AFC East draft grades: Patriots ace test; nice haul for Bills

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 2019 NFL Draft. Below is Dan's review of the AFC East.


BEST PICK: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Buffalo Bills, Round 1, No. 9 overall

A year ago at this time, many smart football minds were convinced that Oliver was the best player in college football and No. 1 overall pick material. Now, yes, his junior season didn't go quite as well as expected, and he doesn't have ideal size for his position, but those first two seasons weren't a mirage. This is a game wrecker, and Sean McDermott is just the coach to get the most out of him. The Bills landed the draft's fourth-best player, per Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Gil Brandt, with the ninth overall pick. And he filled a need. That's gravy. If Oliver is considered the best player from this class five years from now, I won't be surprised.

MOST SURPRISING PICK: Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan
New England Patriots, Round 3, No. 77

It's not a surprise that the Patriots took him midway through the third round. It is a surprise that the rest of the league's teams let it happen. We're talking about Chase Winovich here, the high-motor guy with the golden locks who always seems to be in the right spot. He was No. 48 in NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's ranking of the draft's top 100 players, yet somehow he fell into New England's lap with the 77th overall pick. He's one of the biggest steals of the draft. Here's another guy who doesn't have ideal size and seems to have been punished for it in the draft. He'll make teams regret passing him up. The rich get richer in New England.

BIGGEST SLEEPER: Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers
New York Jets, Round 6, No. 196

Outside cornerback was one of the Jets' biggest needs going into the draft, and they waited until the sixth round to address it. That's not ideal, but it could eventually allow Austin to play a big role. Here's the thing: As draft analyst Chad Reuter pointed out in his quick-snap draft grades, Austin would have been a Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) pick if not for the ACL tears in consecutive years that robbed him of all but five games in his final two seasons with the Scarlet Knights. He'll likely start the season on the PUP list, but if he can stay healthy, he has the length and quickness to cause problems for receivers.


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

1 - A
New England Patriots
New England Patriots

» Round 1: (No. 32 overall) N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State.

» Round 2: (45) Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt.

» Round 3: (77) Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan; (87) Damien Harris, RB, Alabama; (101) Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia.

» Round 4: (118) Hjalte Froholdt, OG, Arkansas; (133) Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn.

» Round 5: (159) Byron Cowart, DE, Maryland; (163) Jake Bailey, P, Stanford.

» Round 7: (252) Ken Webster, CB, Mississippi.

BREAKING: Bill Belichick knows how to collect talent. He did as fine a job of it as anyone in the 2019 draft, entering with a league-high 12 selections and leaving with 10 picks that are hard to quarrel with (... although we will in a second, because we don't take the easy way out, here). Harry isn't the fastest or most explosive receiver, but he is a big, physical target who can be a go-to guy on third down and in the red zone. The team needed that in the wake of Rob Gronkowski's retirement. Brandt called him a Michael Irvin type, and the former Cowboys executive drafted Irvin back in '88. He knows of what he speaks. However, the real work of art by New England in this draft lies in how it navigated the board for its next couple of picks. The Pats traded up to land a CB with rare size in Williams, and somehow the aforementioned Winovich fell into their lap in Round 3. Harris is a really solid addition who can pick up tough yards, catch the ball and pass-protect. Dante Scarnecchia will probably develop Cajuste into an All-Pro. Now, as for the quarreling -- they didn't pick a tight end, which was not surprising (it's so Belichick to not address the position that seems to be in such obvious need of addressing). However, it leaves the team with the rag-tag group of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Stephen Anderson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo on the depth chart. Also, it's not always advisable to spend a pick on a punter, but we'll give New England the benefit of the doubt with the Bailey selection.

2 - A-
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills

» Round 1: (No. 9 overall) Ed Oliver, DT, Houston.

» Round 2: (38) Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma.

» Round 3: (74) Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic; (96) Dawson Knox, TE, Mississippi.

» Round 5: (147) Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida.

» Round 6: (181) Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami.

» Round 7: (225) Darryl Johnson, edge, North Carolina A&T; (228) Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College.

I made my feelings about the Oliver pick known earlier in this piece. That's one of the best selections in the entire draft. Bravo, Bills. They shrewdly shifted their focus back to adding help for second-year QB Josh Allen with the next three picks, building a very solid foundation to their draft class and a fine coda to what's been a strong offseason for the front office. Ford was a first-round value early in Round 2, so the club traded up a couple spots for him, giving up just a fifth-rounder in the swap. (The Bills had even considered trading back into Round 1 for him on Thursday night.) He has the versatility to start at guard or right tackle. Singletary's timed speed didn't help him during the evaluation process, but he'll be a good complementary piece in a rotation that includes LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. Think Kyle Rudolph when it comes to Knox, per analyst Lance Zierlein. That's the cherry on top of the team's quality work in the first two days of the draft, and Buffalo added some promising depth on Day 3, including the speedy Joseph. Now, it would have been nice to throw another physical receiver with size into the mix -- Kelvin Harmon in Round 6, perhaps? -- but all in all, this is a nice haul.

3 - B+
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

» Round 1: (No. 13 overall) Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson.

» Round 3: (78) Michael Deiter, OG, Wisconsin.

» Round 5: (151) Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Wisconsin.

» Round 6: (202) Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio State.

» Round 7: (233) Chandler Cox, FB, Auburn; (234) Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington.

The grade here is helped quite a bit by the acquisition of Josh Rosen, which cost Miami just a late second-round pick (No. 62 overall) this year and a 2020 fifth-round selection. As you might have heard by now, it's a low-risk deal with three years and about $6.4 million remaining on the former Cardinals QB's contract. Rosen still has plenty of upside and could go down as the steal of the 2019 draft. Oh, I also like everything about the Wilkins pick. Offering greatness on the field and off, the former Clemson DT fills one of the team's many glaring needs and will energize new head coach Brian Flores' defense. The Dolphins couldn't have asked for a better building block at No. 13. Deiter was a fine pick that makes plenty of sense. I'm not exactly in love with the rest of Miami's draft, as Van Ginkel seems like a reach in Round 5. Hopefully Prince can use his length to become a quality right tackle. Given their widespread needs, the Dolphins weren't going to be able to check every box with one class, but there's still a screaming need for more pass-rush help, even with the addition of Wilkins.

4 - B
New York Jets
New York Jets

» Round 1: (No. 3 overall) Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama.

» Round 3: (68) Jachai Polite, DE, Florida; (92) Chuma Edoga, OT, USC.

» Round 4: (121) Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia.

» Round 5: (157) Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota.

» Round 6: (196) Blessuan Austin, CB, Rutgers.

There was a lot of talk about the Jets' interest in trading down from No. 3 heading into the draft, but general manager Mike Maccagnan ultimately stayed there and smashed one over the fence by playing it safe with Williams. Some viewed him as the draft's top prospect. He could be dominant playing alongside Leonard Williams. Maccagnan did the opposite of playing it safe in Round 3, adding a pair of boom-or-bust types. Polite was considered a likely first-round pick back in January, but a poor offseason, including a disastrous NFL Scouting Combine, sank the pass rusher's stock. If defensive coordinator Gregg Williams finds a way to maximize his potential, we'll look back at this pick as a steal. As for the undersized Edoga, the questions are tied to his strength, maturity and durability, per Zierlein. If he can put it all together, he should become a successful starter. Wesco can help right away as a blocker, but it could take some time before he's a reliable factor as a pass catcher, and Cashman is a decent find as a backup/special-teamer. As I mentioned earlier, I'm intrigued by Austin's sleeper potential and like the idea of taking a flyer on him in Round 6.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

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