The most anticipated part of the off-season is officially in the rearview mirror, as the 2019 NFL Draft has officially passed. Every team in the league added young talent to their squad, but which teams made the biggest improvements? This installment of the 2019 NFL Draft Grades features an in-depth breakdown of every team in the AFC East.
2019 AFC East NFL Draft Grades
New England Patriots: A-
The New England Patriots knocked it out of the park with their first few selections. N’Keal Harry is a big, physical wide receiver capable of lining up all over the formation. He can bring in anything thrown his way and is an absolute monster after the catch. Harry should start the season as New England’s primary perimeter receiver.
The Patriots continued their physicality trend by adding cornerback Joejuan Williams in the second round. Williams is basically Brandon Browner all over again and is a perfect fit for New England’s man-heavy scheme. Combining him with Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, and Jason McCourty gives New England one of the best cornerback depth charts in the league.
Chase Winovich is the steal of the draft. The Michigan product was the best player on their defense and could easily line up opposite Michael Bennett in Week One. Damien Harris is a little redundant with Sony Michel, but he’s a good short-yardage back. Yodny Cajuste is the perfect swing tackle the Patriots so desperately needed.
Hjalte Froholdt is the classic mid-round guard the Patriots magically turn into an All-Pro. He won’t start in 2019, but he’ll probably take over if and when Joe Thuney departs in free agency. Jarrett Stidham is the latest heir to Tom Brady’s throne. The Auburn product entered 2018 as one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation but struggled through a rough season. If 2018 was a one-year fluke, the Patriots got a steal.
Byron Cowart is a run-stuffing defensive lineman who is probably best suited at tackle. He’ll battle for one of the final depth spots on the roster. Jake Bailey is the strangest pick of the draft, as Belichick traded up to get a right-footed punter. Weird. Ken Webster is a fantastic athlete who will start his career on special teams. If he gives you anything as a cornerback, then that’s just the cherry on top.
Buffalo Bills: B+
The Bills lucked out getting Ed Oliver. Projected to go as early as third overall to the Jets, the Bills didn’t even need to trade up to get one of the best all-around defensive linemen in the draft. Oliver is a force along the interior and is a true three-down player. With Kyle Williams retired, Oliver can immediately fill his spot on the line.
Buffalo thinks they have their franchise quarterback in Josh Allen, and now they need to protect him. They did just that by selecting Cody Ford with their second pick of the draft. Ford was a great value in the second round and can play tackle or guard.
Devin Singletary makes the running back room younger and should immediately be part of Buffalo’s committee approach. With LeSean McCoy showing signs of age, Singletary could earn the starting job sooner rather than later. Dawson Knox is a raw product who comes from a simplified offense but has the potential to be one of the starting-caliber tight end. If nothing else, he’s a clear upgrade from Tyler Kroft.
Vosean Joseph is what you expect to get from a fifth-round pick. A linebacker in college, Joseph is a little too small to play the position in the NFL. Buffalo could utilize him as a safety/linebacker hybrid, but this pick screams special teams. Jaquan Johnson will also start his career on special teams, but he has the potential to develop into a late-round role player. Johnson was expected to go earlier in the draft, and this was a value selection by Brandon Beane.
Darryl Johnson Jr. is a great athlete who lacks polish. If coached up, he could develop into a situational pass-rusher. A year on the practice squad could do wonders for him. Tommy Sweeney offers nothing in the passing game but could carve out a role as a blocking specialist.
Miami Dolphins: B+
Christian Wilkins was the best player available and a great fit in Miami’s defense. While he doesn’t have the same ceiling as a guy like Ed Oliver, he’s a strong defensive tackle capable of making collapsing the pocket and clogging up holes on the interior. He should be a Day One starter in Brian Flores’ defense.
Josh Rosen technically wasn’t a draft pick, but you can’t mention the Dolphins haul without discussing the former Cardinals quarterback. A top 10 selection just one year ago, Miami stole Rosen for a late-second round pick. If it works out, Miami found a franchise quarterback for pennies on the dollar. If it doesn’t, then they can draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins need all the help they can get on the offensive line, and Michael Deiter should immediately contribute. Deiter can play right tackle and guard, although his size probably makes him best suited for the interior. Andrew Van Ginkel should carve out a role on special teams and could be a situational pass rusher, but he’ll never be a starter.
Isaiah Prince could win the Day One right tackle job, but that says more about the Dolphins lack of talent than it does about Prince. Fullbacks are people too, and the New England Patriots used fullback James Develin as a heavy part of their offense. New offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea could have a major role in store for Chandler Cox. Myles Gaskin was a value pick who probably won’t see the field behind Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage.
New York Jets: B
The Jets might have been better off trading down, but nobody can fault them for taking arguably the best player in the draft. Quinnen Williams only had one year of production at Alabama, but that one season was incredible. Williams has the ability to terrorize opposing quarterbacks from all over the defensive line and is an equally dominant force against the run.
New York took one of the biggest risks in the draft with Jachai Polite. Based on his game film alone, Polite is a first-round talent. However, the Florida product destroyed with value with terrible testing and interviewing at the NFL Combine. It’s a risk worth taking in the third round, but it’s one that probably won’t pay off.
The Jets need to solidify their offensive line, and Chuma Edoga is a step in the right direction. He’s small for the position and should start the year on the bench. However, he could earn a starting job in 2020 when Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell hit free agency. Trevon Wesco is a tight end built like a tackle. He won’t catch many passes, but he should help keep Sam Darnold healthy and on his feet.
Blake Cashman isn’t the best athlete but makes the most of his limited toolset. Assuming his shoulder is healthy, he’ll be a special teams asset and an emergency linebacker. Blessuan Austin is a good cornerback when both his knees are healthy, but the Rutgers product has only played five games in the last two seasons. It’s a low-risk, high-reward pick late in the draft.
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