Draft Grades for the AFC East

The Buffalo Bills picked up some good prospects with their 1st five picks, concentrating on upgrading the defense toward the new Cover 2 style that Dick Jauron would like to implement. They focused on getting fast safeties with good hands as well as fast, penetrating defensive tackles that can disrupt the backfield and get to the opponents quarterbacks. They also obtained a cornerback that had been projected to likely go late in the 1st round.

1. Donte Whitner (SS)
1. John McCargo (DT)
3. Ashton Youboty (CB)
4. Ko Simpson (FS)
5. Kyle Williams (DT)
5. Brad Butler (OT)
6. Keith Ellison (OLB)
7. Terrance Pennington (OT)
7. Aaron Merz (OG)

Getting him in the 3rd was a steal for them and will probably signal the end of Nate Clements after this year – which in turn frees up cap space! If there is any problem I have with the 1st five picks it's that in atleast 2 of those cases, there was a reach. Both Donte Whitner and John McCargo could have probably been obtained lower. In Whitner's case, we might have been able to get another 2nd rounder and moved down a few spots - there should have been people calling Marv Levy, GM of the Bills, to try and trade up for Matt Leinart – one of the top 3 quarterback prospects. Even if the offers were just a 3rd rounder instead of a 2nd rounder, the Bills should have taken it – as the saying goes, something is better than nothing. The Bills also reached and lost their second 3rd rounder to move up from their 2nd round pick and get John McCargo at the end of the 1st round. Considering all the draft talent that fell even all the way to the 4th round and beyond, this was a big loss! There are reasons being circulated as to why Marv may have reached at these points. Clearly he preferred to have these guys than to take a chance and lose them. In that scenario, it was probably better to play it safe, though I tend to like Dennis Green's style of drafting and let whoever come to you come to you and make your pick accordingly.

In addition, the Bills in their last 4 picks made questionable picks with offensive linemen that were either ranked much lower than others available, or weren't even ranked at all. For most of these picks afterward, ESPN couldn't even show video clips for them, as they didn't even know who they were.

I have to blame the scouts here. In the last 10 years, the Bills have drafted the following offensive linemen:

2005 – Duke Preston, Justin Geisinger (too early to judge them though Preston looks good so far and Geisinger has bust written all over him)

2004 – Dylan McFarland (has improved – but hasn't contributed anything as of yet)

2003 – Ben Sobieski (bust)

2002 – Mike Williams, Mike Pucillo – expensive bust in Mike Williams and though Pucillo did start at one point, he was horrible and ultimately a bust also.

2001 – Jonas Jennings, Marques Sullivan – Jonas Jennings was good, but often injured and could never play a whole season. Sullivan proved to be a bust.

2000 – none chosen

1999 – none chosen

1998 – Robert Hicks, Victor Allotey – busts.

1997 – Jamie Nails, Marcus Spriggs – busts

1996 – Dusty Ziegler – a bit undersized, but decent center.

The only conclusion you can draw from this is that the scouts working for Buffalo have no idea what to look for in obtaining a quality offensive lineman. With our scouts lacking this skill, perhaps we should only concentrate on getting veterans for our offensive line if we do not know how to judge emerging talent in this area! Luckily for Buffalo, we did pick up some veteran prospects for the offensive line before the draft, but Buffalo's inability to seize top candidates when they had the opportunity lowers their draft grade some.

I have to wonder if Houston did the Bills a disservice by announcing the day before that they planned to take Mario Williams instead of the top electrifying prospect, Reggie Bush. This allowed New Orleans to digest what to do and even the NY Jets. Might things have been differently if Houston would have announced it at the last minute on draft day? Might the shock have allowed other teams to consider moving up impulsively for Bush and given New Orleans an offer that they end up taking. Any change might have caused another top caliber player to fall to the #8 spot. Though I am not disappointed with Donte Whitner, I am actually surprised that there were none of the top prospects available by the time the Bills turn to pick was up.

I have to commend Philadelphia for trading up in the 4th round to get Max Jean Gilles – an offensive guard some thought was the highest ranked and would go in the 2nd round. Instead, Buffalo did nothing to move up to get him. Subsequently, talent such as Fred Matua, Kevin Boothe, Jonathan Scott and several others, were taken and Buffalo preferred to take offensive line no name players instead. I suspect none will make the roster and will be put in the practice squad…which then makes me feel like we wasted those picks when there were still quality players that might have been had. These guys that no one heard of would probably still be there undrafted once it was all said and done – again, mismanagement of the draft by Marv Levy. This is his first draft and he's bound to make some mistakes, but I don't intend to be lenient on him.

The 1st five picks are good however, so I can't really give him too low a grade despite his draft value mismanagement that could have made this a great draft. This draft could definitely have been better, but I have to grade on what we obtained. I give him a B- for those 1st five solid picks. However, had we kept our second 3rd pick, and then made some offensive line picks with high quality prospects such as Fred Matua, Guy Whimper, Kevin Boothe, Max Jean Gilles, or Jonathan Scott, this draft could have easily been an A+!!! Overall grade: B-

Undrafted Signings:

WR Martin Nance, Miami (Ohio) – Great Signing!!!
FB Derrick Ming, Missouri
DE Jason Hall, Tennessee
DE Ryan Neill, Rutgers

Miami Dolphins

1. Jason Allen (CB/S)
3. Derek Hagan (WR)
4. Joe Toledo (OT)
7. Fred Evans (DT)
7. Rodrique Wright (DT)
7. Devin Aromashodu (WR)

Considering Miami only had 6 picks they actually made some decent choices for their draft. The priority was to sign a top safety. Given that the Buffalo Bills robbed them of a top safety like Donte Whitner, Miami had no choice but to go to the next best and take a chance with a "tweener" who has played both cornerback and safety but not really concentrated on just one alone. Still, he is a good prospect with a lot of speed. Miami also made some sound decisions in adding a decent wide receiver target for their new quarterback Dante Culpepper, as well as adding an offensive tackle to a line that has marginal talent, and added some excellent prospects in their 7th round with a top defensive tackle that was originally projected as going in the 2-3rd round – as well as another wide receiver target for Culpepper. All in all, a very decent draft for them: A-

New England Patriots

1. Laurence Maroney (RB)
2. Chad Jackson (WR)
3. Dave Thomas (TE)
4. Garrett Mills (TE)
4. Stephen Gostkowski (K)
5. Ryan O'Callaghan (OG)
6. Jeremy Mincey (DE)
6. Dan Stevenson (OG)
6. Le Kevin Smith (DT)
7. Willie Andrews (CB)

Despite having so many picks, the Patriots surprisingly appeared to have a poor draft this year. Though they take two top offensive players that should begin helping them immediately in Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson, I have to wonder why they didn't address their defense much – which is what I thought was the part of their team that played the worst last year. Now given, they did have injuries, but so did the offense. At running back, at one point, the Patriots were down on all their running backs and forced to run with their fullback. However, running backs are a dime a dozen, and they could have easily picked up a decent prospect later. It was shocking for them not to have taken Manny Lawson who would have fit their defense perfectly. Given that New England's defense is centered around their linebackers, it is impossible for me to understand why they did not take him. San Francisco thought so highly of him, that as soon as the Patriots let him slip by, they traded up and grabbed him. Chad Jackson was a good pickup for them in the early 2nd round which they had to trade up for. However, I must question their obsession with drafting tight ends. They've got Daniel Graham and Ben Watson who are very decent. Perhaps drafting one more to complete the depth, but two more? They must be looking for a diamond in the rough to come through and become the next Antonio Gates to round out their offensive schemes. Other than the 1st two picks, I think this is a very poor draft, and I still can't believe they let Manny Lawson go. Overall Grade: D.

Undrafted Signings:

OT Randy Hand, Florida
S Jarvis Herring, Florida
CB Vernell Brown, Florida
WR Matt Shelton, Notre Dame
LB Corey Mays, Notre Dame
LB Freddie Roach, Alabama - Good signing!!!

NY Jets

1. D'Brickashaw Ferguson (OT)
1. Nick Mangold (C)
2. Kellen Clemens (QB)
3. Anthony Schlegel (ILB)
3. Eric Smith (SS)
4. Brad Smith (WR)
4. Leon Washington (RB)
5. Jason Pociask (TE)
6. Drew Coleman (CB)
7. Titus Adams (DT)

The Jets had a very unflashy but practical draft. They addressed their offensive line by drafting their future franchise left tackle and franchise centers. These, however, were to cover holes left by previous players lost. They also grabbed a decent prospect at QB and linebacker. I expected the Jets to address their running back situation earlier, but they still got a good prospect in the 4th with Leon Washington. The Jets also get bonus points for making a trade that got them an extra second rounder next year. Overall, for addressing and grabbing franchise players at their offensive line that will probably be there for years and years to come, the Jets get an A. An A+ would have been if they had gotten a decent prospect to replace Abraham who left, leaving them a gaping hole to fill at defensive end. Grade: A.

Undrafted Signings:

LB Blake Costanzo, Lafayette
OT Ed Blanton, UCLA
P DJ Fitzpatrick, Notre Dame

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