Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: A Grade One-Year Grade: A Grade
Upon request, I'm going to begin re-grading my own NFL Draft Grades. I'll do this one and five years after each draft. Note that I'm only going to re-grade the first round. I'd like to do all seven, but that would take such a long time, and there isn't much intrigue beyond the first round as far as re-grades are concerned. Too many players from Round 2 onward won't even be in the league in five years.
This has to be an "A" grade once again. Myles Garrett missed the first four weeks of the season with an injury, but then proceeded to record seven sacks in his final 11 games. Considering that the Browns were constantly trailing in most of their games, Garrett didn't have as many opportunities to rush the passer as other defensive ends. Garrett could explode with double-digit sacks in 2018 if Cleveland can be more competitive.
I'd normally mark something like this down as a B+. "A" grades are generally reserved for great value picks. This selection doesn't provide value, but it's the right one. The Browns need defensive talent on their roster, and Garrett would provide them with a dynamic pass-rusher, which is something they currently lack. Garrett is the best player in this draft, making this selection a no-brainer.
Or, at least it should've been. The Browns apparently had some sort of conflict, where the front office wanted to draft Mitchell Trubisky. This would've been a huge mistake, so given that the Browns haven't been the smartest franchise in professional sports, they deserve bonus points for finally getting something right. Hence, the "A" grade.
Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: MILLEN TRUBISKY Grade One-Year Grade: C- Grade
Mitchell Trubisky had his ups and downs as a rookie, which is not uncommon for a first-year signal-caller. He was 25-of-32 for 271 yards and a touchdown at Cincinnati, but the prior week, he was 17-of-33 for 147 yards and two picks at Philadelphia. Trubisky didn't have much help, so he'll be better once he gains more experience. If this were a normal situation, I'd give the Bears a 1-year re-grade of something in the "B" range, but it can't be ignored that one of the other first-round rookie quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson, was so much better. Chicago will likely regret this for years to come.
I... I don't even know anymore. WTF are the Bears doing!? They paid Mike Glennon so much money, and yet they gave up the No. 3 overall selection, two thirds and a fourth... for a mediocre quarterback prospect? Wow.
This is one of the worst draft moves ever made. If the Bears just took Trubisky at No. 3, that would be bad, but not horrible. Actually, it would be horrible, but this is a franchise-ruining selection. Trubisky over Solomon Thomas echoes Blaine Gabbert over J.J. Watt and Blake Bortles over Khalil Mack. Way to pull a Jaguars, Chicago.
San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers: A+ Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
Solomon Thomas didn't perform up to expectations as a rookie. He played solid run defense, but struggled to get to the quarterbacks, registering just three sacks. It's too early to give on Thomas as a potent edge rusher, so I'm not going to grade this too poorly. Plus, remember that the 49ers acquired two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder for Thomas, so that has to be factored into this re-grade.
This is John Lynch's first draft, but it doesn't seem like it. Lynch stole two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder from the poorly run Bears, and yet he still obtained a player he could've selected No. 2 overall. Solomon Thomas is a terrific pass-rusher and a great team leader, and he fills a huge need for the 49ers. He'll be a cornerstone of that defense, and it's great that the 49ers were able to pick up lots of picks in the process. I love this move.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, DE, LSU: A- Grade One-Year Grade: B Grade
Leonard Fournette had a great start to his rookie campaign, prompting him to say that playing in the NFL is easy. Fournette then hit a rookie wall and dealt with injuries. He struggled late in the year, but had a strong performance against the Steelers in the divisional round. Fournette looks good, but one has to wonder how promising the Jaguars would be had they selected Deshaun Watson and then went after Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt on Day 2.
It's a little sketchy to pick a running back with a horrible offensive line in place, but Leonard Fournette is arguably the second-best player in this class. Fournette is going to provide a huge boost for Blake Bortles, so there won't be excuses anymore. Bortles has to produce, or the Jaguars will be taking a quarterback, and there will be lots of good ones, as you can see in the 2018 NFL Mock Draft. This pick deserves a high grade though, as Jacksonville was rumored to select Deshaun Watson, which would've been a disaster. Fournette is going to be a great player for the Jaguars.
Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: D Grade One-Year Grade: C- Grade
I still think this was way too early for Corey Davis. The Titans could've used this pick on either Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker, and they'd be better off right now. Davis didn't do much as a rookie because he was constantly banged up. He caught 34 passes in 11 games, though he had a nice showing in the divisional round of the playoffs, albeit in a defeat.
The Titans got this pick for free via the Jared Goff trade, so it's a bonus. However, this is way too early for Corey Davis. He fills a need, but we spoke to a team wanting a receiver in the second round that wasn't even going to consider Davis because of his durability issues. This is a major reach, and if the Titans were so focused on picking Davis, they should've traded down, no matter what they received in return. So many better prospects were available, but at least Tennessee gave Marcus Mariota a weapon to work with.
New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU: A Grade One-Year Grade: A Grade
Jamal Adams wasn't expected to fall to the sixth-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. And yet, that's exactly what happened. The Jets happily scooped him up, and their great fortune didn't prove to be misleading. Adams had a strong rookie year, and it looks like he'll emerge as one of the top safeties in the NFL in a couple of seasons. I gave this an "A" for my original grade, and I'm going to stick with that.
The Jets have done a great job in the draft for the most part lately because of their stance of selecting the best player available. That's exactly what they're doing here rather than reaching for need. Then again, the Jets do need everything, so... never mind.
At any rate, after seeing the Bears and Titans do something idiotic, the Jets are looking great with this selection. Adams was widely projected to be taken in the top three, and he probably should've been. The Jets aren't complaining, as Adams fills a huge need for New York and its atrocious secondary.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: B Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
When I graded this as a "B," I wrote that I would've preferred Jonathan Allen or Malik Hooker to be the pick. That still happens to be the case. Both were better than Mike Williams in 2017. Then again, almost every rookie was because Williams barely played. He caught just 11 passes because of a herniated disc. Williams could still have a great career, but the decision to take him over some dominant defensive players seems like a mistake.
There were better players available who filled needs, such as Jonathan Allen and Malik Hooker. Both would've made more sense than this. However, I don't think Mike Williams is a bad selection by any means. It makes sense to add Williams, as Keenan Allen has been so injury-prone over the past couple of years. Williams provides the Chargers with an excellent No. 2 receiver and some insurance just in case Allen gets hurt again. I have to imagine Philip Rivers is happy about this move.
Christian McCaffrey was not a disappointment as a rookie. He carried the ball only 117 times, but he caught 80 passes for 651 receiving yards. McCaffrey will likely see more rushes going forward once Jonathan Stewart is phased out. I'm also excited to see what McCaffrey will do under Norv Turner's guidance next season.
Credit to Joe Person for first linking Christian McCaffrey to the Panthers. McCaffrey checks off all the boxes for the Panthers. He's everything Carolina looks for in a prospect, and he fills a huge need at running back. He's extremely versatile, and Cam Newton will love working with him. Carolina's offense was stagnant last year. Part of that was Newton being hurt, but a major factor was the lack of weapons at Newton's disposal beyond Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. That will no longer be the case with McCaffrey now in the mix.
I forgot John Ross existed. Seriously, when I was working on my 2018 NFL Mock Draft, I considered Calvin Ridley to Cincinnati at No. 12 overall before I recalled that Ross was a thing. Then again, can you blame me? Ross didn't catch a single pass as a rookie. Ross is the biggest bust thus far in the top 10, but to be fair, he dealt with a shoulder injury in his first year. There's still a chance that Ross becomes a potent threat in Cincinnati's offense.
I had John Ross slotted to the Bengals in my 2017 NFL Mock Draft, but I did not think Jonathan Allen and Malik Hooker would be available. Wow, how do you pass on them? At any rate, Ross makes sense for the Bengals. Cincinnati wanted Will Fuller or Corey Coleman last year, and Ross is a better version of them. That said, there were better players available, so I have to give this something like a C+. I'm also concerned about Ross' durability.
Kansas City Chiefs: Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: C+ Grade One-Year Grade: C+ Grade
What I wrote about Mitchell Trubisky can also be applied to Patrick Mahomes. I really like Mahomes, and I think he's going to be a very good NFL quarterback at the very least. However, Deshaun Watson was out of this world, and you have to wonder if the Chiefs would take Watson over Mahomes if they had a do-over.
This is a very tricky grade. I like Pat Mahomes. He's the only quarterback in this class I would've chosen in the first round. He can make all the throws, so he's basically the opposite of Alex Smith. I think he has to sit a year, but he can do that behind Alex Smith. So, I like that aspect of this selection. However, the Chiefs gave up a lot. A 2018 first-round selection is too costly. I know the Chiefs are getting a franchise quarterback in Mahomes, but there were going to be great quarterbacks available next year as well. I also don't think the Chiefs had to jump the Cardinals to take Mahomes. Arizona, I was told, was not going to select him at No. 13.
Marshon Lattimore was one of the best picks in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite being a rookie, Lattimore quickly emerged as a legitimate shutdown cornerback. He was quite the steal at No. 11 overall, and this re-grade is an obvious A+.
The Saints are getting the best cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft at No. 11. That's pretty good, although I thought Lattimore was going to be chosen 10th overall, so it's not like this is crazy value. It does seem like a great pick, however. Lattimore has some injury concerns, but he's a terrific talent, and he should be able to provide a huge boost for the Saints and their abysmal secondary. The Saints are definitely taking advantage of some of the stupid teams atop this draft.
I was wrong about this. Some of our NFL sources were way down on Deshaun Watson. I wasn't as pessimistic about him, but I still thought this was a reach. Oops. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that any team passing on Watson would be like the teams eschewing a chance to draft Michael Jordan, and he's been right, at least so far. Watson was incredible in seven games, throwing for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The Texans are a legitimate Super Bowl threat with Watson returning from injury in 2018, so I have to re-grade this as an A+ even though they lost out on the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Yuck. This seems like a major panic move, as the Texans really wanted Pat Mahomes, but couldn't get him because of the Chiefs. Deshaun Watson was graded as a third-round prospect by some of the smartest front offices in the NFL. They didn't like his vision or his inability to progress through reads. He then measured in with the worst ball velocity at the combine, and his Wonderlic score was sub par. This is a major reach, and I hate that Houston surrendered its first-round pick in 2018 to get Watson. The 2018 class is going to be great, and now Houston won't have a pick in the first two rounds next April. That said, this isn't an "F" or even a "D" because the Texans had no other choice. They couldn't start Tom Savage.
Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: B Grade One-Year Grade: D Grade
Haason Reddick didn't play well as a rookie. He had to move outside in the wake of Markus Golden's injury, and he did not perform well there. By the end of the season, he was barely playing. Considering that the Cardinals had a chance to select one of Malik Hooker, Jonathan Allen and O.J. Howard with this pick, their grade has to be severely downgraded. It's way too early to deem Reddick a bust, but Hooker, Allen and Howard all had better rookie campaigns.
This is exactly where I had Haason Reddick, so I think the value is about right. I was tipped off here though, as I had Reddick slotted earlier beforehand (No. 20 to the Broncos), which is where I thought he should've gone. Reddick is a very talented player, so he'll help the Cardinals, who are desperate for linebacker help. Reddick will fill a huge need for sure. However, with Malik Hooker, Jonathan Allen and O.J. Howard still on the board, I would've thought Arizona would have gone after one of them. Still, I can't blame them for choosing Reddick, who should be a very good player for them.
Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: B Grade One-Year Grade: B+ Grade
Derek Barnett had a huge strip-sack of Case Keenum in the NFC Championship to help the Eagles prevail over the Vikings. This was one of several great plays Barnett made as a rookie. He logged five sacks in his first year, but he played as a rotational player with Philadelphia's several other talented defensive ends. Barnett is going to be a bigger part of the defense going forward, and he'll be a much greater producer.
This pick is perfectly fine. Some had Derek Barnett as high as No. 9, but he was slotted in the mid-teens in most places. I had him falling to No. 22, but that was worst-case scenario for Barnett. The Tennessee product is a very talented edge rusher, but didn't test very well. That could remind the Eagles of Brandon Graham. The two are very similar, and Philadelphia had to find an upgrade across from Graham. However, there were better prospects available like Jonathan Allen, Malik Hooker and O.J. Howard. Still, this is a solid pick, and I don't have any issues with it otherwise.
Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: A+ Grade One-Year Grade: A- Grade
Malik Hooker had injury concerns entering the 2017 NFL Draft, which is why he fell to the 15th-overall pick. Hooker, a top-seven prospect, played well through seven weeks, but then tore his ACL and MCL versus the Jaguars. Hopefully, Hooker can stay relatively injury-free going forward, but his health concerns are dubious at the moment.
How in the world did this happen? Some teams considered Malik Hooker to be a top-three prospect in this class, as they made Ed Reed comparisons to him. I know that dumb teams making dumb picks caused him to drop, but seeing him fall to No. 15 is unreal. The Colts needed defensive help, and they're getting a lot of it with Hooker, who could be one of the top safeties in the NFL for a very long time.
Marlon Humphrey didn't play very much early in the season, but became a bigger part of the defense when Jimmy Smith tore his Achilles. Humphrey played very well down the stretch, and he seems poised for a great 2018 campaign. One thing to note is that Humphrey was arrested in the offseason, though there reportedly was some sort of misunderstanding involving a phone charger.
I had the Ravens picking an Alabama player in Cam Robinson. Going into this pick, I thought they'd take a falling Alabama player in Jonathan Allen. And yet, they selected an Alabama player in Marlon Humphrey. All three would've made a ton of sense, though I think Baltimore could regret not taking Allen. Humphrey is a solid selection, however. He was the consensus No. 2 cornerback in this class with Gareon Conley taken off the board, and he fills a big need for the Ravens and their declining defense.