NFL Draft 2018: AFC breakdown and grades

It’s never too soon for RealSport to offer some analysis of each AFC team’s performance.


(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Matthew Emmons)

Let’s get things started with the AFC: 

Baltimore Ravens
Most Intriguing Selection: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Round 1, 32nd overall)
Breakdown: Baltimore took tight end Hayden Hurst with the 25th pick then went with a project in Jackson, so there is not much certainty in either pick. The Ravens, who had 10 picks, might have gotten a steal in the third round with starter-ready tackle Orlando Brown Jr.–whose father played for the franchise.
Grade: C+

Buffalo Bills
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford (Round 3, 96th overall)
Breakdown: Some pundits believe seventh-overall pick Josh Allen will be the best quarterback in the draft and fellow first-round linebacker Tremaine Edmunds seems like a star in the making. Phillips has first-round talent and can start now.
Grade: B+

Cincinnati Bengals
Most Intriguing Selection:
Billy Price, C, Ohio State (Round 1, 21st overall)
Breakdown: The Bengals did not take a playmaker on offense but went with need in Price, who has been banged up, safety Jessie Bates and defensive end Sam Hubbard in the first three rounds. Linebacker Malik Jefferson from Texas could be special if motivated.
Grade: C

Cleveland Browns
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (Round 1, 1st overall)
Breakdown: Regardless the perception of where Mayfield should have been picked, the Browns believe he is their man and could start by season’s end. Size is the obvious issue, but there’s an undersized signal-caller in New Orleans who is a future Hall of Famer. If running back Nick Chubb can stay healthy, he could be Cleveland’s featured back. Troubled Florida receiver Antonio Callaway is a gamble with a potentially big payoff.
Grade: B-

Denver Broncos
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon (Round 3, 71st overall)
Breakdown: Taking pass rusher Bradley Chubb to team with Von Miller will be formidable. SMU receiver Courtland Sutton was a nice choice in the second round while Freeman is a strong runner who gained over 1,300 yards in three of his four seasons at Oregon.
Grade: A-

Houston Texans
Most Intriguing Selection:
Keke Coutee, WR Texas Tech (Round 4, 103rd overall)
Breakdown: On paper, the Texans’ draft doesn’t have a name that stands out to the casual fan, but first-round safety Justin Reid should help their secondary right away. Offensive lineman Martinas Rankin can play either tackle spot and center. Coutee offers Deshaun Watson a true downfield threat even though he does not possess great size.
Grade: C

Indianapolis Colts
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State (Round 2, 36th overall)
Breakdown: Guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth pick is a stud and Leonard’s star is on the rise even though he played at the FCS level. He could blossom into the defensive playmaker the Colts need. Clemson receiver Deon Cain, taken in the sixth round, has the potential to be a starter.
Grade: B-

Jacksonville Jaguars
Most Intriguing Selection: 
D.J. Chark, WR, LSU (Round 2, 61st overall)
Breakdown: First-rounder Taven Bryan gives Jacksonville depth on the defensive line. Chark, meanwhile, can fly, but he only had six touchdowns and 66 receptions in three college seasons. Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison is at his best when close to the line of scrimmage, but his coverage skills must improve.
Grade: C+

Kansas City Chiefs
Most Intriguing Selection:
Breeland Speaks, DT, Mississippi (Round 2, 46th overall)
Breakdown: It seems the Chiefs got more value in the back end of their draft than up top. Speaks was their first pick, but he might not be a consistent contributor early on. Derrick Nnadi, at 300 pounds, will eat up space in the middle but will not start right away. Safety Armani Watts in the fourth round, however, could be a starter in Week 1.
Grade: C

Los Angeles Chargers
Most Intriguing Selection:
Justin Jones, DT, North Carolina State (Round 3, 84th overall)
Breakdown: First-rounder Derwin James makes a good secondary even better as the Chargers went defense with their first four picks. Jones, meanwhile, can make an immediate impact as a run stopper. Sixth-round receiver Dylan Cantrell from Texas Tech could blossom into a nice red zone threat.
Grade: B

Miami Dolphins
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State (Round 2, 42nd overall)
Breakdown: Miami’s first three picks–defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Gesicki and linebacker Jerome Baker–are all solid players who should start right away. Gesicki, though, adds a much-needed weapon to an offense that no longer boasts Jarvis Landry.
Grade: B+

New England Patriots
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia (Round 1, 31st overall)
Breakdown: First-round pick Isaiah Wynn gives New England depth on the offensive line, but Michel is a nice replacement for Dion Lewis. Michel seems like the prototypical Patriots back who can be threat a as a runner and a receiver.
Grade: B

New York Jets
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Sam Darnold, QB, USC (Round 1, 3rd overall)
Breakdown: Darnold was the safe pick, but will Josh Rosen or Allen be better quarterbacks and did the Jets give up too much to get him? We’ll see. The point is Darnold already seems a better option than Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater. Taking defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd helped fill a need–at least on paper.
Grade: C

Oakland Raiders
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Arden Key, DE, LSU (Round 3, 87th overall)
Breakdown: Jon Gruden must remember he’s picking players as a coach and not an analyst. There were doubters after bypassing their defensive needs to take UCLA tackle Kolton Miller in the first round. Second-round defensive tackle P.J. Hall seems like a project and Key has first-round potential if he can stay on the straight and narrow. Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst fell to the fifth round because of health concerns, but he also could be a star.
Grade: C

Pittsburgh Steelers
Most Intriguing Selection:
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (Round 3, 76th overall)
Breakdown: Pittsburgh got a rising safety in Terrell Edmunds with its first pick then took Martavis Bryant’s potential replacement in James Washington. Rudolph, meanwhile, could be the Steelers quarterback of the future–which might come sooner than later–after throwing for almost 5,000 yards and 37 touchdowns as a senior.
Grade: B+

Tennessee Titans
Most Intriguing Selection: 
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College (Round 2, 41st overall)
Breakdown: Taking linebacker Rashaan Evans in the first round gives Tennessee an every-down defender who could end up being its leading tackler in 2018. Landry was a beast in 2016 with 16 ½ sacks but had just five last season when he drew more attention. If he can regain that ’16 performance, then the Titans might have a future Pro Bowler in their midst.
Grade: B

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