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2020 NFL Draft Review - AFC East


If you missed the first three installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series, you can read the NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.

Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.

Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level.  I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.

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Overview

Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.

Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.

Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.

As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.

So here is the first installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:

5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position.
4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position.
3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production.
2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions.
1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.

Next up, the AFC East.

 

New York Jets

The Jets came into the draft with well-defined needs at tackle, wide receiver, and as usual, edge rusher.  They moved around a bit and still filled those needs with the No. 12, No. 24, and No. 53 ranked players on my board.  This Jets draft class will undoubtedly be defined by two of the riskiest boom-or-bust prospects in the entire draft.  Their first and second-round picks arguably have the highest ceilings at their respective positions but are both extremely raw.

Mekhi Becton (4) was my top-ranked tackle in a good tackle class.  His film shows inconsistent technique, somehow getting driven back into his quarterbacks' lap by bull rushes.  Becton's size-to-athleticism ratio is folklore at this point, and he has the physical traits of the best tackle in the NFL.  One of my notes: "you have to teach him everything."  Jets offensive line coach Frank Pollack has his work cut out for him, but Becton will be a dream to coach if he's willing to put in the work.  Joe Douglas' strength is supposed to be offensive line, so in some ways, his reputation is at stake with this pick.  Scouting draft prospects is not just about the film - NFL teams do a ton of research on projecting work habits, character, and intangibles.  My main concern with Becton is keeping his weight in check.  I want to believe in Douglas here.

Trading back to 59 and still getting my No. 24 overall player in Denzel Mims (4) was one of the best moves in the entire draft.  Mims' fall was one of the few things that actually surprised me, and it's interesting that even the team that ultimately picked him passed on him in the mid-second.  I couldn't find any character or medical flags with Mims so why did a prospect who was super productive and aced the draft process fall so far?  After watching his film, I just don't have an answer.  He's sloppy and raw, but scouting is about traits, and he has the traits of a WR1.  They teach the wide receiver position a little different at Baylor - round most cuts, find grass rather than run precise routes - so teams may have been spooked by Corey Coleman and the like.

Mims is going to have to be coachable, but his ceiling is undeniable.  His mix of strength, physicality, and ball skills pops off the screen, with frequent high-points and flashes of tremendous hands.  There are very few reps that display 4.38 speed, but it's not like he's slow on film either.  A huge part of route-running at the pro level is subtle hand fighting and push-offs.  To me his mid-route handwork was advanced, and his traits to use his hands to gain separation make him a potential contested-catch warrior.  The one trait that wasn't elite was his lack of suddenness, but his 6.66 3-cone suggests he has well above-average change of direction.  Someone please explain to me why Denzel Mims lasted until pick 59.

Ashtyn Davis (3) in the third was a curious pick and probably raised some eyebrows after months of Jamal Adams rumors.  However, the draft isn't just about filling needs for the upcoming season, it's about building for the future, and it's clear the Jets are preparing for Marcus Maye to walk in free agency next offseason.  A case can definitely be made that Davis was the best player available at pick 68.  His film showed excellent speed, instincts, and the ability to play center field in single-high looks.  He's a smart player with good tackling technique and showed nice pass-breakups and interceptions on film.  His film wasn't flawless, as he took some bad angles in the Washington game, giving up a 4th-and-1 touchdown to their running back.  I project Davis as a Jim Leonhard-ish starter down the road next to Adams.

The Jets used their final day-two pick on a pass-rusher I wasn't high on in Jabari Zuniga (2).  I also would have liked for them to add another receiver at some point.  For the most part, however, they nailed this draft, mostly because Mims fell so far.  Passing on CeeDee Lamb was probably a mistake, but if Becton and Mims live up to their ceilings, watch out.  In three years it will be clear if Lamb/Josh Jones should have been the move instead of Becton/Mims.

 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins played the smokescreen game beautifully.  The Chargers basically admitted they wanted Tua, and while there's no proof they had him ranked higher than Justin Herbert, common sense says they were fine with both but preferred Tua.  After all the smoke about Herbert, a tackle, and trade-ups, the Dolphins stood pat at No. 5 and got their franchise quarterback.

Tua Tagovailoa (4) is a fascinating study in draft value as it relates to risk.  Every doctor or agent that came out declaring his injuries as non-stories had an agenda.  There is no doubt that his durability is a huge question mark after suffering a myriad of ailments, including a very serious hip injury, over his short career.  His injury history is horrifying, and if I was a general manager I would have been terrified to take him and terrified to pass on him.  The main reason for concern isn't just about his history, it's about his tendencies on film to hold onto the ball too long or try to make plays that just aren't worth it.

Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray are amazing at not taking unnecessary hits.  They know how to contort their bodies, slide, step out of bounds, and just wisely give up when they need to.  Tua does not have this sixth sense.  The situation reminds me of RGIII coming out.  Amazing prospect, but major concerns about his ability to stay on the field.

As a football player on the actual field, Tua is special.  His best trait is his ball placement, as he mastered the RPO-heavy attack at Alabama, routinely throwing dots to his star-studded receiving corps.  He is athletic and creative outside the structure of the offense, making plays with his eyes downfield.  He also has excellent mechanics which points to coachability. There are some on-field question marks - a terrible pick on the goal line against Tennessee and some missed throws against New Mexico State.  However, his 69.3 career completion percentage and 87/11 touchdown-to-interception ratio are for real.  I don't feel confident predicting his NFL career due to injury concerns as it relates to playing style.  If he's healthy, he'll be a star.

Austin Jackson (2) was a bad pick.  He's young with some upside, but there were much better players on the board at 18.  If any team can afford to take on a project it's Miami right now, but I would have preferred Ezra Cleveland or Josh Jones.  I saw Jackson get beat by a spin move and generally struggle to place his hands.  He has the size and physical ability, but I wanted to see more consistency.  His kickset is natural but he turns his shoulders too much against speed rushers.  I expect him to get victimized early and often.  I don't think he's quick enough.

My final note on Noah Igbinoghene (2): strong and long, get him in zone.  Igbinoghene got beat twice by J'Marr Chase, but also laid the wood on Clyde Edwards-Helaire.  He's physical enough, ran a 4.48, and returned a kick for a touchdown against Arkansas.  His biggest weakness is that he doesn't get his head around down the field.  He'll be much better playing facing the quarterback in zone coverage than in man.  I would have taken one of the safeties over him at 30.

Quick thoughts on their other picks: Robert Hunt (2) could start at guard but isn't powerful enough to be more than average.  Raekwon Davis (3) was highly underrated for stupid reasons like stat production.  He's a starting run-stuffer right away and has all the traits you want.  I thought New England would take him.  Brandon Jones (1) didn't strike me as a pro.  He was a big-time recruit and has some speed, but got beat too much.  I liked Solomon Kindley (2), but his body just might not work, and I noted Curtis Weaver (1) as "one-dimensional, only speed rush" so I'm not hugely surprised by his fall.  He can bend and run the arc, but he has no moves in terms of handwork.  Too jag-ish versus Colorado State for me.

I expect people to warn us about sleeping on the Dolphins, but the reality is they traded a great young safety and great young left tackle that would have been building blocks for Brian Flores.  I expect most of this draft class to underwhelm, but what matters most is Tua's health.  If he can stay healthy, he'll be a franchise quarterback that will keep the Dolphins contending in the AFC East for years to come.  What Flores did with that Miami roster last year was extremely impressive.

 

New England Patriots

My next project is an even more comprehensive updated study on the value of draft picks, which will eventually lead to an evaluation of teams' drafting.  My guess is that it will reveal what I have always thought: Bill Belichick is not a great drafter and is probably below average.  He is the best coach in history and does a phenomenal job of developing a winning culture, but a lot of his draft picks have underwhelmed or busted.  Part of that is due to a small draft board and focus on players that fit their organization specifically.  I did not like this Patriots draft class.  They took a division-two safety, situational edge rusher, the fifth-best player on Alabama's defense, two tight ends, and a probably racist kicker.

Kyle Dugger (3) clearly didn't belong in D-II.  He plays fast, can run and hit, and did some flat-out dominant things on film.  His breaks on the ball were at a different speed, he knocked down tight ends, and had some pick-sixes that made him look like Deion Sanders.  Obviously, it's all about how he'll react to a jump in level of competition.  Dugger's great Senior Bowl week was definitely a huge factor in his ultimate draft slot.  He's not fundamentally there yet, but being mentored by Devin McCourty and coached by Belichick gives him a real chance to develop into a pro bowl player.

I did not see it with Josh Uche (1).  The Iowa offensive line had no problem with him, and the only sack I saw in the games I watched was on a free rush.  Michigan didn't even rush him in big spots.  He's thin with no plan.  His only translatable trait is a great first step, which is not that difficult to mitigate if he has nothing else.  I actually like Anfernee Jennings (2) better.  He's stiff and can't bend, but he's stout at the point of attack and can be a solid stand-up run defender right now.

I thought the Patriots should have taken a shot with one of the quarterbacks, and they drafted two tight ends in a terrible tight end class.  It will be fascinating to see how Belichick fares without Brady, but it wouldn't shock me to see them focus on player development and position themselves for a quarterback in next year's draft.  Their roster just isn't that talented right now.

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded their first-round pick for Stefon Diggs, adding a much-needed weapon for Josh Allen.  They ended up getting huge values, landing the No. 16 player on my board a 54, the No. 54 player on my board at 86, and the No. 65 player on my board at 207!  Teams that draft close to the consensus internet rankings usually end up with better drafts than teams that don't.

A.J.Epenesa (3) has a high floor and terrific film but I wasn't shocked to see him fall to 54.  His poor 3-cone time is extremely disturbing, and teams were clearly spooked by his lack of athleticism.  However, "traits" doesn't always pertain to purely physical attributes, as his football traits are tremendous.  Epenesa looks much twitchier on film than his testing numbers suggest, and his strength is unquestioned.  He walked back the Michigan left tackle, displaying his obvious plus power.  He has a good get-off and his physicality plays in the league.  He can knife in on inside moves and uses his length to make plays.  Probably more of a left end than right end, he's a solid pro edge in the mold of a bigger Patrick Kerney.

Zack Moss (3) made the Utah offense go.  He has the potential to be a true 1A running back for the Bills, but his long injury history clouds his future.  Moss' film is fantastic.  He has terrific burst, change-of-direction, and always falls forward.  His technique is poor but he gets it done in pass protection and as a receiver.  As a pure runner, he's right up there with Jonathan Taylor, and only lacks that home-run long speed.  He's twitchy, patient, and shows quick jump cuts that play in the league.  His lack of production against Texas and Washington did concern me.  I still expect him to unseat Devin Singletary and emerge as a fantasy stalwart assuming he can stay healthy.

I prefer Isaiah Hodgins (3) to Gabriel Davis (2) but I love doubling up on wide receiver in this loaded class.  Hodgins having success would be somewhat of an outlier.  He has the size and tremendous hands, but a lot of his film probably doesn't translate .  He was a double-move beast, but his 4.61 shows.  I'll take a stab with great hands.  Davis played inches off the boundary as an outside receiver at UCF, so he'll need to adjust to real alignments and actual routes at the next level.  He was incredibly productive but doesn't have the speed or technique of anything more than an average pro.  He was schemed for one-on-one matchups against spatially-confused corners.

With a solid head coach and talented roster, the Bills will enter 2020 as the favorites in the AFC East.  Josh Allen's accuracy remains a concern, and with more weapons there will be no excuses.  He needs a big year.  The defense has building block pieces at all three levels and the solid additions of Epenesa and Moss should support the foundation.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more divisions in the coming days.

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Things are starting to get difficult for fantasy football managers. Indianapolis, Minnesota, Miami and Baltimore all have the week off, so fantasy managers are already playing shorthanded. Fielding a full lineup is going to be tough as it is if you have a few injuries. If one of your key guys is listed as questionable... Read More


Week 7 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship... Read More


Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 7)

The more data we get as the season goes on, the better equipped we are to interpret matchups and make informed decisions. Then Week 6 comes along and blows it all to hell. The unpredictability of sports is what keeps us intrigued, as frustrating as it may be at times. Numbers are supposedly to be... Read More


The King's Week 7 Fantasy Football Lineup Rankings (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers!  Below you will find my Week 7 fantasy football lineup rankings. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions. Skill Position analysis is primarily based on the PPR ranks. The rankings are powered by... Read More


Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards... Read More


Fantasy Football Warning Signals for Week 7

The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict. How... Read More


How to Value Clyde Edwards-Helaire with Le'Veon Bell in KC

Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More