And just like that, the 2023 NFL Draft is behind us. Let’s take a look at each team in the AFC and break down their picks. Here are my draft grades, rankings, and player comps for all of the AFC teams over the last three days.
- Thor Nystrom’s 2023 NFL Draft Primer: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Inside Offensive Linemen | Offensive Tackles | Inside Defensive Linemen | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties
- NFL Draft Needs for Every Team
- NFL Draft Day 1 Winners & Losers
- NFL Draft Day 2 Winners & Losers
2023 NFL Draft: AFC Draft Grades
Baltimore Ravens | Draft Grade: B
|22||Ravens||WR3||27||Zay Flowers||Boston College||T.Y. Hilton|
|86||Ravens||LB4||62||Trenton Simpson||Clemson||Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah|
|124||Ravens||ED18||130||Tavius Robinson||Mississippi||Peppi Zellner|
|157||Ravens||CB20||135||Kyu Blu Kelly||Stanford||Jaylon Johnson|
|199||Ravens||OL23||264||Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu||Oregon||John Theus|
|229||Ravens||OL16||195||Andrew Vorhees||USC||Robert Hunt|
After years of cobbling together a procession of poor receiving corps, the Ravens now have four starting-caliber NFL receivers. In OC Todd Monken’s Air Raid system, that was needed. Flowers may start out in the slot, but he can absolutely play on the outside in the NFL. That concept was proven over multiple years in brutal offensive environments at Boston College. Flowers’ footwork gets him off the line against press coverage, and he tracks the ball well downfield.
I was lower on LB Trenton Simpson than almost anyone in the media, ranking him LB4. Still, objectively, getting Simpson at No. 86 was good value (he was No. 62 on my board). Simpson is an athletic freak. But at this point, he’s a collection of disparate traits that haven’t coalesced – if the light comes on, watch out.
I also liked what Baltimore did on Day 3. The pick of OG Andrew Vorhees was typical Ravens. Other front offices around the NFL didn’t want to sink a pick into a guy who needs a medical redshirt after tearing his ACL at the NFL Combine. Organizational stability doesn’t put the Ravens’ decision-makers under the same job-is-on-the-line-next-season scrutiny, affording this sorts of wait-a-year value grab.
Denver Broncos | Draft Grade: B
|63||Broncos||WR5||48||Marvin Mims||Oklahoma||Santonio Holmes|
|67||Broncos||LB2||41||Drew Sanders||Arkansas||Anthony Barr|
|83||Broncos||CB12||75||Riley Moss||Iowa||Coby Bryant|
|183||Broncos||S9||118||JL Skinner||Boise State||Jayron Kearse|
|257||Broncos||OL27||301||Alex Forsyth||Oregon||Luke Fortner|
The Broncos came into Draft Weekend with no first-round pick and very little equity. But they made up for lost time on Friday night, with a slick two-step at Nos. 63 and 67, taking WR Marvin Mims and LB Drew Sanders. Both were top-50 on my board. I expect each to start as rookies.
Mims, Texas’ all-time high school career leader in receiving yards, is a proven downfield assassin with a long catalog of circus catches. He can absolutely be a standout NFL boundary receiver.
CB Riley Moss was another strong value. Moss is a great athlete who had a sensational career. We know he’ll succeed in zone coverage.
Kansas City Chiefs | Draft Grade: D-
|31||Chiefs||ED8||40||Felix Anudike-Uzomah||Kansas State||Harold Landry|
|55||Chiefs||WR13||98||Rashee Rice||SMU||Nate Burleson|
|92||Chiefs||OT9||82||Wanya Morris||Oklahoma||Kenyatta Walker|
|119||Chiefs||S21||266||Chamarri Conner||Virginia Tech||Geno Stone|
|166||Chiefs||ED31||269||BJ Thompson||Stephen F Austin||Arden Key|
|194||Chiefs||DL19||239||Keondre Coburn||Texas||Tim Settle|
|250*||Chiefs||CB36||276||Nic Jones||Ball State||Blessuan Austin|
I would have taken Keion White, but it’s hard to quibble too much with Felix Anudike-Uzomah. The organization certainly had boots-on-the-ground exposure to him, with Anudike-Uzomah playing nearby in Manhattan.
I thought it was interesting that the Chiefs popped WR Rashee Rice in Round 2. When Rice is on, he’s very difficult to deal with down the field – and he’s proven he can win at all three sectors of the field. When he’s off, he’s a non-factor. Will the light turn on playing with the best quarterback in football?
My favorite value pick of KC’s draft was OT Wanya Morris, a late third-rounder. I was confused by Kansas City’s work on Saturday.
Jacksonville Jaguars | Draft Grade: C-
|27||Jaguars||OT4||35||Anton Harrison||Oklahoma||Charles Cross|
|61||Jaguars||TE9||149||Brenton Strange||Penn State||Jonnu Smith|
|88||Jaguars||RB6||87||Tank Bigsby||Auburn||Sony Michel|
|121||Jaguars||LB15||189||Ventrell Miller||Florida||Shaquille Quarterman|
|130||Jaguars||ED25||216||Tyler Lacy||Oklahoma State||Jeremiah Ledbetter|
|136||Jaguars||LB8||115||Yasir Abdullah||Louisville||Josh Uche|
|160||Jaguars||S2||68||Antonio Johnson||Texas A&M||Ronnie Harrison|
|185||Jaguars||WR28||204||Parker Washington||Penn State||Amari Rodgers|
|202||Jaguars||CB33||238||Christian Braswell||Rutgers||B.W. Webb|
|208||Jaguars||S40||—||Erick Hallett II||Pitt||Colt Anderson|
|226||Jaguars||OL41||452||Cooper Hodges||Appalachian State||Adrian Klemm|
|227||Jaguars||DL61||—||Raymond Vohasek||North Carolina||Gabe Wright|
|240||Jaguars||ED45||396||Derek Parish||Houston||Leon Jacobs|
The Jaguars reached a bit for OT Anton Harrison, but you can forgive them for that. The offensive tackle class fell off a cliff after him.
My bigger issue was the reach on TE Brenton Strange in Round 2. I thought Strange was an underrated player in a very deep tight end class – versatile game and a strong blocker. But the depth of the tight end class is why there was no reason to panic-pick him at No. 61.
Tucker Kraft was taken just before Jacksonville’s Round 3 pick and Darnell Washington was taken five picks after it – both are superior prospects. I think Strange would have been available in Jacksonville’s No. 88 slot.
Indianapolis Colts | Draft Grade: A+
|4||Colts||QB3||3||Anthony Richardson||Florida||Daunte Culpepper|
|44||Colts||CB7||47||Julius Brents||Kansas State||Joshua Williams|
|79||Colts||WR7||64||Josh Downs||North Carolina||Sterling Shepard|
|106||Colts||OT7||74||Blake Freeland||BYU||Kolton Miller|
|110||Colts||DL4||34||Adetomiwa Adebawore||Northwestern||Osa Odighizuwa|
|138||Colts||CB10||59||Darius Rush||South Carolina||Alontae Taylor|
|158||Colts||S14||188||Daniel Scott||Cal||Juan Thornhill|
|162||Colts||TE19||374||Will Mallory||Miami||Michael Egnew|
|176||Colts||RB9||122||Evan Hull||Northwestern||Joseph Addai|
|211||Colts||ED46||406||Titus Leo||Wagner||Tim Williams|
|221||Colts||CB25||173||Jaylon Jones||Texas A&M||Trumaine Johnson|
|236||Colts||OT20||230||Jake Witt||Northern Michigan||Kellen Diesch|
What a weekend!!
All process, the Colts were connected to Will Levis at 1.4. But cooler heads prevailed in the end and the correct decision was made to swing from the heels on QB Anthony Richardson‘s enormous upside (and, it must be said: higher floor than Richardson was credited for during the process).
But the Richardson pick was only the beginning. CB Julius Brents is a 6-foot-3 press-man corner with the longest wingspan for a corner (82 5/8 “) ever recorded at the NFL Combine. He had a fabulous draft process. Brents was erasing receivers during one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl, then he tested out-of-this-world, posting a 9.99 RAS score.
The next three picks were all bonanza values – WR Josh Downs, OT Blake Freeland, and DL Adetomiwa Adebawore. Downs will start immediately in the slot – sorry Isaiah McKenzie – and be a target-hound in the intermediate area.
Freeland is likely to be the swing tackle as a rookie. But if he surprises in camp, would the Colts consider starting him at RT and kicking Braden Smith to guard to form a nasty interior trio with Quentin Nelson and Ryan Kelly?
Adebawore is a physical freak with ridiculous length. He has an extremely high ceiling, but there’s work to do – that starts with the team deciding whether he’s an edge defender or a gap-shooting interior lineman at the next level. But I couldn’t believe he fell to Day 3. Athletic profiles this high-octane never drop that far.
If the Colts are contending for a Super Bowl in three years, it will be because of this draft class. Scared money don’t make money. Indy’s chips are now in the center of the table.
Miami Dolphins | Draft Grade: B
|51||Dolphins||CB5||31||Cam Smith||South Carolina||Alterraun Verner|
|84||Dolphins||RB5||70||Devon Achane||Texas A&M||Jahvid Best|
|197||Dolphins||WR29||207||Elijah Higgins||Stanford||DeAndre Smelter|
|238||Dolphins||OT16||177||Ryan Hayes||Michigan||Ty Sambrailo|
If you’re light on picks – as Miami was after forfeiting their Round 1 selection and trading away a few Day 3 selections – you need to make them count. The Dolphins did just that on Draft Weekend.
At No. 51, Miami stopped the fall of CB Cam Smith. Smith was a sure first-rounder coming into last season. But last year, South Carolina moved him from a pure-boundary corner into a role where he tracked the opponent’s top receiver, including in the slot. This put him into bad situations on islands at a position he wasn’t familiar with. Stick him on the boundary in the NFL, leave him alone, and he’ll be a plus-starter.
RB Devon Achane was a classic Mike McDaniels/Kyle Shanahan pick. Achane possesses world-class speed and is a threat to hit a homer every time he steps to the plate. He’s a usage-specific player whose touches need to be managed due to the frame. But McDaniel is already old-hat at that – Achane couldn’t have found a better landing spot.
Tennessee Titans | Draft Grade: A
|11||Titans||OL1||9||Peter Skoronski||Northwestern||Steve Hutchinson|
|33||Titans||QB4||15||Will Levis||Kentucky||Carson Wentz|
|81||Titans||RB4||66||Tyjae Spears||Tulane||Travis Etienne|
|147||Titans||TE11||191||Josh Whyle||Cincinnati||Coby Fleener|
|186||Titans||OT11||99||Jaelyn Duncan||Maryland||Tony Ugoh|
|228||Titans||WR71||—||Colton Dowell||UT Martin||Justin Watson|
Slick work this weekend from Tennessee’s new administration. There were ample rumors that Tennessee would take QB Will Levis at No. 11 if he was available. The Titans, smartly, did not panic and reach when he was. They instead accepted strong value at a position of need in OL Peter Skoronski, who I ranked as the class’ best offensive lineman.
Then, in Round 2, with Levis having plummeted down the board, the Titans got aggressive. Tennessee flipped No. 41, No. 72, and a 2024 third-rounder to Arizona for No. 32 (Levis) and No. 81. I wasn’t bullish on Levis – but for that price, he’s worth the dice roll on upside alone.
Could say the same, on a lesser scale, about OT Jaelyn Duncan. Duncan has all the tools to develop into a strong starting NFL offensive tackle – but he hasn’t put them together. At No. 186 in a shallow OT class, though? Easy call.
RB Tyjae Spears was one of my favorite prospects in the draft. Explosion like that doesn’t grow on trees. Spears is unfair in the open field. His cuts are so sudden, and his decisions are so resolute at high speeds that he discombobulates defenders. So long as his knees hold up, Spears will pose a problem to NFL defenses.
Pittsburgh Steelers | Draft Grade: A+
|14||Steelers||OT2||12||Broderick Jones||Georgia||Tyron Smith|
|32||Steelers||CB2||8||Joey Porter Jr.||Penn State||Sauce Gardner|
|49||Steelers||DL6||52||Keeanu Benton||Wisconsin||Maliek Collins|
|93||Steelers||TE4||50||Darnell Washington||Georgia||Martellus Bennett|
|130||Steelers||LB5||76||Nick Herbig||Wisconsin||Joe Schobert|
|241||Steelers||CB14||94||Cory Trice||Purdue||Brandon Facyson|
|251||Steelers||OL39||418||Spencer Anderson||Maryland||Jamil Douglas|
This is how well-run organizations draft. The Steelers came into this draft needing a starting offensive tackle, a starting cornerback, and a starting nose tackle.
In Round 1, with Paris Johnson, Darnell Wright, and Peter Skoronski off the board in the first 11 picks, the Steelers got aggressive to grab the last of the consensus top-four offensive linemen in the class. Pittsburgh wisely traded No. 17 and No. 120 to the Patriots to move up to No. 14 to take OT Broderick Jones. Jones became the team’s starting left tackle the second the pick was announced.
Then, with the No. 32 pick previously acquired from the Bears in the shrewd Chase Claypool trade, the Steelers accepted the gift the NFL had handed them in taking CB Joey Porter. Porter Jr. joining his father’s organization was a fun bit of symmetry. Beyond that, it is a highway-robbery steal at a position of acute need. Porter was No. 8 on my board. Last year, he allowed only 143 receiving yards over 10 games, and his 40% forced incompletion rate led the Power 5.
Porter will start immediately and will likely be joined in the starting lineup by NT Keeanu Benton, who was taken later in the round. Pittsburgh was far from done, stealing TE Darnell Washington in Round 3, LB Nick Herbig in Round 4, and CB Cory Trice in Round 7.
Some organizations were reportedly spooked by the medicals on Washington’s foot, which he’s injured twice in the past 14 months. But at No. 93, the risk of taking him had been largely mitigated for Pittsburgh. Washington’s addition allows Pittsburgh to move into a 12-personnel bully-ball era – he’s one of the best blocking tight ends to enter the league in the past decade.
Cleveland Browns | Draft Grade: A-
|74||Browns||WR6||56||Cedric Tillman||Tennessee||Courtland Sutton|
|98*||Browns||DL7||69||Siaki Ika||Baylor||Damon Harrison|
|111||Browns||OT5||46||Dawand Jones||Ohio State||Orlando Brown Jr.|
|126||Browns||ED11||61||Isaiah McGuire||Missouri||Chris Kelsay|
|140||Browns||QB9||163||Dorian Thompson-Robinson||UCLA||Tyler Huntley|
|142||Browns||CB22||154||Cameron Mitchell||Northwestern||Kristian Fulton|
|190||Browns||OL10||109||Luke Wypler||Ohio State||Dominic Raiola|
Due to the Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore trades, Cleveland entered Draft Weekend with the second-least draft equity in the NFL. They didn’t come on the clock until the No. 74 pick and had only four picks in the top-130. The Browns walked away from those selections with four prospects I ranked in the top-70.
The slick bargain shopping began with WR Cedric Tillman. Over the last seven games of 2021 and the first two of 2022 – nine games total – Tillman averaged seven catches for 122 yards and a touchdown-plus per game. Had he not suffered a high-ankle sprain at that point, he would have gone in Round 2, and Jalin Hyatt would still be living in a Knoxville dorm room.
With the second third-round pick, Cleveland stopped the fall of NT Siaki Ika, who was a first-rounder in every too-early-mock-draft a year ago. Ika had a down season in 2022, but he’s a premium block-eating prospect in a class bereft of them.
The Browns weren’t done adding behemoths, taking OT Dawand Jones from nearby Ohio State next. Jones was a lock to be a second-rounder three months ago. But some in the NFL soured on him after he opted-out of the Senior Bowl after one day, weighed in at 374 (up 15 pounds from his listing) at the NFL Combine, and opted-out of Ohio State’s pro day. I don’t care. He’s going to be a plus starting RT in the NFL for a long time.
EDGE Isaiah McGuire was a steal at No. 126. He’s a powerful edge-setter who tested better than expected, posting a 95th-percentile size-adjusted athletic composite. It was almost as though the rest of the NFL didn’t upgrade him whatsoever for that.
Later on, I loved the value Cleveland got on Jones’ linemate at Ohio State, C Luke Wypler. Wypler is confined to center, but he has a decent shot to develop into a quality starter there.
Las Vegas Raiders | Draft Grade: B-
|7||Raiders||ED2||7||Tyree Wilson||Texas Tech||Chandler Jones|
|35||Raiders||TE2||24||Michael Mayer||Notre Dame||Jason Witten|
|70||Raiders||DL14||172||Byron Young||Alabama||Marvin Wilson|
|100*||Raiders||WR30||208||Tre Tucker||Cincinnati||Calvin Austin III|
|104||Raiders||CB18||124||Jakorian Bennett||Maryland||Jamar Taylor|
|135||Raiders||QB8||141||Aidan O’Connell||Purdue||Mike White|
|170||Raiders||S11||148||Christopher Smith||Georgia||Rodney McLeod|
|203||Raiders||LB36||372||Amari Burney||Florida||Christian Elliss|
|231||Raiders||DL23||280||Nesta Jade Silvera||Arizona State||Rashard Lawrence|
I loved what the Raiders did early. They traded hits and misses after that.
I was told earlier this month that the Raiders loved QB Anthony Richardson and hoped he would get to them. But outside of making a king-sized offer to Arizona for No. 3 — it wouldn’t have been easy to trump Houston’s Texas-sized package — that option was never on the table. So the Raiders deferred to EDGE Tyree Wilson at No. 7, an atrium-ceiling prospect on the other side of the ball.
In Round 2, the Raiders seized the moment to stop TE Michael Mayer‘s fall, swapping No. 38 and No. 141 to the Colts for No. 35. Mayer’s ceiling may be capped, but he’s a true dual-threat inline tight end who blocks his tail off and moves the chains as a receiver in the intermediate area.
The two third-rounders – DT Byron Young and WR Tre Tucker – were both massive reaches. Tucker, in particular. What about his profile was worth a top-100 pick? Better WR prospects were available 100 picks later.
Buffalo Bills | Draft Grade: A
|25||Bills||TE1||19||Dalton Kincaid||Utah||Todd Heap|
|59||Bills||OL2||26||O’Cyrus Torrence||Florida||Larry Warford|
|91||Bills||LB6||100||Dorian Williams||Tulane||Telvin Smith|
|150||Bills||WR35||268||Justin Shorter||Florida||Equanimious St. Brown|
|230||Bills||OL25||281||Nick Broeker||Mississippi||Joe Looney|
|252||Bills||CB28||190||Alex Austin||Oregon State||Bashaud Breeland|
The Bills came into Draft Weekend with a need for a compliment to WR Stefon Diggs. They addressed that with the best receiver in the class – TE Dalton Kincaid. Don’t let Kincaid’s position designation fool you.
Last fall, Kincaid posted the No. 1 PFF receiving grade in this tight end class. He can beat you at every sector of the field. Despite getting peppered with targets while drawing ample coverage attention, Kincaid posted a minuscule 2.8% drop rate. Only two tight ends in this class have bigger mitts than Kincaid’s 10 1/4-inch vice grips. I expect him to be the Bills’ second-most targeted player in 2023. Josh Allen is going to make great use of Kincaid’s ability to win downfield.
In Round 2, the Bills stole OG O’Cyrus Torrence. Torrence is a superb OG prospect who didn’t give up a sack over his four-year college career. When his first-baseman-mitt-sized hands (11 1/4″) latch onto you, it’s night-night. Nuclear reactor play strength.
Some teams were concerned about Torrence’s medicals, likely leading to his fall. This was surprising in and of itself. Torrence sprained his MCL last year, but 40.8% of NFL Combine participants historically previously suffered an MCL sprain. It’s a common injury.
I’m a big fan of LB Dorian Williams, an athletic linebacker with long arms who excels in coverage and cleans up messes (131 tackles last year). The Bills badly needed an off-ball linebacker, but couldn’t address the need with their first two picks because of the way the board fell. Williams is more than a consolation prize – he may well start as a rookie.
New York Jets | Draft Grade: D+
|15||Jets||ED7||32||Will McDonald IV||Iowa State||Julian Peterson|
|43||Jets||OL6||49||Joe Tippmann||Wisconsin||Josh Myers|
|120||Jets||OT13||128||Carter Warren||Pittsburgh||Cedric Ogbuehi|
|143||Jets||RB8||117||Israel Abanikanda||Pittsburgh||Tevin Coleman|
|184||Jets||LB33||348||Zaire Barnes||Western Michigan||Baylon Spector|
|204||Jets||CB37||279||Jarrick Bernard-Converse||LSU||Dallis Flowers|
|220||Jets||TE7||85||Zack Kuntz||Old Dominion||Mike Gesecki|
The Jets’ Draft Weekend started a few days early when they surrendered No. 42, No. 207, a conditional 2024 second-round pick, and a first-round pick swap with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers (and No. 170). The 2024 selection will become a first-rounder unless Rodgers plays less than 65% of New York’s snaps next year.
I didn’t like that trade. But that’s not included in this grade.
McDonald is a very fun edge-rushing prospect. Undersized but long-levered and souped-up, he was a disruptive force in the Big 12. I just question the value at No. 15 when guys like Myles Murphy and Nolan Smith didn’t go until No. 28 and No. 30, respectively.
New York’s best pick of the weekend was TE Zack Kuntz at No. 220. Kuntz is a historically-freaky athlete who was only available where he was because of context. He was a four-star recruit who got stuck behind Pat Freiermuth on the depth chart at Penn State out of high school. Kuntz transferred to former PSU OC Ricky Rahne’s program at Old Dominion and was an unfair assignment for G5 defenders, posting a 73-692-5 receiving line during his breakout 2021 campaign.
But Kuntz suffered a season-ending knee injury in early October, which limited his film and exposure. I expect him to surprise. Rodgers loves targets like this.
Cincinnati Bengals | Draft Grade: A-
|28||Bengals||ED4||18||Myles Murphy||Clemson||Rashan Gary|
|60||Bengals||CB9||55||DJ Turner||Michigan||Johnathan Joseph|
|95||Bengals||S4||88||Jordan Battle||Alabama||Adrian Amos|
|131||Bengals||WR16||116||Charlie Jones||Purdue||Hunter Renfrow|
|163||Bengals||RB14||156||Chase Brown||Illinois||Myles Gaskin|
|206||Bengals||WR18||126||Andrei Iosivas||Princeton||Breshad Perriman|
|217||Bengals||P4||474||Brad Robbins||Michigan||Brad Nortman|
|246||Bengals||CB46||350||DJ Ivey||Miami||Jeremy Lane|
This was an underrated meat-and-potatoes showing. Outside of my surprise that the Bengals didn’t take a tight end in an atypically-good TE class – with former Vikings bust Irv Smith atop the depth chart – I thought the Bengals did well in their slots.
That began with EDGE Myles Murphy, who appears to have gotten caught in a numbers game in a top-heavy edge class. I saw him as a top-20 overall prospect. If he hits his ceiling, even that is underselling him.
CB DJ Turner isn’t a complete product yet, but he’s got 4.2s wheels and makes appointments to almost every catch point. He swatted away 20 passes over the last two years for a pair of Michigan CFB Playoff teams.
S Jordan Battle played over 3,000 snaps for Nick Saban in college and posted strong 80.0-plus PFF coverage grades each of the last three seasons. WR Charlie Jones was ludicrously productive last season at Purdue and should keep the good times rolling in the slot at the next level. His hands are great (3.9% career drop rate) and he has a knack for reeling in catches under duress, finishing last season tied for No. 1 in this WR class in contested catches.
Cincy also added a ton of speed to the offense on the cheap on Saturday with RB Chase Brown and WR Andrei Iosivas. Iosivas needs work at the catch point, but he’s one of the best athletes in this entire draft class.
Los Angeles Chargers | Draft Grade: C+
|21||Chargers||WR1||21||Quentin Johnston||TCU||Taller Aiyuk|
|54||Chargers||ED14||81||Tuli Tuipulotu||USC||Cameron Thomas|
|85||Chargers||LB3||60||Daiyan Henley||Washington State||Dre Greenlaw|
|125||Chargers||WR42||304||Derius Davis||TCU||Kavontae Turpin|
|156||Chargers||OL20||236||Jordan McFadden||Clemson||Vince Manuwai|
|200||Chargers||DL24||290||Scott Matlock||Boise State||Henry Mondeaux|
|239||Chargers||QB14||283||Max Duggan||TCU||Bruce Gradkowski|
Johnston got nitpicked to death during this process, but I never wavered in him as WR1 on my board. He’s the only receiver in this class who has a clear path to becoming a star boundary receiver in the NFL.
Henley signed with Nevada as a two-star dual-threat quarterback in 2017 and was a rotational receiver and kick returner before ultimately finding his destiny at linebacker. He’s still learning the linebacker position, but the upside is clear. He’s a natural pass-rusher, he has a knack for zone coverage, and he’s a reliable tackler. Last year, Henley had a minuscule 5.2% missed tackle rate on 106 tackles.
The other picks I could have taken or left. The Chargers found themselves on the wrong-end of a furious edge-rushing run from picks 28-46 and panic-reached for local product Tuli Tuipulotu.
Somebody smarter than me will have to explain taking Derius Davis, my WR42, at No. 125 overall. The Chargers, apparently pot-committed to the TCU offense by this point, then took Johnston and Davis’ quarterback, Max Duggan. Duggan will be in an XFL stadium near you very soon. Sandwiching those reaches were two more in the form of OL Jordan McFadden and DL Scott Matlock.
Houston Texans | Draft Grade: C
|2||Texans||QB2||2||C.J. Stroud||Ohio State||Justin Herbert|
|3||Texans||ED1||5||Will Anderson Jr.||Alabama||Von Miller|
|62||Texans||OL21||244||Juice Scruggs||Penn State||Hroniss Grasu|
|69||Texans||WR8||80||Nathaniel Dell||Houston||Hollywood Brown|
|109||Texans||ED28||242||Dylan Horton||TCU||Charles Omenihu|
|167||Texans||LB7||107||Henry To’oTo’o||Alabama||Reuben Foster|
|201||Texans||OL22||257||Jarrett Patterson||Notre Dame||Ben Hamilton|
|205||Texans||WR24||161||Xavier Hutchinson||Iowa State||Jakobi Meyers|
|248||Texans||S22||278||Brandon Hill||Pitt||Delarrin Turner-Yell|
The Texans stunned the draft world by taking QB CJ Stroud – who they had whispered to media sources they weren’t interested in – and then trading up for the No. 3 pick to take Will Anderson. The fireworks were only just beginning – the Texans were ludicrously active during an NFL Draft that broke the league record for most in-draft trades.
The Stroud decision was correct. And how can you quibble with Anderson as a prospect? My only question was the price the Texans paid to get up from No. 12 to get him, tossing in the No. 33 pick and 2024 first- and third-rounders for No. 3 and No. 105.
Since I think Houston is going to stink next year, that’s a risk threshold that I wouldn’t have been able to personally cross. A top-3 pick is going to be extremely valuable in the next class, with QBs Caleb Williams and Drake Maye coming.
That blockbuster was the first of five trades the Texans made during Draft Weekend.
I disagreed with Houston’s picks after Thursday, with the exceptions of WR Tank Dell and LB Henry To’oTo’o. But the Dell pick brings questions. I saw John Metchie as an NFL slot – apparently, Houston does not, since Dell is confined to the slot. But then what does Houston see WR Xavier Hutchinson as if not a manufactured-touch big slot? This team desperately needed boundary receivers. Now they’ve got more slots than a casino.
New England Patriots | Draft Grade: B+
|17||Patriots||CB3||14||Christian Gonzalez||Oregon||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie|
|46||Patriots||ED6||28||Keion White||Georgia Tech||Carlos Dunlap|
|76||Patriots||S8||105||Marte Mapu||Sacramento State||Bernard Pollard|
|107||Patriots||OL31||349||Jake Andrews||Troy||Eric Wood|
|117||Patriots||K2||248||Chad Ryland||Maryland||Joey Slye|
|112||Patriots||OL11||140||Sidy Sow||Eastern Michigan||Trey Smith|
|144||Patriots||OL26||292||Atonio Mafi||UCLA||Solomon Kindley|
|187||Patriots||WR21||144||Kayshon Boutte||LSU||Robert Woods|
|192||Patriots||P1||202||Bryce Baringer||Michigan State||Logan Cooke|
|210*||Patriots||WR41||300||DeMario Douglas||Liberty||Jaelon Darden|
|214||Patriots||CB47||355||Ameer Speed||Michigan State||Cordrea Tankersley|
|245||Patriots||CB70||—||Isaiah Bolden||Jackson State||Chris Westry|
Patriots gonna Patriot. The ethos is the same every year. They do not care what you think. They will stay true to their board, and follow their conviction.
Just like every year, roughly half of New England’s picks I saw as steals, while the other half made me scratch my dome. But I’m not sure how you can argue with what they did with the premium picks.
The Pats were particularly slick on Thursday night. They added No. 120 from the Steelers to move down three slots to take the guy they would have taken anyway, CB Christian Gonzalez. I was one of the lowest in the media on Gonzalez. But even I believe New England got strong value there. Can they teach Gonzalez instincts when the ball is in the air? If they can, he’ll be a star.
EDGE Keion White was an awesome value in mid-R2. The NFL itself didn’t anticipate him falling that far – they invited the physical freak to attend the first round. The Pats’ defensive staff will have great fun making use of White’s versatility.
Many were surprised by the OG Sidy Sow pick at No. 117. I loved it. Last year, I was far higher than consensus on the Pats’ first-round pick Cole Strange, and the same is true this year with Sow, my favorite OL sleeper in this class, was No. 140 on my board, and No. 198 on the consensus board. Polish him off in pass-pro and you’ve got an athletic road grader who starts for years.