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NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

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Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu. It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the three-day event. But waiting is no fun, so let’s take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: When he didn’t have Darrelle Revis starring for him in New York, coach Rex Ryan struggled to find cornerbacks to fit his aggressive scheme. As such, it wasn’t surprising to see the Bills make Florida State speedster Ronald Darby the first draft pick of the Ryan era in Buffalo. Darby has great tools but isn’t polished. Guard John Miller is a tough guy who fits in with Ryan’s preference for strength at the point of attack and Karlos Williams certainly offers tools, as well, but this wasn’t the type of draft that will significantly close the gap between Buffalo and division-leading New England.

Grade: C-

Miami Dolphins: In the weeks leading up to the draft Miami explored trading up into the top 10 to land a dynamic receiver, but ultimately didn’t have to as DeVante Parker slid to the Dolphins at No. 14 overall. Parker’s length, speed, body control and huge catch radius make him a potential No. 1 target for Ryan Tannehill in Bill Lazor’s aggressive passing attack, and fifth round pick Tony Lippett could surprise as well (whether at receiver or cornerback). Jay Ajayi’s knee is a concern but he has franchise-back talent. Jordan Phillips and Jamil Douglas are potential future starters along the line of scrimmage.

Grade: B+

New England Patriots: The defending Super Bowl champs had been rumored to be looking to trade out of the No. 32 overall pick but when steady defensive tackle Malcom Brown slid to them, it was an easy choice to stand “Pat” and plug in the massive hole left by Vince Wilfork moving on. Brown isn’t as flashy as last year’s top pick Dominique Easley, but they should complement each other well. Of the remaining picks, the Patriots did best in the fourth round, where future starters may have been out in tough-guy edge rusher Trey Flowers and nasty offensive linemen Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson.

Grade: B

New York Jets: Given that the defensive line was already the Jets’ strong suit, the addition of Leonard Williams was a head-scratcher for some. Questioning the strategy of landing arguably the draft’s best player at No. 6 overall, however, is silly. New general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles addressed greater areas of concern with their next three picks, adding a speed threat in Devin Smith and an edge rusher in Lorenzo Mauldin. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is a project and will not challenge Geno Smith for the starting spot in 2015, but 2016 could be a different story.

Grade: B

–Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for www.NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.


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