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AFC East Rookie Ceiling Grades

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NFL Scouting


The 2017 NFL rookie class is now complete.  Both the draft and undrafted free agency are over.  Join me as we look at the AFC East rookie classes through the lens of analytics.  While you may not believe in the numbers, I have explained why they are important to me here.

AFC East

New York Jets

1Myles GarrettEDGETexas A&M
2Reuben FosterLBAlabama
3Jamal AdamsSSLSU
4Malik HookerFSOhio State
5Leonard FournetteRBLSU
6Jonathan AllenDLAlabama
7Solomon ThomasEDGEStanford
8Corey DavisWRWestern Michigan
9O.J. HowardTEAlabama
10Marshon LattimoreCBOhio State
11Mike WilliamsWRClemson
12Dalvin CookRBFlorida State
13Malik McDowellDLMichigan State
14Forrest LampOGWestern Kentucky
15David NjokuTEMiami
16Teez TaborCBFlorida
17Takkarist McKinleyEDGEUCLA
18Derek BarnettEDGETennessee
19Marlon HumphreyCBAlabama
20Garett BollesOTUtah
21Alvin KamaraRBTennessee
22Joe MixonRBOklahoma
23John RossWRWashington
24Deshaun WatsonQBClemson
25Dan FeeneyOGIndiana
26Jarrad DavisLBFlorida
27Tim WilliamsEDGEAlabama
28Montravius AdamsDLAuburn
29Tre'Davious WhiteCBLSU
30DeShone KizerQBNotre Dame
31Jourdan LewisCBMichigan
32Jabrill PeppersSSMichigan
33Ryan RamczykOTWisconsin
34Sidney JonesCBWashington
35Christian McCaffreyRBStanford
36Isaiah FordWRVirginia Tech
37Charles WalkerDLOklahoma
38Ethan PocicCLSU
39KD CannonWRBaylor
40Jake ButtTEMichigan
41Ryan AndersonEDGEAlabama
42Pat ElfleinCOhio State
43Caleb BrantleyDTFlorida
44Mitch TrubiskyQBNorth Carolina
45Gerald EverettTESouth Alabama
46Taco CharltonEDGEMichigan
47Quincy WilsonCBFlorida
48Zach CunninghamLBVanderbilt
49Patrick MahomesQBTexas Tech
50D'Onta ForemanRBTexas

The New York Jets went best player available in the 2017 draft and that will pay dividends in the future.  Their highest ceiling pick was wide receiver Chad Hansen at 4.83.  While his best asset is his agility, Hansen is also a good vertical threat and tracks the ball well.  Their next two highest graded players were their safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.  In addition to both having ceilings above 4.00, Adams and Maye are known for their instincts and leadership. Perhaps their most interesting pick was  cornerback Jeremy Clark.  Clark, who couldn’t perform any athletic testing due to injury, has superb size.  His positional size grade was by far the best in the class.

Four of the Jets’ undrafted free agent (UDFA) signings are really intriguing to me.  Inside linebacker Austin Calitro with his 4.45 was one of the best UDFA signings available.  Harvard fullback Anthony Firsker clears the fullback thresholds and graded out at just below 4.00.  The last two that excite me are slot corner Xavier Coleman and linebacker Connor Harris because they also clear the thresholds at their respective positions.

Miami Dolphins


While the Miami Dolphins did not have a great draft, they did a solid job of filling the holes that they had on the roster.  Their top drafted grade goes to defensive tackle Vincent Taylor.  While it seems like having another good tackle is a luxury, Taylor will be a primary rotational player behind Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips.  The Dolphins also addressed their gaping hole at linebacker by taking Raekwon McMillan.  Offensively, Isaac Asiata is an immediate starter at guard and wide receiver Isaiah Ford was ranked highly by many analysts. First round pass rusher Charles Harris will bolster their weak pass rush and cornerback Cordrea Tankersly could step in and start over Byron Maxwell as a rookie.

Inside linebacker Chase Allen was by far the best UDFA addition.  He graded out with a 4.68 and his best features were his size and change of direction abilities.  Defensive end Cameron Malveaux has an explosive first step and could make the team as a sub-package pass rusher. I have to question Francis Owusu‘s decision to sign with the Dolphins.  While he is talented, Owusu put himself in a difficult situation.  The Dolphins have one of the deepest receiving corps in the league.  Another team will likely give Owusu a chance if he does not make the Dolphins.  De’Veon Smith is another player to watch.  While he tested poorly, his play at Michigan suggests he could be a solid short yardage back.

Buffalo Bills


The Buffalo Bills had a solid draft that should help them now and in the future.  Quarterback Nathan Peterman has NFL traits and can be a long time backup in the league.  He lacks the arm strength to be anything more than a below average starter.  Dion Dawkins checks all the size and athleticism boxes you look for in a starting guard.  Their last pick that graded over 4.00 is wide receiver Zay Jones.  While his athletic traits are great, they don’t show up on the field.  I think his ceiling will be much like that of Jordan Matthews.  The Bills’ first round pick, cornerback Tre’Davious White, is a high floor low ceiling player.  He should step in immediately and bolster their secondary but will never be a great player.

Undrafted free agent Nigel Williams is a solid depth pickup for the defensive line.  He has exceptional lateral movement for a defensive tackle and should crack the roster.  Slot cornerback Marcus Sayles (4.03) might be the player who takes over the nickel position for departed cornerback Nickell Robey, who was also an undrafted free agent.

New England Patriots


The rich get richer.  Despite trading away some of their picks, the Patriots came away with the highest grade for their draft class (I’m not including the acquisitions of Brandin Cooks or Mike Gillislee either).  The two defensive ends that the Patriots drafted, Deatrich Wise and Derek Young, are both high ceiling players.  Wise has very good size and explosion and Young has elite athleticism for the position.  There will be questions about Young adjusting to the NFL but his ceiling suggest he can make the transition successfully.  Offensive tackle Conor McDermott looks as though he can provide some depth to the line. McDermott’s best trait is his lateral mobility and he can be a future blindside protector.

The Patriots’ highest graded offseason acquisition was UDFA safety Jason Thompson from Utah with a 5.96. He is a better athlete than football player, however.  A former quarterback and receiver, Thompson could crack the team as a core special teamer and continue the Patriots’ proud special teams tradition.  Inside linebacker Harvey Langi (4.16) has the size and playing style of Dont’A Hightower and could end up being a backup.  Free safety David Jones has an interesting blend of size, speed, and explosion that could make him a solid depth addition to the secondary. Offensive guard Jason King, while a bit undersized, is a very athletic big guy who could add an interesting dynamic as pulling guard.

The AFC East rookie classes look to be a solid blend of high ceiling players and high floor players.  Teams addressed needs while also taking the best player available.  It will be intriguing to see these classes develop over the next few years.