Drafting hasn’t always been a strong suit for the Patriots over the course of the Bill Belichick era.
However, New England did very well for itself last spring and in the process sparked optimism for the future in Foxboro.
The Patriots potentially landed their starting quarterback for the next decade-plus when they selected Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick last year. Two of New England’s next three picks after Jones — Christian Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson — quickly became big-time contributors for a team that reached the playoffs and nearly won the AFC East.
For those three picks alone, Pro Football Focus believes the Patriots had the best rookie class in all of football this season.
“Mac Jones was the most impressive rookie quarterback this season, earning an 80.4 PFF grade that ranked 11th overall,” PFF wrote for ESPN.com. “Christian Barmore became an impact player on the defensive line with 48 pressures that lead all interior rookie linemen. And Rhamondre Stevenson was a big part of the team’s backfield all season.”
PFF also labeled Stevenson as New England’s best 2021 value pick.
“Stevenson finished the season with the best PFF grade among rookie rushers (79.2),” PFF wrote. “He rushed for over 600 yards, with 433 of those yards coming after contact. Stevenson was able to break 31 tackles and average 3.26 yards after contact. He picked up the slack when starter Damien Harris was hurt. Stevenson had seven games with double-digit carries, topping out at 24.”
Belichick and company in a few months will welcome a new draft class into the organization. The Patriots are set to make their first selection on April 28 at 21st overall, which will be the second-highest pick New England has had in the first round dating back to 2013.