Atlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal, S, Florida C- Grade One-Year Grade: A Grade
I was very wrong about the Falcons this season, and part of that was my evaluation on Keanu Neal. The Falcon safety was a big-time difference-maker in a Super Bowl secondary. Neal's great coverage skills helped make up for the fact that Desmond Trufant was lost during the season. Neal did miss some tackles, but he showed enough play-making ability to make it apparent that he'll be a perennial Pro Bowler.
Not a great pick. Keanu Neal was seen as a high second-rounder who had a chance to stumble into the opening frame in the late 20s. This is a reach, especially when considering that Myles Jack and Shaq Lawson were on the board; not to mention Darron Lee and Kevin Dodd. There were better options for the Falcons, who could've obtained a decent safety in the second round. I don't like this very much, but it's not Millen-worthy.
Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama B+ Grade One-Year Grade: A- Grade
Ryan Grigson made so many bad decisions over the years, but this one didn't qualify as such. I thought this was a solid pick at the time, and that has turned out to be the case. Kelly played very well as a rookie, proving to be one of the only solid blockers shielding Andrew Luck. Now, if only Grigson made other upgrades to the offensive line...
This is the definition of a solid pick, which in turn deserves a solid grade. Ryan Kelly received some buzz leading up to the draft, and it was speculated that he would be chosen in the top 20. The Colts made the most sense for him. Indianapolis absolutely needed to upgrade Andrew Luck's horrific pass protection, and Kelly fills a huge need right in the middle of the offensive line.
Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson A Grade One-Year Grade: C+ Grade
Shaq Lawson barely played as a rookie because of an injury, so it's difficult to grade this pick right now. I'm going to label this as a C+ for now, but check back later for a more definitive re-grade.
Some teams told us that they had Shaq Lawson in the second round early on during the draft process. His shoulder was the concern, but once that medically checked out, it became apparent that he could be chosen as high as No. 11 to Chicago. With that in mind, the Bills are getting a steal. Lawson is an athletic freak, and he should fit in extremely well into Rex Ryan's defense. Ryan had to find an edge rusher to replace the lethargic Mario Williams, and Lawson figures to be an instant upgrade. The one concern is Lawson's attitude, but he's well worth the risk at No. 19 overall.
New York Jets: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State A Grade One-Year Grade: D Grade
Darron Lee was horrible as a rookie. He missed tackles and was abysmal in coverage. He was one of the worst starting linebackers in the NFL, and he didn't really look like he belonged in the NFL. I wouldn't label Lee a bust yet, as he has plenty of upside, but it's not looking very good for the Jets thus far.
The Jets picked Leonard Williams last year, proving that they'll draft the best player available, even if they don't have a need at the position. This year, the Jets have selected perhaps the best player available - and one who actually fills a need. The Jets have had a hole at inside linebacker for a very long time. Darron Lee, who could've gone as high as No. 14, figures to change that. Lee is very athletic and has a ton of upside. He projects as a great fit in Todd Bowles' defense.
Houston Texans: William Fuller, WR, Notre Dame B+ Grade One-Year Grade: B Grade
I'm fine with keeping the same sort of grade for now. Will Fuller got off to a hot start in his rookie campaign, but faded after the first four weeks of the season. He finished with 47 catches for 635 yards and two touchdowns. The greatest criticism of Fuller happens to be his habit of dropping passes. He let a touchdown fall through his hands against the Patriots, for example. Fuller will need to shore up that part of his game.
The Texans wanted William Fuller this entire time, and they made sure to move up one spot to acquire him. They surrendered just a 2017 sixth-round pick to do so; thus I won't penalize them at all for moving up.
Some may wonder why Fuller over Robert Nkemdiche or Josh Doctson. Fuller is exactly what Houston was looking for in terms of a complement for DeAndre Hopkins. He's a good fit, and he definitely fits the range. This is a decent pick.
Washington Redskins: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU B+ Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
Josh Doctson hurt his Achilles prior to the season. He told reporters that he was a quick healer, but that turned out to be completely false. Doctson played in just two games, catching just as many passes. It's impossible to grade Doctson at this stage of his career, so hopefully he can stay healthy going forward.
The wide receivers in this class were pretty much like ice cream flavors. Everyone seemed to have a favorite one. Laquon Treadwell was No. 1 according to the media, but some teams had Corey Coleman, or William Fuller, or Josh Doctson atop their positional rankings. Doctson may not be a logical choice in terms of need for the Redskins, given that they have DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but the former happens to be an impending free agent following the 2016 campaign. Doctson will likely be Washington's top receiver in 2017, so I have a feeling this pick will pan out.
Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss B+ Grade One-Year Grade: D Grade
Laquon Treadwell was considered by some to be the best receiver in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he ended up with just one reception in nine games. He was horrible, failing to learn the Minnesota offense. Treadwell can't be deemed a bust quite yet - some injuries didn't help the cause, and those will keep me from grading this as an "F" - but his career is off to a very poor start.
I'm giving all of these receiver picks a B+. Forgive me for being boring in this stretch, but they all make sense. Laquon Treadwell was seen as the No. 1 player on some boards, but the receivers were all ranked evenly heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. It was just a matter of what teams were looking for. The Texans, for example, wanted a speed guy to complement DeAndre Hopkins. The Vikings, on the other hand, wanted a possession receiver. Treadwell is definitely that, as seen by his 4.64 40 time, but he's still a very good player and well worth the 23rd pick in the draft.
William Jackson missed all of 2016 with a torn pectoral. He's impossible to re-grade right now, so I'll jot down a C+ right now.
The poor Bengals wanted a receiver badly. They had Josh Doctson atop their board, followed by Corey Coleman and William Fuller. They were all gone, so the Bengals had to look elsewhere. William Jackson is definitely not a bad consolation prize. As a matter of fact, I love the pick. William Jackson has both great film and unbelievable athleticism. There was some speculation that he could go as high as No. 11 to the Bears or No. 14 to the Raiders. Jackson's a great selection here, as he fills a big need in the secondary while providing good value.
Artie Burns struggled a bit to start his career, but he improved his play a bit down the stretch, seeing more snaps as the season progressed. Burns had some issues tackling, but was a decent cover corner. Just 22 in May, Burns has the upside to continue to improve. He was considered a raw player entering the NFL, so his ceiling is pretty high.
The Steelers typically take highly ranked players who fall to them. Think Alvin Dupree, David DeCastro and Jarvis Jones. I figured they'd be all over Myles Jack, but they went with a different strategy this year - reaching for a second-round prospect. Artie Burns is certainly a second-round player. He has great athleticism and size, but he's pretty raw for a player. That's pretty much the definition of a second-round prospect; not someone worth grabbing at No. 25 overall. There were better players available for the Steelers, such as Jack, Kendall Fuller, Jarran Reed or Andrew Billings. I don't like this pick at all.
Paxton Lynch was beaten out by Trevor Siemian in the preseason, which had to be disappointing for the Broncos. However, Lynch was considered a high-upside quarterback who was going to take some time to develop, so he can't be counted out quite yet. Lynch had a deer-in-the-headlights look in his two starts in 2016, but as the game slows down for him, he'll be able to improve. I would rather have Lynch right now than Jared Goff, and it's not even close for me.
I'm not sure about Paxton Lynch. He's very raw, and I don't think he's ready for the NFL. That said, I not only completely understand this pick; I'm in favor of it. The Broncos were very desperate for a quarterback. Mark Sanchez was the projected starter, for crying out loud. Denver absolutely had to make a move, and I'd rather spend the 26th pick in the draft than trade for either Colin Kaepernick or Sam Bradford. I think the Broncos need to bring Lynch along slowly, even if it means sacrificing the 2016 campaign, but he could eventually pan out. I should also note that while I'm usually not in favor of teams moving up, I get why the Broncos did it, given that the Chiefs were a serious landing spot for Lynch. The Browns were also a candidate to trade up.
Green Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, NT, UCLA B- Grade One-Year Grade: B Grade
Kenny Clark was a rotational player during his rookie campaign, seeing about 20-30 snaps per game. He didn't struggle in any regard, but wasn't overly impressive either. All in all, Clark is off to a decent start to his NFL career, so I'm willing to upgrade from B- to a solid "B."
No real problem with this pick, though I would've preferred Andrew Billings or Vernon Butler. The Packers needed a nose tackle in the wake of B.J. Raji's retirement, and they had their pick of the litter at this juncture. Given that, you might wonder why the Packers didn't move down, even if they didn't get full value. Still, Green Bay made a somewhat decent choice to fill a big hole on its defensive front.
San Francisco 49ers: Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford MILLEN SMOKES KIELBASA ON TWITTER Grade One-Year Grade: MILLEN PUKED ALL OVER HIS KIELBASA WATCHING HORRIBLE SUPER BOWL ADS Grade
I bet 49er fans are thrilled that Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly are gone. Joshua Garnett was a third-round prospect, yet that "brain" trust opted to select him at the end of the first frame. Not only that, but they moved up for him! Neither Baalke nor Kelly understood how the draft worked, and it ended up costing them. Garnett didn't start until Week 6, and he was atrocious every single week. If he weren't a first-round pick, he wouldn't have been on the 53-man roster to close out the season.
A Millen grade! The 2016 NFL Draft is complete!
Wow. Taking Joshua Garnett here at No. 28 would've been bad enough, but to move into the first round to grab him is borderline insane. I don't know if Garnett was the only person who accepted an invite to Trent Baalke's birthday party or not, but that's no reason to select a third-round prospect at this juncture. Moving up for Myles Jack would've made a ton of sense, and quite frankly, it would've been one of the best picks in the first round. Getting Garnett here after a trade, on the other hand, is absolutely ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as posting a picture of someone smoking a kielbasa on Twitter.
Arizona Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss A Grade One-Year Grade: D Grade
Robert Nkemdiche was a major disappointment, playing only five games as a rookie. He was a healthy scratch most of the time, and Bruce Arians even called out his work ethic. However, there is good news, and that is Nkemdiche began putting more effort into his profession toward the end of his initial campaign. That might bode well for 2017, but we'll see. I won't give this a Millen grade quite yet, as the upside is there, but Nkemdiche is off to a very poor start.
If Robert Nkemdiche were totally clean off the field, he would've been a top-10 selection. There's no doubt about that. There were a lot of things wrong with him, however, and several teams told us that he was completely off their board.
That said, this is a great pick. The Cardinals were completely fine with his attitude, and that carries some weight because they've taken chances on players with character issues before like Dan Williams and Tyrann Mathieu. They panned out, and there's a good chance Nkemdiche will as well. If so, he's someone who could help put Arizona over the top.
Carolina Panthers: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech A Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
Vernon Butler didn't see much action the first few weeks, and ten he missed time with a high-ankle sprain. He managed to return to the field in Week 10, and starting then, he saw about 25 snaps per game. Butler wasn't very effective, but he wasn't bad either, showing some pass-rushing ability. There's definitely big-time upside here, so Butler could make big strides going forward.
Part of the reason many mocks had the Panthers selecting Kevin Dodd was because their front office typically takes the best player available, and there wasn't an obvious spot for Kevin Dodd. It would've made sense to take Dodd here, but Vernon Butler is an even better choice. Butler could've easily been chosen a dozen picks ago. He's very athletic for a 320-pound defensive lineman and has drawn comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson. Butler doesn't fit an obvious need right now, but the Panthers aren't concerned about that. Butler, however, figures to start in 2017 once Star Lotulelei moves on in free agency. In the meantime, Butler will add depth to an already-great front.
Germain Ifedi had a rough rookie campaign, but even though he wasn't very good, he was still missed when he got hurt in the Super Bowl, as his replacement, Rees Odhiambo, was far worse. Ifedi, like some of the other prospects at the end of the first round, has big upside, so he could definitely improve in the next couple of years and become a capable starter.
If the Seahawks had stayed put and chosen Germain Ifedi at No. 26, I would've given this a solid "B" grade. It's a very logical pick. Ifedi is the sort of athletic player the Seahawks covet. He also fills a big need. Russell Wilson's pass protection was disastrous last season, and it was bound to get even worse with Russell Okung gone. Taking an offensive lineman early was a must.
This "B" turns into an A- because of the trade. The Seahawks were targeting Ifedi all along at No. 26, so it's outstanding that they were able to move down and still acquire him.