Dec 18, 2011; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Marcell Dareus (99) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) during the first half at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

2011 NFL Draft Grades: A.F.C. East


Dec 18, 2011; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Marcell Dareus (99) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) during the first half at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

They say it takes three years to grade a draft class, but I decided to look back at our initial reactions to the 2011 nfl draft class and see if, up to this point, we were on the right track. Today I’ll look at what we said about the A.F.C. East.

Buffalo Bills-

The Bills picked third in the N.F.L. draft and went with Marcel Dareus. I liked the pick and gave the pick a B+/A- and said “Good value he’s versatile and will fit with the a 34 or 43 if the Bills have another tough year succeeding with a 34 base front.”

I was not a huge fan of the Aaron Williams pick, but undestood it. Williams battled injuries last year and it’s tough to get a gauge and what he can be at this point.

I thought the Sheppard pick fit the Bills perfectly and really liked the pick for the Bills and gave it high marks. I’m interested to see how he’ll play in a bit more space this year with the Bills transitioning defense.  I gave the Bills an A- for both the Chris Hairston and Johnny White picks, but hammered the pick of Searcy. I would say I was right about Hairston who looked pretty good as a potential fill in starter and quality depth on the offensive line. White remains to be seen and Searcy was much better than I thought he would be and could even win a starting job this year. I called Justin Rodgers pick a “fine pick. but I think are much better values here”. Rodgers came out late in the season and might develop into one of the steals of the draft.

My final thought on the Bills was “Overall I’d give the Bills a B+/A-.  This is the best the Bills have drafted in a long, long time.” I think one year in I would stand by that statement. The Bills 2011 draft class has the potential to be franchise changing.

Miami Dolphins-

Everyone who reads the site regularly knows that I was not a big fan of the Pouncey pick last year. I still don’t think he offers enough positional value to warrant such a high selection, though he played well at times last year.

Here’s what I said about Thomas after the Dolphins chose him and after I graded the pick as a B-.

“I was going to knock this value down a lot based on my own board, but I decided to go by what came from Rick Gosselin leading up to the draft, which is that Thomas was ahead of Mikel LeShoure on many teams boards so I suppose the league value is fine here at B. I don’t mind Thomas, but I think he runs too upright, doesn’t have great speed, is not a superb pass catcher and never just wowed me on the field. Now, do I think he can be effective on the Dolphins? Yes, I do. I think he can bang it in between the tackles and has pretty good vision (not Mark Ingram vision), but he could definitely be a guy who carries the ball 20 times a games, accumulates 2-4 catches a game and average 4.2 yards per carry in his career.  If we consider “C’ as average value, I think Thomas is slightly above average value at this point.

 

I thought Gates was an Okay pick, but he appears to be on the way to bust-ville. (Yes too early, but there have not been positive things coming out of the Dolphins about Gates). I really liked the Charles Clay pick for the Dolphins and thought it was their best pick-I still stand by that.  I was not thrilled with what they did on the rest of day three.

Ultimately I said about the Dolphins draft “I really disliked what the Dolphins did in this draft, though I think Fans will be happy because they addressed some major needs (which always pleases fans) but, I think they didn’t get great value from that. Now, if you want to throw in the Brandon Marshall trade as part of this draft pick, I could bump the draft grade up to a B- (C- without the Marshall trade).”

I don’t think their draft class established themselves last year. Pouncey should be a pretty good pro, but that’s not what you’re looking for when you select an interior OL 15th overall.  Meh.

New England Patriots

Sayre grade the Patriots. Sayre is more of a lenient grader than I am in general and here’s what he had to say.

“The New England Patriots and Bill Belichick never cease to amaze me when it comes to the NFL draft. Whether it’s moving up or down, or into the future, this is a team that is always accumulating draft picks, and rarely staying in the same slot they were originally given. That trend continued in 2011, as the Patriots moved current picks for future picks, and added some top of the line selections along the way.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the Pats’ draft overall, I typically like what they do, and I respect their eye for talent. So how did the Patriots fare in 2011?”

The Patriots draft class wasn’t great last year, but I expect a few players to be a little better this year. Ridley and Vereen will get the opportunity this year to showcase their abilities and dictate whether or not the Patriots feel this position is satisfied. Nate Solder was pretty good last year and should get better. Mallett and Marcus Cannon were picks for the future not 2011. Overall, this draft doesn’t look like it will be anything special yet, but there is still a lot of potential here.

New York Jets

Sayre also graded the Jets and liked their draft a lot more than the Patriots.

“I think the Jets did another fantastic job in the 2011 NFL Draft, using their selections to fill key areas of need as well as some nice selections for depth…”

Sayre gave the Wilkerson pick an A

“Muhammad Wilkerson is a big, tough, physical defensive lineman who is an absolute perfect fit for the Jets’ defense. He reminds me of a younger Trevor Pryce, a big 315 pound man who can get double digit sacks from that five technique position. He was underrated because he played for Temple, not exactly known as a college football powerhouse. Still, the fact remains that he put up good numbers for the Owls and he should be a very, very good player for the Jets.” Wilkerson played well last year and looks like a future stalwart along the defensive line for the Jets.

He also gave the pick of Kendrick Ellis an A. Ellis did not make his mark in 2011.

Sayre gave positive praise for the rest of the picks as well, saying.

“Overall draft grade: A

The Jets did a fantastic job at every level of the draft. I can’t say I disliked a single one of their picks. They picked guys who fit their scheme, and they picked guys who can make an immediate impact as well.”

I think Kerley showed that he’ll be a useful player for the Jets moving forward. The issue for me with the Jets drafting over the past few years is how few high round draft selections they have had, this will eventually come back to haunt them.

 

This is just a quick look at our initial reactions from the 2011 NFL Draft for the AFC East it’ll be fun to track the players progress over the next few years and see how accurate our assessments were two or three more years from now.

 

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Tags: 2011 NFL Draft AFC East Buffalo Bills