This is the NFC edition of SST’s 2017 NFL Draft grades, the AFC edition can be found here.
Dallas Cowboys: B+
DE Taco Charlton (Rd. 1), CB Chidobe Awuzie (Rd. 2), CB Jourdan Lewis (Rd. 3), WR Ryan Switzer (Rd. 4), S Xavier Woods (Rd. 6), CB Marquez White (Rd. 6), DT Joey Ivie (Rd. 7), WR Noah Brown (Rd. 7), DT Jordan Carrell (Rd. 7)
The Cowboys bolstered their defense early, as their young offensive skill players and dominant line is set for the foreseeable future. The pass rush was one of the ‘Boys weak spots last year, and Charlton will be expected to lead the unit in 2017. After having problems at cornerback for years, Dallas added three players at the position in this one draft. Awuzie and Lewis will receive playing time from the get-go, and Woods and White will likely fit into substitution packages or play on special teams. Switzer is essentially a Cole Beasley clone, and could be a useful target for Dak Prescott in the slot.
New York Giants: C+
TE Evan Engram (Rd. 1), DT Dalvin Tomlinson (Rd. 2), QB Davis Webb (Rd. 3), RB Wayne Gallman (Rd. 4), DE Avery Moss (Rd. 5), OT Adam Bisnowaty (Rd. 6)
While tight end was known to be a need for the G-Men entering the draft, the selection of Engram came as a surprise with David Njoku still on the board. However, the wide receiver/tight end hybrid will present a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses while drawing attention away from Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. With the departure of Jonathan Hankins, Tomlinson’s addition provides depth to the Giants defensive tackle rotation. Webb was a good value in the third round, and could be the long-term replacement for Eli Manning. Gallman is a player to watch, as the Giants’ rushing attack has no bell cow back. However, the offensive line was the primary weakness for Big Blue, and they didn’t address the position until the sixth round.
Philadelphia Eagles: B
DE Derek Barnett (Rd. 1), CB Sidney Jones (Rd. 2), CB Rasul Douglas (Rd. 3), WR Mack Collins (Rd. 4), RB Donnel Pumphrey (RD. 4), WR Shelton Gibson (Rd. 5), S Nate Gerry (Rd. 5), DT Elijah Qualls (Rd. 7)
The Eagles put together a solid yet unspectacular draft class in 2017. Barnett is a high-motor player who will take over as the primary pass rushing threat on a weak Eagles line. Drawing comparisons to another former Washington Husky in Marcus Peters, Jones was regarded as the 1B to Marshon Lattimore’s 1A among the cornerbacks prior to tearing his Achilles. He may not get many chances his rookie year, but has the tools to be a shutdown corner. Pumphrey is the all-time NCAA leader in rushing yards despite standing 5’8” and weighing 176 pounds With one year left on Darren Sproles’ contract, he could be next in line for complementary work.
Washington Redskins: B+
DL Jonathan Allen (Rd. 1), OLB Ryan Anderson (Rd. 2), CB Fabian Moreau (Rd. 3), RB Samaje Perine (Rd. 4), S Montae Nicholson (Rd. 4), TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Rd. 5), C Chase Roullier (Rd. 6), WR Robert Davis (Rd. 6), S Josh Harvey-Clemons (Rd. 7), DB Joshua Holsey (Rd. 7)
Allen was a steal of epic proportions with the 17th overall pick, and the exciting prospect fills a position of need for Washington. Technically sound and NFL-ready, expect the Alabama defensive lineman to compete for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Moreau was a potential first-rounder until a hip injury sidelined him late in the draft process, though a third round pick is a good bargain for a starting-caliber player who may have to sit out a year. With Matt Jones on the trade block, Perine could take over the Redskins’ terrible short-yardage and goal-to-go run games.
Chicago Bears: C-
QB Mitch Trubisky (Rd. 1), TE Adam Sheehan (Rd. 2), S Eddie Jackson (Rd. 4), RB Tarik Cohen (Rd. 4), G Jordan Morgan (Rd. 5)
Generally, the best way to dig a team out of the cellar of a competitive division is to stockpile draft picks, as it increases the chances of hitting the lottery on a player and fills the various holes on the roster. Unfortunately for the Bears, they went in the opposite direction by trading three picks to the 49ers to draft Trubisky, who had all of 13 career starts at North Carolina. This decision has been ridiculed across the league due to the Bears’ lack of receivers and offensive linemen, as well as their recent signing of Mike Glennon for $48 million over three years. With Glennon entering the year expected to start, neither him nor Trubisky would have many chances to succeed with no quality players on Chicago’s offense other than Kyle Long and Jordan Howard. The defense is one of the worst in the league as well, yet the Bears spent just one pick on that side of the ball.
Detroit Lions: B-
LB Jarrad Davis (Rd. 1), CB Teez Tabor (Rd. 2), WR Kenny Golladay (Rd. 3), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Rd. 4), TE Michael Roberts (Rd. 4), CB Jamal Agnew (Rd. 5), DE Jeremiah Ledbetter (Rd. 6), QB Brad Kaaya (Rd. 6), DE Pat O’Connor (Rd. 7)
The Lions addressed some of their defensive shortcomings early in the draft, gaining a new defensive leader in Davis and a talented corner in Tabor who, despite disappointing at both the Combine and at his pro day, could step in at the nickel immediately. Golladay, at 6’4”, will provide Matt Stafford a red zone threat at receiver, as Golden Tate and Marvin Jones don’t present height problems for most corners. Stafford has stayed healthy in recent years, but if injury strikes again, Kaaya is a better candidate to keep Detroit in the playoff hunt than the no-names currently backing him up.
Green Bay Packers: B-
CB Kevin King (Rd. 2), S Josh Jones (Rd. 2), DT Montravius Adams (Rd. 3), OLB Vince Biegel (Rd. 4), RB Jamaal Williams (Rd. 4), WR DeAngelo Yancey (Rd. 5), RB Aaron Jones (Rd. 5), C Kofi Amichia (Rd. 6), RB Devante Mays (Rd. 7), WR Malachi Dupre (Rd. 7)
To the chagrin of the Packers fans who were clamoring for TJ Watt, GM Ted Thompson traded back and took King with the 33rd overall pick. While the hometown boy Watt would’ve been a welcome addition, King addresses the Pack’s biggest need and is arguably a better prospect. The Packers had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last year, and bringing in the lanky King and the athletic Jones will revamp the unit. With converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery listed as the starting running back, Green Bay drafted three rushers, but none of whom appear to be ready or good enough for a full NFL workload.
Minnesota Vikings: C+
RB Dalvin Cook (Rd. 2), C Pat Elflein (Rd. 3), DT Jaleel Johnson (Rd. 4), LB Ben Gedeon (Rd. 4), WR Rodney Adams (Rd. 5), G Danny Isidora (Rd. 5), TE Bucky Hodges (Rd. 6), WR Stacy Coley (Rd. 7), DL Ifeadi Odenigbo (Rd. 7), LB Elijah Lee (Rd. 7), CB Jack Tocho (Rd. 7)
Without a first-round pick, the Vikings grabbed a first-round quality prospect in Cook, and it appears that they will be going to use a committee backfield as they brought in Latavius Murray this offseason. Offensive line was Minnesota’s biggest need entering the draft even after adding Riley Reiff, and the technically-proficient Elflein could be a rookie starter. Drafting Johnson boosted depth along the defensive front as well, and is a solid prospect. After years of average play from Kyle Rudolph, maybe Hodges will give Bridgewater/Bradford the red zone threat they need.
Atlanta Falcons: C
DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley (Rd. 1), LB Duke Riley (Rd. 3), G Sean Harlow (Rd. 4), CB Damontae Kazee (Rd. 5), RB Brian Hill (Rd. 5), TE Eric Saubert (Rd. 5)
The almost-reigning champions traded up a few spots to take McKinley, who began his Falcons career by giving an emotional and expletive-filled speech to a camera on stage at the Draft while toting a framed picture of his grandmother. McKinley will be expected to line up across from 2016 sack leader Vic Beasley and give the Dirty Birds a multidirectional pass rush. However, with offensive guard as the team’s biggest weakness, it was surprising to see Atlanta pass up on Forrest Lamp at that juncture. Harlow was drafted to help out the O-line, but is a significantly worse prospect than Lamp.
Carolina Panthers: C+
RB Christian McCaffrey (Rd. 1), RB/WR Curtis Samuel (Rd. 2), G/T Taylor Moton (Rd. 2), DE Daeshon Hall (Rd. 3), CB Corn Elder (Rd. 5), FB Alex Armah (Rd. 6), Harrison Butker (Rd. 7)
The multidimensional McCaffrey was a great pick in the first round, as his all-around game would help Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart greatly. However, spending their second rounder on essentially the same type of player in Curtis Samuel was a questionable decision. The Panthers need to protect Newton better, and Moton is a solid prospect. While Corn Elder is one of the best names in football, Carolina’s secondary needed more help than one fifth-round corner can bring if they want to stop Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston and Drew Brees.
New Orleans Saints: A
CB Marshon Lattimore (Rd. 1), OT Ryan Ramczyk (Rd. 1), S Marcus Williams (Rd. 2), RB Alvin Kamara (Rd. 3), LB Alex Anzalone (Rd. 3), OLB Trey Hendrickson (Rd. 3), Al-Quadin Muhammad (Rd. 6)
Lattimore was one of the top prospects in this draft class and was expected to be a top 5 selection, yet the run on offensive skill players caused the Ohio State corner to fall into the Saints lap at 11th overall. With a secondary that has been average at its best and atrocious at its worst during Drew Brees’ tenure in the Big Easy, Lattimore’s addition gives the Saints the legitimate lockdown corner they have never had. Ramczyk was a steal with the last pick of the first round, as his offseason hip injury caused teams to shy away from arguably the best offensive tackle on the board. Kamara was likely the best player available in Round three, but with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson that backfield will be crowded. However, it gives Kamara time to develop and learn from one of the game’s greats in Peterson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
TE OJ Howard (Rd. 1), S Justin Evans (Rd. 2), WR Chris Godwin (Rd. 3), LB Kendell Beckwith (Rd. 3), RB Jeremy McNichols (Rd. 5), DT Steve Tu’ikolovatu (Rd. 7)
After Cameron Brate’s surprise breakout year in 2016, picking Howard, one of the best players on the board, came as a bit of a shock. However, a two tight end set of Brate and Howard would be nearly impossible to defend against, and giving Jameis Winston as many weapons as possible is a recipe for success. However, the Bucs didn’t address their convoluted backfield as definitively as expected, though the scat-back McNichols could give Famous Jameis a reliable playmaker on 3rd down.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
LB Haason Reddick (Rd. 1), S Budda Baker (Rd. 2), WR Chad Williams (Rd. 3), OG Dorian Johnson (Rd. 4), OT Will Holden (Rd. 5), RB TJ Logan (Rd. 5), S Rudy Ford (Rd. 6)
After a letdown of a season, the Cards added a quality group of incoming rookies in hopes of returning to Super Bowl contention. Reddick was one of the fastest risers in the draft, and plays like he’s still fighting for the walk-on spot at Temple. While they still need help at corner, Baker’s presence in the secondary along with Tyrann Mathieu will make opposing quarterbacks think twice before going across the middle. Johnson was one of the better interior linemen in the draft, and protecting Palmer is a primary concern as the veteran signal-caller is 37 years old.
Los Angeles Rams: B-
TE Gerald Everett (Rd. 2), WR Cooper Kupp (Rd. 3), S Josh Johnson (Rd. 3), WR Josh Reynolds (Rd. 4), OLB Samson Ebukam (Rd. 4), DT Tanzel Smart (Rd. 6), FB Sam Rogers (Rd. 6), DE Ejuan Price (Rd. 7)
Without a first-round pick due to their monster trade up for Jared Goff last year, the Rams focused on supplying their struggling, young passer with adequate weapons in this draft. Everett and Kupp both came out of small schools (South Alabama and Eastern Washington, respectively), but have more than just a history of dominating their lesser competition. Everett is an athletic freak, and will give Goff a reliable target up the seam and in the red zone. Kupp was one of the stars at the Senior Bowl, and had one of the best 3-cone drills at the Combine. With the Rams receiving corps a mess, Reynolds could step into a role as the team’s deep threat.
San Francisco 49ers: A-
DE Solomon Thomas (Rd. 1), LB Reuben Foster (Rd. 1), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Rd. 3), QB CJ Beathard (Rd. 3), RB Joe Williams (Rd. 4), TE George Kittle (Rd. 5), WR Trent Taylor (Rd. 5), DT DJ Jones (Rd. 6), OLB Pita Taumoepenu (Rd. 6), DB Adrian Colbert (Rd. 7)
The 49ers absolutely fleeced the Bears by trading back one spot and picking up three additional picks, and wound up getting the player they wanted anyway. As if it couldn’t get it better for new GM John Lynch, the 49ers planned to take Foster 3rd overall if Thomas was drafted by the Bears, yet still got the Alabama linebacker at the end of the first round. With two of the most talented defenders in the draft class, San Fran’s defense has to be taken seriously in 2017. Keep an eye out for Beathard in 2017, as only Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley will be competing with the former Hawkeye for the starting job.
Seattle Seahawks: C+
DT Malik McDowell (Rd. 2), C Ethan Pocic (Rd. 2), DB Shaquill Griffin (Rd. 3), S Delano Hill (Rd. 3), DT Nazair Jones (Rd. 3), WR Amara Darboh (Rd. 3), S Tedric Thompson (Rd. 4), S Michael Tyson (Rd. 6), OT Justin Senior (Rd. 6), WR David Moore (Rd. 7), RB Christopher Carson (Rd. 7)
The ‘Hawks were frequent movers in the draft, accumulating picks by moving back three times before they picked McDowell. Seattle began to falter in the trenches last year, and while McDowell is a character concern, he was one of the most talented players in this draft. Pocic is a solid center, and protecting Russell Wilson should have been the number one priority in the Northwest. The Seahawks decided to focus on patching up the Legion of Boom by drafting five defensive backs, though even if Richard Sherman is traded, that secondary will be crowded. In a receiving corps lacking depth, Darboh could make an impact his rookie year.