Turkey Hole: NFL Draft Grades

June 11, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Well yet another NFL draft has past and I remained undrafted. I am beginning to think it just isn't going to happen for me. While I pick up the pieces and begin to prepare myself for next years interviews, bench presses, and 40 yard dashes, I find solace in taking out my frustrations by harshly grading every single teams draft. So, here we go folks. Did your team just sink the franchise, or will this class take them to the Super Bowl? 

 

Let's find out.

 

Grading System:

 

A: This is the type of draft that helps a team compete for the Super Bowl within the next three years.

B: A good draft, but not one that can be pointed to as a pivotal event in franchise history.

C: A sort of mixed bag. Some good things here, but nothing that will wow you.

D: The sort of draft that drags teams into the depths of a 2 win season. 

F: See: Browns, circa almost always. 

 

Arizona:

A: Josh Rosen is a strange case. Most experts agree that he is the best passer, the most NFL ready-- and yet, he falls to a spot Arizona can trade up and get him. As far as I am concerned Arizona drafted the best QB in the draft and in doing so got their Franchise QB of the future. That alone gets them the A, but they cemented it with a weapon, Christian Kirk, who will help leviate the massive hole left by the impeding Larry Fitzgerald retirement. After that they added players that can fit a myriad of roles for them, including versatile Center Mason Cole. The Cardinals are a few years away from contending for anything serious again, especially as their division gets tougher, but when Rosen is ready, the Cardinals might just have a chance.

 

Atlanta:  

B: I really liked the Calvin Ridley pick. I know there were other guys there on defense that they could have really helped that side of the ball, but this is a case of a player who was too talented to ignore. It only sweetens the pot that scheme wise, he's a great fit, complementing the big outside threats they have at wide out with quick explosiveness. I think he will help make their offense frightening again. After Ridley, there were no flash picks, but this is a team two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. They don't necessarily need flash picks; they need guys who can step in and fit a role. This draft accomplished that, plus added a game changer in Ridley.

 

Baltimore:

A:  Ozzie Newsome has hit many drafts out of the park since becoming the Raven GM, and his last draft was no exception. Hayden Hurst fits the biggest team need, and they traded down to get him when it was likely that he was who they would have chosen if they stayed. Then, they traded back in for Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round. Jackson is an NFL QB, and if they develop him correctly, and are patient, they might have just drafted a future NFL MVP. Orlando Brown is a first round talent who slipped to the third because of a few concerns that the Ravens will look to wrinkle out. If he develops into the player they think he is, he will be protecting that MVP's blind side. Teammate Mark Andrews is an interesting pick, if only because they already used on on Hurst, but TE was a huge team need and Andrews is an very promising developmental threat as a pass-catching TE. After that they added a myriad of "football guys" at different positions, and if history is any sort of measuring stick, one or two of those guys will be absolute steals.

 

Buffalo:

A: Buffalo traded up and got the QB they wanted. Josh Allen is a bit raw, but where they were drafting, the risk was worth the reward. Alone, I would have given them a solid B, but they added one of the best defensive players in the draft a few picks later in Tremaine Edmunds. Adding an eventual replacement for Kyle Williams in the third bolstered the grade. After that they didn’t make any big splashes-- and they are teetering on the edge of a B-- but they remain just top heavy enough to walk away with a top grade. If I was being honest though, this grade would be an incomplete until we see what Josh Allen looks like a few years down the road.

 

Carolina:

B: Carolina addressed their most obvious need when they drafted D.J. Moore and gave Cam Newton a new weapon. Everything after that was gravy, and that gravy brought them defensive players they can plug in and play now, and develop into possible stars as time passes. I would have liked to give them an A, but for my taste picking Moore when Ridley was available was the wrong decision.

 

Chicago:

B: I think Roquon Smith is a game changer on defense for them. Alone, he is the sort of pivotal pick that helps change the face of a franchise-- but middle line backer play alone isn’t going to take them to the Super Bowl. They added future starters on their line and at reciever in the next two rounds, both of whom will help second year QB Mitch Trubinsky continue to develop. After that their weren’t any wow picks, but they were all smart picks that fit team needs.

 

Cincinati:  

C: There’s a lot to like here. Billy Price isn’t going to light the fan base on fire, but he can be an anchor for the offensive line. The problem with the pick is there were so many difference makers at other positions that I am not sure they got their best value here. They basically repeated this process in the second round-- a not sexy pick, with a good football player, while possibly great football players remain. In the third round they picked two definsive play makers that I do think will become difference makers, and Sam Hubbard was exceptional value. They made their football team better, but not over the hump better.

 

 

Cleveland:

D: When you have the first over all pick it needs to be a slam dunk, and I don’t think Baker Mayfield is that. He might turn into a star, but they had carblanche and in the end I think they could have picked quite a few player’s with the pick that would have had a higher chance of helping them turn things around. At the fourth pick they picked a DB who is probably going to be great, but they don’t have a need at the position, after trading for Demarious Randall and spending quite a bit of money at the pisition in free agency. Austin Corbett is a good pick, and I think expecting him to replace Joe Thomas is unfair to everyone involved, so I won’t grade based on that. I’m high on Nick Chubb, but again, the Browns had zero wins last year, but they have talent at running back-- including free agent addition Carlos Hyde. He’s a great prospect, but their not talented enough to use high picks on player’s they don’t need. Antonio Callaway is a great value pick, but he slid because of a history that would concern me as a GM when he is put in the same locker room as recovering star Josh Gordon. Maybe that’s not fair, and I’m cheering for them both, but the Browns need to consider stuff like that when they are drafting.

 

Dallas:

B: Dallas has drafted really well the past few years, and this was no exception. The fans would have prefered a WR--and there is something to that-- but Vander Esh is a versatile player that they can move around at linebacker. They got great value with their next two pick, drafting starters on the offensive line and wide receiver. I think Gallup will fit in well with their passing attack. They added guys who can contribute with every pick after that, including valuable depth at running back and QB. Dallas has been bleeding a bit the past two years through free agency and retirement, and this draft is going to go a long way towards adressing that.

 

Denver:

A: A team was going to reap the benefits from the QB reach and that team was Denver. Getting Bradley Chubb without having to move up was extraordinary value. It should immediately take their pass rush back to the highs of their Super Bowl runs. Cortlund Sutton is a big bodied wide out that should give some room for error on Case Keenum’s throws, and Royce Freemon should compete for the starting running back position immediately. These were their splash picks, but the next few round saw them drafting players at need positions a round after they were slotted to go. With one weekend Elway widened their Super Bowl window a few more years.

 

Detroit:

C: Frank Ragnow is a smart football pick. He can provide protection at multiple positions for Stafford for the interior of the line. They followed that up with two picks that seem like reaches to me. And then they finish with picks in Da’Shawn Hand and Tyrell Crosby that seem like steals. It was sort of a wonky draft, and they left guys on the table I think could have really could have helped.

 

Green Bay:

A: Jaire Alexander with their first pick fits a big need and he he a top player at the position. So is Josh Jackson, who they got in the second round. They revamped their secondary with youth and playmakers and then they tossed in an athletic linebacker in Oren Burks in the third. This draft was about revitalizing the defense and I believe they accomplished just that. They also added three wide receivers late-- one of them will likely to fill out a role catching passes from Rodgers. And they rounded it out by adding a long snapper, a position rarely drafted or discussed, but any team who loses theirs knows how valuable it is.

 

Houston:

B: Without a first round pick it is tough to blow the doors of, but Justin Reid was a first round talent. Martinas Rankins is an excellent pass protector that will help Desean Watson out for years. After that they added role players that fit specific niches for the team. The truth is they won this draft last year when they traded their first round pick for Watson.

 

Indianapolis:

B: This draft had to focus on one thing: keep Andrew Luck healthy. Quenton Nelson was created in a lab to do just that. He will open holes in the running game, taking pressure off Luck, and he will keep the pocket clean, keeping pressure off Luck. The next two picks fit team needs, and are solid players, but there were other players that also checked those boxes that I think would have been better values.

 

Jacksonville:

B:  Did the Jaguars need a defensive lineman in the first round? No, but the fit was there, the potential for Taven Bryan is huge, and the spoils of riches strategy has worked for teams like Seattle, Philadelphia, and New York to name a few. D.J Chark and Ronnie Harrison should both contribute right away, and Will Richardson might just be a starter for them. This is a draft of potential, and one that could pay huge dividends in the end-- but for now, it was just very solid.

 

Kansas City:

C: They were behind the eight ball a bit, not having a pick until the second round, and they traded up several times for guys that I think they might have been able to get staying right where they were. They traded Marcus Peters and didn’t draft a possible replacement until the 196th pick. Armani Watts  was a very good pick though-- he should start for them immediately.

 

Los Angelos Chargers:

B: The Chargers stayed pat and got Derwin James. They got a top ten talent, at a position of need, without doing anything. After that they continued to address needs-- though who they chose was sometimes questionable, and for that, they get a B.

 

Los Angelos Rams:

B: The Rams are in win now mode, and they showed that this off season by trading away picks for big named super stars. This meant that the draft was about using later rounds to find niche players that can fit roles to complement their stars and they did that very well. It is not a headlines draft, but after an offseason of hollywood level buzz, a little time out of the spotlight is okay.

 

Miami:

B: Minkah Fitzpatrick will change their defense. Mike Gesecki gives Tennehil a excellent new weapon, and honestly, they were close to getting an A. They continued to draft well later on, but there weren’t enough future starters to tip the scales.

 

Minnesota:

C: Minnesota is a team on the cusp of winning a championship as is, and they tend to rely heavily on veterans as a preference, so the draft is not as weighty to them as it is to other teams. This means they worry less about splash picks, and instead look to find lunch pale guys who will come in and do their jobs. They got a lot of those guys-- and first round pick Mike Hughes could develop into a star-- but with the amount of money they have spent, and how close they are to finally getting a superbowl, I think there should have been a little more risk here.

 

New England:

A: Every draft for New England has to be about making sure they soak the most out of the Tom Brady era and this draft did just that. They gave Brady an offensive lineman to keep him upright, and then added Sony Michel who is basically the running back Bellichick and Brady would create on Madden for the team. After that they added defensive players that will fit their unique scheme, and somehow managed to reload the team without rebooting it.

 

New Orleans:

C: I like Marcus Davenport, but for what they gave up for him, he needs to become an all-pro talent, and that is a lot of pressure on a first year player. I also think that other players were available at this point that could have possibly made a bigger impact-- so talented player, but at a huge cost. That’s a C to me, and they didn’t do anything after that to change my mind as they failed to address some pretty obvious team needs.

 

New York Giants:

A: Their first pick was a running back and yes, it is high for a running back, but Barkley is my highest rated player and many teams agree with me. He makes their offense very scary, and is a sneaky way of replacing Eli Manning. Instead of counting on developing a new, young QB, they draft a stud running back that can carry the load and turn dump down passes to touchdowns. Hernandez in the second is a first round talent that will help shore up the line, and their third round pick Lorenzo Carter has first round potential, but it hasn’t clicked for him yet. Kyle Lauletta just might be that replacement to Eli we talked about earlier.

 

New York Jets:

B: They didn’t give up as much for Sam Darnold as teams in the past have for franchise QBs but I also think they passed on the best chance they had at a franchise QB in Josh Rosen-- so it’s a good move, but not quite an A. After that they didn’t do anything to drop it, but they didn’t do anything to raise it either.

 

Oakland:

C: The new coaching staffs first draft brought some great new talent to Oakland, but there was definitely some head scratchers. Kolton Miller is an uber-athlete that, if coached right, will protect Derek Carr for years, and moving down for him was nice, but with guys like Derwin James there, and their lackluster defense being what it it, the pick seems a little ignorant. After that they didn’t do much until they picked Maurice Hurst who was perhaps the biggest steal of the draft. They also used some picks to add some useful Wide Receivers, but again, the offense isn’t really the problem with this team.

 

Philadelphia:

B: I actually think this draft went about as good as it could have for Philadelphia, but with the situation they were in an A was pretty far out of reach. Trading out of the first gave them second day flexibility, and allowed them to address multiple needs-- and that is what was most important about this draft for the Super Bowl champs. They have a loaded roster, and limited cap space. They needed to find difference makers at low cost, and they did just that. Oh, and trading ahead of Dallas to draft the TE out of SDSU was absolutely cathartic for me, but that probably shouldn’t affect their grade.

 

Pittsburg:

B: Their first round pick seemed like quite a reach, and frankly it knocked them down to a C. After that though, they addressed needs with smart, high value picks that probably won’t get them over the Patriots hump, but it should keep them at the top of the AFC North.

 

San Francisco:

C: I understand the need to protect the Jimmy G investment, but this they had the chance to address some critical needs at defense in the first few rounds and they passed on them. They addressed some of these needs later on, but the player’s they got in the first two round would have made bigger impacts.

 

Seattle:

D: This is a team that is bleeding talent, and their offensive strategy seems to have become a shoulder shrug and a, “hey Russ, you got this, right?” They are officially in rebuild mode after this off season, but their draft didn’t seem to show it. Its classic for Seattle to reach on a player, and they did that in the first. Penny is a nice running back but they had their choice of three of four others that I had ranked higher. I was a big fan of Griffin late, and that got them enough points to avoid an F. 

 

Tampa Bay:

B: Vita Vea is an excellent prospect at a position they didn’t need while Derwin James, who plays a high need position, was passed on. Ronald Jones is an excellent fit for them and he should help the offense be a little more balanced. Carlton Davis and Alex Cappa are probably starters within the next year or so, which makes them excellent value.

 

Tennessee:

B: I think Tennessee made some major improvements to their defense in the first two rounds, which is critical for them if they want to get back to the playoffs. I would have liked to have seen them double down on Marcus Mariota with another weapon, but they did invest heavily there last year. Luke Faulk should develop into a very solid back up, so he was a high value pick as well.

 

Washington:

B: Payne fits a need at defensive tackle, and if he helps improve Washington’s rushing defense from awful to average it will have been worth the pick. Guice is a talented runner who will have a lot to prove, as he slipped. Geron Christian is a versatile swing tackle that will give them depth and versatility on their offensive line.  

 

LA is Editor-in-Chief and Head Writer at Lot 10 Underground. He is an avid Eagles fan and a weary Lakers one. He grew up sneaking through the halls of Hogwarts after curfew with Harry and his more talented friends, stumbling along the dark walls of Rock Tunnel in Pokemon Red, storming through flood infested ships with Master Chief, and questioning Goku's parenting techniques in DBZ. If you'd like to contact him, you can try an owl, but he prefers e-mail: 

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