Tom E. Curran's Post-Draft AFC Power Rankings
16. CINCINNATI BENGALS
I would like to put the Broncos here. Maybe I should. But they are too talented on defense to do it. For now. The Bengals had a meat-and-potatoes draft, adding offensive tackle Jonah Williams and blocking tight end Drew Sample with the first two picks. They also got a developmental quarterback in Ryan Finley to throw in the stew, hoping he can replace Andy Dalton.
15. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Of course, Caesar didn’t have the opportunity to go get a top-10 talent at quarterback for a bargain price like the Dolphins did in acquiring Josh Rosen from the Cardinals. That’s what made the Dolphins draft. The 62nd pick in this draft and fifth in next year’s draft for a player whose greatest sin seems to be that he seems a little smarmy? What are we even talking about? Miami also got a high-level, productive, versatile defensive lineman who’s a good leader — another W. Miami also went safe with a third-round guard from Wisconsin which produces sturdy, dependable linemen with regularity. The seventh-round running back, Myles Gaskin was also hugely productive at Washington. He’s just little.
Miami still has sooooo far to go, though. Hard to even say they moved the needle yet.
14. DENVER BRONCOS
The Broncos allegedly had a really good draft with tight end Noah Fant at No. 20 and Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner. They also got Drew Lock from Missouri in the second round and he’s got upside. But the Broncos already made one of the worst personnel decisions in the league when they traded for Joe Flacco, so they are in for a dismal 2019.
And Drew Lock — despite his laser-rocket arm — isn’t destined to be the answer either.
13. OAKLAND RAIDERS
I feel I might have these guys a little too low. In addition to a free-agent period haul of Antonio Brown and Trent Brown on offense and Lamarcus Joyner and Johnathan Hankins on defense, they’ve now added three first-rounders. They got the best back in the draft (Josh Jacobs), went too early on Clelin Ferrell (but, honestly, I think that stuff is overrated) and then added a hitter in Johnathan Abraham at safety. It’s a much, much more talented team than the one that finished last season. It will just be interesting to see if all their coveting another QB causes the talented-but-a-little-tender David Carr to go into a funk.
12. BUFFALO BILLS
Buffalo continues to add purportedly good players. Houston’s lightning-fast DT Ed Oliver – an Aaron Donald comp – was taken ninth overall. They traded up to get Cody Ford, an offensive tackle, with the 38th pick. He’s played guard and tackle at Oklahoma and is a beast in the running game and will help protect the oft-pressured Josh Allen. Allen got more help with the third-round selection of Dawson Knox, a tight end from Ole Miss. He’s 6-5, 254 and a converted QB who had just 39 catches in his last two seasons in college. The Bills were sparse at that spot. Buffalo also got a shifty, 5-7, 200-pound running back in the third named Devin Singletary from Florida Atlantic. He joins Frank Gore and slowly-fading LeSean McCoy. They’ve remade their offensive line this offseason and also brought on Cole Beasley, John Brown, tight end Tyler Croft and return man Andre Roberts. Too bad Allen is as accurate as a weatherman.
Still, they have the potential under discreetly effective head coach Sean McDermott to continue being an irritating divisional game for the Patriots.
11. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The first selection of the draft was spent on a good player, Devin Bush, who is charged with helping fill the void left by the tragic injury to Ryan Shazier. Their second pick, in round three, was on a wide receiver from Toledo who they wouldn’t have needed if they hadn’t let the Antonio Brown idiocy turn into a wildfire. After losing Brown and (officially) Le’Veon Bell and under-utilized tight end Jesse James, the Steelers have only brought in these picks, corner Steven Nelson and wideout Donte Moncrief.
This is a team headed in the wrong direction.
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
If they weren’t in the AFC’s most competitive division, I’d like the Jags' chances of getting back into the playoffs even more. In the draft, they added edge rusher Josh Allen with the seventh pick. Their front was already strong, and it just got better. They also brought on a much-needed offensive tackle in Jawaan Taylor in the second round (35th overall). But the most important add was and will be Nick Foles, who is criminally undervalued.
If they can grow up, they’ll be a helluva team. If not, they flounder.
9. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Adding passing game weapons for Lamar Jackson – as the Ravens did with Marquise Brown at No. 25 and Miles Boykin at No. 93 – is like handing out scuba suits in the desert. What are you supposed to do with them? In their last two drafts, they’ve spent eight of their nine top picks on offense, only one of those on a lineman. You’re a team that intends to play bully-ball? Embrace it. Earl Thomas at high cost is a wash with Eric Weddle. Losing C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith at the linebacker level is substantial. To a lesser degree, the losses of John Brown (WR) and Terrell Suggs also sting. Mark Ingram comes in at running back.
This is a 7-9 to 9-7 team.
8. NEW YORK JETS
The Jets added a player that many described as the best player in the draft, third overall pick Quinnen Williams from Alabama. He’ll be plunked down next to another high-end defensive tackle, Leonard Williams, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has no excuse if his defense isn’t one of the league’s best. The Jets also added an edge rusher in Jachai Polite from Florida. They are going to be strong up the middle on defense with the aforementioned DTs, free agent linebacker addition C.J. Mosley and Jamal Adams at the safety spot.
Having added Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder as free agents, Adam Gase is really in a good spot to see big gains in his first year as Jets head coach.
7. TENNESSEE TITANS
The Titans took the talented defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons at 19 overall. He dropped because of a violent incident in high school in which he repeatedly punched a woman who’d been in a fight with his sister. He’s done everything he could, it seems, to own and atone for the situation and earn his shot at entering a professional career. Talented A.J. Brown, an Ole Miss wideout, was a good get at 51. Safety Amani Hooker was another good addition in the fourth round. In free agency, adding slot receiver Adam Humphries didn’t do much for me. He seems average.
Tennessee got fat against bad teams down the stretch but went 1-3 against the Texans and Colts. Tough division to make headway in right now.
6. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Heady days in March. Odell Beckham, Kareem Hunt, Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon all added to a team that had as much momentum as any team in football at the close of 2018. So how was their draft after already spending a first-rounder on OBJ? Not bad. They got the LSU corner Greedy Williams, who is very talented but didn’t have a terrific 2018. He dropped way down to the Browns.
Overall, they added a ton of talent to a bunch of talent. I remain BULLISH!
5. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
I had the Chargers behind the Browns when I did this in March. Clearly, I got swept up in Freddie Kitchens Mania. The Chargers are back where a team that went 12-4 should be: ahead of a 7-8-1 team that had a nice run prior to St. Paddy’s Day. In the draft, Los Angeles added a nice defensive line piece late in the first with Jerry Tillery and got even better on the back end drafting a safety, Nasir Adderley, who will play next to Derwin James.
Now, if the Chargers can come up with a scheme to switch to when their Cover-3 is getting gnawed on by a smart offense as the Patriots did in the playoffs, then that brilliantly talented secondary might be in real business.
4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick and they spent their second-rounder on a whippet-quick receiver/returner named Mecole Hardman. He’s the closest thing to Tyreek Hill in the draft and that’s noteworthy since Tyreek Hill seems destined to soon become a former Kansas City Chief. So the Chiefs will have lost their best running back and wideout in the past six months. They also lose Justin Houston, Eric Berry and Steven Nelson. And they traded Dee Ford to the Niners for a 2020 second-round pick.
Hard to be high on KC right now.
3. HOUSTON TEXANS
Houston spent first- and second-round picks on offensive tackles and grabbed a corner as well in the second to mix into their overhauled secondary (safety Tashaun Gipson and corner Bradley Roby in; Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson out). They also grabbed an intriguing tight end in the third, Kahale Warring.
The Colts beat them in the playoffs last year and have been busier in the offseason so I dropped them behind Indy.
2. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Indy didn’t have a first-round pick but had a nice second round with corner Rock Ya-Sin, linebacker Ben Banogu and wide receiver Parris Campbell. Who I love. They had a great draft in 2018 so a couple more defensive hits will serve them well and Campbell could be a real steal in Round 2. At free agency, they kept corner Pierre Desir, brought in wideout Devin Funchess and lost wideout Donte Moncrief. They also re-signed Margus Hunt. So good, fine.
1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
There’s so much to like about the Patriots draft that it takes significant sting out of the trade deficit the team was running since the end of the season. N’Keal Harry can potentially bring the physicality and contested catch prowess the Patriots lost with Gronk’s retirement and Josh Gordon’s suspension. They got stronger at corner, they duct-taped the free agent loss of Trey Flowers with Michael Bennett, they got padding at tackle with Yodny Cajuste, they picked up Sony Michel insurance with Damien Harris and they have added some other UDFA receivers who could compete. They could still use more meat at DT and, if tight end is an Austin Sefarian-Jenkins/Matt Lacosse joint, there’s a lot of hope being placed there.
But they are still the best in the conference.