2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

guest column by Tom Ribaudo

The 2017 NFL Draft is officially complete, and this year's edition may have been the most fun (and wild) of all time. Draft experts have released their list of grades for each team, and we compiled this list to compare each side by side. This article will include the highest and lowest graded teams, as well as which teams created the most disparity in the minds of draft analysts.

(Previous NFL Draft Report Cards can be found here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.)

There have been a few changes to our panel from last year. Doug Farrar has left Sports Illustrated and is now with Bleacher Report. This year, he and Chris Burke have released their own draft grades for every team. Also, we've included Mark Maske from the Washington Post this year. Our panel now consists of:

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.

Highest Draft Grades

1. San Francisco 49ers

GPA: 3.48
Highest Grade: A (Prisco, Iyer)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Silva)
Comments: New general manager John Lynch came in for his first test and, by almost all accounts, exceeded expectations. This was led by all the graders acknowledging his first-round trade with the Chicago Bears was brilliant (or ridiculous, if you're a Bears fan). Most found that Lynch's trade up to select Reuben Foster was a great move as well. Evan Silva, though, gave a negative grade for this move due to Foster's "major medical and off-field concerns." There is also some pushback to Lynch's third-round pick of quarterback C.J. Beathard, as many believe he was a reach at that point in the draft. All in all, though, it seems to have been a very good draft for the 49ers and a fantastic opening day for John Lynch.

2. Cleveland Browns

GPA: 3.45
Highest Grade: A (Prisco, Iyer)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Maske)
Comments: There is one thing all the graders agreed on: the first-round talent the Browns picked up this year was outstanding. So why were there grades as low as C-plus? This all depends on how you feel about the infamous Browns quarterback position. Some, such as Mark Maske, thought the Browns should have pulled the trigger on a quarterback early in the draft. Others thought it was smart to wait on a passer, as this was widely considered a weak class at that position. The remaining few decided to withhold judgement until they get a chance to see DeShone Kizer's progression. However you want to look at the Browns' quarterback situation, they still managed to grab lots of talent that should help them all over the field.

3. Washington Redskins

GPA: 3.37
Highest Grade: A- (4 tied)
Lowest Grade: B (3 tied)
Comments: Washington got a lot of agreement from graders across the board, coming in with a standard deviation of 0.31, lowest of all teams. Graders concurred that the pickup of defensive tackle Jonathan Allen at No. 17 overall was outstanding value. The Redskins stuck with defense in the next two rounds, picking up outside linebacker Ryan Anderson and cornerback Fabian Moreau. Just about all the graders again agreed with the value of these picks, and the fit for the Washington defense. Running back Samaje Perine was selected in the fourth round, and many of the graders see him receiving playing time his rookie season. The only reason Washington did not receive the highest grade of all teams was injury concerns throughout their picks. Jonathan Allen (shoulders issues) and Fabian Moreau (torn pectoral muscle) gave this team a slight dip in grades. That said, this was a very good draft for the Washington Redskins.

4. New England Patriots

GPA: 3.33
Highest Grade: A+ (Silva)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Burke)
Comments: The New England Patriots had a weak draft class this year -- at least, that's how it looks if you are only looking at who they drafted. They had a total of four picks. Why? Well, they traded away their first- and second-round picks for known commodities in Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy. Chris Burke acknowledged that the Patriots score would have been higher if Cooks and Ealy were part of his grades. This is where the wide variety of grades comes from.

As for the players the Patriots drafted, most of the graders thought they did quite well getting some high-upside players who could help greatly down the line. In the meantime, the Patriots are in win-now mode, and the acquisitions of Cooks and Ealy are a clear sign of that.

5. Indianapolis Colts

GPA: 3.22
Highest Grade: A (Burke, Rang)
Lowest Grade: B- (Iyer)
Comments: Draft graders all seem to agree: the Colts defense is awful, and it was a great move to focus this draft's attention to it. Indianapolis picked up two defensive backs and an edge rusher with its first three picks, including a draft steal of Malik Hooker in the first round. No one thought he would fall as far as No. 15, and the Colts reaped all the benefits. The Colts picked up some necessary pieces and a few projects that should help them take the next step in this league.

Lowest Draft Grades

32. Chicago Bears

GPA: 1.33
Highest Grade: C+ (Kiper)
Lowest Grade: F (Silva)
Comments: His name is Mitchell Trubisky, and the Chicago Bears staff and fans are all officially on his bandwagon. Chicago moved up one spot in the draft (giving up two third-round picks and one fourth-round pick to do so) in order to get Trubisky. None of the graders saw value in this move, and most didn't think taking Trubisky over other position needs was beneficial either. Tight end Adam Shaheen is someone to get excited about, as just about all the graders mentioned his name in their reports as a draft sleeper, but this draft is all about Trubisky. If Mitchell turns out to be the franchise quarterback the Bears hope he will be, the graders acknowledged their grades are way off. No one is betting on this to happen, though.

31. Los Angeles Rams

GPA: 2.04
Highest Grade: B- (Farrar, Maske)
Lowest Grade: C- (4 tied)
Comments: This grade is a bit skewed since the Rams did not have a first-round pick (it was lost in the trade for Jared Goff last year). The remaining picks they had, though, were all about getting Goff weapons. The Rams selected three pass-catchers with their first four picks. While this seems understandable in helping Goff succeed in his second year, most of the graders thought there were other places of need (offensive line, in particular) that would have helped the Rams more in this draft. Mark Maske and Doug Farrar both had high grades for the selected pass-catchers, though, and believe they will be very beneficial to Goff's growth. If new head coach Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams can take a big step forward offensively, the rest of the graders will be happy to increase this Rams draft class grade in the future.

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30. Detroit Lions

GPA: 2.15
Highest Grade: B (Burke)
Lowest Grade: D (Prisco)
Comments: The Detroit Lions got quite a few low grades from the panel this year, but it wasn't necessarily due to the talent they selected. Most of the graders really like first-round inside linebacker Jarrad Davis and believe he will be a starter right away. Most also thought Teez Tabor could be an asset moving forward. The biggest issue graders had came from the lack of filling the desperate pass-rushing need the Lions have. "That's not wise in a division with Aaron Rodgers, " Pete Prisco pointed out. The Lions didn't select a pass-rusher until the sixth round of the draft. There were also mixed responses to the selections of Kenny Golladay and Jalen Reeves-Maybin as early reaches. Ultimately, the talent may be there for these players, but the Lions needs may not be supported in this draft.

29. Oakland Raiders

GPA: 2.22
Highest Grade: B (Silva)
Lowest Grade: D- (Iyer)
Comments: The Raiders will do what the Raiders will do. Oakland went with a high-risk, high-reward draft plan. This obviously starts with the selection of cornerback Gareon Conley, who is currently dealing with a legal situation. Their next selection was Obi Melifonwu, who some say has first-round talent, while others have their doubts. The Raiders followed this up with third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes, who reportedly has had issues staying in shape. From a grading standpoint, this brings lots of diversity, as seen in the fifth-highest standard deviation. While the Raiders could see all sorts of talent join a very good team, we could also see this be a year of major draft busts in Oakland.

28. New York Jets

GPA: 2.41
Highest Grade: A- (Iyer)
Lowest Grade: D (Silva)
Comments: The Jets had grades all over the board this year. The first argument came from selecting two safeties in the first two rounds. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as Jamal Adams was considered one of the biggest steals in the draft. Most of the graders liked second-round pick Marcus Maye as well. Unfortunately, quarterback and offensive line were huge needs for the Jets in the draft. Did the Jets acknowledge these needs in later rounds? Not quite. They followed the two safety picks with two wide receivers and a tight end. Graders such as Vinnie Iyer see the value in the picks selected and showed understanding because of how depleted this team is all around. Evan Silva, though, thought addressing highest needs immediately was the obvious route. At this point, the Jets are hopeful these players can get them moving in the right direction.

Most Polarizing Grades

1. Cincinnati Bengals

GPA: 2.63
Standard Deviation: 1.05
Highest Grade: A (Prisco)
Lowest Grade: D- (Iyer)
Comments: The Cincinnati Bengals drafted players with ridiculous upside and lots of baggage. So, it's to be expected they are No. 1 on the "Most Polarizing" list. Pete Prisco thought the Bengals may have collected the most talent of any team in this year's draft. Their first-round selection in John Ross generated lots of buzz due to his blazing speed. The downside? He has had lots of durability and injury issues. Vinnie Iyer had this selection as a big reach. The Bengals followed this pick up with running back Joe Mixon, who some considered as an early first-round talent. After his off-the-field incident, only four teams kept him on their draft boards. The Bengals ended up selecting him. The later picks in this draft were more widely agreed upon, but when you have John Ross and Joe Mixon selected, a grading battle is bound to occur.

2. New York Jets

GPA: 2.41
Standard Deviation: 0.86
Highest Grade: A- (Iyer)
Lowest Grade: D (Silva)
Comments: As mentioned in the previous section, the Jets went out and drafted two safeties, two wide receivers and a tight end with their first five picks. When your biggest needs are quarterback and offensive line, graders such as Evan Silva don't believe a draft like this could truly help their team. That said, a few graders did see the value in the players New York selected, and believe this could be very beneficial to a depleted roster going forward.

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3. Houston Texans

GPA: 3.11
Standard Deviation: 0.78
Highest Grade: A (3 tied)
Lowest Grade: C+ (3 tied)
Comments: The Texans' polarizing rating is all hinged on quarterback Deshaun Watson. About half of the graders felt trading up for Watson was a very risky move that could set the franchise back for years. The other half felt Watson was perfect for this team and could be the key to getting the Texans over the hump. After the Watson pick, most graders liked where the Texans went, selecting linebacker Zach Cunningham to eventually replace Brian Cushing, and D'Onta Foreman to help in the backfield with Lamar Miller. Ultimately, though, it comes down to whether you believe Deshaun Watson can be the quarterback the Texans need him to be.

T-4. Los Angeles Chargers

GPA: 3.19
Standard Deviation: 0.73
Highest Grade: A (Kiper and Burke)
Lowest Grade: C- (Silva)
Comments: The mixed results on the Chargers come from debate over how to move forward with their franchise. For graders who thought they did very well in this draft, they liked the idea of giving Philip Rivers all the help he can get while he is still able to play at the highest level in this league. On the contrary, Evan Silva thought this was a good time for the Chargers to look at defense and build the weaker side of the ball in L.A. The graders found the later picks, especially cornerback Desmond King, to be intriguing, and that could increase grades more in the future. For now, the Chargers are rolling with highly touted wide receiver Mike Williams and two interior guards to protect Rivers and give him a chance at a Super Bowl run.

T-4. Oakland Raiders

GPA: 2.22
Standard Deviation: 0.73
Highest Grade: B (Silva)
Lowest Grade: D- (Iyer)
Comments: As mentioned previously, this was all about high-risk, high-reward players. When you make selections like this, you are bound to have disagreements among draft graders. The Raiders lived up to their reputation, and time will tell if this draft class can help them pursue their goals.

2017 NFL Draft Grades

2017 NFL Draft Report Cards
Team High Low Avg. Rk SD Rk
SF A (3 tied) C+ (Silva) 3.48 1 0.60 11
CLE A (Prisco, Iyer) C+ (Maske) 3.45 2 0.55 17
WAS A- (4 tied) B (3 tied) 3.37 3 0.31 32
NE A+ (Silva) C+ (Burke) 3.33 4 0.58 15
IND A (Rang, Burke) B- (Iyer) 3.22 5 0.47 23
LACH A (Kiper, Burke) C- (Silva) 3.19 6 0.73 4
MINN A (Kadar) C+ (Prisco) 3.15 7 0.58 14
ARI A (Prisco) C+ (Silva) 3.15 8 0.48 21
PHI A (Iyer) B- (4 tied) 3.11 9 0.47 24
HOU A (3 tied) C+ (3 tied) 3.11 10 0.78 3
TEN A (Iyer) B- (Kadar, Maske) 3.11 11 0.41 28
TB A- (Kiper, Farrar) C- (Iyer) 3.07 12 0.66 9
MIA A- (Iyer, Farrar) C+ (Kiper) 3.00 13 0.47 22
BUF A- (Burke, Kiper) C+ (Silva) 3.00 14 0.44 26
GB A (Prisco) C (Silva) 3.00 15 0.60 13
NO A- (Maske) C (Iyer) 2.96 16 0.51 20
Team High Low Avg. Rk SD Rk
BAL A- (Burke) B- (4 tied) 2.93 17 0.32 31
DAL A- (Rang, Farrar) C- (Silva) 2.93 18 0.64 10
DEN A (Burke) C+ (Silva, Kadar) 2.89 19 0.53 19
SEA B+ (Prisco, Iyer) C+ (Kiper) 2.89 20 0.33 30
PIT A- (Iyer) C- (Silva) 2.85 21 0.60 12
JAC A- (Maske) C- (Silva) 2.74 22 0.57 16
ATL B+ (Prisco) C (Silva) 2.74 23 0.40 29
CAR B+ (Rang, Burke) C (Iyer) 2.74 24 0.46 25
CIN A (Prisco) D- (Iyer) 2.63 25 1.05 1
NYG A- (Iyer) D+ (Silva) 2.59 26 0.66 8
KC B+ (Rang) C- (Iyer) 2.59 27 0.55 18
NYJ A- (Iyer) D (Silva) 2.41 28 0.86 2
OAK B (Silva) D- (Iyer) 2.22 29 0.73 5
DET B (Burke) D (Prisco) 2.15 30 0.69 6
LARM B- (Farrar, Maske) C- (4 tied) 2.04 31 0.42 27
CHI C+ (Kiper) F (Silva) 1.33 32 0.69 7

Year-Over-Year Comparison

The graders stayed course with the previous year's marks. The average GPA was 2.86, compared to 2.88 last year and 2.86 the year before. The standard deviation rose to 0.67 (another 0.02 increase from the previous two years). The past couple years, Chris Burke and Doug Farrar had been working together and were the most charitable graders. They are now on their own, but once again remain kind to team grades. Evan Silva was once again the harshest of all graders by quite a bit. Vinnie Iyer had the largest standard deviation of data collected for the fifth year in a row now. The individual graders were consistent with the previous year's results, except for Evan Silva and Dan Kadar, both of whom dropped their GPA more than 0.2 points below the previous year's marks.

Grading the Graders

2017 NFL Draft Graders
Grader High Low Avg SD
Kiper A (LAC, NE) C- (LAR) 2.91 0.59
Rang A (IND) C- (CHI, NYJ) 2.91 0.53
Prisco A (5 tied) D (CHI, DET) 2.90 0.76
Iyer A (5 tied) D- (CIN, OAK) 2.82 1.02
Silva A+ (NE) F (CHI) 2.39 0.86
Burke A (4 tied) C- (CHI, NYJ) 3.18 0.64
Farrar A (NE) D (CHI) 3.00 0.59
Kadar A (MIN) C (4 tied) 2.70 0.46
Maske A (HOU, SF) D+ (CHI) 2.91 0.59

Tom Ribaudo is a FO intern and has graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Northern Arizona University. He has also previously worked with CFB Film Room as a Data Analyst to chart game-by-game statistics for individual players. You can follow him on Twitter @TomRibaudo.


25 comments, Last at 05 May 2017, 3:58pm

1 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Clearly the Browns disagree, and it makes me cringe thinking of how many 2018 mock draft articles have already been published....don't we have something better to do?

(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)

thanks for all the excellent reading material....

2 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Anyone who thought the secondary wasn't a huge need for the Jets is foolish; they ranked 32nd in pass defense according to FO. Yeah, they could use a quarterback and a left tackle; other than Antonio Garcia, was there actually one out there for them to draft?

15 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

The sad irony for the jets is so many of their prior picks and free agent acquisitions were done to build a great secondary. In the last 10 years of drafts - the jets have had 13 first round picks and spent first rounders on 5 defensive backs. In fact, aside from Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller - the rest have all been on defense as well. That's 11 first rounders on defense.

Conversely - the Seahawks have had an awesome defense and only three of their first rounders were on defense(only earl thomas is on the team).

Draft strategies are fun and all but its all moot if you can't hit on the pick. In that sense - best player available and pray.

3 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I think it would be interesting to see whether there's a correlation between draft grades and team performance several years later. I.e. if a team is in the top 10 in draft grades, for a few years, does their on-field performance line up? If not, then draft grades have even less value that I already think they do (which is saying something).

(Or maybe there are too many variables at play to make the correlation or lack thereof meaningful... I haven't thought this through at all.)

4 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I'm pretty sure the Bears' draft was the worst ever. To move up one spot, and give up 3 picks this year and next (3rd-4th rounds), to select an 8-5 career record, 3rd team All-ACC quarterback, a safety with a broken leg, and 3 Division II players. I think that's the opposite of maximizing your opportunity to improve your team.

6 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Pretty sure even if Trubisky becomes Jamarcus Russell 2.0 or maybe Ryan Leaf 3.0 - it won't be the worst ever. Consider what the saints traded for RIcky Willaims:

1999 first round pick (12th overall)
1999 third round pick (71st overall)
1999 fourth round pick (107th overall)
1999 fifth round pick (144th overall)
1999 sixth round pick (179th overall)
1999 seventh round pick (218th overall)
2000 first round pick (2nd overall)
2000 third round pick (64th overall)

All to get 1999 first round pick(5th overall).

10 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

One of the worst ever without totally mortgaging your future by trading away an insane amount of picks, maybe?

Perhaps Cohen and Morgan will turn into Pro Bowlers, but one of the less-discussed bizarre aspects of this draft to me is that the Bears used 2 of their total of 5 picks to get a RB and a guard. Even if you think Trubisky was the right QB and even if you think the trade up for him was justified, it's hard to fathom why they felt like Cohen and Morgan were the best use of those picks.

9 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

"After his off-the-field incident, only four teams kept him on their draft boards." I am surprised to learn that only 4 teams were considering drafting Mixon. Not sure if I am more pleasantly surprised or more skeptical surprised. If Mixon was undrafted in the last round I have to think more teams would have taken him.

12 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Yes I smell BS here.

I don't really get this "taking a player off the board" idea. Unless you're utterly convinced that a player is going to be the next Jovan Belcher or Aaron Hernandez, why would you ever do this for a player who is a top-50 talent?

It's even more ridiculous when people say it's been done for an injury concern. You're saying you wouldn't take a first-round talent in the 7th because of an injury risk? That would be bizarre.

18 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I can easily imagine that when they're putting together their boards, teams "disqualify" players for any number of reasons: character, injuries, scheme fit, or a plain old perceived lack of talent. And since they're unlikely to be asked about the guys they didn't take (or answer anything more than "We liked the guy we took better,") we're none the wiser.

11 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Oddly written article

"the Lions needs may not be supported in this draft" - why would you draft to "support" your needs? You'd do it to address them!

And a lot of inane comments like "At this point, the Jets are hopeful these players can get them moving in the right direction" and "If new head coach Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams can take a big step forward offensively, the rest of the graders will be happy to increase this Rams draft class grade in the future."

Of course the Jets hope their picks will improve their team! And of course the Rams class will look better if the players turn out to be good. But what's the point in saying that?

14 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

We are talking about and article about draft """"experts"""" who grade a draft within on week of happening.
So yeah, this could be the end of the spectrum on writing about the NFL.

"Jamal Adams was considered one of the biggest steals in the draft"... at number 6 mind you.

13 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I find it interesting that the Seahawks have the 3rd lowest grade standard deviation at 0.33 (and only slightly higher than the lowest at 0.31). Every one of this year's panel gave Seattle a B range grade except Kiper at C+.

After the 2012 draft Seattle received multiple Ds and Fs for drafting Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson. It would seem that now the draft "experts" do not want to risk a mouth full of black feathers in a year or two.

21 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

It just shows these "experts" have no idea either about who's going to be good.

What we should be evaluating is how the teams minimised their risk and maximised their opportunities.
That's why I like what the Browns have been doing by trading back and piling future draft picks. Maximise your opportunities.

"People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws."

A first round talent with character/injury issues in round 1 is probably a bad idea. But if he's available in the 4th round, you have maximised your opportunities and minimised your risk.


16 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

When they did "Grading the Graders", I thought they were going to actually look at how well the Graders Graded in past years. I amaze myself with my ignorance sometimes.

17 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Chargers DVOA trends for the last three years:

Offense: -3.0% (2016 rank: 19), 0.9% (2015 rank: 15), 7.0% (2014 rank: 11)
Defense: -6.8% (2016 rank: 8), 10.4% (2015 rank: 28), 4.9% (2014 rank: 25),

So the Chargers were actually a decent defense last year after a big jump from 2015, while the offense has been trending down since their great 2013 year.

The offense did sputter last year towards the end of the season as the injuries mounted, so I do believe the rating doesn't really give the right impression (especially if Keenan Allen can stay healthy). But my point is that the Chargers had a decent D last year and it was reasonable to expect them to pick up offensive talent early in a draft that heavily skewed towards defense.

If the Chargers actually have a healthy year next year, they should be a surprise Super Bowl contender.

19 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

this year's edition may have been the most fun (and wild) of all time

While I'll admit to not paying particularly close attention to the event, I didn't come away with the impression that this was an exceptional draft in those senses. Maybe you like the idea of celebrities and other odd people announcing picks a lot more than I do.

24 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I imagine that the comment refers to the record # of trades (both in the 1st round and for the draft entire)and the surprise of 7 out of the 1st 10 being offense when most media had it being top heavy on D, the "fall" of draft darlings @ Alabama (shouldn't surprise much- see just last year on both DT and Ragland) Oakland taking a guy under investigation for rape @24 after Lael Collins goes undrafted because of much less likely murder investigation ties (as a KC fan I prefer this Reggie to the one who snagged Mack+Carr), etc. Day 3 is a horror show for all but the biggest draft nerds (love watching who goes where,hate the chamber of commerce on acid optics)

25 Re: 2017 NFL Draft Report Card Report

thought Raiders, jets, and 59ers drafts nice. liked benglas a lot too although j. mixon tiouygh pick to explain to media and fans a nd guy needs a mentor maybe. but as plsyrr, was highly impressed with mixon at Ojlagoma. think Squirrels landing s. perine very good movwe. have some tough big body runners now with him and Fat Rob Kelley. can develop some rough and tumble run attack like late 80s/early 90s chiefgs with c. okoye and b. word.

liked some other picks here and there. falcons made a nice pick here, bad pick there. ditto rams. ditto Loins. ditto texnas, cards, packrsm probably could list whole lesguie here if wanted to.

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