Jun. 01, 2020
AFC East Draft Grades
It should be noted that I gave four teams in the NFL an A, 12 a B, 12 a C and 8 a D. The first round selection does carry a lot weight in the team's grade but winners and losers are determined through the following rounds. The AFC East is now open for anyone to take with Tom Brady departing. It was going to be interesting to see how all the teams in the division reacted to the departure and if any could take advantage during the draft.
New England Patriots: D
The Patriots need to find the successor to Tom Brady. They didn't find one in free agency and it was expected they'd draft a quarterback. After trading out of the first round it was assumed New England would draft a quarterback and help that quarterback with some skill position players that this draft had an abundance of. The Patriots didn't draft one quarterback or a receiver with their ten selections.
Despite having the number one defense last season, the Patriots thought it was a need to refuel that side of the ball by spending their first three picks on defense. The Patriots then went back-to-back to the tight end position, a need that has been clear since Rob Gronkowski left the team but still ignoring the biggest needs of quarterback and receiver. The Patriots selected a kicker which lets just say has a really bad tattoo, then used three of their last four selections on the offensive line which can use depth but once again shouldn't have been the priority.
For the first time in my years of covering football, I have to admit that Bill Belichick didn't have a good draft. Maybe the quarterback of the future is already on the roster? Maybe the Patriots are trying to build a complete team to surround an average or terrible quarterback? This year will be the biggest test of Belichick's coaching career. Without Tom Brady and with a questionable draft, Belichick has more pressure to coach the Patriots back to the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills: C
Buffalo started out the draft with a limited number of picks since they traded their first rounder to the Vikings for Stephon Diggs (it could be argued that Diggs is their first round selection). The Bills don't have many roster needs but could take advantage of the talented players that would slide to them.
AJ Epenesa falling to the Bills at pick 54 was the ideal scenario. Epenesa was considered a top ten player at one point by many scouts, the Bills grab an edge defensive lineman that is expected to make an immediate impact. The Bills followed the Epenesa pick with Zack Moss, running back from Utah. Moss is a questionable pick since they already have Devin Singletary as their starter but one could argue that this selection provides depth to running game. The Bills then went heavy on the skill position players as they took wide receiver Gabriel Davis, quarterback Jake Fromm and Isaiah Hodgins with three of their next four picks. I understand that Buffalo wants to provide weapons for Josh Allen and I understand that the passing game wasn't strong last season but they already traded a first round pick for Stephon Diggs.
I thought the Bills could have added depth on the offensive line or at the tight end position or even on defense to make this a complete draft. Instead the Bills went with skill positions that already have starters and didn't take advantage of the opportunity.
New York Jets: A
It surprises me how well the Jets drafted. They needed a receiver but didn't panic and take on with their eleventh pick, instead the Jets grabbed a much needed offensive lineman in Mekhi Becton with the pick, a tackle that some argue was the best in the draft. The Jets went with a receiver (that happens to look good in green already) in Denzel Mims with the second round selection and after two rounds the Jets already filled their two biggest needs. After two picks directed at the offense the Jets turned to the defensive side of the ball, adding depth to the safety position (Ashtyn Davis) and a pass rusher (Jabari Zuniga) to a defense that only had 35 sacks last season. The Jets still needed to fill the need of corner in this draft and they did just that in the fifth round by snagging a sliding Bryce Hall from Virginia. In addition to the star power that the Jets grabbed in this draft, New York also selected a backup running back (in case Le'veon Bell doesn't work out) and a backup quarterback (in case Sam Darnold doesn't work out).
Overall, this draft looks to be one of the best one the Jets had in years. This could be the class that puts the Jets back into playoff contention as they landed multiple star players throughout the draft. Now all fans turn to Adam Gase to see if he can lead the Jets to their first winning season since 2015 and their first playoff appearance since 2010.
Miami Dolphins: A
This draft class will ride on the Dolphins number five selection in Tua Tagovailoa. Tua is the highest risk/reward prospect in recent draft memory and is now expected to be the savior in south beach.
Aside from the risk in Tua, the Dolphins were able to fill most of their needs through the draft with the over abundance of picks they had (so it goes when you trade away Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick). The Dolphins did reach on a cornerback and tackle in the later picks of the first round but still managed but the late rounds were when the Dolphins were able to capitalize on their draft. In the second round, the Dolphins landed Raekwon Davis to boost the defensive line and in the third round they took Brandon Jones, a safety that the Dolphins can use to help fix the worst defense in the NFL (allowing 30 points per game). The Dolphins also added two edge rushers in the fifth round including Curtis Weaver from Boise State whom many saw as an early round pick.
With 11 picks, it's hard to have a bad draft. The Dolphins were able to completely rebuild the roster in this class and now might possess one of the more complete rosters in the division. The pick that will put the Dolphins over the top will be Tua, future Hall of Famer if he can stay healthy but if the injury woes continue into his career this could set the Dolphins back a few years.