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Mel Kiper's 2011 Draft Grades: Patriots Earn 'C+' In This Year's Draft

Mel Kiper's 2011 NFL Draft grades are out, and the New England Patriots' draft class this year was slightly better than average according to Kiper, who gave Bill Belichick and the Patriots a 'C+' overall for their efforts.

Here's what Kiper had to say about the Patriots' 2011 draft class.

New England Patriots

Top needs: OLB, WR, DE, RB

Summary: "This was a mixed bag for me, a usual tour de force in terms of adding a mountain of roster spackle with the acquisition of draft picks - the Patriots now have a pair of Round 1 and Round 2 picks to use (and trade) in 2012 - but also with a few puzzlers mixed in with the usual smart picks. The Patriots needed offensive line help in a couple of spots, and they got an athletic guy that can be plugged in immediately with Solder. Dowling is a first-round pick if fully healthy and a guy I've had on the Big Board, but he wasn't healthy in 2010. The Patriots reached on a pair of running backs - though Vereen offers a nice pass-catching option out of the backfield - and then there was the notable selection of Mallett. It's a sensible pick. Value is value, and while Tom Brady's true heir may still be in high school, Mallett is now a commodity worth developing. Look what happened with Matt Cassel.

I like the selection of [Marcus] Cannon, a massive lineman, but there's no real help in the pass rush at either defensive end or outside linebacker, which is pretty surprising. They got so little in terms of a pass rush from a quartet of linebackers last season, and this is a team that passed on Clay Matthews two years ago. Where is the pass rush help? But, as always, the Patriots will have plenty of chances to plug holes again next year. I just think for a team in line for another Super Bowl run, that was a need worth targeting."

For more on 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.