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Patriots, Belichick Receive Strong Grades For 2012 NFL Draft Class

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Bill Belichick (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — The concept of grading a team for its draft picks just a day or two after the NFL Draft is, at its core, a highly unreliable science. It will take three or so full seasons to provide the proper perspective on the players who were selected before an accurate grade can be assigned to a team’s picks.

Nevertheless, draft grades are handed out by experts immediately after the draft, and, well, it’s not a bad sign when you get good grades.

That’s the story with the Patriots this week, with many experts offering their approval for the work done by Bill Belichick and Co.

John Czarnecki of FOX Sports was most impressed, giving the Patriots an A.

“There is no question the Patriots were uncharacteristically deficient on defense last season. Consequently, Bill Belichick decided to fix it and had the ammunition to do it,” Czarnecki wrote. “Give the man credit for stockpiling draft picks.”

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole also handed out an A to the Pats.

“Belichick went defense, defense, defense and more defense in this draft,” Cole wrote. “He also traded up twice in the first round to nab two terrific athletes to plug into the front seven. [Chandler] Jones is a great pass rusher and [Dont'a] Hightower is versatile enough to play inside linebacker and defensive end (a rarity).

Three remaining experts — at Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBSSports.com — weren’t quite as impressed but still all turned in B- grades.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gave the team an A- grade for addressing team needs but a B- overall.

“Any time you come out of a draft with two players who could be early starters on a good team, you feel pretty good,” Kiper said, referring to first-rounders Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. Kiper called second-rounder Tavon Wilson “one of the bigger reaches” on his board but that seventh-round pick Alfonzo Dennard provided great value.

“Good work targeting top needs, but the value was pretty average overall, given the big reach on Wilson,” Kiper summarized.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke gave a B- grade to the Pats, and he too did not like the selection of Tavon Wilson.

“The results? A mixed bag, with DE Chandler Jones (21) and LB Dont’a Hightower (25) possible moments of brilliance, and S Tavon Wilson (48) potentially a total flub,” Burkes wrote.

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco also questioned the selection of Wilson but at least tried to understand the thought process behind it.

“Most scouts had him rated down the board. But Bill Belichick has to like his versatility since he has played corner as well,” Prisco said.

“Belichick usually trades back, but moved up twice to land Jones and Dont’a Hightower,” Prisco wrote. “Those picks are solid, even if I didn’t like the trade up to get Hightower as their second first-round pick. The pick of Wilson could decide this draft.”

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