I redraft pretty much every NFL draft about 5 years after they happen. In fact, I did the 2015 class two weeks ago. To me, that gives a really good window to evaluate all of the players selected. It is amazing how differently you may view a player after two years as opposed to after five years. For example, Vic Beasley looked like the best pick in the entire draft, Marcus Mariota was on his way to stardom and David Johnson was one of the best running backs in football in 2017. Now, Beasley joined the Titans on a one-year, “prove it deal,” Mariota is a backup for Derek Carr and Johnson was traded to the Texans. None have managed to live up to the early hype they built. It works the other way too. After two years, no one knew who Danielle Hunter, Frank Clark or Za’Darius Smith were. Now they are three of the best pass rushers in football.
Each draft always has a blend of superstars, a few great players who bloomed late and some who peaked early. And of course there are always a few outright busts. Now that we can see how these players turned out at the next level, I figure why not grade them all over again? This time these grades will be a lot more complete and less of flat out a guess.
If this group could have stayed healthy, the Cardinals might look back on it more fondly. David Johnson was the gem of this class. He was one of the top backs in the NFL for a few years, but injuries derailed his career and he was part of the package sent to Houston for DeAndre Hopkins. D.J. Humphries is still around and has locked down a starting role. Arizona just extended him on a lucrative deal. He has only managed 43 games in five year NFL career, but when healthy, he is fairly reliable. Markus Golden broke out in his second season with 12.5 sacks, but then could only stay on the field for 15 games over the next two seasons. He reached double-digit sacks again in 2019, but that was as a member of the New York Giants. Rodney Gunter is still in town, providing some depth along the defensive line. The rest of the class is no longer with the team. Shaquille Riddick never played in an NFL game. J.J. Nelson had a few solid seasons, but joined the Raiders last year. Gerald Christian caught one pass in his NFL career. Overall, production wasn’t too bad, but with only two players still on the roster, this group could have been much better.
If you ignore the Falcons first two picks, this looks like a really impressive draft class. Unfortunately, Vic Beasley’s career ended up being a roller coaster ride and Jalen Collins last only two seasons in the league. Beasley led the NFL in sacks his second season in the league, but never got anywhere close to that level again. Still, he has the third-most sacks in this class. Atlanta let him walk though and now he is in Tennessee. The Falcons did find some great value in the middle rounds of the draft though. Grady Jarrett has developed into one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. He has the most sacks by any defensive tackle in this class. Tevin Coleman formed a really solid duo with Devonta Freeman before following Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco. Justin Hardy still provides some receiver depth, but hasn’t produced that much with under 1,000 yards through five seasons. Jake Rodgers saw his first NFL action in 2019 as an injury fill-in for the Broncos and Akeem King is a backup in Seattle. Coleman and Jarrett were great selections, but only Jarrett and Hardy are still on the roster from this class.
This class really did not do well for the Ravens. Za’Darius Smith is the most notable player from this draft class, but he turned in his best season as a pro for the Packers in 2019. Darren Waller is up there as well, but after a tenure that featured a lot of suspensions in Baltimore, he blossomed as a tight end in Oakland. Breshad Perriman signed with his fourth NFL franchise and accounted for all of 576 receiving yards for Baltimore. That’s not exactly what you are looking for from a first-round selection. Maxx Williams never turned into the tight end the Ravens expected and spent last season with the Cardinals. Carl Davis is a career backup bouncing around the league. Javorius “Buck Allen was a decent complementary back, but he is now with the Giants. Tray Walker lasted one NFL season. Nick Boyle is the only player still on the roster from this class and he mostly just serves as depth. Robert Myers has still never played an NFL game. Had the Ravens managed to get the most out of this class, this would be a much better grade.
It is much harder to put together a great draft class without a first-round pick, but not impossible. The Bills didn’t come anywhere close though. Ronald Darby has become a decent, but injury-prone starter for the Eagles. John Miller has started 28 games over the past two seasons for the Bengals. Karlos Williams and Tony Steward flamed out after just one year. Dezmin Lewis lasted two. Nick O’Leary is still in the league, but is bouncing around as a backup. When none of the players you drafted are still on your team and only two of them have had productive careers, that’s a poor job done by the front office.
The Panthers can feel good that they landed Shaq Thompson in this group and found two other solid players in Daryl Williams and Devin Funchess. Thompson has been a mainstay for the Carolina defense. He isn’t dominant, but he is a productive starter. Williams took a year to get up to speed and has struggled with injuries, but still contributes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into more of a swing tackle backup though in the future. Funchess was reasonably successful when he could stay on the field, but the Panthers let him walk and he spent an injury-riddled season with the Colts in 2019. David Mayo ended up being a backup for four years before starting the majority of last year for the Giants. Cameron Artis-Payne put together a productive stretch before falling out of the league and landing with the XFL. This feels like a pretty average class for Carolina.
This draft class will inevitably be remembered as a failure because of the team’s first round pick in Kevin White. While White was a bust, the rest of the draft was actually pretty solid. Adrian Amos turned out to be a steal in the fifth, but Chicago let him leave in free agency prior to 2019. Eddie Goldman has been productive as well. He is at least a replacement level starter along the defensive line. Hroniss Grasu is a backup in Baltimore now while Jeremy Langford and Tayo Fabuluje are both out of the league. The Bears should have held onto Amos, but his contributions prior to his departure and getting a decent player like Goldman saves this group from being a complete bust.
Absolutely brutal. That is the best way to describe this draft class. Cedric Ogbuehi lost his starting job after three years and now is on his third NFL team. Jake Fisher and Josh Shaw last played in 2018. Tyler Kroft only has 73 career receptions, which is slightly edged out by C.J. Uzomah’s 106. Neither one of those totals is great, but they are at least respectable. P.J. Dawson never made an NFL appearance. Neither did Marcus Hardison. Derron Smith lasted two seasons with the team, while Mario Alford managed one. They are both out of the NFL. When two backup tight ends is all you have to lean on, that is a bad year.
Cleveland slightly edges out Cincinnati here, but no one deserves much credit here. Danny Shelton never really reached his potential, but he was at least a starter. He ended up in New England after a few seasons and just signed with the Lions. Cameron Erving was a disappoint, but he has managed 42 starts in his career. Only 17 were with the Browns though. He is actually a Super Bowl champion now. Duke Johnson was productive, but was traded to Houston last season. Nate Orchard never really caught on. Neither did Xavier Cooper or Vincent Mayle, who are both out of the league. Ibraheim Campbell is a decent backup, now with the Packers. No one else the Browns selected is still in the league. None of the 12 players Cleveland drafted is still with the team either, so I think we can say this was a terrible job by the front office.
The Cowboys hit on Byron Jones, but no one else in this group comes close to matching him. Randy Gregory recently filed for reinstatement to the league after an indefinite suspension last February for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Geoff Swain turned out to be a decent backup tight end. Chaz Green made a handful of starts for Dallas, but has spent the past three seasons bouncing around the league. Damien Wilson had four solid seasons as a rotational linebacker with the Cowboys and just won a Super Bowl in the same role with the Chiefs. Ryan Russell hasn’t played since 2017 after a shoulder injury cost him the entire 2018 season with the Bucs. Mark Nzeocha is a backup on the 49ers. Laurence Gibson never appeared in a game. Overall, the class is solid, even if Jones did just sign with the Dolphins.
It proved to be a tough weekend for the Broncos, whose best pick from this draft was easily the seventh rounder they spent on Trevor Siemian. The former Northwestern quarterback actually started for a year in Denver, but since has bounced around as a backup. First-round selection Shane Ray was a bust. He only last four seasons in the league. Ty Sambrailo started all of seven games for the Broncos before ending up with the Falcons. Jeff Heuerman carved out a role as a backup tight end. Max Garcia got a chance as the starting center, but lost his job in 2018. He signed with the Cardinals last year. Lorenzo Doss didn’t play in 2019. Neither did Darius Kilgo. Taurean Nixon appeared in two games in 2016, but that was all. Josh Furman, who never took an NFL snap, rounds out the class. Getting a backup tight end and a semi-decent backup quarterback from one draft is not good enough.
Hit or miss is probably the best way to categorize Detroit’s 2015 draft. They had a diamond in the rough, finding Quandre Diggs in the seventh round. Diggs turned into a solid starter, mostly in a nickle corner or safety role. He now starts for the Seahawks. Laken Tomlinson never managed to lock down a starting role, but found success with the 49ers. He has started all but one game over the past three seasons in San Francisco. Ameer Abdullah showed flashes, but ultimately could not find consistency. He has mop up duty now for the Vikings. Alex Carter only played one game for the Lions and was out of the league after 2018. Michael Burton is still around, but he only lasted two seasons in Detroit before bouncing to Chicago. Corey Robinson never caught on and hasn’t played since 2018. Finding two solid starters in a class is pretty good. What hurts the Lions’ grade is that they both start for other teams.
Green Bay Packers
Early on, this looked like a really good draft class. Damorious Randall was a starter and Ty Mongomery was a Swiss army knife type player on offense. Aaron Ripkowski looked like a solid fullback, earning 34 carries in 2016, which is a lot in today’s game. By 2018, all three of those players were gone. Randall was traded to Cleveland. Montgomery to Baltimore and Ripkowski was cut. Linebacker Jake Ryan also left after three years of being a rotational option. The reason all of these players seemed to leave at once was general manager Ted Thompson was fired after the 2017 season. Neither of the Packers’ sixth-round picks did much. Christian Ringo and Kennard Backman are both out of the league. There were some decent players here and maybe a few of them would still be with the team if Thompson hadn’t been fired, but when no one is left five years later, that isn’t a great look.
The Texans essentially went 1 for 7 in this NFL draft. Ask a baseball fan, that’s not too good. Thankfully, the one hit they managed was a good one. Benardrick McKinney is an above average starter for the defense and still with the team today. First-round pick Kevin Johnson was underwhelming though, managing just one interception in 18 starts. He was let go after 2018. Jaelen Strong was out of football after 2017. Keith Mumphery only lasted until 2016. Reshard Cliett and Kenny Hilliard have never taken an NFL snap. Christian Covington has made it as a backup. The one player the Texans still have is a good one, but you hoped for something, really anything, out of their other six picks.
Only one player from this draft class is still with the Colts. Clayton Geathers has turned into a reliable backup. The reason this grade isn’t lower is that the Colts did find some other talent in this draft, they just didn’t hang on to it. Phillip Dorsett was disappointing given his draft stock, but to call him an outright bust would be harsh. He was involved in the trade that brought in Jacoby Brissett, for whatever that is worth. Henry Anderson is now a decent starter for the Jets. Denzelle Good is the only other player still in football from this group and he is a backup on the Raiders. Overall, the Colts didn’t get a whole lot of value out of this class, but something can be said for them at least trading away a few of these players for future late-round picks. Beats letting them walk in free agency.
Believe it or not, two of these players are still members of the Jaguars. That counts for something. The biggest name of this group is undoubtedly Dante Fowler Jr. He never quite lived up to his draft slot and the Jags traded him to the Rams after two and a half years. Netting a third round pick three years later is not great return on investment. A.J. Cann has worked out nicely though. He has missed just two starts in the past four seasons. Ben Koyack is the other player still with Jacksonville, provided depth at tight end. No one else from this group is still on an NFL roster. Finding two starting-caliber players and a reliable backup isn’t too bad, but it would be better if Fowler was still finding ways to contribute in Jacksonville.
Kansas City Chiefs
It is really hard to grade the Chiefs on this one. On one hand, they grabbed an All-Pro corner, a starting guard, a fringe starting corner, a quality third or fourth option receiver and a good No. 2 tight end. All but one of their draft picks was on an NFL roster in 2019. That is almost unheard of. The problem is that none of the play for Kansas City anymore. Marcus Peters trash talked his way to L.A. Mitch Morse has had concussion problem and now suits up for Buffalo. Steven Nelson started 15 games for Pittsburgh in 2019. Chris Conley racked 775 yards and five touchdowns for Jacksonville alongside James O’Shaughnessy, who showed flashes of solid play before getting hurt. D.J. Alexander and Ramik Wilson are both backups still in the league as well. Obviously, the Chiefs don’t really care about this as they are coming off a Super Bowl win, but had they managed to keep Peters in house or gotten better production out of Nelson, they might be back-to-back champions right now.
Over the first few years after this draft, it looked like the Raiders had crushed it. Amari Cooper turned into a star receiver. Mario Edwards was a rotational pass rusher. Clive Walford was a solid tight end. Jon Feliciano provided depth at guard. Now none of these guys are part of the team’s move to Las Vegas. Cooper was traded to the Cowboys. Edwards never took the next step and is now on his third team in three years. Walford battled injuries after leaving the team and is now not on a roster. Feliciano left last offseason as a free agent and actually started all 16 games for the Bills. There was some talent here, but Oakland did not maximize it. Had they managed to keep things going, this might have been the first A of the class.
San Diego Chargers
With only five picks in this class, the Chargers have a much smaller margin for error. The messy breakup with Melvin Gordon definitely comes into play here. If he had stay in town for the price the Broncos just paid him, that would probably bump this a little higher. The rest of the class is pretty underwhelming. Denzel Perryman is a solid player, but the team seems to run out of patience with him. He has also only managed to appear in 54 out a possible 80 games in his career. Craig Mager earned some starts in his second year, but the Chargers let him walk after 2018. Same with Kyle Emanuel and Darius Philon. Having every player in the class last at least four years in the NFL is fairly impressive, but with three of them never signing a second contract, that indicates that maybe this group failed to meet expectations.
St. Louis Rams
In their last year in St. Louis, the Rams pulled in a pretty good haul. Say what you will about Todd Gurley, he was the best non-quarterback in football for back-to-back seasons. The Rams just made a mistake with his contract. Rob Havenstein has started 68 games, all with the franchise, since he was draft. Jamon Brown spent one full season as a starter in 2017 before he was traded to the Giants midway through the 2018 season. Sean Mannion has become a journeyman backup. Andrew Donnal is still a backup in the league even though he lasted only two years with the Rams. Cody Wichmann even started most his first two seasons, but has been a backup ever since. Bryce Hager spent the past five years providing linebacker depth before Los Angeles let his contract expire. I think finding a superstar running back and a starting right tackle makes this a pretty good group. Getting reasonable contributions elsewhere makes this the first A I have handed out.
This is a really tricky group to grade. DeVante Parker finally seems to have figured it out, but it took him five years to be productive. The Dolphins traded Jordan Phillips to the Bills after four underwhelming seasons. He posted 9.5 sacks in 2019 and landed himself a nice deal with the Cardinals. Jamil Douglas has made a handful of starts in his career, now suiting up for the Titans. Bobby McCain has turned into a solid defensive back playing most in sub packages. Jay Ajayi got off to a great start, but after a trade to the Eagles killed his momentum, he is now not on an NFL roster. Tony Lippett started out at Michigan State as a defensive back before the Spartans switched him to receiver for his final three seasons. The Dolphins moved him back to defensive back and he had four interceptions in 2016. That proved to just be a flash in the pan though. He has only played in three NFL games since then after tearing his Achilles before the 2017 season. Miami got a solid amount of production of this draft class, but it has been far too uneven to consider it a big success.
No one had a better 2015 draft than the Vikings. They landed Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs. Trae Waynes ended up being decent too even if he didn’t live up to his draft slot. Those first three formed a really solid core that has been essentially to the Vikings recent success. Kendricks was named 1st-team All-Pro in 2019. Hunter is a two-time Pro Bowler. Diggs has the most catches of any player in this draft and is one of the best route runners in the NFL. Obviously, Minnesota had a falling out with Diggs, which led to his trade to Buffalo. Netting a first round pick makes that a bit easier to swallow though and Diggs’ contributions over the past five years have been good enough that the grade should not change. The Vikings knocked this out of the park.
New England Patriots
Like they do seemingly every year, the Patriots found a few gems late in this draft class. Trey Flowers produced 21 sacks over the course of his final three seasons with the team before landing a mega deal with the Lions. Shaq Mason is still around and has been a quality starting guard his whole career. Even Malcom Brown turned out to be a decent player, but he never quite reached the lofty expectations that come with being a first round pick. He is now with the Saints. Jordan Richards is a solid backup. Geneo Grissom never really caught on. Tre’ Jackson started nine games as a rookie, but then missed the whole 2016 seasons due to injury. The Pats cut him and he never landed anywhere else. This group was far from dominant. Only Mason and long snapper Joe Corona are still with the team. Still, New England found some excellent value in the later rounds and got enough production to win another Super Bowl in 2016.
New Orleans Saints
This wasn’t a great draft for the Saints, but they did get a few contributors out of it. Andrus Peat has been pretty reliable and just signed a long-term extension. P.J. Williams is out of a contract, but he has 23 games for New Orleans, including 15 over the past two seasons. Tyeler Davidson even had four solid years with the team, but left for the Falcons in free agency last offseason. On the flip side, the Saints got essentially nothing out of Stephone Anthony, but he did return last year after two seasons with the Dolphins. Hau’oli Kikaha was a bust. Garrett Grayson never developed either. It was an uneven return on investment for the Saints leaving them with an average grade.
New York Giants
It was a rough draft for the Giants. They reached a bit to get Ereck Flowers, who never made it as a tackle. Weirdly enough, he did just sign a fairly large deal to play guard for the Dolphins. New York landed a really solid player in Landon Collins, but didn’t want to pay him, so they inexplicably lifted the franchise tag they used on him to let him walk to division rival Washington. The only thing that saves this from being an even lower grade is Bobby Hart. He was shaky in New York, but he has started every game of the past two seasons for the Bengals. He is far from a star, but finding an average offensive lineman in the seventh round is really good value. Overall, this class was a pretty big dud for the Giants, which probably had something to do with Jerry Reese being fired after 2017.
New York Jets
The Jets earn a higher grade than the Giants! Barely. This was not a good draft for the Big Apple. New York landed what they thought was a superstar in the making in Leonard Williams, but he never reached those expectations. He actually got traded to the aforementioned Giants last season. Still, he was a solid player, just not worthy of a top-10 pick. The rest of the class was a joke. Devin Smith was a total bust, mostly because he couldn’t stay healthy. Lorenzo Maulden had a few seasons of decent pass-rush production. Bryce Petty was nothing more than a struggling backup quarterback. Deon Simon managed to feature for one season and Jarvis Harrison never made an NFL appearance. Williams did not net much return on the investment, but at least the Jets traded him for a third-round pick rather than let him leave for a team in the division for free.
Eagles fans have a history of being harsh, sometimes unfairly. Nelson “how is he back on the roster” Agholor never figured out how to catch the ball. Eric Rowe was traded to the Patriots after one season. Jordan Hicks spent four injury-riddled seasons in Philadelphia before having a breakout season with Arizona in 2019. No one else from this draft class played more than two seasons of football. Rowe and Hicks turned out to be solid players. Hicks might honestly be one of the best players from this class if he can stay healthy. Had they spent their best years with the Eagles, this grade could have been a lot higher. Agholor had his moments, but overall, this class was disappointing to say the least.
Pittsburgh found a good player early, and struggled after that. Bud Dupree has been as advertised as an edge rusher, even if he is not always one of the league’s elite. Jesse James was a decent find, operating mostly as a second-option tight end. Senquez Golden never played an NFL game as a second-round pick. Sammie Coates was gone by 2017. Doran Grant eventually ended up in the XFL. Anthony Chickillo was solid as a sixth-round pick. He spent five seasons as a backup and special teams contributor before getting cut this offseason. Dupree makes this group passable, but clear misses in the second and third round tank this draft grade.
San Francisco 49ers
This is actually a really impressive collection for the 49ers. Arik Armstead finally broke out in his fifth season. He had been solid previously, but he played at a Pro Bowl level in 2019. Jaquiski Tartt has, when healthy, has been the preferred starter at safety. Eli Harold was a decent rotational player for three years. Blake Bell has bounced around, but is still finding ways to stay on the field. Mike Davis had a good 2018 season with Seattle, but that was his only notable year. Bradley Pinion was the punter for four seasons before spending last year with Tampa Bay. The 49ers unearthed a gem as well in Trent Brown, but never got to see him realize his potential. He started all 16 games for San Francisco in 2016, but got injured in 2017, resulting in a trade to New England. He had an incredible year there and leveraged into a monster deal with the Raiders. This ended up being a quality draft for the 49ers, but it doesn’t quite reach the A level. Armstead took a while to catch on while Brown had his best seasons with other teams. Still, this is impressive haul.
Seattle didn’t have a first-round pick in 2015, which makes this class even more impressive. They landed Frank Clark in the second and Tyler Lockett in the third. Clark is one of the best pass rushers from this draft and currently in the league. While he is no longer with the team, Seattle got a first, second and third-round pick swap for him. Quite the return on investment. Lockett is coming off his best season in the pros and has blossomed into Russell Wilson’s favorite weapon. The Seahawks added Mark Glowinski, who is now a starter for the Colts, in the fourth round as well. That’s three really solid players. If Lockett wasn’t the only player still with the team, this would be an A+, but when you consider the impact this group has had in the league and how much value it has generated for the Seahawks, the front office deserves a pat on the back.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
So Jameis Winston was probably the wrong choice at first overall. He wasn’t a total bust either though. Tampa just could never seem to get him to take the next step. The rest of this draft was pretty impressive though. Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet are both starting offensive linemen for the Buccaneers. Both have been pretty reliable. Smith has started 79 out of 80 potential games and Marpet 72 of 80. Kwon Alexander struggled to stay healthy, but still turned out to be a really good linebacker. He started eight games for the 49ers this season before suffering another injury. Getting three quality starters and a slightly inconsistent starting quarterback is a nice group. If Winston had worked out, this would have been an easy A.
It is hard to do much worse than the Titans did in the draft. Marcus Mariota was not the franchise quarterback they hoped for. He lost his job in 2019 and is now a backup to Derek Carr on the Raiders. Dorial Green-Beckham was a huge disappointment. Angelo Blackman is the only player other than Mariota still active, but he plays for the the divisional rival Texans now. Jeremiah Poutasi, Jalston Fowler, David Cobb, Deiontrez Mount, Andy Gallik and Tre McBride are all out of the league. Most of them didn’t make it past 2016. It is honestly hard to do much worse than that. This whole draft class was a bust.
This might not have been perfect, but on the whole this ended up being a pretty good group. Brandon Scherff is a quality starter set to play this season on the franchise tag. Preston Smith has the fourth-most sacks in this class, but his best season yet came with the Packers after he left in free agency. Jameison Crowder has become a solid slot receiver, but he also left last offseason. Washington also landed a reliable center in the seventh round, but gave up on him after a year. After two years in Cleveland, he joined Kansas City. He started all 16 games for the Super Bowl champs this past season. Finding four starting-caliber players is impressive. Only holding onto one of them is what prevents this from being a better grade.