Sunday, April 28, 2013
Mel Kiper Jr.'s AFC East draft grades
By James Walker
The 2013 NFL draft is complete. There were numerous trades, some surprising picks and two new quarterbacks added to the AFC East division.
Which teams thrived and which teams struggled?
Here are ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s post-draft grades for the AFC East:
Kiper Jr.’s grade: C-
Kiper Jr.’s comment: “The Bills hit needs, I just think they made a major reach with the biggest need of all [at quarterback]. But a year behind Kevin Kolb could be a huge help to [EJ] Manuel.”
Thoughts: As I mentioned Thursday night, expect a lot of criticism for the Manuel pick at No. 16 overall. No one expected him to go that high, and that drove Kiper Jr.’s grade down. But if Manuel was taken in the second or third rounds, I think more people would have understood. Buffalo had the lowest draft grade of all NFL teams, according to Kiper. But I think the team added some talent in key areas. I liked the second-round picks in particular of USC receiver Robert Woods and Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso. Both are polished and could be Week 1 starters, especially if Alonso overcomes his off-the-field issues from college.
Kiper Jr.’s grade: B-
Kiper Jr.’s comment: “They could get three good players from those first three picks, but they did give up value for Jordan, so the onus is on them to make that pick become a success.”
Thoughts: The biggest thing I learned from the Dolphins this weekend is the team wanted playmakers. I thought Miami fleeced Oakland by just giving up a second-round pick to move up to No. 3. First-round defensive end Dion Jordan has the potential to eventually become a Pro Bowl player. He is a difference-maker who can be a disruptive force and cause turnovers. Second-round cornerback Jamar Taylor of Boise State is polished and could be a starter or nickel cornerback in Week 1. I also liked the late run of Florida players in linebacker Jelani Jenkins, running back Mike Gillislee and kicker Caleb Sturgis. All three have the potential to make the 53-man roster.
New England Patriots
Kiper Jr.’s grade: C+
Kiper Jr.’s comment: “I don't see a starter out of this draft in the short-term, but they added players with some really good traits. It's just a matter of development now.”
Thoughts: I didn’t expect a high grade from Kiper Jr. on this team. The Patriots, as usual, went for depth over sizzle. Head coach Bill Belichick trusted his intel and went with players he’s most comfortable with, as oppose to bigger names. That included taking three defensive players from Rutgers, which was unexpected. The Duron Harmon pick in the third round was a head-scratcher. Kiper Jr. says New England could have signed the Rutgers safety as a rookie free agent. Receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have potential. However, I always use caution with the Patriots with wide receivers, because Belichick has whiffed at the position so many times in the past.
New York Jets
Kiper Jr.’s grade: B
Kiper Jr.’s comment: “I wanted the Jets to get a safety, but I still think they deserve a pretty good grade for hitting a few big needs. Now, they need to be patient with [Geno] Smith.”
Thoughts: The Jets earned the division's highest draft grade from Kiper Jr. They were in a great spot to land two of the draft’s top 13 players, and made solid picks in cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Although the Jets didn’t need that much help on defense, both should be immediate contributors. Regardless of how you feel about quarterback Geno Smith at the next level, few can doubt the Jets got tremendous value with him in the second round. Smith was widely regarded as the best quarterback in this draft. New York also boosted its interior offensive line with guard Brian Winters, who could beat out former draft bust Vladimir Ducasse for a starting job. Kiper Jr. didn’t like the lack of a safety for the Jets. But I didn’t like that New York didn’t go after more skill players on offense at tight end and receiver.