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 grades are 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 and grades.
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 “Grades” for the team and per pick.
Round 1, Pick 14: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (My Grade: S1, Drafted S1)
Round 1, Pick 25, Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (My Grade: C1, Drafted: C1)
Round 2, Pick 45: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (My Grade: EDGE7, Drafted: EDGE9)
Round 3, Pick 76: Travis Jones, DL, UConn (My Grade: DL2, Drafted: DL4)
Round 4, Pick 110: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota (My Grade: OT9, Drafted: OT11)
Round 4, Pick 119: Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama (My Grade: CB15, Drafted: CB16)
Round 4, Pick 128: Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State (My Grade: TE5, Drafted: TE7)
Round 4, Pick 130: Jordan Stout, P, Penn State (My Grade: P2, Drafted P1)
Round 4, Pick 139: Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina (My Grade: TE7, Drafted: TE9)
Round 4, Pick 141: Damarion Williams, CB, Houston (My Grade: CB28, Drafted: CB19)
Round 6, Pick 196: Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri (My Grade: RB19, Drafted: RB18)
Most are giving the Ravens the best grade in the draft and for good reason. Nearly every pick came at a value drafting impact players who are good fits. Getting the top Safety and Center in the draft, even while trading away Hollywood Brown, is pretty impressive. Hamilton and Linderbaum should lock in as immediate starters and help two of the Ravens weaknesses. With the ability to wait on Ojabo and use Jones as a Nose Tackle, the Ravens defense will be restocking for the future.
Faalele and Armour-Davis are great fits, and while drafting a Punter and two TEs in the 4th is a bit weird, that is where all those players would go. Williams was an early pick as a slot CB, so not quite the rare A+ I never give out. Badie is a good RB3 fit though. As always, the Ravens play the board smartly and get ahead.
Round 1, Pick 31: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan (My Grade: S3, Drafted: S2)
Round 2, Pick 60: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska (My Grade: CB10, Drafted: CB9)
Round 3, Pick 95: Zachary Carter, DL, Florida (My Grade: DL7, Drafted: DL7)
Round 4, Pick 136: Cordell Volson, OT, North Dakota State (My Grade: G18, Drafted: G8)
Round 5, Pick 166: Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo (My Grade: S10, Drafted: S13)
Round 7, Pick 252: Jeffrey Gunter, EDGE, Coastal Carolina (My Grade: EDGE29, Drafted: EDGE26)
The Bengals approach to attacking their biggest unaddressed need in the secondary is a sound one. Drafting an instant starter in Hill who can play the slot or safety and an athletic upside CB in Taylor-Britt. Both were about on value. Carter is a nice rotation run stopper who can fill gapes and give a little pass rush too.
Volson is the most egregious pick of the bunch, but he is likely to be a swing back-up only and may be the next in line of poor OL players drafted by the Bengals. Anderson and Gunter were fine selections and worth shots as end of the roster players. The draft as a whole was good with little complaints, but it wasn’t spectacular or splashy, which may be the right way for the Bengals to go.
Round 3, Pick 68: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State (My Grade: CB9, Drafted: CB10)
Round 3, Pick 78: Alex Wright, DL UAB (My Grade: DL11, Drafted: DL5)
Round 3, Pick 99: David Bell, WR, Purdue (My Grade: WR10, Drafted: WR16)
Round 4, Pick 108: Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma (My Grade: DL4, Drafted DL8)
Round 4, Pick 124: Cade York, K, LSU (My Grade: K1, Drafted: K1)
Round 5, Pick 156: Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati (My Grade: RB10, Drafted: RB14)
Round 6, Pick 202: Mike Woods, WR, Oklahoma (My Grade: WR40, Drafted: WR25)
Round 7, Pick 223: Isaiah Thomas, EDGE, Oklahoma (My Grade: EDGE22, Drafted: EDGE23)
Round 7, Pick 246: Dawson Deaton, C, Texas Tech (My Grade: C7, Drafted: C7)
The Deshaun Watson trade pushed the first Browns pick to Round 3, but moving around the board and making other deals allowed the Browns to make numerous picks on Day 2 and 3 of the draft. There ware some great picks like Emerson and Bell who could step into a solid role as rookies and help improve the secondary and weapons that needed an upgrade. Winfrey on Day 3 was an excellent value pick for a player who was even getting some first round buzz. York, Ford, Thomas, and Deaton also were fine where they grabbed them.
Unfortunately, there were a few reaches. Wright is a tweener who will need to find the right spot to be utilized correctly. He can rush the passer, but doesn’t quite have the bend as an edge rusher nor the anchor for the interior. Woods was a 6th round pick, but was a strange pick, even as a special teams player. Overall, a fine draft that will help build depth and have a breakout player or two, but nothing to write home about.
Round 1, Pick 20: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (My Grade: QB4, Drafted: QB1)
Round 2, Pick 52: George Pickens, WR, Georgia (My Grade: WR7, WR11)
Round 3, Pick 84: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M (My Grade: DL5, Drafted: DL6)
Round 4, Pick 138: Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis (My Grade: WR16, Drafted: WR20)
Round 6, Pick 208: Connor Heyward, TE, Michigan State (My Grade: TE15, Drafted: TE16)
Round 7, Pick 225: Mark Robinson, LB, Mississippi (My Grade: LB49, Drafted: LB21)
Round 7, Pick 241: Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State (My Grade: QB16, Drafted QB7)
There were some great picks for the Steelers. From Round 2-6, they got values at every position including impact players in Pickens and Leal. Even Austin should have a special teams role and has the production to help on offense. Even Heyward could play a unique offensive FB/H-Back role and get some tough yardage. Though the last two picks were way off my board, Oladokun makes sense to have a 4th QB and mimic Lamar Jackson on the scout team while Robinson has some upside.
The cog in the success of the draft will be Pickett who I did not rate as a first round pick. He is tremendous throwing on the run and took the Pitt program to new heights this year, but footwork and zip can be messy especially in bad conditions. Will his ball placement be good enough? It remains to be seen. The draft hinges on Pickett being a franchise QB.
See more from Shane P. Hallam here including other draft grades.