News & Analysis

Draft History: Grades and stats for every first- and second-round pick since 2015 AFC East edition

By Ben Linsey
Feb 20, 2019

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Dec 2, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) celebrates with wide receiver Zay Jones (11) after a two-point conversion during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft will be here before we know it but before then, the NFL’s free agency period will open up, and teams will be looking to bolster their lineups with new signees while also looking to keep on board players who have shined bright since their arrival with their franchise. One big thing for the 2019 free agency period is that, for the first time, a rookie class that we had at least a college year of data from, have all now either finished their rookie contract or those select first rounders have had their final year exercised to stay with their team.

With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at some grades and PFF advanced statistics and data for every team’s first- and second-round pick since that 2015 season. While some of these players are no longer with their respective team, the players listed below were all drafted by the team mentioned and the grades and stats represented are just from their time with their drafted team.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

2015:

Malcom Brown, Interior Defender

Round 1, Pick 32

Career-high overall grade: 79.0 (2017)

With the Patriots failing to pick up Brown’s fifth-year contract option, his last game with the team may very well have been the Super Bowl victory against the Los Angeles Rams in which he picked up an 89.6 overall game grade – the highest of any defender on either team. Over his four years in New England, Brown operated as a run-stuffing specialist. His run-defense grade topped 80.0 in both 2016 and 2017 before falling to 64.0 last year. Coming off a career-low 64.4 overall grade in 2018, the Patriots will have a decision on whether to bring back the Texas product on a new deal or let him walk.  

Jordan Richards, Safety

Round 2, Pick 64

Career-high overall grade: 76.8 (2015)

Over the first three seasons of his career, Richards struggled to find a spot in the Patriots defense. He played 245 defensive snaps his rookie year, split across free safety, slot cornerback and a role in the box. The next two years, he played 531 special teams snaps compared to just 344 defensive snaps. That lack of production led to him being traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick, where he played 429 defensive snaps and received a 65.2 overall grade last season.

2016:

Cyrus Jones, Cornerback

Round 2, Pick 60

Career-high overall grade: 64.7 (2016)

Like Richards, it is safe to consider Jones a second-round miss by the Patriots’ front office. Taken with the 60th overall pick out of Alabama, Jones played just 147 defensive snaps throughout his rookie season in addition to handling some kick-returning duties. A knee injury derailed his second campaign, and that led to Jones bouncing between the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens last year before sticking in Baltimore in a special teams role.  

2017:

The Patriots did not have any selections in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL draft.

2018:

Isaiah Wynn, Tackle

Round 1, Pick 23

Career-high overall grade: N/A

Wynn’s NFL career hardly started before he tore his Achilles in his first preseason game. Coming out of Georgia, he was one of the top offensive linemen available after recording a 91.2 overall grade in his final season at Georgia. His return in 2019 gives a boost to the Patriots offensive line depth, and he could step right into a starting position should Trent Brown leave in free agency.

Sony Michel, Running Back

Round 1, Pick 31

Career-high overall grade: 77.4 (2018)

Taken just eight picks after his college teammate went to the Patriots, Michel stepped in and immediately became the lead rusher in the running back rotation. Including the playoffs, Michel ran 280 times for 1,267 yards (742 of which came after contact). That being said, he was sparingly used in the passing game – where most of a running back’s value comes from. Just 74 of his 397 offensive snaps came with him running a route. His overall grade of 77.4 ranked sixth out of nine qualifying rookie running backs.

Duke Dawson Jr., Cornerback

Round 2, Pick 56

Career-high overall grade: N/A

Another early-round selection for the Patriots in this draft led to a rookie season in which the player did not see the field due to injury. A hamstring injury sidelined Dawson early in the season, and despite being activated midway through the season from the injured reserve list, his lack of experience kept him sidelined through the rest of the year. With a healthy offseason under his belt, Dawson will look to carve out a role in the Patriots defense in Year 2.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

2015:

DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver

Round 1, Pick 14

Career-high overall grade: 75.1 (2016)

All indications point to Parker leaving Miami after four up-and-down seasons in which he occasionally found himself sidelined due to injury and being in the “doghouse” of former head coach Adam Gase. Across his four seasons for the Dolphins, Parker maintained a relatively consistent overall grade between 69.2 and 75.1 each season while playing 2,348 total offensive snaps. He hit a career-high in yards per route run with 1.72 in 2016, but that figure has fallen below 1.50 in each of the past two seasons.

Jordan Phillips, Interior Defender

Round 2, Pick 52

Career-high overall grade: 60.0 (2017)

The Dolphins released Phillips following a Week 5 defeat to the Patriots this season, which was the end to a disappointing start to his career. The Oklahoma product has yet to top a 60.0 overall grade in his four NFL seasons and ended his 2018 season – split between the Dolphins and the Bills – at an overall grade of 52.0. One of the culprits to those low grades is tackling; Phillips has missed 11 of the 89 tackling opportunities in his career.

2016:

Laremy Tunsil, Tackle

Round 1, Pick 13

Career-high overall grade: 70.4 (2018)

The start to Tunsil’s career hasn’t quite gone as well as the Dolphins had hoped when selecting him in the first round back in 2016, but he is coming off his best season as a pro last year. In 2018, Tunsil’s 70.4 overall grade ranked 21st among 35 qualifying left tackles. It has been run blocking that has brought down his grade. Tunsil has recorded a 75.0 or better pass-blocking grade in each of his first three seasons, but last season’s 62.3 run-blocking grade was the highest of his career.

Xavien Howard, Cornerback

Round 2, Pick 48

Career-high overall grade: 77.3 (2018)

Howard has increased his overall grade each season in the NFL thus far, finishing 2018 ranked 19th among 112 qualifying cornerbacks in overall grade at 77.3. Quarterbacks haven’t had much luck when looking Howard’s direction over the last two seasons. Not only is he tied for the most interceptions at the position, but he has the lowest passer rating allowed of any cornerback with at least 100 targets against them since the start of the 2017 season (60.2). If his progression continues next season, Howard will secure a spot among the top cornerbacks in the NFL.

2017:

Charles Harris, Edge Defender

Round 1, Pick 22

Career-high overall grade: 70.1 (2017)

A calf injury limited Harris in his second season, but his impact has been limited when on the field as well. His pass-rush win rate over the last two years of 12.0% ranks 66th out of 104 qualifying edge defenders. In addition to getting to beating his blocker at an average-at-best clip, Harris has missed his fair share of tackles. Out of the 43 tackling opportunities that have come his way, Harris has missed eight tackles.  

Raekwon McMillan, Linebacker

Round 2, Pick 54

Career-high overall grade: 63.0 (2018)

McMillan made his NFL regular season debut last season after missing the entirety of his rookie season with a torn ACL. It was a tale of two roles for the linebacker from Ohio State, as McMillan excelled as a run defender (83.0 run-defense grade) but struggled in coverage (42.0 coverage grade). McMillan led all defenders in run stops with 47 – an impressive mark considering 2018 was his first season. That was paired with a less impressive passer rating allowed of 143.6 on throws into his coverage.

2018:

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cornerback

Round 1, Pick 11

Career-high overall grade: 61.9 (2018)

Coming into the NFL, Fitzpatrick was viewed as a swiss-army knife that didn’t have a well-defined defensive position, and the Dolphins used him in a variety of ways his first year. Fitzpatrick played 379 snaps at slot cornerback, 281 snaps as a wide cornerback, 166 snaps at free safety, and 95 snaps in the box. His overall grade of 61.9 ranked 79th out of 112 qualifying cornerbacks, coming partially due to the ten penalties that he committed which were tied for fifth-most among all cornerbacks.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End

Round 2, Pick 42

Career-high overall grade: 50.7 (2018)

In his first season, Gesicki did not make the impact in the passing game that the Dolphins were hoping he would. Among 40 tight ends with at least 30 targets, Gesicki ranked fifth-worst in yards per route run at 0.94. He was one of only seven tight ends to record a yards-per-route-run figure of 1.00 or lower on at least 30 targets. In total, he brought in 22 of 31 targets for 202 receiving yards on 214 routes.

BUFFALO BILLS

2015:

Ronald Darby, Cornerback

Round 2, Pick 50

Career-high overall grade: 76.6 (2015)

Darby played over 1,500 snaps for the Bills across his first two seasons; he played well enough to bring in the PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year award back in 2015. Yet, the Bills shipped him to the Eagles after two seasons for Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick. Though he has dealt with some injuries in Philadelphia, Darby has shown that he can be a playmaker on the back end with 50 regular-season forced incompletions since 2015 (12th among cornerbacks). Darby enters 2019 free agency as PFF’s top available cornerback.

2016:

Shaq Lawson, Edge Defender

Round 1, Pick 19

Career-high overall grade: 76.4 (2018)

It has taken Lawson some time to settle in, but the fourth-year edge defender out of Clemson has made significant strides in overall grade in each of his first three seasons. His rookie year ended in an overall grade of just 52.8, but since, Lawson has seen that climb to 65.3 in 2017 and 76.4 last year. Last year, Lawson recorded 23 total pressures on 220 pass-rushing snaps en route to the highest pass-rushing grade of his career at 65.0. Lawson’s run-defense grade of 80.9 in 2018 ranked 11th out of 103 qualifying edge defenders.

Reggie Ragland, Linebacker

Round 2, Pick 41

Career-high overall grade: 76.0 (2017)

Anytime your second-round pick doesn’t play a single regular season snap for your team; it is hard to characterize it as anything other than a disappointment. Ragland missed his rookie season due to a torn ACL and was then traded to Kansas City for a fourth-round pick the following offseason. For the Chiefs, Ragland has played 1,024 snaps over the last two seasons. His 55.9 overall grade in 2018 ranked 73rd out of 92 qualifiers at the position.

2017:

Tre’Davious White, Cornerback

Round 1, Pick 27

Career-high overall grade: 89.4 (2017)

Following in the footsteps of early-round draft pick Darby, White also kicked off his career as PFF’s Rookie of the Year with an outstanding rookie season. He combined for 17 pass breakups and interceptions to go along with an overall grade of 89.4 which ranked fifth among all cornerbacks. Last season, White took a step back with just a 61.0 overall grade. Teams targeted him less frequently (52 targets against in 2018 compared to 81 in his rookie season), but he didn’t make the same plays on the ball when targeted as he did in 2017 with just seven combined interceptions and pass breakups. White will look to bounce back to his rookie form in 2019.

Zay Jones, Wide Receiver

Round 2, Pick 37

Career-high overall grade: 62.2 (2018)

Jones has been one of the primary options at receiver in his first two seasons in Buffalo, but that hasn’t translated to the sort of production that one would expect. Jones has caught just north of 50.0% of his 168 targets over the first two years of his career, bringing in 85 of 168 targets for 988 yards and eight drops to go along with a passer rating when targeted of just 71.7. He’s added very little after the catch with just 2.4 yards after the catch per reception and two missed tackles forced on runs after the catch for his career.

Dion Dawkins, Tackle

Round 2, Pick 63

Career-high overall grade: 80.4 (2017)

Dawkins came out of the gates very strong as a rookie. Among all tackles, his 80.4 overall grade ranked eighth, and his 78.7 run-blocking grade ranked fifth. He followed that up with a 69.5 overall grade last season, due in large part to decline as a run blocker; Dawkin’s run-blocking grade dipped from 78.7 in 2017 to 58.9 last season. In addition, he was charged with 13 penalties in 2018 (tied for third-most among tackles) compared to only four as a rookie.

2018:

Josh Allen, Quarterback

Round 1, Pick 7

Career-high overall grade: 65.3 (2018)

After parting ways with Tyrod Taylor, the Bills made their move and traded up in the first round last season to draft Allen. Where Allen made perhaps his biggest impact in his rookie season was as a runner. His 81.4 rushing grade ranked third among all quarterbacks, and his 508 rushing yards on scrambles led all quarterbacks in just 12 games. Accuracy issues as a passer continued to plague Allen though, just as they did at Wyoming. His adjusted completion percentage of 64.7% for the Bills last season ranked dead last among all qualifying quarterbacks.

Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker

Round 1, Pick 16

Career-high overall grade: 57.4 (2018)

Edmunds’ 57.4 overall grade may not look great, but the young linebacker made significant strides late in his rookie season. In Weeks 1-8, Edmunds had an overall grade of just 47.1, but that jumped to 70.5 over the last eight games of the season. He especially improved in coverage; Edmunds improved his passer rating when targeted mark from 111.5 in the first half of the season to 68.7 over the second half of the season. That late improvement gives a reason for optimism heading into next year.

NEW YORK JETS

2015:

Leonard Williams, Interior Defender

Round 1, Pick 6

Career-high overall grade: 81.4 (2016)

Williams has stepped right into the Jets’ defensive line and has been a consistent force each of the last four seasons. The first-round selection out of USC has played at least 800 snaps in each of his first four seasons – no small feat as an interior defender – and has graded between 75.0 and 82.0 each year as well. Williams has been at his best as a run stuffer, notching 116 run stops since 2015 which ranks behind only Damon Harrison and Aaron Donald at the position.

Devin Smith, Wide Receiver

Round 2, Pick 37

Career-high overall grade: 52.2 (2015)

Despite being selected at the top of the second round back in 2015, Smith never found a role on the Jets. He played 312 snaps in his rookie season, catching nine of 26 targets for 115 yards. After that, Smith played only 35 offensive snaps in 2016 and did not play any offensive snaps in either of the last two seasons. It’s safe to say that he qualifies as one of the bigger misses by the Jets’ front office in recent years.

2016:

Darron Lee, Linebacker

Round 1, Pick 20

Career-high overall grade: 72.4 (2018)

If you had just gone off the first two seasons, Lee looked like he was setting up to be labeled a bust. He graded below 50.0 in each of his first two years, largely due to the fact that he was a liability in coverage (40.1 coverage grade in 2016 and 42.6 coverage grade in 2017). That all changed last year, though; Lee easily recorded the highest grade of his career at 72.4, and that came as a result of his coverage grade jumping all the way to 84.8 which ranked tied for fourth among 92 qualifying linebackers.

Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback

Round 2, Pick 51

Career-high overall grade: N/A

Hackenberg never played a regular season snap in the NFL, and that’s all that really needs to be said for the second-round pick. Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, PFF analyst Sam Monson explained why PFF did not give Hackenberg a draftable grade, and yet, the Jets took him just outside the first 50 players selected. His preseason grades in his three years in the NFL were 32.0, 47.3, and 47.6.

2017:

Jamal Adams, Safety

Round 1, Pick 6

Career-high overall grade: 89.7 (2018)

Adams elevated his game from decent in 2017 (68.5 overall grade) to outstanding in 2018 (89.7 overall grade). The Jets are able to use him all over the defensive formation; Adams played over 100 snaps at each of edge defender, slot corner, free safety, and an in-the-box- role. Last year, Adams improved significantly in coverage. The safety out of LSU was targeted 48 times and allowed just 24 receptions for 291 yards while breaking up six passes and intercepting another.

Marcus Maye, Safety

Round 2, Pick 39

Career-high overall grade: 81.7 (2018)

The Jets went with two straight safeties to open the 2017 draft, and like his running mate Adams, Maye turned a less-than-ideal rookie season into a promising sophomore campaign. Maye played just 393 snaps in 2018 due to various injuries, but while he was on the field, he improved his overall grade from 59.5 to 81.7. With Maye patrolling the deep portions of the field as he did in 2018 and Adams causing havoc near the line of scrimmage, the Jets may have found a safety duo that will be around for quite some time.

2018:

Sam Darnold, Quarterback

Round 1, Pick 3

Career-high overall grade: 64.7 (2018)

The Jets made their move to trade up and get their franchise quarterback last season in Darnold. He struggled early on in an offense that lacked elite weapons for him to distribute the ball to. On the season, his 64.7 overall grade ranked 26th among 32 qualifiers. However, Darnold did exhibit improvement down the stretch. In Weeks 14-17, Darnold ranked first among all quarterbacks in overall grade at 87.7. That stretch gives hope for the future in New York.

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