It's fairly striking, really.
The Patriots had opportunities to land so-called impactful players, according to the draftnik community, up and down this weekend's draft, and they almost universally passed. Instead, they selected players with positive traits that they think, obviously, will translate into contributing to their team concept.
It's very much on-brand for the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Their track record over the past 20 years certainly is a testament to the success of that approach.
But some of their rivals decided to go the other way. Teams like the Ravens, Bills and Dolphins took their swings at bigger names in this draft and executed their plans.
No one is saying one approach is better than the other. You'd be a fool to call this Patriots draft, the first of the post-Tom Brady era, a failure. You'd be equally as foolish to say the Ravens, Bills and Dolphins knocked it out of the park and are on their way to supplanting the Patriots.
No one knows anything.
But it's fair to say that this draft, perhaps more than any other, will be a great referendum three years down the road, when we know which players succeeded or failed. Because there were some pivotal moments when the teams diverged. There will be a lot of scoreboard-watching off of this draft.
Some of the pivotal decisions that will be monitored:
Patriots trade out of No. 23, passing on, among others, LBs Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen, C Cesar Ruiz, QB Jordan Love, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Ravens draft Queen at 28.
Dolphins draft CB Noah Igbinoghene at 30.
Chiefs draft Edwards-Helaire at 32.
Discussion: Murray will be watched closely because he went in the Patriots' spot to the Chargers. New England traded down, in part, because it used a second-round pick on Mohamed Sanu. ... Queen will be more of a direct comp because he's playing for the Ravens, and also since Patriots safety Kyle Dugger is similar size as a box player. ... If David Andrews is not successful in his comeback from health issues and Ruiz is an instant starter on a good Saints team, that would be interesting. ... If the Patriots have to defend the Chiefs in the postseason and Edwards-Helaire is a weapon, that will be remembered.