With the first round of the the NFL Draft in the books, it is time to reflect on which teams excelled and which teams failed.  Here are the grades for every draft pick last night.

  1. Cleveland Browns (1-15): Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

Draft Grade: A

Going into the draft, practically every NFL analyst thought that Garrett was the best player in the draft. Rather than panicking and picking a quarterback, the Browns committed to the original plan and took insanely talented Garrett with the first pick. Garrett has the potential to be the next great edge rusher like fellow Aggie alum Von Miller and should be terrorizing backfields for years to come. Despite the need for a quarterback, the Browns made the right pick.

  1. Chicago Bears (3-13) : Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Traded the third pick, the 67th pick, the 111th pick and a 2018 third round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the second pick

Draft Grade: F

The Bears came into this draft with a lot of needs. However, quarterback was not one of them. After signing Mike Glennon to a three year $45 million deal during the offseason, the Bears either realized that he was not good enough to be the starter or that Trubisky is the next Peyton Manning. In my opinion, I thought that Watson was a better quarterback than Trubisky largely due to the fact that Trubisky only started 13 games in his whole college career. What bothers me the most about this selection is the way in which the Bears traded up to get him. The 49ers were linked to Solomon Thomas all week and had no intentions of taking Trubisky after signing quarterback Brian Hoyer during the offseason. Therefore, the Bears easily could have taken Trubisky with the third pick and decided to waste three other draft picks instead. The Bears were easily the biggest loser of the night and should enjoy the next couple of seasons finishing in the bottom of the NFC North.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (3-13): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford (Via Chicago)

Draft Grade: A+

In his first NFL draft as a general manager, John Lynch turned in a masterpiece. It is very rare for a team to trade down and still get the player that it initially wanted which is exactly what happened. Playing his career as a safety, John Lynch has expressed his desires to drastically improve this 49ers defense and Thomas is a perfect player to help him achieve this goal. Thomas is a very safe pick and should provide a certain level of consistency to the 49ers defensive line as well as a nice partnership with fellow DE DeForest Buckner. The 49ers could have taken him with the second overall pick but managed to get him with the third pick and got three other draft picks in the process. Bravo.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State

Draft Grade: C+

The Jaguars took exactly who every single NFL expert predicted. They took the injury prone running back with the upside of Eric Dickerson. If healthy, Fournette will have as big of an impact on the Jaguars as Adrian Peterson had with the Minnesota Vikings. There is no doubt that he is physically gifted. However, the Jaguars already have TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory, who just received a five year deal worth $32 million last year. Despite the inconsistency of those two backs, that is a ton of money invested in a skill position and the Jaguars could have drafted a defensive back to pair with rookie standout Jalen Ramsey and Fournette’s injury history is a potential red flag.

  1. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Draft Grade: C

The Titans definitely had the most shocking pick of the first round taking Davis at number five despite being projected somewhere from 14-17. Davis is a phenomenal talent who should help Mariota in the passing game with some big play potential. However, I still think that they made a reach in order to select him fifth. They could easily have taken him later if they traded down and did not need to take him so early. Personally, I also thought that Mike Williams was the better receiver in the Draft so I do not agree with this selection. On a positive note, at least they drafted the right position.

  1. New York Jets (5-11): Jamal Adams, S, Louisiana State

Draft Grade: A

As a Jets fan, I was elated with this selection. In my opinion, Adams was the second best player in the draft, behind Garrett, and the Jets got him at number six. Adams’ size and speed will help drastically improve the Jets’ abysmal secondary and will help reduce the number of big plays allowed in the passing game. Adams looks like an All-Pro safety to me at some point in his NFL career and is a great start to the potentially long rebuilding process in the Big Apple.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Draft Grade: B+

The Chargers decided to get Philip Rivers some much needed help by drafting Williams with the seventh pick. Assuming that Keenan Allen is healthy, that is a scary receiving corps that has the potential to terrorize secondaries for a long time. I thought Williams was the best receiver in the draft and will quickly become a crucial component in the Chargers’ offense. Personally, I would have gone with Jonathan Allen to pair him with Joey Bosa to help improve that injury-ridden defense but Williams is a solid pick.

  1. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Draft Grade: C

Just because everyone expects you to take a player does not mean that it is the right selection. McCaffrey is a great athlete. There is no doubt about it. However, the Panthers got exposed last year after shutdown cornerback Josh Norman was let go. With Marshon Lattimore still available, the Panthers could have drastically improve their pedestrian secondary in a division with explosive receivers like Mike Evans and Julio Jones. The Panthers also have starting running back Jonathan Stewart under contract, so they did not really address a position of need. They got a great athlete, but not necessarily a great fit for this team to win a Super Bowl in the immediate future.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1): John Ross III, WR, Washington

Draft Grade: C-

The Bengals shocked all the viewers by taking speedster John Ross III with the ninth pick in the draft. After breaking the 40-yard dash record at the NFL Combine, Ross provides the Bengals with a very nice complementary receiver to AJ Green and Tyler Eifert. I personally love Ross as a player and think that he can become a big play threat similar to Tyreek Hill with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, they took him way too early. He was projected to go around 17th and they took him ninth. Not a bad pick, but way too early of a selection for a player of his caliber.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4): Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech

Traded the 27th pick, the 91st pick and a 2018 first round pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 10th pick

Draft Grade: D-

The Chiefs, in an aggressive move, traded up 17 spots to draft Alex Smith’s future replacement. Unfortunately for them, they drafted the wrong guy. With Watson still on the board, the Chiefs decided to reach and select Mahomes even though he does not fit their offensive style. Mahomes spent his whole career running a no huddle uptempo style and is now expected to stand directly under center and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. This has been attempted by teams before and quarterbacks who played college football in these no huddle offenses have a terrible track record. Just ask the Lions about Andre Ware, the Browns about Tim Couch, the Rams about Case Keenum and even the Rams about Jared Goff…..it is a lot more difficult to teach quarterbacks how to stand under center than people think. Merge that with the fact that they traded two first rounders in order to select him and it turns from a bad pick into a catastrophe. On a positive note, at least they drafted the right position.  

  1. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Draft Grade: A

The Saints were given a gift with Lattimore who fell to number 11 for no apparent reason. It is very rare for the first cornerback selected in the draft to fall out of the top 10 and the Saints scooped him up with open arms. Lattimore will drastically improve this awful secondary and will help the Saints cope with Julio Jones and Mike Evans twice a year for a long time. The Saints defense still has holes, but it definitely improved with this selection  

  1. Houston Texans (9-7): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Traded the 25th pick and a 2018 first round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 12th pick

Draft Grade: A+

Going into the draft, the Texans only had one need: a quarterback. After joining several other teams in the Tony Romo sweepstakes only to lose, the Texans managed to get the best quarterback in the draft, in my opinion, in Watson. Watson is a winner with Vince Young athleticism and will propel the Texans to AFC title game potential. If the Texans won nine games with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage, they should be able to win 11 games in Watson’s first season in their weak division. Congrats to all Texans fans because all of them should have broken out the champagne last night.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1): Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Draft Grade: B-

Every year, there is one prospect who was on no one’s radar and then exploded in the last few weeks leading up to the Draft. This year, that player is Reddick. Reddick is a prototypical linebacker in today’s NFL; he is versatile, dynamic and extremely athletic. Pair him with Chandler Jones and Deonne Bucannon and you get, arguably, a top three linebacking corps in the league. The Cardinals now have more flexibility and can set up various defensive packages and mismatches that will be extremely difficult for most offenses to handle. Personally, I would have taken OJ Howard out of Alabama to help out the passing game especially since Larry Fitzgerald’s retirement is right around the corner. However, they selected one extremely talented football player and should be content with their selection.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee

Draft Grade: B-

The Eagles drafted Barnett with the hopes of creating a deadly pass rush alongside Fletcher Cox and Chris Long. It is a smart formula considering their division consists of three solid NFL quarterbacks including Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning and Dak Prescott. Barnett was a force in college at Tennessee and even broke the school’s sack record held by NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White. He should be a perfect fit with the Eagles and will have an immediate impact. However, I would have taken Humphrey here. The Eagles best corner at the moment is Patrick Robinson. Needless to say, that will not cut it in a division with Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. It was not a bad pick, but a cornerback selection would have addressed a more immediate need.

  1. Indianapolis Colts (7-9): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Draft Grade: A

Last year, the Colts secondary was dreadful. Besides Vontae Davis, who is a little injury prone, the Colts had no talent in its secondary. Hooker was a ball hawking safety in college and should drastically help create more turnovers in Indy. Hooker has the ball skills to be a potential Pro Bowler down the road and the Colts should be thrilled that he slide into their laps.

  1. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Draft Grade: A-

Going into the draft, the Ravens needed help at cornerback. After signing cornerback Brandon Carr from Dallas, Humphrey is another physical corner that should be a perfect fit for Baltimore. Baltimore has always prided itself on toughness and physicality which is right up Humphrey’s alley. The Ravens also needed an offensive lineman but at 16, it was way too early to reach and take one. They made the right pick and should look to address that issue in the other rounds.

  1. Washington Redskins (8-7-1): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Draft Grade: A

The Redskins just sat back and watched a top five prospect fall into their lap at 17 for no apparent reason. Allen is a defensive force and will make a great combination with Ryan Kerrigan. Not too much to evaluate here. They got one of the best players in the Draft with the 17th pick and should be celebrating their triumph.  

  1. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Draft Grade: B+

The Titans came into this draft needing to improve their secondary and they did just that with Jackson. Despite lacking the size and strength of most cornerbacks, he was one of the best athletes in the entire Draft and is worthy of this selection. I thought that White out of LSU is a little bit better but it is honestly a toss up and Tennessee should be happy about this haul.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Draft Grade: A-

Sometimes, talent triumphs over team needs and this is a perfect example. The Bucs already have a solid tight end in Cameron Brate and did not need another one. However, O.J. Howard is one of those players that you have to take if you can get him. He looks like the second coming of Jimmy Graham except he can also block. He is going to be a matchup nightmare for a long time and will be a very nice red zone threat for Jameis Winston alongside Mike Evans. The Buccaneers should be happy to snag a top 10 prospect with the 19th pick.

  1. Denver Broncos (9-7): Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Draft Grade: C+

The Broncos addressed an important issue in their offensive line with Bolles. However, I thought that Ramczyk was better so I do not necessarily agree with the selection. Bolles did win me over after bringing his adorable son onto the stage to receive his jersey but I think the Broncos picked the wrong lineman. Bolles is a solid player and the Broncos should be content, but I think Ramczyk has more upside.

  1. Detroit Lions (9-7): Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Draft Grade: B

With DeAndre Levy’s departure, the Lions addressed their linebacker need in Davis. Davis is a very solid coverage linebacker and should help provide consistency to the defensive side of the ball which will be essential for the Lions to return to the playoffs again next season. It is a great pick if Davis stays healthy, but his durability was a major concern during his college career at Florida so the pick is a little risky.

  1. Miami Dolphins (11-5): Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Draft Grade: B-

If the Dolphins plan on making the playoffs again and plan on potentially dethroning New England as the kings of the NFC East, they have to improve their pass rush which is what Harris will help them do. After losing Olivier Vernon last offseason to the Giants, the Dolphins were missing a pass rusher that would effectively complement Cameron Wake. I personally think the Dolphins should have taken a cornerback because Byron Maxwell is clearly not a number one cornerback. If you do not believe me, re-watch Antonio Brown’s first quarter against the Dolphins in the playoff game last year. This pick addresses a huge need but not the biggest need the team had.

  1. New York Giants (11-5): Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

Draft Grade: D+

Personally, I loved Engram at Ole Miss. He has ridiculous speed for a tight end and should be a major matchup nightmare for linebackers all over the league. However, the Giants chose to address their tight end need over their desperate need for a running back and offensive lineman. With Dalvin Cook, Ryan Ramczyk and Cam Robinson still available, the Giants decided to improve their receiving corps despite already adding Brandon Marshall over the offseason. They should have addressed their running game or offensive lineman because that is the reason why Eli Manning throws a lot of interceptions every year. They give him no time to throw and have no capable running backs to run the ball to establish a balanced offense. The Giants got a great receiver but Eli still needs more pass protection in order to be successful and the Giants failed to help him out.

  1. Oakland Raiders (12-4): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Draft Grade: N/A

If Conley is truly innocent of all rape allegations, then it is an “A” grade for the Raiders who addressed their brutal secondary with Conley. However, it is very tough to support a first round pick where the player can potentially go to jail without ever playing a down for the team. Even if he is innocent, it is still a huge distraction to the team which could have been avoided if the Raiders drafted an alternative cornerback like White or King. This grade solely relies on whether or not Conley is innocent or not and for that reason, I cannot give it a grade at this time.

  1. Cleveland Brown (1-15): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan (Via Houston)

Draft Needs: B+

A lot of people dislike this pick because of Peppers’ failed drug test. However, I think that Peppers has the potential to be an absolute gamechanger. He reminds me a lot of Tyrann Mathieu in the sense that he is extremely talented but also comes with a tremendous amount of baggage out of college. The Browns went 1-15 because they had no playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. With Peppers’ ability to play multiple positions, he should be able to improve this defense almost single handedly and be a solid defensive player barring any more drug issues. He, along with Garrett, will be a huge part of this revamped Browns defense and will also help provide a spark in the return game.  

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-5):  Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

Traded the 31st pick, the 95th pick and the 249th pick to the Seattle Seahawks for the 26th pick

Draft Grade: B-

The Falcons wanted to get a pass rusher to complement Vic Beasley in their hopes of reaching the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season. McKinley has the athleticism to be a solid NFL pass rusher but required shoulder surgery after the NFL combine which is a potential issue. McKinley made quite a reputation for himself last night after he thanked his grandmother for his success before cursing up a storm. I love the enthusiasm but I am sure Commissioner Goodell will welcome him to the league with a fine. Assuming he is healthy, the Falcons believe they have found their missing piece to get them over the hump and to a Super Bowl trophy. If that is the case, I cannot criticize them for going all-in to win a title.

  1. Buffalo Bills (7-9): Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU (Via Kansas City)

Draft Grade: A

The Bills had a huge need at cornerback after Stephon Gilmore’s departure to New England. The Bills drafted the best cornerback left and will be a nice complement to Ronald Darby in that secondary. Bills got one of the best players available and filled their biggest hole. Solid pick.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Draft Grade: B+

As a Cowboys fan, I was satisfied with this selection. The Cowboys addressed their defensive line issues with Charlton who should be an immediate starter. The Cowboys’ defensive line was atrocious and was exposed by Aaron Rodgers, who was given about 20 seconds to throw every single passing play, in their playoff loss last season. Personally, I would draft a cornerback like King to improve their equally terrible secondary after both Claiborne and Carr left this offseason. Besides the linebacking corps, the Cowboys’ defense is terrible and this draft is deep in cornerbacks so one should expect Dallas to address its secondary issues in the other rounds.  

  1. Cleveland Browns (1-15): David Njoku, TE, Miami

Traded the 33rd pick and the 108th pick to the Green Bay Packers for the 29th pick

Draft Grade: C+

The Browns had serious question marks on offense entering the draft with Josh Gordon’s availability in question along with Terrelle Pryor’s departure to Washington. The Browns addressed some of those issues with Njoku who is a great pass catching tight end that can contribute heavily in the red zone. However, the Browns already have a solid tight end in Gary Barnidge so the pick can be somewhat confusing. Personally, it was not their fault that all the receivers and quarterbacks were already taken by the 29th pick so they picked the best pass catcher left in the draft. I would have taken Reuben Foster to pair him with Jamie Collins to create a solid young linebacking corps. They also could have taken Dalvin Cook who is the playmaker that the Browns desperately needed. Overall, the pick is decent but could have definitely been a lot worse.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin

Draft Grade: B

The Steelers came into the draft needing another pass rusher who can potentially take over for James Harrison when he retires and got that in T.J Watt with the 30th pick. Watt possessed the athleticism that Pittsburgh usually looks for on the defensive side of the ball which makes this pick very logical. I personally think that Watt is a little overrated but the Steelers got very solid value in selecting him with the 30th pick in the draft.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (3-13): Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (Via Atlanta)

Draft Grade: A

Foster ended the draft as a top five talent but slid due to character issues including his meltdown at the combine in which he yelled at a hospital worker causing the NFL to send him home early. In addition to that, Foster also failed a drug test which propelled him in a downward spiral from a top 10 pick to the end of the first round. Despite these issues, Foster is the best linebacker in this draft and the 49ers got an absolute steal with the 31st pick. If Foster manages to control himself off the field, he could potentially be the middle linebacker that San Francisco has lacked since Patrick Willis retired. This pick was the cherry on top for GM John Lynch who made the draft look like child’s play.   

  1. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Draft Grade: B+

The Saints got an absolute steal with the 32nd pick after selecting arguably the best offensive lineman prospect in the draft with the last pick of the first round. Ramczyk will provide Brees with some added protection in the hopes of prolonging his elite quarterback career. Despite being a great pick for the Saints’ future, this pick will not help them make a playoff run. The Saints offense is consistently a top 10 offense in the league and should have used this pick to draft another cornerback or a defensive lineman. Ramczyk will be a solid NFL player but Brees’ career is ending soon and it does not look like the Saints will be in a reasonable position to give him a title run before he hangs up his cleats for good.

 

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