NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

The always controversial AFC East is up next. Whether it’s about Bill Belichick, or Tom Brady, or deflated footballs, or Rex Ryan’s foot fetish, or Rex challenging Channing Crowder to a fight, it’s always in the news. The Patriots probably thought that they had finally rid themselves or Sexy Rexy, until he took the Bills job. This season is shaping up to be an interest one in the East. Let’s see how the draft will affect that.


Buffalo Bills: 9-7 in 2015, No First Round pick (Sammy Watkins trade)

Round 2 Pick 50                 Ronald Darby                     CB           Florida State

We all know that Rex Ryan loves blitzing, and to blitz you need press man Corners. Enter Ronald Darby. Darby is a physical Corner with the speed to play press. The Bills can blitz to their heart’s content with Stephon Gilmore and Darby on the outside. I thought Darby would go higher than this, so it was a nice value and makes sense. If Darby can stay clean off of the field, his track speed should speak for itself. Grade: B+

Round 3 Pick 81                 John Miller                          OG         Louisville

Rex Ryan loves running the ball almost as much as he loves to blitz, so this pick fits. Miller is a road grader, and he’ll push for playing time immediately in Buffalo. This may have been a little early for Miller, but since they wouldn’t pick again until the 5th round, I understand if they wanted their guy. Grade: C+

Round 5 Pick 155              Karlos Williams                  RB           Florida State

Please read the first sentence of my write up about John Miller. Williams was a bit of an enigma at Florida State, as he started at Safety, then they moved him to Linebacker, then to Runningback. He’s 6’1″ and 230 pounds, and runs angry, so it’s easy to see why Rex wanted him. He can catch the ball out of the backfield well also, so he can help their Quarterback situation, which isn’t pretty. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 188              Tony Steward                    LB           Clemson

I hadn’t heard of Steward before the draft, but he’ll provide Linebacker depth for a team that just traded away their best Linebacker during the offseason. He’s a very fast Linebacker, and will likely play Inside Linebacker for the Bills. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 194              Nick O’Leary                       TE           Florida State

In an effort to draft all of the former Seminoles, the Bills grab their 3rd Florida State kid. Nick O’Leary will be a move Tight End and maybe Fullback for the Bills, but he’ll be a Special Teams ace and should stick on a roster. He’s one of my favorite players in the draft, just doesn’t have the talent to be an above average player in the league, and that’s okay. Grade: B-

Round 7 Pick 234              Dezmin Lewis                    WR         Central Arkansas

I really liked this pick, as Lewis had gotten a nice bit of hype coming out of D2 Central Arkansas. The more help that the Bills can give to Matt Cassel/Tyrod Taylor/E.J. Manuel is for the best. Lewis adds depth to the Wide Receiver corps. This is a nice value at this point as well. Grade: B+

Overall Grade: C+. This draft is very “meh”. The Bills didn’t have much to work with, but probably only got one starter out of this class, and some picks don’t have a lot of upside. The Bills are looking for back to back winning seasons, something that hasn’t happened often in recent memory. Hopefully some of these picks pan out quickly.


Miami Dolphins: 8-8 in 2015, 14th Overall

Round 1 Pick 14                 DeVante Parker                WR         Louisville

I really liked this selection. If I were a General Manager, I would have prefered Parker over White due to his polish. Parker presents the Dolphins with their best upside prospect. The Dolphins have Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings, Rishard Matthews, and others at Wide Receiver, but at this point, Parker easily has the most potential. Ryan Tannehill can grow with Parker and he can help the Dolphins justify giving Tannehill 95 million dollars. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 52                 Jordan Phillips                   DL           Oklahoma

Jordan Phillips can go as far as his back will allow him. When he’s healthy, he can be a major player on the Defensive Line. An impressive athlete who can do a standing backflip at 329 pounds, he was considered to be a fringe 1st round prospect at one time, but his chronic back issues caused him to slip to #52. If he can stay on the field, he gives the Dolphins a nice piece on the interior of their Defensive Line. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 114              Jamil Douglas                     OL           Arizona State

I liked this pick, as I saw Douglas do pretty well in the Senior Bowl 1 on 1 drills. He anchors well and although he played Tackle at Arizona State, he’ll likely play Guard in the NFL. He provides some nice depth and could start in a few years. The Dolphins are still rebuilding their Offensive Line after the Incognito/Martin fiasco. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 145              Bobby McCain                   DB          Memphis

This is a really nice value for the Dolphins, who have struggled to hit on Corners in the recent past. McCain is likely only a slot Corner due to his stature at only 5’9″, but he’s a tenacious player, and has nice speed. He also possesses some nice ball skills that are needed in the same division as Tom Brady. Grade: A-

Round 5 Pick 149              Jay Ajayi                               RB           Boise State

My 3rd ranked Runningback finally comes off of the board. He fell due to knee concerns from his Senior year… of High School! Ajayi had no issues in college, but NFL teams were weary of his potential for future injury. This dumbfounded me, as all players are at risk of injury in the NFL. Ajayi provides excellent value here, and is an all-purpose back. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ajayi starts to take snaps away from Lamar Miller. Grade: A

Round 5 Pick 150              Cedric Thompson               S             Minnesota

Cedric Thompson was a late riser in this process, but could easily make this roster as a Special Teamer initially. He’s a hard hitter who’s an impressive athlete. When teams have back to back picks, it’s their true opportunity to take who they want because they’re not risking their next guy won’t be there, so I’d imagine someone in the Dolphins organization fell in love with Thompson. Grade: B-

Round 5 Pick 156              Tony Lippett                       WR/CB           Michigan State

Tony Lippett played Wide Receiver primarily in college, and that’s where he played in the Senior Bowl. However, while he measures as an average Wide Receiver, those measurements make him an above average Cornerback prospect. His willingness to make the change bodes well for this potential success. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B. This class gives Miami a few nice pieces. In Parker and Phillips, you have guys who could potentially start right away. Jay Ajayi and Bobby McCain could also fight their way onto the field early. You need all of the talent you can when combatting the Patriots, though.


New England Patriots: 12-4 in 2015, 32nd Overall

Round 1 Pick 32                 Malcolm Brown                DL           Texas

This is a total Patriot pick. After winning a Super Bowl and suffering some of the roster attrition that occurs afterwards, the Pats simply sat at the end of the 1st round, let the dust settle, and took the highest remaining player on their board. Great value here and fills a need after Vince Wilfork departed. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 64                 Jordan Richards                S              Stanford

This pick seems like a bit of a reach, as Richards was a mid-round prospect for most. However, the Patriots value smart football players, so Stanford isn’t a bad place to start. I don’t know if Richards contributes immediately, but should play Special Teams initially. Grade: C

Round 3 Pick 97                 Geneo Grissom                DE           Oklahoma

Bill Belichick loves versatility, and that’s what the Patriots get with Grissom. Someone that can line up all over the Patriots’ hybrid fronts, Grissom is a big body and a decent pass rusher off of the edge. Again, a pick that seems like a reach, but it’s tough to question the Patriots. Grade: C

Round 4 Pick 101              Trey Flowers                      DE           Arkansas

Okay, here are more typical Patriot picks. Trey Flowers was very well liked on Draft Twitter, and could have easily been taken in the late 2nd round, so this is a very nice value for the Patriots. He also can line up in multiple spots along the defensive front. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 111              Tre Jackson                         OG         Florida State

Another Patriot steal. Tre Jackson was considered to be the top Guard in this class during the season, and for whatever reason, he fell to pick 111. This is a nice value as he could have been taken, like Flowers, in the 2nd round, and no one would have thought much of it. He’s a nasty run blocker, and can anchor well in pass protection. He will likely start in a year or two. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 131              Shaq Mason                       OC          Georgia Tech

Speaking of run blocking, it’s not often that a Georgia Tech Offensive Lineman gets drafted, usually due to their struggles in pass protection. However, Mason did a nice job at the Senior Bowl in pass protection, and from that point his stock began to soar, even being in some Top 50 listings. However, he fell, and now the Patriots have a nice interior Offensive Lineman. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 166              Joe Cardona                       LS            Navy

Another typical Patriot pick. A Long Snapper in the 5th round. If any other team did this, they’d be shunned and criticized. However, the Patriots understand the value of Special Teams, and they obviously felt that he warranted this selection. Grade: C+

Round 6 Pick 201              A.J. Derby                           TE           Arkansas

Derby is an interesting prospect, as he began his collegiate career as a Quarterback at Iowa, before heading south. He was then transitioned to Tight End, where his size and athleticism translated nicely. He’s still a bit of a project, but a better pick than the 49ers taking Blake Bell in the 4th, so I’m okay with it. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 247              Darryl Roberts                   CB           Marshall

Darryl Roberts was a borderline draftable prospect, so this pick makes sense. He can play both in the slot and outside, and versatility like that appeals to the Patriots. He also ran a 4.44 40, so his speed can help out any issues he has in coverage. Grade: C

Round 7 Pick 253              Xzavier Dickson                 LB           Alabama

I really liked this pick. Xzavier Dickson never quite lived up to his recruiting billing, but he really came on during his Senior campaign, leading the Crimson Tide in sacks. He’s another versatile piece for the Patriots to move around on defense. This is a nice value, as Dickson could have been drafted in the 4th or 5th round. Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+. The Patriots didn’t get to where they are by wasting draft picks, and this year was no different. Their 2nd and 3rd round picks were a bit suspect, but they got multiple future potential starters on Day 3, a mark of a good front office. The Patriots got better, and they needed to with their losses in Free Agency.


New York Jets: 4-12 in 2015, 6th Overall

Round 1 Pick 6                   Leonard Williams              DL           USC

This pick was interesting, as the Jets were really in a tough spot. They probably would have preferred to take Dante Fowler or Amari Cooper, but with both of them off of the board, they were able to make a guilty pleasure value pick, taking arguably the #1 player in this draft. The Jets Defensive Line is really their strength, but they wouldn’t complain about taking Williams. This makes a nasty unit even scarier. Along with the additions of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Marcus Gilchrist, and Buster Skrine, the Jets won’t be giving up many points. Grade: A

Round 2 Pick 37                 Devin Smith                        WR         Ohio State

This was another pick I really liked. After seeing Breshad Perriman and Phillip Dorsett get drafted, the draft’s top true deep threat falls to the Jets. This is a nice value, as Smith could have been taken late in the 1st. Smith will help Geno Smith. He’s now the deep threat, with Smith also having Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley to throw to. Grade: A-

Round 3 Pick 82                 Lorenzo Mauldin              LB           Louisville

New Head Coach Todd Bowles loves for his Outside Linebackers to be big bodied, and Mauldin fits that being 6’4″ and around 245 pounds. Mauldin will help rushing off of the edge, and he’ll arguably be the most talented EDGE the Jets have. With the Jets Defensive Line and Defensive Backs, the pass rush is the only thing left to add to, so this pick makes sense. Mauldin is also a nice pick at this juncture. Grade: B

Round 4 Pick 107              Bryce Petty                         QB          Baylor

I liked this pick, as Sean Mannion was somehow inexplicably drafted before Petty, and I figured the Jets might be the team to take Mannion, so I was happy to see them get a better player, both now and in the future, in the round after. Petty will have a bit of a learning curve, but he’s got all of the physical tools needed. A big arm and a big frame, Petty is also athletic and will have time to develop into the NFL game. Grade: B+

Round 5 Pick 152              Jarvis Harrison                   OG         Texas A&M

I really liked this pick, as Jarvis Harrison is as talented as he wants to be. Work ethic issues coupled with weight issues derailed his senior season, but this is a great value in the 5th round, as he has Day 2 talent. He should be a starting Guard in a year or two. If he can’t figure it out, it was only a 5th rounder. Grade: A-

Round 7 Pick 223              Deon Simon                       DL           Northwestern State

I liked this pick, which is beginning to sound like a broken record, as Simon is a big body, and a low investment for some high potential return. He’s 6’5″ and 322 pounds and will help the run defense, to force teams to pass into that dreaded secondary. He’s worth a shot in the 7th. Grade: B

Overall Grade: A-. The Jets didn’t have a lot of picks, but they made them count. Leonard Williams, Devin Smith, Lorenzo Mauldin, and Jarvis Harrison could all play immediately, and Bryce Petty could develop into either a player to trade for a draft pick, or eventually a starter with some time. That’s quite a bit of return for a class with only six picks. The Jets are looking to win now, and gave their Quarterback Geno Smith a lot better chance at success.

Written by 

Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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