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AFC Draft Grades

By: Robert Davis

Click here for 2017 NFC Draft Grades

Baltimore Ravens: A-
Best Pick: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama(3rd round)
There are some character concerns, but Williams is one of the most explosive pass rushers in this draft. The Ravens do a great job getting the most out of players, so it's a great place for him to start his career.
Keep an eye on: Jermaine Eluemenor, OL, Texas AM(5th round)
Eluemenor got a late start to football, and it has shown in his development. He is on the upswing though, and his best football is ahead of him. He has the ability to be a very good guard, but may also be able to play right tackle.
The Ravens addressed all levels of the defense with their first four picks, and it could re-energize their defense. 1st round CB Marlon Humphrey is as gifted as any corner in the draft. OLB's Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams are explosive athletes that really could learn a lot under Terrell Suggs. DL Chris Wormley in the third provides depth up front. 4th round OG Nico Siragusa and Eluemenor provide power to the running game inside.

Buffalo Bills: B+
Best Pick: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina(2nd round)
Sammy Watkins is always banged up and Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin left in free agency. WR was a must early, and Jones is a guy who can do a lot of different things, and is polished enough to play right away.
Keep an eye on: Nathan Peterman, QB, Pitt(5th round)
Peterman isn't flashy, but he's accurate, efficient, and intelligent. With so many teams looking for a quarterback, it's hard to believe he fell to the 5th. He was arguably the most pro ready QB of all in this draft, so he could step up in the event of a Tyrod Taylor injury. He could also be his successor in time.
Trading down from 10th overall and picking up the Chiefs 1st rounder next year was a great move. 1st round Tre'Davious White will step in for the departed Stephon Gilmore. Zay Jones will start at WR right away. OL Dion Dawkins in the 2nd was another solid pickup. He could possibly start at RT right away, but he also has the ability to play guard. 5th round LB Matt Milano could surprise with his speed and ability to get to the ball carrier. Peterman was very good value in the 5th.

Cincinnati Bengals: B.
Best Pick: Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas St.(3rd round)
Willis had the size and production on the field, then tested off the charts at the combine. He is a steal in the third round, and will push for immediate playing time.
Keep an eye on: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn(4th round)
Lawson doesn't have the ideal length in an end, and has a long injury history, but he's aggressive and powerful off the edge. If he stays healthy, he and Willis will give the Bengals excellent depth and pass rush ability at DE.
The draft's fastest man in WR John Ross kicked things off for the Bengals. He may not be the biggest guy at the position, but his big play ability is special. His presence will go a long way towards taking pressure off of AJ Green. 2nd RB Joe Mixon is the guy everyone is talking about now. He was a first round talent but fell because of his well publicized assault incident. Everyone deserves a second chance, but Mixon will be watched closely. Willis and Lawson in the third and fourth round are excellent pickups on the edge.

Cleveland Browns: A+
Best Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas AM(1st round)
This is the easy pick, because Garrett is the best player in the draft. But it goes beyond his ability. The Browns resisted the urge to reach for a QB and ignored many of the talking heads that tried to criticize Garrett leading up to the draft. Garrett isn't without flaws, but he's a potential difference maker and easily the best player in the draft.
Keep an eye on: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame(2nd round)
Kizer is a guy who could've been a top 10 pick had he returned to school. He's inconsistent from throw to throw and needs time to develop. As a 2nd round pick, there is no pressure on him. Hue Jackson can take his time and develop his skills and get him ready at a deliberate pace. Kizer is a bright kid and supremely gifted. A little time and he could be the best QB in this draft.
The Browns are a joke around the league, but they did everything right in the 2017 NFL draft. They got a game changer at defensive end. They acquired an extra first rounder in 2018. They landed one of the most talented QB's in the draft. 1st round TE David Njoku has big time upside, as does versatile safety Jabrill Peppers. 3rd round DT Larry Ogunjobi has starting potential, and is a good fit next to Danny Shelton. Day three saw many more selections with big time upside. 4th round CB Howard Wilson has missed time with injury, but has the length and ball skills to surprise. 5th round OT Roderick Johnson is long and athletic, but raw and light in the pants. Even 6th round DT Caleb Brantley was a potential first round pick before a possible domestic violence case popped up right before the draft. The draft is loaded with talent all over the football field, and the Browns managed to add a pick in next years draft. Very well done.

Denver Broncos: B.
Best Pick: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah(1st round)
Bolles is the teams top pick and biggest need, and he's the draft's top tackle. This was one of the picks everyone thought made sense before the draft, and it was so obvious, the Broncos made it happen.
Keep an eye on: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss(7th round)
Mr. Irrelevant this year has a chance to be very relevant long term. Kelly is a talented passer, but has some off the field issues and injury concerns. There's no risk with this pick, but talented QB's always get a shot.
Bolles will step in right away at left tackle most likely. 2nd round DL DeMarcus Walker is a playmaker that can play inside and out. 4th round TE Jake Butt could've gone in the 2nd without an ACL injury in December. He may not see the field this year, but he could be the long term answer at the position. QB Kelly is talented enough to win a roster spot and has the ability to surprise down the road.

Houston Texans: A.
Best Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson(1st round)
Giving up next year's first round pick was probably a hard pill to swallow, especially since it means the Texans wont have a first or second rounder. But, getting Watson could make up for it. This is a team that is a QB away from contending. Watson needs some refinement but his combination of physical talent, character, and ability to step up in big games gives him a chance to be a winner in the NFL.
Keep an eye on: Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell(4th round)
There is a potential need at tackle right away, and if Davenport takes to coaching right away, he has the size and talent to play right away. He needs some technical refinement though, and is likely a developmental guy as a rookie. A year or two down the road, he could become a quality starter.
Trading away a future first usually isn't a good idea, but the Texans went and got their guy at QB. Watson is not a sure thing, but he does check off a lot of boxes you want to see in a QB. After him, the Texas did an excellent job adding more talent and depth throughout the roster. 2nd round LB Zach Cunningham was a possible 1st round pick, and brings much needed speed to the LB position. 3rd round RB brings a hammer to the backfield, providing excellent depth behind Lamar Miller. The fourth round brought immediate depth and potential starting ability to both lines, in OT Davenport and DT Carlos Watkins. This draft will hinge on Deshaun Watson, but he likes the spotlight and generally fares well with all eyes on him.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
Best Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St(1st round)
Hooker had a lot of noise as a top ten selection, but fell to the Colts at 15. He's short on experience, but his length, range, and ball skills make him a tremendous weapon in coverage.
Keep an eye on: Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio(3rd round)
Edge rushers as talented as Basham don't usually last into the mid third, but he did this year, and could end up being a steal. He's big and physical enough to play with his hand down, and athletic enough to stand up.
The Colts did a very good job filling some obvious holes on both sides of the ball. They went defense with their first three picks, landing S Hooker and DE Basham, with 2nd round CB Quincy WIlson in between. All three will make impacts as rookies. 4th round OL Zach Banner is a mountain of a man that has questions about his ability in pass protection as a tackle, but he's a people mover in the ground game and could make a difference inside at guard. 4th round RB Marlon Mack brings some much needed big play ability to the backfield. He's a great complement to Frank Gore.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B+
Best Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU(1st round)
Fournette has the ability to do what Ezekiel Elliott did for the Cowboys offense. While he won't be running behind the same quality of line, Fournette is the type of back you build an offense around. That will take pressure off of Blake Bortles and the passing game, which should help open up things for their very talented receiving corps down the field.
Keep an eye on: Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma(4th round)
Westbrook was a second round talent with his big play ability, but fell for some character concerns. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are established as starters, but Marqise Lee has struggled with injuries, although he played well last year. Westbrook could make some big plays this year, but provides excellent depth and should make an impact in time if he stays focused.
Landing Fournette gives the offense an identity, and could save Blake Bortles job in Jacksonville. 2nd round OT Cam Robinson will help the line immediately, and could eventually take over at LT. 3rd round DE Dawuane Smoot was a bit of a reach, but provides depth up front on defense. WR Westbrook brings more big play ability to the WR position, and 5th round LB Blair Brown knows how to get to the ball carrier.

Los Angeles Chargers: B-.
Best Pick: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky(2nd round)
Lamp was arguably the drafts top overall linemen, but his projection inside to guard pushed him to the second round. He still has the ability to be a special guard, and that would be a tremendous addition to a team that's struggled with health and consistency on the OL in recent years.
Keep an eye on: Desmond King, DB, Iowa(5th round)
King has been a standout corner in college, but lacks some of the physical tools to play the position in the NFL. As a safety, his ball skills and instincts give him a shot to play, and play well. The Chargers need help at safety, and King could surprise and play right away.
1st round WR Mike Williams is gifted, but the return of Keenan Allen, the emergence of Tyrell Williams, and presence of Travis Benjamin made it somewhat of an odd choice at 7th overall. He will give Philip Rivers 3 6'3+ receivers and help open up the offense more, but you wonder if the pick could've been better utilized. Adding guards Lamp and 3rd rounder Dan Feeney shows a commitment to the ground game, and that is a good thing. The Chargers hope they found answers at safety with 4th round enforcer Rayshawn Jenkins and 5th round cover guy King.

Miami Dolphins: B.
Best Pick: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri(1st round)
Harris is an explosive pass rusher, and that's one of the spots the Dolphins hoped to address over the course of the draft.
Keep an eye on: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson(3rd round)
He's long, athletic, physical, and fast. He has the cover skills to play right away. He needs to cut down on the penalties and be more consistent, but the talent stands out.
The Dolphins did a good job adding big play ability to the defense. They landed a pass rusher in the first(Harris), LB Raekwon McMillan in the second, and a corner in the third(Tankersley). All three have starting potential and should provide depth immediately. 5th round OG Isaac Asiata adds toughness and could compete for a job as a rookie.

New England Patriots: B
Best Pick: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy(3rd round)
The Patriots are loaded throughout the roster, but did have a glaring need for tackle depth. Garcia needs some work, but has the toughness and athleticism to provide depth right away, and is a potential starter down the road.
Keep an eye on: Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA(6th round)
McDermott has the length and athleticism of a top 50 pick. He needs to continue to get stronger and be more consistent with his footwork to live up to his potential. Under the watch of Dante Scarnecchia, he may be able to tap into his potential.
After a slew of trades, including trades that brought in veterans Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy, the Patriots only made four selections. They addressed their two most glaring needs: DE and OT. 3rd round DE/OLB Derek Rivers is athletic and relentless, and 4th round DE Deatrich Wise is long and powerful. 3rd round OT Garcia and 6th round OT McDermott add athleticism and depth to the tackle positions.

New York Jets: B.
Best Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU(1st round)
Most expected Adams to land in the top five, potentially as high as second overall. The Jets landed him at six. Excellent value for a player that can defend the pass and run, and could emerge as a team leader.
Keep an eye on: Chad Hansen, WR, Cal(4th round)
Hansen doesn't jump out at you physically, but he consistently makes plays. He knows how to get open, is tough, has great hands, and has enough speed to keep the defense honest. The Jets need pass catchers badly, and he could make an immediate impact for them.
The Jets jumped on two safeties early, landing Adams in the first, and Marcus Maye in the second. Both should play right away. Their 3rd and 4th round picks addressed the WR position, bring Ardarius Stewart in the slot and Chad Hansen on the outside. 5th round TE Jordan Leggett could be a solid addition to a team that has been TE starved for years.

Oakland Raiders: B.
Best Pick: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St(1st round).
Conley was heading for a likely top 15 selection before reports of a rape charge popped up. The Raiders were confident that nothing will come of it to still select him in the first. There is some risk involved, but Conley is worth it.
Keep an eye on: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA(3rd round)
Vanderdoes has tremendous natural talent. He is a very good athlete for his size, and has excellent natural strength. At his best, he is a force against the run but can also get into the backfield. A knee injury in 2015 caused him to miss most of the year, and he spent 2016 out of shape and overweight. He shed some of that weight after the season, and if he can keep the weight off and stay motivated, he has starting ability on the defensive line.
Conley was a great pick in the first, as was S Obi Melifonwu in the 2nd. Adding those two to Sean Smith and Karl Joseph could give the Raiders one of the most physical and athletic secondaries in the league. Vanderdoes has potential up front. The first two picks were tremendous, but you wonder why they neglected the pass rush and didn't add better insurance for Marshawn Lynch than Elijah Hood in the 7th.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B.
Best Pick: TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin(1st round)
The Steelers needed to add talent and depth on the edge, and Watt does just that.
Keep an eye on: Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee(4th round)
Dobbs has the natural tools and intelligence to develop into a starting QB. He will have the time to hone his craft behind Ben Roethlisberger, so there is no pressure to play right away.
Watt will play right away. 2nd round WR JuJu Smith-Schuster brings a consistent, physical presence to the WR corp. 3rd round DB Cameron Sutton brings some versatility to the secondary, and 4th round RB James Conner should be a quality backup to Le'Veon Bell. Dobbs has intriguing long term potential.

Tennessee Titans: B.
Best Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan(1st round)
5th overall was a bit high for Davis, especially since he couldn't work out after ankle surgery. Giving Marcus Mariota some new toys was obviously a focal point in the draft, so adding a WR that can play across the middle or get vertical is a good place to start.
Keep an eye on: Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International(3rd round)
Smith is another weapon added to Mariota's arsenal. Delanie Walker is one of the league's best tight ends, but he's getting older. Smith has some physical similarities to Walker, and could benefit from playing alongside him.
Its clear the objective was to add more explosiveness to the club during the draft. Wide receivers Davis and Taywan Taylor(3rd round) bring playmaking to the WR position, Adoree' Jackson to the secondary and on special teams, and Smith at the TE position.

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