June 2, 2023

Draftnasty Magazine

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AFC East 2023 NFL Draft recap

8 min read
Devon Achane making a move in the 2021 Orange Bowl

Achane ranks as one of the faster all-purpose threats to enter the NFL in some time.

The AFC East’s 2023 NFL Draft featured the Dolphins with just four selections, the Patriots’ deep class, New York’s Pittsburgh flavor and Buffalo’s offensive expansion. New England traded back in the first round and still got one of the draft’s top cornerbacks. It did not stop there for them, however, as they took Georgia Tech’s Keion White to potentially fill a multipurpose role.

Miami did not have a high volume of selections, but used their picks wisely by taking South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith 51st overall. It did not stop there, as the team was able to get one of the draft’s best all-purpose prospects in Texas A&M’s Devon Achane.

Devon Achane, the MVP of the 2021 Orange Bowl, was selected by the Miami Dolphins
Achane (pictured after winning MVP of the 2021 Orange Bowl) could fill an all-purpose role for the Dolphins.

Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV became the Jets first round pick and could make a very good defense much more lethal in its pass rush. But the following selections of Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann and Pittsburgh’s Carter Warren may end up being key as the team hopes to protect its four-time league MVP.

Buffalo got bigger and stronger by selecting Florida offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence in the second round. The Bills opening round pick of Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid could diversify an already potent offense.

AFC East 2023 NFL Recap,
New England Patriots
SelectionPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/GradeNotesValue (1-5)
1 (17) from PittsburghChristian Gonzalez 6’1 197 CB/Oregon, Colorado15/1st RoundGonzalez was a big factor in 2022 for the Ducks, even playing significantly at the nickel spot, which undeniably caught the attention of the Patriots as a matchup-type player. 5
2 (46)Keion White 6’5 285DE-DT-Georgia Tech, Old Dominion30/2nd RoundWhite is a behemoth on the defensive line in terms of his size, power and movement capability. He stood up as a Rush OLB for the Yellow Jackets or Monarchs and also gives options as a four-or-five-technique defensive end in three-man fronts. Quite the combination for one player. 5
3 (76) from CarolinaMarte Mapu 6’2 220LB-Sacramento State117/3rd RoundMapu’s versatility matches again with what the Patriots should be able to show from a disguise perspective. Often seen covering the slot at Sacramento State, Mapu excelled covering running backs in the postseason and could have gone even higher if not for a torn pectoral muscle during the pre-draft process. 4.5
4 (107)Jake Andrews 6’3 319OG-OC-Troy315/4th RoundAndrews, a natural knee-bender inside, was the first Troy interior lineman selected since Michael Moore in the 1999 NFL Draft (4th Round).4
4 (112)Chad Ryland 5’11 1/2” 191PK-Maryland, Eastern Michigan418/5th RoundRyland allowed three kickoff return touchdowns in school (at two different stops), but he knocked down five-of-eight field goals beyond 50 yards over the last two years and kicked well in inclement weather while at Eastern Michigan. 4
4 (117)Sidy Sow 6’5 323OG-Eastern Michigan58/2nd RoundOne of our favorite players in this year’s draft, he largely dominated the competition in the MAC and has some similarities to Chiefs offensive lineman Trey Smith. 5
5 (144)Atonio Mafi 6’3 338OG-UCLA317/4th RoundMafi impressed at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl in front of the Patriots coaching staff and earned a spot on the team’s roster largely as a result. The former defensive tackle had nine tackles against Cincinnati back in 2018. 4
6 (187)Kayshon Boutte 5’11 195 WR-LSU173/3rd RoundBoutte’s peripheral vision as a run after the catch threat impressed during school. His down-to-down energy seemed to be off for most of 2022, but then he put up a 100-yard receiving performance against Georgia in the 2022 SEC Championship game. Can he return to his 2020 form?5
6 (192)Bryce Baringer P-Michigan State408/5th RoundArguably the best punter in this year’s class, Baringer’s career continued to rise after he recaptured the job at Michigan State. Baringer’s leg has gotten stronger each year in school and the transition from Michigan’s weather to New England’s may be less of an adjustment than for most. 4
6 (210)Demario Douglas 5’8 175All-Purpose/WR-Ret-Liberty262/4th RoundDouglas may have impressed the team’s coaching staff, whom he played for during a stellar week of practice at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl. It only adds to a career when he was one of the most consistent all-purpose playmakers for the Flames over a three-year period. 4.5
6 (214)Ameer Speed 6’3 210CB-Michigan State, Georgia 343/4th RoundSpeed’s length (33” arms) complements 4.3 speed and an ability to tackle. He is aggressive getting off of stalk blocks and started the 2021 season opener at corner for the Bulldogs. Speed could become a matchup player versus tight ends for the Patriots.4.5
7 (245)Isaiah Bolden 6’2 203All-purpose-CB-Nickel-KR-Jackson State, FSU337/4th RoundBolden’s 4.3 speed is hurt by a pedestrian 4.57 time in the 20-yard short shuttle. In fact, he worked as a nickel at Jackson State with solid results. Where he stands out is in the return game, where he sported a neatly 32.7 yard average at Jackson State with two touchdowns. Can he realistically challenge Marcus Jones for the spot to free him up for more repetitions on defense? 5
No. 1 UDFA signing: Malik Cunningham 6’0 192QB-Louisville367/5th RoundCunningham has all of the creativity to fully be used if he can find his way onto the team’s practice squad. Electric on the field, he could develop in some of type of role for the creative unit.5
Draft Grade:4.54
Miami Dolphins
SelectionPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotesValue (1-5)
2 (51)Cam Smith 6’1 180 CB-South Carolina17/2nd RoundThe Dolphins get Smith, our fourth-ranked corner, and hope to get the player from 2021 as opposed to 2022. He will learn from one of the NFL’s best in former Miami Dolphins cornerbacks coach Sam Madison and defensive pass game coordinator Renaldo Hill. 5
3 (84)Devon Achane 5’8 1/2” 188All-Purpose/KR-RB Texas A&M62/2nd RoundAchane has an opportunity to turn into the team’s starting kickoff returner after Raheem Mostert averaged just 20 yards per kickoff return in 2022. 5
6 (197)Elijah Higgins 6’3 235WR/H-back-Stanford263/4th RoundAt 235 pounds, Higgins runs well, has the ability to box-out smaller defensive backs and can work inside effectively. Could he be an H-back and slot option in the NFL at his weight. There is an opportunity to see him take the next step if he makes the full-time move inside.4
7 (238)Ryan Hayes 6’7 300OT-Michigan185/3rd RoundHayes proved capable of playing at an above average level in the Big Ten and spend up a number of lanes as a run blocker for the Wolverines. He fell due to a questionable anchor that often left him susceptible to power rushers. 5
No. 1 UDFA signing: Keidron Smith 6’1 5/8” 203CB/S-Kentucky, Ole Miss234/4th RoundSmith has experience working at safety but moved back to corner as a senior at Kentucky respectfully. His versatility gives him an opportunity in a training camp. 5
Draft Grade:4.75
New York Jets
SelectionPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNasty’ Take:Value (1-5)
1 (15)Will McDonald IV 6’4 239DE/OLB-Iowa State16/2nd RoundMcDonald IV routinely helped turned the ball over in school with eight career forced fumbles and displays unique bend to turn the corner. 5
2 (43)Joe Tippmann 6’6 311 OC-Wisconsin92/3rd RoundTippmann’s upper body strength was lauded at 6-foot-6, and he comes off the ball low for a 6-foot-6 center on inside trap schemes to block back on the three-technique defensive tackle. Injuries are a slight concern after a shoulder injury in November 2020 forced him to miss time in the spring of 2021.4
4 (120)Carter Warren 6’5 311OT-Pittsburgh128/3rd RoundWarren was not a five-star recruit but he started 38 games protecting former Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett’s blindside. He could get repetitions as a right tackle or challenge for the left tackle spot with Duane Brown.5
5 (143)Israel Abanikanda 5’10 216RB-Pittsburgh27/2nd RoundAbanikanda’s workload over a four-game stretch included a 300-yard rushing game in 2022, but he also brings value as a kickoff returner. He may have to start out returning kicks to earn a roster spot. 5
6 (184)Zaire Barnes LB-Western Michigan 403/5th RoundHe has solid change of direction and covers ground as a zone coverage defender. The first-team All-MAC defender routinely was capable of playing in-or-out of the box role for the Broncos. The team played him at the Sam linebacker spot, but we feel he can also handle Will linebacker duties in the NFL.4
6 (204)Jarrick Bernard-ConverseCB-LSU, Oklahoma State311/4th RoundBernard-Converse’s experience (56 career starts) is only rivaled by the versatility he displays to do multiple things. His strength (22 reps-225 lbs) is complemented with 4.4 speed. 4.5
7 (220)Zack Kuntz 6’7 255TE-Old Dominion198/4th RoundInjuries have been an issue for Kuntz, but he has a rare wingspan (83 3/8”) and runs in the 4.55-range. He comes from a family of athletes and was a hurdle champion at the prep level. 5
No. 1 UDFA signing: Kahlef Hailassie 6’0 195CB-WKU, Oregon258/4th RoundHailassie’s feel in zone coverage stands out, but not as much as his versatility. He has played at nearly every position on the back end and contributed on the kick cover units dating back to his time at Oregon. He could make a strong push for a roster spot. 5
Draft Grade:4.64
Buffalo Bills
SelectionPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNasty’ Take:Value (1-5)
1 (25) from Jacksonville Dalton Kincaid 6’4 246TE/Utah, San Diego34/2nd RoundKincaid is another weapon for the Bills working the inside lanes but has to stay healthy and prove that he can block away from the action to sell the team’s two tight end sets. 4.5
2 (59)O’Cyrus Torrence 6’5 335OG-Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette4/1st RoundOne of our top-ranked prospects, Torrence should challenge for a starting spot in Year 1 due to his natural power and ability to create movement in the running game. 5
3 (91)Dorian Williams 6’2 229LB-Tulane176/3rd RoundWilliams was an integral piece of the Cotton Bowl champions, but his productivity has been on display for multiple seasons in the AAC due to an ability to read the triangle effectively. 4.5
5 (150) from WashingtonJustin Shorter 6’4 229All-Purpose/WR-Kick cover—Florida, Penn State196/4th RoundShorter’s special teams prowess stood out aside from the wide receiver duties. Shorter finished with 18 tackles during school at two different stops and excels in that phase of the game. 5
7 (230) from NY Jets via Buccaneers, Eagles and TexansNick Broeker 6’4 305OG-OT-Ole Miss155/3rd RoundBroeker has experience at the tackle position and is a relative smooth mover with an element of ‘nasty’ in his play. Overall, he has to get stronger to become more than a backup candidate for the next level.5
7 (252) from Tampa Bay via LA ChargersAlex Austin 6’1 195CB-Oregon State251/4th RoundAustin best projects to a combination system that employed both zone and man coverage, which the Bills employ. Austin is a long corner with a solid feel for the game. 5
No. 1 UDFA signing: Jalen Wayne 6’2 207WR-South Alabama190/4th RoundWayne has a feel for the game as a possession target who is athletic enough to out-maneuver defensive backs in the move area. He posted six career tackles in school and needs to find a role on special teams.5
Draft Grade: 4.83

Heston Kjerstad OF/1B-Bowie Baysox (Baltimore AA affiliate)

Heston Kjerstad throwing in the outfield during the 2019 SEC Tournament
2020 Baltimore Orioles second overall pick Heston Kjerstad is currently batting .298 with eight home runs for the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore AA affiliate) in the Eastern League.

Kansas City Chiefs OT Jawaan Taylor

Former Jacksonville OT Jawaan Taylor versus Miami in 2019
Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, who has started 66 games in four years, agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

2018 Recruiting Recap: Offensive Linemen

Nicholas Petit-Frere was drafted in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans
Petit-Frere, a former top recruit in the Class of 2018, started 16 games as a rookie for the Tennessee Titans in 2022.

Peyton Wilson IF-Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Peyton Wilson 2B-Alabama
It wasn't until 2021 that Wilson moved to second base. As a freshman in 2020, he was primarily a catcher and played in the outfield. The 66th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft is currently batting .327 for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

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