Following yesterday’s absolute whirlwind of a draft, we’re going to break down how each team performed. These grades are given based on the value of each selection based on how the team chose to draft (best player available or need). We also considered the effects of trading up or down (hint: the Bears didn’t grade too well).
Cleveland Browns: B+
1) Myles Garrett, 25) Jabrill Peppers, 29) David Njoku
The Browns did the right thing by taking the best talent, Myles Garrett, instead of reaching for a quarterback with their first pick. With their next two picks, they took great athletes with the intent of developing them into equally great football players. The Browns need help all over the back 7 of their defense, so Peppers can be a versatile playmaker all over that field depending on how Gregg Williams uses him. David Njoku is a great athlete who can be a vertical threat up the seam or across the field where he can use his speed to make plays after the catch. There were better prospects on the board at 25 and 29, but the Browns aren’t a win-now team, so hoping these unique athletes pan out isn’t the worst strategy.
Chicago Bears: D-
2) Mitch Trubisky
The Bears did what the Browns shouldn’t have and didn’t do. instead of staying where they were and most likely getting a quarterback anyways, they gave up a significant amount of capital to move up one spot to get a quarterback who most of all was not needed. Mike Glennon was given a big contract this offseason to become the new quarterback after the team turned the page on the Cutler era. Neither the trade nor the pick made much sense in this situation.
San Francisco 49ers: A+
3) Solomon Thomas, 31) Reuben Foster
The 49ers got their original target at second overall pick except they added two more third rounders and an extra fourth rounder to their draft arsenal, and they’ll end up signing Solomon Thomas to a slightly smaller contract. The 49ers traded back into the first round to secure Reuben Foster who experienced the biggest slide of anyone in the first round, especially considering he was a top ten prospect on almost any draft board. Maybe the best thing John Lynch did in his first draft is start building a team instead of hoping an unready quarterback thrown into the the fire can generate wins. The 49ers are probably the biggest winners on day one of the draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B-/C+
4) Leonard Fournette
The Jaguars took arguably the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. But this was more of a luxury pick than anything because the Jaguars already have a power back in Chris Ivory and invested a second rounder into T.J. Yeldon two years ago. The idea here is that the Jaguars want to help Bortles along by surrounding him with talent which isn’t the worst idea considering the Jaguars spent a third overall pick on him. That being said, there were better prospects on the board and this pick didn’t address more pressing needs at line and across the entire defense.
Tennessee Titans: B
5) Corey Davis, 18) Adoree Jackson
The Titans got good players with their two picks, but both are very much reaches which is why this grade isn’t that high. Corey Davis is the most well-rounded receiver in this draft and his presence as the #1 on the outside will help Mariota tremendously. Adoree Jackson is a phenomenal athlete who will make an immediate impact as a returner. He isn’t a starting caliber cornerback at the moment, which should have been the Titans top priority in this round.
New York Jets: A
6) Jamal Adams
The Jets get possibly the best defensive prospect in this draft without having to move up. Jamal Adams will immediately provide leadership and talent to a bad secondary. He and Calvin Pryor will provide a nice physical safety tandem, hopefully for years to come. The best part about this pick is that (notice the trend) they didn’t reach for a quarterback when they haven’t constructed a team around him.
LA Chargers: B-/C+
7) Mike Williams
The Chargers get a big, physical wide receiver with a extraterrestrial catch radius to help Philip Rivers through the last few years of his career. Williams forms a quite literally sizeable receiving quartet with Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, and Keenan Allen, but Mike was luxury pick who doesn’t address the holes in the Chargers’ front seven.
Carolina Panthers: B
8) Christian McCaffrey
The Panthers get one of the most productive players in college football history with Christian McCaffrey. He is a dynamic runner, receiver, and returner. So why did this pick receive an average grade? The strength of Carolina’s offensive line is the three guys in the middle. Because McCaffrey is on the smaller side, he rarely falls forward for a few extra yards when he runs between the tackles, so his effectiveness as a runner is slightly diminished. However, he still provides value at the receiver position, which the Panthers don’t really have outside of an oft-injured Kelvin Benjamin. He will also most likely replace the recently departed Ted Ginn Jr. as a returner.
Cincinnati Bengals: B-
9) John Ross
The Bengals selected the fastest player to ever run a 40 at the combine. With Davis and Williams off the board, the Bengals felt like it was necessary to reach for the next best receiving option to pair with A.J. Green even though they had more glaring needs elsewhere. Ross has injury concerns and also wasn’t really seen as a top 10 prospect, but it seems like the GM panicked when the other receivers were picked after seeing the team’s struggles with Green hurt last yeat.
Kansas City Chiefs: D-
10) Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs gave up 2 firsts and a third to trade up for this prolific gunslinger. Mahomes certainly has the arm strength and adequate mobility to play in the NFL, but everything else is a question mark. Texas Tech’s offense generates quarterbacks with ridiculously inflated numbers compared to the rest of the country, and no one coming from a spread offense has ever had success in the NFL. The Chiefs gave up significant assets for a developmental prospect, probably because the Browns and Cardinals held two of the next three picks and both were in the market for a quarterback, but that doesn’t justify this move at all.
New Orleans Saints: B/B-
11) Marshon Lattimore, 32) Ryan Ramczyk
The Saints didn’t move at all in this draft and selected the best players available on their draft board. Lattimore experienced a slide of about 6 spots from where most people projected him to go (5 to Tennessee). The Saints are the beneficiaries of some draft day luck as they got the best cornerback in the draft without having to give up any assets. At the end of day one, the Saints selected Ramczyk, who was seen as the only potential franchise left tackle in this draft. The Saints have three tackles on their roster (Terron Armstead, Zach Strief, and Andrus Peat), so this pick didn’t make that much sense considering the defensive talent left on the board and the Saints’ perennial difficulties on that side of the ball.
Houston Texans: D-
12) Deshaun Watson
The Texans traded their first this year and next year to move up 13 spots and select hopefully their potential franchise quarterback. With Trubisky and Mahomes off the board, the Texans didn’t want to take a chance and hope Watson would fall into their lap at 25. However, this trade makes little sense as Watson has not shown that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. In his last two years at Clemson, he threw a combined 30 interceptions.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
13) Haason Reddick
The Cardinals selected the biggest riser in the postseason draft process. Reddick is a very athletic and versatile defender who can rush the passer or drop back in coverage. The Cardinals are the best at making use of versatile skillsets (see: Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon), so this might be one of the best places Reddick could have ended up.
Philadelphia Eagles: A-
14) Derek Barnett
The Eagles selected the best edge prospect not named Myles Garrett. Barnett will add to an already scary front four in Philly with his incredible pass rushing skill set. The Eagles need help at cornerback, but taking the best player available on their board instead of filling a need isn’t always a bad idea.
Indianapolis Colts: A
15) Malik Hooker
The Colts select the best centerfield safety prospect since Earl Thomas with a ceiling higher than Ed Reed. The Colts had needs all over their defense especially at corner and pass rusher, but Hooker was a top 5 or 10 prospect that somehow fell to 15, so it’s hard to fault the Colts for drafting a potential generational talent at this spot.
Baltimore Ravens: B+
16) Marlon Humphrey
The Ravens filled a need at cornerback here with Humphrey. He is a physical, press corner that needs some polishing to be a top tier corner. His new teammate Jimmy Smith was basically the same coming into the league. Humphrey has the tools and mentality to shut down receivers, but he just needs some work to fix his issues and consistency to reach that point.
Washington Redskins: A
17) Jonathan Allen
The Redskins keep a top 2 to top 5 prospect at home with this pick. Allen’s fall in the draft can be attributed to shoulder surgery in both shoulders which leaves scouts and GMs questioning his durability, but his play on the field shows he is much better than where he was drafted. The Redskins got a home run pick if Allen’s shoulders stay healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A
19) O.J. Howard
The Bucs landed the best tight end prospect in a very long time. Howard’s slide can’t really be attributed to off the field issues or injury concerns. The biggest problem with his game is that he wasn’t that productive, but given Alabama’s run first offense and quarterback talent, it is pretty tough to put up gaudy stats. The Bucs have given Winston all the weapons he can need with Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, and now O.J. Howard. At worst, the Bucs get a reliable pair of hands that can also block. At best, the Bucs stole a Rob Gronkowski with no injury concerns.
Denver Broncos: D
20) Garrett Boles
The Broncos got the lineman with the highest floor in this weak offensive line class. Boles is a physical player that can help this team now. But he is already 25 and would be more suited on a win-now team, not a team that is testing a carousel of young quarterbacks. Not only were there better prospects on the board that would have filled needs, there were also better linemen on the board which is why this pick gets such a low grade.
Detroit Lions: C+
21) Jarrad Davis
The Lions grab a three-down linebacker here to fill a pressing need in their defense. This one is a bit of a head scratcher though with Reuben Foster and Zach Cunningham on the board. Not to mention the Lions just cut Deandre Levy because of injury concerns, and Davis has an injury history too.
Miami Dolphins: B
22) Charles Harris
The Dolphins get one of the better athletes on the edge with this pick. Harris is a speed rusher who will take over Mario Williams’ old spot and potentially replace Cameron Wake. This wasn’t the worst pick of the night, but the Dolphins need linebackers, and Foster was still on the board, so this isn’t the best pick either.
New York Giants: B-
23) Evan Engram
The Giants take a wide receiver/tight end hybrid who will stretch the field and attack the seams immediately, which is something Eli hasn’t had in a long time. However, Engram wasn’t really seen as a day 1 pick and the Giants could have gotten better value later like Bucky Hodges instead of reaching early for Njoku or Engram. The weakness of a strong Giants defense is their linebacker group, and once again, Reuben Foster was left on the board.
Oakland Raiders: A-
24) Gareon Conley
The Raiders draft a top 15/20 prospect outside of his expected range due to a rape allegation that surfaced a few days before draft day causing Conley’s stock to slip. Conley is a very good cornerback that can come into Oakland and bolster their secondary right away.
Atlanta Falcons: B-/C+
26) Takkarist McKinley
The Falcons gave up a third and a seventh to move up six spots to grab the lengthy defensive end. The Falcons were a couple of plays away from winning the Super Bowl, so they must have felt like moving up and only giving themselves four picks this year would be the difference maker. McKinley has different reviews among different scouts. Some pegged him in the top 15 whereas some didn’t like him in the first round altogether. Only time will tell which side is right.
Buffalo Bills: A
27) Tre’Davious White
The Bills moved down 17 spots and ended up with a top cornerback prospect. White will fill in for Stephon Gilmore who left for divisional rivals: the Patriots. White has one of the most polished skillsets of any cornerback this year, but his size and strength caused him to drop because there are questions about whether his physicals will allow him to play outside in the NFL or is he going to be relegated to the slot full-time? Regardless, this pick gets an A because the Bills grabbed an extra 1st and 3rd rounder.
Dallas Cowboys: B+
28) Taco Charlton
The Cowboys picked up the best remaining defensive end. Charlton is strong enough to handle the run and has enough in his toolbox to be a good pass rusher. But his game still needs a lot of work and landing in Dallas with Rod Marinelli might be the best place for Charlton to grow and develop into what he can be.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
30) T.J. Watt
The Steelers have spent three of their last five picks, including this one, on pass rushers in hopes that they can find a complement to James Harrison and potentially a replacement when he retires. Watt fits well into the Steelers’ 34 defense and should be able to contribute behind the rotation of Harrison, Dupree, and Moats. He will provide effort as a pass-rusher and run defender as he learns how to play the game. Watt has his best football ahead of him as he’s only been on defense for a few years.