After taking some time to gather our bearings, we’re starting our official draft grades series. We’ll start with the AFC East, and work our way through every division in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills: C-
The Bills came into the draft with some serious holes. They were in dire need of a left tackle, a right tackle, and most likely, a quarterback. The Bills are also making the transition to a 3-4 defense, which will require new personnel. While Buffalo picked up some quality players, they overlooked their biggest need at left tackle. They drafted 2 offensive tackles (Ed Wang of Virginia Tech and Kyle Calloway of Iowa), but neither looks to have a career at left tackle.
Buffalo hit their defensive line hard in the draft, adding Alex Carrington, who will play the 5 technique in their 3-4 defense and Torrell Troup, who is destined to be their nose tackle. They also grabbed Arthur Moats, who was generating some buzz as a small school prospect.
Probably the oddest selection for the Bills was their first round pick, C.J. Spiller. Spiller is definitely a home-run hitter, which is something the team hasn’t had in some time. However, with serious holes at left tackle and quarterback, this pick left me scratching my head. It will be hard for Spiller to make an impact when he’s the only serious offensive weapon on the team and his tendency to bounce to the outside doesn’t match up well with a team that has problems with their outside blockers.
If Buffalo would have taken Anthony Davis, Brian Bulaga or even Jimmy Clausen with their first pick, I’d give them a higher grade. Word was the Bills were dead set on taking Florida QB Tim Tebow with their 2nd round pick, which is part of the reason why Denver traded up to grab him (that and the fact that Minnesota had their eye on him). The Bills did grab Troy QB Levi Brown in the 7th round, which might prove to be a steal. Brown has tremendous potential, but has a long road ahead of him in Buffalo’s system. The Bills also grabbed a very underrated receiver in Marcus Easley from UConn, who should see significant playing time.
Round 1 (pick 9): CJ Spiller – RB – Clemson
Round 2 (pick 41): Torrell Troupe – DT – Central Florida
Round 3 (pick 72): Alex Carrington – DE – Arkansas State
Round 4 (pick 107): Marcus Easley – WR – Connecticut
Round 5 (pick 140): Ed Wang – OT – Virginia Tech
Round 6 (pick 178): Arthur Moats – DE – James Madison
Round 6 (pick 192): Danny Batten – DE – South Dakota State
Round 7 (pick 209): Levi Brown – QB – Troy
Round 7 (pick 216): Kyle Calloway – OT – Iowa
Miami Dolphins: B
The Dolphins get an automatic bump in their grade by making the trade for Brandon Marshall, which will vastly improve their offense. The Phins then turned their attention during the draft to the defensive side of the football, and they were able to get some talented players.
First, they grabbed Jared Odrick of Penn State. Odrick will be a nice fit as a 5-technique in their 3-4 defense and appears to be very NFL ready. Late in the 2nd round, the Dolphins grabbed the versatile Koa Misi of Utah. Misi played defensive end at Utah, but made a smooth transition to WLB while at the Senior Bowl. The Dolphins will look to plug Misi in as a rush linebacker in their 3-4 defense.
One player that I felt dropped a bit in the draft was Reshad Jones, the safety out of Georgia. Miami was able to grab Jones in 5th round, which could prove to have tremendous value. Jones is a hard hitter that has solid range, and will see significant playing time on special teams right away.
I would have liked to see the Dolphins pick up a running back in the later rounds of the draft. With the pending suspension for Ronnie Brown after his DUI arrest as well as his health concerns, matched with the wild card that is Ricky Williams, a 3rd back would have been nice to pick up for security. With the way that running backs fell in this year’s draft, the team could have picked up a decent back in the 5th round.
Round 1 (pick 28): Jared Odrick – DT – Penn State
Round 2 (pick 40): Koa Misi – DE/OLB – Utah
Round 3 (pick 73): John Jerry – OT/OG – Ole Miss
Round 4 (pick 119): AJ Edds – LB – Iowa
Round 5 (pick 145): Nolan Carroll – CB – Maryland
Round 5 (pick 163): Reshad Jones – S – Georgia
Round 7 (pick 212): Chris McCoy – DE/OLB – Middle Tennessee State
Round 7 (pick 252): Austin Spitler – LB – Ohio State
New England Patriots: A
New England did what they do best: move around. You have to give the team a tremendous amount of credit. Every year, they trade back and gather more picks and always seem to get a pick or two for the following year. This year, they stuck to their plan and did exactly that. With a serious need at tight end and rush linebacker, the Pats did more than enough to help themselves in the 2010 Draft.
The Patriots took two tight ends in Rob Gronkowski of Arizona and Aaron Hernandez of Florida. With only one tight end on their roster before the draft (Alge Crumpler), this made a lot of sense. Hernandez is also athletic enough to be split out wide in certain packages and has the ability to stretch the defense.
The first pick for the Pats, Rutgers CB Devin McCourty is another great selection. A special teams standout, McCourty will see some serious playing time and will eventually be the starter opposite last year’s selection, Darius Butler. The Pats continued to get younger on defense by bringing in Florida DE/OLB Jermaine Cunningham to fill the rush linebacker spot, as well as ILB Brandon Spikes, who will benefit greatly from playing next to their star inside backer, Jerod Mayo.
The Patriots didn’t ignore the wide receiver position either as they selected Ohio’s Taylor Price. Price is an underrated guy that started to gain momentum with his performance at the Senior Bowl. Don’t be surprised to see Price get significant playing time with Wes Welker likely to miss the start of the season.
The Pats picked up some solid late round talent in Brandon Deaderick of Alabama, who played the 5 technique for the Tide, Thomas Welch, a solid OT from Vanderbilt, and Zac Robinson, the mobile QB from Oklahoma State that has a lot of potential.
Round 1 (pick 27): Devin McCourty – CB – Rutgers
Round 2 (pick 42): Rob Gronkowski – TE – Arizona
Round 2 (pick 53): Jermaine Cunningham – DE/OLB – Florida
Round 2 (pick 62): Brandon Spikes – ILB – Florida
Round 3 (pick 90): Taylor Price – WR – Ohio
Round 4 (pick 113): Aaron Hernandez – TE – Florida
Round 5 (pick 150): Zoltan Mesko – P – Michigan
Round 6 (pick 205): Ted Larsen – C – North Carolina State
Round 7 (pick 208): Thomas Welch – OT – Vanderbilt
Round 7 (pick 247): Brandon Deaderick – DE – Alabama
Round 7 (pick 248): Kade Weston – DT – Georgia
Round 7 (pick 250): Zac Robinson – QB – Oklahoma State
New York Jets: C
The Jets had one of the more puzzling drafts this year. Over the past several drafts, I’ve been VERY impressed with what the Jets have done, bringing in names like Revis, Ferguson, Mangold, Harris, Washington and Greene. However, for the second year in a row, the Jets have only come out of the draft with a handful of picks.
What I’m concerned with the most about the Jets were their moves in free agency. The Jets had the best rushing attack in football last season and they’re going into an uncapped year. So what do they do? They let Thomas Jones go to Kansas City, the trade Leon Washington for next to nothing, and they cut Alan Faneca, who while he’s not what he used to be, is still a very good blocker. They make the trade for Santonio Holmes, the talented WR that will be suspended for the first part of the season and is one more incident away from being booted from the league. The trade for Antonio Cromartie, who has some off-field baggage that led to his downfall in San Diego. They bring in Ladanian Tomlinson, who hasn’t stayed healthy for a while now, and sign Jason Taylor to play rush linebacker.
While the names that were brought in through free agency sure sound nice, if the vets can’t stay healthy or there are more off-field issues with certain players, the team could easily implode.
In the draft, the Jets started off by grabbing Boise State CB Kyle Wilson. Wilson started falling down draft boards with what we were told were medical red flags with his knees. Wilson is a good fit for the Jets as he’ll be able to step right in next to Revis, or play the nickel, depending on what’s going on with Cromartie.
The Jets also grabbed UMass OG Vladimir Ducasse. Ducasse is a small school guy that started generating some hype at the Senior Bowl. However, he’s got some work to do as he’s heavy-legged and a bit stiff. Hopefully, the Jets aren’t expecting Ducasse to be a day 1 replacement for Faneca.
The Jets finished up their draft by taking USC RB Joe McKnight, who fell down draft boards compared to many rankings in the media and a fullback…..yes, a fullback.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so impressed with what the Jets have done through the draft over the past 5-6 years, but this draft left me shaking my head. If the veteran moves the Jets made don’t pan out this season, they could take a step backwards in terms of being competitive in their division. The Dolphins and Patriots both added a tremendous amount of youth to their rosters as well as talent. The Jets seem to be banking on making a Super Bowl run this year, or bust. Of course, if these moves do pan out, the Jets will be a serious force to be reckoned with and a Super Bowl is seriously within reach.
Round 1 (pick 29): Kyle Wilson – CB – Boise State
Round 2 (pick 61): Vladimir Ducasse – OG – UMass
Round 4 (pick 112): Joe McKnight – RB – USC
Round 5 (pick 139): John Conner – FB – Kentucky
Check back soon to see draft grades for the rest of the NFL teams.