Some appreciate it. Some look forward to it. Others dread the sight of them. I’m only talking about draft grades. Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is finalized, teams can now go to their respective corners and make use of their draft classes. To begin handing out draft grades, we will start with the AFC East. Where the New England Patriots grabbed another potential defensive gem, the New York Jets boosted their secondary, the Miami Dolphins improved every level of their defense, and the Buffalo Bills implemented the new vision of their head coach. Time to get started.
AFC East Draft Grades
Best selection: DE Charles Harris (1st round, 22nd overall)
The Dolphins surprisingly made the playoffs this past season and this draft class adds more talent to the improving Dolphins. Harris provides a prime pass rusher that can start off as a part of a rotation and in a few seasons, be the premier pass rusher on the roster. The depth at defensive tackle was addressed with LSU’s Davon Godchaux and Oklahoma State’s Vincent Taylor on day three. The guard spot had a void after shifting Laremy Tunsil to left tackle; but grabbing Isaac Asiata in the fifth round gives the Dolphins a beefy run blocker to open holes for third-year running back Jay Ajayi. It is only a matter of time until second round linebacker Raekwon McMillan is the engine of the defense. His thumper mentality adds needed aggressiveness to the linebackers group. The Miami Dolphins were one of the teams who most improved their roster, check out the other top improved teams here.
Best selection: WR Zay Jones (2nd round, 37th overall)
This was the first draft for new head coach Sean McDermott and based on his philosophy, you can tell his fingerprints were all over this draft class. First round pick Tre’Davious White fills the hole left by Stephon Gilmore departing in free agency. Wide receiver Zay Jones will be a household name in Buffalo by season’s end thanks to his great hands and crisp route running. It remains to be seen whether or not the Bills truly needed to grab two more linebackers and ignore the tight end position. Taking Nathan Peterman in the fifth round adds another quarterback to the equation with starter Tyrod Taylor and backup Cardale Jones.
New England Patriots
Best selection: DE Derek Rivers (3rd round, 83rd overall)
The light draft haul for the Patriots was somewhat unusual. Over the years, the team has made the draft a game of chess and many times, they have won. The Pats did not get their first pick until the third round but they walk away with a pass rusher in Derek Rivers who has garnered plenty of pre-draft buzz as one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire class. Offensive tackle Antonio Garcia is a 6’6 blocker that improves the depth in New England at both tackle spots. The only reason for the “low” grade is because of the lack of depth in the draft class. Only four selections seems un-Patriot-like, although it’s understandable based on all the moves they made prior to the. If you take into account moves like the Brandin Cooks acquisition, that would surely bolster their grade.
New York Jets
Best selection: S Jamal Adams (1st round, 6th overall)
The selection of Adams gives the Jets a linchpin at the safety spot. It will be interesting to see how both Adams and second round pick Marcus Maye will be incorporated into the defense as both can play either safety position. ArDarius Stewart is the possession receiver that provides grit to the offensive unit and receiver Chad Hansen brings even more punch to a stagnant offense. The big question is, where is the quarterback? Many felt the Jets would address the important position early. The team also decided not to address the offensive line, which may come back to haunt the average, depleted unit.