Rang: First-round grades and Day-2 projections: AFC

By Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu. It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the weekend. But waiting is no fun. As such, let's take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2018 draft with a quick current look at the first round.


Buffalo Bills

Give first-year general manager Brandon Beane credit for his aggression, boldly trading up twice for quarterback Josh Allen who best fit his team and town, as well as a budding superstar in linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Now with six picks remaining - including No. 96 Friday - the Bills have to address the trenches to complete the reset of the roster.

  • Grade: B

Miami Dolphins

No team filled a bigger hole with better value than the Dolphins with the selection of Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick, the most versatile and dependable defensive back in this draft. Like the Bills, expect the Dolphins to focus on the trenches with at least one of their current Day Two (No. 42, No. 73) selections.

  • Grade: B-plus

New England Patriots

Fans sometimes forget the human element that comes into play when drafting players, who sometimes struggle to acclimate to new environments. That is why from both a schematic and personality standpoint, the Patriots' selection of former Georgia teammates Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel make perfect sense. Wynn was among this year's top pass blockers and Michel - besides being an elusive runner - is also a reliable receiver and pass protector. Expect each to contribute big time as rookies, which is saying something on a team as loaded with veterans as New England. The Patriots have three Day-2 picks (No. 43, 63 and 95); expect at least one defensive back.

  • Grade: A

New York Jets

Rejoice, long-suffering Jets fans, your franchise quarterback is now on the roster in the form of USC's Sam Darnold, whose physical talent is matched by his intangibles. Few of the quarterbacks in this draft have the mettle to handle the bright lights and expectations of Broadway but Darnold does. Ideally, the 20-year-old Darnold would have time to master the Jets' playbook before being thrown into the fire but he is more gifted than any of the veterans on New York's roster and could push for playing time sooner than some think. With just five more picks in the draft (and only No. 72 overall Friday), the Jets need to reload at the other skill positions to avoid a delayed flight.

  • Grade: B-plus


Baltimore Ravens

It is hard to imagine a more fitting final first round for retiring general manager Ozzie Newsome than the one he and the Ravens pulled off Thursday, nabbing the Hall of Famer's favorite prospect at his former position -- tight end Hayden Hurst (after a trade down). Newsome then jumped back up to secure the future at quarterback with the draft's most dynamic athlete in Lamar Jackson. Each player is a terrific fit in head coach John Harbaugh's system, although it may morph to accommodate Action Jackson. With six picks still to go, the Ravens have plenty of picks to boost the pass rush and defensive backfield.

  • Grade: A

Cleveland Browns

It takes bold moves to turn around a franchise with the losing streak Cleveland has endured and that is precisely what general manager John Dorsey and his staff provided, nabbing lightning rod quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall and then this draft's premier cover corner, Denzel Ward at No. 4. Neither measures big in size, but as playmakers they are both huge. Expect help along the offensive line and at pass-catcher to be priorities over the next seven picks, with the Browns entering the second with an NFL-best three second-round selections, including the first and third picks Friday.

  • Grade: A

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals addressed the biggest hole on the roster Thursday, literally and figuratively, with the selection of Ohio State center Billy Price. Whether the Bengals actually preferred Arkansas' Frank Ragnow (who went one pick earlier to Detroit) matters little as Price is a rock-solid first-round talent who only slipped on some boards due to the partially torn pectoral suffered at the Combine that is not expected to keep him from playing this season. The Bengals are loaded for a roster reset with 10 more draft picks, including three (No. 46, 77 and 100 overall) on Friday. Expect more help up front, a pass-catcher or two, as well as a quarterback.

  • Grade: B

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers value size and physicality at safety more than most and they certainly found those qualities in Virginia Tech's Terrell Edmunds, who was overshadowed by his younger brother with the Hokies but was viewed as a Kam Chancellor-type by scouts. It is possible that he would be available early in Round Two but probably not at Pittsburgh's next selection, No. 60. The Steelers still need help at linebacker and could use depth at running back and receiver. Fortunately, the club has seven picks remaining, including three (No. 60, 79 and 92) on Friday.

  • Grade: C-plus


Houston Texans

Due to the Deshaun Watson trade a year ago, the Texans did not have a first-round pick. The Texans have a league-high three third-round selections on Friday, however, with good value expected to be available to fill concerns along the trenches.

  • Grade: Incomplete

Indianapolis Colts

General manager Chris Ballard gave quarterback Andrew Luck quite the gift Thursday night with consensus top-rated blocker Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall and Indianapolis fans can expect more help on offense in Round Two, where the Colts look ready to stampede with three early picks (No. 36, 37 and 49). With exceptional value at running back as well as quality front-seven defenders and plenty of playmaking defensive backs, the Colts are in position to be big winners in this draft.

  • Grade: A

Jacksonville Jaguars

All due respect to flashy running back Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship Game last season on the strength of their defense and that mentality showed again Thursday with the selection of twitchy three-technique defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who has time to learn alongside Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and the rest of the Jaguars' fearsome front. To avoid any thoughts that this was a luxury pick, expect Jacksonville to focus on giving Blake Bortles some receivers (and perhaps some competition) on Day 2 and 3 with picks No. 61 and 93 coming Friday.

  • Grade: B

Tennessee Titans

The Titans haven't necessarily been flashy while drafting under general manager Jon Robinson but one of the tougher, more physical teams in the AFC got even more so Thursday with the addition of blue-collar (and still ascending) linebacker Rashaan Evans, who fills a key need with the ability to drop, rush and, of course, be the enforcer against the run you would expect from a linebacker from Alabama. Don't expect Robinson to change his trench warfare tactics on Day 2 and 3, though help in the secondary and at receiver is also anticipated.

  • Grade: B


Denver Broncos

Most of the pre-draft buzz for Denver revolved around the quarterbacks, but general manager John Elway (who knows a little bit about the position) did the wise thing by taking the best player available in superstar edge rusher Bradley Chubb, who was unexpectedly available at No. 5 overall. Pairing Chubb with Von Miller, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett gives Denver as fast and physical a group of edge rushers for next season as there is in the league. It also gives the franchise flexibility with Miller turning 30 next year and due a massive raise. The Broncos have plenty of needs still - including at cornerback, receiver and running back. Fortunately, these are three of the deeper positions in this draft and Denver has seven picks remaining, including three on Friday (No. 40, 71 and 99).

  • Grade: A

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs did not pick on Thursday due to the trade up a year ago for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but they will be on the warpath soon with five of the next 92 selections, including three on Friday (No. 54, 78 and 86). Chief among Kansas City's concerns should be edge rusher and defensive back after jettisoning former first-round picks Tamba Hali and Marcus Peters in the offseason.

  • Grade: Incomplete

Los Angeles Chargers

For years the AFC West was known for its offense rather than defense but much like Denver, the Chargers found a sliding superstar in Florida State safety Derwin James to ramp up an already electric unit. A moveable chess piece best suited to crashing the box against the run, James is an ideal fit on a defense that allowed an NFL-worst 4.9 yards per carry a year ago. Expect the Chargers to lay some power lines along the trenches with their other six selections, which include two Friday (No. 48 and 84).

  • Grade: A

Oakland Raiders

Full disclosure, I personally ranked the Raiders' first pick - UCLA tackle Kolton Miller - as the 62nd best player in this draft so I see this pick through that perspective. That said, many scouts were considerably higher on him than I was. The Raiders' selection of him at No. 15 overall (especially after a trade down) will not be perceived as a reach by most. Clearly, he fits a need. One consideration is the age, cost and future of left tackle Donald Penn, who is 35 today (Friday, happy B-Day Donald and here is a new playmate). But the overriding concern here is that franchise quarterback Derek Carr is coming off an injury. The Raiders need to re-establish the running game and Miller's size and elite athleticism are perfect fits in offensive line coach Tom Cable's scheme. Unless there are significant improvements to Miller's technique, however, I believe he will struggle to handle the awesome pass rushers he will face in the AFC West, including during practices. Fortunately, the Raiders have quite the bounty of picks (11) remaining to address other areas of concern, with quality value at positions of concern like defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback - though just two of them (41, 75, 110) come before the fifth round.

  • Grade: C-minus