2019 Draft Report Card Report
by Cale Clinton In a weekend dominated by Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame, the REAL nerds were focused on one thing: the 2019 NFL Draft. Despite the massive weekend in pop culture and a lack of massive stars in the rookie class, it still managed to draw in record-high TV ratings. Now that we are a few days removed from the process, the experts have weighed in. We've done the heavy lifting for you: we've consolidated draft grades from the most prominent sports sources and football minds all in one place. Today, we'll break down the consensus best, worst, and most polarizing draft classes of 2019. This is … the 2019 Draft Report Card Report. Previous NFL Draft Report Cards can be found here: (2018), (2017), (2016), (2015), (2014), (2013), (2012), (2011), (2010), (2009), (2008), (2007), (2006), (2005), (2004). As always, let's go through our panel of football minds. We have many incumbents returning this year, with some small changes. Bleacher Report's draft grades are now being done by Kristopher Knox. In addition to Evan Silva's contributions to Yahoo! Sports subsidiary RotoWorld, we've also added Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm into the mix. Sadly, we have failed to include NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang in this year's calculations because, well, he didn't post grades this year.
- Mel Kiper (ESPN+)
- Evan Silva Rotoworld (AFC) (NFC)
- Eric Edholm NFLDraftScout.com (Yahoo Sports)
- Nate Davis (USA Today)
- Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)
- Chad Reuter (NFL.com)
- Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Report)
- Mark Maske (Washington Post)
- Dan Kadar (SBNation)
- Andy Benoit (Sports Illustrated)
- Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)
- Finally, our old buddy Doug Farrar (USA Today)
Highest Draft Grades
1. New England Patriots GPA: 3.80 Highest: A+ (Knox, Prisco) Lowest: B+ (3 Tied) Comments: Oh, how the rich get richer. The Patriots didn't just have the highest GPA this year; they also had the second-lowest standard deviation of grades -- everyone liked this draft. The reigning Super Bowl champions were drained of a lot of high-end talent this offseason. Tight end Rob Gronkowski called it a career, while offensive tackle Trent Brown, defensive end Trey Flowers, tight end Dwayne Allen, wide receivers Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown all found new homes and bigger contracts. It didn't seem possible for New England to replace all those snaps. Yet the Patriots' "next man up" mentality was on full display this past weekend. With five picks made in the first three rounds, every analyst seemed to love the selection of the big-bodied playmaking wide receiver N'Keal Harry out of Arizona State. Prisco, who gave the Patriots the ever-elusive A+, loved the selection of Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams in the second round. Almost every analyst identified Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich as the prototypical player that Bill Belichick seems to manufacture in a lab every year on Draft Night. New England's offensive line addition Yodny Cajuste seemed to be a universally praised selection, while Hjalte Froholdt was met with mixed reviews. The only selection that seems to be frowned upon is the trade-up for Stanford punter Jake Bailey in the fifth round. When New England identifies a punter as the best-value selection in the fifth round, maybe it's time to turn off your television and return to your loved ones.
2. Arizona Cardinals GPA: 3.63 Highest: A+ (Knox) Lowest: B- (Maske) Comments: The Arizona Cardinals find themselves high atop our highest-graded draft classes once again, despite drafting a quarterback in the top 10 in back-to-back years. Yes, the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray seemed relatively polarizing just a few weeks ago with second-year quarterback Josh Rosen still on the roster, but draft analysts have begun to warm up to the former Sooners passer. Many cite the relationship between Murray and rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury as a sign that the Cardinals at the very least have a plan. Prisco, who gave the Cardinals an A, cited the Murray selection as the team's worst pick of the draft only because he prefers Rosen. With the number of holes on this roster on both sides of the ball, Arizona really couldn't help but address needs. The selection of cornerback Byron Murphy drew a lot of praise, as did that of defensive lineman Zach Allen. The Cardinals also managed to surround Murray with weapons outside of running back David Johnson and aging wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Wide receivers Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson will all hopefully be able to give the rookie quarterback some good options downfield. While this draft class will certainly hinge on the success of Murray, the Cardinals were able to make solid additions on both sides of the ball.
3. Washington Redskins GPA: 3.57 Highest: A+ (Knox) Lowest: C- (Davis) Comments: When Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced that he would be in control of selections on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, Washington fans must have been terrified. This was, after all, the same Dan Snyder who infamously traded three firsts and a second for quarterback Robert Griffin III. Well, now you can sleep soundly, Redskins fans. Your guys nailed it. Washington was able to address their dire need for a quarterback when Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins fell into their lap at 15 overall. Washington then made a move that was praised by many analysts in trading two second-round selections to move up for pass-rusher Montez Sweat. Sweat was some people's top defensive player behind the likes of Nick Bosa and Ed Oliver, so snagging him at 26 overall has been praised as a steal by many. Pairing Haskins with speedy wide receiver and college teammate Terry McLaurin isn't just a great story, it has also been a highly celebrated selection. Washington has needed someone to take the top off of defenses, and McLaurin will be able to do just that. The lone blemish in some people's eyes seems to come from the selection of Stanford running back Bryce Love. While Love was a Heisman runner-up in 2017, the back tore his ACL on the last play of his 2018 regular season. Some analysts are scratching their head as to why Washington would back up injury-prone running back Derrius Guice with a back coming off his own massive knee injury.
4. Buffalo Bills GPA: 3.41 Highest: A+ (Knox) Lowest: B- (Silva) Comments: Don't celebrate your consensus best draft class award just yet, Patriots fans. The Buffalo Bills are stacking up for a post-Tom Brady AFC East, and they just might make his life hell for his last few years on top of it. Many of the draft graders identified Buffalo's selection of defensive tackle Ed Oliver at nine overall to be the steal of the draft. The Houston Cougars lineman addresses a big need on the defensive line for Buffalo and may be a potential All-Pro player once developed. The Bills made another great selection while addressing need when they selected Oklahoma lineman Cody Ford in the second round. The Bills placed a first-round grade on Ford in their pre-draft process, so chalk that up as the second steal in as many rounds for the Bills. The selection of Florida Atlantic running back David Singletary seems to be the point of divergence for graders. While some think that Buffalo faltered in drafting a new face into an already crowded running back room, others have Singletary's pro comp as LeSean McCoy. Seeing as McCoy's production dropped considerably in 2018, Singletary may get featured early and often during the 2019 season. Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox is also seen as a bit of a controversial selection, seeing as he played only 18 college games at Ole Miss and never found the end zone. However, others see Knox as a high-ceiling project with an already-established ability to block well.
5. Denver Broncos GPA: 3.40 Highest: A (Reuter, Farrar) Lowest: C+ (Davis) Comments: Iowa tight end Noah Fant may not be the all-around player that former teammate T.J. Hockenson is touted as, but he will certainly make his name known in the Mile High City. Fant is going to be a strong pass-catching option for veteran quarterback Joe Flacco on a team whose offensive weapons have slowly dissipated since their Super Bowl run only three seasons ago. The Broncos were even able to get their guy after landing a considerable haul trading down with the Pittsburgh Steelers, adding even more draft picks to their stable. With back-to-back selections in the second round, the Broncos continued to address the offense with Kansas State lineman Dalton Risner and Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. These two selections have been the source of consistent praise across draft report cards, with Reuter citing it as potentially being "the team's battery for a decade." Davis, Denver's biggest detractor, thinks moving up for Lock was a move done solely because of John Elway's penchant for quarterbacks. He may be right, but I can't see Flacco being the man in Denver for the long-term.
Lowest Draft Grades
1. New York Giants GPA: 1.92 Highest: B+ (Prisco) Lowest: D- (Davis) Comments: Oh boy. Nearly everybody has been extremely critical of the selection of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at six overall. Prisco is the lone analyst with a cautious optimism in Jones' abilities. Despite general manager Dave Gettleman's claims that multiple teams were interested in selecting Jones, most believe that New York could have selected him at 17 with the pick they acquired in the Odell Beckham trade. This draft class will be staked on the success of the quarterback that many have dubbed Eli Manning with a worse arm. While some consider later first-round selections Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker to be immediate contributors, Davis panned the Giants for reaching three times in the first round. Many of the Giants' later picks, such as Old Dominion defensive end Oshane Ximines and Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love, seem like projects that will be thrown to the wolves very early.
2. Houston Texans GPA: 1.98 Highest: B (Benoit, Iyer) Lowest: D (Davis, Knox) Comments: According to many of our draft gurus, a lot of the picks the Houston Texans made in this draft were reaches. After the Philadelphia Eagles leapfrogged the Texans in the first round to select Andre Dillard, Houston went on to select Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard. While many cite Howard's potentially high ceiling, most consider the selection a massive reach. Kiper had Howard and Houston's second-round selection, Illinois tackle Max Scharping, as third-round linemen. Addressing the offensive line was a necessity for Houston, seeing as they surrendered a league-leading 62 sacks last year. They just happened to address the need in the wrong way. Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson was brought on to address needs in a depleted secondary; it may be the lone praised selection for Houston this offseason. Many also like the selection of Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu, who was considered a Day 2 selection. However, the Texans failed to address wide receiver, their second-biggest need, altogether.
3. Atlanta Falcons GPA: 2.31 Highest: B+ (Reuter) Lowest: D (Farrar) Comments: The biggest failure of the Atlanta Falcons in this draft was not addressing their needs in the front seven until the 111th overall pick in the draft. Atlanta went with offensive line help twice in earlier rounds, with Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom at 14 overall and Washington tackle Kaleb McGary at 31. Lindstrom feels like a safe pick that borders on tepid, and trading up for McGary feels like a reach to many. The selections are especially interesting when thinking about all the money Atlanta dedicated to their offensive line in free agency. One of the biggest criticisms lobbed at Atlanta is that they managed to waste draft capital. The Falcons traded up three times, sacrificing a handful of picks over this year and the next in doing so. With no picks on Day 2, one would think that Atlanta would be more careful with their selections. Yet Silva has already labeled their last three picks (Pittsburgh running back Qadree Ollison, Washington cornerback Jordan Miller, and Louisiana-Monroe wide receiver Marcus Green) as "throwaways." It just didn't seem like the Falcons had much of a plan coming into a draft praised for its massive depth. "Overall, this draft had the Falcons taking developmental and low-ceiling players," Farrar writes, "when they needed to hit home runs to stay competitive in the NFC South."
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers GPA: 2.33 Highest: A- (Benoit) Lowest: D (Iyer) Comments: What a rough showing for the NFC South in this draft, huh? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected what graders believe is a longtime starter in LSU linebacker Devin White, but have received criticism for passing up on both Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver after they slid down from the top of the draft. The rest of the Buccaneers' selections can be labeled as question marks. Central Michigan's Sean Bunting is labeled a reach at 39, while Auburn's Jamel Dean has been considered incredibly inconsistent on film. While the Bucs did need a kicker, Utah's Matt Gay wasn't considered the best in the draft and was drafted way too high. Have you learned nothing from Roberto Aguayo?
5. New Orleans Saints GPA: 2.34 Highest: B (Benoit, Farrar) Lowest: D+ (Davis) Comments: The New Orleans Saints had limited resources in this draft, with only five picks made in seven rounds. Trading up for a Day 1 starter in center Erik McCoy was a highly regarded move after the retirement of Max Unger, yet criticism came from the team's continued pattern of mortgaging the future for present success. (The Saints traded a second to get McCoy and didn't have a first to begin with after trading up for Marcus Davenport last year). The team's later selections, like Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, are good additions in addressing need, but we have to wonder if the trading track record of New Orleans will come back to bite them down the road.
Most Polarizing Grades
1. Cincinnati Bengals SD: 0.889 Highest: A- (3 Tied) Lowest: D (Knox) Comments:The Bengals started their draft with a popular pick in Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams. He was a polished, safe pick and addressed one of Cincinnati's biggest needs coming into the draft. It was every selection after that where the Bengals drew dissenting opinions. The selection of Washington tight end Drew Sample was Cincy's first polarizing selection. While some, like Reuter, believe Sample is a good combo tight end with a lot of upside, nearly everyone considers the pick a massive reach. For a team that needed a number of players who could potentially start Day 1, the Bengals went for depth in a lot of places. North Carolina State linebacker Germaine Pratt has been called everything from a great replacement for Vontaze Burfict to doing "too little too late" in an area of need. Quarterback Ryan Finley, also from North Carolina State, has been a source of debate for some as well. All of our graders believe that the Bengals will need to move on from quarterback Andy Dalton sooner rather than later. While some believe Finley could be that successor, others see his ceiling being comparable to … Andy Dalton's.
2. Tennessee Titans SD: 0.848 Highest: A (3 Tied) Lowest: C- (Iyer) Comments: As you can see by the highest and lowest scores listed above, the Tennessee Titans had a relatively successful draft. How successful that draft was, however, varies from grader to grader. Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who suffered a torn ACL in February, would have been selected much higher if not for the injury. While some consider it a savvy move to take a potential top-5 player at 19, detractors believe that the Titans, a team that has sat on the cusp of playoff success the past two years, needed to think about the present rather than the future. Iyer, who gave the team a C-, thought that both Simmons and Georgia linebacker D'Andre Walker, the Bulldogs' top pass rusher who is recovering from a sports hernia surgery, were too big of projects for a team this close to success.
3. Cleveland Browns SD: 0.822 Highest: A (Davis, Farrar) Lowest: C- (Benoit) Comments: It felt weird this year that the Cleveland Browns didn't pick first overall, right? Given the success of recent first-round picks by the Browns, Cleveland finally found themselves picking in the bottom half of the first round for the first time in a while. The Browns then traded that pick in a package for wide receiver Odell Beckham, who is inarguably better right now than any one draft prospect that would have been on the board at 17. Some are factoring that into the Browns' draft grade, which is understandable. Their first selection of the draft didn't come until Friday night, when they traded up to take LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Many had placed a first-round grade on Williams and could not explain his slide into Day 2 of the draft, but others think Williams will be more of a project than his pedigree suggests. BYU linebacker Sloane Takitaki is a fun name to say, sure, but in terms of football skills, there are a lot of question marks. Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson is also touted as a great value selection in the fifth round. Cleveland's need at the linebacker position, however, has some analysts questioning whether Wilson will be ready to be an impactful player as early as Week 1.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers SD: 0.818 Highest: A- (3 tied) Lowest: D (Silva) Comments: After a tumultuous, overly dramatic offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you would think the draft would be a return to form. Alas, questions remain about Pittsburgh's current plans. Linebacker was an obvious need for the Steelers after losing team leader Ryan Shazier in 2017 to a devastating spinal injury, and they addressed that need by trading up to 10 overall for Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. While Bush is a genuine talent at the position, Silva describes the move to get him as "desperate." The team sacrificed the 20th overall selection, a second-round pick and next year's third-rounder to get Bush. Pittsburgh was also forced to address the wide receiver and running back positions after trading Antonio Brown and allowing Le'Veon Bell to get his bag elsewhere. The Steelers filled those gaps with Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson and Kentucky running back Benny Snell. The selection of Johnson seemed to leave some scratching their heads, but it is undeniable at this point that Pittsburgh knows how to develop young wideouts. Despite Snell selecting Bell's old number 26 as his jersey number, the two players couldn't be more different. Snell will be a good backup to James Conner, but some cite his inability to catch the ball and "brutal athletic results" as major negatives in Snell's game. Silva also refers to fifth-round Michigan tight end Zech Gentry as a "Jesse James clone." You can decide on your own if that's a good or bad thing.
5. Chicago Bears SD: 0.808 Highest: A (Reuter) Lowest: C (4 Tied) Comments: The Bears used their first- and sixth-round picks in this year's draft last year, picking up a pair of players named "Khalil" and "Mack." (They also lost some 2020 picks in the deal, but we'll deal with that next year.) "Khalil Mack was 100 percent worthy of the Bears' interest," Reuter writes. "He played lights-out in 2018 and I suspect will be a force over the next few seasons, barring injury (which was a bit of a concern last year)." The Mack trade complicates the evaluation of Chicago's draft, which certainly had its warts -- notably the decision to trade up for Iowa State running back David Montgomery. "Forfeiting two picks to trade up for a third-round running back with 4.63 speed was unnecessary," Silva writes, "and it’s entirely possible Chicago gets very little from the other four players [general manager Ryan Pace] selected."
|2019 NFL Draft Grades|
|NE||A+ (Knox, Prisco)||B+ (3 Tied)||3.80||1||0.362||31|
|ARI||A+ (Knox)||B- (Maske)||3.63||2||0.498||27|
|WAS||A+ (Knox)||C- (Davis)||3.57||3||0.679||15|
|BUF||A+ (Knox)||B- (Silva)||3.41||4||0.448||28|
|DEN||A (Reuter, Farrar)||C+ (Davis)||3.40||5||0.445||29|
|BAL||A (Reuter)||B (6 Tied)||3.24||6||0.323||32|
|IND||A (3 Tied)||C- (Davis)||3.18||7||0.742||8|
|CLE||A (Davis, Farrar)||C- (Benoit)||3.15||8||0.822||3|
|JAX||A- (4 Tied)||C (Iyer)||3.12||9||0.569||20|
|PHI||A (Reuter)||C (Farrar)||3.09||10||0.613||18|
|MIA||A (Davis, Benoit)||C- (Silva)||3.08||11||0.664||16|
|CAR||A (Edholm, Reuter)||C+ (3 Tied)||2.99||12||0.521||22|
|LAC||B+ (5 tied)||C+ (Kiper, Kadar)||2.96||13||0.380||30|
|TEN||A (3 Tied)||C- (Iyer)||2.95||14||0.848||2|
|PIT||A- (3 Tied)||D (Silva)||2.94||15||0.818||4|
|MIN||A (Reuter, Benoit)||C- (Davis)||2.91||16||0.734||10|
|SF||A (Davis)||C (Silva)||2.88||17||0.601||19|
|NYJ||A- (Reuter)||C (Farrar)||2.88||18||0.501||25|
|OAK||A- (Benoit)||C (Maske, Benoit)||2.84||19||0.734||9|
|CHI||A (Reuter)||C (4 tied)||2.81||20||0.808||5|
|CIN||A- (3 Tied)||D (Knox)||2.79||21||0.889||1|
|GB||A (Reuter)||C- (Maske)||2.78||22||0.723||11|
|SEA||A- (Reuter)||C (Prisco, Iyer)||2.76||23||0.498||26|
|LAR||A- (Edholm)||D (Iyer)||2.70||24||0.692||14|
|KC||B+ (Reuter, Benoit)||C- (Davis, Iyer)||2.58||25||0.541||21|
|DET||B+ (Benoit)||C- (Farrar)||2.53||26||0.516||23|
|DAL||A (Reuter)||D (Iyer)||2.47||27||0.758||7|
|NO||B (Benoit, Farrar)||D+ (Davis)||2.39||28||0.504||24|
|TB||A- (Benoit)||D (iyer)||2.33||29||0.710||13|
|ATL||B+ (Reuter)||D (Farrar)||2.20||30||0.717||12|
|HOU||B (Benoit, Iyer)||D (Davis, Knox)||1.98||31||0.648||17|
|NYG||B+ (Prisco)||D- (Davis)||1.92||32||0.800||6|
This year's graders continued to stay almost dead-even with years past. The average GPA was 2.88, compared to 2.87 from last year and 2.86 the year prior. Graders were slightly more widely varied than last year's assessments. This year's average standard deviation rose to 0.72, rising by a full tenth from last year's mark of 0.62. NFL.com's Chris Reuter, last year's most generous grader with an average GPA of 3.47, somehow managed to be even more generous. Reuter increased his average GPA to a whopping 3.55 and handed out eleven A-grades compared to last year's eight. Reuters' average GPA was a full half-point higher than the next most generous grader, Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit. Evan Silva finally forfeited his title of stingiest grader to Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer. USAToday's Nate Davis edged out Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox for the highest standard deviation of grades, 0.934 to 0.931. There seemed to be some relative consistency across graders from last year to this year. Knox may have gotten a little trigger-happy when assigning high marks, as he gave out four A+'s as opposed to the single A+ assigned by all other graders combined. Iyer seemed to particularly dislike this draft, as his average GPA plummeted from 3.02 to a stark 2.56. The biggest rise we saw in grading, funnily enough, came from our second-lowest grader in Evan Silva of Rotoworld. Despite his relatively low average GPA of 2.67, that number is up nearly four tenths of a point from last year's 2.31.
|2019 NFL Draft Graders|
|Davis||A (4 Tied)||D- (NYG)||2.70||0.93|
|Knox||A+ (4 Tied)||D (3 Tied)||2.86||0.93|
|Iyer||A (4 Tied)||D (3 Tied)||2.66||0.91|
|Silva||A (3 Tied)||D+ (NYG)||2.67||0.81|
|Farrar||A (5 Tied)||D (ATL)||2.90||0.78|
|Edholm||A (TEN)||D+ (TB)||2.80||0.75|
|Maske||A- (3 Tied)||C- (5 Tied)||2.75||0.67|
|Benoit||A (3 Tied)||C- (3 Tied)||3.06||0.65|
|Prisco||A+ (NE)||C- (HOU)||2.89||0.62|
|Kadar||A- (4 Tied)||D+ (NYG)||2.76||0.57|
|Kiper||A (IND)||C+ (7 Tied)||2.98||0.49|
|Reuter||A (11 Tied)||C+ (HOU, TB)||3.55||0.49|
41 comments, Last at 14 May 2019, 3:30am
#1 by Raiderjoe // May 02, 2019 - 11:29am
Raiders drfat seems tremendous. if nto work ou,t with these pciks, things weill still work out W-L-T-wise due to ecellent coahcing.
Bills draft seemed nice to me.
Pates picks seemed goodo but i never paid attention to j. williams. theaverage occasional college football watcher is not goign to spend that time watchign vanderbilt. Cajuste seems good but even when i watched WVU (my college team() games (am doing les and less of that eahc year) i was not foucising on Cajuste. usually watch college football whuiel reading and/or drinkign. It is NFL games that i pay much closer attention to,. Woudl bet some of these graders above even saw less sof these paleytrs than i did. Thereofre, put little stock inthese grades
#2 by MilkmanDanimal // May 02, 2019 - 11:32am
In the last two years, between rounds 2-4, Tampa drafted four CBs and two safeties. Listen, I realize your secondary has been a dumpster fire for years, but . . . does that not seem potentially excessive?
While I always find the draft report card report card articles entertaining, it's the "six years later" ones that really shine.
#7 by justanothersteve // May 02, 2019 - 3:01pm
The Packers have drafted a DB in either round one or two five of the last six years. Three of those years they've used both top two picks. That's nine of the last thirteen picks (two #1 picks this year) over six years. It's it's broke, you have to keep trying until you fix it.
#3 by Sifter // May 02, 2019 - 12:11pm
Patriots best? Bollocks. They took decent enough players, but no outstanding value - except maybe Winovich. Everyone else they picked was where they were expected to be. Maybe even reached a little for N'Keal (especially given the glut of WRs that were there to be had in round 2), and definitely JoeJuan - who I had read was a 3rd round prospect. However, aside from value, my biggest issue is positions taken. Why draft another DB? They take one every year it seems. Duke Dawson was last years 2nd round pick (and is now CB4, pending JoeJuan's spot). Another RB in round 3 with Sony and J.White on board? I'd say average Belichick draft.
I did like the Cardinals draft. Murray makes it riskier, but I thought they got good value throughout the rounds.
#6 by bravehoptoad // May 02, 2019 - 2:06pm
I suspect most of the reason for the Patriots' high grades are a knock-on from appearing in 4 of the past 5 Super Bowls. "They're a good team, so they must have drafted well," kind of thing.
Edit: is it my imagination, or are off-season comments at FO way down this year from last?
#10 by mehllageman56 // May 02, 2019 - 7:14pm
New England's report card last 3-4 years:
From the 2018 draft, only Sony Michel did much, granted he did a lot. Isiah Wynn got hurt, but they are hoping he'll be one of their starting tackles. From 2017, Deatrich Wise has gotten some sacks, but Derek Rivers has 1 sack in his career and the other two guys got cut. In 2016 they did alright; the 2nd round corner was a bust, but they got Thuney at guard and Elandon Roberts later on. And yeah, they drafted Jacoby Brissett, who isn't starting for anyone right now but was good enough for New England to get PHilip Dorsett back in trade. 2015 was actually a good draft; they got Malcolm Brown, Trey Flowers, Shaq Mason and Darryl Roberts. Or rather the Jets got Darryl Roberts when the Pats cut him, and now that foolish team thinks he'll be their 2nd corner. So basically, this list just proves none of the 'experts' know who did well or not. Better off asking Dr. Stephen Strange how the Pats did in the draft this year.
#14 by Chip // May 02, 2019 - 11:51pm
Yes, a good ancedote that draft grades are utterly meaningless. There is no relationship between grade and draft value or PFR’s approximate value. Plot the draft grades against future PFR AV and you’ll see that it’s a shotgun blast scatter plot with a correlation of 0.0%.
That’s said, it’s a lot of fun. You have to fill the off season dead space somehow.
#21 by dryheat // May 03, 2019 - 7:49am
Sports columnists, especially the on-line variety, have an overwhelming need to be right. Ego reasons aside, there are professional credibility reasons.
Every draft grade is a long way of saying "this team's draft most closely resembles my mock draft."
#31 by BJR // May 04, 2019 - 7:17am
Yes, Belichick has reached the point where his 'halo effect' overwhelms most analysis. Understandable in some regards, but probably not with regard to drafting. Although grading drafts in their immediate aftermath is an utterly pointless exercise in any case.
#15 by Cale Clinton // May 03, 2019 - 4:55am
I understand that a lot of my analysis incorporates “steals” and value picks, but at the end of the day the Draft is about addressing need, no? I think the Patriots win the Draft because 1) they’re the Patriots and the get the benefit of the doubt with these “Belichick guys,” and 2) they addressed need really well!
The Patriots selected N’Keal Harry with AJ Brown and DK Metcalf atill on the board. While wide receiver is a need in general for NE, I think their bigger need schematically was replacing the big body in Gronk. DK could’ve been that big body, but he only runs in straight lines. Harry is a playmaking wide receiver; while he has some issues creating separation from CBs, I think he’s going to be a big red zone asset for Brady.
Joejuan Williams addresses NE’s need at the aging cornerback position, and his work ethic and story coming into the draft make him very Belichick-Stephon Gilmore still has years on his deal, but the guy is getting up there in years. Couple that with the McCourty twins flirting with the idea of retirement and you can understand why the Patriots would double dip at the position.
To your point about the running back position: yeah, bit of a weird move. Belichick’s obviously a “next man up” guy, especially at the RB position, but 5 backs plus Devilin seems excessive. However, there is value in Damien Harris. He’s never going to be a transcendent talent at running back; he never was at Alabama. But what this guy is going to give you is consistency down after down. He’s a patient back with great vision, can lend a hand in the pass protection, and had moderate success as a pass-catching back at Alabama. It’s all about strategy. With the way they’ve used Brandon’s Bolden and Rex Burkhead this past season, I could easily see Harris taking one of their spots as a more prominent option in the backfield.
#19 by Mr Shush // May 03, 2019 - 6:52am
I disagree: the draft is about acquiring good players for the medium-long term. Needs at positions other than RB (because their earliest years are usually their best) and QB (because it's so hard to acquire a really good one any other way, and they're so important) are best addressed in free agency.
#22 by sbond101 // May 03, 2019 - 10:58am
Grading the Pats draft is really quite interesting; it's highly unlikely that the Pats got the highest aggregate value of players out of the draft for the straightforward reason that they had no where close to the daft capital that many other teams (e.g. Oakland) had - though this year is better than it has been recently. Everyone in the media loves a big receiver as a first round pick, and the fact that it addresses a key need for the Pats make it all the better, and they clearly made an effort to address their needs along the lines with their mid-round picks.
Having said all that if this were any other team they would get knocked for picking a RB in the 3rd round into a deep group, a punter (in the 5th round!) with a good one on the roster, and trading up for a corner that doesn't fit the typical NFL mold in the mid 2nd round. Who knows how these moves will play out, but ask yourself what you would say if the Bills made these picks.
If your criteria for "grading" the draft is accumulating the most talent I think it's ridicules to have the Pats at the top. If your criteria is getting the best value for the draft capital at your disposal I can see why you would pick the Pats, but I suspect a strong element of confirmation bias is at play in making that evaluation. (I say all this as someone who thinks that BB the GM is excellent, as opposed to all the people who think BB the coach has been covering for crappy GM-ing all these years).
#5 by Steve in WI // May 02, 2019 - 12:45pm
I'm surprised that the Bears were polarizing, although I wonder if draft experts are consistent in whether they evaluate just the players drafted or the totality of how the team used that year's picks (in other words, do you count Kahlil Mack or not?)
They definitely needed a running back and the consensus seems to be that Montgomery fits their scheme well and projects like he could be a star. I've been critical of how Pace trades up in every single draft, but viewing this decision alone, swapping 5th and 6th round picks and giving up a 4th next year isn't an enormous amount to give up if Montgomery is worth it.
I find Silva's comment "it’s entirely possible Chicago gets very little from the other four players" to be quite silly. Of course it's possible that they get very little from a 4th, a 6th, and 2 7th round picks. Lots of guys in those rounds fail to pan out. Way to put yourself out there on that one...
#16 by Cale Clinton // May 03, 2019 - 5:06am
I think you’ll notice that the most polarizing drafts are often teams with big names tied to lost/gained draft assets. The Bears acquiring Mack, the Steelers losing Brown, the Cowboys picking up Cooper, the Raiders with the litany of moves they made, and the Browns stealing OBJ all led to top-10 polarizing draft classes. Even the Giants had one of the most volatile collection of draft grades with the acquisition of #17 overall.
Some graders choose to incorporate those selections into their analysis, and some choose to just assess the pool of collegiate talent picked up within the 3-day window. So now, not only are you looking at variance in graders’ assessment of talent, you’re also factoring in a much wider variance of whether or not draft gurus liked the selection ~in relation~ to the pieces they picked up/traded away. Draft grading is a subjective, imperfect science.
#23 by Chip // May 03, 2019 - 11:12am
It’s also tied to two more factors;
(1) absolute draft value. Many draft analysts only look at relative value - did they get a player below his anticipated draft slot / rank? Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, etc. Only some incorporate absolute draft capital - did they have a bounty of picks and get market value? If so, A+ then.
(2) trading draft picks. Some analysts ignore trades and only grade relative value. Others like Evan Silva, hammer any GM that trades up, particularly if the trade is a negative NPV. He has hated the Bears drafts as Pace frequently trades up.
#11 by Mr Shush // May 02, 2019 - 7:21pm
"the Texans failed to address wide receiver, their second-biggest need, altogether."
On what planet is wide receiver a need for the Texans? They have a superstar WR1, and while Fuller and Coutee have had some issues with injuries they're both actively excellent qua WR2 and 3 when healthy.
They desperately needed tackles. They desperately needed a corner. They could have done with a running back or two, and the tight end group had some potential but very little proven production. Another WR couldn't hurt, but it was way down the priority list.
Did they reach for the tackles? Maybe. On the other hand, they spent more time with Howard pre-draft than with any other player in the class, and small school linemen are exactly the kind of player I would expect the amateur draftniks not to have a reliable handle on. When a team reaches for a big-armed, inaccurate QB from a major programme, the derision is very likely to be justified. A tackle out of the SWAC? Reserving judgment seems wiser, because probably only the other teams have a worthwhile opinion on the subject, and they won't give it honestly in public. The Texans have missed on four first round picks, ever - and two of those were in the Casserly years. I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
#18 by Cale Clinton // May 03, 2019 - 5:39am
I’ll be completely honest with you, I (somehow) forgot DeAndre Hopkins was a person. That’s on me.
As for Tytus Howard, I get where you’re coming from. At the end of the day, the Texans addressed their biggest need and got DeShaun Watson security. Howard let up a single sack last season and led Alabama State in pancake blocks. Draft grades are obviously extremely subjective. When Philadelphia trades up ahead of the Texans and takes a seemingly safer pick in Andre Dillard, then Houston takes an FCS guy at 22 overall, it doesn’t exactly look very savvy.
If Houston found their guy, then more power to ‘em. We could look back in a couple years and laugh at everyone for ripping the selection—when I do these every year I love looking back at Old Takes Expos-ing draft grades from 5 or 6 years ago. Most of what I had read and listened to surrounding the draft (most recently Ryen Russillo’s post-draft analysis on The Ringer’s Dual Threat podcast) specifically mentioned that “someone” was going to fall in love with Howard and take him in the 1st or 2nd round. While scouts may have graded him as a Day 2 or early Day 3 guy, none of that matters if the need is addressed. If DeShaun Watson doesn’t get sacked sixty-something times in 2019, the Tytus Howard was worth the 1st round selection.
#20 by Mr Shush // May 03, 2019 - 7:13am
Honestly, I have no opinion on Howard. I've never seen the man play outside of a few YouTube clips, and I don't know the first thing about scouting offensive linemen anyway. He perfectly well might be an atrocious bust. I'm just a bit dubious of the confidence with which the draftnik community thinks they can peg a player like that.
But from what I can gather, he absolutely is the player the Texans wanted. The Ravens called to give Houston a chance to outbid the Eagles, and the Texans weren't interested. If Dillard had still been there, they'd have taken Howard anyway. Again, they may be wrong. Howard may suck. Dillard may be a Hall of Famer. But if so, it's the product of a talent evaluation error, not a reach for need. By contrast, when they drafted Watson, the post-draft rumblings were that they were furious about losing out on Mahomes.
Interestingly, the Texans fanbase and Texans beat-writer/blogosphere seem very much at odds on the draft class: the former love it and the latter hate it. The difference seems to be that people who cover the team saw them as a potentially strong contender in 2019 and are upset that the rookies are overwhelmingly developmental prospects who may not contribute much right away. I don't think that's realistic, and I've never liked any kind of mortgage the future/window of opportunity approach to teambuilding. If these guys turn out to be good players, it's a good draft. If not, it isn't. I've no way of knowing which will be true, but I approve of trying to sign the players who will be best in a couple of years, not who are most likely to help immediately.
Incidentally, if you've never come across it before, here is possibly the most glorious post-draft hot take of all time.
#27 by Hoodie_Sleeves // May 03, 2019 - 6:35pm
Reminds me of the Ron Borges article lambastic the Patriots for drafting Richard Seymour instead of David Terrell
”On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson or the second-best tackle in the draft in Kenyatta Walker, they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had 1 sacks last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end. This genius move was followed by trading out of a spot where they could have gotten the last decent receiver in Robert Ferguson and settled for tackle Matt Light, who will not help any time soon. "
#38 by mehllageman56 // May 06, 2019 - 6:22pm
Amazing that he would double down on hating the Richard Seymour pick. Seymour turned into a monster halfway through his rookie season and was instrumental in the Patriots winning the Super Bowl his rookie year. Always thought the strategy of taking Seymour, Warren and Wilfork within three years was a great one, and the Jets keep repeating it, although it doesn't lead them anywhere. Perhaps now that they have a quarterback things will be different.
#39 by SandyRiver // May 07, 2019 - 8:27am
Borges always seemed to sharpen his poison pen when writing about the Belichick Pats. I never noted if he had any comment when several years later the Pats signed his (apparent) favorite pick, David Terrell, as a free agent after Terrell had been cut (and then failed to make the Pats regular season roster.)
And I'd forgotten Borges' blast of the Matt Light pick, who "wouldn't help any time soon" but protected Brady's blind side for a decade plus. Two for two!
#12 by Mountain Time … // May 02, 2019 - 8:21pm
I don't get the criticism for Wash trading up for RGIII. He had the best rookie season for a QB in history! The fact that the organization ruined his career at the end of that historic season does not change the fact that he was an A+ draft pick.
#17 by Cale Clinton // May 03, 2019 - 5:19am
Obviously RGIII suffered a catastrophic injury that derailed an extremely promising trajectory based off his rookie year. However, given that unfortunate circumstance, the narrative shifted from “that’s the price you pay for a franchise QB” to “Dan Snyder mortgaged our future on one guy and blew it.”
You’re right though. Ignoring the RGIII selection, they’ve had some very solid draft classes over the last four years and has added a lot of solid players through the draft. When I read the headline early in the week that Snyder was in control Round 1, though, those three squandered 1sts were all I could think about.
#24 by Dissociated // May 03, 2019 - 1:04pm
Shocking to me the Raiders aren't mentioned in the worst draft classes, considering the horrendous Ferrell pick relative to his value, an asinine RB pick in the 1st round, and a safety that duplicates the skillset of Karl Joseph when they had a billion other needs. This isn't even considering they gave up Mack and Cooper for that "haul" either. It seems factual that their draft is the worst if you're evaluating it from a draft and positional value perspective, and any other grade that doesn't account for this is going to biased.
It seems likely draft "evaluators" see only the players that come in from a class, see that the Raiders got some players that upgrade the team (which was impossible not to do given their dearth of talent and abundance of picks), and give them a solid grade. That's also probably why these classes by teams missing 1st rounders that were traded away are consistently graded lower.
Thus, these report cards are pretty much useless, although it does please me to see the Bills on the positive side of the grading. I felt they had a great draft and Oliver is a steal, and overall am impressed by their offseason. I wish we didn't have Josh Allen, but at least he has a lot of boom to his bust potential going forward, unlike an upside-less Daniel Jones pick in the top 10.
#29 by stoste // May 04, 2019 - 12:06am
The funny thing about the draft is how many people think teams are drafting for this season or that the players are going to make tangible impacts this season. You'd have thought it would be common knowledge that for the most parts drafts are for the long game.
#30 by Raiderfan // May 04, 2019 - 6:25am
I disagree about the Raiders having a bad draft (naturally). I think the Raiders had a decent draft, only it might have been better with all the capital they had. Lynch retired, and they took the consensus best back to replace him. They are not in love with Joseph who did not have his fifth year option picked up, so they picked his replacement. The DE at four was possibly a reach, but I have read he is ideal for the the 4-3 system they will be running. They definitely needed CBs, and they drafted two including the second round. And they traded two low picks for AB, as well as signing the top available free agent tackle.
So they came out of the period theoretically improving a lot in at least six positions. Plus they did not waste a bunch of capital to trade up to draft a new QB, which was the rumour.
Would I have preferred them taking Allen or Oliver at 4? Yes, but maybe scheme wise Ferrell is a better fit.
Would I have preferred them taking another CB instead of Jacobs at 24 and trying to hit on a RB much later on? Yes, but they may well have not seen anyone they liked that they were confident of being available for a late round pick.
I detest Gruden, so I was personally happy he did not do any really stupid things. That was a win for me.
#32 by Dissociated // May 04, 2019 - 11:15am
Basically what you're saying is proving my point of how drafts should be graded: that it should've been better given all the capital they had. They used it less efficiently than other teams, that's all that needs to be evaluated. It doesn't matter if they all their picks happen to work out, because the decision-making process they used to take them is faulty and cost them potential wins in the future. Ferrell might be a better scheme fit and ultimately a better player than Allen, Oliver, etc (although I seriously doubt it, and there's literally no data to suggest Ferrell was a player worth taking above pick no. 20) but regardless taking him at 4 ignores his market entirely and they could've used the opportunity to trade down, even if the trades offered weren't "fair value". It's a bad process.
The Josh Jacobs pick is indefensible no matter what. Even if he is the consensus top back (which isn't even true, as the evidence gathered from this website indicates), the value you get from a RB picked in the 1st round vs in later ones is so marginal and their shelf life is usually so limited that it's really pointless to pick one in the 1st round without Barkley or Peterson level skills.
Abram is just a redundant pick. He's not moving the needle one way or the other because Joseph is an ok player and because he's a safety, which isn't a position of high value. I will grant you it's not a disaster pick, however, like punting on Ferrell and Jacobs. The rest of their draft wasn't too shabby from what I can tell, but you get most of your ROI from those higher picks, so that's what mostly needs to be judged. And we're not judging the rest of their offseason, although I suppose it is fair to add AB to the draft evaluation, given they gave up picks to acquire him, so that needs to factored into the grade. Even then, their draft was at such a low point that when I add that to equation I still think it's probably one of the worst drafts (along with the Giants).
I actually want Gruden to be successful and the Raiders to be good because it would be an interesting storyline and it's more fun for the league if he's involved, but everything points to what he's done with the draft as simply really stupid things.
#35 by _sturt_ // May 06, 2019 - 12:56pm
What we REALLY could use is, less a Draft Report Card Report, and more a ***Draft Grade-the-Graders Report***.
Know what I mean?
Let's see which graders have the historical legitimacy that we should pay attention to their grades.
Go back to the 2014, 2015 and 2016 drafts, and analyze which graders in hindsight seemed to get it right, and which ones didn't.
Guess from here is there are a few that deserve a whole lot more credibility than others.
Please consider for a future article, in all seriousness.
#40 by Bobman // May 14, 2019 - 3:12am
Wow. Indy had a 2.85 and ranked 17th last year. I wonder how much that would change if the graders went back to account for two all pros, a third starter, and a backup RB who snagged 65 receptions.
These grades are amusing filler, little more. Like weekly "power rankings." But can be amusing....
#41 by Bobman // May 14, 2019 - 3:30am
Another thing that draft graders don't necessarily have a great grasp of is how the team assesses its NEED positions. For example, I (and most pundits) felt Indy truly needed an edge rusher. Even after signing Justin Houston, you figured they'd get somebody in the range of the 4th or 5th best pass rusher this year, or a DT who could compress the middle of the pocket.
Well, the edge rusher they drafted they're talking about moving to SAM, and no DT that I can recall.
BPA aside, I assume that means Chris Ballard looked at their pass rush and DL in general, including two Big-10 2nd rounders from last year whom he sees every day--Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis--and decided he was okay with what he had. (gulp)
The draftniks (including me) look at stats and say "they had this many sacks, the Chiefs picked them apart in the playoffs, they need Montez Sweat." What we miss is what the staff sees daily from guys already on the roster, a guy's work ethic, his week-to-week development, his injuries, etc. It's a little more reasonable to expect a GM to make a good evaluation of a guy already on his roster, rather than one he just knows from game film, highlight reels, stat sheets, and a couple interviews/workouts. (and of course that's likely to be more exposure to a few targeted guys than the draftniks have, since they're covering 300 or so players.
Bottom line, what people outside any organization see as NEEDs the GM and staff may not see the same way. If they're right, they maybe make the playoffs. If they're wrong, they maybe need to send out resumes.