2021 NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

Two of the AFC East teams will hope to have found their franchise quarterback for the next decade. The Dolphins had plenty of picks to work with, and they will have four-five players make an impact right away. Buffalo didn’t have a ton of needs and wasn’t a team many focused on but quietly added to the front seven that could have them take another step up for next year. The AFC East is going to be very competitive next year, and there are a lot of rookies that we will want to watch.

Buffalo BillsBuffalo Bills: B+

1 (30): EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami
2 (61): EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest
3 (93): OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
5 (161): OT Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH)
6 (203): WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston
6 (212): S Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh
6 (213): CB Rachad Wildgoose, Wisconsin
7 (236): OG Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

Buffalo is coming off of a 13-win season and has had similar holes to fill over the last few offseasons. They have yet to find that special edge rusher, which has been missing from a defense that has played well over the last few years. Like in most of my writeups, there was a big list of project edge rushers, and they often varied on the rankings over the last year. There was a time where Gregory Rousseau was viewed as the best EDGE player in the draft, and yet here he is being taken at 30 and the second EDGE player from the University of Miami. They followed up this pick with Carlos Basham Jr, who had a ton of production at the college level. Between the two, Buffalo should be able to strike gold here or at least be able to use them rotationally next season to make a difference. The tools and athleticism are there for both Rousseau and Basham to be above average edge rushers.

The offensive line was a secondary need coming into the draft, and as always, teams should be adding depth anyway. Spencer Brown could be an early starter in Buffalo, and I love the value for Tommy Doyle. This was a deep tackle draft, and the Bills landed two potential starters for the near future. Brown can be a swing-guy early. At 203, Buffalo takes on some risk with Marquez Stevenson, who has a deep injury history. If healthy, he can chip in on special teams and as a depth wide receiver. Damar Hamlin and Rachad Wildgoose have landed in a great spot to learn under elite players, and both have a high ceiling. Without any sexy draft spots, the Bills stood pat and drafted for need but in a smart way.

Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins: B

1 (6): WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
1 (18): EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL.)
2 (36): S Jevon Holland, Oregon
2 (42): OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
3 (81): TE Hunter Long, Boston College
7 (231): OT Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts
7 (244): RB Gerrid Doaks, Cincinnati

The Dolphins needed a major weapon, and there was going to be a few available for them. It didn’t end up being Ja’Marr Chase, so Jaylen Waddle will link back up with Tua. Waddle is a true talent and can turn any play into a touchdown. This is going to be a big addition to an offense that didn’t have a ton of speed before adding Will Fuller this offseason. At 18, Miami went with Jaelan Phillips, who might be the most impactful rusher in this class. His only issue was the medical history. Teams with a heavy amount of draft capital can take shots like this, and it could pay off in a big way.

On Day 2, Miami had two early picks and added Jevon Holland, who I would classify more like a slot corner compared to safety. Either way, he was the first safety off the board. It is a bit surprising, given Holland would sit behind quite a few cornerbacks on the depth chart. I wouldn’t say this addresses the need for some safety depth. Liam Eichenberg didn’t get as much hype as some of the others, but he has had very steady results in college and is going to give Miami yet another tackle to work with. I am not sure the Hunter Long pick was a real need, but it does give them a second tight end who can make an impact.

New England PatriotsNew England Patriots: B-

1 (15): QB Mac Jones, Alabama
2 (38): DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
3 (96): EDGE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
4 (120): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
5 (177): LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan
6 (188): CB Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri
6 (197): OT William Sherman, Colorado
7 (242): WR Tre Nixon, UCF

The Patriots’ grade is all going to come down to how much the person grading likes Mac Jones and how much they value defensive lineman. I am somewhere in the middle. The plus side of the draft for the Patriots is that they didn’t have to trade up for Jones. He is an accurate arm with enough arm strength to get by at this level. Jones has made the right reads but has also been blessed with the best receiving core and offensive line at the college level. I’d take Alabama’s weapons at the next level over what the Patriots have right now. Jones isn’t that big difference-maker type quarterback who can swing a game, so a lot will come down to what the Patriots can put around him.

There is no doubt that Christian Barmore was the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. I just thought this pick could have gone to a more impactful position like wide receiver or corner, which the Patriots do need badly, especially after trading up. They didn’t draft a wide receiver until the 7th round and then a corner in the 6th. I do like the Ronnie Perkins add at 96, but none of these picks are enough to get me to love this draft for New England.

New York JetsNew York Jets: A+

1 (2): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
1 (14): OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
2 (34): WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
4 (107): RB Michael Carter, North Carolina
5 (146): S Jamien Sherwood, Auburn
5 (154): CB Michael Carter II, Duke
5 (175): CB Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh
6 (186): S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
6 (200): CB Brandin Echols, Kentucky
6 (207): DL Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas

Starting with Zach Wilson, he may not have been your number two, but he deserved to be in the mix for it. Wilson has a strong arm and has the mobility to move around like a Russell Wilson and make big-time throws. The complete turnover is underway as the coaching staff is already revamped, and they got their guy in Wilson. After taking a top lineman last draft and adding in the offseason, New York moved up to take Alijah Vera-Tucker, who is one of my favorite players in this draft. The versatile lineman can play multiple positions, but he is best suited to be a guard. I am fine with the trade-up here to make sure the Jets got this guy, even in a deeper class.

After adding another lineman, how about going out and getting a top-five wide receiver in this class and be able to land him in round two. Elijah Moore was someone I was thinking would go in the 20-32 range, yet now he heads to the Jets and will be a future slot-WR after Jamison Crowder leaves. Wilson already has far better weapons than Sam Darnold’s era. New York was obviously a team that was linked to top running backs, and instead of wasting an early pick like Jacksonville, they stayed put and took Michael Carter. While Carter is on the smaller side, he is a playmaker and will compliment a Jets committee.

Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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