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Rankings

Don’t call them “draft grades”: AFC edition

Rockin'Rita (Flickr album: Baylor vs TCU 2014)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/]

In the very first FootballYards article, I addressed each NFC team’s draft performance in my own unique way. In this very, like, sixth FootballYards article, I’m doing the same for the AFC. If you don’t feel like reading about the NFC for some reason, here’s how the ranking system works:

Imagine the draft as an opening kickoff that’s caught five-yards deep in the end zone. Based on each team’s draft picks, I assess how far they metaphorically returned the kick.

Did you address all your needs in an efficient manner? Congratulations, you’re starting the drive from the 40!

Did you haemorrhage picks in order to move up the board, only to take a guy you could have gotten later anyway? Sorry, you tripped over the goal line and are starting from the three.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Starting position: 18-yard-line

Haha. Who do you think had more say in the Buffalo picks, GM Doug Whaley or coach Rex Ryan? Rex loves his defensive toys and the Bills went all D in the first three rounds. Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland are nice additions, but Rex couldn’t figure out how to use the talent that was already there. I would have liked to see more early adds on O, especially the line and receiver.

Miami Dolphins

Starting position: 24-yard-line

Kudos to the Fins for stopping Laremy Tunsil’s slide. (Best player in the draft at no. 13? Don’t mind if I do!) Third-round back Kenyan Drake will help ease the sting of losing Lamar Miller (whom they should have re-signed, but these aren’t free agency grades). Taking swings on three WRs was a good call, too. Ryan Tannehill ain’t gonna do much unless he has a lot to work with.

New England Patriots

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

The Pats lost their first-rounder in an under-the-radar kerfuffle called, like, IngrateGate or something. I can’t even remember. It didn’t get much press. Anyway, they did a decent job with what they had left, generally opting for best-player over best-fit. That aid, second-round CB Cyrus Jones was both and should contribute right away. They should have gotten some pass-rush help now that Chandler Jones is in Arizona.

New York Jets

Starting position: 16-yard-line

Once upon a time, QB Christian Hackenberg was no. 1 on 2016 draft boards. That was 2014. On draft day, he looked like an afterthought, but the Jets gave one more middle finger to Ryan Fitzpatrick by taking Hackenberg in the second round. If I was giving out awards for spite-picks, the Jets would win. Hackenberg was the only offensive player the Jets (who finished top-ten in scoring defense and also lost starting RB Chris Ivory in free agency) took before the fifth round.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Starting position: 22-yard-line

They’ll regret passing on Tunsil for Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) down the road, and they should have shored up the receiver position earlier than the fourth round (Chris Moore, Cincinnati). But all in all they used their 11 picks pretty wisely, injecting youth where necessary. It will be interesting to see what comes of former Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, who projects as a WR at the next level.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starting position: (touchback) 25-yard-line

The Bengals lost their no. 2 and 3 receivers to free agency. They needed to get someone to help AJ Green. Unfortunately, there was a run on receivers just before they stepped to the podium and they would up with yet another first-round CB (William Jackson III). They were wise not to reach on a first-round receiver since the top-four were all off the board, though, and Jackson might be the best CB of all down the road. Tyler Boyd (WR, Pitt) in the second was the right move, so was going D heavy with the rest of the draft.

Cleveland Browns

Starting position: 27-yard-line

The Browns stockpiled picks and used them all (14 to be precise). Making Baylor’s Corey Coleman the first WR off the board was a bit of a surprise, but he was the best fit for the team among that top quartet. Third-rounder Carl Nassib will help the pass rush right away. I love the seventh-round addition of LB Scooby Wright; I think he was worthy of going a lot higher. My overall impression of their haul is probably a little rose-colored just because they didn’t go all Cleveland and take another first-round QB.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

The Bengals were screwed out of a WR by the teams right in front of them. So what do they do? Turn around and screw arch-nemesis Pittsburgh by nabbing the best available corner right in front of the DB-needy Steelers. Pittsburgh had to settle for Artie Burns (Miami) as a result, a big step down from William Jackson III. Second-round safety Sean Davis will probably be the better player for them, now and in the future. Using five of seven picks (including the first four) on D was necessary for the run-and-gun Steelers.

AFC South

Houston Texans

Starting position: 23-yard-line

Houston took the second WR off the board with no. 21 pick Will Fuller. It’s not the best complement to DeAndre Hopkins, since they’re both deep threats, but they definitely drafted the right position, at least; and Fuller is eminently dangerous. (He had the second-fastest forty time at the combine: 4.32.) Converted QB Braxton Miller could be a huge steal in the third as a slot guy; we didn’t see enough from his one year as a WR at Ohio State to know for sure, but his 4.46 forty at the combine raised eyebrows in a good way, as well.

Indianapolis Colts

Starting position: 22-yard-line

Shoring up the O-line was the name of the game after Andrew Luck got pummeled last year. First-rounder Ryan Kelly was definitely the best center in the class. Le’Raven Clark, an OT from Texas Tech, is a better run-blocker than pass-blocker, but they needed help there, too. I don’t get cornerback TJ Green in the second round; he’s a converted WR. They could have waited.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Starting position: 28-yard-line

Holy moly should Jags fans be excited. They got two of the five best players in the draft, and they both fill huge needs on a long-struggling defense. Jalen Ramsey (no. 5 overall) will be the best player in their secondary from Week 1; linebacker Myles Jack (no. 36 overall) may be the best player on their defense period if he’s healthy (which it looks like he will be). Then they spent four of their last five picks on the D-line, a unit that’s already adding last year’s first-rounder Dante Fowler Jr. If this D isn’t much better this year, Gus Bradley can kiss his job – and maybe coaching career – goodbye.

Tennessee Titans

Starting position: 23-yard-line

Erstwhile owners of the no.1-overall pick, the Titans traded back up to no. 8 to draft an O-lineman. They could have had Tunsil, whom they were probably going to take when they had the first overall pick. Instead they took Jack Conklin (Michigan State), a player they could have had at no. 15 anyway. Oops. The rest of their haul checks out, though: second-rounder Kevin Dodd is a divisive pass-rush prospect but has first-round potential; RB Derrick Henry provides nice insurance for the DeMarco Murray experiment that awaits.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Starting position: 21-yard-line

Paxton Lynch at no. 31 was the right player at the right time for a team that lost its top two QBs. I think he’s the starter by the end of the season. That would seem to contradict my general feelings about this QB class, but it merely cements my feelings about this Mark Sanchez ass. Getting a DT in the second (Adam Gotsis) will help ease the pain of losing Malik Jackson. They should have shored up the LB corps, too, since Danny Trevathan has moved on.

Kansas City Chiefs

Starting position: 23-yard-line

The Chiefs opted for quantity over quality, trading their first-round pick (no. 28 overall) for a second, a fourth, and a sixth. They probably wanted another CB, but all the first-round worthy options were gone by no. 28, so the move made sense. Their first pick, Chris Jones (DT), has a lot of potential for a second-rounder, and they used the additional picks on corners. It was smart, contact hitting from a team that wasn’t really in a position to jack a homer.

Oakland Raiders

Starting position: 18-yard-line

They needed a safety, but Karl Joseph (WVU) was not worth the no. 14 overall pick, especially with his injury history. Defensive end Jihad Ward should have been a third-rounder or later, not a second-rounder. Some question taking QB Connor Cook in the fourth since Derek Carr is still blossoming, but teams are realizing the value of having two viable QB options on the roster (eh Dallas?) and Cook has early-round talent in his arm.

San Diego Chargers

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

Joey Bosa (DE) was a worthy no. 3 overall pick no matter what anyone says; he’ll be getting after QBs from the word go. Tight end Hunter Henry (no. 35 overall) becomes the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates now that Ladarius Green is in Pittsburgh, but O-line or secondary help would have made more sense in the second round; they’re much more pressing concerns for this team.

Tags : AFCBengalsBillsBroncosBrownsChargersChiefsColtsDolphinsDraftJaguarsJetsPatriotsRaidersRavensRookiesSteelersTexansTitans
Nick Bellis

The author Nick Bellis