AFC East NFL Draft Grades: Patriots Follow Board; Jets Wait On Needs

Robert Kraft, Dominique Easley, Jonathan KraftNo AFC East team aced the 2014 NFL draft — at least on paper.

It’s impossible to properly grade a team’s draft class just days after the event is complete, but based on needs and perceived value, the selections still can be judged. This week, NESN.com will grade the picks made in each division, starting with the AFC East.

The New England Patriots followed their board, the Buffalo Bills mortgaged the future for a great player, the Miami Dolphins reached, and the New York Jets found value but waited on some big needs.

Check out our AFC East draft grades:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Round 1, No. 29 overall: Dominique Easley, defensive tackle, Florida
Round 2, No. 62 overall: Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, Eastern Illinois
Round 4, No. 105 overall: Bryan Stork, center, Florida State
Round 4, No. 130 overall: James White, running back, Wisconsin
Round 4, No. 140 overall: Cameron Fleming, offensive tackle, Stanford
Round 6, No. 179 overall: Jon Halapio, guard, Florida
Round 6, No. 198 overall: Zach Moore, defensive end, Concordia-St. Paul
Round 6, No. 206 overall: Jemea Thomas, cornerback, Georgia Tech
Round 7, No. 244 overall: Jeremy Gallon, wide receiver, Michigan

The Patriots planned for the future and followed their board in this year’s draft. They had needs on their offensive line, but it was a surprise to see them go to the position three times on Day 3. Coach Bill Belichick said Saturday after the draft that Stork, Fleming and Halapio simply were the best players on their board at those selections.

Easley could be a high-impact player as soon as 2014, and Stork and White could contribute next season. The rest of the Patriots’ picks will fill much-needed depth with upside for the future.

Grade: B

BUFFALO BILLS

Round 1, No. 4 overall: Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson
Round 2, No. 44 overall: Cyrus Kouandijo, offensive tackle, Alabama
Round 3, No. 73 overall: Preston Brown, linebacker, Louisville
Round 4, No. 109 overall: Ross Cockrell, cornerback, Duke
Round 5, No. 153 overall: Cyril Richardson, guard, Baylor
Round 7, No. 221 overall: Randall Johnson, linebacker, Florida Atlantic
Round 7, No. 237 overall: Seantrel Henderson, offensive tackle, Miami

The Bills’ draft looks impressive on paper, but they gave up a 2015 first-round pick to move up from No. 8 overall to No. 4 — too steep a price for a wide receiver in an extremely deep class.

Kouandijo¬†could start at right tackle in 2014, and Cockrell and Richardson were nice values. Henderson is a giant risk, but he was worth it in the seventh round, since he’s one of the most athletically gifted players in the entire draft.

Grade: C

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Round 1, No. 19 overall: Ja’Wuan James, offensive tackle, Tennessee
Round 2, No. 63 overall: Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, LSU
Round 3, No. 67 overall: Billy Turner, offensive tackle, North Dakota State
Round 4, No. 116 overall: Walt Aikens, cornerback, Liberty
Round 5, No. 155 overall: Arthur Lynch, tight end, Georgia
Round 6, No. 190 overall: Matt Hazel, wide receiver, Coastal Carolina
Round 7, No. 234 overall: Terrence Fede, defensive end, Marist

The Dolphins reached for a need when they drafted James in the first round. They might have been better off trying to trade up when Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan fell to No. 11 overall or trying to trade down for James.

Landry and Turner should be good pros, and Aiken and Lynch were good values on the third day of the draft.

Grade: C+

NEW YORK JETS

Round 1, No. 18 overall: Calvin Pryor, safety, Louisville
Round 2, No. 49 overall: Jace Amaro, tight end, Texas Tech
Round 3, No. 80 overall: Dexter McDougle, cornerback, Maryland
Round 4, No. 104 overall: Jalen Saunders, wide receiver, Oklahoma
Round 4, No. 115 overall: Shaquelle Evans, wide receiver, UCLA
Round 4, No. 137 overall: Dakota Dozier, offensive tackle, Furman
Round 5, No. 154 overall: Jeremiah George, linebacker, Iowa State
Round 6, No. 195 overall: Brandon Dixon, cornerback, Northwest Missouri State
Round 6, No. 209 overall: Quincy Enunwa, wide receiver, Nebraska
Round 6, No. 210 overall: IK Enemkpali, defensive end, Louisiana Tech
Round 6, No. 213 overall: Tajh Boyd, quarterback, Clemson
Round 7, No. 233 overall: Trevor Reilly, linebacker, Utah

The Jets went into the draft with major needs at cornerback and wide receiver — and drafted a safety and tight end.

Pryor is a hard hitter with coverage skills, and Amaro is a great receiver but lacks blocking experience. The Jets have to hope that either Saunders or Evans looks great in training camp, since one of them might need to be New York’s No. 3 receiver in 2014.

Boyd and Reilly were ranked higher than where they were drafted by most analysts, making them great value picks in the late rounds.

Grade: B

Check out our other draft grades: AFC East|NFC East|AFC North|NFC North|AFC South|NFC South

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