We are back with the fifth installment of our eight part series, where we are going around the NFL looking at how each team did in the draft, division by division. Make sure to check out the earlier editions if you haven’t done so already. I’m not going to go too in depth about the first round picks as I already dedicated an entire article to that subject.
Round 1 – 7 (7) – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Round 1 – 16 (16) – LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Round 3 – 32 (96) – DT Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Round 4 – 21 (121) – CB Taron Johnson, Weber State
Round 5 – 17 (154) – S Siran Neal, Jacksonville State
Round 5 – 29 (166) – G Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
Round 6 – 13 (187) – WR Ray-Ray McCould, Clemson
Round 7 – 37 (255) – WR Austin Proehl, North Carolina
I know I’ve said in all these write ups I won’t discuss the first round in depth because I already did a whole article about the first round, but I just can’t get over how terribly Buffalo did.
The Bills don’t get it. Buffalo surrendered a net negative 14.9 points of draft capital in their trade up with the Bucs according to the Chase Stuart draft chart, which is a fair price given the historical market for quarterback trades. However, I would argue they gave up more than that.
When Buffalo moved from #21 to #12 with the Bengals, the cost to move up was LT Cordy Glenn. This means Glenn was valued at 3.6 points of draft capital, the difference between the 12th and 21st picks, which is equivalent to the 130th pick in the draft. I don’t know about you, but I consider sending out the 130th pick for a veteran, very good starting left tackle an absolute steal.
The Bills are clearly comfortable handing the starting spot over to the second year Dion Dawkins, and if they believe in him that much then that’s fine. However, they basically received no value for Cordy Glenn in a league where offensive line play is debatably at an all time low.
So you should really look at the trade as #21, #53, #56 and Cordy Glenn for Josh Allen. By now you know my feelings on Josh Allen’s prospects, but to sum up, I seriously doubt he will ever be good. Shooting your shot on a quarterback is one thing. Giving up a massive amount of assets to get an inaccurate quarterback that can’t make plays within the structure of an offensive nor can he read a defense or recognize a blitz, is absolutely horrible. This really feels to me like Buffalo drafted Allen because “gee golly he can cut through to wind and cold and snow up in Buffalo,” and they weren’t able to trade up high enough for Darnold.
When you then follow that move by trading up to select an off ball linebacker when you have the worst offensive line in the NFL, one of the worst receiver groups in the league, and a 29 year old running back, that is team building at its absolute worst.
Teams typically follow up drafting a first round quarterback with drafting someone to help said quarterback. A lineman, a receiver, a tight end, perhaps even a running back. Basically anyone that plays offense. But Buffalo decided it was prudent to drop down 89 spots from #65 to #154, so they could move up 6 spots from #22 to #16 for an off ball linebacker. They didn’t even swing at a pass rusher or any corner not named Denzel Ward.
Look, I think Tremaine Edmunds is going to be a a very good NFL player, but this is basic, 101 level shit. The Bills at one point had picks 21, 22, 53, 56, 65 and Cordy Glenn. They consolidated that into a quarterback prototype that has never, ever panned out in the NFL and an off ball linebacker. Tell me how in the world any of this is quality roster construction.
Don’t worry, Buffalo still had no desire to throw Josh Allen a bone at the end of day two, as they drafted DT Harrison Phillips at the end of the 3rd round. Once again I like Phillips as a player, but how does this help your prized new rookie quarterback?
Buffalo then followed up with a pair of defensive backs, a corner and a safety, both from small school programs mind you, in the 4th and 5th rounds. What I think about Taron Johnson and Siran Neal is basically irrelevant. The fact Buffalo took four straight defensive players after making a large investment in a quarterback, with all the offensive needs they have, is nothing short of irresponsible.
FINALLY! Buffalo got Josh Allen some help when they drafted G Wyatt Teller. I expected Teller to be in contention to go on the second day, so to get him at the end of the 5th round is incredible value and I bet you Teller ends up starting on this team.
Buffalo then threw darts at a pair of receivers in the 6th and 7th rounds, when they took Ray-Ray Armstrong and Austin Proehl. Maybe one of these guys will end up making the roster but the odds are they won’t make much of an impact in 2018. McCloud does represent a good value.
Buffalo heavily invested in Josh Allen and then promptly did nothing to provide him any protection or support until the end of round five. They also made a bad trade to move up to get an off ball linebacker.
I’m sorry but getting some good defensive players and a value guard in the 5th round can’t counter balance the fact the Bills sunk significant assets into a quarterback that will likely bust, and then didn’t bother spending any of their next four picks on trying to help him out. The strategy behind this draft is maddening because it doesn’t seem like the Bills really had one.
Out of the four quarterbacks that went in the top ten, Josh Allen is easily the guy that should be kept off the field the longest. He also is easily the guy with the clearest path to the starting job. He also is arguably the guy with the least amount of talent around him (it’s him or Darnold).
Overall Grade: F
Round 1 – 11 (11) – S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Round 2 – 10 (42) – TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State
Round 3 – 9 (73) – LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State
Round 4 – 23 (123) – TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame
Round 4 – 31 (131) – RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Round 6 – 35 (209) – DB Cornell Armstrong, Southern Miss
Round 7 – 9 (227) – LB Quentin Poling, Ohio
Round 7 – 11 (229) – K Jason Sanders, New Mexico
The Dolphins decided not to move up for a quarterback and instead just sat at their pick and landed Minkah Fitzpatrick. Solid.
It’s interesting that Miami opted for Mike Gesicki over Dallas Goedert, but in Gesicki’s favor is the fact that the dude is ridiculously good at dunking.
I didn’t think Jerome Baker would go this high, but I like the ideology of the pick. Baker is one of the best cover linebackers in the draft, and coverage skills have never been more important at the linebacker position than they are today.
Miami doubles down on tight ends, this time opting for the blocking tight end Durham Smythe. I think this is a reach, but Miami is clearly painting a bigger picture here.
The Dolphins brought another running back into their backfield with Kalen Ballage. Ballage is one of my favorite later round running backs. He has all the physical tools and was outstanding during the Senior Bowl practices. I have no idea why the Arizona State staff limited his touches during his career, but I am excited to see what he can do as a pro.
I don’t think Cornell Armstrong had a draftable grade.
I also don’t think Quentin Poling had a draftable grade, and normally I say I can understand taking a guy you like in the 7th round, but Poling shouldn’t have even been a priority free agent.
The Dolphins finished up by taking a kicker.
I am a big fan of four of the Dolphins first five picks. The one I don’t like, Smythe, clearly fits into a strategy Miami had during the draft. Miami wants to get better between the hashes, and I’m sure bringing in a safety and linebacker to help cover Gronk and the Patriots slot weapons was also a consideration. I don’t like anything Miami did in rounds 6 and 7.
Overall Grade: B
New England Patriots
Round 1 – 23 (23) – OT Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Round 1 – 31 (31) – RB Sony Michel, Georgia
Round 2 – 24 (56) – CB Duke Dawson, Florida
Round 5 – 6 (143) – LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, Purdue
Round 6 – 4 (178) – LB Christian Sam, Arizona State
Round 6 – 36 (210) – WR Braxton Berrios, Miami
Round 7 – 1 (219) – QB Danny Etling, LSU
Round 7 – 25 (243) – DB Keion Crossen, Western California
Round 7 – 32 (250) – TE Ryan Izzo, Florida State
To quickly recap: I like the Wynn pick and dislike the Michel pick. Also, Belichick has at times fallen in love with certain programs during his tenure (Rutgers, Florida) and it seems to be that Georgia is the latest. Wynn and Michel join Malcolm Mitchell and David Andrews as fellow former Bulldogs.
Belichick went pure Belichickian in the second round. Well, at least at first. The Patriots were slated to pick 43rd and 63rd. Belichick traded #43 to Detroit for #51 and #117. New England profited 3.3 points of draft capital in the deal.
Then when the Patriots were on the clock at #51, Belichick sold off the pick to worst-GM-in-the-league Ryan Pace for #105 and Chicago’s 2019 second round pick. I already attempted to project where that pick will land and do the math on how much the Patriots profited in the deal. By my projection New England will profit 6.2 points of draft capital due to the trade.
The Patriots still had #63, but after watching two corners go off the board one pick a part, at #53 and #55, in a very un-Belichickian move, New England surrendered #63 and #117 to get up to #56 and select CB Duke Dawson. The Patriots netted a negative 3.5 points of draft capital in the trade. Belichick rarely makes trades like this, but there clearly is something he sees in Dawson that he likes. I’ve heard some people call him the best slot corner in the draft.
Also, in the process, the Patriots jumped Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, and Pittsburgh. Any of those teams could have selected a corner. Atlanta did. What is interesting is at #63 the Bucs took a different corner, Carlton Davis, so if Davis is better than Dawson and the Bucs moved down and picked up #117 in the process, boy oh boy.
The Patriots were next slated to pick at #95, but decided to send that pick to the 49ers for #143 and OT Trent Brown.
The Patriots then traded multiple times in the 4th round. First, they sent #105 to Cleveland for #114 and #178. The Patriots profited 1 point of draft capital in the draft. Then they traded #114 to the Lions for Detroit’s 2019 3rd round pick. I already tackled this math as well and project Detroit’s 2019 3rd round pick to be #83. So the Patriots traded #114 for #83, and profited 2.1 points of draft capital in the process.
In case you were wondering, both times the Patriots were on the clock in the 4th and I saw they had traded the pick, I screamed at my television and threw a hissy fit that Belichick didn’t just draft Maurice Hurst.
Finally the Patriots picked again, and this time took off ball linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. This is probably a little bit of a reach but this is exactly the player the Patriots needed. Bentley is very good against the run and most importantly is good in coverage. Coverage linebacker was one of the Patriots biggest needs, and Bentley allows the team to keep Hightower as an edge defender. However, Maurice Hurst went off the board three selections before this one and I threw my TV out the window.
Belichick double dipped at the linebacker position by following up the Bentley pick with the selection of Christian Sam. Sam is an intriguing, athletic linebacker who is a reliable tackler and shows an ability to run with running backs and tight ends in coverage.
The Patriots drafting Braxton Berrios might be my favorite pick of the entire draft by any team. I’m not saying it is the best pick, or that Berrios will be the biggest steal, just that it is my favorite pick. It is so New England to take him. My friend, who is a Hurricanes fan and a Dolphins fan, has been telling me since October how not excited he was for the Patriots to draft Berrios in the 6th round and turn him into a star and have him terrorize the Dolphins for 10 years. Well..
The Patriots had three 7th round picks and threw darts with all of them. The Crossen pick actually annoys me as I felt there were better defensive backs available. The Patriots will try to develop Etling into the next Matt Cassel I guess.
The Patriots, in effect, traded Brandin Cooks for Isaiah Wynn. Left tackle was a need, and Wynn is a good player who is now under team control for at least four seasons, where as Cooks would have left in free agency in 2019. Wynn could be bad, and Cooks is a proven commodity, but I guess the Patriots are banking on Brady just making his receivers good if he has enough protection instead of loading up on weapons.
It wouldn’t be a Patriots draft without Belichick maneuvering the board and walking away with future picks, and 2018 was no different. The Patriots moved down multiple times, up once, and acquired a future 2nd and 3rd.
New England brought in competition at offensive tackle with Trent Brown, took two linebackers who are good against the run and either are sound in coverage or show the ability to become sound in coverage. This was a huge area of need.
Braxton Berrios is perhaps the biggest player-team fit in the entire draft.
I am surprised the Patriots didn’t more aggressively address their defense after watching Nick Foles tear it to shreds in the Super Bowl. The Michel pick baffles me, and that pick could have been spent on a quality defensive prospect. I guess New England is banking on 2017 3rd round pick Derek Rivers providing a pass rushing contribution, and that the return of Hightower will make a significant impact.
Overall Grade: B-
New York Jets
Round 1 – 3 (3) – QB Sam Darnold, USC
Round 3 – 8 (72) – DT Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State
Round 4 – 7 (107) – TE Chris Herndon, Miami
Round 6 – 5 (179) – CB Parry Nickerson, Tulane
Round 6 – 6 (180) – DT Foley Fatukasi, Connecticut
Round 6 – 30 (204) – RB Trenton Cannon, Virginia State
I’ve already talked about the Jets trade up to #3 and the actual selection of Darnold, and I don’t have anything else to add. It was the right move (although I would have taken Rosen).
Apparently it’s a thing in the AFC East to draft a quarterback in the top 10 and then draft a defensive tackle in the 3rd round. Shepherd is a good player that I like, but the Jets have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and are a serious contender for worst receiver group in the league. They also hate the best running back on their roster, Bilal Powell, so basically drafting anyone that plays offense here would have been a better idea.
At least it only took the Jets one pick before bringing in help for their rookie quarterback. I really like Herndon and believe had he not sustained an injury would have gone on day two. Good value here.
While I do believe the Jets should have continued to bring in talent around Darnold, Parry Nickerson is an absolute steal in the 5th round. This is a tremendous value and Nickerson is a PFF darling.
Back to the defensive trenches with Fatukasi. The defensive interior is basically the one place on the Jets roster that they are set and this is the second time now they have taken someone that plays that position.
Trenton Cannon didn’t have a draftable grade nor was he a priority free agent. I can understand taking a running back, but Cannon over Justin Jackson, Dimitri Flowers, Akrum Wadley, Darrell Williams, Josh Adams, and mega especially Bo Scarbrough is inexcusable.
The Jets got their franchise quarterback, so that’s a huge win. They did next to nothing to try to help surround him with talent, but got a good tight end and an absolute steal at corner. They twice addressed a position that is the best stocked position on their roster, and took a running back over some superior choices.
Getting Darnold really buoys their grade here.
Overall Grade: C+