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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Patriots Earn High Marks For First Round

With the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft in the books it's time to start handing out NFL draft grades.

The New England Patriots drafted OT Nate Solder (Colorado) with the No. 17 overall pick and then traded away their No. 28 pick in exchange for a second rounder this year and a first-rounder in 2012. Those moves already earned the Pats an A- from Brian Galliford over at SB Nation:

Yawn. Ho-hum. Let's just take the highest-upside lineman, OT Nate Solder, and then trade down for a third second-round pick and the Saints' first-round pick in 2012. Everyone outside of Boston hates you, Bill Belichick.

SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, was not so generous, giving Bill Belichick's decision-making a B+.

Had the team simply selected Wilkerson or Heyward at 28, then waited to move the 33rd pick for a first rounder in 2012, the team could have filled the need at right end while also picking up solid future value. You could simply say, "Well, in hindsight..." But I disagree. With three teams needing defensive line help (Bears, Jets, Steelers), there was no reason to take the risk of losing both of the coveted five techniques by 33. Then again, the Patriots simply might have not valued Wilkerson and Heyward that highly.

For more the New England Patriots and their draft, head over to Pats Pulpit. And for all things 2011 NFL Draft related, from the first pick to Mr. Irrelevant and everything in between, check out SB Nation's 2011 NFL Draft Hub and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking The Draft.