NFL: Grading The Draft – NFC Edition

NFC East: 

Washington Redskins – A- 

Washington managed to snag three first round level talents and do so with picks in each of the first three rounds. Not too shabby. Their first pick, Alabama DL Jonathan Allen, may have some injury concerns, but there’s no questioning his talent. He was one of the best collegiate defensive lineman in the country last year. Third rounder CB Fabian Moreau is excellent value in the third where he slipped to after he tore a pectoral muscle while lifting at the Combine. Later picks of Michigan State DB Montae Nicholson, Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle and Louisville DB Josh Harvey-Clemons are all sneaky good selections as well.

Pick We Love: OLB Ryan Anderson (2nd round) – Alabama just produces football players. To me, Anderson was a first round talent and the Redskins got amazing value on him in the second round.

Philadelphia Eagles – B+ 

The Eagles had a big need at DL and addressed it with their first pick of the draft, selecting Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. His measurables at the NFL Combine left a little to be desired, but he broke Reggie White’s long standing sack records at UT, so there’s no question about his production level. Elsewhere in the draft, we’re big fans of the Eagles 3rd and 4th round selections of CB Rasul Douglas and RB Donnell Pumphrey. Douglas offers great length (6’2″) and production (8 INTs in 2016), while Pumphrey should figure to be the replacement for Darren Spoles, who is likely to retire following the 2017 season.

Pick We Love: CB Sidney Jones (2nd round) – Jones was a first round talent and would have been selected there had he not ruptured his achilles last season. Great value pick at #43 overall.

Dallas Cowboys – B 

We’re just not all that sold on the Cowboys first round pick of Michigan DL Taco Charlton. We think he’ll be a solid player, but not ultimately worthy of a first round pick. UNC utility man Ryan Switzer may be diminutive in size, but he’s explosive in the open field and should effect the return game for the Cowboys from day one. We’re also big fans Michigan DB Jourdan Lewis, who the ‘Boys snagged in the third round.

Pick We Love: CB Chidobe Awuzie (2nd round) – Awuzie brings big time versatility to the Dallas secondary. He can play everywhere from CB to Nickel to FS. We think this is Dallas’ best pick of the draft

New York Giants – C 

The Giants had a sort of odd draft. They addressed some needs, namely with Alabama DT Dalvin Tomlinson who they snagged in the second round, but with Eli Manning’s career entering it’s twilight stage, it seems like they could have done more to help him immediately. Ole Miss TE Evan Engram, who the Giants selected #23 overall, is a nice weapon but it seems like they had more pressing needs. Namely offensive line.

Pick We Hate: QB Davis Webb (3rd round) – Our hatred of this pick has nothing to do with Webb. We actually think he’s really solid value here, but it just seems like the Giants had more pressing needs this high in the draft. A QB in the 5th round or so would have made more sense.

NFC North: 

Green Bay Packers: A 

The Packers had a lot of picks, 10 to be exact, and seemed to do something to touch on all of their areas of need. That’s what happens when you have one of the best general manager/head coach combinations in the game. They didn’t choose in the first round, but they snagged Washington CB Kevin King with the first pick in round 2. King provides outstanding length at the corner position he’ll be joined in the secondary by fellow second rounder, NC State S Josh Jones. Big Auburn DT Montravious Adams is another really nice value pick in the third round.

Pick We Love: LB Vince Biegel (4th round) – We end up throwing around the word “value” a lot, but it’s apropos when discussing Biegel going at this point in the draft. He has some injury concerns, but he should provide quick assistance with the Packers edge rush, with room to grow into more.

Minnesota Vikings – B+  

Really like this draft. Like the Packers, the Vikings also did not select in the first round and they still came away with some really nice players. Third round interior lineman Pat Elflein out of Ohio State will have a long and productive NFL career, while the Vikings made some later round selections we absolutely love in TE Bucky Hodges, WR Stacy Coley and LB Elijah Lee. Hodges and Coley are all upside and Lee will provide further defensive toughness that head coach Mike Zimmer is known for.

Pick We Love: RB Dalvin Cook (2nd round). It’s absolutely insane to us that Dalvin Cook fell to the second round, but some (slightly) underwhelming measurables at the Combine, along with supposed character concerns caused him to slip. We think he’ll be a star.

Detroit Lions – C

The Lions had a bit of a rough draft. That’s not super surprising, as the Lions always seem to do something that makes you scratch your head a little, but we were hoping for more. First round selection, Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, plugs a major hole for Detroit, but he has some injury concerns. In the 2nd round, they went back to the Florida Gator well, this time selecting CB Teez Tabor. A bit of a polarizing pick, Tabor ran poorly at the Combine, but produced decently in the tough SEC. We’re lukewarm on him. We do like the selection of LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the 4th round, but a lack of size will be a long term concern.

Pick We Hate: QB Brad Kaaya (6th round) – Kaaya was selected low enough that it doesn’t cripple this draft, but similarly to the Giants, it just seemed like the Lions could have used this selection more wisely to help the team now.

Chicago Bears – D 

Anyone who follows the draft at all knows what this grade is all about. The Bears, a team who just isn’t very good right now, only made five selections in the draft and also prematurely stunted their ability to improve via the 2018 Draft after they made “the trade”. We’ll talk more about that in the moment, but further down the line the Bears selected TE Adam Sheehan in the second round out of Ashland and in the 4th round they snagged Alabama S Eddie Jackson. We’re big fans of both of those picks and think they should pay dividends both now and well into the future.

Pick We Hate: QB Mitch Trubisky (1st round) – The biggest story of the draft, the Bears gave up a boatload of picks to move up just a single spot to pick Trubisky. Far be it from us to tell Bears GM Ryan Pace what to do, but we find Trubisky to be a highly uninspiring choice, especially considering the lofty price tag. We’re sure Sean Glennon isn’t too happy about it either.

NFC South: 

Atlanta Falcons – B+ 

The Falcons didn’t go into the draft with a ton of needs, but we felt like they addressed the ones that they did have fairly well. LB Duke Riley and CB Damontae Kazee won’t blow anyone away with their measurables on paper, but both will be productive players and quality fits into the Falcons defensive scheme. Dan Quinn turned the Falcons putrid defense around fairly quickly and those two will help to further that transition.

Pick We Love: DE Takkarist McKinley (1st round) – McKinley turned in one of the more memorable draft moments that we’ve seen in a while. The Falcons play in a division where rushing the passer is paramount and McKinley should make a dynamic 1-2 punch to go with Vic Beasley.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – B  

Ideally we thought the Bucs should have snagged an offensive lineman to aid with some depth concerns, but overall we like this draft pretty well. WR Chris Godwin, who the Bucs selected in the third round can fly and will just give Jameis Winston another weapon in his already fairly lofty arsenal. Also in the third round, the Bucs snagged LSU linebacker Kendall Beckwith, who probably would have gone significantly higher if not for an ACL injury last season. Great value here. Jeremy McNichols, who was picked up in the 5th round, will provide Winston with a great pass-catching RB option from the backfield.

Pick We Love: TE OJ Howard (1st round) – Howard was one of the “safest” picks in the draft in our eyes. Going into his final year at Alabama, he was tasked by Nick Saban to improve his in-line blocking and he did so in spades. He was already a great pass catcher.

Carolina Panthers – C+ 

We didn’t like this draft quite as well as most. The Panthers were in desperate need of dynamic playmakers and they used their #8 selection overall on Christian McCaffrey. We like McCaffrey just fine, but we’re not convinced that he will have the type of impact that some think in the NFL, especially if the Panthers plan to use him primarily as a running back. We do however really like the Panthers mid-round selections of CB Corn Elder and DE Daeshon Hall. Two solid football players who will look to help the Panthers D return to the 2015 form.

Pick We Hate: WR Curtis Samuel (2nd round) – We don’t hate Samuel. He’s a dynamic athlete, but we question whether or not he has a ton of value this high in the draft. He’s a guy who you have to pick and then find a spot for, and those guys bust often.

New Orleans Saints – C+ 

Another draft where we were a little more lukewarm than a lot of the pundits. Ryan Ramcyzk, who the Saints snagged at the end of the first round, is probably a day one starter at right tackle, but he’s fairly inexperienced and has some injury concerns. RB Alvin Kamara, who they picked up in the third round, is a great fit for what the Saints ask of their running backs and second round pick Marcus Williams, a safety from Utah, should serve to upgrade what is a terrible Saints pass D. Also on the defensive side of the ball, third round linebacker Alex Anzalone can provide some help on third down, but he missed a ton of games during his collegiate career at Florida due to injury.

Pick We Love: CB Marshon Lattimore (1st round) – The Saints loved Lattimore, but didn’t think there was any way he would be available at #11. He was, and he should be a great cover corner in the league for years to come.

NFC West: 

San Francisco 49ers – A

We can’t help but wander if first year GM John Lynch was giggling like a school girl when he got off the phone with Bears GM Ryan Pace after agreeing for their first round swap of picks. Lynch still got the exact player he wanted at #3, and a boatload of other picks too. Highway robbery. Also at the end of the first round, the 49ers were able to jump in and secure Alabama LB Rueben Foster, who was only available due to some late concerns about possible arthritis in his shoulders. While that would be a legitimate issue, Foster that late was simply too good to pass up. Elsewhere in the draft, we’re big fans of the selections of Iowa TE George Kittle and Utah RB Joe Williams. New head coach Kyle Shanahan proved in Atlanta that he knows how to get his running backs the ball in space, and William should excel in that system.

Pick We Love: DE Solomon Thomas (1st round) – The 49ers traded down and still got the exact guy they wanted in Thomas, who will start from day one and effect the opposing teams QB. Many thought Thomas was worth of the #1 overall pick.

Seattle Seahawks – B+ 

The Seahawks had a ton of picks, 11 to be exact, and what they did with them was select a whole bunch of Seattle Seahawk-like players. Second round pick Malik McDowell, a DL out of Michigan State, had first round potential but slipped a bit due to concerns over his overall desire to compete. Pete Carroll loves his potential and is confident that his best football is ahead of him. The Seahawks draft five defensive backs overall as the Legion of Boom begins to show signs of age, a group that includes Cincinnati S Mike Tyson. He’s a box safety who loves to hit… Could there be anything more Seahawks than that?

Pick We Love: OL Ethan Pocic (2nd round) – Pocic comes from LSU and will add a hard nosed toughness to the Seattle line that they were missing last season. Perfect fit for his destination.

Arizona Cardinals – B 

We absolutely love the Cardinals first two picks. First rounder LB Haason Reddick went from a walk-on at Temple all the way to the #13 overall pick in the draft. He still has room to grow and develop with improved coaching. 4th round selection OL Dorian Johnson is a great value at that point in the draft and should compete for a job this season, while 5th round pick HB TJ Logan should add some lightning to the Cardinals backfield to complete David Johnson’s power. The only reason this grade stands at just a B is the Cardinals failure to select a QB, which seemed likely with Carson Palmer approaching the end of his career.

Pick We Love: S Budda Baker (2nd round) – Some knocked his small-ish frame and lack of ball skills, but we think Baker is a great football player who will be trolling the secondary for the Cardinals for years to come.

Los Angeles Rams – C 

The primary reason for this grade is the Rams inability to get help at CB or on the OL. They got Jared Goff some weapons though, so that’s something. At #12 overall, they selected Gerald Everett, a flex tight end out of South Alabama. A pass catching TE can be a young QBs best friend and the Rams are going to need Everett to be a very good one to justify his lofty selection. Further down the line, they also picked up Texas A&M WR Josh Reynolds, who should help add some downfield presence to the Rams receiving corps. Eastern Washington OLB Samson Ebukam also adds another pass rushing presence to the mix, not to mention a great name.

Pick We Love: WR Cooper Kupp (3rd round) – Kupp doesn’t put up a blistering 40, but he’s an advanced route runner with elite hands. Another guy who should grow into a very reliable target for Jared Goff.

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