AFC East Draft Grades: Jets Rise Above

So how did the Jets fare in the 2014 NFL Draft?

"It went the way we wanted," head coach Rex Ryan told the media Saturday night.  "We think we got a lot of really good football players that are going to help our team. But to say it's an A now? I'm not going to do that."

Last December, Ryan said the 2013 class was "about as strong a class as I've ever seen."  Jets Nation hopes the dozen selections this May will help their team close the gap on the Patriots in the AFC East.  We wanted to see what some of the national pundits, who have the unenviable task of delivering draft marks, thought of the weekend performances inside the division.


HIGH GRADE: B (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, & Bleacher Report)
Rob Rang, "Calvin Pryor was my top-rated safety and I have no doubt that he's going to be Broadway hit for the Jets. He plays with the instincts and physicality to star in Rex Ryan's aggressive scheme."

Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report: "Idzik drafted a 6'5" monster in the second round who has been likened to Rob Gronkowski, the feared tight end for division-rival New England. Texas Tech's Jace Amaro isn't quite the athletic specimen that Gronkowski is, but he is a big target for second-year quarterback Geno Smith or Mike Vick."

Mel Kiper, ESPN: "Jalen Saunders offers some shiftiness and slot depth, and Shaq Evans is solid if not a burner. Dakota Dozier can become a starter, and if Dexter McDougle plays up to his potential he could be a steal at No. 80."


Peter Schrager,  "The Jets took one of my favorite players in the draft in Calvin "CP" Pryor with the 18th pick… Rex Ryan did land one steal in Utah DE Trevor Reilly, who slipped to the seventh round.  He can play right away and has a very nasty streak to him."

Pete Prisco, "I like big-hitting safety Calvin Pryor to fill a major need, but I didn't like tight end Jace Amaro in the second. Fourth-round slot receiver Jalen Saunders could be a steal."

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Spots: "It was a class that started with promise, leveled off in the middle rounds and actually seemed to get stronger in the end.  Late-round picks such as Shaq Evans, Dakota Dozier and Brandon Dixon could end up helping out."

Chris Burke & Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: "Safety Calvin Pryor definitely fits the mold of a Rex Ryan defense, as does seventh-rounder Trevor Reilly."


LOW GRADE: C- (Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Spots: "Not a sexy draft at all, but that's about how you would expect a first-time GM in Dennis Hickey to play it with one pressing need — offensive line — and a bunch of secondary needs. It could be effective, but there is no star in this group."

Mel Kiper, ESPN: "The Dolphins need an immediate starter at right tackle, and that's (Ja'Wuan) James. Just plug him in and check it off." Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report:"They also needed a No. 3 receiver—though it may not have been a top priority—and they got a good one in Jarvis Landry.  The 5'11", 205-pound receiver out of LSU is not a burner, but he is a smooth route-runner with great hands. Mike Mayock called him the 'toughest wide receiver in the draft' during NFL Network's coverage, and he was a leader in the locker room at LSU."


Peter Schrager,  "They also drafted Jarvis Landry, one of my favorite receivers in this draft.  Walt Aikens is an exciting tall CB, too."

Pete Prisco, "They needed offensive line help, and they got it with two picks in the first three rounds on lineman. Question is: Did they get the right one in the first round with tackle Ja'Wuan James."

Rob Rang, "The Dolphins checked off most of their areas of concern with a very logical draft but I don't know the club received great value at any of their selections, starting with Ja'wuan James at No. 19 overall."

Chris Burke & Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: "Miami picked an offensive tackle at No. 67, Billy Turner, who actually may be better than the OT it picked at No. 19, Ja'Wuan James."


CUMULATIVE GPA: 2.6 (Strong C )

Pete Prisco, "I know first-round pick Dominique Easley is a risk with double knee surgery, but he is worth it."**

Peter Schrager,  "The Patriots must have loved Jimmy Garoppolo because there were other players at 62nd overall who could have helped contribute now."

Mel Kiper, ESPN: "I really like Bryan Stork, and adding him, Cameron Fleming and Jon Halapio really strengthens the depth chart. James White hits a need at RB, and he holds on to the ball. Jeremy Gallon is dangerous after the catch, and offers depth in the slot. I can see him becoming a factor."


Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report:** "Were it not for a torn ACL, (Dominique) Easley might have gone in the top 15. The big defensive tackle was injured early enough last season that he could be ready to play in Week 1, however, which is likely why the Patriots were willing to take him in the first round."

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Spots: "Almost this entire draft was made with 2015 in mind.  The Patriots took Tom Brady's potential replacement and added depth on the offensive line and at spots where the Patriots might need help… next season.  Garoppolo obviously is a fascinating pick, but we might not see him for three years."**

Rob Rang, "The Patriots' draft will be panned by some but I like the mix of gambling and safety."


HIGH GRADE: B (Sports Illustrated & Bleacher Report)
LOW GRADE: C (ESPN, Yahoo Sports, )
CUMULATIVE GPA: 2.2 (C Without a Curve)

Mel Kiper, ESPN: "My issue is that this draft is loaded with wide receivers -- there are good ones already signing as undrafted free agents as I type this, in fact -- and the Bills paid a significant price to get Watkins."**

Peter Schrager,  "Cyril Richardson was being discussed as a first rounder as recent as November, so getting him in the fifth round was a steal.  Seantrel Henderson is the ultimate no-risk pick."**

Pete Prisco, "The price to get Watkins drives the grade down."**

Rob Rang, "Wideout Sammy Watkins may very well be the difference-maker that Buffalo is looking for to help take the pressure off of 2013 surprise first round quarterback EJ Manuel but the Bills gave up two first round picks to get him, which I believe will prove too much."


Eric Edholm, Yahoo Spots: "The first-round trade will be how this crop is judged.  Watkins is a dynamic player, but he doesn't fit the typical NFL alpha-dog wideout mold of the 6'3" or taller specimen.  It he dominates, it will be worth it.  But if not…"**

Alessandro Miglio, Bleacher Report: "The second round saw (Doug) Whaley address the right tackle position with Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama, who fell in the draft because of an arthritic knee. The Bills took a quality middle linebacker in Louisville's Preston Brown to understudy behind Brandon Spikes".**

Chris Burke & Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: "Their biggest risks came along an offensive line that needed some help. OTs Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson and G Cyril Richardson all are rolls of the dice."

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