New England Patriots
First Round Pick: None
Best Pick: Round Six-Elandon Roberts-Inside Linebacker-Houston
The New England Patriots entered the 2016 National Football League with a deck that was stacked against them. The Patriots lost their first-round selection after Deflategate which changed their draft strategy. 59 picks went by before the Patriots got started and they would use their first selection on Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves versatile players, and what Jones provides New England with is an athlete that can return kicks while also being able to contribute defensively in nickel packages.
Surprisingly in the third round, the Pats would select North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had an up and down collegiate career which saw spend his first two years of eligibility with the Florida Gators before transferring to N.C. State. At 6’4″, 231 lbs., Brissett has great size to be a quarterback in the National Football League, but he is a project at best while he more than likely he would have been available much later in the draft for the Pats.
But in the sixth round, Belichick found his kind of player when he pegged Houston Cougars middle linebacker Elandon Roberts. In 2015, Roberts was a member of the American Athletic Conference’s All-Defensive first team as he tallied 142 tackles. Roberts is a very smart football player and Belichick will definitely find a roster spot for him.
New York Jets
First Round Pick: Darron Lee-Outside Linebacker-Ohio State
Best Pick: Round Two-Christian Hackenburg-Quarterback-Penn State
After being on the cusp making the National Football League Playoffs in 2015, the New York Jets don’t want to take a step back this year. The Jets entered the National Football League Draft last month appearing to be at an impasse as they and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are still far apart on contract negotiations. In the first round of the draft, the Jets had the opportunity to select Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch which would have signaled the end of Fitzpatrick’s time with the team. Instead the Jets opted for Ohio State Buckeyes outside linebacker Darron Lee. At 6’1″, 238 lbs., Lee is undersized to be an outside linebacker in the Jets 3-4 defensive scheme which makes you wonder if a move to safety for him could be in the works.
The second round did see the Jets dip into the quarterback pool when they tabbed Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenburg. A few months ago Hackenburg appeared to be a top-five pick until his 2015 college football season unraveled for him. Hackenburg didn’t have the best season at Penn State due to a coaching change along with the fact that the Nittany Lions didn’t have a talented team around him due to NCAA sanctions. But coming out of high school, Hackenburg was a highly touted prospect who could flourish in a pro-style offense. At 6’4″, 228 lbs., Hackenburg has the size and arm strength to flourish in the National Football League; now it’s just a matter of him getting familiar with the Jets playbook. In Florham Park, Hackenburg will be under the tutelage of Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey who has a history of developing quarterbacks in the NFL.
First Round Pick: Shaq Lawson-Defensive End-Outside Linebacker-Clemson
Best Pick: Round Two-Reggie Ragland-Inside Linebacker-Alabama
After the Buffalo Bills finished the 2015 National Football League season ranked 19th in total defense while only amassing 21 team sacks, you knew that Rex Ryan wanted to remedy that as defensive football is his specialty. At the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bills began by owning the 19th overall pick of the draft. And in typical Ryan fashion, he took a chance on a defensive player that was slipping in the draft.
In the first round the Bills would select Clemson Tigers defensive end Shaq Lawson. Last year Lawson was on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first-team All-Defense after totaling 12.5 sacks. Lawson gutted out the season with a shoulder injury which will eventually require surgery, but the Bills are hopeful that he’ll have enough to give them a solid impact this year.
In the second round the Bills got themselves a value pick in Alabama Crimson Tide middle linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland was talented enough to be a first-round pick, but he fell to the second round where the Bills decided to make a deal with the Chicago Bears in order to secure the 41st overall selection which they used on him. At 6’1″, 247 lbs., Ragland is a football player’s football player. And on top of that, Ragland is a leader which is exactly what the Bills need on defense.
The Bills continued to stockpile talent as they selected Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Adolphus Washington in the third round, while they picked his college teammate in quarterback Cardale Jones in the fourth round.
Jones is an anomaly as he had the potential to have been a first-round pick last year had he decided to leave school early even though he only made three starts in college. But when Jones decided to return to school, he found that his draft stock dropped. Jones is 6’5″, 253 lbs., and he is extremely athletic, but the best way to describe him is that he still “raw”. However if there is a coach that can motivate Jones to practice each day with a chip on his shoulder, it is Ryan.
In the fifth round, the Bills selected Arkansas Razorbacks running back Jonathan Williams in what I deem as a low risk, high reward move. In 2014, Williams led the Razorbacks in rushing with 1,190 yards, but a foot injury put him on the shelf for the entire 2015 college football season. However after carrying the football 211 times in 2014, Williams should be fresh which will be a welcome sight as he could take some carries away from Bills running back LeSean McCoy who is recovering from a knee injury.
First Round Pick: Laremy Tunsil-Offensive Tackle-Ole Miss
Best Pick: Round Three-Kenyon Drake-Running Back-Alabama
Since 2004, the Miami Dolphins have only have had one winning season, and a big reason for that is their struggles in the National Football League Draft. The Dolphins have consistently failed to find impact players early on the NFL Draft which is also a solid implication as to why they only have one postseason appearance over that stretch, and they’re still searching for their first playoff victory since 1999.
Originally, the Dolphins entered the 2016 National Football League Draft in possession of the eighth overall selection. But prior to the draft, the Dolphins would engage in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that would see Miami receive the 13th overall selection. The Dolphins did receive offers for the choice, but instead they opted to select Mississippi Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Dark clouds hung over Tunsil’s head at the draft after a questionable photo of him surfaced on Twitter on April 28th. And as some people had Tunsil pegged as the best prospect entering the draft, he found himself falling. There’s no question that Tunsil has the talent to become an impact player for the Dolphins; it’s just a matter of whether or not that his head will be screwed on properly. And unfortunately, I don’t see any leadership within the Dolphins locker room that is going to hold Tunsil accountable.
Aside from selecting Tunsil, the rest of the Dolphins time at the 2016 National Football League Draft was sketchy at best as they didn’t find enough impact players that are going to help them end their playoff drought in 2016, or build a solid core of players for the future.
Sources: Pro-football-reference, Cfbstats.com