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 2, Pick 64: Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma (My Grade: EDGE12, Drafted: EDGE13)
Round 3, Pick 80: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA (My Grade: TE3, Drafted: TE3)
Round 4, Pick 115: Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh (My Grade: CB19, Drafted: CB14)
Round 4, Pick 116: Eyioma Uwazurike, DL, Iowa State (My Grade: DL16, Drafted: DL9)
Round 5, Pick 152: Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma (My Grade: S19, Drafted S12)
Round 5, Pick 162: Montrell Washington, WR, Samford (My Grade: WR53, Drafted: WR22)
Round 5, Pick 171: Luke Wattenberg, C, Washington (My Grade: C11, Drafted: C5)
Round 6, Pick 206: Matt Henningsen, DL, Wisconsin (My Grade: DL20, Drafted: DL20)
Round 7, Pick 232: Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin (My Grade: CB44, Drafted: CB32)
If you factor in the trades the Broncos made to get Russell Wilson and moving pieces last year, the grade would certainly get a bump to the A- trade. The draft started strong with a great fit in Bonitto to fill a LB pass rusher role while addressing needs and getting upside with a pass catching TE in Dulcich and an athletic CB in Mathis. The first three picks were slam dunks, but things took a turn on some of the later picks.
Uwazurike and Henningsen aren’t a bad DL combo with their versatility inside and outside and flashing some NFL upside, but the rest of the class are special teamers and practice squad players. Turner-Yell maybe can find his way as a back-up while Washington is purely a special teams player. Even a player like Hicks, who I like with some upside on film, felt redundant with the Broncos DB squad they currently have. It was a solid draft, no doubt, but the Wilson trade will be the reason it succeeds or fails ultimately.
Kansas City Chiefs
Round 1, Pick 21: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (My Grade: CB5, Drafted: CB3)
Round 1, Pick 30: George Karlafitis, EDGE, Purdue (My Grade: EDGE5, EDGE5)
Round 2, Pick 54: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan (My Grade: WR9, Drafted: WR13)
Round 2, Pick 62: Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati (My Grade: S8, Drafted: S6)
Round 3, Pick 103: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin (My Grade: LB3, Drafted: LB10)
Round 4, Pick 135: Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State (My Grade: CB18, Drafted: CB18)
Round 5, Pick 145: Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky (My Grade: OT8, Drafted: OT14)
Round 7, Pick 243: Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State (My Grade: CB23, CB37)
Round 7, Pick 251: Isaiah Pacheco, RB, Rutgers (My Grade: RB26, Drafted: RB22)
Round 7, Pick 259: Nazeeh Johnson, S, Marshall (My Grade: S60, Drafted: S18)
The Chiefs draft was a roller coaster ride, but the conclusion was a really solid draft with great upside. Obviously trading away Tyreek Hill and having multiple early round picks helps, but they did very good. McDuffie gives starting potential for a corner, even if I have concerns about his length, it was a fine value. Karlafitis has had production through his college career and with some consistent motivation, he could absolutely smash as a pass rusher for the Chiefs and is a good fit.
Moore and Chenal were also slam dunk fits who have athletic upside at their positions. Adding a leader like Cook on defense who can rotate in (which the Chiefs like to do at Safety) is solid even if he may have been slightly overdrafted. Day 3 provided some great value on players I liked like Kinnard and Watson while getting a fast RB in Pacheco and upside CB in Williams. Overall, it was a good draft that fits the Chiefs and provides a nice balance of floor and ceiling.
Las Vegas Raiders
Round 3, Pick 90: Dylan Parham, G, Memphis (My Grade: G5, Drafted: G6)
Round 4, Pick 122: Zamir White, RB, Georgia (My Grade: RB6, Drafted: RB8)
Round 4, Pick 126: Neil Farrell, DL, LSU (My Grade: DL9, Drafted: DL11)
Round 5, Pick 175: Matthew Butler, DL, Tennessee (My Grade: DL8, Drafted: DL16)
Round 7, Pick 238: Thayer Munford, G, Ohio State (My Grade: G10, Drafted: G19)
Round 7, Pick 250: Brittain Brown, RB, UCLA (My Grade: RB66, Drafted: RB21)
The Raiders had one of the more underrated drafts. Despite not having a pick until Round 3 due to trading for Davante Adams, the Raiders got value on my board at every pick except their final one. Parham is a strong run blocker who clearly had Top 100 talent with startable upside. After not picking up Josh Jacobs fifth year option, White was a great selection who could earn a role and eventually be a starter. He flashed that ability at Georgia and though he may not be dynamic anymore, has a ton of experience.
I also like the way they build the trenches on Day 3. Farrell and Butler are NTs who can help fix the run defense, while Munford isn’t the best athlete, but can play OT or G with a lot of experience. Getting good football players is a good way to go. Brown will be more of a special teams player, and it was very late. The draft isn’t flashy, but the Raiders got good players at good spot to build the trenches and get better.
Los Angeles Chargers
Round 1, Pick 17: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College (My Grade: G1, Drafted: G2)
Round 3, Pick 79: JT Woods, S, Baylor (My Grade: S9, Drafted: S7)
Round 4, Pick 123: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M (My Grade: RB3, Drafted: RB8)
Round 5, Pick 160: Otito Ogbonnia, DL, UCLA (My Grade: DL13, Drafted: DL15)
Round 6, Pick 195: Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia (My Grade: G6, Drafted: G13)
Round 6, Pick 214: Ja’Sir Taylor, S, Wake Forest (My Grade: CB57, CB29)
Round 7, Pick 236: Deane Leonard, CB, Mississippi (My Grade: CB74, CB33)
Round 7, Pick 260: Zander Horvath, RB, Purdue (My Grade: RB55, Drafted: RB23)
The Chargers draft varied from hitting some slam dunks to more questionable selections. Ultimately, they got good values at positions of need to build their team. Johnson was good value and should a rock solid addition to an offensive line that needed help. Even in Day 3, there was good value. Drafting Salyer as a versatile OT/G reserve was great and Isaiah Spiller could be a real steal at RB8 since he can run between the tackles but has some outside rushing and receiving ability.
The rest of the draft was uninspiring. Woods and Ogbonnia fit, but they are unlikely to end up as top tier players. Late Day 3 had the Chargers take some upside swings in the secondary and add a FB, but no one I had in the draftable range. Overall, very good draft.
See more from Shane P. Hallam here including other draft grades.