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Debate Friday: Grading the Draft

How would you score New England's performance in this year's NFL Draft? Cast your vote in our Debate Friday poll.

The much-anticipated 2011 NFL Draft now over, it's time to assess how the Patriots did.

As always, Bill Belichick and his staff pulled some surprise moves (taking a tackle with the first pick), some expected moves (trading out of the first round), and some curious moves (e.g., Markell Carter, Malcolm Williams).

As PFW sees it, New England failed to address the most obvious need - pass rusher - with a blue-chip pick, yet still managed to select some players who could contribute immediately: tackle Nate Solder, corner Ras-I Dowling, and running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.

For obvious reasons (Tom Brady), it could be a while before QB Ryan Mallett sees the field in significant action. Ditto for tight end Lee Smith, who has considerable talent ahead of him on the depth chart, and o-lineman Marcus Cannon, who's battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the moment. The jury is out on the unheralded Carter, an outside linebacker, and Williams, a backup defensive back in college who starred on special teams.

The lack of a premier pass-rusher notwithstanding, there is potential for this crop of rookies to blossom. All things considered, then, Team PFW grades this draft a B-minus.

Many fans have shared their feelings with us throughout the week via our Ask PFW e-mail account (opinions have run the gamut). Let us know what you think now by voting in this week's Debate Friday poll question.

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