Grading the NFL Draft is a futile exercise in and of itself. Often we look back way down the line and see these grades were way off in trying to assess if a team did well or not. I fully recognize this, but it is still an interesting way to look and analyze a team’s draft. Keep in mind that each team is different and has different fits that could affect the value.
With all of that being said, grades are fun. If I trust my own evaluations, grades allow me to see if a player successfully got value for the players they were taking and if it was worthwhile. I do look at a team’s draft a bit differently with less being about if they took a player a round too early or late, but more within the position tier if they got a steal or reached. For each player, look at my personal position ranking vs. where they were taken within their position. That will be a big factor in my overall letter “Grade” for the team and per pick.
Round 1, Pick 23: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida (My Grade: CB3, Drafted: CB4)
Round 2, Pick 63: James Cook, RB, Georgia (My Grade: RB7, Drafted: RB3)
Round 3, Pick 89: Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor (My Grade: LB11, Drafted: LB8)
Round 5, Pick 148: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State (My Grade: WR13, Drafted: WR21)
Round 6, Pick 180: Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State (My Grade: P1, Drafted: P3)
Round 6, Pick 185: Christian Benford, CB, Villanova (My Grade: CB48, Drafted: CB25)
Round 6, Pick 209: Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech (My Grade: OT22, Drafted: OT19)
Round 7, Pick 231: Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson (My Grade: LB31 , Drafted: LB23)
The Bills had a solid, but unspectacular draft (which is par for the course for their success). They hit big needs in the first 5 rounds from CB to skill players and even a LB and Punter. Elam gives them a rock solid CB1 and thought they got good value. Bernard was also a very good value in the 3rd round as a versatile tackler who can get sideline to sideline. Add in getting the best Punter in the draft, and there is a ton of success. Shakir is an intriguing slot WR who was a solid value and in a year or two could find his way into 3-WR sets.
The pick of James Cook was fairly inevitable with plenty of connection of the Bills to RB, but he felt a tad overdrafted at the position in the 2nd round. Can Cook develop into a complete RB and help the offense? Yes, but it is more likely the Bills got Devin Singletary Part 2 with a premium selection. I would liked them to take a shot at a more complete RB. I won’t knock late picks too much, but there wasn’t really a value pick in their last three either. Overall, solid draft that will help the Bills get to a Super Bowl, but nothing overly impressive or flashy.
Round 3, Pick 102: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia (My Grade: LB7, Drafted: LB9)
Round 4, Pick 125: Erik Ezukanma, WR, Texas Tech (My Grade: WR22, Drafted: WR18)
Round 7, Pick 224: Cameron Goode, LB, Cal (My Grade: LB40, Drafted: LB20)
Round 7, Pick 247: Skylar Thompson, QB, Kansas State (My Grade: QB10, Drafted: QB8)
Trading for Tyreek Hill took the Dolphins out of most of the draft, and if you include that trade in here, they would get a solid A-. Getting a premiere WR is key, but LB was a big need for the Dolphins and they got a good value in the thumper Tindall who should improve the Dolphins run defense almost immediately despite being picked outside the Top 100. Ezukanma is also nice WR depth pick with upside due to his size and route running ability. He should make the team and could give a bigger option outside of Waddle and Tyreek.
There wasn’t a great value with the 7th round selections. Thompson could potentially develop into a back-up role while Goode is more of a special teams player. Overall, a solid draft with the picks the Dolphins had, but this won’t be a gamechanger outside of Tyreek.
New England Patriots
Round 1, Pick 29: Cole Strange, G, Chattanooga (My Grade: G3, Drafted: G3)
Round 2, Pick 50: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor (My Grade: WR19, Drafted: WR10)
Round 3, Pick 85: Marcus Jones, CB, Houston (My Grade: CB17, Drafted: CB12)
Round 4, Pick 121: Jack Jones, CB, Arizona State (My Grade: CB30, Drafted: CB17)
Round 4, Pick 127: Pierre Strong, RB, South Dakota State (My Grade: RB5, Drafted: RB10)
Round 4, Pick 137: Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky (My Grade: QB7, Drafted: QB5)
Round 6, Pick 183: Kevin Harris, RB, South Carolina (My Grade: RB25, Drafted: RB17)
Round 6, Pick 200: Sam Roberts, DL, NW Missouri State (My Grade: DL41, Drafted: DL19)
Round 6, Pick 210: Chasen Hines, G, LSU (My Grade: G16, Drafted: G15)
Round 7, Pick 245: Andrew Stueber, OL, Michigan (My Grade: G17, Drafted: G20)
The Patriots got one value in this draft and that was Strong in Round 4 who has more all around potential as a RB than he gets credit for. Outside of that, there was plenty of unnecessary risk taken with these draft picks. The Strange pick wasn’t as bad as the media is making it seem as he was rated as my #3 Guard and drafted accordingly, but it the end of the first round is a tad high for a player who will need some work. Thornton was overdrafted as a speed WR reminiscent of Andy Isabella over DK Metcalf, while Marcus Jones’ injuries made him a risky bet in the top 100.
The 3rd day picks were fine, but nothing to write home about. Zappe is a good fit to be a long term back-up to Mac Jones and the Offensive Linemen at the end have some upside too. Overall, a mediocre draft that may have gotten away from Bill Belichick.
New York Jets
Round 1, Pick 4: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (My Grade: CB1, Drafted: CB2)
Round 1, Pick 10: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (My Grade: WR1, Drafted: WR2)
Round 1, Pick 26: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State (My Grade: EDGE4, Drafted: EDGE4)
Round 2, Pick 36: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (My Grade: RB1, Drafted: RB1)
Round 3, Pick 101: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State (My Grade: TE4, Drafted: TE4)
Round 4, Pick 111: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana (My Grade: OT18, Drafted: OT12)
Round 4, Pick 117: Michael Clemson, EDGE, Texas A&M (My Grade: DL17, Drafted: DL10)
Getting my CB1 at CB2, WR1 at WR2 and then preceding to take my #4 EDGE and TE at value is a pretty darn good way to start a draft. The Jets helped their offense and defense with some impact players who are just good at football. Sauce should be a lockdown CB1 and Wilson heavily upgrades their WR group while Johnson was a steal where they got him.
Even the Round 4 picks, though not values to me, have some upside with the strength and versatility they provide. The fact that many of these rookies will get on the field and year 1 means an outstanding effort by Joe Douglas.
See more from Shane P. Hallam here