Bang it here for my NFC Draft Grades.
1 (16). Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
2 (47). Houston OLB Tyus Bowser
3 (74). Michigan DT Chris Wormley
3 (78). Alabama OLB Tim Williams
4 (122). San Diego State OG Nico Siragusa
5 (159). Texas A&M OG Jermaine Eluemunor
6 (186). Virginia Tech DB Chuck Clark
Overview: The Ravens didn’t add a single skill-position player in this draft, instead devoting all their resources to defense and offensive line. Humphrey, Bowser, and Wormley all generated pre-draft first-round buzz and would not have been surprises inside the top-32 picks. Humphrey must improve at defending vertical passes, but he is a special athlete with plus size and length. Some scouts considered Williams the best natural pass rusher in this draft. Williams slipped for off-field reasons, but No. 78 is exactly where he was worth a shot. Siragusa checks boxes for size, athleticism, smarts, and college dominance, and has a chance to be an early starter, perhaps allowing the Ravens to kick LG Alex Lewis to right tackle. Eluemunor is a project and Clark is a special teamer. While Baltimore’s offense remains a big concern, I think GM Ozzie Newsome acquired 4-5 potential early starters in this haul.
1 (27). LSU CB Tre’Davious White
2 (37). East Carolina WR Zay Jones
2 (63). Temple OT Dion Dawkins
5 (163). Boston College LB Matt Milano
5 (171). Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman
6 (195). Boise State LB Tanner Vallejo
Overview: Sean McDermott’s first draft-day move as Buffalo’s most powerful man was to drop 17 slots in round one, adding pick No. 91 and the Chiefs’ 2018 first-rounder. McDermott is a defensive backs coach at his core, so I’d trust his opinion on White long before my own. The Bills went on the offensive in round two, trading away a third-rounder and two fifth-round picks for seven- and 12-spot climbs that netted them likely Week 1 starters Jones and Dawkins. Milano and Vallejo project as late-round special teams help, while Peterman has drawn optimistic comparisons to Kirk Cousins and Andy Dalton as a smart, coachable quarterback prospect with baseline NFL traits and an outside chance to develop into a game-managing starter, or slightly more. While this haul lacked quantity and flash, it is long on early impact and has some long-range upside. The post-Doug Whaley era is off to a fine start.
1 (9). Washington WR John Ross
2 (48). Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
3 (73). Kansas State DE Jordan Willis
4 (116). Auburn DE Carl Lawson
4 (128). Tennessee WR Josh Malone
4 (138). Michigan DT Ryan Glasgow
5 (153). Memphis K Jake Elliott
5 (176). Utah C/G J.J. Dielman
6 (193). Oklahoma LB Jordan Evans
6 (207). Houston RB Brandon Wilson
7 (251). Buffalo TE Mason Schreck
Overview: The Bengals are a lock to garner favorable post-draft “grades” because this haul is long on name recognition, and so many of the picks hail from big schools. No. 9 overall is frighteningly early for a prospect with Ross’ injury history and one year of big-time production, but his ceiling is high and Cincinnati’s offense badly needed an injection of speed. Known to be targeting Mixon all along, the Bengals essentially picked up a bonus fourth-round pick (Malone) by dipping seven spots in a round-two trade with Minnesota. Mixon’s off-field past is worrisome, but he was the best all-around back in this draft. Willis was an enormously productive collegiate whose Combine numbers were topped only by Myles Garrett among draft-eligible edge players. Lawson was a top-50 talent who slipped to round four due to concerns about his shoulders. Free-roll fourth-rounder Malone offers vertical-receiver potential. Glasgow is a try-hard overachiever who should earn a spot at the end of Cincinnati’s defensive line rotation. Dielman offers position versatility as a potential swing reserve. Pass-coverage-specialist linebacker Evans could make Vincent Ray expendable. The Bengals took some calculated risks here, but there’s no question they gobbled up a lot of talented players and added upside to their roster.
1 (1). Texas A&M Myles Garrett
1 (25). Michigan S/KR Jabrill Peppers
1 (29). Miami TE David Njoku
2 (52). Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
3 (65). Charlotte DT Larry Ogunjobi
4 (126). Houston CB Howard Wilson
5 (160). Florida State OT Roderick Johnson
6 (185). Florida DT Caleb Brantley
7 (224). Arizona State K Zane Gonzalez
7 (252). North Carolina State RB Matt Dayes
Overview: Browns SLB Jamie Collins deserves inclusion here after Cleveland acquired him for the No. 103 pick. After making Garrett the no-brainer No. 1, the Browns turned No. 12 into No. 25 and the Texans’ 2018 first-round pick. They closed out round one with dynamic punt returner and Week 1 starting safety Peppers, then moved back up for Njoku, a dominant receiving tight end and underrated blocker. Garrett and Njoku were arguably the two best prospects at their positions in this draft. When there is great uncertainty about the quality of relatively similar investments – as was the case in this year’s quarterback class – it is often prudent to buy the cheapest one. That is precisely the approach Cleveland took with mega-talent Kizer, selecting him at No. 52 while the Bears, Texans, and Chiefs all paid high-cost bounties for their quarterback targets. Ogunjobi is an elite-production SPARQ freak, Wilson racked up nine interceptions as only a 16-game college starter, Johnson twice won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s top offensive lineman, Gonzalez was the best kicker in this draft, and Brantley was a day-two talent who fell to round six for off-field reasons. When considering this draft also yielded aforementioned Collins and Houston’s first-rounder, I’d have a very hard time quibbling with it in any respect. I suppose Peppers’ lack of a defined NFL position would be the biggest possible knock.
1 (20). Utah OT Garett Bolles
2 (51). Florida State DL DeMarcus Walker
3 (82). Louisiana Tech WR Carlos Henderson
3 (101). Lamar (TX) CB Brendan Langley
5 (145). Michigan TE Jake Butt
5 (172). Georgia KR Isaiah McKenzie
6 (203). Coastal Carolina RB De’Angelo Henderson
7 (253). Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
Overview: Rather than make a panicked trade up, GM John Elway coolly waited for top tackle prospect Bolles to fall into his lap, then quickly turned in his card. A 25-year-old rookie who played just one season in Division 1, Bolles is a frightening prospect on several levels, but there is little doubt he was the cream of this year’s O-Line crop. The draft community despised Walker as a prospect, but he checks boxes as an athlete and producer, earning 2016 ACC DPOY and graduating third in FSU history in sacks. Tackle-busting slot machine Henderson and Mackey Award winner Butt addressed big needs for an offense that is weak in the middle of the field, although Butt has torn both ACLs and may redshirt as a rookie. The Broncos also turned special teamer Kapri Bibbs into a 2018 fourth-rounder, which will likely land high in that round because the deal was made with lowly San Francisco. Langley intercepted six passes last season and runs 4.43 at 6’0/189. McKenzie offers zero offensive upside, but he scored six return TDs at Georgia. Henderson is Coastal Carolina’s all-time leading rusher and runs 4.48. Kelly is an early-round talent whose off-field and medical concerns torpedoed his stock. While I’m not convinced Elway hit many surefire singles with this haul, I think he’s got a chance to smack a few home runs.
1 (12). Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
2 (57). Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
3 (89). Texas RB D’Onta Foreman
4 (130). Bucknell OT Julie’n Davenport
4 (142). Clemson DT Carlos Watkins
5 (169). Oregon State DB Treston Decoud
7 (243). Baylor C/G Kyle Fuller
Overview: In one of the boldest moves of round one, the Texans sent their 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for a 13-spot climb that netted Houston its quarterback of the future and likely present. Cunningham generated pre-draft first-round buzz after a prolific college career and has all the requisite athletic measurables to become a three-down NFL starter, likely replacing John Simon as a year-one role player and Brian Cushing eventually. I get the Foreman pick, but he’s not “my type” of back as a finesse runner in a power back’s body who doesn’t catch passes. Davenport is a massive small-school project at a position of immediate need. Watkins dominated Vikings third-round G/C Pat Elflein when they met last year, and Decoud did similarly to Jets fifth-round WR Chad Hansen. Seventh-round flier Fuller is a big-bodied, bad athlete who committed way too many penalties in the Big 12. From top to bottom, I think this was an okay draft whose results will hinge almost entirely on Watson. And I’m optimistic about Watson under Bill O’Brien’s tutelage with quality skill-position talent around him.
1 (15). Ohio State S Malik Hooker
2 (46). Florida CB Quincy Wilson
3 (80). Ohio OLB Tarell Basham
4 (137). USC OT Zach Banner
4 (143). South Florida RB Marlon Mack
4 (144). Albany State DT Grover Stewart
5 (158). Temple CB Nate Hairston
5 (161). Northwestern ILB Anthony Walker
Overview: Rookie GM Chris Ballard stated after round one that he was shocked Hooker lasted to No. 15. So was everyone else. More so than No. 6 pick Jamal Adams, Hooker offers the highest ceiling in this year’s safety class as an Ed Reed-like ballhawk with rare deep-safety range. Wilson is a plus-sized corner with tools to play Chuck Pagano’s preferred man coverage. As cornerback was the Colts’ biggest pre-draft need, Ballard smartly addressed it with two picks. Basham offers plus size, athleticism, length, and production after ranking fifth in the nation in QB hurries and earning 2016 MAC DPOY. Albeit rough around the edges, Mack was one of the most explosive backs in this year’s class and has a legit shot at early touches behind plodders Frank Gore and Robert Turbin. Stewart is a size-athleticism-production freak out of Division 2. Walker is a special teams help. In Ballard’s first draft, the only pick I did not like was Banner, a 6-foot-8, 353-pound behemoth who ballooned north of 400 pounds at times in college and will undoubtedly struggle to pass block in the pros. If I were a Colts fan evaluating both free agency and the draft, I would be overwhelmingly pleased with my new GM’s offseason transactions to date.
1 (4). LSU RB Leonard Fournette
2 (34). Alabama T/G Cam Robinson
3 (68). Florida DE Dawuane Smoot
4 (110). Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook
5 (148). Ohio ILB Blair Brown
7 (222). Minnesota CB Jalen Myrick
7 (240). Miami (OH) Marquez Williams
Overview: The Jaguars have made a statement about their new direction. They signed a fullback before the draft (Tommy Bohanon), drafted another fullback (Williams), used the fourth overall pick on straight-line power back Fournette, and traded up for Alabama power blocker Robinson. Smoot disappoints athletically for the position he plays, while Westbrook was known to be off many boards for off-field reasons and projects as a fourth receiver at best in Jacksonville. Brown and Myrick are early-career special teamers with a chance at more down the line. The Jags appear to have requisite pieces in place to execute a run-heavy, power-oriented approach that slows down games and leans on a talented defense to stay close on the scoreboard. I think there is a chance the Jags finally take a step forward as a team. At the same time, I’d have a hard time giving the Jaguars a good draft “grade” after they used the No. 4 pick on a non-difference-making position. For better or worse, I gave the Cowboys a C last year.
Kansas City Chiefs
1 (10). Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
2 (59). Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
3 (86). Toledo RB Kareem Hunt
4 (139). Michigan WR Jehu Chesson
5 (183). Georgia Southern LB Ukeme Eligwe
6 (218). USC DB Leon McQuay
Overview: The Chiefs made the most aggressive move of the entire draft on day one, sending pick No. 91 and their 2018 first-rounder for a 17-spot climb to draft Mahomes, who offers the premier skill set in this year’s quarterback class. Andy Reid will hope to mold Mahomes into his next Donovan McNabb. Kansas City recouped capital in a round-three trade with Minnesota, grabbing Nos. 132 and 245 to dip 18 slots. In another deal with the Vikings, the Chiefs gave up Nos. 170 and 180 to draft Chesson at 139. “Grading” this haul is tough because it is so contingent on Mahomes’ success or lack thereof, and he is a project we won’t see play before 2018. I was a fan of Mahomes as a prospect because he was a prolific college producer with all the requisite NFL-quarterback traits and then some. And it builds confidence that he will be under the tutelage of Reid. I also liked the Hunt pick despite his poor measurables. Hunt is a plus receiving back who excels at getting skinny through tight cracks. He will challenge Spencer Ware for snaps immediately. I worry Kpassagnon is another Margus Hunt. Eligwe was a surprise fifth-rounder, Chesson had a good SPARQ score, and McQuay is a possible conversion from safety to corner. I’d go with “incomplete” if that was a draft-grade option because Mahomes is such a volatilite prospect. As is, I’m giving this haul a C+ because I think this was an average draft otherwise.
Los Angeles Chargers
1 (7). Clemson WR Mike Williams
2 (38). Western Kentucky G/T Forrest Lamp
3 (71). Indiana OG Dan Feeney
4 (113). Miami (FL) S Rayshawn Jenkins
5 (151). Iowa DB Desmond King
6 (190). Utah OT Sam Tevi
7 (225). Notre Dame DL Isaac Rochell
Overview: While I am a fan of Williams — and getting the pick right is most important — I do not believe using the seventh overall selection at one of the Chargers’ most talented positions was a savvy allocation of resources, particularly with Malik Hooker on the board. Day-two picks Lamp and Feeney make sense as theoretically high-floor offensive linemen after Phillip Rivers developed happy feet behind shaky pass protection last year. The Bolts waited until round four to address their safety need, although Jenkins is more downhill strong safety than range-covering center fielder. Perhaps King will become that guy, even if his 4.60 speed suggests otherwise. King might wind up as a better fit at slot corner. I think Tevi and Rochell were throwaways. While GM Tom Telesco added some good football players, he could have done better. I’m probably too hung up on this, but I would have loved watching Hooker cherry pick enemy quarterback passes behind shutdown CBs Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett.
1 (22). Missouri DE Charles Harris
2 (54). Ohio State ILB Raekwon McMillan
3 (97). Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley
5 (164). Utah OG Isaac Asiata
5 (178). LSU DT Davon Godchaux
6 (194). Oklahoma State DT Vincent Taylor
7 (237). Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford
Overview: Underrated DE William Hayes and reclamation TE Julius Thomas factor in here after Miami acquired them for the Nos. 206 and 240 picks. This haul was refreshingly out of character for a Mike Tannenbaum team, shunning “skill guys” until round seven to hammer defensive and offensive line needs. Harris’ college tape is comparable to any pass rusher in this class. McMillan probably won’t play much as a rookie, but he will learn from one of the best at his position in Lawrence Timmons. Tankersley was a big-time playmaker when targeted in the ACC, even if his overall athleticism disappointed in Indy. Asiata is a questionable fit for the Dolphins’ zone-run game, but he consistently moved people in the Pac 12 and has the requisite strength for that skill to translate. Asiata could start as a rookie. Godchaux and Taylor are solid prospects at a position where Miami badly needed depth and talented bodies. Ford is probably practice-squad bound in year one, but I thought he deserved to go earlier than round seven. While it’s fair to question the long-term upside of this draft haul, I would be surprised if the Dolphins didn’t get meaningful early contributions from upwards of five players, Hayes and Thomas included.
New England Patriots
Overview: Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Kony Ealy, Mike Gillislee, Kyle Van Noy, and James O’Shaughnessy all warrant inclusion in this haul after New England acquired them in pre-draft trades, turning hope-based draft capital into proven talent. The Patriots were clearly hot for Garcia, sending Minnesota pick No. 124 to climb 11 slots in round three. Garcia offers some traits that align with starting left tackles in the league. Rivers lasted until round three because he played at Youngstown State, but he was one of the top pure pass rushers in this draft. Wise made only ten starts in college, but he produced in his opportunities, has nearly 36-inch arms, and posted a freaky 10-foot-5 broad jump at 6-foot-5, 275. McDermott probably won’t make it. This is a weird “draft” to grade because so much of it isn’t actually tied to the draft. The Patriots essentially traded their draft for players already in the NFL. It also speaks how the Patriots continue to operate differently than the rest of the league, and how differently each team should and does operate. The Browns should and would be ridiculed if they did something like this. The Patriots’ quarterback is 40 years old, and they have refused to trade coveted backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Staying in constant and unshakable win-now mode, New England gets an A-plus here.
New York Jets
1 (6). LSU S Jamal Adams
2 (39). Florida S Marcus Maye
3 (79). Alabama WR ArDarius Stewart
4 (141). California WR Chad Hansen
5 (150). Clemson TE Jordan Leggett
5 (181). West Georgia LB Dylan Donahue
6 (188). Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire
6 (197). Michigan CB Jeremy Clark
6 (204). Ole Miss CB Derrick Jones
Overview: Mildly promising sophomore OT Brandon Shell should be included in this haul after the Jets parted with their 2017 fourth-rounder (became Samaje Perine) to draft Shell in last year’s fifth round. Although the Jets were widely praised for the Adams pick, safeties affect fewer plays than almost any other position and are therefore rarely taken as early as Adams went. The Jets of course followed up with another safety in the second round. Stewart and Hansen are solid players, but both have No. 3-receiver ceilings. Leggett’s nickname at Clemson was “Lazy Leggett.” Clark was Gang Green’s most intriguing late-rounder with Brandon Browner-like size and early-round grades from NFL scouts entering last season, only to tear his ACL in September. It should be noted that the Jets acquired the Cowboys’ 2018 fifth-round pick by sending Dallas No. 191, which the Cowboys promptly used on Louisiana Tech S Xavier Woods, whom I’d be willing to wager has a more productive career than Jets second-rounder Maye. The Jets are just throwing blind-folded darts at this point. They have no organizational direction.
1 (24). Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
2 (56). UConn S Obi Melifonwu
3 (88). UCLA DL Eddie Vanderdoes
4 (129). Florida OT David Sharpe
5 (168). Wake Forest ILB Marquel Lee
7 (221). Washington State S Shalom Luani
7 (231). Alabama State OT Jylan Ware
7 (242). North Carolina RB Elijah Hood
7 (244). Toledo DT Treyvon Hester
Overview: Since a fire-able start to his tenure as GM, Reggie McKenzie has been on a wicked tear. The Raiders have earned consecutive B+ draft grades from Rotoworld – in hindsight, they deserved a capital A+ in 2015 – and delivered another solid haul here with four likely early contributors in Conley, Melifonwu, Vanderdoes, Lee, and an intriguing project in Sharpe at a position of need. I trust McKenzie has solid information Conley will be exonerated of the draft-week allegations against him, of course. I thought Conley had the best tape of any corner in this class, including higher-rated teammate Marshon Lattimore. It was not Lattimore whom the Buckeyes’ coaching staff left on man-coverage islands against Clemson’s Mike Williams and Penn State’s Chris Godwin. It was Conley. Ware is a player Rotoworld’s Josh Norris identified as a pre-draft sleeper. Lee was a terrific round-five value pick I expect to push for immediate snaps. Melifonwu is George Iloka 2.0, and Reggie Nelson’s eventual replacement. More often than not, the rich get richer in the NFL draft. The Raiders have established themselves amongst the rich.
1 (30). Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt
2 (62). USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
3 (94). Tennessee CB Cameron Sutton
3 (105). Pittsburgh RB James Conner
4 (135). Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs
5 (173). Utah CB Brian Allen
6 (213). Louisville LS Colin Holba
7 (248). Western Michigan LB Keion Adams
Overview: Watt was a BPA-style pick at No. 30 as a high-value pass rusher at a positon of need with James Harrison going on age 39. Watt only had one year of big-time defensive production, but the traits are there as one of the best athletes in this class. Undervalued by the draft community, Smith-Schuster gives Pittsburgh a 20-year-old upside prospect at a spot where they can’t afford to rely on Martavis Bryant and are otherwise short on talent beyond Antonio Brown. Sutton is a sub-par athlete with slot corner traits. He must become more physical to excel inside. Conner and Dobbs are better stories than draft picks. Allen offers a higher ceiling than Sutton and was drafted three rounds later. The Steelers used their last two selections on a long snapper and a low-probability project edge rusher.
1 (5). Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
1 (18). USC CB Adoree’ Jackson
3 (72). Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor
3 (100). Florida International TE Jonnu Smith
5 (155). UCLA LB Jayon Brown
6 (217). UT-Chattanooga OL Corey Levin
7 (227). TCU OLB Josh Carraway
7 (236). Villanova OT Brad Seaton
7 (241). California RB Khalfani Muhammad
Overview: Overlooking the ankle injury that prevented him from testing before the draft, the Titans trusted their film study and landed this year’s best receiver prospect in Davis. This came via the first-round pick GM Jon Robinson stole from the Rams in last year’s Jared Goff trade. While Jackson hit a need, I was alarmed by how often he was beaten in pass coverage on college tape. Jackson was the lowest-rated first-round pick on Josh Norris’ pre-draft Big Board, ranking No. 96. I thought Taylor and Smith were sensational third-rounders, undervalued because they played at small schools, but both dominated there and exhibited high-level athleticism before the draft. Brown has a chance to be ILB Wesley Woodyard’s eventual replacement. Seaton offers swing-tackle potential. I don’t know anything about local product Levin. Carraway offers sub-package pass-rusher upside. Muhammad has almost no shot at a legitimate NFL career. Nevertheless, a solid haul in Robinson’s second year on the job. Robinson deserved NFL Executive of the Year consideration last season and should be in the mix again.
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