2019 NFL Season Preview: AFC East Edition

Is this the year that the New England Patriots finally give up the division title? No, obviously.

As a part of our preparation for the upcoming NFL season, my fellow FTS Writer Adam Simkowitz and I decided to dive deep into every teams’ offseason, picking the most interesting players and storylines to follow this season. Accompanying these players and storylines are draft class summaries, teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and record predictions. We’ll release two AFC and NFC division previews per week, and we decided to kick it off with the eastern divisions.

Buffalo Bills

2019 Draft Grade: A- – In this past draft, the Bills were lucky enough to have Ed Oliver (DT/DE) fall to them at #9. I really like Cody Ford (OT), their second-round pick, who successfully protected Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s respective blindsides for the past two years. I could also see Dawson Knox (TE) becoming a productive starter in the league. Between Devin Singletary (RB), Vosean Joseph (LB), and Jaquan Johnson (S), there will be at least two future starters from that group. However, that may not be the case for this season. This was a fantastic draft from the rebuilding Bills. As of right now, Ed Oliver and Cody Ford are the two from this class that are slotted to start immediately.

Player to Watch: Josh Allen, Quarterback – Okay, look. I’m not saying Josh Allen is a good quarterback. I’ll be the first to criticize him when he overthrows Cole Beasley by 10 feet on an underneath route. However, he might be the most entertaining quarterback to watch; aside from Lamar Jackson. Allen is a surprisingly fast, high-flying QB with an insanely powerful arm. Watching him play quarterback is like watching Michael Vick in Brock Osweiler’s body. I think it’ll be an interesting year for Allen; we’ll see how his style of play changes once defenses figure out his game.

Positional Strengths: Defensive Line, Secondary

Positional Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back

Projected Record: 6-10

Miami Dolphins

2019 Draft Grade: C+ – The Dolphins didn’t have a ton of picks this year. With their two Top-100 picks, they elected to stay in the trenches with Christian Wilkins (DT) and Michael Deiter(LG). I appreciate the Dolphins draft strategy though; linemen are the first position that you want to draft when beginning a rebuild. Wilkins and Deiter will be week one starters, but outside of that, the only production that’ll be seen from this draft class is from Andrew Van Ginkel (LB), who’ll showcase his athleticism on special teams.

Player to Watch: Charles Harris, Edge Rusher – I’m going to keep it simple here. This is a make-it or break-it season for Charles Harris. That will come as a surprise to approximately zero Dolphins fans, as they’ve had to watch their former first-round edge rusher rack up THREE total sacks in his first two seasons as a pro. However, Harris has looked relatively dominant thus far in preseason action. This is the season to prove that he belongs in the NFL. His offensive-minded head coach Adam Gase is in New York now, and he was replaced by Brian Flores, who coached linebackers in New England. Now that he has a favorable coaching staff and plenty of opportunity for this rebuilding defense, he either needs to put up or shut up this season.

Positional Strengths: Cornerback

Positional Weaknesses: Pretty much every position except for cornerback.

Projected Record: 2-14

New York Jets

2019 Draft Grade: B+ – I have mixed feelings about the Jets’ 2019 draft class. I absolutely love Quinnen Williams (DT). I think he’ll be great right off the bat; he’s one of my favorite bets for defensive rookie of the year. Outside of Williams though, I kind of hate the rest of the New York draft class. Third round picks Jachai Polite (EDGE) has had a subpar preseason so far, and Chuma Edoga (OT) understandably won’t be an immediate starter for them. I think Quinnen Williams’ success will likely overshadow the rest of the class’s shortcomings.

Player to Watch: Jamal Adams, Safety – Jamal Adams is one of the two defensive players that I expect to leap into Superstar-Dom this season. This offseason has been an onslaught of praise and good reports for Adams, from offering to switch positions to staying hours after a preseason game just to sign autographs and take pictures. He was Pro Football Focus’s 2nd highest-graded safety last year, and this year I expect him to solidify himself as one of the league’s premier safeties.

Positional Strengths: Skill Positions

Positional Weaknesses: Offensive Line

Projected Record: 8-8

New England Patriots

2019 Draft Grade: A – Although I didn’t love the selection of N’Keal Harry (WR) with the 32nd pick in this past year’s draft, I still love the Patriots draft class. Their draft class was mostly about building depth on their lines, both defensive and offensive. They had a stronghold on picks in this draft too, so it’s likely that rookies will see more action than they did last year. Last year, the Patriots ranked in the bottom two of the NFL in terms of rookie playing time. This is due both to a season-ending injury to their first-round pick, Isaiah Wynn, and Bill Belichick’s general coaching philosophy of playing mid-level veterans over rookies. According to their current unofficial depth chart, none of the current rookies surpass the third string. I would bet that Harry, JoeJuan Williams (CB/S), Chase Winovich (EDGE), and Byron Cowart (DT) will all see playing time this season. I included Winovich and Cowart because of rave reviews from training camp, and dominant performances in the preseason.

Players to Watch: The Entire Offensive Line – Okay, this probably needs an explanation. Later in this preview, I’ll talk a little bit more in-depth about Tom Brady’s situation this year. And to be honest, there aren’t that many more big personalities or entertaining players on the Patriots. Wow, I wonder why they’ve won 5 championships since 2001… So I picked their offensive line. They have the unarguably best offensive line coach in the NFL, Dante Scarnecchia, and with the addition of Isaiah Wynn, this might be the most talented group New England has had since the late 2000s. They have a group of monsters up there, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots continue the ground-and-pound approach that they switched to mid-season last year. I think it could be a big year for their running game, and they’ll do a great job of protecting their 42-year-old quarterback.

Positional Strengths: Offensive Line, Quarterback, Linebacker, Secondary

Positional Weaknesses: Tight End

Projected Record: 12-4

Storylines to Watch:

Tom Brady vs. Father Time (And the Patriots?): This will be one of the leading storylines of the AFC East’s season no matter what. Personally, I hate to bet against time, because time is undefeated. But here’s an interesting fact: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time, and he won a Super Bowl at age 41. So I’m betting on Tom Brady. I think he’ll be as efficient as ever, even if that means not throwing the ball down the field as often. However, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens if Brady slows down this season. A few weeks ago, the Patriots restructured Brady’s contract, giving him a ton of money this year, but giving the Patriots the ability to cut him with minimal financial repercussions after this season. Essentially, if Brady doesn’t play to a certain level this season, there’s a chance he gets cut, then retires. I don’t think it’s likely, but anything can happen.

Second Year Quarterbacks: Here is a very likely scenario:It’s Week 5, and three 2018 top-ten picks are starting quarterbacks for 75% of the AFC East. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are clearly starters for the Jets and Bills, respectively, but Josh Rosen has to win the Dolphins’ starting job from the ageless and seemingly magical Ryan Fitzpatrick. I cannot confirm this, but that will probably be the first time that three Top-Ten QBs’ from the same draft class are starting in the same division. Twitter will be all over this, and it’ll turn into a year-long comparison of these three guys. That is all I have to say about that. Oh, and my rankings of those QBs are: 1. Sam Darnold …………………………………………………2a. Josh Rosen, 2b. Josh Allen.

ALL-Division Team

QB – Tom Brady, NE

RB: Le’Veon Bell, NYJ RB: James White, NE

FB: James Devlin, NE

WR: Julian Edelman, NE WR: Robby Anderson, NYJ

TE: Chris Herndon, NYJ

OT: Laremy Tunsil, MIA OT: Marcus Cannon, NE

OG: Shaq Mason, NE OG: Joe Thuney, NE

C: David Andrews, NE

EDGE: Jerry Hughes, BUF EDGE: Leonard Williams, NYJ

DL: Ed Oliver, BUF DL: Quinnen Williams, NYJ

LB: C.J. Mosley, NYJ LB: Dont’a Hightower, NE

LB: Tremaine Edmunds, BUF LB: Kyle Van Noy, NE

CB: Stephon Gilmore, NE CB: Xaiven Howard, MIA

S: Jamal Adams, NYJ S: Devin McCourty, NE

DB: Micah Hyde, BUF DB: Tre’Davious White, BUF

K: Stephen Gostkowski, NE P: Matt Haack, MIA

Roughing the Caster Episode #1: NFL Draft Recap and Reactions

It’s a little late, but here’s the inaugural episode of FTS Sports’ main podcast. In this episode, FTS writers Adam Simkowitz and Dylan White give their immediate reactions to the 2019 NFL Draft. This includes their favorite and least favorite picks from the draft, and the teams who won and lost this year’s draft. It’s only 30 minutes so it’s a quick, easy, and condensed listen!

2019 NFL Draft Grades: Full Team-by-Team Analysis – NFC Edition

In a surprising turn of events, Dave Gettleman and Dan Snyder may have been two of this year’s draft winners. The same can’t be said for the Houston Texans.

Some draft analysts argue that immediate draft reactions are useless. I disagree with that. I believe that there is value in assessing a combination of how a team filled its positional needs relative to the value of the pick that the player was selected. For example, if the Falcons had a dire need for edge-rushing talent, then selected edge rushers in the sixth and seventh rounds, they did not get enough value for a positional need. This would result in a lower grade. So obviously, these teams’ grades will lean more on how the teams drafted early.

See my AFC Draft Analysis here.

It’s clearly impossible to truly tell who the winners of the draft are the day after it ended, so I wouldn’t normally put a lot of weight into immediate analysis. But I’m right about this stuff, I swear.

Arizona Cardinals: A+

  • Round 1 (1): Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma – A+
  • Round 2 (33): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington – A+
  • Round 2 (62): Andy Isabella, WR, UMass – A
  • Round 3 (65): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College – A-
  • Round 4 (103): Hakeem Butler, WR, Arizona State – B
  • Round 5 (139): Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama – A
  • Round 6 (174): KeeSean Johnson, WR, Fresno State – A
  • Round 6 (179): Lamont Gallard, C, Georgia – A
  • Round 7 (248): Joshua Miles, OT, Morgan State – C
  • Round 7 (249): Michael Dogbe, DE, Temple – C
  • Round 7 (254): Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA – A

The Cardinals by far had the flashiest draft this year. Almost every pick saw either huge college production or huge athletic numbers this past year. The Cardinals are a team with a lot of holes in their roster, so their clear strategy of selecting the best player available will hopefully work out for them. They drafted three extremely polarizing wide receiver prospects this year. It’s going to be interesting to see how they mesh with Kyler Murray, perhaps the most polarizing overall prospect in the draft. Not only did they find value early after selecting my CB1 in the second round, but they also found tons of value late, Lamont Gallard, Caleb Wilson, and KeeSean Johnson are three of my favorite late-round picks this year. This could be a franchise-altering draft for Arizona. The only concern is that they didn’t address their putrid offensive line until late, which could delay their rebuild.

Atlanta Falcons: C+

  • Round 1 (14): Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College – B+
  • Round 1 (31): Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington – B+
  • Round 4 (111): Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State – C
  • Round 4 (135): John Cominsky, DE, Charleston – C
  • Round 5 (152): Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh – C-
  • Round 5 (172): Jordan Miller, CB, Washington – C
  • Round 6 (203): Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe – C

The Falcons had one of the stranger draft classes this year. They reached for Chris Lindstrom, who was almost universally graded as a late first-early second rounder. They traded back into the first round to select Kaleb McGary, who I also thought was a bona fide second rounder. They didn’t add anyone to their pass rush until late in the fourth round, which is an area of concern for them.

Carolina Panthers: A-

  • Round 1 (16): Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State – A
  • Round 2 (37): Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss – A
  • Round 3 (100): Will Grier, QB, West Virginia – B+
  • Round 4 (115): Christian Miller, LB, Alabama – B+
  • Round 5 (154): Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida – B
  • Round 6 (212): Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina – C
  • Round 7 (237): Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia – C

The Panthers were the true beneficiaries of the surplus of pass-rushing talent in this year’s draft. In almost any other class, Brian Burns almost certainly would have been drafted in the Top 12. He’s an athletic unicorn with somewhat refined pass-rush moves, and he has a high motor. Greg Little is another prospect that I love. Per PFF, Little allowed 26 total pressures and three sacks in 993 pass-blocking snaps over his past two seasons. He’s been consistently productive, has no major injury concerns, and no athletic red flags. He’s perfect for a Carolina O-Line that needs work. The third-round selection of Will Grier could be hit-or-miss for Carolina. He has an incredible arm, but his feet and decision-making are iffy. He has great poise, and his issues are definitely fixable. With Cam Newton’s status up in the air for this season and no real backup, Grier is a good pick.

Chicago Bears: D+

  • Round 3 (73): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State – B+
  • Round 4 (126): Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia – B+
  • Round 6 (205): Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State – C
  • Round 7 (222): Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, FAU – C
  • Round 7 (238): Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State – C

The Bears had very few selections due to the Khalil Mack trade, which is a problem I’m sure they’re content with. David Montgomery is a great between-the-tackles runner (Tarik Cohen is not.), and he’ll serve as a good two-down runner for them. Riley Ridley is a pass catcher that slid in this draft, probably due to athletic limitations and average college production. I still believe he’ll be productive for the Bears, although their depth chart at receiver is a little clogged up right now.

Dallas Cowboys: C

  • Round 2 (58): Trysten Hill, DT, UCF – C
  • Round 3 (90): Connor McGovern, G, Penn State – B
  • Round 4 (128): Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis – C
  • Round 5 (158): *Michael Jackson, CB, Miami – B
  • Round 5 (165): Joe Jackson, DE, Miami – B
  • Round 6 (213): Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M – C
  • Round 7 (218): Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State – B
  • Round 7 (241): Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon – B

This may be my least favorite draft class from this year. Although Trysten Hill will likely become a starter on the Dallas D-Line in a couple years, I still feel like they reached for him at 58. It does fill a positional need for them, with the bizarre, seemingly substance-influenced surprise retirement of David Irving this offseason. Connor McGovern was a solid player at Penn State, and Jason Garrett will be able to move him throughout the interior of his offensive line in the future. Past that, I don’t see a ton of impact from their late-round players, except for some potential from Michael Jackson, the defensive back from Miami.

Detroit Lions: C+

  • Round 1 (8): TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa – A-
  • Round 2 (43): Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii – D+
  • Round 3 (81): Will Harris, S, Boston College – B
  • Round 4 (117): Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson – B
  • Round 5 (146): Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State – A
  • Round 6 (184): Travis Fulgham, WR, Old Dominion – C
  • Round 6 (186): Ty Johnson, RB, Maryland – C
  • Round 7 (224): Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia – C
  • Round 7 (229): P.J. Johnson, DT, Arizona – C

I didn’t exactly understand the game-plan with the Lions’ draft. I’m not going to argue the T.J. Hockenson pick, I think he’ll be a great pro, but they already put resources into the TE spot this offseason with the signing of Jesse James. They have needs at almost every defensive position, which I’m assuming explains the apparent overcorrection that followed Hockenson, drafting defensive players in rounds 2-5. I don’t love Jahlani Tavai, I never really saw anything that made him deserving of a second round pick, but I have no quarrels with the 3rd and 4th round picks of Harris and Bryant. A pick that I actually do like is of Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round, which I think is excellent value for a player of his caliber. I didn’t see any apparent reasons for his fall to the fifth, he put up good production in coverage and performed fine in his workouts. Overall, it was a confusing draft from the Lions.

Green Bay Packers: A-

  • Round 1 (12): Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan – B-
  • Round 1 (21): Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland – A
  • Round 2 (44): Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State – A
  • Round 3 (75): Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M – A-
  • Round 5 (150): Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M – A
  • Round 6 (185): Ka’Dar Hollman, CB, Toledo – C
  • Round 6 (194): Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame – C
  • Round 7 (226): Ty Summers, LB, TCU – C

Despite all of the negative press surrounding the Packers’ selection of Rashan Gary, I kind of love their draft class. Even if Gary doesn’t pan out, they still may have built the most dangerous young secondary in the NFL, adding Darnell Savage Jr. to a secondary with Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos, and Josh Jackson. Stealing Elgton Jenkins from the Saints in Round 2 was one of the more underrated moves from the draft, and adding Kingsley Keke to their already-dominant defensive line was a great move. Jace Sternberger was one of my higher-rated tight ends in this class, he has one of the more refined route trees in this year’s loaded class. Overall, the Packers added serious firepower to their defense, and they gave Aaron Rodgers another weapon at tight end.

Los Angeles Rams: A+

  • Round 2 (61): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington – A
  • Round 3 (70): Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis – A-
  • Round 3 (79): David Long, CB, Michigan – A+
  • Round 3 (97): Bobby Evans, OT/OG, Oklahoma – A
  • Round 4 (134): Greg Gaines, DT, Washington – A
  • Round 5 (169): David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin – A-
  • Round 6 (243): Nick Scott, S, Penn State – C
  • Round 7 (251): Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech – C

The Rams maximized the values of their respective picks this year. They drafted secondary early, added another playmaker to their electric offense, added depth to their defensive line, and added depth and versatility to their offensive line. My philosophy for building winning football roster goes something like this: When you already have a quarterback, the next most important thing is bolstering your linemen on both sides, and being able to cover on defense. The Rams did exactly this in their draft. I love Taylor Rapp’s versatility on defense, although his strong suit is in the box. Darrell Henderson averaged an insane 8.9 YPC over his last two seasons at Memphis, his explosiveness will be properly utilized in Sean McVay’s offense. David Long is an undersized corner out of Michigan, but his production, instinct, and cover skills will make him a valuable part of the Los Angeles defense. I see him having a similar impact to what Desmond King does for the Chargers, or more realistically what Jourdan Lewis does for Dallas.

Minnesota Vikings: B-

  • Round 1 (18): Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State – A
  • Round 2 (50): Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama – B-
  • Round 3 (102): Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State – C
  • Round 4 (114): Dru Samia, OG, Oklahoma – C
  • Round 5 (162): Cameron Smith, LB, USC – C
  • Round 6 (190): Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas – B
  • Round 6 (191): Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming – C
  • Round 6 (193): Oli Udoh, OT, Elon – C+
  • Round 7 (217): Kris Boyd, CB, Texas – C
  • Round 7 (239): Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon – C
  • Round 7 (247): Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State – C
  • Round 7 (250): Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force – B

It’s rare that a non-playoff team has few holes to fill come draft day. It’s not rare when a roster stages a mutiny on its offensive coordinator, and when their offensive line and defense is ravaged by injuries. The Vikings have the second worst offensive line out of any team over .500 from this past year, second to the Texans. I would’ve been happy for the Vikings if they had selected an offensive lineman with every pick in this draft. That (obviously) didn’t happen, and they rolled with Garrett Bradbury in the first round. Although interior linemen aren’t nearly as valuable as tackles, I like Bradbury as the 18th pick in the draft. Irv Smith Jr. is an understandable pick in the second round. Kirk Cousins historically works well with athletic tight ends, and he’s yet to have one in Minnesota. None of their later round picks stand out to me, but I do like Armon Watts out of Arkansas.

New Orleans Saints: C+

  • Round 2 (48): Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M – B
  • Round 4 (105): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida – A
  • Round 6 (177): Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers – C
  • Round 7 (231): Alizé Mack, TE, Notre Dame – C
  • Round 7 (244): Kaen Eliss, LB, Idaho – C

With a lack of picks due to the Marcus Davenport trade, the Saints had few opportunities to address their team needs. After Max Unger’s surprise retirement, center was the highest priority for the Saints. They picked a center, Erik McCoy with their first pick, a player that I think has a bright future. The stopped the slide of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round, a safety with little experience and subpar instincts.

New York Giants: B (Excluding Daniel Jones: A+)

  • Round 1 (6): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – D+
  • Round 1 (17): Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson – B
  • Round 1 (30): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia – A
  • Round 3 (95): Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion –A
  • Round 4 (108): Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame – A
  • Round 5 (143): Ryan Connelly, LB, Wisconsin – C
  • Round 5 (171): Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn – C
  • Round 6 (180): Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn – A-
  • Round 7 (232): George Asafo-Adjei, OT, Kentucky – C
  • Round 7 (245): Chris Slayton, DT, Syracuse – C

I see the Giants’ draft class in two different respects. There is a clear good and a clear bad side. Here’s the good side: I think that they built an extremely strong foundation to their defense, rebuilding their aging secondary with Deandre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine. Dexter Lawrence II is another player that I think will be a difference-maker for their defense, although I don’t really know how valuable a 340 pound, run-stuffing DT is these days. (See: Damon Harrison Trade) Oshane Ximines was one of my favorite picks in the third round, he was an extremely productive player in college, even though his competition at Old Dominion may not have been too strong. Here’s the bad: Daniel Jones. I’ve never seen a pick that was more universally hated than Daniel Jones. It seems as if every expert, analyst, and general fan of football knows that Jones was a complete reach at pick six. I agree with these sentiments. Although he has the somewhat prototypical size for an NFL quarterback, he has severe concerns with accuracy. He also has a subpar arm, there’s rarely any ‘zip’ on his passes. It seems likely that David Gettleman may have wasted the sixth overall pick. It’s not a franchise-crippling pick though, due to their success in the later rounds.

Philadelphia Eagles: A-

  • Round 1 (22): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State – A+
  • Round 2 (53): Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State – B-
  • Round 2 (57): J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford – A-
  • Round 4 (138): Shareef Miller, EDGE, Penn State – B+
  • Round 5 (167): Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern – C+

The Eagles had a productive draft despite their lack of picks. They traded up in the first round to take offensive tackle Andre Dillard. Jumping ahead of the offensive-line needy Houston Texans was another savvy move by GM Howie Roseman. They swapped first-rounders with the Ravens, sending them back only three spots, so the compensation that they had to give for the 22nd pick wasn’t too bad (They gave up the 127th and 197th overall picks). Andre Dillard may be the second most NFL-ready tackle prospect behind Jonah Williams, he as ideal size and experience in a pass-happy offense at Washington State. In the second round, they added more offensive weapons to compliment Carson Wentz. This was a necessary move, their running back corps has been weak for years, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will be a red-zone target to draw attention from Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. Clayton Thorson will hopefully develop into a solid backup quarterback, and Shareef Miller will eventually serve as valuable pass-rushing depth.

San Francisco 49ers: B (Excluding Nick Bosa: D+)

  • Round 1 (2): Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State – A++
  • Round 2 (36): Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina – B
  • Round 3 (67): Jalen Hurd, WR/RB, Baylor – C-
  • Round 4 (110): Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah – C-
  • Round 5 (148): Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas – C
  • Round 6 (176): Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford – C
  • Round 6 (183): Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt – C
  • Round 6 (198): Tim Harris, CB, Virginia – C+

I have mixed opinions about the 49er’s draft. They were able to take Nick Bosa with the second pick, who I believe is the best player in this draft. I don’t really like the rest of their draft though. They needed offensive weapons to pair with Jimmy Garoppolo, but I think they could’ve drafted better talent than Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. The picks make sense, Kyle Shanahan runs a west-coast scheme that will normally have Garoppolo going through his progressions quickly, throwing a good amount of shallow, quick routes. Both Deebo Samuel and Hurd are crisp route-runners, and they produced mostly from the slot in college. Jalen Hurd is 6’4”, an absurd height for a slot receiver, it’ll be interesting how he’s able to separate early given his big frame. It’ll also be interesting to see if they both remain lined up in the slot in the NFL because picking two slot receivers with your second and third round selections don’t make a ton of sense value-wise. They picked a punter in the fourth round which is strange, but if John Lynch thinks he has the 49ers’ punter for the next 10 years, it’s not a bad pick.

Seattle Seahawks: B-

  • Round 1 (29): L.J. Collier, EDGE, TCU – B
  • Round 2 (47): Marquise Blair, S, Utah – B-
  • Round 2 (64): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss – A
  • Round 3 (88): Cody Barton, LB, Utah – C
  • Round 4 (120): Gary Jennings Jr., WR, West Virginia – B+
  • Round 4 (124): Phil Haynes, OG, Wake Forest – C
  • Round 4 (132): Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon – C
  • Round 5 (142): Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington – C
  • Round 6 (204): Travis Homer, RB, Miami – C
  • Round 6 (209): Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida State – B+
  • Round 7 (236): John Ursua, WR, Hawaii – C

I would question the selections of L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair if this was any team but the Seattle Seahawks. At first glance, I saw these selections as complete reaches. I thought of Collier as a mid to late second round pick, and Blair as a third. I then watched a solid amount of film on both of them, and my opinions changed. Collier has an extremely powerful first step, which is one of the more important qualities of a college pass-rusher. He has a solid variety of pass-rushing moves, and he displays the ability to counter. Marquise Blair is a linebacker in a safety’s body. He hits with reckless abandon, and his closing speed while defending the run is impressive. I think that Pete Carroll could turn him into one of the league’s best box safeties, if not converting him into a hybrid safety/SAM linebacker. D.K. Metcalf was one of the more highly-touted prospects coming into the draft. He has insane straight-line speed, but he has concerns with change of direction and footwork. His route-running will be questionable in the NFL, but he’s been blessed with Russell Wilson, who has turned Tyler Lockett and David Moore into elite-seeming players.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B

  • Round 1 (5): Devin White, LB, LSU – B+
  • Round 2 (39): Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan – B
  • Round 3 (94): Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn – B+
  • Round 3 (99): Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky – B+
  • Round 4 (107): Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Iowa – B
  • Round 5 (145): Matt Gay, K, Utah – C-
  • Round 6 (208): Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green – C
  • Round 7 (215): Terry Beckner, DT, Mississippi State – C

Tampa Bay came into this draft with a clear strategy: building a foundation for their defense. With the loss of Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes, their defense has been their priority for their entire offseason. They signed Shaq Barrett, made a splashy hire as Todd Bowles as their defensive coordinator, and used 6 of their 8 draft picks on their defense. Sean Bunting, Mike Edwards, and Anthony Nelson were relatively safe picks, they were productive in college and had solid workouts. Jamel Dean was one of the winners of this year’s combine, dominating almost every event. Overall, it was a productive draft for the Bucs, although their franchise turmoil will likely not end until they figure out the quarterback position, as this year is pretty much Jameis Winston’s last shot to prove himself as a franchise quarterback.

Washington Redskins: B+

  • Round 1 (15): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State – A+
  • Round 2 (26): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State – A
  • Round 3 (76): Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State – B
  • Round 4 (112): Bryce Love, RB, Stanford – C+
  • Round 5 (131): Wes Martin, OG, Indiana – C
  • Round 6 (153): Ross Pierschbacher, OG, Alabama – C
  • Round 7 (173): Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina – C
  • Round 6 (206): Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State – A
  • Round 6 (227): Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison – C
  • Round 6 (253): Jordan Brailford, DE, Oklahoma State – B+

The Redskins won this year’s award for Luckiest Team on draft night. They didn’t trade up for a quarterback (which they were rumored to do), and Dwayne Haskins fell into their lap. In my eyes, Haskins is the second most talented quarterback in this draft, behind Kyler Murray. He has an NFL-ready body, and he has the anticipation, timing, and arm talent necessary to become a franchise quarterback. They traded up for Montez Sweat and barring any career-threatening injuries, he could be one of the best picks of the draft. Sweat is undoubtedly the best athlete for his position in this class, and there are no limits on his potential in the league. It’s just a question of work ethic and motor with Sweat, both of which have never been problems for him. They added two offensive weapons to complement Haskins, but I’m not crazy about either of them. Terry McLaurin was the primary deep-pass receiver for the Buckeyes this past season and will be good with Haskins from a chemistry standpoint. I don’t love the selection of Bryce Love. Love was once a Heisman Hopeful who had his college career derailed by an ACL injury, and there have been several roadblocks on his path to recovery. I doubt that he will ever return to full strength.