran kicker Nick Folk beat him out in camp and then excelled all season.
To rate the Patriots’ 2020 draft, first, I divided each player’s approximate value (AV), a Pro Football Reference metric, by the entire 2020 class’ total AV (588, so far).
This metric, Value Rate, represents just that: value extracted out of the draft.
To make each player’s Value Rate more easily digestible, I converted the percentages so 100 now equals the average (much like OPS+ or ERA+, to use common baseball metrics as an example) for Value Rate+.
AV isn’t a perfect metric, but it’s the best, easiest and most uniform to use for a broad exercise like this one.
Here is each player’s AV, Value Rate and Value Rate+:
|Player||AV||Value Rate||Value Rate+|
I also determined how each player fared compared to the Value Rate expected out of each draft slot (calculated since 2000).
|Player||Value Rate||Expected Value Rate||Value Over Expected|
Don’t lose hope in players like Dugger, Uche, Asiasi or Keene just yet. But take note in Onwenu, who, thus far, has the eighth-best Value Over Expected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Onwenu’s Value Rate lines up with the expected mark of a first-round pick. Not bad.
Onwenu has the 19th highest Value Over Expected rate of any sixth-round pick across the NFL since 2000 (you can guess who’s first. His name is Tom Brady) and the 13th highest Value Over Expected rate of any Patriots pick in that same timespan (once again, you can guess who’s first).
The Patriots’ draft class rates solidly but unspectacularly, ranking 16th among 32 teams with an overall sub-100 Value Rate+.
Value Rate, once again, represents the total value extracted out of the draft. So, I divided each team’s total AV by the entire class’s AV to get that percentage. Value Rate+ makes 100 the average (150 is 50 percent above average and so on).
|Rk.||Team||Value Rate||Value Rate+||General Manager||AV|
First of all, yikes Bill O’Brien.
The Patriots’ 2020 class currently ranks 15th among Belichick’s 21 drafts since coming to New England in 2000.
The Patriots did not fare overly well in Value Over Expected rate.
|Rk||Team||General Manager||Avg. Value Over Expected|
Here’s a spreadsheet showing each metric for every player selected if you’re interested in the 2020 NFL Draft beyond the Patriots.
Now, of course these are all small samples. These numbers could look much, much different in a year. But we’re determining a grade after just one season.
A note: I made the conscious decision not to divide the AV total by each team’s number of picks because I didn’t want to reward teams for taking fewer picks or punish them for making more. Ultimately, it’s better to make more picks. We also didn’t include undrafted free agents, because, quite honestly, that would have been impossible in a large-scale project like this. Patriots undrafted cornerback Myles Bryant and running back J.J. Taylor each totaled 1 AV this season. This is more about total value drawn from the draft, however.
The Patriots initially had the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, which they traded to the Los Angeles Chargers for 37th and 71st picks. The Patriots took Dugger 37th and traded the 71st and 98th overall picks for Nos. 60 and 129. The Patriots took Uche 60th and traded Nos. 125, 129 and a future sixth-round pick to take Keene 101st.
The Patriots wound up with Dugger, Uche and Keene (4 AV) and traded away selections used to draft linebacker Kenneth Murray (8 AV), defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (2 AV), linebacker Malik Harrison (4 AV), quarterback James Morgan (0 AV), offensive tackle Cameron Clark (0 AV) and a future six-round pick.
Dugger and Uche didn’t produce much as rookies, which is illustrated in their AV, but both players showed promise as rookies and should still have bright futures. Don’t chalk those trades up as losses quite yet. There is still plenty of time.
As for the Patriots’ draft grade after one year, we’ll give it a C+ though it was teetering on a B-. It ranks average at 16th overall, but the amount of value extracted out of the total class was below average.
We rated every single draft since 2000 to come up with this grade, so get ready for more of this content over the next few days and weeks when we’ll determine just how well Bill Belichick has drafted in the last five, 10 and 20 years and where he ranks among his fellow general managers.