First Round Draft Grades

Our coverage of the NFL Draft continues here on The Aftermath. The first round is in the books. The second round is under brown, and there are some really good players still on the board. (Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland, Sterling Shepard, Derrick Henry and Jarran Reed to name a few)

Let’s take a look at how each team did in the first round. I am looking at not just the player each team took, but how he fits into the team’s philosophy, how he projects in the team’s system and where they selected him.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals: Robert Nkemdichie, Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Grade: A-
This wasn’t exactly a need for the Cardinals but this team has been looking to improve the pass rush for the last few years. Adding Chandler Jones this offseason started the trend and Nkemdichie makes it even better. He has some off the field concerns, but I think Bruce Arians will handle that well.

Falcons logoAtlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal, Safety, Florida
Grade: C+
Atlanta certainly had a need here, getting a nickle safety who is physical enough to drop down into the box and provide run support. He was probably a bit of a reach at 17 though, but after Karl Joseph went 14 to the Raiders, the Falcons did not want to wait though which is why this pick does not score higher.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Grade: B+
Larmey Tunsil is probably the better player, but clearly his social media antics caused him to slide. Stanley will improve this offensive line, eventually at left tackle but probably beginning at right tackle. Stanley is a much better pass protector than run blocker, and Baltimore really needed the latter, but Stanley is still a good pick.

Bills logoBuffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson
Grade: A-
Rex Ryan gets another defensive player and a Clemson guy in one pick. He will lessen the blow of Mario Williams leaving in free agency. Overall, Lawson should aid the pass rush right away and down the line become a great three-down lineman. Kyle Williams is coming off knee surgery at age 33 as well, making this pick even more of a need.

Panthers logoCarolina Panthers: Vernon Butler, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana Tech
Grade: B+
The Panthers did a good job not to panic and reach on a corner at this spot. Instead, they take one of the best players left on the board in Butler. However, this is already a very talented defensive line, so it will probably be a while before we see him get significant playing time.

Bears logoChicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
Grade: B+
The Bears needed to improve their pass rush and they accomplished that by taking Floyd. He has a bit of a ways to go before he is a complete linebacker, but he should help a rebuilding defense from day one. Bonus point to them for sneaking ahead of the Giants to snag him too.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston
Grade: A-
This was a great selection for Cincy. They have spent a lot of first round selections on corners but I think Jackson is a better fit. He has great speed that makes him a natural fit at nickle corner as a rookie and he can grow into the defense as he develops.

Browns logoCleveland: Corey Coleman, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Grade: A
Cleveland nailed this one. Coleman is probably the receiver in this draft with the highest ceiling. The Browns are not going to be a contender this year so grabbing a receiver with high upside makes sense. On top of that, they raked in a bunch of early round picks over the next three drafts. That’s a good way to start rebuilding.

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliot, Running Back, Ohio State
Grade: A
The likelihood is Dallas might have been able to trade down a few spots and still take Elliot. However, Elliot is a slam dunk pick for Dallas. compared him to Edgerrin James. I think he is like LeVeon Bell. This kid is going to be really good in the NFL.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis
Grade: D
The Broncos needed a quarterback in the worst way after Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler spurned them for Houston, but this was not the one to take. Lynch is going to need a few years of sitting on the bench before he can really contribute, but the Broncos have a roster built to win now. That pairing doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Lions LogoDetroit Lions: Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Grade: B+
Many thought the Lions would go receiver with this pick but the move to take Decker is a smart one. Riley Rieff’s contract expires after this season and the Lions need to give Matt Stafford more time in pocket. He should also improve a struggling Detroit running game.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, Defensive Tackle, UCLA
Grade: C-
The Packers are usually one of the best team’s on draft day, so maybe I just don’t understand the genius of this pick, but with Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson and Vernon Butler still on the board, taking Clark is confusing. I also still think this should have been Reggie Ragland, so Green Bay could finally move Clay Matthews back outside.

Texans logoHouston Texans: Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Grade: F
Yeah, I really don’t like this pick. Fuller is a straight line speed guy who struggles to run routes. He has small hands and a small frame. He is a deep threat, but not a first round talent. Also, why the heck did you give up a sixth round pick to move up one spot to take him? Yeah, I just really don’t like how this went down.

Colts logoIndianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, Center, Alabama
Grade: A-
I really thought the Colts could have traded down and still grabbed Kelly, but he is a great player and it definitely fills a need. Andrew Luck has to be very happy about this selection.

Jaguars logoJacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback, Florida State
Grade: A
Jacksonville was patient and ended up landing probably the best prospect in the draft, much like the Jets did last year with Leonard Williams. Gus Bradley has to be thrilled with this pick, but now he is out of excuses. This defense needs to perform this year.

Chiefs LogoKansas City Chiefs: No Selections
Grade: B
Kansas City was smart to trade back and rack up a couple more selections. There weren’t any receivers going at that point. Now they sit early in the second round, and picked up a fourth and sixth.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, Quarterback, California
Grade: C+
The Rams gave up a lot to take Goff, who doesn’t really fit the system Jeff Fisher runs. However, he should be the best quarterback on the Rams’ roster by the end of 2016. He might take a little while to get going, but he should be a solid player.

Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Grade: A+
The Dolphins ended up with the likely steal of the first round. Tunsil is a future stud and while Miami might not be the best environment given his off the field antics, the Dolphins’ offensive line is set with him and Juwan James for the next several years.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings: LaQuon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Grade: A
This fills a need for Minnesota and it is the right guy for their system. Treadwell should be a good possession receiver to compliment the explosive potential of Stefon Diggs and Corradelle Patterson. Also a great run blocker for a team that has Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Teddy Bridgewater needs to deliver now.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots: No Selections
Grade: C

No movement to speak of for the Patriots, they will get two picks at the end of round two. For right now, they are just average.

Saints logoNew Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle, Louisville
Grade: B+

This is what many assumed the Saints would do at 12. Passing on Lynch was a good move for them. They had the worst defense in the league last year so any defensive player was a smart move for them.

Giants LogoNew York Giants: Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State
Grade: C-

I have to admit I was a little confused by this one. Hargreaves was still on the board and this wasn’t a major need for the Giants. Apple will be a good player, but this definitely a reach.

Jets logoNew York Jets: Darron Lee, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State
Grade: B+

The Jets didn’t take Paxton Lynch, which already makes this a good pick. Lee is far from perfect, but this Jets’ linebacking core has needed an infusion of athleticism for a long time. They get that with Lee.

Raiders logoOakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
Grade: B-
Oakland definitely jumped the gun by taking Joseph at 14, but they got their guy. He is a big play safety with a nose for the ball. The Raiders needed someone to bolster the secondary. Slight injury concern with him, but still a solid pick.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State
Grade: B
Wentz might end up being the best quarterback in this draft when all is said and done. However, Philly created a major quarterback controversy with this pick and had to give up some high draft picks to make this selection. The future is set, as long as the locker room survives it.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns, Cornerback, Miami
Grade: C
Pittsburgh filled a need with this pick, but Artie Burns is a questionable first round selection. Obviously, the Steelers would have preferred if William Jackson had fallen just one more pick. Pittsburgh addressed a problem in the secondary, but not with the best player.

Chargers logoSan Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State
Grade: B
He isn’t a great system fit, as he would have done better in a 4-3 system, but Bosa is a great player for San Diego. He definitely helps a Chargers defense that ranked 27th against the run last year. He is a polished product ready to contribute from day one.

49ers LogoSan Francisco 49ers: Deforest Buckner, Defensive End, Baylor and Joshua Garnett, Guard, Stanford
Grade: B
Trading up into the first round for Garnett hurts this grade. Buckner was a great pick for the 49ers and should be a force from day one. Garnett is a good player and fills a need for San Francisco, but trading up to get him didn’t make a whole lot of sense considering that no one else was likely to take him.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Grade: A-
Trading back and still getting offensive line help is a big win for Seattle. He is a tough, physical and will be able to contribute fairly early in his career. Picking up some extra picks in the process makes it even better.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida
Grade: A
Tampa needed this guy all along to help fix their secondary. They also added a fourth round pick for their swap with Chicago. He plugs in as a starter from day one.

Titans logoTennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State
Grade: B-
Conklin fills a major need here for Tennessee, who needs to better protect Marcus Mariota. However, even with the character concerns, Tunsil was still on the board and the Titans had to give up some picks to get up to take Conklin. Probably smart to move ahead of the Giants, but still a little bit early for him.

Washington made up logoWashington: Josh Docston, Wide Receiver, TCU
Grade: B
Not necessarily a need for Washington, but Docston should help make Kirk Cousins look even better. Bonus points for adding an extra draft pick by moving down one spot. Not sold on Doctson yet, but he shows some potential with that big body.


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