With the NFL draft being over, now is the time to make irrational decisions on grades regarding the Patriots, and division rivals. I don’t think any of the moves made by the Jets, Bills, or Dolphins put them over the Pats, but they all (okay, three out of the four) had solid draft hauls. Here are my grades:
New York Jets
If the Jets want to keep pace with the Patriots, they are going to have to score points. It doesn’t matter if Tom Brady doesn’t have the kinds of weapons he has had in the past, he will find ways to light up the scoreboard. So New York went out and added some solid offensive weapons for Geno Smith (or Michael Vick). I loved tight end Jace Amaro, and I really wanted the Pats to snatch him up. But Rex Ryan and company got to him first, and New England will have a tough time covering him over the next couple of years. They also added safety Calvin Pryor, who will help shore up the safety position, and add a physical presence to their defensive backfield.
The Bills know that they are going to have to take some chances if they want to make a run at the division crown, and boy did they ever by trading up for wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the first round. Watkins was the best playmaker available in this year’s draft, and he will really help E.J. Manuel and company put points on the board. Adding Cyrus Kouandjio was also a good move, although he will have to learn how to pass block much better if he wants to stay around in this league. Overall it was a good draft, but they will still be fighting to stay out of the AFC East cellar in 2014.
New England Patriots
I have been talking about the Pats draft picks for what seems like the past two weeks, so breaking down their draft is pretty easy. It wasn’t flashy, but it was productive. They made sure the interior of their offensive line had quality depth, and potential starters for years to come. They also got a good player in James White, who will carve out a nice niche in that Pats offensive backfield behind Stevan Ridley, and Shane Vereen. The best pick however, was the selection of defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the first round. Easley is an explosive interior pass rusher, and assuming his knees will be okay, he will add an element of pass rush to this New England defense that hasn’t been there in years.
I am trying to be extremely objective when I say this Dolphins draft class stinks. I am not sold on offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, their first round pick, and to be quite honest, I’m not a big fan of Jarvis Landry’s game either. The Dolphins need some explosion, and real quality talent added to their team if they want to get over the hump and beat the Patriots, and they didn’t add anyone like that in this draft. I like the foundation of this team, but they still have a long way to go.