27 Nov 2020

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AFC and NFC East Draft Grades with Free Agent Consideration

BUFFALO

Grade: B+

  1. AJ Epenesa (DE, 2nd)
  2. Zack Moss (RB, 3rd)
  3. Gabriel Davis (WR, 4th)
  4. Jake Fromm (QB, 5th)
  5. Tyler Bass (K, 6th)
  6. Isaiah Hodgins (WR, 6th)
  7. Dane Jackson (CB, 7th)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 27: Austin Jackson #73 of the USC Trojans blocks A.J. Epenesa #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second half of the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium on December 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Part of the Stefon Diggs deal had Buffalo sending their 1st round pick to Minnesota. Also, Buffalo reunited Mario Addison, Vernon Butler and Josh Norman with former DC Sean McDermott. Buffalo began free agency with over $80M in cap space, and still have roughly $20M left, and added some solid veteran players to really round out this roster. The defense is loaded, and players like Epenesa are a fit and should have gone earlier. Zack Moss could be a nice player, and he fits the mold of what Buffalo likes to do, and with the addition of Diggs, it gave them the freedom to add some needed depth at a key position. If they were looking for playmakers in the 4th, Gabriel Davis falling to the 4th ended up being perfect for them as well as Isaiah Hodgins who I was very high on as a great day-3 value guy. The addition of Fromm could be very nice here; not only does he push the competition needle, he brings the intelligence to the QB room, and is that ideal backup who coaches feel comfortable throwing into the action a moment’s notice.

MIAMI

Grade: A

  1. Tua Tagovailoa (QB, 1st)
  2. Austin Jackson (OT, 1st)
  3. Noah Igbinoghene (CB, 1st)
  4. Robert Hunt (OG, 2nd)
  5. Raekwon Davis (DT, 2nd)
  6. Brandon Jones (S, 3rd)
  7. Solomon Kindley (OG, 4th)
  8. Jason Strowbridge (DE, 5th)
  9. Curtis Weaver (DE, 5th)
  10. Blake Ferguson (LS, 5th)
  11. Malcolm Perry (WR, 7th)

It finally came to an end. The whole “Tank for Tua” saga ended, and they got their guy. I really thought they were going to move up to 3 to get Tua. I just kept thinking, no way we listen to this garbage for almost a year and then they lose him to someone else right? Props to Miami for letting the draft come to them on that move. However, I didn’t like the Austin Jackson pick; I thought another year at USC would have paid huge dividends for him. And taking a CB at 30 to me was odd especially after who they acquired in FA, but I guess it was just another reach at Corner that had been a trend for most of the 2nd half of the 1st round. Miami did add some nice value in later rounds with Raekwon Davis, Solomon Kindley, and Curtis Weaver who surprisingly fell to the 5th. Miami looks to have come away with 5 or 6 potential day-1 starters. They added pieces to protect Tua and build a really nice foundation of players on the LOS on both sides of the ball.

NEW ENGLAND

Grade: B+

  1. Kyle Dugger (S, 2nd)
  2. Josh Uche (DE, 2nd)
  3. Anfernee Jennings (OLB, 3rd)
  4. Devin Asiasi (TE, 3rd)
  5. Dalton Keene (TE, 3rd)
  6. Justin Rohrwasser (K, 5th)
  7. Michael Onwenu (OG, 6th)
  8. Justin Herron (OT, 6th)
  9. Cassh Maluia (ILB, 6th)
  10. Dustin Woodard (C, 7th)

Patriots lost Tom Brady, former assistants in Detroit and Miami took pretty much every former player from NE that hit the market, didn’t draft a QB, traded out of the 1st round, took a Kicker in the 5th, and took back-to-back Tight Ends in the 3rd. All the makings for an F right?? As odd as all of this seemed, it was perfectly Belichick-esq. He’ll catch grief for not taking a QB, but apparently, they like Stidham, and maybe Andy Dalton ends up a Patriot, which changes everything. I think the one thing that makes a Patriot draft always feel weird, especially given their success, are the things us fans can’t see. We are so limited on evaluating a player’s football IQ, and in NE, the execution is simple, but the concepts are what make them great. Patriots like 3 Safety looks, so Dugger is definitely a day-1 guy; at 6’1, 217lbs, Duggar has massive 10 3/8” hands, ran a 4.49 and jumped 42” with a 134” broad jump. He’s got plenty of athleticism and explosiveness to roam deep and eat up turf. Josh Uche is incredibly undersized, but to win like he does, there’s got to be a great amount of football IQ and preparation that goes into his success and same goes for Anfernee Jennings. A lot of parallels in those 2 picks.  

NEW YORK JETS

Grade: A-

  1. Mekhi Becton (OT, 1st)
  2. Denzel Mims (WR, 2nd)
  3. Ashtyn Davis (S, 3rd)
  4. Jabari Zuniga (DE, 3rd)
  5. La’Mical Perine (RB, 4th)
  6. James Morgan (QB, 4th)
  7. Cameron Clark (OT, 4th)
  8. Bryce Hall (CB, 5th)
  9. Braden Mann (P, 6th)

The Jets began by signing 3 interior OL in FA, which was a great way to start things. I think they got a really nice value pick in Breshad Perriman, retained Jordan Jenkins which I thought was big, and added veteran LB Patrick Onwuasor to play alongside of former teammate CJ Mosley. Some may not like the Becton pick, but it just goes to show execs don’t select a RT and just select a RT and make him play LT, there is too much riding on a 1st round pick, and leaves too much to chance by doing so. They got a massive Tackle that ideally, should free up Bell and give Darnold the best chance to succeed in a year where people around the team need to see more growth. To go along with Perriman, Darnold got another big target in Denzel Mims, and I thought the addition of Zuniga was real nice. For anyone that had read my scouting reports on him I was pretty high on what he was able to do from a bunch of different areas on the DL. Perine was a nice addition as well as I thought of him as sort of a poor man’s Cam Akers. There was definitely some good value in getting Bryce Hall in the 5th that seemed to have continued a trend of players falling to the 5th round that we expected to see go much sooner. Jets did a nice job here, didn’t shoot themselves in the foot and I thought added nice pieces in FA and followed it up with a good draft.

DALLAS

Grade: A

  1. CeeDee Lamb (WR, 1st)
  2. Trevon Diggs (CB, 2nd)
  3. Neville Gallimore (DT, 3rd)
  4. Reggie Robinson II (CB, 4th)
  5. Tyler Biadasz (C, 4th)
  6. Bradlee Anae (DE, 5th)
  7. Ben DiNucci (QB, 7th)

Dallas perfectly executed this draft. They let everything come to them, and with their first 3 picks, managed to get 3 top 50 prospects, and you could argue Tyler Biadasz could slide into that top 50 as well. Pretty much, everything went their way, and had the best draft out of the division. I can see why CeeDee Lamb fell; he’s got a head coach that’s running circles around the Big 12, he’s the best WR on a team that will definitely throw it deep, but loves to keep things close to the LOS. Nonetheless, a top 15 talent that should have gone earlier that won’t see much at the LOS to throw him off considering the other weapons. As I expected, Trevon Diggs fell. He came to Alabama as a WR, so there’s still some nuance he needs to develop. He’s a good press-man and cover 3 guy, but he goes to a defense that needs help at Safety, but has a tremendous front 7. The Gallimore pick has tremendous value as well, and gets to learn from Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. The Tyler Biadasz pick was incredible, a great talent that falls to the very end of the 4th round that has an opportunity to step in and play in between Zack Martin and Connor Williams. A great culture and opportunity for Biadasz that I think makes him a day-1 starter. Bradlee Anae fell to the 5th, and when it comes to measurables, he lacks everything you want to see. When it comes to the tape, he’s a 5th round steal. Good UOH, uses his hands very well at the POA with a good motor and possesses enough bend and plays with good leverage as a shorter 6’2 EDGE guy. Not sure if he fits Dallas’ 4-3, but new DC Mike Nolan loves his 3-4, but the personnel forces Dallas to run both schemes. Anae may not see the field on 4-3 looks, but will get his opportunities when the team needs to run the 3-4.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Grade: C

  1. Andrew Thomas (OT, 1st)
  2. Xavier McKinney (S, 2nd)
  3. Matt Peart (OT, 3rd)
  4. Darnay Holmes (CB, 4th)
  5. Shane Lemieux (OG, 5th)
  6. Cam Brown (OLB, 6th)
  7. Carter Coughlin (OLB, 7th)
  8. TJ Brunson (ILB, 7th)
  9. Chris Williamson (CB, 7th)
  10. Tae Crowder (ILB, 7th)

I’ll start by saying I’m a Giants fan. I grew up in NJ, moved back after the military and worked for the Giants. I loved the first 2 picks. Before the Combine, when all we had was film, Andrew Thomas was the best Tackle in the country, especially the LT. When the Combine came around, and we watched 320+lb men run around in spandex, he began to fall, but this was my guy all along. Thomas is criticized by his UOH and initial punch, but if you watch former teammate Isaiah Wilson, he’s doing the same thing, so it’s definitely a coaching thing. With the 2nd, they didn’t necessarily need McKinney, and really should have addressed the EDGE situation, but this was pick 36, and didn’t pick again until 99, so I get what they did by just taking the BPA because of the 63 picks they would miss. But when I started to feel like this was another Giants draft, was the Matt Peart pick. I give it an F. They signed Cam Fleming, which I thought should be the competition at RT and now with Thomas, you try and move Solder to RT. I know I’ve said you can’t just swap Tackles from left to right, but Solder gave up 12 sacks last year, and brings absolutely zero value to your offense, so why not try and move him to right? The Giants have won just 12 games since 2017; they’ve had 2, double-digit win seasons in 10 years and quite frankly, this league isn’t setup where it needs to take 4+ years to rebuild a roster, so taking a developmental tackle at 99 when you still haven’t addressed your brutal pass rush was disappointing to say the least. Again, in the 4th round, they take an undersized Corner with no pass rush in front of him. Automatically puts him in a bad spot, and this is after spending money on James Bradberry, and drafting 3 CB’s in 2019. I did like the Shane Lemieux pick, I think he brings some good value as a run blocker and right now, it needs to be about getting Barkley going because, like most QB’s, Daniel Jones needs an effective run game to setup play action. However, I would have preferred Solomon Kindley in the 4th, and Trevis Gipson in the 5th. Another issue is their 4, 7th round picks. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on sports, we’re not sure if we’re going to get a full preseason. If there’s a shortened preseason, but standard regular season, and you can’t get a full look at your later round picks in camp, do we really think they’re going to keep 7th round picks over veterans? They should have moved those picks in an attempt to bridge the gap between 36 and 99.

PHILADELPHIA

Grade: B+

  1. Jalen Reagor (WR, 1st)
  2. Jalen Hurts (QB, 2nd)
  3. Davion Taylor (OLB, 3rd)
  4. K’Von Wallace (S, 4th)
  5. Jack Driscoll (OG, 4th)
  6. John Hightower (WR, 5th)
  7. Shaun Bradley (ILB, 6th)
  8. Quez Watkins (WR, 6th)
  9. Prince Tega Wanogho (OT, 6th)
  10. Casey Toohill (DE, 7th)

I think Philly did a really nice job in this draft. Their biggest issue was Dallas getting every player to fall their way. People are still talking about them passing up on Jordan Jefferson, but they aren’t understanding the offense. You’re asking Reagor to be DeSean Jackson here…Doug Pederson’s West Coast offense, much like Andy Reid’s, works best when you can feature elite speed and explosiveness with your outside receivers (D-Jax, Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins) and work more 12 personnel looks with Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz out of the slot to go with that nasty O-Line. Jefferson is a slot guy, and therefore, isn’t the fit people think he would be in that offense, he was just the best WR available for a team with a huge need for the position, and they didn’t need a slot guy. The Jalen Hurts pick is still a puzzling one though. I’m not buying that you’re using him like Tayson Hill, because even Hill’s value isn’t a 2nd round value, and with Dallas getting Lamb and Diggs, how are you bridging the gap? Their Free Agent acquisitions were nice, but with guys like Epenesa, Van Jefferson, Mims and Kristian Fulton available, it didn’t make sense to draft a guy where everyone’s initial reaction is it’s a great idea to take your starting QB and former MVP candidate off the field. His coach in college is running circles around the Big-12, so it makes it very difficult to take what he does at face value. Davion Taylor needs some time, but could develop into a versatile sideline-to-sideline LB, and should get plenty of reps given their current LB situation. Where I thought Philly did a really nice job was rounding out this draft. They added tons of potential and depth where they needed it, but I still don’t think they closed to gap between them and Dallas.

WASHINGTON

Grade: B

  1. Chase Young (DE, 1st)
  2. Antonio Gipson (WR, 3rd)
  3. Saahdiq Charles (OT, 4th)
  4. Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR, 4th)
  5. Keith Ismael (C, 5th)
  6. Khaleke Hudson (OLB, 5th)
  7. Kamren Curl (S, 7th)
  8. James Smith-Williams (DE, 7th)

Washington didn’t screw it up, and that’s worth a letter grade given their history. Taking Chase Young at 2 was a no-brainer, and they landed Antonio Gandy-Golden in the 4th to add some nice value at the WR spot to go with Terry McLaurin. I think Ron Rivera is content with the current roster too. He didn’t move on from Haskins, he didn’t make any huge free agent deals, they just took the 5th year option on Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne is a nice young DL, managed to keep Brandon Scherff for one more year, and you’ve got a lot of guys that are on their rookie deals that have played meaningful snaps. Antonio Gipson should add versatility to the offense, and got a 7th round steal in James Smith-Williams who some thought was an early day-3 guy. But the thing with Washington is, we’ll see right? Every year they seem to have a nice draft on paper, guys the media loves, but they’re always falling during the draft.

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