Patriots graded out well in '10

It's natural, perhaps even our first instinct, to try to grade a team's performance in a given NFL draft following its final selection. After all, the draft is about filling perceived needs, and players selected are often viewed through the needs-based lens.

But what we've come to find out is that drafts take time to properly evaluate. Who knew that Alfred Morris (a sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic), not Trent Richardson, would be the most productive rookie running back in 2012?

Not even one year is enough time to accurately assess a class. Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Stevan Ridley are all fine examples of players who blossomed during their second season in the NFL.

So how long does it take to size up a draft class? There's no perfect answer, to be fair, but three or four years seems like a sufficient starting point.

Going with the three-year lens, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com recently released his "regrading" of the 2010 NFL draft, broken down by team. The Patriots were among the teams that he most "undergraded," as the team received a B-plus mark following the draft.

With the aid of hindsight, the class is looking exceptional, with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Devin McCourty and Brandon Spikes leading the way. For that reason, Prisco has regraded the Patriots draft as an A effort.

Writes Prisco:

"The Patriots nailed it in this draft. They had 12 picks, and of those 12 players they landed four starters and Aaron Hernandez in that draft. The four starters are safety Devin McCourty (drafted as a corner), tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Brandon Spikes and punter Zoltan Mesko. Getting Gronkowski and Hernandez make this draft. They also landed backups Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Deaderick."

The piece is a reminder that while it will be tempting to stick a grade next to the Patriots' draft class at the conclusion of the process next Saturday, a more accurate assessment will be made down the line.

To see Prisco's full 2010 draft regrade, CLICK HERE.