Offseason Grades: AFC East

  • New England Patriots
    • Best Draft Pick – Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
      • With their first choice in the draft, the Patriots took Wynn. This was by far their best pick in the draft, as Wynn can step in and immediately make an impact and be the replacement for Nate Solder as Tom Brady’s blindside protector. Many draft analysts projected Wynn as a guard at the NFL level, he played left tackle his senior season at Georgia and displayed strong skill at the position. When I watched his tape, I also thought he might fit better at guard in the NFL, but he should be a strong fit at the only weak spot on the Pat’s offensive line.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Danny Etling, QB, LSU
      • I had Etling with an undrafted grade. I don’t think this was a horrible pick, except for the fact that Logan Woodside was still available. I had Woodside with a 4th round grade, so getting him here would have been an exceptional steal. Nonetheless, I trust Bill Belichick’s eye for quarterbacks more than my own (see Brady, Garoppolo, Matt Cassel, etc.), so this could turn out to be a much better pick than it looks like right now.
    • Best Signing – Adrian Clayborn, DE
      • While Trey Flowers is a budding star on the edge, after the trades of Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, the depth behind him was horrid. This is what led to the underwhelming trades for Kony Ealy and Cassius Marsh, both of whom were off the roster by the midseason point. After the season, it was clear that defensive end would be a huge priority for the team. With the signing of Clayborn, the Patriots give themselves a solid rusher to pair with Flowers to create more pressure off the edge. Paired with the trade for Danny Shelton to shore up the interior defensive line, and the Pats finally have an above-average defensive line again.
    • Biggest Loss – Nate Solder, LT
      • This was a close one between Solder, Malcolm Butler, and Dion Lewis, but the lack of depth at the spot Solder used to hold down is why I gave him this one. If the Pats do move Isaiah Wynn inside to guard or center, they have essentially nothing there.
    • Grade – B-

 

  • Buffalo Bills
    • Best Draft Pick – Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford
      • I was much higher on Phillips than most, as I had him slotted into the middle of the first round. I had him with an early second round grade after watching his tape from college and at the Senior Bowl. After his combine-leading 42 bench press reps, I moved him up to the middle of the first round. This was mostly due to the fact that his game is mostly power based, so his bench meant more than it does for most.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
      • This is technically the worst pick of the Bills draft class, mostly because there were not any bad picks. I like Allen as a prospect a lot, but he admittedly had a very low floor to go with his very high ceiling.
    • Best Signing – Trent Murphy, EDGE
      • With Murphy, the Bills now have two quality pass rushing weapons to deploy in him and Lorenzo Alexander. I almost put AJ McCarron here, but with Allen in house, who knows how long his grasp on the starting job will last.
    • Biggest Loss – Richie Incognito
      • With all of Incognito’s off-the-field issues, I’m looking at this purely from an on-the-field perspective. Incognito has been one of the best guards in the NFL the past few years, and his retirement, along with longtime Bills center Eric Wood’s release, made offensive line a gaping hole for Buffalo.
    • Grade – B+

 

  • Miami Dolphins
    • Best Draft Pick – Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
      • Overall the best player they drafted was easily their first-round pick, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. But in terms of value for the pick, their best picks were second-round tight end Mike Gesicki and Ballage. Ballage was a mostly unknown back at Arizona State who was buried on the depth chart for most of his college career. However, where he really stood out were the Senior Bowl and the Combine. Before I watched the Senior Bowl, I had never heard Ballages name before. But after watching him there and going back to watch him in college, I expected to find a star who had dominated college competition. That was not what I found. However, his combine numbers backed up what I found at the Senior Bowl. He is 6’1 228 lbs. and built like a tank, but he still ran a 4.46 40 and had an agility score of 11.26. In other words, his Combine and Senior Bowl footage are the only truly impressive tape there, but if he continues to work off of that, he could become Miami’s next late-round workhorse back.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico
      • To be fair, I haven’t watched any tape whatsoever on Sanders. The reason for that is simple – his stats weren’t good enough that he was worth evaluating. In his college career, he attempted 35 field goals and made 25 of them. That’s a 71% conversion rate on his field goals. I don’t know what the Dolphins were thinking here, but if they wanted to get a quality kicker, they probably should have taken Daniel Carlson a few rounds earlier.
    • Best Signing – Danny Amendola, WR
      • This signing was made to replace Jarvis Landry, who was traded to the Browns. However, Jarvis Landry is the best slot receiver in the NFL, and Amendola is definitely not that. On the other hand, Amendola does add a lot of experience to the wide receiver room and will most likely be the only NFL-proven target for the team this season.
    • Biggest Loss – Jarvis Landry, WR
      • Landry, as mentioned before, was traded to the Browns for little-to-nothing, mostly due to his high cap number. Unfortunately, by losing him, the Dolphins got rid of Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket. Tannehill is already without a strong hold on the starting spot in Miami, as many thought they would draft his replacement this year. Without Landry, his situation went from bad to worse. Seeing him benched this year would be much less of a surprise now that Landry is gone.
    • Grade – D

 

  • New York Jets
    • Best Draft Pick – Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
      • Nickerson looks to have been a possible diamond in the rough as a 6th-round pick. While he may be limited to the nickel spot due to his size (5’11 179 lbs.), he showed lots of potential on tape and definitely has the athleticism to be one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the NFL.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
      • Throughout the draft process, I kept saying that Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen were all high-risk quarterback choices. I still believe this, and while Darnold is easily the best of that group of three, he has neither the highest ceiling or highest floor in the group. Truthfully, though, my biggest issue with this pick is less the pick itself and more the amount they gave up to acquire it. I simply don’t think that moving up from pick six to pick three was worth three second-round picks. If they had stuck around at pick six, it is very likely that the Jets still would have had the choice of two of the top four quarterbacks in the draft (most likely Allen and Rosen), but they still would have had those three second-round picks to help surround whoever they chose with a very needed infusion of talent.
    • Best Signing – Teddy Bridgewater, QB
      • I know most people question Bridgewater because he hasn’t played significant snaps in three years, but when I re-evaluated him before free agency, his pre-injury tape flashed what I have always believed about him: he is franchise quarterback material. Whatever happens with him, Darnold, and Josh McCown, the Jets have two franchise quarterbacks to choose from (Darnold and Bridgewater) and an extremely experienced veteran to back them up (McCown). Having to choose between two quarterbacks with face-of-the-franchise potential is not the worst problem to have.
    • Worst Loss – Muhammad Wilkerson, DL
      • Now that both Sheldon Richardson and Wilkerson have left New York, it’s starting to look like the defensive line may be becoming a weakness for the Jets. While Wilkerson hasn’t produced as much as hoped in the last few seasons, he has still been at his worst an above average defensive end. At his best, he’s arguably the best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. Despite his inconsistencies, it’s still going to hurt to lose a player of Wilkerson’s stature.
    • Grade A-
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