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NFL DRAFT: AFC Report Card

The Draft is finally over and now I can get some sleep. NFL teams build their roster through the draft, some teams do it well, while others squander an opportunity.  Who will get the “Dan Collins Stamp of Approval” as best draft class, and who will get the “Matt Millen Stamp of Disapproval” for having the worst draft class in the AFC. Let’s Dive In!

 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Draft Grade: B+

I really like what the Bills did in the Draft under new man Sean McDermott. Trading down to get an extra 1st round pick for next year was a smart move considering this team needs more young talent to fit the new scheme on defense. He takes a cornerback to help him replace Stephon Gilmore in the 1st Round with Tre’Davious White. They really crushed Day 2 selecting wide receiver Zay Jones and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins. Zay Jones will be their #2 receiver and a nice addition considering his WR coach in college is now the same position for the Bills. Dawkins will be an immediate starter at RT which was desperately needed. Matt Milano and Tanner Valejo bring athleticism to a slower linebacking core. I think they will really like Nathan Peterman as he could be the heir apparent to Tyrod Taylor after this season over Cardale Jones.

 

Miami Dolphins

Draft Grade: B+

The Dolphins attacked the defensive side of the ball this draft and got quality starters within the first few rounds. Charles Harris brings youth to their defensive end depth chart and will be a pass rush specialist. Raekwon McMillan will fit really nicely next to Kiko Alonso as an outside linebacker and both will rack up tackles. Cordrea Tankersley will be their starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell this season. Isaac Asiata will be their starting right guard at least by the end of the season because of their lack of talent. The Dolphins drafted Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor as possible rotational defensive lineman. Isaiah Ford provides depth for their wide receiver position.

 

New England Patriots

Draft Grade: A-

The Patriots always draft guys that they use for specific purpose, and they did that again this year with some quality prospects. Derek Rivers was a steal in the 3rd round — no doubt about it. Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott are developmental offensive tackles with high upside. Deatrich Wise is also a high upside player that the Patriots will have in the pass-rush rotation.

 

New York Jets

Draft Grade: “Matt Millen Stamp of Disapproval”

They are looking to tank this season by the looks of it. They did manage to get two leaders and top tier safeties in the draft with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye but then it got weird. They then drafted three straight offensive weapons (ArDarius Stewart, Chad Henson, Jordan Leggett) I assume because they are planning to pick a quarterback in next year’s NFL Draft and get players to develop before he gets there. But their biggest needs, they waited until the 5th round to attack any of them. A versatile athlete in the front 7 (Dylan Donahue), youth at running back (Elijah McClure), and starting cornerbacks (Jeremy Clark & Derrick Jones) were huge needs and they waited until the end to address them, not ideal circumstances.

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Draft Grade: B+

Ozzie Newsome went to his alma mater twice to get possible starter/impact players. Marlon Humphrey in the 1st round was a pick that needed to happen to help at cornerback. Tim Williams in the 4th will be a pure pass rush specialist on passing downs if he can stay on the roster with off-field concerns. Tyus Bowser and Chris Wormley were great value picks in the 2nd & 3rd rounds as they will be solid rotational players this year, starters by next year. They added Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor to bolster their offensive line depth chart who could see some time on the field this season if the starters struggle to protect Joe Flacco and need some juice to the run game. Chuck Clark could see some time in Nickel or Dime packages as a cornerback/safety.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Draft Grade: B-

I’m still scratching my head over their John Ross pick in the first round. Seems like a bit of reach for me due to his smaller frame and injury history. Joe Mixon is a Boom or Bust type player too. They did get great value for their defensive line in the 3rd and 4th rounds by stacking Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson as they could be starters for them by the end of their rookie contracts. These two picks save their overall draft grade. After their two great value picks, they kind of picked a bunch of depth players: Josh Malone (WR), Ryan Glasgow (DT), J.J. Dielman (OL), Brandon Wilson (RB), and Mason Schreck (TE). I will give them credit for taking Jordan Evans as a much needed athlete on their linebacker corps. They also hope their 5th round pick of Jake Elliot turns out to solve their kicking problems.

 

Cleveland Browns

Draft Grade: B

Myles Garrett and David Njoku will be stud starters on this team for as long as they can keep them under contract — great first round picks. Jabrill Peppers is a “bust” player for me and does not have a clear position on defense. DeShone Kizer has all the physical tools for Hue Jackson to work with, they just have to fix his mindset of being skittish in the pocket. Hopefully they let Cody Kessler be the starter for the beginning of the season before giving Kizer a shot to possibly start. I like the picks of Larry Obunjobi (DT) and Howard Wilson (CB), who could see the field as rotational pieces on defense. I really like the 5th round flier on Roderick Johnson, who has the natural talent of a 1st rounder, just possibly needs some coaching to unlock his potential. Caleb Brantley is a head scratcher for me as his coach told people not to draft him and has character red flags. Zane Gonzalez could be their starter at kicker while Matt Dayes will compete for special teams.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft Grade: “Dan Collins Stamp of Approval”

The Steelers crushed the draft this year and got quality prospects at almost every selection in the draft. First of all, T.J. Watt is the poster child for Steeler toughness and edge rusher presence. He and Bud Dupree will be a 1-2 punch for a quite some time in Pittsburgh. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the possession receiver the Steelers needed to go with explosive Antonio Brown. Cameron Sutton will improve their secondary that got smoked in the playoffs last season. Then in the 3rd and 4th rounds, they hit home runs. They get James Conner to stay in Pittsburgh to be the “Thunder” to Le’Veon Bell’s “Lightning” for the run game. Joshua Dobbs will be the future starter of the Steelers after Ben Roethlisberger, another fantastic pick. Brian Allen will compete for nickel and dime safety/cornerback duties. Keion Adams brings much needed coverage skills in subpackages for the Pittsburgh defense. Well done Pittsburgh, well done.

About Dan Collins

I have always been an avid football enthusiast. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football is my passion in the realm of football. I write Mock Drafts and inform readers of what is happening during the critical stages of the NFL Draft. I spend way too much time working through Fantasy Football analysis, situations, and thoughts; it is an issue. Follow on Twitter @Dan_R_Collins for Football info and the occasional joke or wisecrack.