Ranking: Pats No. 3 in under-25 talent

In a piece for ESPN Insider, Football Outsiders ranks the NFL organizations based on the best under-25 talent. With a wealth of draft picks in recent years, the Patriots check in near the top at No. 3. Here’s what they write:

It's easy to find yourself in awe of New England's ability to constantly add new, young talent to the roster. This trait, which was a hallmark of the 49ers' dynasty of the '80s and early '90s, is the fuel for New England's 21st-century equivalent. In 2010, they had both quantity (16 under-25s who started at least one game) and quality (Pro Bowl cornerback Devin McCourty and All-Pro inside linebacker Jerod Mayo). Furthermore, much of their young talent was in the passing game (McCourty, Brandon Tate, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Kyle Arrington and Pat Chung), and they added more of it in this year's draft (first-rounder Nate Solder and second-rounder Ras-I Dowling).

Ironically, the only reason we don't have them in our top two is the one constant on the roster since 2000: Tom Brady. As was the case with the Colts, one shudders to think what this team might be without its aging superstar quarterback. Granted, the Patriots got signature draft value with free falling Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, but one wonders whether the Matt Cassel experience in 2008 can be duplicated without quarterback magician Josh McDaniels running their offense.

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