2018 CPGM Interactive Mock Draft Grades – AFC East
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New England Patriots @grayson_nykaza
You can set your watch to the annual success of the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. However, the relationship between the two, perhaps even more so than Brady’s age suggests that the window of their combined success may be closing. Hence, the need for a 2018 NFL Draft Class that can contribute immediately. With their first two selections the Patriots did just that by selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State (31st overall) and offensive tackle Orlando Brown form Oklahoma (43rd overall). These prospects have had polar opposite results over the course of the pre-draft process but offer substantial upside nonetheless. Vander Esch’s best football is likely still ahead of him but he does everything well at the 2nd level of the defense and provides a much needed jolt of athleticism to New England’s front seven. Many are down on Brown for obvious reasons but his tape in a decent-to-solid class of offensive tackles suggests strong value as a 2nd round pick. I expect him to start immediately in place of Nate Solder. The 2nd of two second round picks, Malik Jefferson has some boom or bust potential. As what he lacks in terms of awareness he mitigates somewhat with athleticism. The floor on Jefferson is a little lower than a number of players that remained on the board; but coaching matters and I expect New England to put him in a position to succeed. The Patriots traded up in the third round with the Buffalo Bills to acquire running back Kerryon Johnson from Auburn. Johnson’s combination of patience and slashing running style invokes loose comparisons to Le’Veon Bell and with Dion Lewis now in Tennessee he should compete for an early down role in the Patriots backfield within short order. Overall I thought New England managed to select players that will have a role and make an impact in year 1. And even though they did a good job of adding speed and athleticism to a well-coached but painfully slow defense they came up a bit short in terms of defending the pass. It remains to be seen as to whether anyone other than Trey Flowers can get to the quarterback albeit the return of Dont’a Hightower and Derek Rivers from injury should help. Additionally, in consecutive seasons we have seen cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler exit stage left and their replacements leave a lot to be desired. I like the players selected for the most part but felt New England didn’t do enough to address their pass defense, a must.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: C+
Buffalo Bills @cpgm_juice
I’m not going to grade myself but please feel free to do so below. In hindsight I definitely feel like I left some meat on the bone in the draft. Most expected the Bills to make another trade into the Top 5-6 in order to get a crack at Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield or even Allen but I was perfectly content with Lamar Jackson at 12th overall. Jackson is far from a finished product (as are all the QBs in this class outside of Rosen in my opinion) but he has steadily progressed as a passer from his freshman year to junior year at Louisville. Every bit as athletic as Michael Vick (VA Tech) and more advanced as a passer I’ll keep my additional draft capital and hitch my wagon to Jackson; just got to get him the requisite coaching and open up that narrow base. I wanted to add as much talent around Jackson in his rookie season as possible so I traded out of the #22 hole and moved to the bottom of the 1st at pick 32, acquired Duke Johnson from the Browns, and added 2018 and 2019 third round picks in a basketball like 4-team trade that included Cleveland, Philadelphia and Kansas City. I managed to get the player I coveted at pick 22 with the 32nd overall pick, by selecting Jackson’s college teammate Jaire Alexander. Alexander is the consensus CB1 according to the CPGM Front Office. We still have to defend Brady for another year at least and we’re in a passing league so I opted to pair Alexander with Tre’Davious White who is on his way to becoming a household name. Dissatisfied with Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones out wide I turned my attention to the receiver position with the 1st of two second round picks selecting Michael Gallup (my personal WR1) out of Colorado State. I wanted to follow up the Gallup pick with an offensive lineman but didn’t see anyone I loved on the board and thought that a couple of the guys I like would be available in the third (I was wrong). Instead I opted for Sam Hubbard from Ohio State who I think will be a quality starter by Year 2 and can offer quality snaps in my defensive line rotation immediately. At the top of the third round I picked Memphis’ Anthony Miller. I then swapped my second pick in third round (acquired form KC) with the New England Patriots third rounder and added Phillip Dorsett officially turning Buffalo, “Siberia for Receivers” into a haven for wideouts. With my final pick in the third round I selected offensive guard Wyatt Teller out of Virginia Tech. I had expected Teller to be my swing guard who could potentially replace Richie Incognito in 2019, but with Incognito’s retirement Teller is thrust into the frying pan immediately. Overall, I believe I did a good job of acquiring offensive skill-position players that not only will create competition particularly at receiver but allows Buffalo to be explosive on what has historically been a “Leave it to Shady” offensive approach. I also think a healthy Alexander vaults my pass defense into the “No Fly Zone” conversation. Still, I failed miserably to sure up the middle of the defense, particularly against the run and I whiffed on adding a more sure thing along the offensive line.
Miami Dolphins @DynastyDorks
The Miami Dolphins were incredibly active throughout the draft having at one point traded up to the 4th overall pick, to ultimately not making their first selection until pick 29. And what a selection it was. With Ndamukong Suh now in Los Angeles the Phins grabbed Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne. Payne may not be representative of the insane value Vita Vea at pick 25 represents but he’s a steal at the bottom of the first. Having parted with offensive tackle Juwan James amiss a slew of moves Miami followed up the Payne selection in the 1st with OT Chukwuma Okorafur in the second round; I expect him to bookend Laremy Tunsil immediately. Okorafur is one of the most intriguing prospects in the class. He got a late start playing football but has flashed the potential and has all of the tools expected of a starting offensive tackle. However, his awareness is below average and though he has the talent to be the best tackle in the class his floor is substantially lower than that of McGlinchey, Brown, and Williams. Miami went to work in the third round by selecting wide receiver Equaniemous St. Brown, linebacker Josey Jewell, and safety Terrell Edumunds. I’m not as excited as #DraftTwitter is about these prospects but the law of averages suggests there could be a quality starter among them. Either way, they all should contribute on special teams immediately. If Brown can translate his considerable measurables into consistent production he could be a steal though he finds himself in a crowded receiver room. Jewell stands to be the first to play significant snaps out of the gate but CPGM is concerned about his ability to hold up in coverage. As I stated before the Dolphins were active in their rebuild trading Devante Parker who never realized his potential in Miami, Tony Lippett, William Hayes as well as the aforementioned Juwan James for future draft pick considerations and players including: 2019 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks as well as Jake Butt from Denver, Cam Irving, and Jehu Chesson from Kansas City. Despite not acquiring a potential replacement for Ryan Tannehill the Dolphins have taken major steps towards the healing process as they aim to rebuild over the course of the next two seasons. Working themselves out of cap purgatory is an achievement in of itself. However, I’m just not that thrilled about their haul in the third round. Still Payne, Okorafur, a couple decent veteran acquisitions and a host of future picks invoke optimism.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: B+
New York Jets @therealNFLguru
The Jets punted on the 2018 Draft Class opting to swing for the fences by trading for Odell Beckham Jr. A ballsy move considering that conventional wisdom suggested that the Jets were aiming to acquire one of the “top” quarterbacks in the draft. Instead as part of the three team trade that allowed the Jets to acquire the services of Beckham, New York added Blake Bortles to the quarterback mix. The Jets have struggled mightily to find a franchise signal-caller and decided this wasn’t the offseason to do so via the draft. Personally, I think Teddy Bridgewater gives you as good a chance to win as any of the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class but the addition of Bortles suggests that the Jets’ brass isn’t sold on the former Vikings QB. New York deserves a lot of credit for adding one of the pre-eminent playmakers in the NFL but with so many needs and having been largely inactive throughout free agency despite having an abundance of cap room; my excitement over the OBJ acquisition is tempered.
CPGM Juice’s Grade: C
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