by Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads’ Draft Analyst
Below is a quick overview of each team’s draft in the AFC East with a focus on what they really tried to do with this class. Also noted is their best value pick and top undrafted free agent signing. Value is based on where they were selected and where I had them graded.
1 (4) – Sammy Watkins – WR / Clemson
2 (44) – Cyrus Kouandijo – OT / Alabama
3 (73) – Preston Brown – LB / Louisville
4 (109) – Ross Cockrell – CB / Duke
5 (153) – Cyril Richardson – G / Baylor
7 (221) – Randell Johnson – OLB / Florida Atlantic
Buffalo made the aggressive trade up from to the #4 overall spot to grab the draft’s top WR talent in Watkins, a move that will certainly help EJ Manuel take his game to the next level. But possibly even more than that, the acquisition of two NFL-ready offensive linemen (Kouandijo/Richardson) and arguably the biggest boom/bust project in OT Henderson are what could bring this offense to the next level. They’ve had problems controlling the point of attack on offense and it doesn’t matter how much talent you have a the skill positions if you aren’t strong up front.
Top Value: Cyril Richardson / Baylor (2nd round grade)
The selection of Richardson may be one of my top 5 overall value picks from the weekend. He slid further than I anticipated and even though he struggled with lateral movement and pass protection at the Senior Bowl, the tape tells me he can handle the NFL speed. He is such a large, powerful blocker that all he has to do is get his hands on a defender and it’s over. The footwork needs to be improved but we aren’t talking about a project here. I think Richardson will be a starter before the end of 2014.
Top UDFA: Kenny Ladler – S / Vanderbilt (6th round grade)
Ladler was consistently a productive player all four years in the SEC. His tape was most impressive in 2013, showing the quick reaction and legit cover ability that Buffalo loves to have at safety. The departure of Jairus Byrd has created an open roster spot at the position and it looks like Ladler has as good a shot as anyone to grab it.
New York Jets
1 (18) – Calvin Pryor – S / Louisville
2 (49) – Jace Amaro – TE / Texas Tech
3 (80) – Dexter McDougle – CB / Maryland
4 (104) – Jalen Saunders – WR / Oklahoma
4 (115) – Shaq Evans – WR / UCLA
4 (137) – Dakota Dozier – G / Furman
5 (154) – Jeremiah George – LB / Iowa State
6 (195) – Brandon Dixon – CB / NY Missouri State
6 (209) – Quincy Enunwa – WR / Nebraska
6 (210) – I.K. Enemkpali – DE / Louisiana State
6 (213) – Tajh Boyd – QB / Clemson
7 (233) – Tervor Reilly – LB / Utah
The Jets were a prime candidate to try and move up at some point in the draft with such an abundance of choices to work with. They did make an effort to trade up for WR Marquis Lee but failed to seal the deal. Even though that was the case, their main priority was to upgrade the offensive skill positions, and that they did. Instead of using a high pick on one, they went the quantity-over-quality route and brought in three receivers as well as a pass catching tight end. Bringing in this many rookies only increases the odds of getting lucky with a guy that out-performs his original draft slot. There will be plenty roster spots up for grabs to compete for, that’s for sure.
Top Value Pick: Trevor Reilly – LB / Utah (3rd round grade)
I actually had Reilly going to the Jets earlier in the draft in round 4. He is a nice schematic fir for the Rex Ryan’s attacking defensive front. Reilly can make things happen behind the line of scrimmage from the LB position. 36.5 tackles for loss and 20.5 career sacks had to catch the eye of scouts and this is a guy that moves well in tight spaces with quick hands and a strong base. I think NYJ will love his ability to beat a blocker one on one.
Top UDFA: Kerry Hyder (7th round grade)
The NYJ defensive line is a very solid group as it currently stands but a Rex Ryan defense always seems to have an UDFA make the roster. Hyder could be that guy with his role-versatility and aggressive nature. He isn’t as powerful as you want inside, but he is a craft mover that gets off blocks and can locate the football. Very good season in 2012 that was enough to show he has some upside to work with. His 2013 was full of double teams and lack of help around him but here for NYJ, his talent may be able to him on the field where we will be just one of the guys that Ryan can move around to exploit matchup problems.
1 (19) – Ja’Wuan James – OT / Tennessee
2 (63) – Jarvis Landry – WR / LSU
3 (67) – Billy Turner – OT / North Dakota State
4 (125) – Walt Aikens – CB / Liberty
5 (155) – Arthur Lynch – TE / Georgia
5 (171) – Jordan Tripp – LB / Montana
6 (190) – Matt Hazel – WR / Coastal Carolina
7 (234) – Terrence Fede – DE / Marist
After a season that saw QB Ryan Tannehill take a beating and the running game consistently struggling to take off, Miami’s main focus had to be to build up their offensive line. James may have been a surprise pick, but it was a necessary one. I’m sure they were hoping to see Notre Dam’s Zack Martin fall in to their lap, but James is a fine fall back option. They weren’t done there, trading up for Turner who may need a year or two before he can be put in to the NFL trenches. Tannehill can get a lot out of the talent around him and now that he hopefully has a more reliable line in front of him, he can take advantage of the underrated talent around him.
Top Value Pick: Jordan Tripp – LB/Montana (2nd round grade)
I had a higher grade on Tripp than most. On tape he reminded me of Kiko Alonso, another LB I had graded higher than everyone at this time last year. He is an overly aggressive player that reads the action quickly and gets himself in to the right position. He can play the weak side or the middle for Miami, positions they don’t exactly need help at right away. He could stand to out some more weight on and gain lower body strength, but we are talking about a potential starter down the road.
Top UDFA: Deion Belue – CB / Alabama (7th round grade)
Belue could be a guy that performs better in the NFL than he did in college, particularly his senior season. After transferring from junior college to Alabama, he had a solid 2012 season but was a little nicked up in 2013 and lost some playing time the inevitable influx of new talent Saban brings in every year. Every year I find a group of seniors that are buried on the depth chart behind some top tier underclassmen. It’s hidden value and I think Belue makes this team with his ability to play a few different CB roles.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
1 (29) – Dominique Easley – DT / Florida
2 (62) – Jimmy Garoppolo – QB / Eastern Illinois
4 (105) – Bryan Stork – C / Florida State
4 (130) – James White – RB / Wisconsin
4 (140) – Cameron Fleming – OT / Stanford
6 (179) – Jon Halapio – G / Florida
6 (198) – Zach Moore – DE / Concordia
7 (206) – Jamea Thomas – CB / Georgia Tech
7 (244) – Jeremy Gallon – WR / Michigan
Every few years you will see the Patriots draft heavy on the offensive line, hoping to get at least one starter and a primary backup out of the bunch. Last time they brought in three OL was 2009, and they hadn’t taken one in the past two drafts. Tom Brady is not near the end, but protecting him has to be priority A, B, and C. Stork and Halapio have their physical limitations respectively, but I think one of them can be a starter by 2015. Fleming is a wildcard that showed flashes of being one of the top 5 RT prospects in this class.
Top Value Pick: Jeremy Gallon (4th round grade)
Gallon enters a rather crowded depth chart but I think his ability to move with quickness and precision is going to attract the attention of Brady. Gallon is an undersized, but tough as nails competitor that never showed a problem getting open, whether he’s underneath or running the deep routes. I don’t expect Gallon to turn in to Wes Welker in that offense, but he has the skill set to make a difference from the slot that they’ve been missing.