AFC East 2013 NFL Draft Grades

Now that I have completely reviewed what the Patriots did in the 2013 NFL Draft in my previous post, I will take a look at each team in the AFC East and review their drafts as well.  I will assign draft grades for each team so we can see how they all stack up.  Many believe (including myself) that you can not determine the success of a draft until after 3 years, however with a lull in football news, this is a way to pass the time.  Let’s do it…

BUFFALO BILLS

Best Pick: Robert Woods, WR USC

Worst Pick: EJ Manuel, QB Florida St.

Analysis: The Buffalo Bills made arguably the biggest splash in the 2013 NFL Draft by selecting EJ Manuel with the 16th overall pick, making him the 1st quarterback selected.  I think that Manuel was the worst pick for the Bills for a couple of reasons.  First, by selecting a quarterback with the 16th pick, you are making the statement that you expect this guy to contribute in the upcoming season.  Whether that means starter in Week 1 or a replacement at some point in the season, EJ needs to make a difference for the Bills to justify that 1st round pick spent on him.  I don’t believe Manuel has the consistency or the refinement in his game to produce for the Bills this season.  Also, the Bills signed Kevin Kolb to a 2 year, $13 million contract this offseason.  Are you really going to pay a guy $13 million to be a backup?  Second, Manuel’s consistency, or lack thereof, isn’t at the level it needs to be to become a productive NFL quarterback.  He has a great arm, good mobility, and elusiveness in the pocket, however his accuracy isn’t always there and he sometimes misjudges how much zip to put on the ball.  That is a recipe for disaster in the NFL.  On the flipside, I think the Bills did a great job of filling out their roster throughout the rest of their draft.  It was a battle for me in regards to the best pick between Robert Woods and Kiko Alonso.  Although undersized, Alonso has unbelievable instincts in both the run and pass game.  The Bills haven’t had a middle linebacker since losing Pauly P a couple of years back.  In the end, Woods got the nod as the best pick because of his raw talent opposite of Steve Johnson.  Much like Johnson, Woods can go deep, but isn’t afraid to go over the middle.  Marquis Goodwin will be a good 4th option at wide receiver.

Grade: B-

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Best Pick: Jamar Taylor, CB Boise State

Worst Pick: Will Davis, CB Utah State

Analysis: Jamar Taylor gets the nod as the best pick for the Dolphins for two reasons: 1) He was a great value pick in the 2nd round and 2) he fills a huge need for the Dolphins.  The Dolphins signed Brent Grimes this offseason, but after losing Vontae Davis and Sean Smith over the past year, they still had a major hole at corner opposite of Grimes.  Taylor is a fast, strong corner that excels in press coverage.  Sounds like a guy that would knock the Patriots’ little receivers off of their routes.  After all, every AFC East team is chasing the Pats.  Will Davis is considered the worst pick because I don’t see the fit in the Dolphins defense.  Davis is tall and not overly quick, which means I don’t see him being very successful in the nickel, which is where he is slotted in the Dolphins scheme right now.  I would be considered crazy if I didn’t address Dion Jordan, right?  Jordan is an athletic freak that is already being compared to Jason Taylor.  Time to pump the breaks Miami!  Jordan isn’t the strongest guy out there, but has much more fluidity in his hips than most 3-4 outside linebackers do.  I don’t think Jordan will be a 15 sack per year guy, but I think he gives the Dolphins a lot of versatility considering he can drop into coverage very easily.  A couple other picks that I really liked were Dallas Thomas, OT out of Tennessee and Jelani Jenkins, OLB from Florida.  The biggest knock on the Dolphins is that they didn’t draft a top-end left tackle.

Grade: B+

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Best Pick: Josh Boyce, WR TCU

Worst Pick: Jamie Collins, LB Southern Mississippi

Analysis: Here’s my bold prediction for the 2013 NFL season, Josh Boyce will be the Patriots’ 2nd most productive receiver, behind Danny Amendola.  Boyce suffered a foot injury supposedly just before the combine, and many believe that caused his stock to drop a bit.  Considering that Boyce ran a 4.38 40 (and put up a very impressive 22 reps on the bench) at the combine, after injuring his foot, should give you some indication that he can run pretty well.  Boyce is fast, strong, physical (5’11”, 205 lbs), and runs great routes.  Sounds like a round 4 steal to me.  My proclamation of Jamie Collins as the worst pick isn’t meant to be a commentary on the type of player that Collins is or will become.  Contrarily, I am critical of the Collins selection because the Pats’ first pick in the draft didn’t address a major need.  Yes, the Patriots could use to improve at rushing the quarterback, and they need some linebackers with better coverage abilities, but wide receiver and cornerback were much bigger areas of need than a rush/coverage linebacker.  Surprisingly, much criticized 3rd round pick Duron Harmon isn’t considered the worst pick because I believe in Belichick’s ability to find gems when he selects these “never heard of” players, and from everything I hear about Harmon’s character and instincts, I think he’ll fit in well with the Patriots.

Grade: B

NEW YORK JETS

Best Pick: Dee Milliner, CB Alabama

Worst Pick: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia

Analysis: I think we were all under the impression that once Mike Tannenbaum got canned, the Jets would cease the ridiculousness.  Well, looks like the Jets are keeping it going for a little longer!  Let’s start with what went right.  Dee Milliner is a stud.  There were concerns about his “5 surgeries” coming out of college.  I am willing to bet my entire bank account (which is exceptionally empty at the moment) that 50% of the players drafted in 2013 have had 5 or more surgeries throughout their career.  College football is evolving more and more into an NFL-like game, meaning players are having routine off-season surgeries nearly every year.  Milliner won’t be Revis (nobody may ever be Revis), but he will slide into the corner spot opposite of Cromartie and compliment Kyle Wilson in the slot.  Sheldon Richardson was another solid pick for the Jets.  His skill set fits very well into a 3-4 defensive end position and will provide some good pass-rush opposite of Muhammad Wilkerson.  Now, on to Geno Smith.  The only way this works is if Mark Sanchez is not a member of the New York Jets once training camp begins.  It will be a Tebow-like distraction all over again.  For every incomplete pass Mark Sanchez throws, there will be 50,000 Jets fans screaming for Geno Smith to come in.  Aside from the media firestorm, Smith doesn’t strike me as a franchise guy both talent wise and mentally.  He crumbled in big games throughout his senior season, and he reportedly hasn’t been the most professional guy throughout pre-draft workouts.  When you draft Geno Smith in the 2nd round, it is assumed that he will eventually take over as the starter, and I just don’t see it.  Aside from Smith, I thought that two huge areas of need for the Jets were at tight end and wide receiver.  The Jets weren’t bad because of their defense (their first 2 picks were defensive players), they were bad because of their offense.  They did little to improve their offense in this draft.

Grade: C

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