MBL Season 50 Draft Grades - Analysis
Welcome to the Season 50 draft grades presented by the Draft Pros! Every season owners’ dreams live and die with the selection of new players, each owner hoping for that special player that will change the franchise for the better. Whether it's a top 10 pick or a late round gem, perhaps even a bust. The infusion of rookie talent is an exciting time for all. Without further ado, here are the criteria we use for grading:
Age - How young was your class, did you get guys that can grow quickly?
Talent - How good was your player, were you picking based on combine scores?
Value - Did you reach for your player or did you find a stud that fell in the draft?
Potential - Does this player have room to grow or are they pro-ready now?
Need - Was this a position of need or was it a best player available situation?
The Bills were a team with few holes and found themselves in the enviable position of taking the best player available. They got things started late in the 1st with MIN CB Spencer Murphy, this was a great spot to find a CB in this draft and the Bills will like his pro-ready skillset. WR Maurice Cumberland was the next pick and frankly a luxury pick, the South Dakota product is known more for route running savvy than speed and he’ll be competing for the 5th WR spot along with 5th rounder Tyree Roberts. DT Jerry Burke as the second 2nd round pick and was very productive at Auburn, he is a lock for the 3rd DT spot. Jojo Kellum was the pick in the 3rd and another strong value pick, he’ll look to fight for the 4th safety position. The Bills rounded out the draft with some depth selections and took a flyer on QB Joey Howard in the 6th who was extremely productive in the WSU system but may be a bit small for the position.
Dolphins - Grade
The Dolphins came into this draft looking to add to a young team that surprised many with its strong season last year. The pick of the whole draft might have been DT Justin Strickland who tore an ACL at Miami and missed all of his senior season, during his Junior season many had him tabbed as a Top 5 pick. If he is healthy he’ll step right into the mix as a starter at DT, he has Pro Bowl potential. This was major value for a 2nd round selection. Moving to the 3rd the Fins picked up speedy Justin Means from Michigan, again great value for the WR in the 3rd round. Speed was the motto for the Fins and they grabbed Lamarcus Ridley in the 4th who was a track star at Arkansas St as a JR/Sr. The Fins tripled down on WR picking Lamon Gray (Clemson) and Harvard product Gerald McMullen who will vie for the 5th and 6th WR spots on a shallow depth chart. The remainder of the draft was mostly depth and PS fodder. Despite a shallow draft high marks for grabbing Strickland in the 2nd.
Patriots - Grade
The Patriots came into this draft in dire need of a youth infusion as they have one the oldest rosters in the MBL. They kicked things off in the 1st grabbing stud CB Ciante Gaffney who will have the luxury of stepping into a loaded DB room and the tutelage of one of the best CBs in the league. Gaffney will likely only see the field during dime and dollar packages as he gets ready for a bigger role next season. The Pats grabbed interesting DE Tyrone Hilliard in the 2nd who was very productive at small Western Michigan, scouts loved his hand usage. MLB Aaron Franklin was the pick in the 3rd and quite a reach on a player many scouts had an UDFA grade on, NE liked his speed and we’ll see what packages the Akron product finds himself in this season. Similar story on OLB Tracey Davenport in the 4th. Good teams find gems in the rough and in the 5th NE found DE Matthias Ramsay who is a prototypical 3T DE and a great fit in the the Pats 3-4 Def, look for a strong contribution this season. They also grabbed DE Duane polk in the 7th which was much later than scouts anticipated. A couple of reaches in this draft but they were at positions of need, a fine effort for a team with no other glaring holes outside the QB position.
Jets - Grade
The Jets were down a few selections in this draft and needed to do very solid work in the late rounds to salvage a good draft. Sending Jamal Adams did net them the 32nd pick in the 1st which they used on stud OSU RB Dudley Armstrong who was a Heisman runner-up, he’ll step right into a starting role and split carries with vet Duke Johnson, great value at the end of the 1st. The Jets were able to snag the 5th best T in the class in the 3rd, Oregon product Gordon Mitchell who will help shore up a very shaky Jets OL situation. Later in the 5th the pick was LE Collin Webster and another solid pickup for the draft slot, he’ll rotate in on early downs often this year. CB Avion Fielder was the pick in the 6th out of USF. Fielder is a guy to keep an eye on. USF had a bad season and the shutdown play of the young CB was obviously overlooked, scouts had little game tape on Fielder but Jets scouts say they see shutdown potential, especially in a zone defense scheme. All things considered, this was a good draft by New York.
Ravens- Grade - D+
The Ravens fans can’t be happy after this draft, armed with only a few selections this was a draft doomed to fail and it mostly lived up to that. Baltimore did well to find DT Taylor Trent in the 3rd and he was very productive as a NT at Clemson. He’ll slide into the DL rotation immediately. RB D’andre Goodwell out of UCLA was the pick in the 5th and he’ll fight just to make the roster as the 3rd or 4th RB. Notre Dame WR Julius Redmond was a nice pickup based on potential alone in the 6th. Not much else to say about this extremely shallow draft.
Bengals - Grade - B+
The Bengals were down a 1st this draft but got things started in the 2nd with TE Henry Whitmore out of Miami. He was extremely productive and many considered him the most talented TE in the draft despite his 2nd round grade. Expect big things from him in the Bengals pass heavy offense. G Roman Durmham out of UGA was the next pick and will shore up a shaky Bengals OL and likely start. CIN doubled down on the OL grabbing UCLA G Brett Pizzo in the 3rd which was good value for the draft slot. The Bengals tripled up on OLB in the 4th and 5th selecting Conrad Nixon (UM), Edward Thompkins (W. Michigan), and Jon Becton (USF). The one to keep an eye on here is Becton who has the most room to grow in the defense. The Bengals have a shallow LB core so this unit will be very competitive. Solid draft for the Bengals.
Browns - Grade - A
CLE was another team down early picks looking to make a living in the middle rounds. The only real weaknesses were the LBs for a team that managed to add all time great, Aaron Donald. The Browns were somehow able to snag CB Isiah Boone in the 3rd, Boone had a late 1st round grade and had no business being available so late, huge pickup here. Similar story for RB Keary Vick out of Nebraska who had a 2nd round grade but had the prevalent character concerns this team is known for accepting. Great value either way. In the 4th they grabbed talented OLB Terrell Lockridge out of UF, another great value pick for the 4th and a likely starter. TE Joey Hoover out of UCLA was the 5th round pick and another good value, he’ll backup Austin Hooper. OLB Paul Staley was snagged in the 5th and he was another great value pick from small NDSU. Overall this was a great haul for a team with no 2nd or 1st round picks.
Steelers - Grade - B+
The Steelers grabbed stud DT Brian Boone with their 1st pick and he really showed how strong he was at the combine, topping out as the strongest DT in the draft. Instant starter and possible Pro Bowler. Washington Cb Trumaine Cartwright was the next selection in the 3rd and a real steal, most scouts had an early 2nd round grade on the speedy DB. Great pick. USCarolina DE Chris Russel was a steal in the 4th and he’ll have the luxury of learning how to play from to potential HOFers. The pick of this draft might turn out to be QB Andrew Patterson out of Louisville whom the Steelers think is ready to start right away in place of Big Ben. We’ll see if they were right, Andrew was a solid athlete with a plus arm in the ACC. CB Amir Tarrant was a solid DB at UF and will provide good depth at CB. This was a solid draft for Pitt.
Texans- Grade - B+
The Texans were primed to be big players in this draft with picks in every round and a lot of them. In the 1st HOU grabbed Louisville star OLB Daryl Lindley, he is pro-ready and will step right into a meaningful role. TE Gavin Jones was also the most NFL ready TE in the class and he’ll step into a great situation with a shallow Texan TE core, great pick here. DE Thad REynolds was the pick in the 2nd and like his other draft mates is ready for a big role day 1 and will compete to fill the spot vacated by HOFer JJ Watt. OLB John Montague was great value in the 4th and he dominated lesser competition at Florida A&M. Great athlete all around. Memphis Ramey was the pick in the 5th and he’ll slot into end of the DB rotation. DEs Larry McDowell (Clemson) and Brandon Michaels will fill out the rest of the DL rotation. Texas RB JR Collins fell a long way due to some trouble with the law in his senior year but could be a guy to watch out for. Really good draft for Houston.
Colts - Grade - B+
The Colts are a deep team with few holes and could pick best player available this draft. In the 1st they started by grabbing a very good DT, George Dawson who will start next to Buckner day 1. He’ll provide some good inside pass rush. Late in the 2nd the pick was OSU De Trevor Blackwell who has a strong all around game and will learn from veteran Everson Griffen to get ready for a starting role next season or late this season. Great value pick. The Colts grabbed MIZZ star CB Lamar Taylor in the 3rd and this was another solid pick for the slot, Taylor will see the field during obvious passing downs from Day 1. WR David Cadet (4th, VT) joins a crowded WR room and will fight to make an impact this season, look for him next year to make his move. TE Brett Meadows Drake, 4th) will be a nice 3rd TE to set that position up nicely. FS Deon Black (6th, Idaho) was a late round flyer that always looked up to Colts HOFer Bob Sanders, while the position is set for this year Deon will be a name to watch down the line and might end up being a 6th round steal. A strong effort from IND overall.
Jaguars - Grade - B+
To get things started the Jags took OSU star WR Bryce Hendricks, adding to a young talented WR core. Gardener Minshew will have no lack of talented targets to throw the ball to this season. Jacksonville added WVU CB Courtney Spikes with their second 1st round pick to setup what might be the secondary with the highest ceiling in the MBL with now 3 starting caliber CBs under age 24. Not a position of need but Spikes was the best player available, great athlete but fairly raw. With the 7th pick in the 2nd the Jags committed robbery getting DT Jermaine Brittinham out of Michigan who many scouts didn’t think would make it past the top 15. Huge value here and good pick preparing for the future after vet Geno Atkins leaves this offseason. Speedy MLB Spencer Rodger out of UGA was the next pick on the 2nd and boy can he run, he is a little raw but the way the game is evolving this kind of player is needed. A bit raw but very fast. Stanford RB was another big steal in the 3rd and a very talented RB who doesn’t seem to have a well defined role. RJ Jackson was the pick in the 4th and certainly a reach for a punter. Keep your eye on WR Levi Humphrey out of Illinois (5th) as scouts say he really has room to grow into his role. A vey interesting draft and one with lots of potential.
Titans - Grade - B
Lets focus on the pros of this draft and not the cons. The Titans were armed with high picks in every round and they needed to nap multiple starting caliber players. The first pick in the draft was stud safety Trevon Lewis out of Michigan State, a little unconventional to pick a safety this high but Lewis fills a need and is very talented. We have to wonder if this is signaling the end of the line in TEN for vet Kevin Byaard though as the team also has young Amani Hooker on the roster. The pick of the draft might have been the 1st pick in the 2nd. Wisconsin missed a lot of time last season and fell as a result, but watch out for this guy. He might have the highest ceiling of any player in this draft. His frame still has plenty of room to grow. Incredible value here. RE Dillon Forbes was the next pick and the Titans will be depending on him to start day 1. RG Quan Moss was the pick in the 5th and he’ll provide solid depth on the OL. That is where we’ll stop with this draft but the 1st 3 picks were as talented of players as any team could ask for.