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Draft Decisions

Draft Decisions: AFC East

by Josh Norris
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

How does a draft writer spend the first weeks after the big event? I’m not sure, but I have decided to watch every press conference for every team after each day of the draft, so you don’t have to. The goal is to pick up tendencies, tells and specific reasoning for selections. Sometimes the coaches and general managers have a role in mind, and as I’ve learned, too often they do not.


NFL franchises are honest in two ways: with their wallets and with their draft picks.


As you can see, the notes are very rough. This is not transcribing, more so noting the important points involved in an entire thought.


NFC South

NFC North

NFC West

NFC East

AFC North


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Buffalo Bills

Speaking: Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane for all three days


2018 first round pick (7)

2018 seventh round pick (255)

Traded to Bucs:

2018 first round pick (12)

2018 second round pick (53)

2018 second round pick (56)

1 (7). QB Josh Allen, Wyoming - Big, you know this is Buffalo, an athlete. Make plays in the pocket and on the run. Really good kid, we did a lot of background. We researched again what came up today. “He is Buffalo”... 7 was the best landing spot for us. Patience paid off to keep the 22nd pick. We were willing to trade it, but didn’t have to… All QBs had a knock. Have to pick what you work with. His makeup will help him work on his flaws. We like his strengths… “College football is very hard to scout. You’re talking about different players. Different levels. Not like NFL when it is all the same competition” Allen played in Senior Bowl, which helped… Unaware of tweets before they came out the night before. “We don’t condone anything.” We spoke to him again, coach again, one of his teammates again the day of. It was very serious... Throwing and gripping the football in weather is important… “Josh Rosen is a very good player. Was very much in consideration. You have to make a decision, it is not easy”... Owners were very involved in vetting. “This is not who this young man is today.” Owners were involved in the private workout… Some teams refused to move out of their draft slot. They had a guy. Had parameters in place with TB, ironed out the details when they were on the clock… Elected not to voice how they ranked the quarterbacks… Spoke to leadership group on the team (players) about drafting Allen because of tweets… Played in weather. Played in a rain game. Played in a snow game. Has a big hand. Big kid. Athlete. It is windy out there… “I don’t think anybody in the NFL had (his tweets) that I’m aware of.” Were deleted in January… Asked Brian Daboll “How would you use each QB. He has a specific plan”... “If we were in a dome, we still would’ve taken Josh Allen


2018 first round pick (16)

2018 fifth round pick (154)


2018 first round pick (22)

2018 third round pick (65)

1 (16). LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - Versatile athlete. Size and length. Inside and outside, on the line and off… Did not expect Edmunds to be on the board. Needed to go get him… When he started falling we kept saying “man, if he falls just a bit more we can move up and get him” We were holding our breath in there. Both have to earn their right… Unusual that he is 19 years old. Don’t find that every year… Visited the facility. Met him at the Combine… I didn’t expect to get a QB and Tremaine. I thought we would have to give up the 22nd pick. Tremaine would’ve been in the conversation at 12.

3 (96). DL Harrison Phillips, Stanford - Getting to know Harrison was not hard. He’s the type of guy we look for. Wrestling background is an added benefit. Leverage and mental toughness. McDermott spent some of his youth in same area where Phillips grew up… Has strength, intelligence, powerful, played and seen a lot. Good in the run game and has ability to impact the quarterback. Will play 3 or 4 DTs in a game… More of a 1-technique… Stanford lined up him right over the nose. Not really a pass rushing spot. Made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage by bulling guys back… “Sean tried to wrestler him in the room at the Senior Bowl”... Scored very high on the Wonderlic. Sent a nice text about his visit after… You want to be powerful down the middle.

4 (121). DB Taron Johnson, Weber State - Will first go to nickel corner. As you go in the draft you want to draft players who make your team. So we did see where we had holes.

5 (154). DB Siran Neal, Jackson State - Has played some corner. Has played some safety. Played linebacker… Stood out from an intangible standpoint early in the process at the Senior Bowl… Sent a coach down to work him out and getting him on the board. Likely ends up at safety.

5 (166). OL Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech - We see him as a guard. Has tackle experience. Provides us depth… Did not bring him in for a visit… Puts down 8 burritos at Taco Bell

6 (187). WR Ray-Ray McCloud, Clemson -

7 (255). WR Austin Proehl, UNC - Known him since he was 8 years old. Still looking for slot competition. Polished route runner. Schooled up by his dad.

Miami Dolphins

Speaking: Chris Grier Day 1 and 2, Grier and Mike Tannenbaum on Day 3.

1 (11). DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - Target player. Unique kid. Smart and loves football. Impact player as a freshman. Impeccable character… Creates turnovers. Has touchdowns on those. Player we couldn’t pass up. Will be a safety… Different skill set than the other two safeties… We didn’t expect any of the quarterbacks to make it to us. Talked to a few about moving up or down but nothing serious. We would’ve talked if one of the guys were there… Eagles led the league in adding pro free agents after the draft, and that worked out well for them… He’s like a swiss army knife. Does a lot of things really good… Allows your defense to be flexible… One of the top 5 or 6 players in this class. Other teams agreed.

2 (42). TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State - He’s passionate about football. One thing that gets talked about is that he’s not a great blocker. There are a lot of pass catching tight ends that aren’t great blockers. But it’s about giving effort. He wants to be better… Red zone matchup. Unique skill set. Big, fast, high points the ball well… It was more about the tape and not athletic numbers. But you see those numbers on tape. Finding that skillset was important. It is a matchup league… He’s very competitive. High school basketball player. Will prove you wrong when you say he can’t do something. That comes out in his practice film… Has football intelligence. Won’t be in awe of anything coming from a big program… Jimmy Graham was not a good blocker coming out. Most of the time it is leverage. Taller guys have a difficult time with that… Red zone and third down possibilities. Speed downfield will open things up for us. Julius Thomas was similar coming out… Every guy at Penn State wanted to bring “Big Mike” along to the NFL.

3 (73). LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State - Spent a lot of time with. Coach Bush got to know him. He adds speed. We want to get faster. Big priority on that's ide of the ball… Tough kid, sideline to sideline. New age linebacker… Insider trading with Raekwon on the roster. Same when we brought Denzel Ward in for a visit. Both raved about the player… Primarily was a WILL at school. Covered up, run and chase… Find players who can match up with speed and athleticism… “This guy is as fast as Ryan Shazier” according to OSU... Big thing for us is guys who love the game and are smart, add in athletic, fast and love of football, the more versatile you can be. “You have to adjust to what league trends are”... Stage won’t be too big for him. Too good for us to pass up… These are positions we needed to create competition at.

4 (123). TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame - “Had to restrain Trader Mike this year”... Want to create competition at the spot. We had a really good interview with him. Add another guy who can block. Months in the making to make the group look like it does today.

4 (131). RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State - Big, fast, upside… A lot of guys come out with wear and tear. He doesn’t… “I don’t think there are 11 running backs better than me”. Our locker room is important, Our punter vouched for him…

6 (209). DB Cornell Armstrong, Southern Miss - Brought him in for a 30 visit. Upside. Speed and athletic. Potential to develop. Tremendous story.

7 (227). LB Quentin Poling, Ohio

7 (229). K Jason Sanders, New Mexico - Powerful leg. Worked him out. Brought him in on a 30 visit.

New England Patriots

Speaking: Nick Caserio all three days

1 (23). OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia - Both players come from a great program. Great respect for Kirby Smart, what he’s doing at Georgia and what he did at Alabama… Started for multiple years. Started at both guard and tackle. Had to block a lot of good football players in that conference… Our philosophy on the OL is to put the best 5 guys out there. It will sort itself out…. Teams trading up is always about a specific target. We weren't surprised by others’ targets… When we first drafted Solder he played right tackle. He had never played there… We will see what Wynn can do (when asked if length might be a problem)... We want mentally tough and physically tough football players who will make up and come back to work the next day… “A tackle is a tackle. Some might be better on the right than the left”

1 (31). RB Sony Michel, Georgia - Productive in the passing game. Expectation is he comes in here and is does what he is asked to do. Nothing more. Nothing less… When you are talking about the draft, you are talking about developmental players, no matter where they are drafted… Our responsibility is to pick good football players. We think he is one… Strong runner for his size. Good in space. Find players with traits. Everyone has the same chance when they get here… Takes a whole year for players, generally, to understand what the NFL is all about… We evaluate all of the players, even if they are going in the top 5. You never know when you need the information. Once a player gets to the league is profile is transferred to the pro side. Sometimes we cross check ourselves later and say we were higher/lower… We spend a lot of time on ball security. You can improve a skill. Kevin Faulk is a good example. We practice it at the start of practice.


2018 second round pick (51)

2018 fourth round pick (117)

Traded to Lions:

2018 second round pick (43)


2018 fourth round pick (105)

2019 second round pick

Traded to Bears:

2018 second round pick (51)


2018 second round pick (56)

Traded to Bucs:

2018 second round pick (63)

2018 fourth round pick (117)

2 (56). CB Duke Dawson, Florida - Was part of a defensive backfield with Hargreaves, Wilson, Tabor, Neal, Marcus Maye. Experience playing outside, slot and safety… Getting extra picks in future years is something we’ve done before… Again, trades are player driven. It was a player we were going to talk about at 43… Push early in the round for offensive linemen, then corners went off… No significance to the Titans jumping in front of the Patriots for a second time… Matt Slater and Cardona were third day picks with specific roles. We keep those roles in mind when adding day 3 picks… Chung played safety at Oregon, played a lot in the slot for us. McCourty played corner his first year, then moved to free safety. We will find the right spot for Dawson… Competitiveness and tackling stood out… He considered declaring last year, so we had been tracking him already


Trent Brown

2018 fifth round pick (143)

Traded to 49ers:

2018 third round pick (95)


2018 fourth round pick (144)

2018 sixth round pick (178)

Traded to Browns:

2018 fourth round (105)


2019 third round pick

Traded to Lions:

2018 fourth round pick (114)

5 (143). LB Ja’Whuan Bentley, Purdue - Unique story. Awesome kid. 4 year starter, 3 time captain. Few can say that… Smart. Ran the defense. Brought him in for a visit… More of a MIKE

6 (178). LB Christian Sam, Arizona State - More of a WILL linebacker. From a productive high school in Texas. Came to school as a safety, moved to linebacker. Have respect for Todd Graham. Ran the defense.


2018 seventh round pick (233)

2018 seventh round pick (243)

Traded to Chiefs:

2018 sixth round pick (198)

6 (210). WR Braxton Berrios, Miami - Really smart. Graduated in 3, 3.5 years. Played inside the formation. Quick… Pick accumulation is organic…

7 (219). QB Danny Etling, LSU - Purdue transfer. He didn’t turn the ball over. Smart. Pretty accurate thrower. Traits we can work with… Might’ve thrown 150 balls at LSU’s pro day… Look at how they handle transition. He dealt with multiple coordinators. Gameplans will be different week to week.


2018 seventh round pick (250)

2019 seventh round pick

Traded to Eagles:

2018 seventh round pick (233)

7 (243). DB Keion Crossen, Western Carolina - Worked out at Wake Forest pro day. Tested extremely well. More of a perimeter corner. Brought him in for a visit. Young, great attitude. Really positive and upbeat.

7 (250). TE Ryan Izzo, FSU - 3 year starter. On the line of scrimmage player. We’ve seen him when watching other players… There’s going to be somebody who makes the team off rookie minicamp like Malcolm Butler

New York Jets

Speaking: Bowles and Maccagnan all three days

1 (3). QB Sam Darnold, USC - You always prepare for the draft because you don’t know what will happen. Found out a few days before the draft that Leonard Williams might slide. Heard multiple names this year, and we sat tight and were able to pick Darnold… Made the move to trade up after free agency. Had others players we felt strongly about. Felt great about Sam during the process… We felt really good about three players, which is why we moved to three… Like his competitiveness. Inner desire and drive. Personality came out when we spent time with him. Accuracy as well… About to turn 21. One or two of the staffers ordered a cocktail when they took him out for dinner, joked with him that he couldn’t, we feel good about what he can grow into… Goal was to figure who these players can be and if we can get him there… “We aren’t going to throw him in there, but at the same time we aren’t going to hold him back”... Able to spend the whole day with him in the 30 visit. No one thing that solidified it… Can work on fumble stuff. Made some wrong reads. Talking with him, we know those can be corrected… Would not answer if Darnold was the first QB on their board… We think his motion is fine. Gets the ball out quick. Changes it around… Had a private workout with Darnold, a week before his visit.

3 (72). DL Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State - See him as an end in odd, tackle in even… Has a different story because of his age. Still has upside. Potential to develop. Not far off from fulfilling that potential… Macc first exposure was at the Senior Bowl. Did quite well there. Put him on the radar… These are the guys you get excited about. Not in the normal path. Came from Canada. Persevered and overcame stuff. Character standpoint, if we invest in a guy with a different path, he will fulfill it… Had him in for a 30 visit. Macc’ wife is Canadian… He’s not too old for an investment… Will definitely play in the rotation. Heavy hands, stays low, great drive… Carries his weight well… Most evaluations are apples to apples. This one was not, lower level to higher level.

4 (107). TE Chris Herndon, Miami - He’s not a receiving specialist. Willing to block. A little more athletic than the other tight ends we have. Excited to get him in round 4… Might be a little limited when we get him in due to injury…


2018 fifth round pick (167)

2018 seventh round pick (225)

Traded to Vikings:

2018 fifth round pick (157)


2018 sixth round pick (180)

2018 sixth round pick (204)

Traded to Vikings:

2018 fifth round pick (167)

2018 seventh round pick (225)

6 (179). CB Parry Nickerson, Tulane - Good value. Had a pocket of players when we traded out of the 5th and he was one… Like him playing slot and outside. Will play behind Buster in the slot.

6 (180). DL Foley Fatukasi, UConn - Address needs in free agency. Want to hit on value in the draft.

6 (204). RB Trenton Cannon, Virginia State - This year somehow drafted multiple guys from small programs… Scouts identified him initially. Great pro day. Punt and kick returner. Special teams coach was very involved, he went down and worked him out.


Henry Anderson

Traded to Colts:

2018 seventh round pick

Josh Norris

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for NBC Sports Edge and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .