With the NFL Draft concluding last week and nearly all of the prominent undrafted players signed to teams, it is time to evaluate how each team performed at the most important day of the football calendar.
Buffalo Bills: A-
CB Tre’Davious White (Rd. 1), WR Zay Jones (Rd. 2), OL Dion Dawkins (Rd. 2), LB Matt Milano (Rd. 5), QB Nathan Peterman (Rd. 5), LB Tanner Vallejo (Rd. 6)
The Bills benefitted heavily from the Chiefs’ big round one move to snag Patrick Mahomes, gaining more picks for the future and still landing a stud draft class. White is the next in a long line of LSU corners and with Stephon Gilmore’s departure, will receive playing time from day one. Jones was one of the most prolific receivers in college football last year, and gives Tyrod Taylor a reliable option across from Sammy Watkins. Dawkins was a steal at the end of the second round and could challenge for a starting gig, and Peterman gives Buffalo a quality quarterback option without Taylor feeling like there is a target on his back.
Miami Dolphins: B
OLB Charles Harris (Rd. 1), ILB Raekwon McMillan (Rd. 2), CB Cordrea Tankersly (Rd. 3), OG Isaac Asiata (Rd. 5), DT Davon Godchaux (Rd. 5), DT Vincent Taylor (Rd. 5), WR Isaiah Ford (Rd. 7)
The Dolphins put together a solid draft class, addressing a number of vital positions. The linebacking corps was the most obvious weakness of last year’s playoff team, and Harris and McMillian should provide a boost to a unit that should be revitalized after Kiko Alonso was re-signed and Lawrence Timmons was added. Tankersly was a good value at the end of the third round, and should step in as the nickel corner from the get-go. Ford needs to bulk up, but could help out Miami at a position where they have little depth.
New York Jets: C
S Jamal Adams (Rd. 1), S Marcus Maye (Rd. 2), WR ArDarius Stewart (Rd. 3), WR Chad Hansen (Rd. 4), TE Jordan Leggett (Rd. 5), DE Dylan Donahue (Rd. 5), RB Elijah McGuire (Rd. 6), CB Jeremy Clark (Rd. 6), CB Derrick Jones (Rd. 6)
The Jamal Adams pick was terrific, but it was all downhill from there for Gang Green. Despite all of their holes, the Jets spent their second round pick on another safety with better players at thinner positions on the board. With Brandon Marshall gone, addressing the wide receiver position was warranted, though their lack of a quarterback may render Stewart, Hansen and Leggett useless.
New England Patriots: B
DE Derek Rivers (Rd. 3), OT Antonio Garcia (Rd. 3), DE Deatrich Wise (Rd. 4), OT Conor McDermott (Rd. 6)
The Super Bowl champions shipped off some of their top picks to bring in veteran talent Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy, yet were still able to come away with a quality draft class. Rivers was a borderline first rounder and fits the mold of the stereotypical hard-nosed Bill Belichick pass rusher. Garcia was a good value as well, and the Patriots’ blocking could be improved after their pass protection was gashed by a JJ Watt-less Texans team in the divisional round.
Baltimore Ravens: A-
CB Marlon Humphrey (Rd. 1), OLB Tyus Bowser (Rd. 2), DE Chris Wormley (Rd. 3), OLB Tim Williams (Rd. 3), OG Nico Siragusa (Rd. 4), OG Jermaine Eluemunor (Rd. 5), RB Chuck Clark (Rd. 6)
It was apparent from this draft class that GM Ozzie Newsome is attempting to return Baltimore to the days where defense dominated. Yet another Alabama player drafted by alum Newsome, Humphrey is NFL-ready and will be a critical part of righting the secondary’s ship. Their next three picks were all pass-rushers, which was an area of the game where Baltimore struggled greatly last year. Wormley will likely step into the role of down lineman in the Ravens’ 3-4 scheme, while Bowser and Williams will play on the outside in situational roles. Additionally, it is worth noting that Siragusa bears no relation to former Ravens’ legend Tony Siragusa, though Nico could compete for a starting job on Baltimore’s O-Line this year.
Cincinnati Bengals: B+
WR John Ross (Rd. 1), RB Joe Mixon (Rd. 2), DE Jordan Willis (Rd. 3), DE Carl Lawson (Rd. 4), WR Josh Malone (Rd. 4), DT Ryan Glasgow (Rd. 4), K Jake Elliott (Rd. 5), C JJ Dielman (Rd. 5), LB Jordan Evans (Rd. 6), RB Brandon Wilson (Rd. 6), TE Mason Schreck (Rd. 7)
While the selection of John Ross may have been a reach at ninth overall, the Bengals played out the rest of their draft well. Ross as well as Malone will provide field-stretching support for AJ Green, and Mixon may have the best career of this stacked running back draft class if he can avoid his off-the-field problems. Willis and Lawson were both quality value picks in the middle rounds, and will address a Bengals pass rush that has little bite.
Cleveland Browns: A-
DE/OLB Myles Garrett (Rd. 1), S Jabrill Peppers (Rd. 1), TE David Njoku (Rd. 1), QB DeShone Kizer (Rd. 2), Larry Ogunjobi (Rd. 3), CB Howard Wilson (Rd. 4), OT Roderick Johnson (Rd. 5), DT Caleb Brantley (Rd. 6), K Zane Gonzalez (Rd. 7), RB Matt Dayes (Rd. 7)
With this many picks, it is kind of hard to mess it up. Garrett was the obvious selection at No. 1 overall, and his generational ability should be able to turn around the Browns’ mess of a franchise. Peppers gives Cleveland a versatile playmaker in the secondary, and is likely to contribute in the return game and on offense. Njoku is raw, but will be a quarterback-friendly target up the seam. Though he fell from his lofty status as the top quarterback in the draft class, Kizer is an intriguing prospect and will challenge Cody Kessler for the starting job in camp. Brantley was worth the risk in the sixth round, as the first-round talent’s stock dropped like a rock after a recent battery charge.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
OLB TJ Watt (Rd. 1), WR Juju Smith-Schuster (Rd. 2), CB Cameron Sutton (Rd. 3), RB James Conner (Rd. 3), QB Joshua Dobbs (Rd. 4), DB Ryan Allen (Rd. 5), LS Colin Hoba (Rd. 6), OLB Keion Adams (Rd. 7)
With one of the thinnest outside linebacker units in the NFL, Watt’s addition will rejuvenate an embattled defense. Despite Smith-Schuster’s addition causing a rift between Sammie Coates and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers need to find a reliable option across from Antonio Brown, and the USC product could fill that void. Despite the presence of Le’Veon Bell, the cancer survivor Conner will replace the departed DeAngelo Williams as the primary change of pace back. With Big Ben hinting at retirement this year, Dobbs could be his successor.
Houston Texans: A-
QB DeShaun Watson (Rd. 1), ILB Zach Cunningham (Rd. 2), RB Dont’a Foreman (Rd. 3), OT Julie’n Davenport (Rd. 4), DT Carlos Watkins (Rd. 4), S Tristan DeCoud (Rd. 5), C Kyle Fuller (Rd. 7)
The Texans almost never trade up in the Draft, but pulled the trigger on DeShaun Watson by moving up to No. 12 from No. 25. The playoff team will depend on Watson to elevate them to Super Bowl level, and anything else will be considered a failure. However, it is unlikely the Clemson superstar will be worse than Brock Osweiler, so it’s not too much pressure. Cunningham was one of the best players on the board at the end of round two, and with Brian Cushing’s injury history, will be an important factor on the league’s top defense.
Indianapolis Colts: B
S Malik Hooker (Rd. 1), CB Quincy Wilson (Rd. 2), DE Tarrell Basham (Rd. 3), OT Zach Banner (Rd. 4), RB Marlon Mack (Rd. 4), DT Grover Stewart (Rd. 4), CB Nate Hairston (Rd. 5), LB Anthony Walker Jr. (Rd. 5)
With their first two picks, the Colts addressed their porous secondary with Hooker and Wilson, both of whom were steals. Despite an injury, the Ed Reed-like Hooker was supposed to be a top-10 lock, and could be the next Bob Sanders for Indy. Wilson was expected to come off of the board in the late first round, but the Florida corner fell to Indy, and will likely start for the Colts in 2017. However, the rest of the Colts draft class was unspectacular, but don’t be surprised if Basham and Banner contribute this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B+
RB Leonard Fournette (Rd. 1), OT Cam Robinson (Rd. 2), DE Dawuane Smoot (Rd. 3), WR Dede Westbrook (Rd. 4), LB Blair Brown (Rd. 5), CB Jalen Myrick (Rd. 7), FB Marquez Williams (Rd. 7)
After another spending-heavy offseason, the Jaguars again appear on the verge of ending their streak of six consecutive seasons with 10 or more losses. The offense was Jacksonville’s target during this draft, and came away with three stellar prospects in Fournette, Robinson and Westbrook. Fournette has been frequently compared to Adrian Peterson, and will be expected to have an impact similar to that of Ezekiel Elliott’s last season. Robinson entered the draft process expected to be a top-10 prospect and the unanimous top offensive tackle in the class, but an underwhelming combine started a fall in his draft stock. However, he’s a talented football player and should compete for the right tackle spot in camp.
Tennessee Titans: C-
WR Corey Davis (Rd. 1), CB Adoree Jackson (Rd. 1), WR Taywan Taylor (Rd. 3), TE Jonnu Smith (Rd. 3), LB Jayon Brown (Rd. 5), OL Corey Levin (Rd. 6), OLB Josh Carraway (Rd. 7), OT Brad Seaton (Rd. 7), RB Khalfani Muhammed (Rd. 7)
The Titans failed to capitalize on their additional draft picks in epic fashion. They did manage to address two of their principal needs in wide receiver and cornerback in the first round, but they selected Davis and Jackson far above their going rate. Davis should be an Anquan Boldin-type receiver at the next level, but he could have easily been had at the No. 18 pick, and passing on Jamal Adams or Marshon Lattimore may prove to be a huge mistake. Jackson has all the ability in the world, but the world-class track athlete hasn’t shown that football is his priority, and with Gareon Conley still on the board that could come back to bite them.
Denver Broncos: C
OT Garett Bolles (Rd. 1), DE Demarcus Walker (Rd. 2), WR Carlos Henderson (Rd. 3), CB Brendan Langley (Rd. 3), TE Jake Butt (Rd. 5), WR Isaiah McKenzie (Rd. 5), RB De’Angelo Henderson (Rd. 6), QB Chad Kelly (Rd. 7)
There was nothing truly special about this Broncos draft class. Offensive tackle was the priority and they spent their first rounder on Bolles, who is a prototypical NFL tackle but is already 25 years-old. More help was needed on the line, but Denver didn’t address the unit again. Walker was a solid pick as well, as the retirement of Demarcus Ware opens a hole for the Florida State product to join a rotation on the edge with Shane Ray. Butt was an interesting pick, as the Michigan star’s torn ACL caused his precipitous drop in the Draft (though he was able to claim a $2 million insurance payout).
Los Angeles Chargers: B+
WR Mike Williams (Rd. 1), OG Forrest Lamp (Rd. 2), OL Dan Feeney (Rd. 3), S Rayshawn Jenkins (Rd. 4), DB Desmond King (Rd. 5), OT Sam Tevi (Rd. 6), DT Isaac Rochell (Rd. 7)
The Bolts are bringing in a talented rookie class in their inaugural season in Los Angeles. Williams was the best receiver in this draft class, and is a more prototypical No. 1 wideout than the short and quick Keenan Allen. The Chargers’ offensive line has been a sieve for years, but the additions of Lamp and Feeney should work wonders, as they were the two best interior linemen in the draft. King is a player to watch, as there is a void in the Chargers’ secondary at safety, and the playmaker for Iowa could find himself in the rotation for snaps early.
Kansas City Chiefs: C
QB Patrick Mahomes II (Rd. 1), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (Rd. 2), RB Kareem Hunt (Rd. 3), WR Jehu Chesson (Rd. 4), LB Ukeme Eligwe (Rd. 5), S Leon McQuay III (Rd. 6)
The Chiefs paid heavily to move up and take Mahomes, who was one of the fastest risers in the draft. The gunslinger from Texas Tech played in a gimmick offense in college and will sit behind Alex Smith until he adjusts to NFL play, but his skill set and pure arm strength brings to mind a guy named Brett Favre. The Chiefs went developmental with their second rounder as well, as Kpassagnon is a freak of nature but isn’t going to be NFL-ready in 2017. With a team so close to the Super Bowl, the Chiefs could have used a couple more immediate contributors before their window of opportunity closes.
Oakland Raiders: B+
CB Gareon Conley (Rd. 1), S Obi Melifonwu (Rd. 2), DT Eddie Vanderdoes (Rd. 3), OT David Sharpe (Rd. 4), LB Marquel Lee (Rd. 5), S Shalom Luani (Rd. 7), OT Jylan Ware (Rd. 7), RB Elijah Wood (Rd. 7), DT Treyvon Hester (Rd. 7)
Conley, widely viewed as a top-15 pick, slid to the waiting arms of Oakland at No. 24 after sexual assault allegations earlier in the week, despite early evidence coming out in Conley’s favor. Oakland is one of the league’s fastest rising teams, and adding a top corner like Conley could solve one of their few holes. Melifonwu is not someone opposing teams want to face, as the addition of the athletic freak gives the Raiders the AFC’s best group of safeties in the league when you consider they already have Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson. Vanderdoes and Lee could find themselves as contributors in 2017 as well.