NFL Power Rankings, draft edition: Did Patriots fix their offensive issues?

Sometimes, the move a team doesn’t make in the NFL Draft is the best move.

Once it was clear the Washington Commanders had settled on Jayden Daniels with the second overall pick, there was a lot of interest from teams in the third pick. So much for the notion that Drake Maye’s stock was dropping.

It couldn’t have been an easy decision for the New England Patriots to stick with the third pick. The Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants were reportedly most interested in moving up. The Vikings offered two 2024 first-round picks, Nos. 11 and 23 overall, and a 2025 first-round pick for No. 3 and two mid-round picks according to ESPN. The Patriots could have traded with the Giants and dropped only three spots to No. 6 overall. For a team that had many holes on its roster, it had to be tempting to trade down and grab the extra picks. And it would have been justified.

The Patriots resisted the urge to trade down and took Maye. Ultimately, if Maye is as good as many believe (including the Giants and Vikings, apparently) then that was the correct call.

The New England Patriots will start a new era with quarterback Drake Maye. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The New England Patriots will start a new era with quarterback Drake Maye. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Quarterback is the most important position in sports and addressing that with a player some thought was the QB1 in a loaded class should never be a bad thing. Maye has exciting skills, and it’s hard to win in the NFL without a quarterback. The Patriots thought Maye could be a franchise quarterback, and you don’t pass on that to stockpile picks. There’s a reason good quarterbacks are getting at least $40 million a year.

The Patriots, under a new regime with Bill Belichick gone, were well aware of their biggest weakness going into the draft. They used seven of their eight picks on offense. There were two receivers, two linemen, one tight end and two quarterbacks (the Patriots also took a shot on intriguing Joe Milton III in the sixth round). The Patriots were in desperate need of a talent infusion, especially on an offense that was unwatchable the past two seasons, and they did well in their approach.

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Like the Houston Texans last season, the Patriots have an interesting rookie head coach in Jerod Mayo and a new shiny toy at quarterback in Maye. Will it work out? Nobody ever knows with the draft. But the Patriots made the right decision on Maye. If he plays to his projection, the Patriots will be one of the biggest winners out of this deep NFL Draft.

Here are the power rankings for each team’s moves over the draft (the Zero Blitz podcast this week had the draft grades for each team, and so did Yahoo Sports’ Charles McDonald the AFC and NFC teams):

You knew the Falcons would be No. 32. A lot of people will be writing apology letters if Michael Penix Jr. turns out to be a star. But in this moment the Falcons’ process was completely flawed. Penix is an old rookie to begin with and he has to sit behind Kirk Cousins for awhile. The Falcons might have been able to trade down and still get a pass rusher who could have helped now. And it wasn’t a situation in which it was a shock that Penix fell way too far, like Aaron Rodgers did to the Packers way back in the day. All we’ll say is, this approach better work.

The Browns didn’t have much draft capital because the Deshaun Watson trade continues to linger over everything. The Browns did fine with the picks they had, including defensive lineman Michael Hall Jr. in the second round, but it’s a light class from an infamous trade.

It wasn’t the type of class that will replicate last year’s grand slam. They lacked a first-round pick after giving up that and more for Will Anderson Jr. last year. Their first pick, cornerback Kamari Lassiter at No. 42, seemed like a reach after two cornerbacks went with the picks right before Houston went on the clock. We’ll see if any of the picks start right away for the Texans. It was hard to follow up last year’s class.

The Saints had two picks in the top 149. One, offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga, should be fantastic right away. The buzz on cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry cooled a lot through last season, and the Saints had to pay to trade up for him. Then Spencer Rattler, the pick at No. 150, might work out but there’s a reason a quarterback-centric league passed on him 149 times. It’s not an exciting haul.

Ricky Pearsall is a good player and a good fit, but it also seems to be an admission that either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk won’t be around much longer. The rest of the draft was OK, fine for a team that didn’t have many holes to fill.

The Titans are expecting JC Latham, who played right tackle in college, to move to left tackle. Latham has the talent to pull that off, but it’s at least a little worrisome. Their second-round pick of T’Vondre Sweat has red flags and doesn’t play a high value position as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. The Titans didn’t have a third-round pick. Kudos for the Latham pick because the Titans needed offensive line help. Overall, their draft feels underwhelming.

Trading back with the Vikings, who were willing to pay a lot to get Dallas Turner, and still getting receiver Brian Thomas Jr. at No. 23 was very nice. Thomas still has to prove himself as an all-around receiver. And the rest of the Jaguars’ class seems average.

The Bills picked Keon Coleman and called it a day at receiver. That was their biggest need, this receiver class was one of the deepest ever, and Buffalo didn’t use any of their final nine picks at that position. Curious. I’d have liked to have seen Buffalo be more aggressive and package some picks for prospects who can make an impact now. But it speaks to Buffalo’s concerns over its depth.

The pick of defensive tackle Byron Murphy II in the first round fit a need. After that, it’s hard to get too excited. UConn offensive lineman Christian Haynes was the only other Seattle pick in the top 117, as the Seahawks keep trying to fix the o-line. Murphy needs to be really good to make this a memorable class.

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The Cowboys got offensive linemen Tyler Guyton and Cooper Beebe, which sandwiched edge rusher Marshawn Kneeland in the second round. It was fine. Not getting a running back was a potential mistake. It didn’t seem like a class that will help too much immediately for a team with Super Bowl dreams. It’s fine, not great.

It’s surprising to see Bo Nix get trashed after the draft. Yes, it’s scary to take the sixth quarterback off the board at No. 12 overall, but head coach Sean Payton will get the most out of Nix, who has good experience and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. Also, the Broncos didn’t have to trade anything to go get him. And some of the later picks, like receiver Troy Franklin and running back Audric Estime, were solid. If Nix hits, this is a good draft for the Broncos.

The Rams attacked the defensive line, which was necessary after Aaron Donald’s retirement. Jared Verse is a solid pick but Braden Fiske didn’t come cheap as the Rams traded up to get him in the second round. I’m not convinced running back Blake Corum will end up being a good value pick. It was a little uninspiring.

The Panthers understood they made a mistake last season in putting practically nothing around Bryce Young. This year, they helped that by picking receiver Xavier Legette, running back Jonathon Brooks and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders with three of their four top-101 picks. There are questions over Legette being a one-year wonder in college (1,255 of his 1,678 career yards came in his final season) and if Brooks is really the smartest use of a second-round pick for a team that was 2-15 and didn’t start the draft with a first-round pick. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Left tackle Olu Fashanu was a good pick, but tight end Brock Bowers would have been such an exciting pick. And Fashanu and Tyron Smith are redundant at left tackle. It’s not bad to grab a fairly safe left tackle prospect though. The Jets’ only other pick until 134th overall was third-round selection Malachi Corley, a potential big-play receiver out of Western Kentucky. The Jets’ class was fine. But Bowers would have made it a lot more fun.

Minnesota got J.J. McCarthy and Dallas Turner in the first round and it’s hard to argue against either player. The cost for Turner was heavy. When factoring in the price to get the 23rd overall pick, which was flipped for the 17th pick to get Turner, the Vikings gave up second-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in 2024 and third-, fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2025 for Turner. Whew. If he’s great then the cost won’t be so bad — and if McCarthy is a Pro Bowl quarterback nobody will care about anything else from the 2024 Vikings draft — but that’s a lot.

Maybe the Raiders didn’t have a choice but to go to Plan B when six quarterbacks went before they made their first pick. Give the Raiders credit for transitioning and stocking the shelves for whoever that quarterback of the future ends up being. If we find out in 2025 that Shedeur Sanders is happy throwing to Brock Bowers (perhaps the best college tight end we’ve seen) and having interior offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson protecting him, that’s a good outcome.

(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

The Giants clearly didn’t like any of the quarterbacks past the top three. And it’s a positive that they didn’t force it by over-drafting one. Instead, they took LSU receiver Malik Nabers, who can be the Giants’ most dominant receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. was in his prime. The Giants used their next two picks on safety Tyler Nubin and cornerback Andru Phillips, which helps the secondary. It was a solid approach.

If athletic edge rusher and first-round pick Chop Robinson hits then this could be one of the best draft classes. There were some good picks after the first round, like offensive tackle Patrick Paul, running back Jaylen Wright, edge rusher Mohamed Kamara and receiver Malik Washington. This could end up being a really deep class for Miami.

Despite any misgivings from Packers fans, Green Bay stuck to its philosophy. Offensive tackle Jordan Morgan should be a good one, Edgerrin Cooper can be a dynamic linebacker (and the Packers value linebackers), Javon Bullard is a good safety and MarShawn Lloyd could be an impact running back if he cleans up some parts of his game like a fumbling issue.

The Bengals needed defensive line help and Kris Jenkins and McKinnley Jackson can help right away. The ranking hinges on what you think of the two big swings Cincinnati took: Georgia OT Amarius Mims, who barely played in college but has an impressive athletic profile, and Alabama WR Jermaine Burton, who might be a great Tee Higgins replacement but had some off-field issues. We believe in Mims and Burton, so the Bengals look good coming out of the draft.

It’s hard to argue with anything the Buccaneers did. Graham Barton was a good pick on the offensive line. Chris Braswell could pop as a second-round edge rusher. The Bucs’ draft was full of value picks. There were no cornerbacks and the Bucs are thin there, but overall it was a strong haul.

It’s OK to do the obvious thing sometimes. The Cardinals probably could have moved down from No. 4 overall. But then they wouldn’t have Marvin Harrison Jr. The term “generational prospect” is tossed around too often, but it fits for Harrison. The Cardinals had seven picks in the top 90 and did well with them (the biggest question is tight end Tip Reiman when the team already has tight end Trey McBride), and there was a lot of talent added to a team that needed it.

The Lions acted like a team that believes it’s close to a Super Bowl, and they are. Cornerbacks Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. were smart picks to fill a need. LSU defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo was a potential steal in the sixth. Maybe this is the class to get Detroit over the hump.

The Ravens do the same thing every year. They wait on the best values, pick them and then develop them into impact players. They did the same this year, starting with cornerback Nate Wiggins. Edge rusher Adisa Isaac and cornerback T.J. Tampa were two other fine value picks. This is what the Ravens do, year after year.

The Steelers’ draft was universally praised. A lot of that probably has to do with positive projections for receiver Roman Wilson and linebacker Payton Wilson, a pair of third-round picks. Pittsburgh did well to address the offensive line with Troy Fautanu and Zach Frazier early on. It was good, but maybe not the best draft class in the NFL.

The Colts took some interesting gambles early. If UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu had a clean bill of health he’d have gone closer to No. 5 overall than No. 15. His neck injury remains a potential issue. Texas receiver Adonai Mitchell has the ability to be the best receiver in this class outside of the top three, and the Colts weren’t worried about reported off-field concerns. It’s possible the Colts’ gambles go horribly wrong. If they hit this class could boost the franchise for a few years.

The Patriots’ class is all about Drake Maye, but two receiver picks are important as well. Ja’Lynn Polk in the second round and Javon Baker in the fourth round both made sense. The Patriots have struggled for years to draft receivers, but this is a new era. They need at least one, and hopefully both, to hit.

The Chiefs having a great draft seems unfair. They have a thrilling receiver in Xavier Worthy, a tackle in Kingsley Suamataia who could have been a first-round pick, and other solid value picks. The rest of the NFL won’t be happy to see the Chiefs getting better.

The Chargers aced Jim Harbaugh’s first test back in the NFL. Getting a dominant offensive tackle in Joe Alt fits Harbaugh’s philosophy of having a strong offensive line as the foundation of the team. It’s hard to imagine them regretting having Alt, even if it meant passing on an elite receiver. Then the Chargers took a step in fixing their receiver problem by taking Georgia’s Ladd McConkey in the second round. Linebacker Junior Colson was a good third-round pick as well. Very nicely done.

The praise for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been out of control for a while now, but this draft was pretty good. Picks for cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean were the perfect intersection of talent, team need and value. There were solid value picks later and Roseman’s nine trades help get some extra draft capital for next year.

Washington did well. The Commanders got their quarterback of the future in Jayden Daniels, who is coming off a ridiculously productive Heisman season at LSU. Defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton was an excellent value pick early in the second round. They had other solid picks through the draft. It’s a little too easy to have the top two overall picks as the top two teams in these rankings, but the outlook for the Commanders is entirely different after last week.

The Bears did a great job not only getting in position for Caleb Williams — remember, they had that pick because they wrecked the Panthers in a pre-draft trade last year — but also putting good talent around Williams. Rome Odunze would be the WR1 in many drafts, and it’s rare to get a home run QB and WR in the same draft. Offensive tackle Kiran Amegadjie could be a great pick too if he’s healthy. Of course, a team with two picks in the top nine is going to have a good looking draft, but the Bears really did a great job with the assets they had.


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