Perry: Re-grading the Patriots' 2022 NFL Draft picks


Bill Belichick should feel vindicated through the first six weeks of the 2022 NFL season.

The New England Patriots head coach took plenty of heat for the team's selections in this year's NFL Draft. The first-round pick of Chattanooga guard Cole Strange, whom many projected as a third-rounder, had all of New England up in arms.

Curran: QB controversy? Not if Mac Jones is who we think he is

Strange wasn't the only selection to receive harsh reviews. Belichick also was criticized for taking Baylor wide receiver Tyquan Thornton the following round. The fear was the Patriots would have another N'Keal Harry situation on their hands. Overall, the reaction to the 2022 Patriots draft was not particularly optimistic.

Our Phil Perry was one of those who gave low grades for most of Belichick's 2022 draft picks. Now that we've seen the Patriots' rookies in action, he's ready to change his tune.

Perry roasted himself for his draft day grades and handed out updated marks for Belichick's first few picks in a brand new episode of the Next Pats Podcast.

Next Pats Podcast: Kurt Warner weighs in on Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe controversy | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

Cole Strange, OL (Round 1, No. 29 overall)

Draft day grade: D

New grade: B+

Perry: "OK, a little strong throwing a D at the Chattanooga guard. I will say, we did note multiple times I think he could play even back then. It was just a question of the value of taking a guard at that spot, especially if the league perceived that he would be available much later, which we got on a very public stage from the Rams. That's how a number of NFL executives felt when this pick was made. So it wasn't necessarily about the player, it was about where he was taken, it was about the position.

"I think if you look at it now, I think I would give it a B+. Because if you look at Strange himself among guards, according to Pro Football Focus, his pass-blocking grade is 20th in the NFL right now. Run blocking grade among guards, not as hot, 49th in the NFL. But still, that's starting caliber. ... He's only allowed eight pressures. That's right there with Joe Thuney, Zack Martin, Quenton Nelson. I mean, these are some of the best guards in the NFL. Pretty damn impressive for Cole Strange, so he's got to be at least in the B range for his play style."

Tyquan Thornton, WR (Round 2, No. 50 overall)

Draft day grade: D

New grade: B+

Perry: "We had some size concerns there. We had some durability concerns. I think that has actually played out. Obviously, the first time he gets tackled essentially in a preseason game he ends up getting injured. That doesn't speak all that well to his ability to hang on the field at his size. ... But man, since he's returned, the guy clearly can make a big-time impact right away. He knows how to get off the line of scrimmage, he obviously is fast, they can use him in a variety of ways.

"I'm bumping that up to a B+ and I imagine that thing could keep ticking upward as he gets more comfortable, confident and competent within the Patriots offense."

Marcus Jones, CB (Round 3, No. 83 overall)

Draft day grade: A-

New grade: B+

Perry: "I was really high on him then, I'm really high on him now. I feel like the more he's playing defensively, the more comfortable he looks out there. Saw a season-high in defensive snaps against the Browns. Was in on a couple of different forced incompletion types of plays. So maybe not necessarily getting his hands on the ball, but there are some other instances we're he's just in really tight coverage and there's no way for the receiver to end up getting a catch. ...

"Should he get the A-? I still would feel comfortable giving that grade. I guess we haven't seen him enough defensively to really stick with that as we stand here now. But we have seen him be explosive on kick returns and punt returns at times, so I think a safer grade right now would be a B+."

Jack Jones, CB (Round 4, No. 121 overall)

Draft day grade: C-

New grade: A-

Perry: "Oh boy. That one hurts. Size concerns, off-the-field concerns. I think those are still, generally speaking, concerns. But not to the point where you give him a C- through six weeks of the NFL season. I know the Patriots are hoping he could put on more weight and some of the things we saw for instance in Green Bay when he had issues defending the run, those will improve. And the off-field concerns, who knows? Those may linger for him forever based on what happened to him in college and that rocky road he went through. But thus far, he's been nothing but a model citizen. ...

"So, where do we put this grade now? Especially considering he's the top-graded cover corner in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and he is fifth in the NFL in terms of passer rating allowed? He has two picks, two pass breakups, the guy is always around the ball. You've got to give this an A-. I think the only thing keeping this an A is the fact that it has only been six weeks."

Pierre Strong, RB (Round 4, No, 127 overall)

Draft day grade: B-

New grade: C

Perry: "Really haven't seen him play all that much. That one, I probably would put somewhere in the C range right now because again, we haven't really seen him all that much."

Bailey Zappe, QB (Round 4, No. 137 overall)

Draft day grade: C

New grade: A-

Perry: "I know a lot of people were looking at that (pick) across the league and saying, 'You just drafted a rookie quarterback in the first round; even if this guy is a long-term backup, what are you doing drafting that guy in the fourth round? That's a real pick. There's real value there. There's real needs on that team and you already have Brian Hoyer on the roster for quite a bit of money.' ...

"But after what he's done, giving them an opportunity after the Patriots lost their top two quarterbacks, giving Bailey Zappe a C on draft day, way too low. That's gotta be an A- as well. I'm looking at everything he's done from the poise to the ability to run a variety of concepts for the Patriots. Has the offense been scaled back? Sure. But the play-action game, the screen game, the quick passing game, the ability to get in and out of plays out of center, out of shotgun, a variety of personnel groupings. It's been really impressive."

Kevin Harris, RB (Round 6, No. 183 overall)

Draft day grade: C+

New grade: C

Perry: "He's been a practice squad guy, they elevated him last week with Damien Harris' injury. ... Still right in that range where it's hard to say whether or not that was a massively successful pick."

For the rest of Perry's grades, listen to the full episode of the Next Pats Podcast.

Also in the new episode: What are people around the NFL saying about Bailey Zappe? Former NFL QB Kurt Warner’s impressions of Zappe. Warner on his relationship with Zappe and his ‘underdog’ mentality. And who does Warner think Belichick will keep at QB1?

Check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch it on YouTube below:


Contact Us