Tag Archives: Draft Grades

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

The NFC West fell silent for a few years after the San Francisco 49ers collapsed. It was the Seahawks division, with the exception of a few flash years from the Arizona Cardinals. But last year, the Rams emerged from the shadows and took the top spot within the division.

And even more interestingly, after a trade deadline deal that saw the Patriots ship beloved backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners, San Francisco went on an absurd winning streak to close out the season and hint that the 49ers may be back.

Then there is the retooling in Seattle, that saw the team shake up the Legion of Boom. Cornerback Richard Sherman was released and he signed on with the Niners, partially in an effort to seek revenge on his old squad. With all this exciting turnover in the NFC West, how else did the teams add to the equation over draft weekend? Well the answer is below…

Arizona Cardinals: A
1.) Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
2.) Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
3.) Mason Cole, C, Michigan
4.) Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham
6.) Chris Campbell, CB, Penn St.
7.) Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati

Entering the offseason the Arizona Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in addressing their quarterback situation. Well, they did just that. The Cards traded up to the No. 10 spot and selected Rosen. And most interestingly, they didn’t have to give up a lot to move up five spots, only handing over a third- and fifth-round choice. Rosen, is arguably the best pure passer in the draft, but questions about his character bumped the other top prospects above him. With veteran leadership like Larry Fitzgerald in house, I doubt Rosen’s character will be an issue. And speaking of the future Hall-of-Famer, he finally has another quality receiving partner in Kirk. Kirk, isn’t the biggest target, but he makes plays and, really, what more can you ask for? He is a consistent playmaker and will really benefit having the opportunity to grow with Rosen. Cole and Cunningham provide needed depeth along the line.  Cole, could start sooner than later. Edmonds, is a small back, but hyper productive. He should excel in a third down role.

LA Rams: C
3.) Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU
4.) Brian Allen, C, Michigan St.
4.) John Franklin-Myers, DT, Stephen F. Austin
5.) Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
5.) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
6.) John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
6.) Jamil Demby, OG, Maine
6.) Sebastian Joseph, DT, Rutgers
6.) Trevon Young, OLB, Louisville
7.) Travin Howard, LB, TCU
7.) Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

The Rams traded their first-round choice to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks, which left them out of the draft until the end of Day Two. When finally they got on the board they reached, to say the least, in selecting Noteboom. While he is massive, but struggles versus speed rushers. He may have to move inside. Adding Allen and Demby later on Day Three, shows how much depth the Rams wanted and needed to build along their offensive line. The line isn’t getting any younger and they need to develop some players to keep Jared Goff upright. The Rams really hit it out of the park in Round 5 with the additions of Kiser and Okoronkwo. Kiser is the ideal thumper for the Rams 3-4 defensive scheme. He should be an immediate help. Okoronkwo, should similarly help albeit on the outside. He lived in the opponent’s backfield the past two seasons at OU, raking up 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles-for-loss. He should excel under defensive coordinator Wade Phillip’s tutelage.

San Francisco 49ers: C
1.) Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
2.) Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
3.) Fred Warner, LB, BYU
3.) Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Miss
4.) Kentavius Street, DE, NC State
5.) DJ Reed, CB, Kansas St.
6.) Marcell Harris, S, Florida
7.) Jullian Taylor, DT, Temple
7.) Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee

Mike McGlinchey, is a good pick. With a young, new franchise quarterback under center like Jimmy Garoppolo, you have to protect him. McGlinchey, could start on right side and eventually could play on the left side. Either way, Garoppolo now has a pair of bookend tackles protecting him. He also had a new weapon in Dante Pettis. Pettis, is a playmaker who can be a big factor in the return game as well. He is a good compliment to Pierre Garcon. With the the 22nd ranked pass defense in the league last year, the Niners clearly wanted to bolster their secondary. Moore, Reed, and Harris all have the potential to contribute. Warner, is a needed addition to the 49ers linebacking corps. He is a bit undersized, but can fly around the field and drop into coverage. A good class, but one seemingly with reaches all over the board.

Seattle Seahawks: C+
1.) Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.
3.) Rasheem Greene, DE, USC
4.) Will Dissly, TE, Washington
5.) Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
5.) Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma St.
5.) Michael Dickson, P, Texas
5.) Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio St.
6.) Jake Martin, DE, Temple
7.) Alex McGough, QB, FIU

I would really like to give this draft class a higher grade, but the offensive line has been in shambles the past few years and spending just a single Day Three draft pick to address it won’t get the job done. That being said Jones is a great value addition. He started 27 games at left tackle for the Buckeyes, that is consistency the Seahawks need up front. Maybe he plays on the right side in the NFL, but regardless he has starter upside. The selection of Penny in Round 1 was surprising. He is a big back who rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final college season. For a back his size, his production in the passing game is a considerable bonus. The Seahawks moved on from inside/outside defensive lineman Michael Bennett and replaced him with Greene, a near clone of Bennett. Greene, had 16 sacks over the past two seasons and could really excel in Seattle’s scheme. Griffin, a two year starter at UCF, has the ability to really excel. He has good awareness and can drop into coverage. He had an absurd 18.5 sacks and 10 interceptions over his final two seasons.

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2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC South

The NFC South is always one of the most fun divisions to watch. Each year a new candidate takes the mantle of division champ. Rarely, does a team go back-to-back seasons with the crown. A year after the Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl, it was the resurgent New Orleans who reclaimed their place in the playoffs.

But not withering were the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers. Both teams made the playoffs under the wild card banner and Atlanta actually pulled off an upset in the opening round of the playoffs defeating the No. 3 seed LA Rams.

So where do things stand after the offseason? Pretty much where they were left following the 2017 campaign. There were no big changes in the division. When three out of four teams make it to the playoffs there really is no need to overhaul anything, it’s just a matter of continuing to fix up the spots that are under-producing. So, how did these teams fare? Lets give it a look…

Atlanta Falcons: B+
1.) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
2.) Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
3.) Deadrin Senat, DT, USF
4.) Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
6.) Russell Gage, WR, LSU
6.) Foye Oluokun, LB, Yale

With no glaring need on the roster, the Atlanta Falcons were free to add to their roster as see fit. Nabbing  Ridley, arguably the best receiver in the draft, with their first pick was a win. Outside of starting receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu there wasn’t much left on the depth chart. Ridley will likely contribute immediately. Smith, another weapon added for Matt Ryan, was a strong pick as well. While he’s not the biggest back (Smith is listed at 5’9″), Smith is ultra productive. He had three straight seasons rushing over 1,000 yards and in those seasons racked up 40 touchdowns. Not to mention he added another seven scores off of 132 receptions. Oliver and Senat, add needed depth. The secondary play waned in 2017, so Oliver will provide needed assistance. Senat, much the same along the defensive line. With the mammoth Dontari Poe gone, Senat will help fill the void.

Carolina Panthers: B
1.) DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
2.) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
3.) Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee
4.) Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
4.) Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss
5.) Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland
7.) Andre Carter, LB, North Carolina
7.) Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami

The Panthers brought in a quality yield, but one thing sticks out considerably. They failed to address the hole on their offensive line left after -All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell signed with Jacksonville over free agency. Beyond that miss, the Panthers addressed many needs. Cam Newton has had a dearth of wide receiving options over the years, but Moore finally gives him a weapon who can lineup all over the field. In Thomas, they have a budding receiving threat who should learn a lot playing behind Greg Olsen. Jackson and Gaulden, address a defensive secondary that has failed to grow after the departure of Josh Norman. Gaulden, plays with swagger and may move to the free safety spot left vacant by Kurt Coleman. Haynes, adds youth and depth to their pass rushing corps. The team can’ rely on Julius Peppers forever. Haynes should learn a lot playing behind the future Hall-of-Famer. He had 32 sacks over his career at Ole Miss.

New Orleans Saints: C+
1.) Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
3.) Tre’quan Smith, WR, UCF
4.) Rick Leonard, OT, Florida St.
5.) Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
6.) Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College
6.) Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech
7.) Will Clapp, C, LSU

The Saints made a huge trade to jump up and select Davenport to open their draft. In moving up from No. 27 to No. 14, the Saints gave away a fifth-round selection this year and next year’s first-round pick. That is a lot to give up to select an edge rusher. Nothing against Davenport, he is immensely talented and could live up to the trade, but he is also very raw at this point. He  never had a double-digit sack season at UT-San Antonio. Smith, is a classic Saints’ receiver. He provides a big target, but is also raw, having only played organized football for five years. That being said, his numbers did go up each year culminating with a 1,000 yard campaign and 13 touchdown season to cap his college career. Leonard and Clapp, add needed depth along their offensive line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
1.) Vita Vea, DT, Washington
2.) Ronald Jones, RB, USC
2.) MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina
2.) Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
3.) Alex Cappa, OG, Humboldt St.
4.) Jordan Whitehead, S, Pitt
5.) Justin Watson, WR, Penn
6.) Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

Defensive tackle wasn’t the greatest need for the Bucs, but when a talent like Vea falls to you it would be foolish to pass on the player. Vea, is a colossal man and has freakish athletic ability. Paired with veteran Gerald McCoy, the Bucs may have just created the best defensive tackle tandem in the league. Jones, was a strong addition early in Round 2. He has the speed that makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. He’s not the biggest back, but the production is undeniable. How big his workload will be will be intriguing to watching. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the league last year and clearly had to try and remedy that through the draft. They added two strong cornerbacks in Stewart and Davis. Stewart, has some off field issues, but has the versatility that is welcomed at the position. Davis, is a big, physical corner who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game. He doesn’t create a lot of turnovers, but broke up 29 passes in college.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC North

The 2017 season for the NFC North went through Minnesota, who had a miracle run with their third string quarterback Case Keenum. After second stringer Sam Bradford went down with injury and star rookie Dalvin Cook was also lost, it was Keenum who steered the Vikings to a NFC Championship appearance.

And after all that, the Vikings still moved on from Keenum…and Bradford for that matter, and even Teddy Bridgewater, who before a gruesome knee injury was viewed as a franchise quarterback for them. Instead, they went out and signed Kirk Cousins. A signal to all that the Vikings are ready to win now.

Despite going 9-7, the Lions fired their head coach and brought in New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to lead the team. It’s not a rebuild as much as it is a re-envisioning. The Bears also tabbed a first time head coach to lead them in Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.

But for all this hope springing around the division, the Green Bay Packers are still the sleeping giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only made it seven games before a broken clavicle ended his season. The Pack also made a mini shift in Brian Gutekunst taking over the GM position from longtime leader Ted Thompson.

So, how did Gutekunst and the rest of the new look NFC North due this weekend? Here’s the breakdown…

Chicago Bears: B+
1.) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2.) James Daniels, C, Iowa
2.) Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
4.) Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
5.) Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware
6.) Kylie Fitts, OLB, Utah
7.) Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

The Bears did a stellar job. Their first three picks could all start as rookies. Smith, is the defensive leader the Bears have needed for a long time. With veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan injury prone, Smith could wrestle a starting spot for himself sooner than later. Some may find Daniels selection curious with a quality guard in Cody Whitehair already in place. Whitehair’s best position is guard, so by selecting Daniels (a potential Day One starter), the Bears now can shift Whitehair back to left guard and suddenly the Bears offensive line is a real strength. With the healthy duo of Allen Robinson and Kevin White, the Bears needed someone to work the middle of the field and that’s Miller. His last two years he totaled 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 touchdowns. Fitts and Wims are quality late round additions with who could grow into serviceable players.

Detroit Lions: B-
1.) Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
2.) Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
3.) Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana-Lafayette
4.) Da’shawn Hand, DT, Alabama
5.) Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
7.) Nick Bawden, RB, San Diego St.

The Lions were aggressive in first time head coach Matt Patricia’s first draft. If there is one consistent thread through all of these picks it’s that all the players are big and physical. Ragnow, should start Day One (if healthy) and man the pivot. He’ll bring some nastiness to the trenches and that’s always a plus. Bringing in Crosby later in the draft continues to bring depth and nastiness. Like Ragnow, Crosby is a road grader. A right tackle by nature, but may kick inside to guard. He has starter upside. Johnson, in Round 2, is an intriguing pick. He is a massive running back who just ran all over the SEC last year, racking up 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns, while flashing the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game as well. The only downside there is injuries. With a big back, you also get a big target. Hand and Walker help bolster depth along the defense.

Green Bay Packers: B
1.) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
2.) Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
3.) Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
4.) J’mon Moore, WR, Missouri
5.) Cole Madison, OG, Washington St.
5.) JK Scott, P, Alabama
5.) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF
6.) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
7.) James Looney, DT, Cal
7.) Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi St.
7.) Kendall Donnerson, OLB, Southeast Missouri

Last season the Packers drafted a cornerback and a safety with their first two picks. And as you can see this year, brought in two more cornerbacks at the top of the draft. That is an incredible amount of capital spent on the secondary. Alexander, is a playmaker, who make work best in the slot while Jackson and Kevin King (last year’s top pick) work on the outside. Burks, was a bit of a reach, but should contribute on special teams and sub packages. He’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. The wide receiver additions is most interesting. All are well over six feet tall. Moore had the best college career, posting back to back 1,000 yard seasons and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. St. Brown, is raw but has the size to be a factor in the red zone. Valdes-Scantling, is the most intriguing. He is fast and can fly down field. If he continues to work on better route running, he could be a factor. The Scott addition is also worth noting. In a division that is becoming more and more contentious, a punter who can flip the field is a big asset.

Minnesota Vikings: B
1.) Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
2.) Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
4.) Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio St.
5.) Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan
5.) Daniel Carson, K, Auburn
6.) Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian St.
6.) Ade Aruna, DE, Tulane
7.) Devante Downs, LB, Cal

The Vikings really fleshed out their roster with this draft. Hughes, is a classisc Mike Zimmer cornerback. He should make his way onto the field sooner than later. He has off the field concerns, but should he keep things in line, he’ll be a factor. O’Neill, offers great versatility. He could start at right tackle, he could be kicked inside to guard. Either way, they needed help in the trenches and they got some. Holmes, didn’t do much in college, but that could be more of a result of having such tremendous depth at defensive end at Ohio State. He has upside and could develop into something special. Remember that time the Vikings missed a field goal in the playoffs against the Seahawks? So does every Minnesotan. Hopefully Carson can become a steady contributor. He’s got the leg, the accuracy is the question.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

In a year that many expected the Oakland Raiders to plant their flag atop the AFC West, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who won the crown. In fact the Oakland Raiders completely fell off, so much so that coach Jack Del Rio was fired and former head coach John Gruden was finally coaxed out of the press box.

The Denver Broncos also took a significant step back under first time head coach Vance Joseph. The team still thinks they have enough on defense to make a Super Bowl run and went out and signed Case Keenum to steer the ship. He and senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak have familiarity going back to Houston.

There’s also the Chargers, who actually took a good step forward last year despite once again being decimated by injury. The team looks to be in good hands with Anthony Lynn. He brought in coordinators with head coaching experience in Gus Bradley (defense) and Ken Whisenhunt (offense) and that brain trust seems to be really clicking. Maybe Phillip Rivers has one last playoff race in him.

So with all these ups and downs in the division. Who is up and who is down after this weekend? Well here’s the breakdown…

Denver Broncos: A
1.) Bradley Chubb, OLB, NC State
2.) Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
3.) Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
3.) Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
4.) Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
4.) Daesean Hammilton, WR, Penn St.
5.) Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
6.) Sam Jones, C, Arizona St.
6.) Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
7.) David Williams, RB, Arkansas

It was a dream come true for the Broncos when Chubb fell to them. They had already set up a trade with the Bills, but when Chubb fell to them they called it off. Arguably the best prospect in the draft, Chubb paired with Von Miller should give the quarterbacks of the AFC West night terrors. Chubb tallied 20 sacks and 46.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. Jewell and Bierria, also help flesh out the linebacking corps. Injuries and age are becoming an issue in the middle of their 3-4 defense. Jewell, is a tackling machine and should help sooner than later. He has starter upside. The addition of Sutton, Freeman, Hamilton, and Fumagalli tells us that the Broncos are confident that Case Keenum was not a one year wonder. They are bolstering his arsenal. Freeman, will be the most intriguing to watch. He is a tank and develop a good one, two punch while paired with Devontae Booker.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-
2.) Breeland Speaks, DT, Ole Miss
3.) Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.
3.) Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson
4.) Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
6.) Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
6.) Reginald McKenzie, OG, Tennessee

The Chiefs draft class is perplexing to say the least. After trading away Marcus Peters, cornerback became their greatest need and they waited until the sixth round to address that need. Instead they decided to address the defensive line with Speaks and Nnadi. Nnadi, is a quality addition as he can man the middle as the nose tackle. But Speaks will likely sit behind Chris Jones and Allen Bailey. Then there are Speaks’ off-field issues that are worth noting. Watts and O’Daniel are the teams best picks. O’Daniel can step in at inside linebacker, a position long held by Derrick Johnson, but he was cut during the offseason. Watts, provides depth and possible succession plan to veteran Ron Parker, who is good, but the Chiefs could get more out of the position. Watts had six interceptions over the past two seasons.

LA Chargers: B+
1.) Derwin James, S, Florida St.
2.) Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
3.) Justin Jones, DT, NC State
4.) Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
5.) Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA
6.) Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
7.) Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

The Chargers needed to rebuild their defense and have done so in tremendous fashion. James, was considered a Top 10 talent, and they got him at No. 17. James and White, are tone setters. Clearly the Bolts are looking to charge up their defense and these two safeties can do just that. White, can play the ball while James enforces the middle of the field. It will be fun to watch their development. Most pressing was their need along their linebacking corps. Nwosu, really progressed well at USC. He capped off his senior year with 75 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 13 passes broken up. He’s a problem off the edge, but he may take a minute to adjust to the Chargers 4-3 system. Jones, is the rock LA needed in the middle. He can clog up the running lanes. Jackson, is a good prospect, but had an insane workload.

Oakland Raiders: C+
1.) Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
2.) PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston St.
3.) Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
3.) Arden Key, DE, LSU
4.) Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
5.) Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
5.) Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
6.) Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
7.) Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Raiders did a lot of interesting things in the draft, none more so than the selection of Nelson and Hurst. Both were considered Day Two prospects, but Nelson was injured during a pre-draft workout and Hurst was found to have a heart condition at the combine, which he was eventually cleared of. Both players have immense talent and could develop into starters. They will be worth watching. Oakland also took a flier on Arden Key. He was viewed as one of the best pass rushing prospects in the nation coming into the season last year, but he was out of shape and tallied just four sacks after tallying 12 in 2016. If Key has gotten past his issues, he could be a steal. Clearly, new head coach John Gruden didn’t like the tackles he inherited. Miller, could start on the right side as a rookie before eventually replacing stalwart Donald Penn. Parker, will need some time to develop. He has starter upside. Ateman, is a big target to develop behind the starters. He could be a red zone weapon. A lot of risk and development in this draft class.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

The AFC North seems to be going through a changing of the guard. For years it was the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm and the Ravens with Joe Flacco, but are close to the end. The Steelers lost in the divisional round of the playoffs and no other team in the division made it to the playoffs, a rare occurrence when considering recent history.

What is not a rare occurrence is the Browns in a total rebuild after becoming just the second team in NFL history to go winless over a season. To put a positive spin on it, maybe that was rock bottom? Now there’s only progress to be had in Cleveland and with new leadership in the form of GM John Dorsey, that progress could come sooner than later as the last administration left him a boatload of picks and a ton of cap space.

As for the Bengals, after an early flash with Andy Dalton and AJ Green, the team has cooled and is in dire need to rejuvenate their playoff hopes. Some are calling for the replacement of Dalton, which is overreaction, but the team does need to provide a better supporting cast. How did they do? Lets give it a look…

Baltimore Ravens: B+
1.) Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
1.) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
3.) Orlando Brown Jr, OT, Oklahoma
3.) Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
4.) Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
4.) Kenny Young, LB, UCLA
4.) Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico St.
5.) Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
6.) Daeshon Elliott, S, Texas
6.) Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
6.) Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
7.) Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris St.

It’s pretty clear what GM Ozzie Newsom’s gameplan was in his final draft at the helm of the Ravens front office. The offense was clearly the Ravens biggest problem last year and they went all in to fix it. Drafting Jackson spells the end for Joe Flacco. Trading up to take him with the final pick of the opening night was smart. That gives the Ravens an option year with the former Heisman Trophy winner. Hurst and Andrews are two experienced and valuable targets underneath. Hurst started off as a baseball prospect, before flaming out and walked on for the Gamecocks. He’s an older prospect, but has the athleticism to excel. The Brown pick was not only a good fit and addressed a need, but Brown will also be playing for the same team his father did. He needs to get stronger. Of the defensive picks, but offer depth in areas of need. Averett, could turn into a starter on the outside in the future. Elliott is quality depth addition to the safety, as are Senat and Bozeman to the offensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
1.) Billy Price, C, Ohio St.
2.) Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest
3.) Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.
3.) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
4.) Mark Walton, RB, Miami
5.) Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois St.
5.) Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
5.) Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan
7.) Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
7.) Rod Taylor, OG, Ole Miss
7.) Auden Tate, WR, Florida St.

The Bengals have brought in an absolutely stellar draft class. Price, will be a Day One starter. He injured his pec during the combine, but he’ll be back by the time the season starts. The Bengals clearly saw a weak secondary developing and moved fast to address it, bringing in three players to provide some depth. Bates, is a rangy center fielder. He gives the Bengals the ability to develop three safety sets, a popular trend spreading around the league. Jefferson, fills a colossal need and is a tremendous fit. He is a heat seeking missile, who should play on the outside. Walton, is an intriguing addition. He ran for over 1,000 yards in ’16, but failed to follow up last season due to injury. Woodside, is a quality developmental draft pick. Tate, brings needed depth to the position. He can be a terror in the red zone.

Cleveland Browns: B
1.) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
1.) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Austin Corbett, OT, Nevada
2.) Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
3.) Chad Thomas, DE, Miami
4.) Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
5.) Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
6.) Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M
6.) Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisianna-Lafayett

The Browns kicked off the draft with the selection of Mayfield. Everybody has a different opinion on Mayfield, but when you just look at the tape, it’s simple. He’s a winner. A two time walk-on at Texas Tech and Oklahoma, he may be undersized, but he has the ability and the drive to succeed. Fingers crossed for the Dawg Pound. They’re a great fan base, who don’t deserve the trash heap they’ve had to deal with since 1999. Ward, was a bit of a surprise at No. 4 due to his short stature, but the talent is there. He had 24 passes broken up over the past two seasons. Corbett, will be worth watching. He’s capable of playing tackle and guard. Maybe he develops at tackle behind Chris Hubbard and takes over down the line. Callaway, is a classic John Dorsey pick. Highly talented, highly problematic off the field. Chubb, may be the most surprising pick, only because the team already has Duke Johnson and gave a big free agency deal to oft-injured Carlos Hyde. As a player, Chubb is an exceptional talent and could very well wrestle the starting spot for himself as a rookie.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B
1.) Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
2.) James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.
3.) Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
3.) Chuks Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
5.) Marcus Allen, S, Penn St.
5.) Jaylen Samuels, FB, NC State
7.) Joshua Frazier, DT, Alabama

Edmunds was a surprise to some coming off the board in Round 1, but many within the NFL saw this as a possibility. He has quality ball skills, picking off six passes and breaking up seven more over the past two seasons. Allen, the other safety, is someone who can play in the box as well as provide the expected coverage duties. It will be interesting if the Steelers start running three safety sets with Sean Davis or move the veteran to cornerback. The Oklahoma State pair of Washington and Rudolph, will be worth watching. The team traded Martavis Bryant to Oakland, thus opening a spot in the slot – a place Washington can excel. The Steelers have been looking for Ben Roethlisberger’s heir for a few years now. Maybe Rudolph is finally it. Samuels, is an intriguing prospect. He played as a tight end, receiver, running back, and full back in college. Pittsburgh likes their H-Backs. He’ll be a fun weapon to use and try to create mismatches. Okorafor is raw, but has starter upside.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: AFC East

Despite having the reigning NFL MVP on their roster and coming off of yet another Super Bowl appearance, the New England Patriots are having somewhat of a turbulent offseason with noise surrounding the team and their relationships with said MVP Tom Brady and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Things seemed to have cooled recently, but some are starting to see possible cracks in the organizations foundation.

With that being said and the Bills coming off a season that saw them finally make it back to the playoffs, a strong Miami side in a mini-rebuild, and the Jets in position to finally land a franchise quarterback, intrigue was certainly swirling around the division.

Now, lets get right to it and see how things came together over the course of the weekend…

Buffalo Bills: B-
1.) Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
1.) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
3.) Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
4.) Taron Johnson, CB, Weber St.
5.) Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville St.
5.) Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech
6.) Ray-ray Mccloud, WR, Clemson
7.) Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina

The Bills maneuvered tremendously in Round 1, twice moving up and taking Allen and Edmunds. It was only a matter of when and how much it would cost the Bills to move into the Top 10 for whichever quarterback began to fall. It came to fruition at the seventh overall pick and two second round picks. Selecting Phillips in Round 3, could turn out to be a steal. He is the perfect fit for Buffalo’s 4-3 front. He will be a starter sooner than later. Adding depth to the secondary with Johnson and Neal was smart. Especially with Neal. He has the ability to lineup at either corner or safety. Teller, was a quality pick in Round 5. He has the nasty disposition that you need in the trenches, but the failure of the Bills to further address the offensive line is a problem. They lost three starters and their right side could have been upgraded, regardless of the losses suffered on the left side of the line. This is a big whiff, especially after drafting a franchise caliber quarterback.

Miami Dolphins: B-
1.) Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
2.) Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn St.
3.) Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio St.
4.) Durham Style, TE, Notre Dame
4.) Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona St.
6.) Cornell Armstrong, DB, Southern Miss
7.) Quenton Poling, LB, Ohio
7.) Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico

It’s clear that the Miami Dolphins are sticking with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. They reloaded the tight end position in order to give him both a safety valve in Gesicki and an extra inline blocker in Style. Ballage is the good compliment to Kenyan Drake and can help take the pressure off of Tannehill. He can be a thumper between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. He had 64 catches over his last two seasons. On the defensive side of the ball they addressed their two biggest concerns in the secondary and at linebacker. Hopefully Baker will finally sure up the linebacking corps after years of failed attempts. It will be intriguing to see if the ‘Phins will use Fitzpatrick more at corner or safety, either way he’s an upgrade and brings the kind of leadership that head coach Adam Gase is looking for.

New England Patriots: B-
1.) Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
1.) Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
2.) Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
5.) Ja’whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
6.) Christian Sam, LB, Arizona St.
6.) Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
7.) Danny Etling, QB, LSU
7.) Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina
7.) Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida St.

The Pats caught some people off guard by selecting two offensive players in the first round. It was obvious during the season that the defense was the team’s weak link and yet they made an effort to further protect 40-year old Tom Brady with Wynn and give him an extra weapon in Michel, who is a special talent. In line with the “Patriot Way” both players were captains at Georgia. Dawson, in the second round, is an intriguing prospect. He was stuck behind first-round talent at Florida, but finally shined when given his opportunity. He could develop into a valuable slot corner, especially in today’s sub-package heavy defenses. The weakest link in the Pats defense in 2017 was there linebacking corps. They addressed that with back to back picks in Bentley and Sam. Both are tackling machines. Berrios and Izzo are your classic Patriot selections.

New York Jets: B
1.) Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3.) Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hayes St.
4.) Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
6.) Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
6.) Foley Fatukasi, DT, UConn
6.) Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia St.

All of the Jets fans’ prayers were answered with the selection of Darnold. Things didn’t workout too well the last time the organization drafted a USC quarterback in the Top 5 (Mark Sanchez), so hopefully things will go better this time. They paired him with a safety valve in Herndon later on in the draft, who could emerge as a starter. He was injured his final year in college and that hampered his development. Herndon will be worth watching, especially with Austin Seferian-Jenkins gone. The Jets took two developmental defensive lineman in Shepherd, a small school prospect who turned heads at the Senior Bowl, and Fatukasi who had a tremendous season in 2015 and failed to duplicate it.

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC East

The NFC East is regularly one of the best divisions in the league and it is home to the reigning Super Bowl champion. The Eagles became world champions after a wild shoot out with the New England Patriots that left them victorious. Now, they have to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

The Eagles are getting back Carson Wentz from injury. The Redskins finally concluded the Kirk Cousins debacle by trading for Alex Smith. The Cowboys are now giving total control over Dak Prescott. The Giants are putting their full trust in Eli Manning and gearing up for one last Super Bowl push under new head coach Pat Shurmer.

There is a lot of exciting story lines in the division and that was all before the draft. So how did the NFC East fare in the draft? Did they manage to obtain the missing pieces to their puzzles or are the Super Bowl champs still king? Lets break it down…

Dallas Cowboys: B
1.) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
2.) Connor Williams, OG, Texas
3.) Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado St.
4.) Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas
4.) Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
5.) Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
6.) Chris Covington, LB, Indiana
6.) Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise St.
7.) Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

The host team brought in a quality haul, but failed to address pressing needs. Before the draft the team cut Dez Bryant, then during the draft Jason Witten unofficially announced his retirement, and yet the Cowboys did not address those positions until Round 3 and Round 4. You can’t expect your quarterback to continue to grow if he doesn’t have a quality arsenal of weapons. That being said the team did take late flyers are a couple intriguing prospects in Cedrick Wilson and Bo Scarbrough. As for the early picks, they weren’t missed picks. The linebacking corps has been innjury plagued regularly and Vander Esch offers a wealth of potential. He’s a one year wonder, but if he’s a great fit. He just has to prove his one colossal season in college wasn’t a fluke. Williams, in the second round, fits a need at left guard. The offensive line is the strength of the team, it’s important to keep it that way. He should start Day One.

New York Giants: A
1.) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
2.) Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
3.) Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
3.) BJ Hill, DT, NC State
4.) Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
5.) Rocky McIntosh, DT, Miami

What is better than going into your divisional rivals home and swiping a better a draft class? The G-Men’s draft haul is an impressive one. Some have problems with Barkley going second overall, but look, the best player is the best player and Barkley has the potential to be a generational player. The Giants then turned around and helped Barkley by giving him an absolute road grader in Hernandez. What a perfect union that is. New York is switching to a 3-4 defense and need the right personal to thrive. Carter as a rush linebacker is just what they needed and to get him in the third round is tremendous value. In a similar vein, adding Hill and McIntosh to really flesh out the nose and five-technique along the odd man front is smart. Lauletta, gives the team another quarterback to develop behind Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles: C
2.) Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
4.) Avonte Maddox, CB, Pitt
4.) Josh Sweat, DE, Florida St.
6.) Matt Pryor, OT, TCU
7.) Jordan Mailata, OT, None

The team traded out of the first round to try and pick up some extra picks to help their cash strapped roster and then took those assets to move up and take Goedert. Yes, they have Zach Ertz, but Philly likes to run two tight end sets and Goedert can really work the seam and be a mismatch for defenses. Sweat, keeps the strength of the Eagles along their defensive line. He had 12.5 sacks over the last two years. Rounding out the draft with depth pieces at corner and tackle was wise. The most intriguing pick is Mailata, an professional rugby player from Australia who is trying his hand at American football.

Washington Redskins: B-
1.) Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
2.) Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
3.) Geron Christian, OT, Louisville
4.) Troy Apke, S, Penn St.
5.) Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
6.) Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama
7.) Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
7.) Trey Quinn, WR, SMU

To be honest, after the past few years I don’t have a lot of trust that the Redskins front office will do the right thing. That being said, they actually brought in a quality haul. The team had the worst rush defense in the entire league last year and needed to sure that up. They did so with Payne and Settle. Settle, could develop into the starting nose tackle, while Payne plays the five-technique opposite last year’s first round pick and former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen. Guice, fell due to character concerns. Nonetheless, getting a first round target in the second round is always a plus. He could really help Alex Smith. Christian, is a developmental prospect with starter upside. Shaun Dion Hamilton, has serious injury concerns, but if he can beat them Hamilton has the ability to develop into a starter and a quality one at that on the inside of the Redskins 3-4 defense.

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

The 2016 season had two distinct story lines. One was the resurrection of the Oakland Raiders, who returned for the first time since 2002 with a 12-4 record. However, there Super Bowl dreams were dashed when quarterback David Carr went down with a broken leg near the end of the regular season.

The second was that the San Diego Chargers played their final game in San Diego as they decided the best move of the organization would be the second Los Angeles team and move into the LA Rams new stadium in 2020. It was a crushing move for the San Diego natives and it didn’t help that the team showcased Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa on their way out.

It was the Kansas City Chiefs who took the division crown, but just as in Philadelphia, coach Andy Reid proved consistently making the playoffs rarely turns into a Super Bowl appearance. While Denver rolled up to the finish line with a modest 9-7 record as Trevor Siemian took the reigns from the retired future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning.

For such a competitive division in 2016 the most striking aspect of it was the amount of turnover that occurred in the postseason.

The Oakland Raiders also agreed to relocate in 2020, with a move to Las Vegas finalized. Now, with an end date in Oakland, hometown hero Marshawn Lynch was coaxed out of retirement in an attempt to help send off the Raiders with a Super Bowl trophy while still in the bay area.

Elsewhere in the division, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak decided to retire which led to the hiring of first-time coach Vance Joseph. In San Diego, Mike McCoy was let go and returned to Denver as offensive coordinator, a position he already held from 2009-2012. Anthony Lynn was tasked as the man to replace McCoy and lead the Chargers into their new turn as the LA Chargers.

With such turnover, how did things transpire on draft day? Look no further. Here is the complete breakdown…

Denver Broncos: B+
1.) Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
2.) DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida St.
3.) Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
3b.) Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar
5.) Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
5b.) Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia
6.) De’Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina
7.) Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

The Broncos and GM John Elway continue their impressive build up. Addressing the trenches to start was a tremendous approach. Bolles, will be a 25-year-old rookie and is still a bit raw, but he should start Day One on the left side. Walker, fits seamlessly into the Broncos 3-4 scheme. He had 26.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Henderson, gives Denver a slot option with the hands and quickness to be dynamic. With the final pick in the draft the Broncos tagged Chad Kelly. A very intriguing move. The nephew of hall-of-famer Jim Kelly, Chad has shown an impressive ability at the position, but has considerable off-field questions. With fellow hall-of-famer Elway in the building, it will be interesting to see how Kelly develops.

Best pick: Jake Butt
Butt, would have been a lock second-round pick, if not a first-round choice, had he been healthy. Butt, tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl and will take awhile to yield results from him, but he is a classic tight end who can block and be a reliable receiving option.

Kansas City Chiefs: C
1.) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
2.) Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
3.) Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
4.) Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan
5.) Ukeme Eligwe, LB, Georgia Southern
6.) Leon McQuay, S, USC

The Chiefs were very aggressive during the draft. First moving up 17 spots to take Mahomes and handing over their first-round pick in the 2018 draft to do so. Mahomes, threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 scores in his final season at Texas Tech, but he is still raw in respect to the NFL level. The Chiefs again moved up for Hunt. With long time back Jamaal Charles now in Denver, Hunt adds to the committee to replace him. Chesson, was expected to breakout in 2016 after a promising 2015, but injuries slowed him down. The Chiefs are hoping he can get back to his 2015 self.

Best pick: Tanoh Kpassagnon
The man is an athletic freak. That simple. Kpassagnon, has the explosiveness and length to excel in the NFL, but needs to develop. Voted a team captain, Kpassagnon put up 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles-for-loss over his final two years.

LA Chargers: B+
1.) Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
2.) Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
3.) Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
4.) Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami
5.) Desmond King, S, Iowa
6.) Sam Tevi, OT, Utah
7.) Isaac Rochell, DT, Notre Dame

The Chargers did a tremendous job drafting for need. The Bolts still believe in Phillip Rivers, but his weapons have been few and injury prone. Williams, instantly upgrades the unit and provides the perfect compliment to Keenan Allen. Spending capital on linemen with their next two picks was smart as that was their weakest link for a few seasons now. Lamp, can play any position along the line and should be a Day One starter. Jenkins, can play either safety position and is a thumper. King, won the Thorpe Award in 2015 and will have his abilities maximized sliding over from cornerback to safety at the NFL level.

Best pick: Dan Feeney
When word gets out that the New England Patriots had to scramble after you selected a player one pick before them, you know you’re on to something. Feeney, will be a Day One starter and, like Lamp, offers versatility along the interior.

Oakland Raiders: C
1.) Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St.
2.) Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
3.) Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
4.) David Sharpe, OT, Florida
5.) Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forrest
7.) Shalom Luani, S, Washington St.
7b.) Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama St.
7c.) Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
7d.) Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo

The Raiders surprised many with the selection of Conley. Just before the draft, Conley was accused of rape after an incident in Cleveland. Conley has maintained his innocence, the Ravens gave him a lie detector test previous to the draft, and Conley regularly has met with Cleveland police. That pick aside, the Raiders turned in a rather lackluster class. Majority of the prospects are depth pieces. Vanderdoes, in the third-round was surprising. He was on his way to developing into a considerable talent before a knee injury derailed his development and hasn’t seemed to be able to get on track. Lee, was a three-year starter and the anticipation and tackling ability to add quality depth and special teams play to the Raiders.

Best pick: Obi Melifonwu
Melifonwu, was a fringe first-round talent and is wildly athletic. He played all over the field at UConn showing ability at corner and safety. With his size and dependable tackling, Melifonwu could significantly improve the Raiders 24th ranked pass defense.

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC South

The AFC South was once again soft. Since Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, the division has failed to deliver a true powerhouse. Under Bill O’Brien, the Houston Texans have won the AFC South division the past two years. An impressive feat considering the Texans have had virtually no quarterback to steer the ship.

The massive Brock Osweiler deal (four-years and $72 million dollar with $37 million guaranteed) turned out to be a bust. Osweiler, was benched by midseason and after the season was dealt, along with his remaining guaranteed money, to the Cleveland Browns along with a sixth-round pick in 2017 and second-round pick in 2018 for a fourth-round pick in 2017.

That left Houston in a particularly bad situation with the new and improved Tennessee Titans nipping at their heels. The Titans surprised many in 2016, going from 3-13 to 9-7 in their first year under head coach Mike Mularkey. The big question now is, can the Titans build off that success? The team is young and led by former-Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

After another 8-8 season, the Colts parted ways with GM Ryan Grigson and brought aboard Chris Ballard, from the Kansas City Chiefs. The big question entering the year was can Andrew Luck stay healthy, after playing in only seven games in 2015. Luck, stayed upright for 15 games, but the roster was so thin that it was difficult to turn any production into wins.

Then there are the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. After yet another exciting young draft class and free agent period, the team couldn’t string together enough wins leading to the departure of head coach Gus Bradley. The team promoted Doug Marrone and brought back, former head coach Tom Coughlin, to work along side GM David Caldwell. What else is their to say? Maybe this is the year they put it together?

Houston Texans: B+
1.) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
2.) Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
3.) D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
4.) Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
4b.) Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
5.) Treston Decoud, S, Oregon St.
7.) Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor

On Day One of the NFL Draft, the Texans were aggressive. They jumped in front of the Arizona Cardinals to pick up their guy, Deshaun Watson. Now, Houston really likes their guy Tom Savage, but he has proved injury prone. Maybe, he plays in 2016, but the plan is to have Watson watch and learn. Cunningham, is a freaky athlete, who will be the heir to Brian Cushing in the middle of their 3-4 defense. That provides a dynamic, young core when paired with Benardrick McKinney. The fourth-round was used to build the trenches and the Texans picked up quality talent. Davenport, needs some seasoning, but has starter upside. Watkins, provides needed depth along the defensive front and adds another pass rushing threat.

Best pick: D’Onta Foreman
Foreman, is a true Texan. Grew up in the Houston-area, played in Austin, and is now playing pro ball back home. At 230-plus pounds, Foreman, is a bruiser who ran for over 2,000 yards last year and 15 touchdowns and is considerably fast given his size.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
1.) Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St.
2.) Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
3.) Tarrell Basham, OLB, Ohio
4.) Zach Banner, OG, USC
4b.) Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
4c.) Grover Stewart, DT, Albany St.
5.) Nate Hairston, CB, Temple
5b.) Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Ballard was given a gift in his first year drafting for the Colts. How Hooker fell to 15th overall is astonishing. Hooker is a legitimate Top 5 talent. Although, he only started one year, he racked up seven interceptions. Pairing Wilson, with Hooker instantly upgrades a pass defense that ranked 27th in the league last year. Wilson, could be a Day One starter. Basham, is another piece to a defensive rebuilding project. Gone are the days of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. The Colts need pass rushers and got a good prospect in Basham. He had 11.5 sacks last year. Banner, is an intriguing player. He is a mammoth at 6’8″ and 350-pounds. Size will always be an issue, but if he can get fit, Banner is a road grader with starter upside. Walker, adds depth inside at linebacker and special teams help. With so little talent at linebacker, should injuries pop up, Walker could get pushed into starting duties.

Best pick: Marlon Mack
This very well could have been Hooker, but Mack is intriguing. Frank Gore, isn’t getting any younger, and the Colts need a run game to take some pressure off of Luck. Mack, is on the smaller side, but rushed for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in three seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B
1.) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
2.) Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
3.) Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
4.) Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
5.) Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
7.) Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
7b.) Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (OH)

The Jaguars draft class is marred by fourth-round pick Westbrook. He is in the Joe Mixon realm of deplorable character. The draft grade is representative of the rest of the draft class, which again injects Jacksonville with strong blue chip talent in Fournette and Robinson. Fournette, is an old school back, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards two years. Last year’s minor injuries won’t be an issue. The Jags hit on pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue in the third-round last year. They’re hoping to do the same with Smoot this year. He’ll add another pass rush threat to their rotation. Brown, isn’t the biggest linebacker, but he’ll make the play. Myrick, has the speed to excel on special teams.

Best pick: Cam Robinson
Robinson, the 2016 Outland Trophy winner, is a Day One starter and should finally fix the revolving door at one of the tackle spots. They’ve taken tackles in the Top 10 and paid big for free agents to be the answer. Robinson is a smart, safe selection at the top of Round 2.

Tennessee Titans: B-
1.) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
1b.) Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
3.) Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
3b.) Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International
5.) Jayon Brown, LB, UCLA
6.) Corey Levin, OL, Tennessee-Chattanooga
7.) Josh Carraway, OLB, TCU
7b.) Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova
7c.) Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Cal

When you have a young, dynamic quarterback like Marcus Mariota you have to give him the weapons to succeed and that’s exactly what the Titans did. Davis, Taylor, and Smith should all contribute as rookies. Davis, has the size and speed to be special. He racked up over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns while at Western Michigan. Jackson, was a bit a reach. He is technically raw at the position, but has a very high ceiling. He also has added value as a return man. Smith, has upside as a receiver in a flex role. Was a four year starter at Florida International, but needs to get stronger. Brown and Carraway will better the special teams units, while Levin and Seaton are projects who add depth.

Best pick: Taywan Taylor
Taylor, could be a force in the slot at the next level. While on the small side Taylor has the speed and quickness to make an impact. Over the past two seasons Taylor racked up 184 receptions and 3,197 yards, along with 34 touchdowns.

2017 NFL Draft Grades: AFC North

It was a surprisingly down year in the AFC North despite traditionally being one of the better divisions in the NFL. The Steelers took the division crown this year and made it to the championship game. It comes as no surprise, the Steelers are still in great shape, despite being in Year 3 of trying to restock their defense.

The biggest surprise to come out the AFC North in 2016 was the fall of Cincinnati. The Bengals have jockeyed for power with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for division supremacy with regularity the past few years, but all went wrong last year. Age, injury, and thin depth showed in glaring fashion as they went 6-9.

Baltimore continued to flounder in mediocrity again. After regressing to 5-11 in 2015, they rebounded to a measly 8-8. The team is going through a major generational shift. First was the departures of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, then it was Haloti Ngata leaving, now it seems that Terrell Suggs seems to be on his last legs. As the team attempts to keep their hallmark playing style, they’ve been struggling to find the right pieces.

Then of course…there’s the Browns, who nearly went DEFEATED in 2016. Now, I would just like to state: I love the Cleveland Browns. They are one of the greatest, most historic franchises in history. But after the villainous Art Modell absconded with the team to Baltimore the Browns have been a horror show. I believe Hue Jackson is the right man to lead the team, but this mess will take years to clean up.

Baltimore Ravens: B
1.) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
2.) Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
3.) Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
3b.) Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
4.) Nico Siragusa, OG, San Diego St.
5.) Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Texas A&M
6.) Chuck Clark, S, Virginia Tech

The Ravens once again brought in a quality haul, however they are all at positions addressed in the earlier rounds of previous drafts which means the Ravens are missing on picks. Humphrey, gives them a high ceiling, low floor talent who can ease his way into the starting rotation as he develops behind Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. Bowser, is a classic Ravens edge rusher. A freak athlete, who can fly off the edge. His numbers got better each year. Wormley, effectively replaces Timmy Jernigan, who was dealt to Philly. Wormley, could be a Day One starter at the five-technique. Siragusa and Eluemunor are developmental depth picks.

Best pick: Tim Williams
GM Ozzie Newsome loves taking Alabama players and Williams, is a classic Newsome choice. On talent alone, Williams is a first-round talent, but off-field there were red flags. Taking a flyer on a player of this caliber in Round 3 could pay off considerably.

Cincinnati Bengals: C+
1.) John Ross, WR, Washington
2.) Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
3.) Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas St.
4.) Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
4b.) Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee
4c.) Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
5.) Jake Elliot, K, Memphis
5b.) J.J. Dielman, C, Utah
6.) Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma
6b.) Brandon Wilson, RB, Houston
7.) Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo

The selection of Mixon is gross and shows that while the NFL may say it takes a position on certain issue, this pick and others show a disturbing level of hypocrisy. This grade comes with the omission of the Mixon pick. Ross, seemed like a reach at No. 9 with his injury history. Yes, he tore up the 40-yard dash and his best season came post injuries, but the issue remains. Willis and Lawson, provide an excellent pair of high upside pass rushers they can mold and rejuvenate their defensive front. Malone, gives a high ceiling playmaker who has the talent to be special, he just has to put it all together. Glasgow, adds much needed depth to the interior of the defensive line. Dielman, has a nasty disposition and starter upside.

Best pick: Jordan Willis
Willis is a player. That simple. He’s not the flashiest edge rusher, but he gets the job done. A tough, aggressive player, Willis got better each year at Kansas State and capped off his senior year with career bests 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.

Cleveland Browns: B
1.) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
1b.) Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
1c.) David Njoku, TE, Miami
2.) DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
3.) Larry Ogunjobi, DT, North Carolina-Charlotte
4.) Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
5.) Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida St.
6.) Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
7.) Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona St.
7.) Matt Dayes, RB, NC State

See the above issue with Mixon and apply it to Brantley too. This grade omits his selection. The Browns did a tremendous job to kickoff the draft. With their history, there is always the worry that they could screw it up, but they stayed to the board. It was tremendous. Garrett, was a can’t miss top talent and the Browns didn’t miss. Peppers, is the playmaker that new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams needs in the secondary. Williams will take full advantage of Peppers’ aggressive playing style. Moving back into Round 1 for Njoku was smart. A young, freakish athlete, Njoku could become quite the weapon. Kizer, has maybe the best pure arm talent in this year’s class, but some had a problem with his attitude. Coach Hue Jackson will get the best of Kizer to come out and could be a dynamic talent. Ogunjobi, is a quality three-technique to pair with nose Danny Shelton.

Best pick: Zane Gonzalez
Don’t hate on kickers. Gonzalez is a quality prospect, having only missed two field goals last season and only three point-after attempts over his four year career as a Sun Devil. There were four games last season that the Browns lost by at least three points last season. Gonzalez, could pick up that difference.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
1.) T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
2.) JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
3.) Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
3b.) John Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
4.) Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
5.) Brian Allen, S, Utah
6.) Colin Holba, LS, Louisville
7.) Keion Adams, OLB, Western Michigan

The Steelers did a great job of sticking to their board and addressing areas of need along the way. Watt is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh. He’ll learn a lot behind veteran James Harrison and will be allowed to develop. He has a high ceiling. Smith-Schuser, was a value pick, but could certainly pay off sooner than later. Outside of Antonio Brown, the Steelers haven’t had a real go-to target. Smith-Schuster could fill that void. Sutton, is working his way back from a fractured ankle, but he could be a quality addition. A four year starter for the Volunteers, he excelled in both man and zone coverage. Conner’s, story is tremendous to fight back from cancer to make it to the NFL. He is a bruiser and is the perfect compliment to Le’Veon Bell.

Best pick:: Josh Dobbs
Dobbs has a little bit of Dak Prescott to him. Dobbs, got better from Year 1 to Year 2 as a starter, seeing his accuracy jump from 59.6% to 63% and his touchdowns from 15 to 27. He is still developing, but has the size, arm, and athleticism to suggest he could grow into a starter.