NFL Draft Talk Volume LXX
The 2019 NFL draft is officially in the books and there were some teams that knocked it out of the park and made the most of nearly every pick and there were others that did a decent job or hardly moved the needle after the three-day event was concluded. Here are the draft grades for each team by division: AFC East • Buffalo Bills: A- They had a pretty good draft from top to bottom as all eight of their draft picks are expected to not only make the team but also be starters and key contributors on a young Bills team on the rise. Their haul was balanced evenly with for picks used on defensive players and the other four on offensive players. They were able to pick up a pair of day-one starters that will dominate in the trenches with their first two picks. With their first-round pick, they had Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who pundits thought would not fall further than the sixth overall pick, fall to them at No.9 overall. He’s generational talent who can get to opposing quarterbacks from anywhere along the defensive front. In the second round, they traded up to select Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford at No.38 overall. He was one of the players invited to attend the draft in person because he was believed to be a surefire first-round pick by experts and talent evaluators but fell just out of the first round where they decided to pounce. He was a mauler at right tackle for the Sooners and has the versatility to kick in a play guard as well. They used their pair of third-round picks on two promising young skill position players that could prove to be playmakers for second-year quarterback Josh Allen in their offense. At No.74 overall, they picked fleet-footed running back out of Florida Atlantic Devin Singletary whose running style resembles that of starter LeSean “Shady” McCoy. He’ll have to sit behind McCoy and the ageless wonder that is Frank Gore who they signed in free agency. It will give him a chance to learn from two future Hall of Famers and reduce some of the wear and tear on his legs after he racked up a lot of tread on his tires in college. With their second pick in the third round at No.96 overall, they selected Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox who showed flashes of being a viable pass-catching threat but is a great inline blocker. They did add another tight end in the seventh round in Boston College’s Tommy Sweeney at No.228 overall. Like Knox, he didn’t play in a tight-end-friendly offense in college but showed his pass catching ability in limited opportunities as well. They selected defensive players with three straight picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. In the fifth, they took Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph at No.149 overall, in the sixth the grabbed Miami safety Jaquan Johnson at No.181 and in the seventh they drafted North Carolina A&T edge rusher Darryl Johnson at No.225 overall. • Miami Dolphins: B+ While they had a decent draft haul, the best and most impactful move they made over the weekend was landing their franchise quarterback for the mere price of a second-round pick and a fifth rounder in next year’s draft. Since Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray went No.1 overall as everybody anticipated, that made their first-round quarterback from a year ago, Josh Rosen, an expendable asset. The two teams finalized the trade on Friday during the second round and it is arguably the steal of the draft. They got the 10th overall pick from last year’s draft who struggled in his rookie season behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league for what will be considered peanuts if he can reach his full potential in with his fresh start in the sunshine state. On to their actual draft picks. In the first round, they select Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins at No.13 overall. The only thing more impressive and fun to watch than his attempted chest bump with the commissioner is his ability to wreak shop from anywhere along the defensive line. Since they lost several starters on their offensive line to free agency and retirement, they used their next pick on Wisconsin guard Michael Deiter in the third round at No.78 overall. Their two seventh-round picks will be able to contribute to their offensive attack right away as members of their backfield. With their first pick in the final round, they selected Auburn fullback Chandler Cox with the No.233 overall. They had the very next pick and used it on Washington running back Myles Gaskin who will back up starter Kenyan Drake. • New England Patriots: A The reigning Superbowl champions came into the draft with a lot of holes to fill on their roster following the departure of some of their top playmakers and key contributors on both sides of the ball since they hoisted the Lombardi trophy for the sixth time in franchise history back in February. With their first-round pick, they drafted Arizona State wideout N’Keal Harry at No.32 overall. The big-bodied pass catcher with the wide catch radius became the first wide receiver that the team selected in the first round in over two decades since they took Terry Glenn with the seventh overall pick in the 1996 draft. In the second round, they drafted corner Joejuan Williams at No.45 overall out of Vanderbilt who will line up opposite of No.1 corner Stephon Gilmore. He has tremendous size and length at 6-4 and 212 pounds and was considered a first-round talent by many pundits. They had a terrific third round in which they took Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich at No.77 overall, Alabama running back Damien Harris at No.87 overall and West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste at No.101 overall. All three are expected to be factors for the team right away and all three are considered great value picks where they came off the board. Both Winovich and Harris outperformed their college teammates that were selected in the first round yet weren’t nearly as highly rated in the pre-draft process. Cajuste is an athletic offensive lineman that will become Tom Brady’s new blindside protector after the departure of Trent Brown to Oakland in free agency. In the fourth round, they picked up another offensive lineman and drafted another talented young passer to develop and be groomed behind Brady. At No.118 overall, they selected Arkansas guard Hjalte Froholdt who was born and raised in Svendborg, Denmark. At No.133 overall, they took Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham whose underrated mobility makes him an intriguing back up and developmental prospect. • New York Jets: C+ They had a decent draft but neglected to address center, wide receiver or use a high pick on a cornerback to start opposite of last year’s underwhelming free agent signing Trumaine Johnson, all of which remain positions of need. They did pick up a pair of great pass rushers with their first two picks, one on the interior and the other off the edge. In the first round, they had Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams fall to them with the third overall pick. He’s regarded as one of the best pass rushers in the entire class and the top overall prospects in the eyes of a lot of talent evaluators. They used the first of their two third-round picks on Florida edge rusher Jaichai Polite at No.68 overall. Before he bombed in private interviews at the combine and turned out disappointing results in the workouts, he was viewed as first-round talent and was being mocked in the top 15. They used their second pick of the round on USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga at No.92 overall. They used their first two picks on day three to pick up a pair of players that add quality depth at positions that they have playmakers already entrenched as starters but could fill in for or take some of the attention away from on both sides of the ball. In the fourth round, they selected West Virginia tight end Trevon Wesco at No.121 overall. In the fifth, they selected linebacker Blake Cashman from Minnesota at No.157 overall.