AFC East Draft Grades:
3. Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle, Alabama: Dareus is a great pick for the Bills, he fills a major need a Buffalo and very well could be the best player from this class.
34. Aaron Williams, cornerback, Texas: this is a good value pick for the Bills as Williams was a projected first rounder. I know there are concerns that he will need to move to free safety, but Buffalo should find a way to utilize him next season.
68. Kelvin Sheppard, linebacker, LSU: The Bills need some serious help at inside linebacker and Sheppard is a good fit here. I thought this was slightly too high for him, but it fills a big time need.
100. Da’Norris Searcy, safety, UNC: Searcy is a good mid-round strong safety candidate. While he will probably not be a starter next year he should contribute on special teams.
122. Chris Hairston, tackle, Clemson: Buffalo desperately needs offensive linemen. While Hairston isn’t an elite player I could see him being a starting caliber RT for multiple years.
133. Johnny White, running back, UNC: This might have been a slight reach for the Bills, but not so much that it negates their strong draft.
169. Chris White, linebacker, Mississippi St: Good late round pick here, White is a very active player and should help strengthen their LB corps. I see him primarily at OLB, but he can play inside as well.
206. Justin Rogers, cornerback, Richmond: I love this pick of Rogers here. If Williams is moved to FS, then the CB depth is pretty shallow. Even if Williams does stay at CB, Rogers has some nice upside and should be a contributor on special teams.
245. Michael Jasper, defensive tackle, Bethel (TN.): Jasper wasn’t on many draft boards, but he is a big kid who projects at NT and has decent athletic ability considering his size.
I wasn’t a fan of not getting an offensive lineman with their first four picks, but they got good players there and really strengthened their defense. I also don’t fault Buffalo at all for not addressing the quarterback position in this class. Dareus was a far superior player to any signal caller, and a smart move for the Bills. There really wasn’t a QB who was going to outplay Fitzpatrick these next two years, so why waste a top pick on a project. White is the only pick that has me shaking my head at all, while the rest of them are right on the money. Very good draft overall for the Bills and one that I think will really improve this team.
15. Mike Pouncey, guard/center, Florida: This might be a slight reach for Pouncey, but he fills a big need for them, and obviously has a good pedigree.
62. Daniel Thomas, running back, Kansas St: The Dolphins needed a running back, but they paid a pretty high price to get one. I like Thomas, but this seems like a bit of a reach.
111. Edmond Gates, wide receiver, Abilene Christian: Gates is a good value pick here, and gives the Dolphins a nice 3rd WR.
174. Charles Clay, tight end, Tulsa: Miami hasn’t had an offensive minded tight end in some time, so this is a good addition here.
231. Frank Kearse, defensive tackle, Alabama A&M: Kearse is a backup NT prospect, and a solid value here.
235. Jimmy Wilson, cornerback, Montana: Miami needed some secondary depth so this is a decent value pick.
While the Dolphins addressed two of their biggest needs with their top two picks in Pouncey and Thomas, I think they were both reaches. I especially didn’t like the Thomas pick since they had to use 3 picks to move up just 17 slots. Thomas is a nice back but I think they could have gotten similar value in the 3rd, while still having their 5th and 7th rounders. Gates and Clay are nice picks for their slots and offer a lot of potential but I don’t think it’s enough to balance some of the risks they took earlier.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
17. Nate Solder, tackle, Colorado: Solder is a nice LT prospect but I think this is a slight reach and their were better OT’s on the board. Solder has uber potential, but he also has a higher bust factor than you’d typically see in this high of a pick.
33. Ras-I Dowling, corerback, Virginia: I love this Dowling pick, I think he is a day one starter for the Patriots (if they need him to be). He has shutdown corner potential and gives them great value here.
56. Shane Vereen, running back, California: this is a bit a reach for Vereen, but he is a good prospect and help strengthens New England’s running game.
73. Stevan Ridley, running back, LSU: Ridley is a nice big back, but he was probably taken a round and a half early. He’s a good special teams player so that will help, but I’m not sure if these backs will make enough of a difference.
74. Ryan Mallett, quarterback Arkansas: Mallett is a great value pick here and this is a good situation for him. If he shapes up, Mallett could either be the successor to Brady or a major trade chip.
138. Marcus Cannon, guard, TCU: I absolutely love this pick for the Pats. Cannon has top 50 potential, but fell because oh his concern with cancer. While it is a serious issue it seems to be very curable and he should make a full recovery. If he does this is an absolute steal.
159. Lee Smith, tight end, Marshall: I know the Pats drafted two tight ends last year, but Smith is still a good pick for them here. Alge Crumpler actually had the 2nd most snaps among NE’s tight ends. Crumpler was primarily a blocking TE and that is exactly the role Smith will play.
194. Markell Carter, linebacker, Central Arkansas: Carter has some outside linebacker potential, but this is a reach pick here. New England does know what they are looking for so they might be on to something.
219. Malcolm Williams, cornerback, TCU: The Patriots secondary needed some depth so this has some value. I’m guessing though he is a long shot to make the team.
While I really liked the Patriots draft I by no means loved it. With 6 of the top 100 picks I expected a bit more from them. And while they did land a 1st and a 2nd next year, I feel they should have executed better this season. Far too many reaches in the top 3 rounds for my liking and New England didn’t even touch their needs at DE, OLB, or S with their top picks.
NEW YORK JETS:
30. Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive end, Temple: This is a great value pick for the Jets as I think he can step in early and replace Shaun Ellis.
94. Kenrick Ellis, defensive tackle, Hampton: There are some serious red flag concerns about Ellis, but I do like this pick for NY. They have had serious questions at NT for the last couple years and this should begin to answer them.
126. Bilal Powell, running back, Louisville: I know LT is getting up there in age but I don’t get this pick at all. Powell is a nice running back but not a need.
153. Jeremy Kerley, wide receiver, TCU: I love this pick for the Jets. Three of their top four receivers are free agents and I can’t see them all resigning. Kerley is a nice slot prospect and I think he can have a nice impact.
208. Greg McElroy, quarterback, Alabama: I actually like this pick for the Jets as I think McElroy could be a very good backup quarterback in time. He won’t ever be a star, but he’ll be the type of guy who can step in for a 2-4 week stretch if the starter is injured.
227. Scotty McKnight, wide receiver, Colorado: I know this was a favor to Mark Sanchez (maybe he’ll actually complete passes now), but it seems a bit much. He was likely to be undrafted and would have signed whenever free agency started so it seems like a waste.
I’m really not a fan of this draft as I feel the Jets didn’t address their needs and overdrafted too many players. Wilkerson is a fine pick, but Ellis was a bit of a risk. I realize it was a need, but if Ellis doesn’t pan out this draft class will set the Jets back. I can see drafting a receiver and maybe a quarterback, but grabbing an extra WR just as a favor to your quarterback is insane. As for drafting a runningback I just don’t get it at all. Had the Jets had extra picks I would have been more okay with this class, but they were down a 2nd rounder, and didn’t add a single OLB, OL, or DB. At best this looks like a 2 player class, and that kinda worries me.