New York Jets
While all the hype surrounding the New York Jets draft class was due to Sam Darnold, they were able to land a number of other very good players as well. Sam Darnold was a perfect pick at third overall, particularly when considering the seemingly risky trade that was made to get there. Due to the trade-up to acquire Sam Darnold, the Jets next pick came in the third round, with the selection Nathan Shepherd. Although the Jets were not in need of a defensive tackle, Shepherd was a steal who will be a dominant interior presence for the Jets in the coming years. Shepherd was followed in the fourth round by tight end Chris Herndon, a talented player who fell due to injuries but could easily emerge as the starter. The draft class concluded with a trio of sixth round picks in Parry Nickerson, Folorunso Fatukasi, and Trenton Cannon. Parry Nickerson was an excellent pick, filling the need at cornerback with a player who can start and play at a high level. However, Fatukasi served as an attempt to imitate the defensive line depth of the Eagles, as the NFL is a league in which hallmarks of successful teams are copied even if it is out of context. Meanwhile, Cannon will only serve to provide unnecessary depth to the running back position, one that should have been addressed in the early rounds or not at all.
In their draft room, the Bills knocked both their first round picks out of the park, giving up little to trade up and select quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. In reality, they missed badly on Josh Allen, as Josh Rosen was not only a significantly better prospect but also a better fit. While Rosen could have started immediately, there is not enough quarterback talent on the Bills roster to allow Allen to sit, a necessity for such a developmental quarterback. Edmunds is a high upside pick who could struggle early, but the presence of Sean McDermott could help him emerge as a star. They continued to improve on the defensive side of the ball with two very good picks at cornerback in Taron Johnson and Siran Neal, both of whom can tackle well. Johnson is an explosive cover corner in the slot who will compete for playing time early. Neal is a versatile playmaker who has the size and hitting ability to play safety or be physical in the slot. Additionally, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips was taken in the third round, an adequate replacement in the middle for Kyle Williams. However, they failed to address important offensive needs until late in the draft, and the players selected are likely to have minimal roles as backups. Although some quality players were added on defense, the pick of Josh Allen and the failure to seriously address the holes in the offense were a problem.
The Dolphins made their best and safest pick in the first round, selecting hybrid safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. A versatile playmaker in the secondary, Fitzpatrick will be able to help at safety opposite Reshad Jones and at slot cornerback, both positions of need. Additionally, the Dolphins attempted to shore up a longtime hole at tight end, taking both Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe. While Smythe will only have a minor role as a blocking tight end, Gesicki is a consummate mismatch on the outside, perfect for the modern NFL. However, his complete lack on blocking talent could make him more of a receiver than a true tight end. The Dolphins further attempted to add playmakers to the offense by picking Kalen Ballage in the fourth round. Similar in some ways to current starter Kenyan Drake, Ballage is a taller runner with outstanding athletic abilities. Although he lacks experience to be an immediate contributor, he could carve out a sizable role for himself due to his athleticism. The Dolphins also tried to fix another major defensive need by drafting linebacker Jerome Baker, someone without the talent to be more than a backup. Especially after losing Ndamukong Suh, adding a player to the front seven was a necessity that the Dolphins failed to accomplish.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots did an excellent job addressing their needs in the draft, as well utilizing a flurry of trades to acquire players and picks for next year. After the Titans jumped ahead of the Patriots to snag Rashaan Evans in the first round, the Patriots picked offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. While many believe that Wynn will likely move from tackle to guard due to his size, he possesses the athleticism, power, and pass blocking to be effective at either tackle or guard. Wynn was a perfect pick for the Patriots, giving them a versatile and talented lineman that can impact the game from any offensive line position. The Patriots also drafted Wynn’s Georgia running back Sony Michel, a move that further demonstrates that the Patriots are hoping to run the ball more. However, a first round pick is a high price to pay, especially when considering the success that the Patriots have had with castaway running backs. As Michel lacks the talent to be better than the scheme he is in, the pick was a waste. After the collapse of the defense in the Super Bowl, the Patriots spent the following rounds trying to improve the defense with the selections of linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam. Both players fit the Patriots’ style, as they are more sound foot soldiers than flashy players. Additionally, cornerback Duke Dawson was picked in the second round, an amazing pick that many with disagree with. Dawson fell due to his small stature and natural fit in the slot, but he is a formidable tackler outstanding in man coverage all over the field. Another such player was the late round slot receiver Braxton Berrios, a typical Patriots receiver who should be able to fill in the void left by Danny Amendola. In classic Belichick fashion, the Patriots drafted to fit their style, while still acquiring underrated studs such as Isaiah Wynn and Duke Dawson.