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Draft Grades for Dynasty by Division – AFC East

The NFL Draft is over and the AFC East made some huge waves, particularly the Jets. Keith Ensminger is here to grade the draft of each of the teams in the division.

The NFL draft is behind us, and it is the rookie draft season. What better way to kick things off than some good, old-fashion draft grades? Therefore, let’s talk about the AFC East. Some very notable dynasty-relevant names landed in this division. For each pick, I have noted which players I felt would have been better selections given who was available.

Furthermore, if my draft grades seem low to you, it’s because I am a teacher. No easy grades here, thank you very much. After all, a grade of C is defined as average, right? Also, none of those silly plus/minus grades. Let’s keep it simple!

Buffalo Bills Draft Grades

James CookRB, Georgia
PickRound 2, Pick 63
Draft GradeC
Alternative Selection(s)Rachaad White, Isaiah Spiller
RationaleGetting a particular style of RB seems to be an offseason desire for Buffalo’s front office, and Cook certainly fits their bill. Don’t forget, the Bills signed Duke Johnson but also went after J.D. McKissic earlier in the offseason. Cook is explosive, but is Buffalo the ideal landing spot you want for an RB? There are a lot of mouths to feed in the City of Good Neighbors, not just in the backfield. The presence of Josh Allen has historically capped the red zone chances for the Buffalo RBs. Expect Cook to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in your rookie drafts despite these concerns.

Khalil ShakirWR, Boise State
PickRound 5, Pick 148
Draft GradeA
Alternative Selection(s)None
RationaleLate pick, but a pick of luxury for the AFC runner-ups. Shakir shares a depth chart with Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Isaiah McKenzie. Still, Allen and the Bills’ offense loves to push the ball downfield, and Shakir was tailor-made for that role. He has excellent vision, body control, and YAC ability, but will he ever get the opportunity to be fantasy-relevant? Shakir will likely come off the board in your rookie draft somewhere around the late third-round.

Buffalo Bills Dynasty Grade – B

The Bills are a team loaded with talent, so it can be difficult for a rookie to earn touches. Cook and Shakir are talented players, but Cook may find himself sitting behind Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and Duke Johnson. Shakir will start his NFL career as the fifth, possibly fourth-best wide receiver on the roster. It’s possible to love the talent but dislike the situation, and that is where I find myself with both of these players. They’re undoubtedly worth drafting, but do not expect an immediate return on your investment.

Miami Dolphins Draft Grades

Erik EzukanmaWR, Texas Tech
PickRound 4, Pick 125
Draft GradeC
Alternative Selection(s)Romeo Doubs, Khalil Shakir
RationaleI was disappointed in this pick when it happened. Erik Ezukanma is a player I liked going into the draft, but in Miami, it’s just likely not going ever to happen. He’s stuck behind Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and you could even include Mike Gesicki in that list. His best chance of getting on the field is utilizing his excellent deep ball tracking skills if Tua Tagovailoa can unleash that part of his game more often. Still, if you draft him, you’re banking on getting worthwhile production from the fourth-best receiving target on the team. Not a great recipe for dynasty success.

Skylar ThompsonQB, Kansas State
PickRound 7, Pick 247
Draft GradeC
Alternative Selection(s)None, I guess?
RationaleIs Skylar Thompson going to supplant Tua Tagovailoa as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback? No. Is he going to beat out Teddy Bridgewater as their backup? Also no. Is he a player you should draft in your dynasty rookie draft or even pick up on waivers? Still no.

Miami Dolphins Dynasty Grade – D

In this situation, Miami’s grade should likely be marked higher. The Dolphins did not draft many dynasty-relevant players, but that is because they used the picks in the Hill trade. However, the two players they did draft will likely not cause much of a splash in the NFL for two very different reasons. Ezukanma is a good player stuck in a crowded (and more talented) receiving room. Thompson is a seventh-round quarterback project. It’s hard to pass on using your rookie picks on either player, but at least they have Tyreek!

New England Patriots Draft Grades

Tyquan ThorntonWR, Baylor
PickRound 2, Pick 50
Draft GradeF
Alternative Selection(s)George Pickens, Alec Pierce, Skyy Moore
RationaleWith one of the lowest Nerd Scores in a deep and talented receiving class, the selection of Tyquan Thornton was a shock to many. If he had been drafted later, then perhaps I’d give the Patriots a bit more benefit of the doubt. But to draft Thornton while Pickens, Pierce, and Moore were still on the board? That’s how you earn a failing grade.

Pierre StrongRB, San Diego State
PickRound 4, Pick 127
Draft GradeA
Alternative Selection(s)None
RationaleI like the player, but I hate the landing spot. Yes, I understand Damien Harris and James White are not long for Foxboro. But when have we ever wanted to roster a New England RB? Knowing when to start a Patriots’ RB is one of the most frustrating experiences in dynasty. This pick of Pierre Strong has “better in best-ball leagues” written all over it. Strong is a multiple-time FCS All-American who is both elusive and powerful. I think he will have a decent professional career in New England, but I am still not sure I want the albatross around my neck that is rostering a New England running back.

Bailey ZappeQB, Western Kentucky
PickRound 4, Pick 137
Draft GradeD
Alternative Selection(s)Sam Howell
RationaleI know some like Zappe, and that’s fine. In New England, though, you’re drafting Mac Jones’ backup. If that is what you want to do with your rookie picks, more power to you. I’d have rather taken Sam Howell if I were the Patriots, but I don’t think either player would have found much relevance behind a first-round QB playing in his second season.

Kevin HarrisRB, South Carolina
PickRound 6, Pick 183
Draft GradeD
Alternative Selection(s)Tyler Badie, Keaontay Ingram
RationaleA sleeper for some in this draft class, Harris received neither the draft capital nor the landing spot you’d hope for in a late-round dart throw. While he is explosive and tough to bring down, everything I said earlier about Strong holds true for Harris. Is he talented? Absolutely. Is he worth anything more than a very late rookie pick? No.

New England Patriots Dynasty Grade – D

Maybe I am being too harsh on the Patriots, but I don’t see anything here that I like, do you? A backup QB with no dynasty value? Not one but two RBs drafted to a team notorious for frustrating dynasty owners at that position? A wide receiver with an awful Nerd Score overdrafted to a team that has historically done extremely poorly with finding rookie WR talent? Yuck, yuck, yuck.

New York Jets Draft Grades

Garrett WilsonWR, Ohio State
PickRound 1, Pick 10
Draft GradeA
Alternative Selection(s)None
RationaleWilson is my top receiver in this class, and the Jets were happy to have the Falcons take Drake London instead. The best word to describe Wilson is smooth, and he is a perfect fit in the Jets’ offense. If your league mates are willing to draft the other receivers in this class over Wilson at the top of your rookie drafts, by all means, let them. Draft Wilson with confidence. He is an immediate plug-and-play starter in your dynasty lineups.

Breece HallRB, Iowa State
PickRound 2, Pick 36
Draft GradeA
Alternative Selection(s)None
RationaleWhat more can be said about Hall that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum by the dynasty community? In case you haven’t been listening to our podcast or reading our website (and if so, how dare you!), Hall has been our consensus top-rated player in this year’s rookie class. The Jets’ wide-zone blocking scheme is a perfect system for a player with Hall’s skillset. With New York’s offensive line additions, Jets’ offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will have Hall feasting on yards come this fall.

Jeremy RuckertTE, Ohio State
PickRound 3, Pick 101
Draft GradeC
Alternative Selection(s)Daniel Bellinger, Charlie Kolar
RationaleIf you want to know more about my thoughts on Ruckert, check out our rookie profile on him. I know the guy who wrote it. Good dude.

The Jets desperately needed TE help, and so they went out and added both C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency. Ruckert finds himself behind both of them when training camp begins this summer. While he was underutilized at Ohio State, and I think he has a lot of untapped potential, the reality is you need a lot of things to break for Jeremy Ruckert ever to achieve dynasty relevance. Like Ohio State, even if he climbs the depth chart over those two, he will still be fighting to get target scraps. He will be sharing the field with the more talented Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, and Breece Hall. Instead of Ruckert, try to snag Daniel Bellinger later in your rookie drafts, playing in a less crowded TE room across the locker rooms at MetLife Stadium.

New York Jets Dynasty Grade – A

Hall is the 1.01 pick in all formats. Wilson is my top-ranked wide receiver in this class. When you land the best player at both of those positions, how could they not earn an A? We’ll grade on a curve by dropping the grade for Ruckert because, as Meatloaf sang, two out of three ain’t bad. Two New York Jets may go off the board during the first and second rounds in your rookie drafts this year. Certainly, as with any rookie, anything could happen, but the future looks bright for both of these players in the Big Apple. In short, Zach Wilson and the Jets are ready to take flight in the 2022 season.

Now that the picks are in, the pencils are down, and the grades are submitted, what do you think? Who do you disagree with? What player am I too low on? Find me on Twitter at @TheSmingDynasty, or for our NerdHerd members, try our new Discord! Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading Nerds! That’s all for today. The rookie draft season is in full tilt now that the NFL Draft is in the rearview. Time to start scouting these prospects or risk getting passed up by your league-mates. Check out all the great Rookie Profiles done by the Nerds Staff this offseason. However, nothing will substitute your own opinion, which is why the best edge in dynasty football truly is by becoming a subscriber to the #NerdHerd. New All-22 content is constantly getting added to the Dynasty Film Room. Additionally, you will get access to the DynastyGM. It is an invaluable resource for trading, especially for those in multiple leagues.

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