Mike Tanier's 2022 Draft Not-Grades

Buffalo Bills DB Kaiir Elam
Buffalo Bills DB Kaiir Elam
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Draft - The New York Jets earned an A. The Chicago Bears earned an F. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs clearly helped themselves. The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers did not. The Los Angeles Rams barely showed up.

We'll be throwing a lot of A-through-F letters around over the next few thousand words. But these are NOT "draft grades," dear reader. Heaven forbid. Instead, these are Football Outsiders' exclusive Preliminary Performance Assessments (PPAs)!

Everyone knows that draft grades are silly clickbait and have very little correlation with the actual success of the draft class. PPAs, however, are scientifically valid initial evaluative benchmarks designed to gauge whether teams met predetermined expectations and to guide further conversation on each team's overall progress and goals. Totally different. Indisputably data-driven and meaningful. If you disagree, please leave a long complaint in the comment thread, then return early and often to engage other readers in a spirited debate about the relative value of draft grades and PPAs with other readers.

One other bit of housecleaning before we start: draft-day trades are baked into these grades PPAs, but past trades are not. That's because "Russell Wilson is awesome, so the Broncos get an A" or rehashing the Sam Darnold mistake is boring, while the various Wide Receiver Brown deals are still timely and had an immediate bearing on draft-weekend decisions.

As always, Football Outsiders' 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy.

Underdog Fantasy

And with that, let's assess.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: B+
Met Needs: A+

A probable starter at a high-leverage position of need in Kaiir Elam. The running back Bills fans have been clamoring for in Georgia's James Cook, who should break off two or three huge gains per month in this offense. A dynamic YAC producer with WR2 upside in the fifth round in Boise State's Khalil Shakir. Oh, and Punt Deity Matt Araiza in the sixth round, which is the type of flier a team with few needs or available roster spots can afford to take.

The Bills draft probably wasn't splashy enough to crack many top-five lists, but it deserves a chef's kiss.

Miami Dolphins

Improved Roster: C
Used Resources Well: C
Met Needs: C-

Third-round pick Channing Tindall may end up having a better career than Georgia teammate Quay Walker, whom the Packers selected in the first round. Fourth-round receiver Erik Ezukama is a toolsy DeVante Parker lookalike/replacement, but how many footballs do the Dolphins really have to go around now that Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are their top targets? The offensive line rebuild is far from complete, there's no true EDGE1 on the roster, and the Dolphins had too many needs and too few picks to go chasing project wide receivers and seventh-round quarterbacks.

New England Patriots

Improved Roster: C-
Used Resources Well: D
Met Needs: D

When the Eagles selected 27-year-old Baylor guard Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft, it was a bellwether that the Andy Reid era had truly run its course: Reid had lost so many front-office sounding boards and coaching lieutenants that he was starting to make objectively bad decisions, a situation which was temporarily masked in 2010 by a quarterback change.

What that old yarn has to do with the Patriots' selection of soon-to-be 24-year-old Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange is left to the class as an exercise.

The Bailey Zappe selection should cause some delightful cognitive dissonance among the cheerleaders in the New England media. Mac Jones remains 100%, no-doubt-whatsover Tom Brady Junior! But Zappe was also a genius pick, because we will trade him like Jimmy Garoppolo, even though he will never get a chance to play! Don't you DARE suggest that this franchise has ever or will ever make a misstep!

Rest assured that both Jones and Zappe will develop smoothly under the tutelage of offensive coordinator, um, nobody.

Also, it's hard to give the Patriots that much credit for trading down to obtain extra picks when they spent fourth- and sixth-rounders on even more running backs.

On the plus side, the Patriots now have three cornerbacks and a quarterback named Jones, and at least two of them will probably be really good.

New York Jets

Improved Roster: A+
Used Resources Well: A-
Met Needs: A

The Jets picked up FO 40 CB1 in Sauce Gardner, our WR1 in Garrett Wilson, and a prospect who could be EDGE1 in a typical year in Jermaine Johnson, plus my RB1 and the top player on the fantasy FO 40 in Breece Hall. Also, Jeremy Ruckert has Jimmy Graham-like traits: not bad for a guy the Jets will be able to stash on the bench for a year.

Hall may be the most controversial of the Jets top selections, what with being a running back that they traded up to select and so forth. A few years of Jonathan Taylor-like production can help a team stabilize other positions while remaining competitive (see: the Colts), so it feels like a quibble to fret about his relative value in the second round, after three other starters with Pro Bowl upside have already been added.

To anticipate the comment thread criticism from Patriots and Bills fans: The Jets get A's on their draft report card every year, and look how it turns out, hardy-har-har. Yes indeed, the Jets have been bad for a long time. But that does not mean they will be bad forever, any more than the Patriots will be great forever. Also: no one was giving the Jets good grades when they were drafting Darron Lee and Christian Hackenberg or Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro. This Jets offseason really does feel a little different.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Improved Roster: A+
Used Resources Well: A-
Met Needs: C

The Ravens drafted two top-10 talents in Kyle Hamilton and Taylor Lindebaum in the first round and two first-round values in Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo and UConn defensive tackle Travis Jones on Day 2. They pulled off these coups by gobbling up prospects who fell to them because of positional value, injuries, slow 40 times, or size concerns, and by remaining patient while other teams panicked and traded three years of assets to draft potential WR2s. They then made 1,978 selections in the fourth round due to compensatory tricks and clever trading. The Ravens have done this sort of thing for decades and deserve kudos for it.

Also, the Ravens traded top receiver Marquise Brown away because he was weary of being a 180-pound run blocker; they will enter minicamp with Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche as their top three receivers. So let's not pretend that everything they touched this weekend turned into diamonds.

Cincinnati Bengals

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: B

Dax Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt, and Tycen Anderson are all versatile, max-effort reinforcements for a secondary that was already pretty solid. The Bengals must be making sure that they not only have enough defensive backs to survive playoff shootouts with the Bills, but enough open-field aggressors who can take away the Steelers' YAC game and fight through blockers while chasing Lamar Jackson & Friends as well.

I would have added more on the edge than Florida's Zach Carter (who is more of a wave defender) and a seventh-rounder and more along the offensive line than North Dakota State's Cordell Volson. But the Bengals appear to have entered the offseason with a plan and stuck to it, something newly minted contenders often struggle to do.

Cleveland Browns

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: C-
Met Needs: C-

When the Browns fall off the analytics wagon and go on their biannual bad-decision benders, things can go south in a hurry. Like, kicker-in-the-fourth-round south. If you needed any more evidence that the Browns crashed through their beloved guardrails when they traded for Deshaun Watson, it's Cade York, who doesn't even kick off for heaven's sake.

The Browns then added Cincinnati's Jerome Ford with the pick after York, because nothing screams "coherent, data-driven plan" like adding a fourth running back when you have two veterans under second contracts and a former UDFA who had several huge games behind your star-studded offensive line. (Please spare me any explanations of a long-range success plan at running back by a team that has zero depth at other, more critical positions).

Martin Emerson is a fine third-round value as a big-body cornerback. Alex Wright has long arms and not much else, which is how I interpret "moldable traits" on a defender who did nothing to impress me on tape and didn't work out at the combine or a pro day. David Bell is a slower Jarvis Landry, but I liked him in the third round, and I am a huge fan of Oklahoma defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey.

All of this will just be quibbling if Deshaun Watson turns out to be non-suspended and awesome on the field. But let's stop pretending that the Browns are doing anything this offseason except flying by the seat of Jimmy Haslam's pants.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Improved Roster: B-
Used Resources Well: C+
Met Needs: C+

Kenny Pickett is fine. George Pickens will provide Pickett and Mitch Trubisky with a capable downfield target; Calvin Austin will do the same as a fun, dynamic, YAC jitterbug. DeMarvin Leal would be an uninspiring selection for most teams, but he fits the Steelers' system as a two-gapping 5-technique type. The choice to add zero reinforcements along the offensive line was odd, even factoring in free-agent additions, and the lack of wheeling-dealing, while on brand for the Steelers, was uninspiring for a team in a state of radical transition.

Overall, a sturdy, professional final draft for Kevin Colbert, but not one that charts the course for the next Steelers era, unless Pickett is FAR better than anyone suspects.

AFC South

Houston Texans

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: B+
Met Needs: B

The vestiges of The Patriots Way can still be seen in the way Nick Caserio struts around the war room in his performance fleece and plays the draft board like a Stratocaster, sliding up and down in search of maximum value and turning the Deshaun Watson picks into as many goodies as possible. If only Caserio was still paired with Bill Belichick and not a goofball who plans to fast-track Josh McCown into a head coach and wishcast Davis Mills into Justin Herbert while spending draft weekend playing with his Noah's Ark popup books. Sadly, Caserio is now Paul McCartney, wasting his talents on twee noodling, while Belichick spent the weekend letting Yoko Ono screech into the microphone.

Derek Stingley Jr. has All-Pro upside that we haven't seen since before the pandemic. Kenyon Green is a great guard but a guard. I'm a fan of swift, aggressive nickel safety Jalen Pitre; thudding central-casting Alabama linebacker Christian Harris; and dog-loving, tackle-shedding Florida running back Dameon Pearce. And Caserio added lots of quantity to go with some impressive quality.

Caserio engineered a very strong draft, but not one that gives the Texans any sense of direction or forward propulsion. Unfortunately, direction and propulsion are not his departments.

Indianapolis Colts

Improved Roster: B-
Used Resources Well: B+
Met Needs: A-

Chris Ballard did a fine job finding workable solutions to the Colts' problems given meager draft resources. Thin at wide receiver? Alec Pierce is a viable boundary threat to serve as Matt Ryan's Julio Jones cosplayer. No left tackle? Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann is an older B-tier prospect, but he's quick, strong, and ornery. Likely to be run-heavy for another year? Virginia's Jelani Woods is a mammoth tight end who will cause mismatch headaches on RPOs and play-action. Maryland safety Nick Cross, like Pierce, Raimann, and Woods, is distinctly toolsy: the late third round is a fine time to invest in raw size-speed-enthusiasm.

The late third round of this draft would also have been a swell time to invest in a quarterback of the future, but why bother when Kirk Cousins will ripen into Colts age by the time Ryan is ready to join Philip Rivers' high school coaching staff?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Improved Roster: B+
Used Resources Well: D+
Met Needs: C

It would be easier to trust Trent Baalke's instincts with Travon Walker if Baalke wasn't also obsessively hoarding off-ball linebackers. I really like Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma, and Foye Oluokun was a solid free-agent acquisition, but the only team with a use for all three of them might have been the 1977 Denver Broncos.

No, Baalke is on a Vertigo kick to recreate the 2012 49ers, and he needed his new Justin Smith AND his Patrick Willis AND his NaVorro Bowman this weekend. Baalke will prove he's the better man than Jim Harbaugh even if it takes burning down a rainforest, or turning the Jaguars into the second-weirdest vanity project in the AFC South.

On the other hand, center Luke Fortner was a fine pick in the third round.

Tennessee Titans

Improved Roster: D+
Used Resources Well: C-
Met Needs: D+

The Titans now have one foot in Super Bowl contention and the other in a rebuilding cycle. Swapping A.J. Brown for Treylon Burks is a net negative for at least 2022, and while Malik Willis may have been a prudent third-round addition, he'll be of no use to a team ostensibly trying to Win Now.

In the AFC South, the Titans can remain competitive while Ryan Tannehill plays out the string and everyone pretends that the Curse of 370 hasn't claimed Derrick Henry because he goes 28-117-2 against the Jaguars twice per year. The Titans can then turn things over to the Willis-Burks-Hassan Hankins Experience while the Texans are in Year 4 of their culture change. But that's simply not an optimized strategy, and it may be an example of how dominating a weak division can turn into a mixed blessing.

On the plus side, I like Ohio State tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere as a prospect and need fit and just adore him as a person. He gives off the same vibe as fellow former Buckeyes star Terry McLaurin.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: A-
Met Needs: C+

This is an impressive haul for a team that spent a hefty chunk of draft capital on Russell Wilson. Nick Bonitto is a toolsy, speedy, little one-dimensional edge rusher. Greg Dulcich is a worthy successor to Noah Fant that the Broncos nabbed with a hot potato of a third-round pick. The rest of this draft class is soup stock, but there's a lot of it, which should create depth at defensive tackle and add competition for bottom-of-the-roster spots.

Kansas City Chiefs

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: B-
Met Needs: A

This draft was all Chiefs fans could hope for in the wake of Tyreek Hill's departure. Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis, and Leo Chenal will all contribute right away and will keep the Chiefs defense from falling too far below average. All appear to be fine Steve Spagnuolo scheme fits, with McDuffie built physically and mentally for press coverage and Chenal suited to a role as a situational Sam blitzer.

Skyy Moore is no Cheetah. But he caught a zillion passes on RPO slants at Western Michigan, and the Chiefs run more RPOs than you might think. Sherman-sized Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams headlines a giftbag full of late-round cornerback lottery tickets, and Rutgers running back Isaih Pacheco proudly represents both the 856 and the top of the speed score chart.

The Chiefs did part with third- and fourth-round picks to move up for McDuffie, and the loss of Tyreek is hard to overlook, but this was a fine haul.

Las Vegas Raiders

Improved Roster: C
Used Resources Well: C+
Met Needs: C+

Dylan Parham could start right away at guard, which is great news. That means Alex Leatherwood will remain at right tackle, which is bad news, but beyond the scope of the draft evaluation of a team with no first- or second-round picks. Neil Farrell, 330 pounds of pure run-stuffing, was a fine fourth-round acquisition. Zahir White didn't get enough predraft hype, but Brittain Brown is a collegiate committee back who turns 25 in October, and the Raiders aren't nearly so stacked elsewhere that they can splurge on two running backs.

After the Gruden-Mayock era, a C+ draft despite limited capital is a sign of progress.

Los Angeles Chargers

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: C

The tastemakers have adopted the Chargers as the NFL's Next Big Thing, and therefore all of their decisions are hailed as brilliant 4D chess maneuvers. I like Zion Johnson but cannot endorse the selection of a first-round center/guard when the Chargers entered the draft needing a right tackle, upgrades on their interior defense, and some skill-position depth. Similarly, J.T. Woods is a speedy free safety who should allow Derwin James to play in the box more frequently, but he was neither an outstanding value nor fills an obvious need.

Johnson, fellow guard Jemaree Salyer, running back Isaiah Spiller, and Football Outsiders Draft Livestream favorite Zander Horvath (fullback, seventh round, Purdue) should add a few percentage points to the Chargers' fourth-and-short conversation rate, so this draft was by no means a total loss. I'm just not ready to get swept up in ChargersMania just yet.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: C

I admire the Cowboys' bourbon-drenched, draft-board-peepshow approach. It's suboptimal and silly, but the Cowboys rarely reach for needs or outsmart themselves into taking bad players.

Tyler Smith is a year away from starting but has Pro Bowl left tackle traits. Second-round pick Sam Williams and fifth-rounder John Ridgeway have exceptional pass-rushing and run-stuffing tools, respectively. Jalen Tolbert is a viable boundary threat to help offset the loss of Amari Cooper, while Wisconsin's Jake Ferguson is more Dalton Schultz.

Needs? Goals? Plans? Jerrah is just draftin' ballplayers, y'all. It ain't fancy rocket science. None of this year's picks will help the Cowboys reach a Super Bowl in 2022, but a few will likely form the core of Jerrah's next batch of almost-contenders.

New York Giants

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: A+
Met Needs: A

Kayvon Thibodeaux (the top-ranked player on the FO 40) and Evan Neal speak for themselves. I'm also a huge fan of Kentucky wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, who should develop quickly into a more explosive, less burned-out-by-the-franchise version of Sterling Shepard. I am also an extra-huge fan of picking 10 times in the first five rounds when the goal for 2022 isn't to compete to but to rinse as much Gettleman as possible off the soles of the roster.

Philadelphia Eagles

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: B-
Met Needs: A-

The Eagles four-pronged master plan for 2022:

  • remain playoff competitive;
  • find successors for Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce;
  • accurately appraise Jalen Hurts; and
  • maintain enough draft capital to either replace or further support Hurts in 2022.

Such a complex agenda is only feasible because other general managers get drunk and rain extra draft picks on Howie Roseman in criminally lopsided trades once or twice per year. Still, it's a delicate juggling act.

Jordan Davis could be Cox Redux, Cam Jurgens is a low-risk Kelce replacement, A.J. Brown provides a veteran go-to receiver while eliminating potential excuses, and Nakobe Dean could be an all-time draft steal if those turn out to be the radiologist's thumbprints on his X-rays. But a lot can go wrong with a plan that has this many moving parts, and adding $100 million to the payroll while all-but punting on Day 3 comes with its own parcel of risks.

Also, the Eagles added Carson Strong, the human embodiment of the Nick Foles statue outside of Lincoln Financial Field, as a UDFA, and I already have a migraine from anticipating what the local sports talk station will think of him.

Washington Commanders

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: C
Met Needs: C

Carson Wentz contains within him a multitudes of paradoxes. One of them is that any team which acquires Wentz desperately needs a reliable backup, if only because Wentz forever bounces from one minor injury to the next, but any perceived threat to his starting job causes Wentz to curl into the fetal position.

In that respect, pairing Wentz with a rookie challenger with a knack for sacks and YOLO bombs who was only successful when surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast is quite a choice. Maybe putting Wentz in a room with Sam Howell will be like placing a mirror in a parrot's cage to keep it from dying of loneliness.

The Commanders' draft class is full of players I was not very high on: Jahan Dotson was a second-rounder in my book, Phidarian Mathis a B-tier defensive tackle by Alabama standards (Washington already drafted most of the S-tier and A-tier in past years), Brian Robinson a garden-variety thumper, Howell a better prospect in theory than on film, Cole Turner a pumped-up wide receiver with lots of end zone targets. Maybe the franchise will prove me wrong, but they have had 20 years to do so in the past and have never quite pulled it off.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Improved Roster: D
Used Resources Well: F
Met Needs: F-

Doubling up on second-round defensive backs while surrounding Justin Fields with a USFL offense borders on spiteful malpractice. Ryan & Matt 2.0 essentially abandoned Fields on the convent steps with this draft, sinking Fields' cost of two first-round picks while keeping the Bears offense so weak that the next quarterback prospect will also probably be stuck with a fourth-rate support system.

Adding Velus Jones, an overaged afterthought who projects as a solid return man and WR4, when George Pickens and Skyy Moore were sitting on the board for the Bears to pluck in the second round is almost an insult-to-injury situation. And instead of taking a few more swings at receiver in later rounds, the Bears added punters and linemen from Southern and Southwest Utah State, because everything is going so hunky-dory that the Bears can afford to futz around with Day 3 projects.

This was one of the worst draft performances I have ever seen.

Detroit Lions

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: C
Met Needs: C-

Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams, and Josh Pascal will all be starters. But … not even a die-roll at quarterback, not even when Malik Willis and others were sitting there in the third round? No help at wide receiver except a guy who won't be healthy for training camp? A trade that dumped a lot of much-needed draft capital into a division rival's lap?

Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes drafted like they think the new-regime honeymoon will last forever and that they can afford to spend another year pointing to backdoor covers as a sign that they are building a new culture. Lions history and NFL history both suggest that they should be operating with a little more urgency.

Green Bay Packers

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: C
Met Needs: D

As often noted in past Walkthroughs, wide receiver denial must be a tantric BDSM sex thing between Aaron Rodgers and the organization. It's now getting icky, like watching swingers neck in a crowded restaurant. Rodgers sounded rather chill about the Packers' decision to replace Davante Adams through half-measures; perhaps Elon Musk has offered Rodgers his own Twitter feature where he can burst unbidden onto all of our timelines and berate all of society for our inadequacies or something.

Quay Walker was a silly reach in the first round. Christian Watson was overvalued by #DraftTwitter and came too late and at too high a cost of draft capital (two second-round picks for one small-program scouting combine darling). Devonte Wyatt can be an immediate starter somewhere on the line, the Packers grabbed some late-round bargains, and four seventh-round picks should help flesh out a top-heavy roster. But while the Chiefs took two steps away from the Super Bowl in trades/free agency but at least one step forward in the draft, the Packers took two steps back in trades/free agency, then stood with their arms folded and declared, "We meant to do that."

Wow. I am ripping the NFC North teams. The best draft grade in the division cannot possibly go to…

Minnesota Vikings

Improved Roster: B-
Used Resources Well: A
Met Needs: B-

Trading back in the first round and rebuilding the secondary ain't exactly sexy. But as is often noted at Walkthrough: the Vikings don't do sexy. Their greatest need is to overturn their Lost in the Late 2010s roster, and there's some wisdom to doing so from the bottom up, especially in a division where their veterans could easily buoy them in wild-card contention for yet another year. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also rolled the Day 3 dice on some high-upside injury cases (Mizzou cornerback Akayleb Evans, Michigan State receiver Jalen Nailor), a reasonable tactic at the start of a rebuild.

A dip into the Day 2 quarterback pool and/or an earlier-round receiver would have made this draft class much more interesting and encouraging, but the Vikings are at least starting to steer their longboat in a new direction.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Improved Roster: B
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: B

Sitting still and selecting Drake London at No. 9 overall was like using the insurance money on a new sound system for a car that was just T-boned by a freight train. Trading UP for Arnold Ebiketie when they have more holes than a spaghetti strainer also made little sense for the Falcons; Ebiketie fills a need but is not a gotta-get-him talent. But Desmond Ridder's third-round arrival saved the Falcons draft class—Derrik Klassen likes him, and there's a slim-but-measurable chance that he becomes their Dak Prescott—and the late addition of BackCAST fave Tyler Allgeier was a nice bonus.

Carolina Panthers

Improved Roster: C+
Used Resources Well: C-
Met Needs: C

Matt Rhule is lucky that Ikem Ekwonu fell to the Panthers and that Matt Corral wasn't snapped up earlier in the third-round quarterback run. Ekwonu is a potential All-Pro left tackle who will stabilize the Panthers offense. And while I am no Corral fan, he's better than the nothing that the Panthers almost ended up with.

Corral cost the Panthers a third-round pick next year, in addition to a fourth-rounder that became Bailey Zappe, so the Panthers are still spending future resources to compensate for past mistakes. The roster remains paper-thin at most positions after the Panthers made just six selections, and Rhule is really banking on last year's draft class to get healthier and make a huge impact this year. But the Panthers did not get significantly worse over the weekend, so there's that.

New Orleans Saints

Improved Roster: C+
Used Resources Well: F
Met Needs: B

The Saints traded a 2023 first-rounder, 2024 second-rounder and 2022 third-rounder for the 16th overall pick. Then they traded that pick, their compensatory 2022 third-rounder and a fourth-rounder to move up for Chris Olave. That's five selections in the top four rounds for Olave, a solid prospect at a position of need, but also the WR3 in the Ohio State offense (behind Garrett Wilson and underclassman Jaxon Smith-Njigba) last year.

Trevor Penning fills a need at left tackle. I love the kid, but the Saints need an immediate starter, and they're placing a lot of hope on his Senior Bowl sizzle instead of his so-so small college film.

The Saints also added a developmental size/speed/hustle cornerback in Alontae Taylor and … that's about it. The team with the aging defense, super-maxed future payroll, and no first-rounder in 2023 made zero third-, fourth-, or seventh-round picks.

I know I sound like a broken record. I know Saints fans will claim victory when they ride four Falcons/Panthers wins to the seventh playoff seed. But the Saints need an intervention before they end up getting relegated to the USFL in 2024. They are in danger of building a stars 'n' scrubs roster without any stars, and they are a year away from even running out of scrubs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Improved Roster: C
Used Resources Well: C+
Met Needs: C

Trading out of the first round was a shrewd little move. Houston defensive end Logan Hall can help right away as a rugged, versatile wave defender along the line. Washington tight end Cade Otton is a sturdy potential Gronk surrogate. "Ko Kieft" is a fun thing to say. Nothing the Buccaneers did this weekend was going to matter after the Brady Rapture, so finding guys who can help right away while fluffing the bottom of the depth chart is as good as this draft was going to get.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Improved Roster: A
Used Resources Well: B+
Met Needs: D+

The Cardinals are building an NFL Blitz 2000 team. I won't be making any Super Bowl wagers on them, but I cannot wait to watch them, and there's something to be said for steering deeper into the skid and becoming even more Cardinals-like. Steve Keim must have thought, "f*ck that dude, we'll be able to score points with anybody running this offense" as he assembled the Cardinals' new DeAndre Hopkins/Marquise Brown/A.J. Green/Trey McBride/Zach Ertz/Rondale Moore receiving corps. Whether "that dude" is Kyler Murray or Kliff Kingsbury remains to be seen.

Edge rushers Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders will help offset the loss of Chandler Jones and ease J.J. Watt into retirement. And who needs upgrades along the offensive line when you not-so-secretly dislike your own quarterback?

Los Angeles Rams

Improved Roster: C-
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: C

South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant is a classic Day 3 Rams pick. Durant is undersized but ultra-fast, feisty, and capable of finding the ball: perfect for a well-defined slot-corner role. The Rams also brought veteran cornerback Troy Hill back from the Browns for a 2023 fifth-round pick, a logical move for a team in Repeat or Die Tryin' mode.

Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss is a classic Day 2 Rams pick: he did not arrive until the very end of the third round and is not all that interesting but can back up three positions on the cheap.

Any Day 1 Rams pick would truly be a classic, because it last happened 25 years ago.

San Francisco 49ers

Improved Roster: C+
Used Resources Well: B
Met Needs: C-

Drake Jackson will start his career as a versatile wave defender on an already fearsome defensive line once he decides whether he's a burly bull rusher/run defender or a quick little corner presser. After that, the 49ers made lots of idiosyncratic selections (mid-major wonder with track-star legs and hands Danny Gray; Shanahan Brand X running back Tyrion Davis-Price; future Texans offensive coordinator Brock Purdy), but at least they made a lot of selections.

Neither the Jimmy Garoppolo nor Deebo Samuel situations were settled this weekend, and thank heavens, because sportstalk shows need something to talk about for the next three months.

Seattle Seahawks

Improved Roster: B+
Used Resources Well: C+
Met Needs: D-

The Seahawks draft started out abnormally normal. Since when do the Seahawks draft left tackles to play left tackle (Charles Cross) or edge rushers around their expected draft position (Boye Mafe)?

Then they started doing Seahawks stuff: a completely unnecessary running back (Kenneth Walker); the latest effort to recreate the Legion of Boom on the cheap (Coby Bryant, Tariq Woolen); a selection with a confusing name (did we mention Coby Bryant?); and, of course, one glaring roster need completely unaddressed (quarterback, this time). The Seahawks did add Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby as an undrafted free agent. Eleby, an accurate RPO machine, could conceivably outperform Drew Lock and Geno Smith. Their Day 3 haul was full of too many players I like—Woolen in the fifth round, Rutgers receiver Bo Melton in the seventh—for me to roast them too hard.

The "surrender at quarterback, rebuild elsewhere, go Bryce Young fishing with two 2023 first-rounders" strategy has some merit. But if that's what the Seahawks are doing, why bother with a second-round running back? Why wait until the seventh round for Melton when a second-rounder could be developed into Young's Deebo or McLaurin this year?

Stare too long at a Seahawks draft class and Germain Ifedi stares back at you. We're about to see what Pete Carroll and John Schneider's decision process looks like without Russell Wilson to smooth over their mistakes.

The quarterbacks atop the 2023 draft board should start worrying now.


184 comments, Last at 08 May 2022, 4:38pm

1 Fair grades for GB. Can't argue against them.

At this point Rodgers has to be in on it. "Look at how good I was without any drafted skill players in the 1st outside of my replacement!"

I like Baltimore but no A+ from me with that P (in the 4th!) and no selection of a WR. Brown trade might be good value but the room was already sus with him (like GB!) so going without is really risky. I like Bateman but he's gonna HAVE to be the man. Yeah, I'm stingy. And RB room was fine, didn't need a meh athlete (don't let last years injuries spook ya. Dobbins, Hill and Edwards is a complete backfield of varying skillsets).

And what's the final score of a 2020 Ohio State vs 2022 Chicago Bears game?

5 Baltimore

Last year's injuries ARE spooking me.  Is an ACL still a two-year return to full effectiveness?  Dobbins, Hill & Edwards might be a complete backfield when healthy, but when will they be completely healthy?  Plus, Gus is already 27.  Also, this year's RB may be an upgrade on Hill, who had been unimpressive before the injury.

I don't think it's completely fair to knock Baltimore for spending a 4th-rd pick on a Punter.  Not because the Ravens are different – but a little bit because of that. 

• They had SIX picks in the 4th-rd.  Spending one of them on a punter is not exactly profligate.  They had already selected seven players before they spent the pick on the Punter; and they only had one pick after the 4th (the RB in the 6th).

• Their incumbent punter is two years older than their Spec Teams Coordinator; five years older than their Defensive Coordinator.  He was drafted (in the 6th) the same year as Mario Williams & Reggie Bush & Vince Young & D'Brickashaw Ferguson & Jay Cutler & Haloti Ngata.

• No staff in football (this is the "Ravens are different" part) has more credibility when it comes to specialists than Randy Brown (kicking coach) and John Harbaugh.  If those guys say this punter is worth a 4th, they get more benefit of the doubt than anyone else does.  Esp in a year when they have so many 4th-rd picks.

I don't know if it's possible to find a Punter who adds as much value-over-replacement as Justin Tucker does at his position.  But if it IS possible, these are the guys to find him.

What makes me hold off on giving the Ravens an A+ is not the punter, but (a) leaving WR unaddressed after trading away Brown, and (b) no day-1 addition to the pass-rushing group.  Ojabo is great, but he's a long-range play.  Won't be ready at the beginning of the season; maybe not at all this season.  The same thing Tanier dinged them for, "Meeting Needs".

7 At the end of the day

In reply to by JimZipCode

It's RB. It don't really matter. Lamar makes em. Maybe get another (satellite RB) next year when Hill is UFA and you'll be fine. 

Your (a) point is exactly the problem. Instead of a P they could've addressed WR. Next WR off the board was 2 picks later by my team with Romeo Doubs. Right there, that's the hinge point of specialists only: opportunity cost. No the WRs available that late are there for a reason but if they hit, they provide more impact than even the GOAT P can provide.

I trust Harbaugh and company with a lot but they should be good enough to coach em up. Sam Koch was the 7th/33 highest grade P last season. AJ Cole went undrafted and was 1st team all pro last year. And how much would the Raiders have suffered with a different one? Probably not much if they invested the other money elsewhere. 

28 It's RB. It don't really…

It's RB. It don't really matter. Lamar makes em.

2021 was example A of how RBs aren't actually fungible. They dropped ~12% in rushing DYAR and 9 places in rank going from a group of good-to-very-good RBs to the-loose-change-we-found-in-the-couch. Lamar also got hurt trying to do everything, and his absence sunk the team's playoff chances.

You can find a good RB late. It's much harder to staff a position group only with late guys, and in a hurry.

24 Man

I can't imagine this is like some inherently hard skill to learn. The fact that it's not even known exactly (holding or punting) is the point lol hits and misses at the positions are so thin. Can anyone tell the difference between P5 and P22? And does it matter that they pin them at 3 vs 5?

Shane Lechler is the GOAT and the overall GOAT went a round after. Marc Bulger, Dhani Jones, Adalius Thomas, and Mark Tauscher gained more wAV while being drafted later too. Lechler is about is as good of a hit as you can expect at P and he's still not as valuable compared to random 8/9 year starters at QB, LB, or OL, etc. 

I get it Baltimore is smart. Trust me I mention it a lot. It's alright to admit that they mess up every once in a while. 

29 I can't imagine this is like…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I can't imagine this is like some inherently hard skill to learn.

You wouldn't think snapping the ball is hard, either, but there's a reason only around 16% of linemen are able to do it effectively and why most long-snappers aren't linemen at all. (A huge chunk are converted LBs, oddly enough)

As trivial as it may seem, if you can't snap or hold, you can't really do anything on offense or special teams.

45 Your season ended on a…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Your season ended on a blocked kick, leaving your long-time HOF QB with one more SB start than I have. You tell me.

133 Snapping vs. holding

Just seems to me long snapping is a lot harder than holding. Anybody should be able to catch a ball and place it on the turf.  Long snapping requires the ability to aim a ball through the legs, backwards and upside down, for a moderate distance while anticipating a clobbering by the defensive line.  

Punters in particular should be able to catch long snaps while punting.  Which is why it's so natural to make them the holders.  

137 Anybody should be able to…

Anybody should be able to catch a ball and place it on the turf.

Holding isn't just placing the ball down on the turf - the ball leans depending on the needs of the kick, and the placement of the ball needs to be the exact spot the kicker indicates (because he's already marked out steps).

143 The real impetus towards…

The real impetus towards using punters as holders, as I understand it, are the practice time rules.  This used to be a backup QB job but if they're practicing with the field goal unit they're not practicing with the offense.

178 Agreed. Pat McAfee talked…

Agreed. Pat McAfee talked about completely lying about knowing how to hold when he'd never done it before when he got drafted, so Vinatieri sent him to one holder camp and then Pat did a great job for the rest of his time in the NFL. It's not a trivial skill, but I don't think it's at all comparable to long snapping.

90 Peter King reports that the Ravens targeted the Punter

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I get it Baltimore is smart. Trust me I mention it a lot. It's alright to admit that they mess up every once in a while. 

King has a piece today about how he was "embedded" with the Ravens for the fourth round:

(Scroll down abiout 20%, or just search for "Jordan Stout".  Then read thru the narrative on the next pick.)

According to the article, Stout was the only punter they wanted in the class.  Their kicking coach loved him.  The WR they were targeting in the round was Calvin Austin; Austin went to the Steelers one pick before their next selection.

Later, I asked DeCosta about losing Austin. DeCosta said, “That’s the draft.”

“We gambled on the punter, and we’re glad we got him,” DeCosta said. “To us, Stout was the only one we’d have taken. These are the kinds of decisions you make every year in the draft. You never get everyone you want.”

There was one other part of the equation, a part of the job DeCosta didn’t want to discuss openly. A good general manager can sniff around his area of the draft and see if a player he likes a lot is in danger of being picked by another team. And here, the Bucs picking 133rd and the Bengals picking 136th were sniffing around punters. He heard one of them liked Stout. “If you have a chance to fix a position for 10 years with a punter about to be 40, you’ve got to consider that strongly,” DeCosta said. Thus the punter at 130.

Good or bad, they did it on purpose.  They even told Sam Koch before the 4th round started that there was a strong possibility they would draft a punter.  They meant to do it.

93 I mean yeah

Baltimore does things with purpose, I just disagree with it here, surprisingly.

I dont think the WR was fruitless after Tyreek Lite. They did. I dont have a desire to keep a P for 10 years (or whatever arbitrary number, paying market rate after 4 anyway, can be dangerous). They do.

I just think a backup WR is more important than a "starting" P. That WR can negate the difference between punters with a key catch on 3rd down after  your WR1 gets knocked out. 

126 Positional value

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The entire world is paying QB's, WR's and edge rushers.  The Ravens have a QB not signed long term, a poor and thin group at WR, and a poor pass rush.

I am concerned that the team has changed dramatically since Ozzie is no longer running the show.

Patrick Queen and Dobbins as 1 and 2 picks were simply bad.  

This year the Ravens got a lot of good players in this draft, or at least that is the perception.  But how do you win in the playoffs with a poor pass rush and poor WR's in todays game?

Yes, I would rather have an injured pass rusher in Ojabo that has great potential for 3 years, than some other dart for 4 years.  

A punter's value?  Lets say Stout is 5 yards better net per punt than Sam Koch.  That is a stretch for sure.  What is the value of an extra 15-20 yards per game?  Certainly Stout can not make Justin Tucker better with his holds than Koch, so there can be no added value as a holder.  Are the Ravens 4 point favorites today, but now that they have Stout, they are 4.1 point favorites?  How can the bar move at all?

As you said during the draft, the Ravens got S1, and C1, now they have P1.  Yet they subtracted at WR (Brown is no prize, I will admit).  

In todays game the idea is not to punt, so who needs a great punter?   Why should we even assume that Stout is a great punter?   Throw your fourth round dart elsewhere.

134 I could be wrong

In reply to by jheidelberg

But I feel like when specialists are drafted, teams don't even bother bringing in competition til extension time. 

So they could be bad the whole time (JK Scott anyone?) but that initial investment keeps them saying "they're young"

You're analysis as a Ravens fan is appreciated. 

159 5 yards

In reply to by jheidelberg

I'm confident that someone has quantified the scoring impact from moving kickoff touchbacks to the 25.  That data could serve to predict what an extra 5 net yards on a (non-tb) punt would mean.  And the biggest impact on a punt is it being downed or coffin-cornered inside the 5 instead of bouncing across the goal line.

180 It's not that hard to work…

In reply to by jheidelberg

It's not that hard to work out -- Pete Palmer did this back in the 80s. The value of field position ranges from -7 points on your own goal line to 7 points on the opponent's goal line, so that's 14 points / 100 yards, or .14 points per yard. Now, the distribution isn't linear (going from the opponents' 5 to 1 is more valuable than going from your own 41 to your own 45), so we can roughly halve that for most punting situations. So every extra yard is 0.07 pts. 5 yards is .35 points, 20 yards is 1.4 points.

128 As a Steelers fan

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I laud their strategy! We got Austin, they got a guy who may get a bump of 10 net punting yards a game.

(It's rare we get to gloat on a Baltimore drafting mistake, even though the praise for their drafting is usually due to how it aligns with the press chalk beforehand

135 They did good overall.

In reply to by NYChem

I just have nitpicks about the highest grade a team can get despite some peculiar decisions. They just HAD to take P1 (consensus P2 and ST3 though) 10 picks before Tyreek Lite with a suspect WR room? Could not be me. Steelers seem to be pretty good at WR drafting (I liked their draft actually, didn't let Mitch Fole...I mean Trubisky stop them from picking a QB)

It's all fun in the end though. Baltimore just might have more fun with a WR than a P in January/February 😉

160 To be fair

The likelihood that the Ravens will get a mid-round WR pick right is, like, nil.  Very different from the Steelers' odds.

Punter is a much safer pick for the Ravens.  🙂

161 Well

In reply to by JimZipCode

They're gonna rely on them to be WR2 and 4 either way. Might as well try again

127 I can't imagine this is like…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I can't imagine this is like some inherently hard skill to learn

You'd think that, but there are punters (Corey Bojorquez comes to mind) who have lost jobs and are going to lose their careers because they couldn't figure it out.

145 Posted above but should have…

Posted above but should have waited until reaching this comment.  As I understand it, this is related to practice time rules.  If the backup QB is practicing with the field goal unit, they're missing out on practicing with the offense.

151 Exactly

Whereas the punter is already practicing with the specialists, so he's right there when it's time to practice place kicks.

132 Ok. So...

It's HOLDING that's valuable not actual punting? The fact we can't/no one knows which is which says a lot. 

And fwiw, I'm OK with the 6th rounder the Packers gave up for him because we saw what he was in the NFL and had no obligation to hold onto him. Unlike in the draft, specialists that are completely and utterly indistinguishable.

Stout wasn't close to P1, that was Matt A. And digging deeper apparently the punter deep state scouts have claimed he actually was never that good but just had a strong leg. No one knows what they're looking for in them at the college level lol

I'll take the slight hit from an actual UDFA competition. If there is any hit that is. At the end of the day they're playing 9 snaps a game. With no room to play more (or...errrrr...you hope not).

175 It's HOLDING that's valuable…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It's HOLDING that's valuable not actual punting? The fact we can't/no one knows which is which says a lot. 

It's both, but a bad holder actively takes points off the board so their failures are much more dramatic. Tony Romo botched one big hold decades ago and still catches heat about it.

176 We gotta back a decade

Romo would go on to have a solid career. Botched hold and all.

Practice can make anyone a holder. I dont have time to draft someone solely for those 5 snaps a game

2 Lions regime

A couple things on the Lions.  

1. Ownership has bought into the idea of a long rebuild. The goal is to build a long term sustainable winner, not act with urgency for urgency's sake. Goff is a long term bridge quarterback. They are building up the rest of the team first and then will go QB hunting once the foundation is laid. 

2. By my count, the Lions had exactly one backdoor cover last year, the 49ers game. They had a legitimate chance to win in the 4th quarter of every other game they covered.

3 What is "foundation"

In reply to by beechnut21

And how long can a team realistically keep it (stable)? 

And is trading up for Jameson a move you make for "a long rebuild" despite giving up more picks?

And "long term bridge quarterback" sure is an interesting phrase. 

9 A foundation is a good…

A foundation is a good roster outside the QB. Something similar to what the Colts have. The Lions are actually pretty close on offense but need another draft to shore up the defense. 

Long term rebuild might not have been the best phrasing. They are trying to win now, but not at the expense of the future. Jameson only cost them one extra pick. The offense has some nice complimentary pieces. Swift, St. Brown, Hockenson, Chark, a good oline. Other than QB, the thing the offense truly lacks is an elite playmaker. Hopefully, Jameson is that guy.

A long term bridge quarterback is a guy that brings stability, but someone you have no problem dropping for someone better when the time is right. Think Alex Smith with the Chiefs or Goff himself with the Rams. The time is not right for the Lions to shoot their shot at the QB position.



10 Ok.

Interesting. So the Colts are something you want to emulate? The team that hasn't won a playoff game since 2018? Idk if I'd want that revolving door of (mediocre) QBs. Good enough to (maybe) get to the playoffs but nothing more. But also not close enough to getting that game changer without getting super lucky/giving up a bunch.

Would it have hurt the Lions to take a shot with their last pick? Hopefully you find the guy before you have to start paying Hock, Sewell, someone important unexpectedly retires, asks out, declines, etc. 

27 Lol

1991 technically.   Yes it's all relative.  A run like the Alex Smith-era Chiefs sounds pretty good, too.  I've always said Jim Caldwell was never going to win a championship here, but winning 9-10 games a year consistently for a few more years would have done wonders for the franchise's reputation.

On the other hand, at some point you have to try to upgrade from the Steve Debergs, Jake Delhommes, and Alex Smiths of the world.  I think it's reasonable for them to think that opportunity wasn't this year.  But feel free to keep the receipts of this thread if Willis or Ridder hit.

41 Dupe

Foundation seems like an excuse to not take a shot. Need a QB but your team passed on (all of) em? Well of course! Need to keep building that foundation! Good excuse essentially. It's never good enough...until it's determined on a whim! Lol

83 Honestly, their plan is…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Honestly, their plan is probably to tank and get #1 next year. (While the busts are high profile, you do get the best hit rate and elite rate there too). But yeah, taking one of the late round QB's might not have been a bad idea. 

87 Which is fine

Seems like that more than whatever Seattle is doing. 

Then again I wouldn't have given Boyle AND Blough guaranteed money. But with so many teams vying for the top pick, someone has to come out disappointed. 

30 Or else... what? They might…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Or else... what? They might end up in a neo-Steelers perpetual run of 8-8 seasons? Is that different from their previous high-water mark of being the neo-Saints, saddling their franchise QB with half a roster and 9-7 bullshit?

That sort of level is so far above the Patricia era of madness, when you hoped you'd go 2-14 instead of 4-12, because you'd get a better draft pick and it might occur after the owners fired the coach/GM, or the fans lynched them, whichever came first?

65 "neo-Steelers perpetual run of 8-8 seasons? " ??

I a bit confused as to why the Steelers are offered as the example of a perpetual 8-8 club. Since 1978, when the 16 game season began, they have have had 3 two season runs with 7, 8 or 9 losses and only one run with 3 consecutive 7, 8, or 9 loss seasons ('89 - '91). They have had 6 or fewer losses 22 seasons (10+ wins seasons presumed good seasons), 7 - 9 losses 21 times (mediocre),  and only 4 seasons with 10 or more losses (poor.) 

4 I’ve been saying since March…

In reply to by beechnut21

I’ve been saying since March, the Lions weren’t taking a QB high in this year’s draft (although I wouldn’t haven minded Zappe or Strong to push Boyle or Blough off the roster), because….find someone who believes in you the way Brad Holmes believes in Jared Goff.  It’s actually starting to get wierd.

This year, not taking a dice roll is defensible (it seems the rest of the league agreed that this QB class wasn’t any good).  But if Goff can’t even reach the Cousins tier with this supporting cast (once Jameson heals up, it’s actually gonna be decent in 2022!), then not moving on will definitely be indefensible (the dead money cost also becomes negligible next year).

32 Goff is interesting to me…

Goff is interesting to me because he seems a very accurate barometer of roster talent. His performance is basically a direct reflection of the team around him.

If he can get to 8-8 or better, you are probably ready to move on, because the roster is at worst decent.

47 From an ownership point of…

From an ownership point of view I'd also be happy with them telling the front office "no, you're not freaking allowed to take any big risks until you've proven that you're even remotely competent."

Of course, considering like the entire player personnel/scouting department is exactly the same, good luck with that.

20 Ownership ALWAYS claims to…

In reply to by beechnut21

Ownership ALWAYS claims to be on board with a long rebuild. In every industry. And then after 1.5 years they go "Where Winz?" (Or "Where Profitz?" in other fields.)

3-year rebuilds before competing sound great until you come to the end of Year 3 with a rookie QB who just had his Trevor Lawrence 2021 season and the "hits" from your first draft are already demanding second contracts. It's not a feasible NFL approach. 

33 What in the 59 year history…

What in the 59 year history of the Ford ownership of the Lions makes you think they care about wins?

Prior to the Fords, the Lions were basically the Lombardi Packers or the Brown Browns. Since then, they've been the Cardinals. So long as the team isn't so bad it actually depresses the reputation and/or sales of the Ford Motor Company (a real concern at times), the Fords don't care.

43 I'm not sure it's that the…

I'm not sure it's that the Fords don't care, it's that they're completely blind to what the problem is. Given the fact that they're basically one of the worst franchises in the NFL you'd expect there to be massive turnover all throughout the front office, not guys with 10-20+ years experience working there.

46 The difficulty there is the…

The difficulty there is the problem is with the Fords themselves. But they aren't sufficiently self-aware to fire themselves.

Remember -- they didn't earn their money. They aren't aren't even second-generation. WC and Martha are 3rd generation wealth (WC in the Ford line; Martha in the Firestone). They've done pretty well for 3rd (and 4th) generation wealth -- especially 3rd generation wealth passed over in the line of succession for being too stupid -- but we're a long way away from the intelligent source of the family's funds, and this is brutally reflected in the Lions ownership -- a collection of comfortable yes-men who know to not make waves so long as the team isn't actively an embarrassing money pit.

This is why the Lions specialize in 6-10 and breaking even. You only see action when they start to baseline below this level, and only then grudgingly.

49 Yup. Exactly. I don't know…

Yup. Exactly. I don't know why people continue to believe that the teams that draft regularly at the top of the draft "just need to get lucky" and they'll magically be fine. They won't. They're systematically #!%* because the portion of the team that you don't see in front of the podium never changes.

With teams like the Lions you don't want to see them doing crazy things (like the Bears trading up for Trubisky) because when they do things different from the rest of the league, the basic prior on that decision is that it's terrible. It's the opposite of the Patriots fanboy response, where everything the Patriots do is awesome. Obviously that can be taken to an extreme (and is) but the basic idea of "trust competent franchises when they do something strange and don't trust incompetent ones" is completely logical.

70 I don't know why people…

I don't know why people continue to believe that the teams that draft regularly at the top of the draft "just need to get lucky" and they'll magically be fine. They won't. They're systematically #!%* because the portion of the team that you don't see in front of the podium never changes.

Because every so often one of those perennial doormats rockets out of the basement into contention for a time (08-09 Jets, 2015 Panthers, 2017 Jags, 2021 Bengals, etc) and fans of all other perennial doormats hope they could roll a natural 20 and do the same. As a Bills fan, this sustained me for almost two decades.

75 Yeah, I thought I had…

Yeah, I thought I had something in that reply about how if they do get lucky it works for a few years, but that's it. Guess not...

As a Bills fan, this sustained me for almost two decades.

Really? The Bills never struck me as a disaster of a franchise, just one that had the horrible luck of playing in the same division as the Patriots. That and constantly trading away really, really high end players that they drafted (or found) for next to nothing in return. Or just letting them go. Always baffled me. They're a small market team so part of me figured it was a cheap owner. But from a drafting and scouting perspective I always thought the Bills were pretty darn good.

I mean, jeez, they're an organization that drafted EJ Manuel and JP Losman and still like regularly won 6 games. That takes skill.

82 That and constantly trading…

That and constantly trading away really, really high end players that they drafted (or found) for next to nothing in return.

Not sure how that doesn't qualify you as a disaster. Probably not a total disaster, but there are degree's. Vikings might be a current example of a team that's a bit of disaster but not totally(don't kill me, pick a better example).  NE is probably the downslope example. 

Being an elite franchise takes some luck (usually at QB) but also the skill to take advantage of that luck. The are actually an example of a franchise that was good in the 90's, declined, and is back on top again,. So...a nice precedent there. Cycle of sports franchise luck kinda sticks for fans, but what ya gonna do

89 Not sure how that doesn't…

Not sure how that doesn't qualify you as a disaster.

Because they weren't losing...? The Bills never really sank below a 6-10 floor, outside of two years. From 01-09, a 6-10 season from the Lions was a massive success. 

Probably not a total disaster, but there are degree's. Vikings might be a current example of a team that's a bit of disaster but not totally

Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Well, I wouldn't use the term "disaster," that seems silly. The Bills have had natural disadvantages, but they're still a functioning team. They still draft pretty well, they still make good overall football decisions. Vikings are similar in that respect too. Owners can help and hurt a team too, and they don't change.

NE is probably the downslope example. 

They literally lost the best player in the history of the sport and they were 10-6 and in the playoffs last year. That's not a downslope. You could probably hand Tom Brady to the Lions and they wouldn't be perennially 10-6.

Being an elite franchise takes some luck (usually at QB) but also the skill to take advantage of that luck.

Not entirely - there's also just the natural advantages that certain organizations have. Small-market teams are always going to struggle somewhat, teams with owners with limited resources are always going to struggle somewhat. With the weird exceptions like the Packers, obviously. The Packers' success couldn't come from just luck.

But yeah, this is my point. Teams like the Bears, Lions, Jets, and Giants should not be struggling to be perennial contenders. That's why they're disasters.


125 I mean, jeez, they're an…

I mean, jeez, they're an organization that drafted EJ Manuel and JP Losman and still like regularly won 6 games. That takes skill.

The BIlls' dysfunction over those years wasn't really about cratering to 2-14. We simply could not get out of a rut of mediocrity. During the drought, we could not get to double-digit wins a single time (every other team managed that, including the Lions, Browns, Bengals, etc), and the two times we made it to 9-7 - our coaches quit. Not "retired" or "took a step back" like Payton, but actually resign from the franchise. How many other teams have even had one head coach quit? We had it happen twice in a decade!

140 Yeah, that's what I mean…

Yeah, that's what I mean when I said they're not a disaster. There was obviously something holding them back, but it wasn't "complete inability to run a football team." Their drafts have been fine.

I mean, the rumors on Wilson was that he was a cheapass (especially with coaches) and that pretty much lines up perfectly.

169 Wilson was a bad owner from…

Wilson was a bad owner from 1998 until his death, unfortunately, and being cheap cost the team many times (Doug Whaley, GM, anyone?)

The Pegulas took the Ryan era to figure it out, mostly completely cleaned out the front office, and have done pretty well.

179 Oh wow, after paying…

Oh wow, after paying attention to teams like the Browns, Bengals, Lions, Bears, etc. for so long, I almost always dismiss the "clean house" statement because it's so often total bull, but... yeah, that's much closer to a real housecleaning. All of the directors and most of the scouts have only like 5 years experience (from when the housecleaning happened - and like I said before the Bills drafting wasn't terrible under Wilson so it's not super-surprising some of them stayed).

Whereas if you look at say, the Bears, oh, sure, Poles is going ahead and firing guys (who were promoted after the last guy in their job was fired)... and promoted a guy who's been there for seven years. That's not a house cleaning, that's scapegoating

73 The only cure for the Lions…

The only cure for the Lions is for the Fords to offer someone like Ozzie Newsome a ridiculous amount of money ($25m/yr plus some quasi-equity positions) and then fire the whole football operations staff. I give this zero chance of happening, so my next 25 years of Lions memories will continue to be when they lose in heartbreaking fashion (record breaking game winning FGs) or do stupid stuff (hire millen, fire Caldwell, force Barry into retirement,....) . Boy did I just depress myself

50 The other problem being that…

The other problem being that once you build that nice foundation, it can propel you to just below .500 which leaves you not with Trevor Lawrence but some mid first rounder that could be Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers. Maybe you’re satisfied with the maybe above average Chad Pennington, Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, or Joe Flacco. Most likely, you end up with JP Losman, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Drew Lock, Paxton Lynch, Josh Rosen, EJ Manuel, Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, Jason Campbell, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, or Dwayne Haskins. Best bet is to trade a crap load of picks and get into the top 10 if a team is open to that but the draft board has gotta fall your way because lots of teams will need QB up there.

Against that background, why not take a guy who falls into the 3rd round? If you are taking shots at the mid first round for your Patrick Mahomes, why not take a shot at your Dak Prescott too? Even if they don’t pan out as a starter, they can be a serviceable cheap backup. That is foundation building.


52 Healthy Chad Pennington was…

Healthy Chad Pennington was neck and neck with Tom Brady. If you add up their respective DYARs in seasons in which both Pennington and Brady lasted the entire year, it's essentially a wash. He's still the highest-performing QB Brady ever faced in-division. 2002 Chad Pennington was basically 2020 Josh Allen.

It's just Healthy Chad Pennington was seen about as often as Healthy Bob Sanders.

6 Everyone complains that Seattle didn't take a QB.

There were no QB's in this draft. And the two UFDA's they took actually look interesting.

They HAD to draft a RB. Carson has a broken neck, Penny inevitably feels twinges that terrify him and he runs off the field, refusing to play and Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer happen to be DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer. Hello? They took the best RB in the draft.  A+.

What they didn't need was WR's, they needed Special teams players, also known as "WR's drafted in the 7th round" (TM).

Now they have two bookend OT's who are great at Pass-pro. Cuz "Take that Russell Wilson!". A+ just for the moxie.

78 Setting up for next year

As a Seahawks fan, I have to certainly agree with Pen here. None of the quarterbacks available in this draft looked better than Drew Lock. And if Drew Lock is "not good" (and rightfully so, after a challenging time in Denver), why take another quarterback and have two players on the roster which are likely not the long term answer?

Seattle's roster needed major retooling at premium positions, which this draft provided actual solutions to. If Seattle is able to add a long term answer to Quarterback in the 2023 draft, then they are setup for success.

Remember that this is the exact strategy that Pete Carroll and John Schneider used to build their super bowl winning roster (they set up the team with their 2010 & 2011 drafts, taking Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, K. J. Wright, Richard Sherman, and Malcolm Smith, in the 2012 draft they then added Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner to make it a super bowl winning team). It looks like they are simply following the same blueprint this time around. Whether it works again or not, time will tell, but their 2022 draft picks have set them up for next year.

81 "premium positions"

Like RB?

why take another quarterback and have two players on the roster which are likely not the long term answer?

Because we're more sure Lock, Eason and Geno aren't it? And it doesn't hurt to replace WR6 with a shot on someone to be Brady and not feel committed.

105 Ok...

That doesn't make them anymore guaranteed to hit while the QB room is full of cast offs. You can afford to take a shot at the most important position for a year. instead of WR6 (as much as backup WRs are important QB is moreso) or, even worse, RB5 😬

At worst that QB becomes a backup next year when the only QB you currently have under contract is Jacob flipping Eason lol.

118 Well, I guess we have to agree to disagree here.

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

And I'll agree with the winningest coach not named Belicheck of the past 12 years. The guy that took Wilson in the 3rd when everyone said it was a wasted pick. I think he knows a thing or two about QB's and passed on these ones.

162 yawn

I'm not sure why you're saying that Seattle, a team with multiple needs, should waste draft picks on subpar QB talent this year when they haven't kicked the tires on Lock and have more draft capital in next year's draft which is supposedly a better draft for QB talent.

It seems to be "just draft a QB in case he turns out to be Tom Brady"

Is that it, is that your entire line of reasoning?

163 Lol

In reply to by Jimmy Oz

Much better to select a subpar TE or WR. 

they haven't kicked the tires on Lock

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahah the loaded Broncos gave him 3 years.

and have more draft capital in next year's draft

Bahahahahahahahhahahah yeah because picking a QB this year instead of WR6 means no more capital next year. 

which is supposedly a better draft for QB talent.

Supposedly? So you dont even know? Bahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

It seems to be "just draft a QB next year (or whenever my lord and savior pete carrol thinks it's time) because the grass is always greener, nothing can change between now and then and subpar class mean NO ONE will succeed"

Is that it, is that your entire line of reasoning?

164 lol

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Just draft a QB in case they turn out to be Brady. It doesn't matter which one, it doesn't matter that as up to 5 WR can be on the field for a play that there's a far greater chance for a WR6 contributing than a QB3, it doesn't matter that WR6 often contribute on special teams, it doesn't matter what the evaluations for WR6 and QB3 are ... Just draft a QB in case they turn out to be Brady.

It is a dumb idea, but your justifications are hilarious so please continue.

165 Bahahahahahahahahaha

In reply to by Jimmy Oz


"Just draft a QB next year (or whenever my lord and savior pete carrol thinks it's time) because they're GUARANTEED to hit, nothing can change between now and then and this subpar class means NO ONE will succeed! Eva!!!! But WR6 will with DrEw LoCk when he's given a chance despite being dumped for a QB 8 years older!!!!!! Woooooo consensus player 21 at 41? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! RB5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Consensus QB1 as QB3 at 72? WHYYYYYYYYYY????????????? ANOTHER TACKLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE NEEEEEEEED A 7TH ROUND TE!!! Year 4 of dReW lOcK is gonna be IT!!!"

168 I understand your bad takes

Just because you can't stop using fallacies doesn't mean your using gibberish. 

I know it's hard to understand that teams make mistakes. But imagine thinking it's more likely Drew Lock breaks out in year 4 than trying to take a shot on someone else when Jacob Eason is the only QB under contract next year. You're going to pay Drew Lock after a fluke year lol homers gonna homer, random new guy that hasn't commented elsewhere except to defend the shield here.

99 Carroll's tone has been…

Carroll's tone has been getting more and more subdued over time regarding Carson's neck. And he _never_ is subdued. I'd right now say that there's a far less than 50% chance that Carson ever plays meaningful snaps for the Seahawks again. National media have been treating the RB room like it's solved because there are so many veterans there, but if you look closer, there are four guys standing in front of a RB1 shaped hole in the room, trying to hide it.

11 I liked this article

Because it was scientific, precise, and data-supported.  But it lacked charts, incoherent tables, and multivariable time series graphs that make it look like a doctoral dissertation on the effects of feline COVID on deforestation. Nothing impresses me like that stuff!!!

Personally, I'm pretty happy with Indy's draft and a mid-round QB would have been a waste. They have a "promising kid" who bumped last year's promising kid off the roster in 2021, as well as a career backup. One might be the answer (likely not), and the other... definitely not. But picking a long shot in a weak QB year when the team has more pressing needs would have been silly. Why not an RB--those guys get hurt all the time. I would really like more data on why their late round DL (I take it he was a DE in a 3-4 set, so not an edge rusher, but not IDL... is that what generic DL means?) has metrics that rank him as #1 nationally in a half dozen finely parsed situations (#1 win rate in 2nd down and 7 passing situations when trailing by 2.5-6.5 points),and yet he lasted to the 5th or 6th round. As my grandpa used to say, if it sounds too good to be true....

What they needed most was a blocking TE who could catch a few for 10 yards and they got the guy who was not on my radar, but seems to fit the bill as well as having more development upside than Otten or Ruckert (the other solid blockers among the top-5 TEs). I was antsy when they didn't pick him first, but I had faith and they delivered. Any of the 2nd tier WRs (3 went consecutively when they picked Pierce) would have been nice, so I assume Ballard knows more about specific personnel and schematic fits than I do, so welcome, Alec Pierce!  And Raimann was "supposed to" go late 1st round or early 2nd to Indy (my wife handed me the Wall Street Journal full-page article about him at breakfast and I said something like "oh yeah, I know all about him, the Colts are expected to pick him."), but they got him mid-3rd (as if all the other teams read "where he was supposed to go" and let Indy have him whenever they felt it was appropriate).  So... great value.  The only quibble I have is why a second TE?  Surely there was an equivalent developmental CB they could have added? They now have Allie-Cox tied up at TE for the next three years and will have "The Giraffe" tied up for four--did they need the 27.5th-rated TE a couple rounds later?  Head scratcher in an otherwise solid draft. Maybe they liked his potential special teams contributions....

Cross, the MD Safety they picked sounds like a bigger version of Bob "the eraser" Sanders--I even saw the term eraser in a few post mortems, yet no mention of the 2007(?) DPOY who alternated years when he played and when he was unable, until the damage he inflicted on his own body brought on early retirement. There was no urgent need for a safety, but he looks like a spot starter as a rookie and a long term answer if he's anything like Sanders. Super fast and a thumper who is spotty in coverage. So, yay!  It was one of those drafts that isn't particularly exciting, but astute fans can look at each guy and say, "yep, pretty much everything on my wish list, plus a bit." Some commentators griped about the 2023 3rd round pick traded in order to get Cross, but Indy has an extra conditional 2nd/3rd next year anyway from the Wentz trade, so that was not a major hit if they liked the guy enough.  Do you recall the last person they traded up to pick?  Jonathan Taylor. So clearly this was an A+++ draft, if one were grading it, of course.

13 Punt

If you hit on a punter in the 4th round its absolutely worth it. A punter that can pin a team back literally changes their playbook. So some of you probably think your experts; by you minimizing punting- I assure you your not.

The problem is when you miss on a punter in the 4th round. That one hurts more despite knowing most 4th rounders wont stick around. A punter drafted in the 4th has more pressure on him than an UDFA. Alot of times a guys folded under it but you never know. The Ravens have clearly earned a pass in their drafting though and the fact ppl still critisize is somewhat interesting

51 A punter that can pin a team…

In reply to by KnowGuruz

A punter that can pin a team back is found in UDFA pool just as often as in the 4th round. That’s the issue. It’s not that punters don’t matter. It’s that punters drafted higher don’t perform any better whereas position players drafted in the 4th perform a lot better than UDFAs.

I don’t really mind the Ravens drafting a punter because they had so many picks, but I don’t think any team earns a pass for drafting even if they have drafted well in the past. Good teams still make mistakes. Good front offices will often become bad front offices. 

53 I wonder if that's actually…

I wonder if that's actually true.

The count of starting punters who were UDFAs is higher, but the pool is also much (much!) larger. I wonder if the success rate of drafted kickers isn't substantially higher than that of undrafted kickers.

If you get down to it, the difference in performance between UDFA and 3rd-4th QBs isn't large, either.

For every Russell Wilson or Dak there's a Warner or Romo.

113 There was a note from one of…

There was a note from one of the writers recently, I think in a comments section? That indicated that drafted punters do perform measurably better than non-. That gave me pause, because I had been a resolute "never draft special teams specialists" guy. So it might not actually be the worst idea.

Also, as was pointed out, they had 6 4th rounders - there are only 53 roster spots! It's possible if not likely that at least one of those 4th rounders won't even make the roster, and if punter is the position of need, he's actually more likely to make it (i.e., provide value as a draftee) than yet another flier on a WR or whatever.

It's pretty well-known among the analytically-minded that draft pool talent flattens out quickly, especially on Day 3 - but I think it's easy to overlook that the logic works both ways. Sure the guy you took in the 4th round might have been there as a UDFA, but the guy you'd pick instead is also at best only a marginally better prospect than a UDFA. If that's when you pick, and that's the guy you want, using that pick just amounts to exercising a right-of-first-refusal option to ensure you get first opportunity to add him to your team. That's more valuable than playing games with abstract "positional value" or whatever - at least assuming your player evaluation is competent (a nontrivial assumption to be sure).

On the other hand, though, I still have B.J. Sander PTSD, so never draft a punter under any circumstances, ever. Never ever. Never ever ever. *rocking back and forth in a fetal position* The horror... The horror...

155 Wait, wait, but what if you…

In reply to by KnowGuruz

Wait, wait, but what if you had a punter that could pin teams on the 1-inch line every time, no matter where he punted from? How valuable would that be? I think we need to run this down, guys.

158 Interesting concept but what…

Interesting concept but what would we call this almost robotically precise punter? Having a name would make the discussion easier to follow.



Ahhhhh great job with the reference TomC. Really made my day.

14 These draft grades are fun…

These draft grades are fun and all, but very rarely does anyone bother to dig up the grades six years from now other than to do a broad survey of the post mortem.

Of course by then, everyone knew Josh Allen was destined for superstardom, Donald wasn't an undersized risk, and every franchise should have anticipated that Kittle was the steal of the draft.

18 This website has a series…

This website has a series looking at drafts six years later.  It's more from a perspective of which players stood out at their positions, both as busts and steals, than looking at team's drafts.

19 I am aware, but it never…

I am aware, but it never examines beyond a broad consensus of which everyone sort of sweeps under the rug ex post. This is frankly the same to me as financial analysts who offer glib ex post facto reporting. 

64 Of course

It's exactly like that. This is, fundamentally, written to entertain for a moment or two, not underpin a doctoral thesis on mathematical analysis as applied to professional football. 

72 The big difference being…

The big difference being that I am not glibly telling you where to invest your life savings, but what I think about sports things.

Football Outsiders does indeed review drafts from six years past as another reader stated. There are also journals that will perform deep studies about past drafts. FO sometimes publishes highly detailed research! But sometimes its fun (and profitable) to talk about things that are currently happening that interest lots and lots of fans. 

101 I agree. Sometimes I read…

I agree. Sometimes I read other comments start to dissect all of the value accumulation teams achieved via picks in the 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds as IF any of those players will be remembered in a year from now.

I don't want to downplay the importance of having quality depth, but the truth is that stuff only moves the needle when a team has an established QB. The only shining example where this hasn't been in the case in recent memory is with the Ravens.

34 It was kind of fascinating…

It was kind of fascinating reading Gronk's old scouting report, because it was spot-on for both the plusses and minuses.

He was a high-risk, high-reward guy who could be great if he could stay healthy. And he basically was -- a great player who spent a ton of his career hurt.

181 Your point is taken, but...

...when even your handful of examples don't fit so great, I think the point could have been better supported.

I've been into the pre-draft process and treated Draft Day as a holiday since the early 2000s, and Aaron Donald was my personal second-best non-QB prospect (Larry Fitzgerald was #1) over that period. I basically couldn't have had more confidence in him - I saw him as a top-draft guy who started the pre-draft process far too low due to a longtime (and generally well informed, but too rigid) bias about guys his size, and while he rose and rose and rose throughout the process he was still being slept on too much by Draft Day. His success was more predictable than you let on - after all, I'm pretty casual and I'm one example who absolutely at the time felt he was no-risk.

Allen isn't exactly a surprise either - it all depends on how one frames the evaluation. If the goal is to ID the future superstars and future disappointments, yeah, you're going more on hindsight than foresight. But the idea with Allen was that despite his super-raw status it was widely agreed that he was an unquestioned top-10 prospect and in a less crowded year would have been a candidate for #1 overall due to his upside. Whether he had developed or not, that upside was real and thus everyone who graded him on that basis was "right" either way.

Kittle, yeah, that one counts!

183 "he was an unquestioned top-10 prospect"

Well that's not true. He was 32 on the consensus big board with the largest standard deviation of the top 6 (Rosen, Baker, Lamar, Darnold and Rudolph included) and consensus QB5.

I know people here will never admit it but he was loved by some for the things known but also being a big goofy white QB. It's the reason he went 7 overall and a very similar prospect the next year in Tyree Jackson going completely undrafted (now a TE). 

Now you may be thinking that teams were scared of such a profile after Allen rocky rookie year but that doesn't explain this year's QB1 failing so far after Allen hit.

15 Drafting Cows

"None of this year's picks will help the Cowboys reach a Super Bowl in 2022, but a few will likely form the core of Jerrah's next batch of almost-contenders."

Very accurate. Cowboys lost a lot of players in free agency, and instead of trying to find immediate impact replacements, Jerry seemed to have settled with drafting guys who might develop into clones of the guys who they lost this year.

Tyler Smith, the frequently penalized college tackle, will play guard and replace Connor Williams, the refs' favorite whipping boy from last year. Sam Williams checks the Randy Gregory box -- a boom or bust DE with character issues (the Cowboys are required by Texas law to draft at least one player like this in the 2nd round every year). LB Damone Clark, who requires spinal fusion surgery, will be a nice replacement for Vander Esch of the Broken Neck who is most likely gone after this year.

182 It's not accurate at all

In reply to by Romodini

I liked the idea of this article, but some of the takes seemed more satirical than anything. The Cowboys had one of those.

Tyler Smith was generally regarded as a maybe LT developmental/raw talent but a confident OG prospect. Dallas starting him at LG (and perhaps keeping him there) and only having him in the LT back pocket if he manages to develop there seems like a pretty darn good short-term move. Smith drew a bunch of holding penalties in college, but those were LT holding penalties - LT and LG are very different in terms of what leads to holds, so it doesn't make sense to assume he would get beaten the same way at LT and end up holding as often (and that's assuming he doesn't make progress).

At RDE, Gregory only played half a starter's share of snaps last year due to missed time and such, and the team still has the same other names in the mix there that it used when Gregory and Lawrence weren't in (or were out entirely). What Dallas was set to miss there was Gregory's pass rushing ability, with only Dante Fowler (not a bad pass rusher) imported to help replace that loss. Sam Williams widely is agreed to not be nearly ready to start, but he has "situational pass rusher" written all over him, meaning he fits in the one and only Edge need (but a big one) the Cowboys had at present.

The team needed another notable talent in the WR mix and got a guy with a rock solid Day Two grade who should be able to offer depth/rotational play pretty quickly. More help for 2022. One can't expect TEs to do much in year one, but Ferguson might be able to lengthen the shallow depth Dallas had at the position. Bland and Harper might be immediate core special teamers. Ridgeway should immediately enter the team's limited-use NT competition - better to have him competing with last year's rookie Bohanna than to rely on Bohanna alone.

How much more 2022 help is a 24th slot supposed to produce on paper?

17 While everyone thinks…

While everyone thinks Jaramee Salyer is a guard, he played tackle last year.  He only gave up one sack, to Tim Anderson, who beat everyone for a sack except Cross, the Ole Miss guy.  I also like Zach Tom, who got drafted by the Packers in the fourth round.

I really hope Matt Waldman is wrong about Skylar Thompson now that the Dolphins took him late.  If the Jets get haunted by a late round guy for the next twenty years again, I don't think I could keep watching football.  And Ross is more of a jerk than Kraft or Belichick ever were.

23 I like Salyer. Loved talking…

I like Salyer. Loved talking to him in Indy. His whole athletic profile screams "guard." I suppose he can get by at RT, but I cannot endorse waiting until day three to pick a "get by" guy when you are a deep playoff hopeful and last year's RT led the NFL in blown blocks. 

57 Totally understand if you…

Totally understand if you are a Dolphins fan and want to defend Ross, but that's your choice.  Kraft and Belichick have been set up as evil villains for the rest of the league because they win, but... Kraft bought the team and kept it in New England when Ralph Nader was threatening a boycott over the team moving.  Totally revived the franchise.  He did his idiotic thing and got arrested for it (while risking getting arrested on the day of the AFC championship game... talk about foolish decisions), but a number of team owners have done much worse in ethical terms in not legal ones.  Belichick is demonized as a cheater, but he changed his team to be less about cheap shots before the rest of the league caught up.  Seriously, he benched his Pro Bowl safety for a cheap shot and then jettisoned him; he benched Gronk when he went WWE crazy and jumped on TreDavious White.  If his teams cheated at all, it's a lot less than the 70s-80s Raiders, or Don Shula (mud bowl anyone?).   

By the way, I hated both of them for a long time.  I'm a jealous Jets fan.  I'm over it now.

61 Oh? I hadn't paid much…

Oh? I hadn't paid much attention to that pick, but now you got me a little excited. Will have to go read Waldman. Defending Ross, though? Nah, thanks, I'm good.

Terrible draft by the Jets, btw, from a Dolphin fan point of view. Because they picked good players.

62 Be happy they stopped in…

Be happy they stopped in round 4.  I never like it when a team quits early, but I think the last time the Jets did that they had a good draft (or maybe not).

Waldman also loved Lamar Jackson.  He's pretty good at picking out sleepers and busts.  By the way, he did not like Zach Wilson.

80 I remember about Lamar. He…

I remember about Lamar. He convinced me, although it doesn't seem to have been for the reasons he mentioned (I recall how he liked his quiet feet and took it as evidence he could be a pocket passer).

22 Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes…

Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes drafted like they think the new-regime honeymoon will last forever and that they can afford to spend another year pointing to backdoor covers as a sign that they are building a new culture.

They are probably assessing that accurately.

26 Is the "take a flier on a QB…

Is the "take a flier on a QB in the 3rd" thing a new mythos? Is there a non-Prescott example of this working? Otherwise you're tossing an asset pick away on something you *know* is going to fail.


It sounds to me like drafting 4QBs in the 6th and hoping one of them is a half-Brady would be more successful.

31 Looks like NE just take alot…

Looks like NE just take alot of QB in late rounds. Probably more for depth than anything else. About 1 every other year or so. They had decent success with it relative to the round taken (Jimmy G was league average ish,  and Matt Cassel and Jacoby Brissett both had good careers relative to where they were drafted*) Getting QB depth may be their best pick of this draft.   It's like Kraft told them to get faster so BB just drafted the fastest player on the board each time to point out that it doesn't work like that. lol 

Most late round picks fail, so spend one on the highest value position probably isn't the worst thing ever.

*I count anything more than a couple random spot starts as a success for late round QB


36 Brian Hoyer, too. He,…

Brian Hoyer, too. He, frankly, is the ideal Carson Wentz back-up QB -- absolutely no threat to the incumbent starter, but sufficiently competent that you aren't doomed if he has to cover a few games.

A good late-round QB turns up every few years. More if you include UDFAs.

131 Does two outliers make it a…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Does two outliers make it a strategy worth pursuing, though? Russ fell because of size concerns, which was stupid in retrospect but it still happens. I'm still not sure what the deal with Prescott was.

139 Good q

IDK. I think it's better than 4 6th rounders in 1 year though.

Less mobile Russ was in the 4th and people here love him for some reason. Probably some 5th rounder I'm forgetting. 

95 It's not new. When Wolf took…

It's not new. When Wolf took over the Packers in 92 he traded for Favre and drafted Ty Detmer with the 230th pick (in the 9th round because the 92 draft was the last of the 12 round drafts). I detail all his QB picks later. But Wolf is the man who turned the Packers from the joke they had become after Lombardi left to the team with the annoying fans they are today and part of his reasoning is summed up in this quote.

“I learned very early in this game, if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance,” Wolf said. “We were very lucky that we had a unique [Favre] quarterback that never missed a game. But that didn’t stop me from drafting in late rounds. It’s the premiere position, and you better be able to cover yourself.”

Wolf says he was bringing in players to challenge Favre. But more importantly, he was looking for raw talent to cultivate for backup roles, or to dangle for a trade and acquire even more draft picks.

Belichick isn't as extreme with grabbing one nearly every year but he comes from the same school of GM thought.

Some more details on those picks and some data to back-up the Wolf quote.

  1. Detmer (1992 9-230) - 4 years as a GB back up left the team in FA. Hung around the league for 10 years and started 25 games, 11-14 record.
  2. Brunell (1993 5-118) - 2 years as a GB back up. He was traded in 95 for for the 66th and 170th pick.18 year career 3 time pro bowler, 151 starts. 78-73 career record.
  3. Jay Barker (1995 5-160) - Didn't make the team. Pats and Panthers give him a look but never played in an NFL game. 3 seasons with the Toronto Argonauts then was a back-up in the XFL.
  4. Kyle Wachholtz (1996 7-240) - Cut and signed to the practice squad where they converted him to a TE. Was on the active roster for SB 31. Injured in 97 career over.
  5. Ron McAda (1997 7-240) - I actually don't know what happened with him
  6. Matt Hasselbeck (1998 6-187) - Traded in March 01 along with pick 17 for picks 10 and 72. Couple years as Favre's back-up then when Holmgren got the Seattle job he took him. A lot like Brunell. 3 time pro bowler, 160 starts, 85-75 record, 18 year career.
  7. Aaron Brooks (1999 4-131) - Traded in July 00 (after the 00 draft) with TE Lamont Hall for LB K.D. Williams and the Saints 2001 3rd rounder, which I think was pick 80 that was later traded to San Fran. Brooks of course is most famous for infuriating posters on Football Outsiders so much that one poster set a user name to reflect how much they disliked the QB. 7 year career, 90 starts 38-52 record.

So 7 picks. 3 complete flops, 2 decent back-ups that some teams tried to make starters, and 2 better than average starters. None taken higher than pick 118, but helped get picks 10, 66, 72, 80, and 170. Using just the draft value they used picks 17 (in one of the trades), 118, 131, 160, 187, 230, 240, and 240 again and got 10, 66, 72, 80 and 170. That's 2001.8 for 1092.8. That was the Wolf Way and is likely part of what Belichick is thinking too. BB's picks would likely break down in a similar fashion. It's why to this day I still have no issues with a 4th - 7th round QB pick even with an established starter. With the new rookie contracts if you grab one every other year as long as 50% are OK back-ups you at least have a cheap back-up all the time. If you want to add the 17th pick they used on Favre into the minus column (fair) those totals to go to 2001.8 back for 2042.8 spent (spent drops if you consider the 17th a trade for the 33rd that was used to select favre since 33rd is worth 58).

You might think it's harder to do with a rebuilding team but GB was 8-8 for 3 years then 4-12, 5-9-1, 4-12, 10-6, 6-10, 4-12 in the 9 years before Wolf came along in 92. It wasn't a complete dumpster fire but in the 24 seasons from 68 - 91 they had 4 winning season (10-4, 10-6, 8-6, and 8-7-1). They had 4 more 8-8 seasons and 16 losing seasons. Yes they got lucky with Favre though they traded a 1st round pick (17) for him and he was the 33rd pick in 91 so a shocker that he was a HoF QB, yes, a shocker that he was a reasonable starter? No. But you need a QB. Wolf knew this back in 92 and it's even more relevant today. Counting what was given up for Favre he lost the equivalent of pick 131 over 9 years and always had a starter and a back-up. If you don't count Favre and treat him like an existing starter he earned the equivalent of pick 21 over 9 years. That's picking 2 starters(Brunell, Hassleback), 2 back-ups (Detmer, Brooks), and 3 complete flops. So maybe a better than average hit rate, but it doesn't seem insane.

98 Always appreciated

But man that was so long ago. Literally last century. That's pre 32 teams. 

Developmental QBs just aren't really a thing anymore with the evolving CBA and limited reps. Minshew was a 6th rounder, started multiple years and got flipped for a 6th. Meanwhile we've had a former #1 pick Jameis Winston available post draft. The league isn't QB starving anymore.

So unless you have a legit spot for them (cough Seattle cough), these late QBs are mostly worthless for established QB rooms. Shouldve mentioned yesterday with my Packers analysis but I'm also glad they didn't pick one (outside of DEriq who can find himself in a Taysom, Hurts type of role, if it's not at backup QB). The league doesn't even like them holding anymore even (hmmmm).

116 Uh

And the examples of listed were...not. And no one wants Jimmy. It's really not a thing to expect to hold someone and expect equal or better return value. 

And you know, it took 3 1sts lol and no one else on the depth chart. 

In fact the whole thing was backwards back then. Favre was drafted in the 2nd, posted a -20.20 ANY/A and ATL got a 1st back. That's literally just never happening in todays league due to the volume of Trubiskys you can find on the street yearly and convince yourself "yeah this guy can start"

If you're picking 4 QBs in the 6th you're getting essentially 100% guaranteed to get 0 value out of at least half of them. They can't get that many practice reps and preseason just gets shorter. Good luck parsing the different between guys every team passed on multiple times, including your self most likely. 

Rosen sucked and got bad value back. Jordan Love isn't gonna get nearly anything close to the 1st (and 4th) they used to get him. In fact, despite all the claims of being the best QB in this class, no one traded for him because he's a dime a dozen. 

170 If you're picking 4 QBs in…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

If you're picking 4 QBs in the 6th you're getting essentially 100% guaranteed to get 0 value out of at least half of them. They can't get that many practice reps and preseason just gets shorter. Good luck parsing the different between guys every team passed on multiple times, including your self most likely. 

I find myself wondering if this could be a path forward for spring football leagues - teams draft players and sign them to developmental contracts a la NFL Europe, then offer to pay for the various camps to coach them better and use the spring leagues to see if they're responding. Kind of like what Allen did - it's all voluntary, so not subject to the CBA, and obviously some kind of vetting would be going on. Make the NFL teams have to use resources, but not big resources, and improve the overall level of play for both leagues.

172 Until they do that though

You never want to guarantee multiple picks are cut before getting them in (regular season) a game, simply because they can't provide any other value outside a position that never rotates, only plays one at a time and all the rules bend over backwards to protect them. 

3 preseason games and offseason workouts just isn't enough currently. 

They can change if they want, I don't care

120 There are piles of teams…

There are piles of teams without QBs. They are harder to come by than ever.

Plus, you need at least one good backup QBs for practice and in case of injury.

123 That's kind of my point in…

That's kind of my point in why not grab one every 2 or 3 years. If your starter goes down things are crap anyway. So you have a very cost controlled rookie contract sitting there that has been getting training in your system. Limited sure, but more than the guy on the street and he very likely costs a lot less than Winston or Foles will want or be required to be paid though I haven't looked at veteran mins vs 5th - 7th round 3rd/4th year contract.  If that player does play well you may in fact be able to flip them for a similar pick you got them with.

That's why I don't get why teams don't do it anymore. It seems like you could save $1 - 6 million a year on a back-up very little draft resources. That's not a ton, but it's WR3 3 position back-up lineman. You need a back-up. Rookie contracts give you 4 years. If the rookie is really that awful like Barker or McAda was and you don't have the other rookie contract from before, it's like any other missed pick and then you pick up a Winston or Foles for a year and draft the next one later.

Yes you give up a shot at an edge or WR that might blow up, and if you get a Hasselback, Brunell, or the next Brady you aren't likely getting more value back anymore, but you still had that extra cap room to do something else with. You also set the expectation for your starter that yep we are bringing in QBs all the time stop being a diva.

I know that the more limited practice time does make it less likely to get the returns Wolf did, but the higher cap percentage that starting QBs take up now compared to then makes the financial side even more appealing than those early cap days.

Clearly my thoughts are wrong on this since only NE with Brady seemed to even remotely do something like this. But it still makes sense to me. Maybe I'm just too old and liked how it worked for Wolf too much.

124 I mean you could have 1 at time

So maybe every 4 years, I would agree. But the whole 4 in one year is how you guarantee you waste capital. There's just simply no time to evaluate them all properly so you're taking dead from 3 of them without any chance of making a name elsewhere. Where as a LB5 can start on special teams, get some rotation snaps, fill in for injury and quietly make their way up. Just not a thing for QBs outside of Taysom, Hurts. QBs are so protected nowadays that they're less likely to be injured. QB1 is important but so is the rest of the roster. You have to fill it as much as you can to support that guy. 

In all, I have no desire for the Packers to go back to selecting a QB in 5 straight drafts in the 4th+. Do it once, throw him in as the backup and wait for his contract to expire. Trying to stumble upon a future star did work for Wolf as much as he was able to flip em due to the league starving for anyone with a pulse. The team will never admit it but no one (rightfully) wants Love because they can get an equivalent elsewhere (and sometimes for cheaper). There's was an opportunity cost with Love (perhaps a SB or two) but there is elsewhere in the draft as well. Guys that can contribute in other areas, outside of warming the bench, despite also not being great shots at becoming starters.

Backup QBs don't even hold nowadays like I said before. And when you do call upon Love with 1.5 years of seasoning in the "perfect situation" as so many called it, a big bleh contributes to everyone laughing and going elsewhere for their QB directions despite an agreed upon bad draft. 

104 Brooks of course is most…

Brooks of course is most famous for infuriating posters on Football Outsiders so much that one poster set a user name to reflect how much they disliked the QB.

For the record, I don't actually dislike Aaron Brooks. He was subject to some amazing bloopers, however.

It's not the only thing named after an Aaron Brooks blooper.



107 Yeah disliked was the wrong…

Yeah disliked was the wrong word I should have used annoyed by. I think the infuriating is correct though. Like I said I rate him as a solid back-up who they tried to make a starter without enough support. But you did deserve a shoutout in the blurb. I think there was another poster who is no longer around who used Aaron Brooks in his username too I'd have to dig for that though.

I had forgotten that there was the Madden bug with him. That gave me a good chuckle and yeah the infamous backward pass I am well aware of.

108 The other inglorious play…

The other inglorious play from which I remembered him was not his fault. Indeed, he was much of the part of the play that did work.

Needing a win to stay alive in the playoff race, and trailing Jacksonville 20-13 with six seconds left, Brooks threw the pass and delivered the block that completed the 75-yard River City Relay TD. Only to watch John Carney shank the extra point.


The pre-Brees -- and honestly, even much of the intra-Brees -- Saints operated under some sort of voodoo curse. Even as a Lions fan, that was a bad break.

38 But a lot can go wrong with…

But a lot can go wrong with a plan that has this many moving parts, and adding $100 million to the payroll while all-but punting on Day 3 comes with its own parcel of risks.

And completely ignoring the secondary. I mean, completely. It's one thing to believe that Reddick will just magically fix the pass rush (yeah, right) but they just swapped a bad starter for another bad starter in the secondary.

I mean, they were mostly screwed once they traded picks away and I can't exactly fault them for going with C/LB on Day 2 since DBs at that point aren't good value. But man I hope Brown and Smith both catch 1000+ yards cuz they're gonna need 'em. (I do disagree on Brown because if they're not sold on Hurts that's a shedload of cash that'll be wasted).

I also think the idea that the 1st round picks in '23 are "Hurts insurance" is a bit nuts. If Hurts doesn't work out they can't just trade up and continue on happily like nothing happened. Graham and Slay are both at the end of the road too and any cap space they're saving with Hurts they just burned on Brown.

63 Don't sweat optimizing the…

Don't sweat optimizing the 2023 roster when the eagles are trying to win next year.

Not with that secondary!

If Jalen sucks then Brown will be the binkie for the Qb they pick in 2023, trade up or not.

If Hurts sucks, then 2022 is toast (duh) and 2023 is toast as well because rookie QBs suck. Which means you're now in 2024, you had no cash or draft picks in '23 (because of the QB drafted in '23) and still no cash in '24, and you've now lost Graham and Slay (and Cox and Kelce but I'm being generous and assuming their draft pick replacements pan out).  Yay, I've got a top-shelf receiver under contract for 2 years, a QB that's got a 50/50 shot, no pass rush or secondary. You're paying $20M to Lane, Mailata, Reddick, Goedert, Sweat, and Brown (at least). That's not a recipe for success.

I'm not actually saying that the Eagles are in a particularly bad situation, it's just a risk. Everyone seems to think they're hedging on Hurts by retaining multiple picks next year, but if they have to trade up for a QB next year, they're not in a good situation. The Brown trade feels like an "all in on Hurts" to me.

And if Hurts works out they're in very good shape even with the high price on Brown. But the whole "we'll be fine even if Hurts flops" just rings hollow to me.

59 They needed a linebacker…

They needed a linebacker nearly as much as a DB and Dean really could be a steal. The real travesty was picking a third (possibly fourth) replacement for Kelce in the 2nd round. Kelce is going to the HoF, but the two centers before him were UDFAs and the team was just fine.

68 They needed a linebacker…

They needed a linebacker nearly as much as a DB and Dean really could be a steal.

Dean is a friggin' classic Roseman pick. He's a serious outlier size-wise, and when you add in some medical concerns, when everyone else passes on him and you say "ha, you guys are fools" that's just arrogance. Yeah, sure, Dean could be a steal. He could also be a complete waste of a pick.

Also the idea that the Eagles need a linebacker as much as a DB is a bit of a stretch - DB's way harder to find.

Kelce is going to the HoF, but the two centers before him were UDFAs and the team was just fine.

That's because the rest of the line had stellar players. I think a better argument against that pick was that interior OL is replaceable in free agency much easier than DB, and I have serious doubts about the whole value of "learning with Kelce while he's there." I mean, if he retires next year and he's that valuable to learn from, pay him $10M to come in and friggin' coach or something.

Of course with Brown coming in you can't replace anyone in free agency next year, but hey, that's a different issue.


85 He's a slight outlier…

He's a slight outlier. Christian Harris, the guy I wanted, is 3 inches taller and 7 pounds heavier (and just 3 pounds depending on your source). And while it might be easier to find LBs in theory, they haven't done it since Bradham. They've got about 40 young CBs. Let's see if one of them can play before getting excited. They signed Steven Nelson just before training camp and he was fine. If Gannon plans to park his safeties at 20 yards and play his CBs in soft coverage again, the DBs aren't that important anyway.

92 He's a slight outlier…

He's a slight outlier. Christian Harris, the guy I wanted, is 3 inches taller and 7 pounds heavier

He's pretty friggin' big. I mean, Harris is a pretty big outlier too, but at least he's got some top measurables. Dean is literally a guy whose physical measurables are terrible and doesn't have athletic measurables because he injured himself training.

Dear God, when I write it down it sounds even worse than when it was in my head.

And while it might be easier to find LBs in theory, they haven't done it since Bradham.

who... they didn't draft.

 If Gannon plans to park his safeties at 20 yards and play his CBs in soft coverage again, the DBs aren't that important anyway.

You're not helping!

100 If we're looking to drafted…

If we're looking to drafted LBs, we have to go to Hicks. Who is something of a mixed bag. But Bradham is the last objectively good LB they put on the field. Edwards doesn't have the wheels and Taylor doesn't know what he's doing. Put them together and you'd have an All-Pro.

102 If we're looking to drafted…

If we're looking to drafted LBs, we have to go to Hicks. Who is something of a mixed bag.

This is my point, though. They suck at drafting LBs, just like they suck at drafting WRs. At least they're not incredibly terrible at drafting interior linemen.

142 They just drafted Smith and…

They just drafted Smith and Watkins and you can't complain about giving up resources for Brown, then argue they suck at drafting WRs. I'm not sure that they suck at drafting LBs so much as they don't bother. Taylor is terrible, but he was a third round pick. More resources might mean better players.

In any event, I'm not impressed that they get good iOL when they're spending premium picks on a non-premium position.

153 They just drafted Smith and…

They just drafted Smith and Watkins

Yeah, I'm not putting Watkins down as a success, Philly is the team of one-year wonders. And Smith, like DeSean Jackson, is the freaking prototypical Roseman pick: a ridiculously asymmetric player that makes everyone else in the league confused and so the Eagles hop on it, damn the concern. And yes, I know Jackson was pre-"Roseman GM" but this is an institutional Philly thing, and Roseman is like, "institutional Philly" cast into stone or something.

That's not to say I'm dismissing Smith or Jackson, obviously Jackson was the best WR from his draft class. But the concerns that other teams had with him were totally and completely justified - he wasn't a slam dunk top-end WR. Jury's still out on Smith in that regard although I'd be damn amazed. Brown actually does worry me a little because the Titans aren't a stupid team, but they are way more up against the cap than the Eagles are (although it's not like Philly's great).

The Nakobe Dean thing is just similar to that. Obviously most big boards had Dean ranked super high, but teams have more information, and most teams were terrified of something about him. But, of course, Philly has to say "eh, risk, whatever" and grab him.

42 Easterby!

So funny:

"If only Caserio was still paired with Bill Belichick and not a goofball who plans to fast-track Josh McCown into a head coach and wishcast Davis Mills into Justin Herbert while spending draft weekend playing with his Noah's Ark popup books."