2017 NFL Draft Grades

We’ve had about a week to let things settle now. There were some interesting developments that took place in the draft, from the Bears trading up for Mitch Trubitsky to the Jets taking two safeties to John Ross going in the top ten. With a few days gone by to digest all of this, it is time to grade each team’s draft haul.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Grade: B+

With all three of the perceived top quarterbacks off the board at 13, Arizona took the best player available and filled a need in Haasan Reddick. Fourth round pick Dorian Johnson will compete right away. Budda Baker is a great pick to have in the second round, but he fills a similar role to Deone Bucannon as an in the box safety who can play in the slot. Not taking a quarterback in a deep signal caller class was an issue as well.

Falcons logoAtlanta Falcons
Grade: A-

Nabbing Takkarist McKinley after trading up definitely improves an already solid pass rush. He is versatile and crafty. Duke Riley could also see some meaningful time as a cover linebacker and special teams ace. Adding offensive line and running back depth was a good move. Not adding a young safety is the biggest knock here.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Grade: B

Rebuilding the defense with four straight defensive picks is a great move. However, Baltimore could use some help at the skill positions. With no true starting running back, a middling receiving core that just lost Steve Smith Sr. and a number of unproven tight ends, offense would have been a good focus. Still Tim Williams could develop into a stud, Marlon Humphrey is going to play smash mouth football. Tyus Bower and Chris Wormley will contribute right away as well on passing downs. But come on Ozzie, passing on O.J. Howard???

Bills logoBuffalo Bills
Grade: A-

Buffalo stood pat on drafting a quarterback when it didn’t one. Instead, they landed another first rounder and took a versatile corner who can contribute right away. Taking Zay Jones could lead to Sammy Watkins finally getting a true compliment in their offense. Nathan Peterman might just develop as well. Really high upside draft for the Bills, who realize that they are more than one piece away.

Panthers logoCarolina Panthers
Grade: A

Only knock here is not adding a corner. The offense just became a lot more electric though with Christain McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel joining the mix. Taylor Moton could challenge for a starting spot right away. There are some holes on the defense still but Carolina took a huge step in the right direction.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Grade: D

No one has quite figured out what the Bears were thinking yet. Trading up to take a player they could have taken at 3 doesn’t make much sense, especially after signing Mike Glennon. The potential of Adam Shaheen and Eddie Jackson prevent this from being a F. But when you have only five picks, your mistakes are compounded.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Grade: C-

Another slightly confusing draft class here. John Ross is a blazer, but top-10 is bold. There were some much better players still on the board. Adding a controversial figure like Joe Mixon to a backfield that already has Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill is a head-scratcher as well. Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson have a lot of potential. This is a big draft class for the Bengals, but a very risky one as well.

Browns logoCleveland Browns
Grade: A+

What. A. Haul. The Browns took the best player in the draft in Myles Garrett. Adding a potential playmaker in Jabrill Peppers and added a huge offensive weapon in David Njoku whose potential is through the roof. Deshon Kizer could be the quarterback of the future and Cleveland landed him in the second round. Caleb Brantley is an intriguing pick as well. This doesn’t guarantee the Browns will be better, but this is the best think they could have done to improve. Oh and they got another first round pick for next year.

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Grade: A-

After landing a stellar class a year ago, Dallas made a lot of smart moves this season. Taco Charlton should help the pass rush right away. The secondary got a lot deeper with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Both could develop into solid number two guys. With Jaylon Smith coming off a full offseason, this defense should be better. What holds this back is the inability to find a tight end of the future, Jason Witten is getting up there.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos
Grade: B

This would have been lower if they hadn’t just signed Jamal Charles. Garrett Bolles fills a need, but I think he was the third best tackle available. DeMarcus Walker won’t be DeMarcus Ware, but represents a smart pick. Jake Butt could be a steal for a team that hasn’t had a ton of production at tight end since Julius Thomas left town.

Lions LogoDetroit Lions
Grade: B+

Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor will compete for time right away and improve a defense that ranked last in opponent’s completion percentage. Michael Roberts will be a red zone threat and Kenny Golladay has a huge build to work with. Detroit adding some interesting pieces that need some molding. Solid class, but it won’t blow anyone away.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Grade: B+

Green Bay went defense on it’s first four picks. Kevin King and Josh Jones should improve what was a dreadful secondary a year ago. Montravius Adams will develop into a solid defensive lineman. The biggest thing still missing is a true inside linebacker to ensure that Clay Matthews stay on the outside in that defense. Jamaal Williams from BYU should be a nice complementary running back from day one for the Packers as well.

Texans logoHouston Texans
Grade: A-

Filled some major needs and added a few pieces that will contribute this year for a team that made the divisional round of the playoffs last year. Cornerback was the only need not filled with A.J. Bouye in Jacksonville, but Deshaun Watson, Zach Cunningham and De’Onta Freeman could make this a special draft class. Cunning needs to improve his tackling mechanics but he is great at diagnosing plays. Freeman adds some power to the run game and Watson is the most pro ready quarterback entering the league this year. Julie’n Davenport might be the starting tackle by 2018 too. It just better pay off with no first rounder next season.

Colts logoIndianapolis Colts
Grade: B+

Still not adding anyone to protect Andrew Luck was a mistake. The Colts waited until the fourth round to draft an offensive lineman. However, adding Marshon Lattimore and Quincy Wilson will make this secondary very good this year. Wilson will slot in next to Vontae Davis. Marlon Mack could be the heir to the throne as well at running back. Good draft class for Indianapolis.

Jaguars logoJacksonville Jaguars
Grade: A

This might finally be the draft class to pull the Jaguars out of a top five draft spot. Leonard Fournette projects to be a beast. Cam Robinson will be a good offensive lineman when Jacksonville determines what his best fit is. Dede Westbrook is a burner, but has some durability concerns. Dawaune Smoot is a future starter with a high motor. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a developmental quarterback.

Chiefs LogoKansas City Chiefs
Grade: B

The Chiefs made some risky moves in this year’s draft. Patrick Mahomes could pan out great as the future at quarterback. Kansas City gave up a lot to get him though. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Kareem Hunt and Jehu Chesson all have a ton of upside, but won’t make much of an impact this season. In two years, this could be an A+ class, or a complete failure.

Chargers logoLos Angeles Chargers
Grade: A+

There is no one happier with his team’s draft class than Philip Rivers. After signing Russell Okung in the offseason, the team added Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney to finish rebuilding the offensive line into a strength. Throw in the best receiver in the draft in Mike Williams and suddenly this offense has been transformed. Desmond King could also be a steal in the fifth round if he makes the transition to safety smoothly.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams
Grade: C

That other Los Angeles team added some weapons for Jared Goff. Cooper Kupp could develop into a really solid number two receiver. Josh Reynolds has a ton of upside. Gerald Everett is solid pick, but in a tight end class like this one, his selection is a bit of a let down. Overall, the Rams did alright without much draft capital. Sixth rounder Tanzel Smart might be an early impact guy as well.

Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins
Grade: B+

Miami went defense on five of its seven draft picks, including each of its first three picks. All three, Charles Harris, Raekwon McMillan and Cordrea Tankersley could all have an early impact. The Dolphins lose points though for taking Harris with Takkarist McKinley, T.J. Watt and Taco Charlton still on the board. Isiah Ford in the seventh round could turn out to be a great value pick.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Grade: A-

Without a first round pick, Minnesota still got a first round talent in Dalvin Cook. Pat Elflein will be an above-average interior lineman for the next decade. Minnesota also added a lot of depth to its receiving and linebacking corps. Sixth round pick Bucky Hodges will be a good piece to develop. The only knock is that Minnesota waited until the 245th pick before taking a player in the secondary.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Grade: B+

The Pats made a number of moves in this year’s draft, coming away with just four players. Fitting that Patriots did not make any of their originally slotted selections either. The draft class itself isn’t overly impressive. Adding Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy make it seem a bit better. New England only selected defensive and offensive linemen. One of them is bound to be a Pro Bowler, but failing to add a linebacker or young wide receiver hurts a bit. On top of all of that, only Derek Rivers is likely able to have any impact on this year’s team.

Saints logoNew Orleans Saints
Grade: B

Adding all of the talent that the Saints did makes this class very impressive. Giving up Brandin Cooks and having only one pick after the third round hurts it a little bit, especially when New Orleans failed to take a receiver with any of its picks. Marshon Lattimore dropping to 11th makes him a steal. He could develop into a good starting corner. Ryan Ramczyk is a prototypical right tackle. Alvin Kamara is good, but after signing Adrian Peterson with Mark Ingram still on the roster, it seemed like overkill a bit. There is also still no long term plan for when Drew Brees retires and that has to be a little worrisome.

Giants LogoNew York Giants
Grade: B-

I’m going with my gut on this one, but many people mocked the Giants’ decision to take Eli Apple at number 10 last year. He turned out to be a big contributor. Evan Engram might be a similar style pick. I can’t help but wonder why not David Njoku though, who went six slots later. Dalvin Tomlinson is the best pick of the lot and will pair up with Damon Harrison to create a road block in the middle of that defense. Davis Webb and Wayne Gallman have potential. For what feels like the millionth time though, the Giants did not address the linebacker position in this draft.

Jets logoNew York Jets
Grade: C+

Mike Maccagnan started trading, and then never really stopped. Jamal Adams is a great pick. So is Marcus Maye honestly with Calvin Pryor headed for the door. Ardarius Stewart has the makings of Jerrico Cotchery. However, not drafting an offensive lineman after losing Ryan Clady and Nick Mangold is questionable. As is waiting until the sixth round to draft a corner. Jordan Leggett might be a steal though in the fifth round, giving the Jets a much needed pass catcher at the position.

Raiders logoOakland Raiders
Grade: B+

D. J. Haden went to Detroit, so Gareon Conley is a great pick, but carries some baggage. Obi Melifonwu with start next two Karl Joseph, giving Oakland a very solid young secondary. Eddie Vanderdoes might turn out to be a sleeper going late in the third as well. I felt like a pass catcher would have been nice to add to this offense to take some pressure of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Linebacker is also still a concern with Aldon Smith’s status seemingly perpetually up in the air. Overall, a very solid group.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Grade: A-

This team filled just about every perceived hole. Philly added a pass rusher in Derek Barnett, even if in between positions. Sydney Jones might just end up being the best corner in a very deep draft if he can recapture the form he had before tearing his ACL. Rasul Douglas will help now while Jones recovers. Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both won’t see the field much this season, but if Alshon Jeffrey doesn’t stay and the team moves on from Jordan Matthews, these two could find some meaningful playing time.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh Steelers
Grade: B

Overall, a solid draft class, but Pittsburgh waited a bit to address the secondary and made a confusing move to grab JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round. T. J. Watt should help an aging pass rush though and John Connor will be a nice goal line back when needed. Adding a young quarterback to develop in Joshua Dobbs doesn’t hurt either.

49ers LogoSan Francisco 49ers
Grade: A+

Obviously, the trade to move back one spot and still land Solomon Thomas boosts this grade. Reuben Foster might be a Pro Bowler one day, even if he might miss his rookie year. Adding a young signal caller makes sense and George Kittle is a big sleeper in a deep tight end class. He will be on the field from day one as a blocker and developing receiver. Expect Joe Williams to play a role as well. San Francisco really took the idea of rebuilding seriously and made the most of it selections.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Grade: C

This was a bit of an odd draft for Seattle. Malik McDowell has some effort concerns, something that the Seahawks have had previous issues dealing with. Ethan Pocic is a great pick for a team that lost Max Unger. There are a few intriguing pieces looking down the rest of the board, but with no corner to develop or linebacker depth, this is a little disappointing by Seattle standards. However, John Schneider has been known to know what no one else in the room knows with some of these later round picks. In two years, this grade might be a little harsh.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: B+

Landing O.J. Howard 19th is a coup for Tampa, who desperately needed a game-changer at tight end. Justin Evans is going to need a lot of time before he can contribute though with poor tackling form. Jeremy McNichols and Chris Godwin both have upside and could develop into starters one day. The Bucs have had success taking running backs from Boise State (Doug Martin).

Titans logoTennessee Titans
Grade: C-

Now, this isn’t as bad as Chicago, but passing on Mike Williams for Corey Davis makes no sense. Neither does passing on Gareon Conley and Tre’Davious White to take Adoree’ Jackson. Taywan Taylor might turn out to be a good slot man, but Jonnu Smith over some of the other tight ends available (George Kittle, Jake Butt) is a bad pick. Tennessee filled needs, but not with the best available players.

Washington made up logoWashington
Grade: A-

Even without a GM, Washington quietly had a good draft. Johnathan Allen has some health concerns, but if he can play, he is a top ten talent. Ryan Anderson will contribute right away. Samaje Perine will hopefully aid a struggling backfield. Taking a gamble on Joshua Holsey could pay off as well. Drafting a quarterback to develop would have been nice with Kirk Cousins mulling a move elsewhere after the season, but Washington got some good value from this draft.

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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. NFL.com 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.