Draft Grades

AFC East draft grades: Jets take flight; Patriots perplex

Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2022 NFL Draft. Keep in mind that these grades are based on draft hauls alone -- picks traded for veteran players were not taken into account. Below is Dan's AFC East report card.

NOTE: Draft classes are displayed from best to worst within the division.

Grade
A
New York Jets
Total picks: 7

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4


With six wins in the past two seasons combined, the Jets needed a home run draft in the worst way. It appears general manager Joe Douglas swung for the fences and easily cleared them. He landed three of NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top nine prospects, including Johnson (ranked ninth) with the 26th overall pick, and might have come away with the best players available at cornerback, wide receiver and running back. That is good work. Head coach Robert Saleh was clearly elated to add some Sauce to the Jets' roster at No. 4, as he should have been. Gardner brings shutdown potential and some much-needed swagger to the backend of Saleh’s defense. Jeremiah’s comp for Wilson: Stefon Diggs. That has to be music to Zach Wilson’s ears, and there's nothing wrong with adding a potential future starter like Ruckert at a position where the Jets have been lacking for a while now. I like that the team addressed its three biggest needs with its first three picks and didn’t have to reach to do it. Yes, it did take trades to be in position to land Johnson and Hall, but it’s hard to argue with the value in both cases. After all the maneuvering, the Jets were left with just four picks outside of Round 1, which reflects the club's sense of urgency. They needed immediate contributors and went for it on the first two days. It might have been nice to add a potential left tackle earlier in the draft given the uncertainty about what Mekhi Becton will be able to provide in Year 3. Mitchell was taken in Round 4 despite earning a Round 6 projection from NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein, but that’s my one quibble. The Jets are in a much better position to compete than they were before the draft started.

Grade
B
Buffalo Bills
Total picks: 8

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 5

Round 6

Round 7


This draft class might seem to be more solid than spectacular at the moment, but give the Bills credit for being aggressive. Cornerback was their biggest need with Tre’Davious White coming off injury and Levi Wallace departing in the offseason, so they traded up to fill it with Elam. Some folks had other available CBs higher on their boards -- NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks did not have the former Gator among his top five prospects at the position -- but it became clear late in the process that Elam was likely to go in Round 1, even though he didn’t have his best season in 2021 (missed three games due to a knee injury). Buffalo might have reached a bit on Day 2, though. Running back and linebacker were both areas of need, but NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah had Cook (63rd overall pick) rated 96th overall and Bernard (89th overall pick) did not make his top 150. Cook could wind up as a great fit as a change-of-pace rusher and pass-catcher out of the backfield. Bernard will fill a void on defense and special teams if durability concerns don’t become an issue in the league. My favorite pick from the Bills’ draft class came on Day 3, when Shakir, a Reese’s Senior Bowl standout, was still available in Round 5. General manager Brandon Beane might have added the next Amon-Ra St. Brown to Josh Allen’s arsenal. Then again, perhaps getting the Punt God with the first pick in Round 6 will go down as the steal of the draft. This is the stuff Rich Eisen’s dreams are made of. 

Grade
B
Miami Dolphins
Total picks: 4

Round 3

Round 4

Round 7


This draft was all about Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill for Miami. After shipping off a package of selections to the Chiefs in the March deal for the three-time first-team All-Pro receiver, the Dolphins decided to stick and pick with the four selections they had heading into the proceedings in Las Vegas, and came away about how you would expect for a team in such a position. They failed to address every need -- the interior O-line being the most significant unchecked box -- but did a fine job of finding value with their top pick. Inside linebacker has long been crying out for an upgrade. Tindall might make his first start since high school for the Dolphins. Yes, he never started during his career on a stacked Georgia defense, but he still finished third on the team in tackles last season (67). He should help on special teams immediately and has the sideline-to-sideline ability to make a lot of stops for the Miami defense whenever he gets his opportunity. It might have been a surprise to see the team draft a receiver given the investments it has already made in the position, but the price was right for Ezukanma in Round 4 and Tua Tagovailoa could use all the help he can get if he’s going to lead an offense aiming to close the gap on the AFC’s best. In Round 7, the highly productive Goode was worth a flyer, and I’m never going to complain about taking a shot on a QB with one of the last picks in the draft.  

Grade
D
New England Patriots
Total picks: 10

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 6

Round 7


After a respite in 2021, the 2022 Patriots class seems like it could be a return to the franchise’s struggles of the past decade when it comes to drafting players. This might come as a surprise given the team’s reputation, but New England hasn’t selected a first-team All-Pro on offense or defense since Rob Gronkowski in 2010, per NFL Research. Perhaps Strange will be the guy to snap that streak -- he certainly has the potential to do it -- but taking NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s No. 74 overall prospect with the 29th overall pick seems like a questionable move. If the Logan Mankins comparisons prove to be correct, critics like me will be roasted on Twitter for eternity. Bill Belichick’s trolling of draft media continued in Round 2 with the selection of Thornton, a blazing-fast receiver who was selected 50th overall after not making the cut in D.J.’s top 150 and drawing a Rounds 3-4 projection from NFL.com draft guru Lance Zierlein. Things seemed to be moving in a better direction for the Patriots when they picked a dynamic kick returner/corner in Jones and a highly productive RB from the FCS level in Strong, but then they mystified again by choosing Zappe when the far more highly touted Sam Howell was still available. Perhaps they unearthed a late-round gem in Harris, Roberts, Hines or Stueber, but the Patriots didn’t spend any of their 10 picks on one of their biggest areas of need, linebacker. Picking up a 2023 third-round pick in a Day 3 trade with the Panthers might ultimately prove to be a great swap for New England, and I realize Belichick’s goal in the draft is not to match up with how the media views prospects, but based on what I know now, the Patriots made a series of reaches that could come back to haunt them.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter.

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