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AFC East 2016 NFL Draft: A missing first round pick, a surprise slide and a controversial quarterback!

With a missing first round pick, a surprise slide and a controversial quarterback; let’s take a look at the AFC East’s 2016 NFL draft.

Miami Dolphins

1 (13)  Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2 (38) Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
3 (73) Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
3 (86) Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
6 (186) Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech
6 (204) Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State
7 (223) Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky
7 (231) Thomas Duarte, TE, UCLA

The Dolphins went where others dared not, stopping the sensational slide of tackle Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall pick. Before the draft Tunsil was projected a top pick, possibly the first overall until the Rams and Eagles traded up for quarterbacks However, the controversial video of him using drugs, released literally minutes prior to the first round opening, spooked several teams and allowed the Dolphins to snap up a player they likely never imagined they could. Questions over his off field antics ensure that Tunsil will face huge scrutiny, but Miami clearly believe the reward will be worth the risk.

Xavien Howard’s draft profiles refer to plenty of ‘potential’ but also plenty of errors which have led some to suggest he may not be worth the second round pick Miami used to get him. Pro football focus ranked him 16th of all cornerbacks in the draft in terms of coverage.

The two offensive additions in the third round are more positively viewed. Running back Drake has good straight line speed and will complement Jay Ajayi in the Dolphins backfield which lost Lamar Miller in free agency. Receiver Carroo was highly coveted by the team to “add toughness” according to general manager  Chris Grier. To snag him, Miami traded the team’s sixth round pick (186) this year, and the franchise’s third- and fourth-round pick in 2017 to the Minnesota Vikings. This could come back to bite them in 2017 although they should receive a number of compensatory picks to bulk up their mid-round options.  With no picks in the fourth or fifth rounds, the Dolphins took some interesting late rounders, including mismatch TE Thomas Duarte who could provide a further dimension to the offense.

Buffalo Bills

1 (19) Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
2 (41) Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
3 (80) Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
4 (139) Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
5 (156) Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas
6 (192) Kolby Listenbee, WR, TCU
6 (218) Kevon Seymour, CB, USC

Despite focusing on defensive players (well it is a Rex Ryan team, what did you expect?), the Bills have been widely praised for their draft haul this year.  First rounder Shaq Lawson is expected to step into the void left by Mario Williams’ departure although he isn’t quite as physically dominant as Williams.  In a draft with limited pass rush options, the Bills struck gold with Lawson. Reggie Ragland is the definition of  the kind of monster linebacker Rex Ryan loves. Projected as a possible first rounder, the Bills made a steal trading up in the second round to snatch him. He’ll be a key member of Buffalo’s defense for seasons to come. Washington seems a similar prospect who was hugely productive for Ohio State. In a make or break year, Rex Ryan has stacked his defense with system fitting guys.

Ohio State’s National Championship winning QB Cardale Jones is a high ceiling pick in the fourth round. He has huge arm strength but questionable accuracy. The Bills currently have Tyrod Taylor as starting quarterback, so Jones will have time to develop and for the team to assess whether he could be the future.  Running back Williams’ talent would have made him a  higher round prospect had he not sat out all of 2015 with injury. Listenbee and Seymour are both described as better than their sixth round value suggests. Initial evaluations suggest that the Bills have drafted well although the proof of the pudding of course will be in the eating.

New York Jets

1 (20) Darron Lee, ILB, Ohio State
2 (51) Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
3 (83) Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia
4 (118) Juston Burris, CB, NC State
5 (158) Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina
7 (235)  Lachlan Edwards, P, Sam Houston State
7 (241) Charone Peake, WR, Clemson
Darron Lee was described by NFL network’s Mike Mayock as the “today’s NFL linebacker” when he was picked at 20 by the Jets. Todd Bowles’ system is full of aggressive and creative blitz packages and speedy Lee, a former high school quarterback, is a great fit.
The Jets made headlines in the second round by drafting polarising quarterback Christian Hackenburg. His impressive freshman year under Bill O’Brien led to early career projections as a possible first overall pick but the two inconsistent years which followed decreased his stock dramatically. The New York fan base and media are not sold on the pick but it seems GM Mike Maccagnan is heeding his mentor Charley Casserly’s mantra of continuing to draft quarterbacks until you hit the right one.  Only time will tell if Hackenburg is that.
The Jets have long been seeking a decent pass rusher and Jordan Jenkins looks good value at this position.  Fans were keen for a offensive tackle, given the retirement of long time left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Fifth rounder Brandon Shell is most likely of back up quality only but provides more depth along the line. The Jets struggled at punter last year and needed a new solution – it’s likely that Edwards would have been highly recruited had he gone undrafted so he is a  solid seventh round pick. Despite these promising late round picks, it’s Hackenburg stealing Jets’ draft headlines in 2016.
New England Patriots
 2 (60) Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama
3 (78) Joe Thuney, G, NC State
3 (91) Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State
3 (96) Vincent Valentine, DT, Nebraska
4 (112) (from New Orleans) Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia
6 (208) Kamu Grugier-Hill, CB, Eastern Illinois
6 (214) Elandon Roberts, ILB, Houston
6 (221) Ted Karras, G, Illinois
7 (225) (from Dallas via Seattle) Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State
The Patriots lost their first round pick as part of the league discipline handed down following the deflate gate scandal so their first pick came at the end of the second round. Cyrus Jones is a high quality defensive back who Pro Football Focus ranked as eighth in coverage in the draft class. He has the ability to play in the slot and will play a key role in the Patriots defense. Joe Thuney is a prototypical Bill Belichick player and fills an area of immense need for New England, who struggled with offensive line depth in 2015. The addition of talented but inconsistent Valentine will also help here.
QB Brissett may be a surprising choice for some, given that recent second round pick Jimmy Garropolo is expected to replace Tom Brady in time. Garropolo will be tested during Brady’s four game suspension at the start of the 2016 season and the Patriots are expected to pick up a veteran free agent as his backup.  Overall the Patriots picked up some under the radar but potentially quality players in the later rounds. However, fans may be concerned that they did not address the pass rush given the losses of Chandler Jones and Dominic Easley.

Article written by:

Nikki has been writing about American football since 2014. Prior to joining NFLGirlUK, she contributed to various UK and US based sites including UK End Zone, UK First Down and NYJetsfans.com. She has also been published in two editions of Blitz Magazine and writes a weekly column for US based New York Jets site, Turn On The Jets. Nikki has appeared on BBC radio 5Live’s Sunday night NFL coverage with Nat Coombs and Mike Carlson and during the 2015 International Series was featured as a London correspondent on ‘JetLife’, a TV show produced by the New York Jets media team for their website and CBS NY.

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