by Sterling Xie
Everyone and their uncle has an opinion about their favorite team's draft class, but what did the media cognoscenti think about every team's weekend in Chicago? As we do every year, we have compiled snap reaction grades from several reputable draftniks for our review on which teams generated the best, worst, and most polarizing feedback following the draft. Previous NFL Draft Report Card Reports can be found here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.).
After adding Dan Kadar last year, we're running back the same seven sources from 2015. At Sports Illustrated, Chris Burke again graded the AFC teams while Doug Farrar handled the NFC side, which leaves us with this panel:
- Mel Kiper, ESPN Insider
- Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com (AFC East, West, North, South, NFC East, West, North, South)
- Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
- Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
- Evan Silva, Rotoworld (AFC, NFC)
- Chris Burke and Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated
- Dan Kadar, SB Nation
Per usual, we'll look at the five teams with the highest, lowest, and greatest deviation in their average GPA, while also examining the year-over-year averages for each grader.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Highest Grade: A+ (Prisco, Burke)
Lowest Grade: B+ (Iyer, Kadar)
Comments: No, I did not just copy and paste this from last year's report. For the second consecutive year, Dave Caldwell and the Jaguars had the consensus top draft in the league. The GPA is slightly lower than the 3.86 mark they earned last year, but their range of grades is the exact same as it was in 2015. Nabbing potential top-five talent Myles Jack in the second round earned universal acclaim, but graders really liked how much Jacksonville targeted its mediocre front seven. Iyer quibbled with the lack of offensive line help to aid a unit that finished 16th in adjusted line yards and 25th in adjusted sack rate, but the likes of Sheldon Day and Tyrone Holmes were universally seen as strong Day 3 values.
2. Chicago Bears
Highest Grade: A (Prisco, Iyer)
Lowest Grade: B (Farrar)
Comments: When John Fox and Ryan Pace took over last year, arguably their top priority was overhauling a defense built for a static 4-3 Tampa-2 scheme to better align with Vic Fangio's hybrid 3-4 concepts. This draft may be seen as the turning point in that rebuild, as the Bears earned praise for a trenches-heavy class which included five defensive additions. Both Prisco and Iyer believed that Leonard Floyd and Jonathan Bullard could become foundational front seven players, while Day 3 safeties Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson could push for starting roles in the secondary. Farrar thought the Bears reached a bit for Floyd in trading up to pick No. 9, but compensated through their work in the later rounds.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Highest Grade: A (3 tied)
Lowest Grade: B+ (4 tied)
Comments: On ESPN's broadcast, Todd McShay called the Ravens' five-pick Round 4 bonanza the best fourth-round class he's ever seen from a single team. Though McShay didn't provide any grades for us to include, the rest of the graders echoed his sentiment. Ozzie Newsome received a whopping six extra picks through compensatory selections and trade-downs, netting the Ravens plenty of help in the trenches and at the offensive skill positions. His Saturday haul -- which included universally hailed sleepers such as Tavon Young, Chris Moore and Kenneth Dixon -- could help rebuild a base of talent which has aged and become untenably expensive.
T-4. Cincinnati Bengals
Highest Grade: A+ (Burke)
Lowest Grade: B (3 tied)
Comments: The Bengals were the only organization outside of Jacksonville to earn an A+ from any grader. Chris Burke thought it was "downright stunning" that Andrew Billings and Christian Westerman were still available in Rounds 4 and 5, respectively. Some thought it was curious the Bengals passed up on a receiver to pick William Jackson at No. 24, their third first-round cornerback in five years. But Mike Brown compensated in Round 2 by nabbing Pitt's Tyler Boyd, the receiver with the fourth-highest Playmaker Projection in this class.
Highest Grade: A- (3 tied)
Lowest Grade: B (Prisco, Iyer)
Comments: Scot McCloughan has a track record as solid as any GM in the league, so it's hardly surprising to see Washington on this list. Su'a Cravens, who may as well share a family with Deone Bucannon at this point given all the pre-draft comparisons, earned acclaim as a nice Round 2 value from virtually every grader. Prisco was curious why Washington picked Josh Doctson over much-needed defensive line help in the first round, but with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon entering the final year of their deals, wide receiver was a quiet need entering the draft.
32. Carolina Panthers
Highest Grade: C+ (Kiper, Silva)
Lowest Grade: C- (Prisco, Kadar)
Comments: Quantity does not equal quality, at least when it comes to Panthers cornerbacks. Dave Gettleman admitted to drafting for need in trying to replace Josh Norman, but no one was impressed with the trio of corners he came away with this year. Multiple commenters questioned the second-round selection of Samford's James Bradberry; their two harshest graders actually thought Round 5 pick Zack Sanchez was a better pick than either of the two cornerbacks Gettleman drafted first. The Carolina GM has generally earned favorable reviews for building a Super Bowl roster after inheriting a cap-strapped mess, but this is the second consecutive year the Panthers have finished in the bottom five of these rankings.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Highest Grade: B (Prisco)
Lowest Grade: D (Farrar)
Comments: Most commenters pegged the Falcons' class in the relatively mediocre B- to C range, but Farrar dropped the hammer on Atlanta. The Falcons were the only team to earn a grade worse than a C from either SI grader. Farrar's criticism stemmed from his belief that Atlanta "spent draft capital on players it could have traded down to get and didn't address its defensive line need early in a draft that has as much D-line talent as any in recent NFL history." Apart from perhaps De'Vondre Campbell, a raw fourth-round outside linebacker, the Falcons did nothing to supplement a pass rush that finished dead last in adjusted sack rate last season.
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T-30. New England Patriots
Highest Grade: B- (Prisco)
Lowest Grade: C- (Rang)
Comments: Patriots fans can cradle back and forth while whispering "In Bill We Trust" all they want, but that won't change the lukewarm reception for New England's class. Despite widespread praise for Round 2 corner Cyrus Jones, the rest of Bill Belichick's selections earned a collective shrug from our graders. Rang thought Jacoby Brissett was an "odd choice" in Round 3 and wondered if New England did enough to replace Chandler Jones' pass-rushing impact. The lack of clear immediate impact contributors bothered graders, as did New England's failure to draft a running back.
T-30. Cleveland Browns
Highest Grade: B (Silva)
Lowest Grade: C- (Rang, Prisco)
Comments: Cleveland would typically be ecstatic to be mentioned alongside the Patriots, but alas, #LOLBrowns. Although they did get Playmaker Score's favorite wideout in Corey Coleman, few were impressed with the Browns' other four receiver choices. Additionally, choosing Cody Kessler at the end of Day 2 was a widely panned choice, as Prisco wondered if the Browns would regret passing up the chance to pick Carson Wentz at No. 2. While Cleveland's draft capital remains the envy of the league, observers remain generally confused at the direction of the Browns' perpetual rebuild.
(Ed. Note: This seems as good a place as any to slip in QBASE projections for both Brissett and Kessler, who were not featured in our original QBASE article. The projections are terrible: Brissett comes out at minus-381, one of the ten worst QBASE projections ever, while Kessler isn't much better at minus-201. Also, I don't know how much the Browns will regret passing up on Wentz; the Browns' quarterback of the future is either Brad Kaaya or Deshaun Watson. -- Aaron Schatz)
29. San Francisco 49ers
Highest Grade: A- (Farrar)
Lowest Grade: D+ (Silva)
Comments: No team had a larger divide between their highest and lowest grades, which seems fitting for a Chip Kelly team. That fact should also tip you off about why we'll be returning to San Francisco's draft class in a few paragraphs.
Most Polarizing Grades
1. Miami Dolphins
Standard Deviation: 0.82
Highest Grade: B+ (Kiper, Prisco)
Lowest Grade: D (Iyer)
Comments: Iyer was not the harshest grader, but he spared no mercy when he came down hard. The Sporting News writer handed out three D grades, the most of any of our graders, and saved his harshest words for Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier. He thought Miami took unnecessary character risks in Laremy Tunsil and Leonte Carroo, while opining that Kenyan Drake is too limited to spice up Miami's uninspiring backfield. The Carroo pick appeared questionable, given that the Dolphins already had a solid young trio of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills at wideout. But five of the seven graders gave the Dolphins a B-level grade, with most approving of the Tunsil selection at No. 13.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Standard Deviation: 0.78
Highest Grade: B+ (Rang, Prisco)
Lowest Grade: D (Iyer)
Comments: This grade essentially boiled down to the grader's opinion of Jared Goff. The CBS graders had no issues with the Rams going all-in on the Cal quarterback, as both thought the trade up to the No. 1 pick made L.A.'s draft. Additionally, Los Angeles seemed to have a logical plan in drafting two receivers and two tight ends to supplement Goff's receiving corps. But Iyer did not see Goff as worthy of the top selection, and lamented how the Rams' limited draft capital caused them to punt on O-line and secondary help. Overall, the tepid reception stemmed from concerns about Goff transitioning from Cal's "Bear Raid" system to Los Angeles' under-center, power-based offense.
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3. New York Jets
Standard Deviation: 0.76
Highest Grade: B+ (Rang)
Lowest Grade: D (Iyer)
Comments: The Jets generated feedback a lot like the Rams', except that fewer people like Christian Hackenberg than Goff. Given the age of the Jets' core, Iyer hated how New York failed to draft much immediate-impact talent. On the other hand, Rang focused on the picks sandwiched around Hackenberg, believing that Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins can be useful weapons for Todd Bowles' amoeba fronts. This is the second straight year the Jets have appeared in this category.
T-4. San Francisco 49ers
Standard Deviation: 0.75
Highest Grade: A- (Farrar)
Lowest Grade: D+ (Silva)
Comments: As promised, the 49ers' class is back under the microscope. San Francisco's variance was almost entirely the result of Farrar's generous evaluation, as every other grader handed out a B- or worse. Farrar thought the Niners landed the draft's best defensive lineman in DeForest Buckner, but he also curiously saw Joshua Garnett as a strong value. Most graders panned San Francisco for trading back into the first round for the Stanford guard, especially given that they gave up a second-, fourth- and sixth-rounder in the deal. Silva also saw mid-round cornerbacks Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson as reaches, given that the former comes with injury questions and the latter with character concerns.
T-4. Tennessee Titans
Standard Deviation: 0.75
Highest Grade: A (Iyer)
Lowest Grade: C- (Prisco)
Comments: Of the five most divisive teams, the Titans were the only one to finish with an overall GPA in the top half of the league (14th). Iyer and Kiper praised Jon Robinson for adding talent on both sides of the ball with his considerable draft capital. Apart from the Thursday and Friday picks, both graders praised the fifth-round selection of UMass receiver Tajae Sharpe, believing that he could challenge for early playing time. However, Prisco wondered what the point of a DeMarco Murray-Derrick Henry tandem was, while also believing that Tennessee passed over better options (cough, Tunsil) to pick Jack Conklin. Unlike Iyer and Kiper, Prisco also saw Round 2 pick Kevin Dodd as a poor fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
|2016 NFL Draft Grades|
|Arizona||B (4 tied)||B- (3 tied)||2.87||18||0.16||32|
|Atlanta||B (Prisco)||D (Farrar)||2.10||31||0.66||9|
|Baltimore||A (3 tied)||B+ (4 tied)||3.60||3||0.37||20|
|Buffalo||A- (3 tied)||C (Prisco)||3.11||11||0.64||10|
|Carolina||C+ (Kiper, Silva)||C- (Prisco, Kadar)||2.00||32||0.24||29|
|Chicago||A (Prisco, Iyer)||B (Farrar)||3.63||2||0.36||22|
|Cincinnati||A+ (Burke)||B (3 tied)||3.39||4||0.41||19|
|Cleveland||B (Silva)||C- (Rang, Prisco)||2.19||29||0.45||17|
|Dallas||A- (Farrar)||C- (Prisco, Silva)||2.44||25||0.74||6|
|Denver||B+ (Iyer, Burke)||B- (3 tied)||2.96||16||0.27||28|
|Detroit||B (Farrar, Kadar)||C- (Iyer)||2.64||21||0.44||18|
|Green Bay||A- (Iyer)||B- (Silva, Kadar)||3.01||15||0.33||23|
|Houston||A (Rang)||C+ (Silva)||3.23||8||0.55||11|
|Indianapolis||A (Prisco)||C+ (Silva)||3.09||12||0.50||13|
|Jacksonville||A+ (Prisco, Burke)||B+ (Iyer, Kadar)||3.71||1||0.31||26|
|Kansas City||B+ (Rang)||C- (Iyer)||2.69||20||0.49||14|
|Los Angeles||B+ (Rang, Prisco)||D (Iyer)||2.57||22||0.78||2|
|Miami||B+ (Kiper, Prisco)||D (Iyer)||2.57||23||0.82||1|
|Minnesota||A (Iyer)||B- (Kiper, Prisco)||3.26||6||0.53||12|
|New England||B- (Prisco)||C- (Rang)||2.19||30||0.32||25|
|New Orleans||A (Iyer, Kadar)||C+ (Silva)||3.06||13||0.68||8|
|NY Giants||A (Farrar)||C (Rang, Silva)||2.90||17||0.73||7|
|NY Jets||B+ (Rang)||D (Iyer)||2.49||24||0.76||3|
|Oakland||B+ (4 tied)||B- (Kadar)||3.13||9||0.24||31|
|Philadelphia||B (Rang)||C (3 tied)||2.43||26||0.46||16|
|Pittsburgh||B (4 tied)||C- (Silva)||2.73||19||0.48||15|
|San Diego||A- (Iyer)||B- (Kiper)||3.24||7||0.37||21|
|San Francisco||A- (Farrar)||D+ (Silva)||2.29||28||0.75||4|
|Seattle||B+ (4 tied)||B- (Farrar)||3.13||10||0.24||30|
|Tampa Bay||B- (Kiper, Kadar)||C (Iyer, Farrar)||2.33||27||0.29||27|
|Tennessee||A (Iyer)||C- (Prisco)||3.06||14||0.75||5|
|Washington||A- (3 tied)||B (Prisco, Iyer)||3.39||5||0.32||24|
Again, the overall grading trends remained fairly consistent. The average GPA was 2.88 (roughly a B-), up from 2.86 last year, while the standard deviation also rose from 0.63 to 0.65. The kindest (SI) and harshest (Silva) graders from last year remained constant, while Iyer had the largest standard deviation in his grades for the fourth straight year. Burke was the only grader to hand out an average GPA better than a B; his cohort Farrar was roughly on par with Kiper, Kadar, and Rang, all of whom sat in the 2.9 range. Farrar's grading scale easily saw the largest change from 2015 -- his average GPA fell 0.25 points this year, a change nearly three times larger than any other grader.
|Grading the Graders|
|Kiper||A (JAC, BAL)||C (4 tied)||2.93||0.57|
|Rang||A (HOU)||C- (NE, CLE)||2.92||0.57|
|Prisco||A+ (JAC)||C- (4 tied)||2.83||0.63|
|Iyer||A (5 tied)||D (3 tied)||2.78||0.96|
|Silva||A (BAL)||D+ (SF)||2.58||0.64|
|Bur-rar||A+ (CIN, JAC)||D (ATL)||3.03||0.64|
|Burke||A+ (CIN, JAC)||C+ (NE, CLE)||3.16||0.50|
|Farrar||A (NYG)||D (ATL)||2.91||0.75|
|Kadar||A (NO)||C- (CAR)||2.92||0.53|