Draft Grades: AFC East

Buffalo Bills

1 – Round 1 (16): E.J. Manuel, QB. Florida State
2 – Round 2 (41): Robert Woods, WR. USC
3 – Round 2 (46): Kiko Alonso, LB. Oregon
4 – Round 3 (78): Marquise Goodwin, WR. Texas
5 – Round 4 (105): Duke Williams, S. Nevada
6 – Round 5 (143): Jonathan Meeks, S. Clemson
7 – Round 6 (177): Dustin Hopkins, K. Florida State
8 – Round 7 (222): Chris Gragg, TE. Arkansas

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The Bills’ draft grade generally will hinge on how the evaluator feels about E.J. Manuel’s potential to be a franchise quarterback. While it certainly was the unconventional choice and shocked many, there’s little reason to think – especially in a trade down – that it was a bad pick. Manuel has all the physical tools and confident (not cocky) mindset needed to be an impactful NFL passer. Although his pocket presence and completion consistency are areas of concern, they can be developed, unlike the positives of his game. Aside going earlier than expected, there’s no reason to outright slam the pick. Landing Robert Woods, a perfect potential compliment receiver at the NFL level with some Reggie Wayne elements to his game was a strong, value selection. Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso has the ability to potentially start from day one – coverage savvy, fluid lateral mover, good schematic fit. Buffalo went a little off the board with Marquise Goodwin… few really understood the pick from a ‘helping E.J. Manuel’ standpoint, but the slot-WR and potential return ace has speed to burn and if used properly could be the wild card of the Bills’ 2013 class. Duke Williams was a nice bargain pickup in the fourth round and could’ve justified a late second day call. Jonathan Meeks has the look of a special teams player for the most part and better players were left on the board. Similarly, albeit a bit of a nit-pick considering it was round six, Dustin Hopkins wasn’t the player I’d have pegged with more potential contributors, particularly on defense, still available. That said, he’s a good kicker and we saw the value of good rookie legs in 2012. Chris Gragg is a balanced player and very well should secure a roster spot.

Grade: B

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Miami Dolphins

1 – Round 1 (3): Dion Jordan, DE. Oregon
2 – Round 2 (54): Jamar Taylor, CB. Boise State
3 – Round 3 (77): Dallas Thomas, OG. Tennessee
4 – Round 3 (93): Will Davis, CB. Utah State
5 – Round 4 (104): Jelani Jenkins, LB. Florida
6 – Round 4 (106): Dion Sims, TE. Michigan State
7 – Round 5 (164): Mike Gillislee, RB. Florida
8 – Round 5 (166): Caleb Sturgis, K. Florida
9 – Round 7 (250): Don Jones, S. Arkansas State

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The Dolphins had an excess of early picks and used it to acquire their guy at No. 3 in Dion Jordan. They obviously had a vision of Jordan bookending Wake going into the draft and while I prefer him to be a 3-4 edge rusher as opposed to a downed end at the next level, the potential is there for stardom in either role. Jordan will reach his ceiling if he’s able to successfully fill out his frame over the first two seasons of his NFL career and adjust to his targeted playing weight. If he doesn’t make a significant impact as a rookie, nobody should panic. He is a bit of a projection player who’s still raw at the position – still, boom or bust type prospect. Miami ended Jamar Taylor’s medically related slide at No. 54 and hope to acquire a better player than the one it traded away to land the respective pick in Vontae Davis. The team lacks depth at cornerback and Jamar Taylor is physical in press and a reliable tackler who can play sticky coverage. Dallas Thomas was a good pick – guard/swing tackle with good pass pro skills and strong hands at the point of attack. Will Davis is a raw athlete with upside who went a round early to me. Projection player who was added to infuse some talent and depth, but better players were available. Jelani Jenkins is another projection player, who flashed at UF, but his best days are ahead of him – he’s just scratching the surface. Tough, fast, sideline-to-sideline player with upside. The Michael Egnew experiment isn’t one I’ve ever been in favor of because I don’t believe he can handle NFL contact in the block or pass game. Dion Sims won’t have such a problem at the next level. Upside is a little limited, but he should become a reliable blocker that can find soft zones and make catches underneath. Potential to be a decent chain mover or No. 3/4 receiving option at the position, especially in double TE sets. Running backs fell and Miami got a very good one later in Mike Gillislee. Similar role to what the Phins lost in Reggie Bush, Gillislee is an all-around adept player with hands out of the backfield. His style compliments the contrasting thunder/lightning that Lamar Miller and Dan Thomas offer. Miami went back to Gainesville to find its future kicker in Caleb Sturgis. Doubles as a potential kickoff specialist. Dan Carpenter’s time in Miami should be up after this selection. Don Jones is a freak athlete who will have to prove he can play football at the NFL level before getting reps on defense. Nice ST’s potential early. A lot of the Dolphins’ draft grade is based on potential as the class is primarily projection-based, more-so than most teams.

Grade: B

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New England Patriots

1 – Round 2 (52): Jamie Collins, LB. Southern Mississippi
2 – Round 2 (59): Aaron Dobson, WR. Marshall
3 – Round 3 (83): Logan Ryan, CB. Rutgers
4 – Round 3 (91): Duron Harmon, S. Rutgers
5 – Round 4 (102): Josh Boyce, WR. TCU
6 – Round 7 (226): Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB. Illinois
7 – Round 7 (235): Steve Beauharnais, LB. Rutgers

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New England did the usual dance and moved back in order to acquire picks. Rutgers was a common theme throughout, but impressive athlete Jamie Collins, who rose well in the pre-draft, leads the class. A big-bodied athlete who can rush the passer and play in space, Collins could be a legitimate piece on the New England defense for years to come if his final year at Southern Miss translates moving forward. Aaron Dobson is a reliable red-zone weapon that wins many 50-50 balls. He should add a new dynamic to New England’s short-yardage passing game with his mismatch skills on the boundary. Good footwork and ball-skills + nice size are the staples of Logan Ryan’s prospect evaluation. He’s a bit of a projection, as the player needs to continue to add strength to his frame, but lots of upside. Duron Harmon is not a bad football player, and his versatility is likely what made him a commodity to New England, but it’s difficult to justify selecting him as high as he was taken despite some rumblings he’d been a slight riser going into the draft. Conversely, Josh Boyce was a good value selection that most may have viewed as a late day two prospect. Another bigger target with some downfield speed and playmaking ability. Michael Buchanan in round seven may be the steal of the 2013 draft. Although there are character issues, Buchanan was considered by some to be a pre-season top 10 talent. Inconsistencies and underachieving play contributed to the slide, but he is a quality pass rusher who can bend and play in space. Similarly, Steve Beauharnais could’ve gone early on day three and nobody would have blinked. Could be a starter down the road who will immediately help on special teams. An up and down draft overall, but features a couple gems.

Grade: B

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New York Jets

1 – Round 1 (9): Dee Milliner, CB. Alabama
2 – Round 1 (13): Sheldon Richardson, DT. Missouri
3 – Round 2 (39): Geno Smith, QB. West Virginia
4 – Round 3 (72): Brian Winters, OG. Kent State
5 – Round 5 (141): Oday Aboushi, OT. Virginia
6 – Round 6 (178): William Campbell, OG. Michigan
7 – Round 7 (215): Tommy Bohanon, FB. Wake Forest

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Overall, the New York Jets did pretty well for themselves, but how you perceive Geno Smith can drive this class’ grade up or down. At the top, Dee Milliner was a bit of a gift at No. 9, if healthy. Although the Revis comparison/replacement conversations could prove counterproductive to Milliner as a rookie, if there is one player mentally able to handle it, it’s him. Sheldon Richardson is a super-talent. He is an impressive 1-gapper with a quick and disruptive first step. More 5-tech ability means he was a better fit than other DT/3-4 DEs available. There is lots of boom or bust potential in Richardson, as I personally don’t see much in between. Geno Smith was the right pick for New York. Whether Geno’s presence makes or breaks Sanchez is irrelevant at this point – you need to improve the position and stop-gaps like David Garrard wouldn’t have cut it mid-season if a change does happen. Smith is a wild card that could easily be the premier piece of this class, despite the fact that he’s hardly a sure thing. The talent and drive is there though. Brian Winters is an intriguing athlete with upside, but I’d have preferred to see the Jets go against their nature and look for more polish to improve the guard-play. Still, theoretically, Winters is a proper scheme fit. Aboushi is interesting in round five – I pegged him to come off the board a round earlier, so the value was right. He won’t play the left side with Ferguson on the roster, but he has that sort of potential. A big bodied Brooklyn-native who could be a down-the-road starter. William Campbell is a negatively received pick and it will take some convincing as far as his full-time transition at the position before I believe he can ever be a contributor. On the other hand, seventh rounders don’t often contribute much, but Tommy Bohanon is a hard nosed, true lead-blocking type that loves contact. He developed minor receiving ability this past season and should wind up being a good bargain late in the draft for Gang Green. As I said, what puts this class over (or under) the top is how Geno Smith’s selection is perceived. I don’t see a franchise cornerstone, but I see a good quarterback and a good value in the second round.

Grade: B+

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Check me out on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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