Let’s face it, grading the draft at this early stage is nearly impossible. Every expert can give their opinions and attempt to grade it, but there is really no way of knowing anything for a good three years or so. People calling Ryan Tannehill a reach at #8 could certainly be right if he is still riding the bench in three years, and they could be horribly wrong when he is one of the best starters in the league. We have no idea.
But another way to look at the draft is to not only look at what your team did, but at what the rivals did as well. Trying to figure out how you compare to the teams you will see twice every year is really the best how to measure how solid your draft was. With that, here are the draft classes of the Patriots, Jets, Bills and of course Dolphins, along with a few thoughts.
New England Patriots
1a. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
1b. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
2. Tavon Wilson, SS, Illinois
3. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
6. Nate Ebner, CB, Ohio State
7. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
7. Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern
Best Pick: Alfonzo Dennard. This is a kid who was at one time considered a first-round talent. He had a rough combine and some off the field issues to deal with but the fact that he fell all the way to the seventh round is unbelievable. The Patriots got incredible value with this selection. He has the skills to be a starter early in his career, something that is almost never said about a seventh round pick. Dennard is a solid tackler and can also play press coverage better than many corners in the draft.
Worst Pick: Tavon Wilson. Not that Wilson isn’t talented, but the Patriots reached a bit for him, as he was considered by most to be a 3rd-4th round talent at best. He could end up being a starting safety in the league, but you want value in the second round and this isn’t value.
Thoughts: What do you do when you have the worst defense in the league? You stock up on defense and that is exactly what the Patriots did in this draft. Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones should step in from day one and contribute. As already mentioned, getting Dennard in the seventh round was a steal and could also contribute early. Bill Belichek got away from his usual draft strategy and traded up twice; he knew what the teams weakness was and addressed it several times. However, he has missed on several second and third selections in recent years so we will need to wait and see.
New York Jets
1. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
2. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
3. Demario Davis, OLB, Arkansas State
6. Josh Bush, CB, Wake Forest
6. Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor
6. Robert T. Griffin, OT, Baylor
7. Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
7. Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan
Best Pick: Stephen Hill. I didn’t think Hill should have fallen out of the first round but teams were obviously scared of his lack of elite production, even knowing that he came from a triple option offense and still was able to produce solid numbers. Hill is 6’5, has great speed and just needs a little polishing. I think it is very possible for Hill to become the best WR out of this class. The Jets needed a vertical threat and they got him.
Worst Pick: Quinton Coples. Tough to justify taking a pass rusher in the first round that completely disappeared this past season. The Jets had other pass rushing options at this pick, including Whitney Mercilus, Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones and Courtney Upshaw, all of whom I believe will make better pros than Coples will. I would’ve assumed with the horrible experience that was Vernon Gholston, the Jets would have shyed away from players that take plays off and disappear for long periods of time, but I guess not.
Thoughts: I’m not extremely impressed by this draft. Stephen Hill is really the only possible elite player I see as a long-term Jet. Demario Davis will more than likely be a solid starter but I’m not thinking the next Ray Lewis here. Hill could be elite but I don’t see Coples doing anything more than flaming out in the NFL. The later round picks addressed some needs, but we will have to see how Ganaway and Allen turn out.