NFL Draft Review/Grades: AFC East

Continuing on with our draft reviews, it’s time to take a closer look at the drafts of the AFC East. This is an interesting draft; the Jets had a top five pick, the Bills had a top ten pick, the Dolphins had a top 15 pick, and the Patriots had a heavy collection of picks. Who came out with the best draft? Let’s discuss.

Buffalo Bills

GettyImages-11451287881-1260x800
Photo Cred: Buffalo News

Full Draft (With Grade)

Round 1, Pick 9: DT Ed Oliver, Houston (A+)

Round 2, Pick 38: OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma (A)

Round 3, Pick 74: RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic (C)

Round 3, Pick 96: TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss (A-)

Round 5, Pick 147: LB Vosean Joseph, Florida (A)

Round 6, Pick 181: S Jaquan Johnson, Miami (A-)

Round 7, Pick 225: OLB Darryl Johnson Jr, NC A&T (B+)

Round 7, Pick 228: TE Tommy Sweeny, Boston College (B-)

Grade: A

The Bills had a very productive free agency, adding receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown as weapons for Josh Allen while acquiring protecting for him with center Mitch Morse and tackle Ty Nsekhe. That gave them the flexibility to add a franchise player to their defense, which they did when they selected defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the 9th overall pick. Overall wasn’t utilized properly at Houston; he was nose tackle for them. As a 3-technique and with the ability to showcase his explosiveness and pass rushing ability in Buffalo, he should be the heart and soul of that defense and turn it into one of the league’s best. It’s mind-blowing to believe that Oliver fell to #9 for them, and they were clearly one of the main winners of day one of the draft.

In round two, the Bills were aggressive in trading up to secure the services of offensive lineman Cody Ford, who was considered a lock to be a first-rounder. Ford is an absolute mauler who will add a nasty identity on the trenches that this team has shown that they’ve wanted to have, and helps in the running game as well as protecting Allen in the passing game. Speaking of the running game, the team tried to upgrade in that area by selecting running back Devin Singletary. However, Singletary lacks high-end, breakaway speed, and is more of a backup running back than a starting-caliber option. He felt like a reach in the third round, for sure. However, tight end Dalton Knox, who has upside as both a vertical threat and a blocker, was a smart pickup in the late third round, and he upgrades a very lackluster tight end group.

On day three, the Bills made two excellent value selections for their defense from the SEC, grabbing Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph and Miami safety Jaquan Johnson. Both were projected to be third-round prospects, so Buffalo did a great job grabbing them in the late rounds of this draft. Outside linebacker Darryl Johnson Jr. has a shot to make the team as an edge rusher, meanwhile, and tight end Tommy Sweeny is a solid blocker, though the team already has a blocking tight end in converted offensive lineman Jake Fisher.

Miami Dolphins

christian wilkins
Photo Cred: Sun Sentinel

Full Draft (With Grades)

Round 1, Pick 13: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (C+)

*Round 2, Pick 62: Traded For QB Josh Rosen (A+)

Round 3, Pick 78: G Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (A)

Round 5, Pick 151: OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin (B)

Round 6, Pick 202: OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (A-)

Round 7, Pick 233: FB Chandler Cox, Auburn (B+)

Round 7, Pick 234: RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (A+)

Grade: B+

Though the Dolphins seem to be punting on the 2019 season, a good draft was still needed to put this team in the right direction. With their first overall selection, Miami selected Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Wilkins is a fine player and should be a long-time starter on the defensive line, but he has limited upside. It would have been more ideal for the team to push harder to trade down from this selection if possible, or to select someone with a higher ceiling even if their immediate impact was less, such as Jeffrey Simmons, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, or maybe even someone on the offensive trenches.

Initially slotted with pick #48, the Dolphins traded down to pick #62, acquiring a 2020 second rounder and a sixth rounder from the Saints, while also giving up a fourth-round pick. They then used pick #62 and a 2020 fifth round pick to acquire quarterback Josh Rosen from the Cardinals, meaning that they acquired a quarterback who was the 10th overall pick just a year ago, just for a fourth-round pick and fifth-round pick while receiving a sixth-round pick. Plus, since Rosen’s guarantees were all paid off by Arizona already, he’ll make just $6 million over the next three seasons. This is a savvy move that could get Miami its future quarterback, and if it doesn’t work out, they can move on; there is absolutely no risk with this deal, but with plenty of potential rewards.

In the third round, the Dolphins selected guard Michael Deiter. Deiter may not have a lot of upside, but he looks to an immediate starter and should be a long-term piece of Miami’s offensive line. Edge rusher Andrew Van Ginkel could carve out a role as a situational pass rusher and is a high-energy defensive player, which is solid value in the fifth round. Offensive tackle Isiah Prince could be in the team’s long-term plans after being the blindside protector at Ohio State, though he isn’t super polished at the moment. Fullback Chandler Cox is actually a solid selection in the seventh round; he’ll likely have an impact in this Patriots style offense. Myles Gaskin is a third-down running back with solid athleticism and receiving ability; selecting him in the seventh round is terrific value.

I love the depth of this draft class for the Dolphins and am blown away by the cheap acquisition of Rosen. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the selection of Wilkins at pick 13; he is a high floor, low upside type of player for a team that either should have traded down or gone for a player with a higher ceiling. Still, this was a productive draft and a clear step in the right direction for Miami’s rebuild.

New England Patriots

harry [ats
Photo Cred: aol.com
Full Draft (With Grade)

Round 1, Pick 32: WR Nkeal Harry, Arizona State (A-)

Round 2, Pick 45: CB Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt (B+)

Round 3, Pick 77: EDGE Chase Winovich, Michigan (A)

Round 3, Pick 87: RB Damien Harris, Alabama (C)

Round 3, Pick 101: OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia (A)

Round 4, Pick 118: G Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas (B)

Round 4, Pick 133: QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (B+)

Round 5, Pick 159: DT Byron Cowart, Maryland (A-)

Round 5, Pick 163: P Jake Bailey, Stanford (C)

Round 7, Pick 252: CB Ken Webster, Ole Miss (B)

Grade: A-

The defending champion Patriots already looked like one of, if not the best team heading into the draft. Yet, they managed to get even better with a strong and deep draft. The team did not trade up for a tight end or trade down from the 32nd overall selection, as expected, but wide receiver N´Keal Harry is a terrific fit for them. New England needed a big body, red-zone threat to make up for the loss of Rob Gronkowski, and Harry was the best catch in traffic receiver in this draft. Adding a receiver was indeed a priority for them; this was a logical selection.

In the second round, the Patriots traded up 11 spots to land cornerback Joejuan Williams. Williams is lengthy, can cover tight ends (something New England asks their corners to do), and is an excellent fit in their defensive scheme. Chase Winovich, a very productive edge rusher at Michigan with good athleticism and character, could be a steal in the third-round; he will help the team recover from the loss of Trey Flowers. Yodny Cajuste was another steal in the back end of the third round; he was at one time projected to be a first-round pick and could easily become the team´s long-term left tackle. However, for all these great picks, comes a head-scratcher. New England already had a deep running back group headline by James White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead. Therefore, selecting power back Damien Harris in the third-round doesn´t make sense, and there were other players available at more pressing needs that would have fit the team better.

With two selections in the fourth round, the Patriots selected guard Hjalte Froholdt and quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Froholdt adds much needed interior offensive line depth with Joe Thuney on the last year of his contract and is a fine pickup. Stidham, meanwhile, has the ceiling that comes with a first or second rounder; he struggled to a poor supporting cast in college. Just like with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, even if he does not end up being the heir to Tom Brady, he adds competition and could eventually be traded later on to a team desperate for a promising quarterback. Defensive lineman Byron Cowart is a solid find in the fifth-round since he is versatile and still has the athletic upside he had when he was a high recruit after college, even if his production didn´t match up with his talent. I´m not sure why the team decided to trade up for Stanford punter Jake Bailey in the fifth-round with Ryan Allen still under contract, but maybe the team knows something I do not. To wrap it up, Ken Webster out of Ole Miss in the seventh-round is athletic and could at least make an impact on special teams.

New York Jets

quinnen
Photo Cred: USA Today

Full Draft (With Grade)

Round 1, Pick 3: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama (A)

Round 3, Pick 86: EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida (B)

Round 3, Pick 92: OT Chuma Edoga, USC (B+)

Round 4, Pick 121: TE Trevon Wesco, West Virginia (C)

Round 5, Pick 157: ILB Blake Cashman, Minnesota (A)

Round 6, Pick 196: CB Blessuan Austin, Rutgers (B)

Grade: B

Ever since the offseason began, it seemed like a guarantee that the Jets would trade down from the third overall pick to recoup extra draft assets lost when they traded up last season for Sam Darnold. However, in the end, they could not find a trade partner and took possibly the best player in this class in defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Williams has the potential to an elite interior pass rusher, as well as a dominant run defender, and could be an All-Pro player right away. At the worst, he is a Gerald McCoy type player. At the same time, his upside is off the charts and is not comparable to any defensive tackle currently in the NFL (maybe Fletcher Cox). This was a very safe pick, but one that makes sense, even though a trade down would have been ideal.

In the third round, New York took a pair of risks by selecting Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite and USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga. Polite is a boom or bust type prospect; he was a polished and productive pass rusher in college, but graded out horribly in the combine and comes with major character issues. The Jets are in desperate need of an edge rusher, so this would be a major find for the team if he pans out. However, it would be smart for the Jets to not count on that. Edoga also comes with some character issues, but there are lesser concerns than with Polite, and he rated out as one of the best pass blocking offensive lineman in college. Tackle was a need for New York, and selecting the player that protected Darnold during his time in college makes a decent amount of sense.

The Jets did need to find a blocking tight end, but selecting one in the fourth-round with Trevon Wesco seemed early, especially since blocking is the one skill he has flourished in. Minnesota linebacker Blake Cashman comes with injury concerns, but he is notorious for playing at a high effort level and was productive in college; he could be a steal in the fifth-round. In the sixth-round, New York took another medical risk with Rutgers cornerback Blessaun Austin, but his athleticism made him worth the gamble at that point in the draft.

The Jets would have been better off trading down, but Williams will be a star for them right away potentially. There was a decent amount of risk in the selections of Polite, Cashman, and Edoga, but if they pan out, this could turn out to be a stellar draft for the team. For now, it rates as a slightly above average one given what assets they had.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s