AFC Draft Grades

There was a lot of depth to this year’s draft class. A lot of teams drafted potential starters with their first few picks. As a whole, the AFC teams did quite a good job addressing their needs. Did some teams make some head-scratching picks? Yes of course, but that is always expected on draft day.

*Note: Teams best pick (based on value, talent, and potential impact) is bolded

AFC EAST:

Buffalo Bills : Grade: B-

1 (27) Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

2 (5) Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

2 (31) Dion Dawkins, OG, Temple

5 (19) Matt Milano, OLB, Boston College

5 (28) Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

6 (11) Tanner Vallejo, OLB, Boise State

Commentary: The Bills had a decent draft, addressing some major needs. White will be a starter from the get-go and should positively impact the defense with his ability to cover and tackle well. Zay Jones is one of my big sleepers from this draft class, do not be surprised to see Tyrod Taylor targeting Jones a lot, he is great with the ball in the open field and has big play ability, he just needs opportunities. Picking up Nathan Peterman late was a good move incase things go south with Taylor. The Bills made a great move trading down and gaining a first rounder next year. They could have addressed the D-line a bit more. 

Miami Dolphins : Grade: B+

1 (22) Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri

2 (22) Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State

3 (33) Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

5 (20) Isaac Asiata, OG, Utah

5 (35) Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU

6 (10) Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State

7 (19) Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech

Commentary: Should the Dolphins have taken an offensive lineman in the first round? Possibly. Depending on your take on that, their grade can flux between C+ to B+. Charles Harris is a great playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, and he gets after the QB viciously. McMillan adds speed to a linebacking core that needs it and Tankersley buffs up the secondary quite well. Asiata could be in contention for a starting spot, he’s big and physical which is just what they need to keep Tannehill safe. They added 3-4 potential starters with this class, so not a bad haul.

New England Patriots : Grade: B

3 (19) Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown State

3 (21) Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

4 (25) Deatrich Wise Jr., DE, Arkansas

6 (28) Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

Commentary: The Pats recently picked up Cooks’ option, so there’s that. They basically traded a chance to pick up someone who MIGHT be a potential star for someone who has already proven how they can play in the league… not bad in my opinion. As far as their picks, Rivers and Wise add some good depth to that defensive line which seems to be the only spot on the team that doesn’t have incredible depth. Two offensive lineman to add some more depth there never hurts. I can’t really go much higher than a B seeing that they didn’t have many picks, but as an offseason grade they are sitting at an A+.

New York Jets : Grade: B+

1 (6) Jamal Adams, S, LSU

2 (7) Marcus Maye, S, Florida

3 (15) ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

4 (35) Chad Hansen, WR, California

5 (6) Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson

5 (38) Dylan Donahue, DE, West Georgia

6 (4) Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana Lafayette

6 (13) Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan

6 (20) Derrick Jones, CB, Ole Miss

Commentary:  The Jets got themselves an incredible prospect in Adams. He has the talent, work ethic and intangibles to be an elite safety in the league. He has great ball skills and tackling ability, he should be a starter day 1. A little confused as to why they drafted another safety in the second round be i can see them using Maye as a hybrid corner/safety/nickel because he is quite athletic. Two wide outs in rounds 3 and 4 were decent moves trying to bolster up the offense with the loss of Marshall. Great value in Leggett, he can come in and compete for a starting job, he is big, physical and can also help in the run game. Corner was addressed a little too late for my liking with them but overall they filled some big holes.

AFC NORTH:

Baltimore Ravens : Grade: A-

1 (16) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

2 (15) Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston

3 (10) Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan

3 (14) Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

4 (16) Nico Siragusa, OG, San Diego State

5 (15) Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Texas A&M

6 (2) Chuck Clark, S, Virginia Tech

Commentary: The Ravens addressed a huge hole at corner with Humphrey, who should be a starter when the season starts. He can make plays and plays tight coverage, hopefully his college tape translates to the NFL. Tyus Bowser was an awesome pick. The man is a MONSTER. He will come in and get after the quarterback like nobody’s business, Terrell Suggs 2.0 could be in this kids future. Tim Williams had some character issues, but when it boils down to it he is a great football player and has a knack for finding the football. Siragusa can come in and compete for a starting job. He was one of the most underrated offensive lineman in this class. Clark could also stir up some trouble for playing time in the secondary. Wormley showed a lot of promise, but has some things to work on but he is a run stuffer at heart which is what they need. They hauled in 5 potential starters, not too shabby.

Cincinnati Bengals : Grade: B+

1 (9) John Ross, WR, Washington

2 (16) Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

3 (9) Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State

4 (9) Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

4 (22) Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee

4 (32) Ryan Glasglow, DT, Michigan

5 (9) Jake Elliot, K, Memphis

5 (33) JJ Dielman, C, Utah

6 (9) Jordan Evans, ILB, Oklahoma

6 (23) Brandon Wilson, CB, Houston

Commentary: Was John Ross a bit of a reach at 9? Yes. But, with his speed, he can take a good portion of the load off of AJ Green. Ross is a big threat in the passing game that Andy Dalton needs, he could be a spark on this offense. Mixon has had some issues in the past but if you put those to the side he is one good runner. Jeremy Hill isn’t really getting the job done, so expect to see Mixon sharing some reps and trying to power his way into the starting job. Willis and Lawson were two great pickups. Willis has a knack for getting after the quarterback and if Lawson didn’t have injury concerns he would be a first round prospect. Lawson was a guy that at the beginning of the year was stride for stride with Garrett and Barnett. Look to see him have a big impact on the D-Line. Malone was a bit of a stretch in the fourth, and their late round picks are solid guys but no one that is eye-opening.

Cleveland Browns : Grade: A

1 (1) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

1 (25) Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

1 (29) David Njoku, TE, Miami

2 (20) DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

3 (1) Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte

4 (20) Howard Wilson, CB, Houston

5 (16) Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

6 (1) Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

7 (6) Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State

7 (34) Matthew Dayes, RB, NC State

Commentary: Oh boy oh boy, what do we have here? The Browns brought in quite a class. The reality of it is, that the success of this draft class lies in the hands of DeShone Kizer. But, with that aside they got some great talent. As you can see two players are bolded Garrett and Njoku. Here’s why: Garrett is an absolute freak of nature, the guy has potential to be Von Miller 2.0, and Njoku is a freak too. Njoku has speed, size and don’t forget the talent, to replace Barnidge and have an instant impact in the passing game (if they can find a QB?). Peppers will see time on both sides of the ball. A little overrated? Yes, but he is an incredible athlete which the Browns need more of. Hopefully this class can provide some spark along with some new faces from free agency. The one head scratcher is Caleb Brantley. The guy has a pending battery case against him and the GM was even quoted saying they would release him if they found more evidence… THEN WHY DRAFT HIM? But other than that, this draft class was loaded with day 1 starters for the Browns, I’d like to see them win more than one game, for Joe Thomas’ sake.

Pittsburgh Steelers : Grade: B+

1 (30) TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

2 (30) JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

3 (30) Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee

3 (41) James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

4 (29) Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

5 (30) Brian Allen, CB, Utah

6 (30) Colin Holba, LS, Louisville

7 (30) Keion Adams, DE, Western Michigan

Commentary: Rounding out the AFC North, the Steelers had a solid draft. TJ Watt will be a great replacement for James Harrison, and hopefully Harrison can take him under his wing. Watt is explosive and makes big plays which is just what the Steelers need on defense to stay in contention in the AFC with the Patriots making power moves. JuJu was a solid pick, even though their receiving core is pretty deep, he should come in and see some time in the slot when Brown isn’t there. Sutton should help out at corner in a secondary that was weak at times during the season. I LOVE the James Conner pick. They have the league’s premier back in Le’Veon Bell, but he seems to always be hurting. Conner is a bruiser and can come in on short yardage situations and the goal line to give Bell a break. Dobbs as the potential successor to Big Ben? I like it. Dobbs was really overlooked as a prospect in this draft and could be another Dak. The defense could have been addressed more, but overall they added 4-5 guys that can come in and play some key roles.

AFC SOUTH:

Houston Texans : Grade: B+

1 (12) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

2 (25) Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt

3 (25) D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

4 (24) Julien Davenport, OT, Bucknell

4 (36) Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

5 (25) Treston Decoud, CB, Oregon State

7 (25) Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor

Commentary: I am not a supporter of trading up to draft a QB, and especially in this class with no true elite talent at QB. I do, however, from a pick standpoint, like the Texans going with Deshaun Watson because of the fact that he is a winner. Watson is a leader with a lot of confidence and that is just what Houston needs. He has one of the leagues best receivers by his side in DeAndre Hopkins so hopefully they can get on the same page. I like the pick of Zach Cunningham. He is, admittedly, a little raw and makes some mistakes reading plays but he is physical and gets after the ball just as well as anyone else in this class, he is a tackling machine. Foreman was overlooked by a lot of teams that needed backs and he will fit in very well with Houston. He is fast and physical and can be explosive at times, his frame and quickness should help him be a stud in their system. His work ethic should put him at number 1 on the depth chart by the start of the season. The Texans filled some needs with their later picks but no real deep talent.

Indianapolis Colts : Grade: B+

1 (15) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

2 (14) Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

3 (16) Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio

4 (31) Zach Banner, OT, USC

4 (37) Marlon Mack, RB, USF

4 (38) Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (GA)

5 (14) Nate Hariston, CB, Temple

5 (17) Anthony Walker Jr.,ILB, Northwestern

Commentary: Chris Ballard did a great job of getting after some great defensive prospects. Malik Hooker was a phenomenal pick, because many had him off their boards in the top 5/top 8. He is a ball hawk that should help to create some turnovers for a team that needs them. Wilson is a physical corner, with again, great ball skills to hopefully create some turnovers. Marlon Mack is one of the most underrated players in the draft, watch out for him come the start of the season to get some quality time. He’s fast and can make defenders miss in the open field. Banner is another great pick because they need to protect Andrew Luck AT ALL COSTS.

Jacksonville Jaguars : Grade: B

1 (4) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

2 (2) Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

3 (4) Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois

4 (3) Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma

5 (4) Blair Brown, ILB, Ohio

7 (4) Jaylen Myrick, CB, Minnesota

7 (22) Marquez Williams, FB, Miami

Commentary: Fournette can be an elite back in this league if he can stay healthy. The Jags already have 2 decent backs but Fournette should come in and start day 1. He has size, speed, agility and power, and should be able to dominate if he gets 20-25 carries a game. Dawaune Smoot gets after the quarterback really well, he is quick with his first step but on some plays he gets lost. He should be able to get some quality time as well as be able to learn from Calais Campbell, who I am excited to see how he plays. The Jags took 2 players that from a talent standpoint are great but from a character standpoint have some glaring issues: Cam Robinson and Dede Westbrook. Robinson can play a huge role in protecting Bortles and be an instant starter as long as he *Stephen A Smith voice* STAYS OFF THE WEED. Westbrook was involved in domestic violence disputes, and as long as he stays out of trouble, he could add another dynamic to their passing game along with AL Hurns and Allen Robinson.

Tennessee Titans : Grade: B

1 (5) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

1 (18) Andoree Jackson, CB, USC

3 (8) Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

3 (36) Jonnu Smith, TE, FIU

5 (11) Jaylon Brown, OLB, UCLA

6 (34) Corey Levin, OG, Chattanooga

7 (9) Josh Carraway, OLB, TCU

7 (18) Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova

7 (23) Khalfrani Muhammed, RB, California

Commentary: This draft could have went a little different for the Titans. I feel as if they could have chosen an elite corner prospect at 5 (or traded down to get one in the 8-12 range) and still gotten Corey Davis at 18. But, that aside, I am a big fan of the Corey Davis pick, as i had him as the number one receiver on my board, ahead of Mike Williams. Davis is a unique blend of everything a coach wants in a receiver and I can see him as being the big weapon for Mariotta this year. Jackson should add some really good depth to the secondary, and he should compete for a starting job especially with his physicality. Taywan Taylor adds even more depth to the receiver position and Jonnu Smith is a big and physical pass-catching tight end that should be an even better target than Delaine Walker. Some of their later round guys add some depth but I feel like the defensive side of the ball could have been addressed a bit better.

AFC WEST:

Denver Broncos : Grade: C+

1 (20) Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

2 (19) DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

3 (18) Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech

3 (37) Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar

5 (1) Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

5 (29) Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia

6 (19) De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina

7 (35) Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

Commentary: Before you start scratching your head as to why their fifth round pick is their best selection, hear me out. If Butt never gets injured in his bowl game, he is a FIRST round talent, in the same conversation as Howard, Njoku and Engram. If he can heal up, he can be a big part of a Broncos offense that seemed to struggle at times throughout the year. Butt is a rare blend on speed and size at the tight end position that has some really good potential, it just sucks he got hurt when he did. Garett Bolles is an animal, he is nasty, he finishes plays and is really good at protecting the QB. He should be a starter day 1. I feel like there were better options than Walker in the second round, but he adds some depth to the D-line.They addressed some needs but I feel like they could have added a little more explosiveness for the offense.

Kansas City Chiefs : Grade: C

1 (10) Patrick Mahomes III, QB, Texas Tech

2 (27) Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

3 (22) Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

4 (33) Jehu Kesson, WR, Michigan

5 (40) Ukeme Eligwe, ILB, Georgia Southern

6 (35) Leon McQuay III, S, USC

Commentary: Another big move I didn’t like. Again, I do not support trading up for a QB especially with this class. Mahomes is a gunslinger and might be what they need as a QB in the future, but they gave up a lot to get him. Tanoh is a freak prospect that could be a nightmare for other QB’s in the AFC West. Kareem Hunt didn’t get much attention in the whole process but he has a lot of talent that the Chiefs can put to good use with the departure of Jamaal Charles. There really wasn’t much going for the Chiefs on draft day.

Oakland Raiders : Grade: B-

1 (24) Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

2 (24) Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN

3 (24) Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA

4 (23) David Sharpe, OG, Florida

5 (24) Marquel Lee, OLB, Wake Forest

7 (3) Shalom Luani, S, Washington State

7 (13) Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State

7 (24) Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina

7 (26) Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo

Commentary: Gareon Conley’s pending rape charge could be a disaster for this draft class, but he does have a lot of talent and could help out a secondary that seemed lost at times at the end of the year last year. Obi is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class and I think he is an absolute steal at 2-24. He has an incredible blend of size, ball skills, tackling ability, cover ability and measureables. He should come in and join Karl Joseph in the defensive secondary as the two starters and he should wreak havoc. Great pick by the Raiders. The rest of their draft consisted of a lot of guys that fill holes in their depth chart, adding some depth, but no real fantastic playmakers. I feel like they could have done better in the later rounds on picking up some real talent that was still on the board.

Los Angeles Chargers : Grade: A-

1 (7) Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

2 (6) Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky

3 (7) Dan Feeny, OG, Indiana

4 (6) Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami

5 (7) Desmond King, CB, Iowa

6 (7) Sam Tevi, OT, Utah

7 (6) Isaac Rochell, DE, Notre Dame

Commentary: I think the Chargers’ front office deserves a lot of credit for this class. Some people weren’t fans but I am. Here’s why. Mike Williams is a HUGE weapon for Phillip Rivers. As an aging quarterback, surrounding him with young talent is one of the best things to do. Williams is a big guy, with great hands and big time playmaking ability. He is fast and should be able to compliment Keenan Allen nicely in he passing game. Look for Rivers to target Williams a lot especially on third down when teams will most likely be all over Allen. Williams should make an immediate impact. I love their next two picks in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeny. These two guys were two of my top 8 offensive lineman available in this draft. Lamp was a steal in my opinion where they took him. He is very physical and really gets after it in the run game, as does Feeny. Surrounding Rivers with young talent on the line to protect him is great, and its even better that they added a new weapon in the passing game for him. Desmond King was overlooked big time. Concerns were about his size and man coverage abilities but his ball skills make up for that big time. He is a big play guy in the secondary, he had 8 interceptions in 2015 and made some big plays in 2016. I like the Chargers’ haul a lot, and feel like these guys can make a big impact.

 

Cover photo source: http://1iota.com/Show/616/2017-NFL-DRAFT

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