AFC Draft Grades for Each Division
Call grades and mock drafts worthless, but it's necessary to take a glimpse at each team's talents and see how it ranks among each other.
The 2018 NFL Draft was huge in terms of interesting picks, trades and storylines.
Here are my grades for the AFC, crowning the winners and losers of each division"
Picks: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall), Ohio State CB Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall), Nevada OG Austin Corbett (No. 33 overall), Georgia RB Nick Chubb (No. 35 overall), Miami DE Chad Thomas (No. 67 overall), Florida WR Antonio Callaway (No. 105 overall), Memphis LB Genard Avery (No. 150 overall), Texas A&M WR Damion Ratley (No. 175 overall), Louisiana-Lafayette CB Simeon Thomas (No. 188 overall)
Is it shocking that the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield at No. 1? Yes, but it’s not all that surprising. What better pair are you going to find than Mayfield and the Browns? Both are underdogs with a lot to prove this season. Passing up on Bradley Chubb and taking cornerback Denzel Ward at the No. 4 pick is questionable, yet understandable being that the Browns were among the worst pass defense in the league last year. Where they fell, however, is taking OG Austin Corbett instead of a guy like Conor Williams or Will Hernandez at the top of the second. The Browns got a steal with Nick Chubb in the second, and beyond that they improved their other positions with depth grabs.
Picks: South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst (No. 25 overall), Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall), Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown (No. 83 overall), Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews (No. 86 overall), Alabama CB Anthony Averett (No. 118 overall), UCLA LB Kenny Young (No. 122 overall), New Mexico State WR Jaleel Scott (No. 132 overall), UCLA WR Jordan Lasley (No. 162 overall), Texas S DeShon Elliott (No. 190 overall), Wagner OT Greg Senat (No. 212 overall), Alabama C Bradley Bozeman (No. 215 overall), Ferris State DE Zach Sieler (No. 238 overall).
My goodness, what a draft the Ravens had over the weekend. Taking Hayden Hurst in the first, who has Zach Ertz-like talent was huge, but getting former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson was even better. Jackson fits exceptionally well in this system and could even replace the inconsistent Joe Flacco, who has just a year left of guaranteed salary.
Picking up sleepers like NMSU’s receiver Jaleel Scott, Texas safety Deshon Elliott and Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett were also big pickups. Not to mention, former UTEP linebacker Alvin Jones was also signed to the Ravens, probably as an immediate special teams utility man.
Picks: Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds (No. 28 overall), Oklahoma State WR James Washington (No. 60 overall), Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (No. 76 overall), Western Michigan OT Chukwuma Okorafor (No. 92 overall), Penn State S Marcus Allen (No. 148 overall), N.C. State RB Jaylen Samuels (No. 165 overall), Alabama DT Joshua Frazier (No. 246 overall).
What started out as a questionable draft for the Steelers, ended up looking sharp toward the end. When Pittsburgh drafted safety Terrell Edmunds at No. 28, there were a lot of question marks around the safety that could have easily be chosen in the second round.
However, picks like Oklahoma State’s receiver James Washington, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and N.C. State running back Jaylen Samuels might prove to be sleeper choices. Samuels, who El Paso saw in the Sun Bowl this past year, was drafted as a tight end, so it might be interesting to see him be a hybrid tailback/tight end.
Picks: Ohio State C/OG Billy Price (No. 21 overall), Wake Forest S Jessie Bates (No. 54 overall), Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard (No. 77 overall), Texas LB Malik Jefferson (No. 78 overall), Miami RB Mark Walton (No. 112 overall), Illinois State DB Davontae Harris (No. 151 overall), Virginia DT Andrew Brown (No. 158 overall), Western Michigan CB Darius Phillips (No. 170 overall), Toledo QB Logan Woodside (No. 249 overall), Mississippi OG Rod Taylor (No. 252 overall), Florida State WR Auden Tate (No. 253 overall).
Throughout the draft, Cincinnati took some questionable gambles that might come back to bite them. They took Ohio State lineman Billy Price in the first, even though Price suffered a pectoral injury this off-season and was a questionable first round choice.
Some positives are grabbing Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson, who at this time last year was projected to go No. 1 overall before having a sub-par season in the fall. The Bengals took Toledo’s highly underrated quarterback Logan Woodside late in the draft, which might turn out to be the only one to pan out in this draft.
Picks: Wyoming QB Josh Allen (No. 7 overall), Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds (No. 16 overall), Stanford DT Harrison Phillips (No. 96 overall), Weber State DB Taron Johnson (No. 121 overall), Jacksonville State DB Siran Neal (No. 154 overall), Virginia Tech OG Wyatt Teller (No. 166 overall), Clemson WR Ray-Ray McCloud (No. 187 overall), North Carolina WR Austin Proehl (No. 255 overall).
Although he received a lot of praise for being the most NFL built quarterback, a lot of people continue to have doubts on quarterback Josh Allen, who the Bills liked so much they traded up for him. They traded again in the first for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who could morph into a good pass-rushing linebacker.
But beyond that, the Bills didn’t prioritize their immediate needs early in the draft, including some depth on the offensive line, defensive line, or more help at the receiver spot.
New England Patriots
Draft picks: Georgia OT Isaiah Wynn (No. 23 overall), Georgia RB Sony Michel (No. 31 overall), Florida CB Duke Dawson (No. 56 overall), Purdue LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (No. 143 overall), Arizona State LB Christian Sam (No. 178 overall), Miami WR Braxton Berrios (No. 210 overall), LSU QB Danny Etling (No. 219 overall), Western Carolina DB Keion Crossen (No. 243 overall), Florida State TE Ryan Izzo (No. 250 overall).
There’s a lot to like out of the x-factor filled draft the Patriots compiled. Many predicted New England would snatch a quarterback early on, but instead they developed different trades to potentially set up future picks.
In the first round, the Patriots grabbed two talented players in Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn and Georgia running back Sony Michel. Picks like ASU linebacker Christian Sam, wide receiver Braxton Berrios and Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo could all make immediate help as x-factor athletes that only Bill Belichick could harvest.
New York Jets
Draft picks: USC QB Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall), Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd (No. 72 overall), Miami TE Christopher Herndon (No. 107 overall), Tulane CB Parry Nickerson (No. 179 overall), Connecticut DT Folorunso Fatukasi (No. 180 overall), Virginia State RB Trenton Cannon (No. 204 overall).
Beyond the steal of USC quarterback Sam Darnold at third overall, the Jets fell short of snatching any dazzling players for their roster. On paper, Darnold looks like he can mold into a good, not great, quarterback from the get-go. If he plays at a high caliber, this draft’s grade could eventually be known as a great one.
Nonetheless, the Jets didn’t find an answer to their disparity on the offensive line, nor found a pass rusher to help them out.
Draft picks: Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 11 overall), Penn State TE Mike Gesicki (No. 42 overall), Ohio State LB Jerome Baker (No. 73 overall), Notre Dame TE Durham Smythe (No. 123 overall), Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage (No. 131 overall), Southern Mississippi S Cornell Armstrong (No. 209 overall), Ohio LB Quentin Polling (No. 227 overall), New Mexico K Jason Sanders (No. 229 overall).
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is safe once again, as Miami chooses to draft help in its skill players instead of finding a new franchise quarterback in the draft. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is a nice grab for their secondary, and Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker can mold into some great help defensively, but questions still linger offensively.
ASU running back Kalen Ballage could carry a hefty load on his plate beyond the seasoned Frank Gore at tailback.
Picks: Stanford S Justin Reid (No. 68 overall), Mississippi State OT Martinas Rankin (No. 80 overall), UCF TE Jordan Akins (No. 98 overall), Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee (No. 103 overall), Wake Forest LB Duke Ejiofor (No. 177 overall), Mississippi State TE Jordan Thomas (No. 211 overall), Stanford LB Peter Kalambayi (No. 214 overall), San Jose State CB Jermaine Kelly (No. 222 overall).
Deshaun Watson needed to get some help this off-season on the offensive front, and it wasn’t until the Texans’ second pick they addressed problems on the line—granted, Stanford safety Justin Reid was a steal in the third round. Nonetheless, Houston has too many problems on their line to simply grab Mississippi State’s Martinas Rankin, who can actually play multiple positions on the line.
Keeping Texas Tech wideout Keke Coutee in Texas was a smart choice, and drafting two tight ends to help out Watson could also pan out down the line.
Draft picks: Alabama LB Rashaan Evans (No. 22 overall), Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry (No. 41 overall), Arizona S Dane Cruikshank (No. 152 overall), Washington State QB Luke Falk (No. 199 overall).
For the amount of picks the Titans had, they seemed to make a decent attempt to make the best of it, especially drafting Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, who can stop the run and rush the quarterback exceptionally well.
Taking Boston College linebacker Harold Landry will keep a consistent pass rush, while the pickup of Washington State quarterback Luke Falk could end up being handy, with a dual-threat quarterback like Marcus Mariota that takes pretty big hits.
Picks: Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson (No. 6 overall), South Carolina State LB Darius Leonard (No. 36 overall), Auburn OG Braden Smith (No. 37 overall), Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay (No. 52 overall), Ohio State DE Tyquan Lewis (No. 64 overall), N.C. State RB Nyheim Hines (No. 104 overall), Northern Iowa WR Daurice Fountain (No. 159 overall), Mississippi RB Jordan Wilkins (No. 169 overall), Clemson WR Deon Cain (No. 185 overall), Houston LB Matthew Adams (No. 221 overall), Syracuse LB Zaire Franklin (No. 235 overall).
The Colts worked to get the most protection for their prized possession of Andrew Luck, and it was evident in the early rounds of the draft. NFL experts and scouts are already crowning Quenton Nelson one of the best products of the draft, while Auburn guard Braden Smith may also help them up front.
Picking up N.C. State running back Nyheim Hines and Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain could be the target players the Colts need on offense.
Picks: Florida DT Taven Bryan (No. 29 overall), LSU WR D.J. Chark (No. 61 overall), Alabama S Ronnie Harrison (No. 93 overall), N.C. State OT Will Richardson (No. 129 overall), Nebraska QB Tanner Lee (No. 203 overall), Wisconsin LB Leon Jacobs (No. 230 overall), Mississippi State P Logan Cooke (No. 247 overall).
The Jaguars passed up on top-tier talent too many times on the clock. They started by drafting an on-the-fence run stopper in Taven Bryan, who might not even see too much playing time on a strong Jacksonville defense. Instead of addressing the receiver disparity, the Jags took a quarterback and a punter late in the draft.
Picks: N.C. State edge rusher Bradley Chubb (No. 5 overall), SMU WR Courtland Sutton (No. 40 overall), Oregon RB Royce Freeman (No. 71 overall), Boston College DB Isaac Yiadom (No. 99 overall), Iowa LB Josey Jewell (No. 106 overall), Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton (No. 113 overall), Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli (No. 156 overall), Arizona State OG Sam Jones (No. 183 overall), Washington LB Keishawn Bierria (No. 217 overall), Arkansas RB David Williams (No. 226 overall).
Picture this: Bradley Chubb and Von Miller sharing the defense together and rushing quarterbacks. That’s a scary thought. Adding SMU wideout Coutland Sutton, Oregon Royce Freeman and Penn State DaeSean Hamilton are all great pickups for the team offensively.
They showed that they are confident in quarterback Case Keenum to lead the way for the Broncos by not drafting a quarterback as well.
Picks: UCLA OT Kolton Miller (No. 15 overall), Sam Houston State DT P.J. Hall (No. 57 overall), North Carolina A&T OT Brandon Parker (No. 65 overall), LSU DE Arden Key (No. 87 overall), Wisconsin CB Nick Nelson (No. 110 overall), Michigan DT Maurice Hurst (No. 140 overall), Florida P Johnny Townsend (No. 173 overall), Washington LB Azeem Victor (No. 216 overall), Oklahoma State WR Marcell Ateman (No. 228 overall).
It might not be necessarily what the Raiders drafted, but who they picked up during the draft that made their weekend so bright. They traded for two receivers in Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer, from Pittsburgh and Dallas, respectively, who could each help Derek Carr a lot.
UCLA tackle Kolton Miller may have been drafted a little too early and the Raiders took big gambles by drafting LSU’s Arden Key and Michigan’s Maurice Hurst for their defensive front, but they might be banking that one works out better than the other.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: Mississippi LB Breeland Speaks (No. 46 overall), Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi (No. 75 overall), Clemson LB Dorian O'Daniel (No. 100 overall), Texas A&M S Armani Watts (No. 124 overall), Central Arkansas CB Tremon Smith (No. 196 overall), Tennessee OG Kahlil McKenzie (No. 198 overall).
It was all defensive pickups for the Chiefs, who were without a first round pick after trading last year for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They got a steal out of Texas A&M safety Armani Watts, who could’ve easily been chosen earlier.
Los Angeles Chargers
Picks: Florida State S Derwin James (No. 17 overall), USC LB Uchenna Nwosu (No. 48 overall), N.C. State DT Justin Jones (No. 84 overall), West Virginia S/LB Kyzir White (No. 119 overall), UCLA C Scott Quessenberry (No. 155 overall), Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell (No. 191 overall), Northwestern RB Justin Jackson (No. 251 overall).
The Chargers, like the Chiefs, capitalized early on defensive players to add depth to their roster. Florida State’s Derwin James can help their secondary woes, while N.C. State nose tackle Justin Jones could be a run-stopper that works his way into a starter.
Los Angeles didn’t draft a quarterback to go along with Geno Smith and Cardale Jones as a backup, and did not grab any guard or tackle for depth purposes.