The NFL draft is in the books, and most of this off-season’s action has come to a close. There’s no other sports to watch (besides the KBO, which is suddenly relevant with the MLB postponed but on way too early in the morning for most). So to fill the gap, I’ll be writing about how each team did in the NFL draft in this eight article series, division by division. I’ll be writing about each team’s draft performance and how it may affect their regular season performance. Let’s start this off with the AFC East.
NFL Draft Report Cards 2020
Miami Dolphins: B+
The Dolphins started off the draft strong by taking Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa despite injury concerns. After that, they may have filled a good number of their needs, addressing the o-line and the secondary as well as acquiring RB Matt Breida from the 49ers. But they reached a bit for certain players. The most notable reach was their selection of CB Noah Igbinoghene at #30. Igbinoghene is a good DB who can play nickel CB for the Dolphins, but Miami had a much bigger need for a safety than a corner, and there were better options at corner like Kristian Fulton and Trevon Diggs. Overall, this was a good draft for the Dolphins, and the team should see improvement not only in 2020 but in years to come. But simply put, there was more room for improvement. The Dolphins could’ve nailed this draft, and they did well, but it wasn’t anything mind blowing.
New York Jets: B+
Let me get this straight: I can’t see the Jets doing well in this division this year. The Bills are looking better than they were last year, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick coaching and will at least be decent, and the Dolphins are gearing up for the Tua Tagovailoa era. That leaves the Jets as the odd team out in this division.
But I have a slightly more hope for the Jets after a strong draft. If he reaches full potential, Mekhi Becton will be a huge help for the o-line. Denzel Mims could easily emerge as Sam Darnold’s new favorite target. Bryce Hall might very well be the biggest steal of the draft, as he fills a huge need at corner and he’s great value for the Jets in Round 5. There weren’t any big misses here, and there were a couple really good picks. I don’t love the fit for Jabari Zuniga, as he’d be better in a 4-3 defense. But other than that, I don’t have many complaints here.
New England Patriots: B
Last year, Bill Belichick tried his best to get some good value, and he did with DE Chase Winovich in the 3rd and QB Jarrett Stidham in the 4th. This year, Belichick prioritized securing his favorite players in the draft class as he often does. Sometimes, this strategy really pays off. Other times, it doesn’t, so overall this is a boom or bust draft class. But the Pats did a pretty good job filling needs, drafting front seven help and tight end help on Day 2 in the form of Joshua Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene. I like the Asiasi pick more than most, he has a lot of potential. But I still don’t understand the selection of Kyle Dugger at 37. They could’ve taken Dugger later and the secondary is not a priority. Many have criticized the rest of this draft class too. But considering Belichick’s occasional success with this strategy and considering the fact that the Pats filled their biggest needs, I think they did alright. One thing that did become clear after this draft: Bill Belichick trusts Jarrett Stidham as New England’s future QB, and I think Stidham is capable of being Brady’s successor.
Buffalo Bills: B-
The Bills started off this draft very strong, getting a first round talent in DE A.J. Epenesa despite trading their first round pick for WR Stefon Diggs. They also found Zack Moss, a running back to pair with Devin Singletary. But I don’t understand their Day 3 draft strategy. The Bills were fine at WR with the trio of Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley, yet they drafted two WRs. They drafted a kicker in Round 6 (Stephen Hauschka is their current kicker). They took QB Jake Fromm when Josh Allen is likely locked in as Buffalo’s QB for years to come. Worst of all, they never addressed the o-line, at least not until they signed Trey Adams as a UDFA. I don’t love this draft class, but overall, the Bills did get a lot better this off-season, and they started off this draft strong, so I had to give them some credit. You could say Stefon Diggs is essentially their first round pick, and Diggs will be a big help for this offense, taking pressure off Brown and Beasley and helping Allen improve as a passer.
That’s all for Part 1 of my draft grades. Stay tuned for more posts soon, including Part 2 of this series, when I’ll review the draft class of every AFC North team.