Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: C+ Grade Five-Year Grade: C- 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.
I never understood the Eric Fisher hype. Fisher was seen as a mid-to-late first-round prospect throughout the 2013 NFL Draft process, but he suddenly rose to the top a couple of weeks prior to Draft Day. Fisher predictably failed. He hasn't been horrible, and he's been better than the other top-three picks in this class, but Fisher has been the worst No. 1 overall selection this decade thus far.
An offensive tackle is what makes sense most for the Chiefs. Branden Albert was franchised, so he probably won't be around in 2014. He may not even make it to training camp because he could be dealt to the Dolphins, per reports. Luke Joeckel was the consensus top tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft, so he would have been the right pick. Eric Fisher has been considered the lesser prospect throughout, but Andy Reid liked him more than Joeckel. They're both close in talent, but selecting a rising prospect based on workouts is usually treacherous. Also, I'm penalizing the Chiefs because they traded for Alex Smith too soon and ruined all leverage they could have had for a potential trade. There shouldn't have been any hurry to overpay for Smith. That trade earned Kansas City a "Millen" grade, as you can see in the 2013 NFL Free Agent Grades page.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: D Grade Five-Year Grade: RIGHT BACKSIDE KIELBASA Grade
It turns out I was right for the wrong reasons, as was the league contact who criticized this pick. I didn't like it because selecting a right tackle No. 2 overall would be a smart idea. It wasn't, but as it turns out, Luke Joeckel was a failure because he absolutely sucked. Joeckel, who struggled at guard for Seattle this past season, is close to being out of the league.
This is disastrous and embarrassing for Jacksonville. As one league contact told us, it would be "foolish" for the Jaguars to take Joeckel. Why? Because right tackle is not a valued position. Just look at the available right tackles in free agency. Andre Smith, Eric Winston and Tyson Clabo are just sitting there. The Jaguars have tons of money (about $26 million in cap space), so why not just sign one of those right tackles and select an elite pass-rusher instead? Joeckel makes zero sense, and the only thing saving this from being a "Millen" grade is that Joeckel isn't a reach.
Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon: B- Grade Five-Year Grade: STATE OF THE 100-PERCENT USDA MAN ATHLETE Grade
I believed the Dolphins should've traded up for Lane Johnson, but they took Dion Jordan instead. I didn't like the pick very much, but it turns out that I didn't hate it enough. Jordan lasted just two years in Miami, producing a grand total of three sacks. This is an easy "F" re-grade.
Dion Jordan!? Wow. Everyone assumed the Dolphins would be moving up for Lane Johnson, but they shocked the world with the Oregon pass-rusher. I love Jordan as a prospect, but I don't know how he fits into Miami's defense. Do the Dolphins plan on moving to a 3-4? If so, I love this pick and will improve this grade, assuming they didn't give up too much. If not, and if Miami surrendered a ton of resources to jump up to No. 3, it'll be close to a D.
Update: The Dolphins gave up the 42nd pick. I thought they'd have to surrender more to move up to No. 3, so this isn't so bad. I'm still confused about the scheme fit though. I may come back to this grade.
Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: C Grade Five-Year Grade: A+ Grade
Chip Kelly was a horrible coach, but his first draft pick was a great one. Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in the NFL right now. His absence was felt in 2016 when the Eagles were 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him. Coincidentally, the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl with Johnson remaining on the field for the entire season.
This is a great scheme fit for the Eagles. Lane Johnson is the most athletic tackle in this draft, so he'll fit in well in Chip Kelly's high-tempo offense. However, Johnson is incredibly raw; he has just one year of left tackle experience and just two seasons of tackle experience period. He was considered a fringe first-round prospect a few months ago for a reason. However, there's no denying his upside, and he could eventually replace Jason Peters at left tackle.
Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: B+ Grade Five-Year Grade: A- Grade
My re-grade for the Ezekiel Ansah choice is going to be close to the original grade. Ansah has been a beast of a pass-rusher when he's been on the field; he had 14.5 sacks in 2015 and 12 sacks two years later. However, Ansah has been very injury-prone throughout his career and isn't very reliable as a consequence. That's why this isn't a solid "A."
Finally, a good pick! I'm tired of bashing these teams. Well, OK, maybe not. But this selection makes so much sense. The Lions had a close look at Ezekiel Ansah at the Senior Bowl where he dominated the competition during the actual game. He's a great fit in Detroit's wide-nine formation, and will replace the departed Cliff Avril. He'll be instrumental in Detroit's pursuit of Green Bay in the NFC North.
I'm sticking with my original grade for this. Barkevious Mingo was seen a reach in 2013, and that definitely turned out to be the case. However, Mingo hasn't been a complete failure. While he never developed as a viable edge rusher, he's decent in coverage, so he still has a role in the NFL. Still, this is not what the Browns expected from their sixth-overall pick.
I guess 2012 tape doesn't matter for the Browns. Barkevious Mingo was awful this past season and flat out quit in some games. Mingo doesn't even fill a real need unless Jabaal Sheard is dealt, which is confusing in itself because Sheard was one of the top defenders on the Browns last year. You also have to wonder what the Browns are going to do at quarterback. Michael Lombardi has a dubious draft history, and it doesn't seem like he's off to a good start.
Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: D Grade Five-Year Grade: D Grade
I've softened my stance on guards being chosen this early, but the Jonathan Cooper re-grade is a "D" for a different reason. Cooper has been terrible throughout his career, though he's at least still hanging on to an NFL job. He played for the Cowboys in 2017, but struggled mightily.
Everyone points to the Saints and their stud guards as a reason why Jonathan Cooper should have been chose No. 7 overall. Well, Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were chosen in the fourth and fifth rounds. You can find guards anywhere, making this selection incredibly stupid. The only thing that saves this from being a Millen grade is that Cooper is one of the top players available. Still, there's no reason a guard should ever go in the top 10.
St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: B Grade Five-Year Grade: C- Grade
Tavon Austin still has a role with the Rams, but it has diminished over the years. Now that they have a real NFL offense with a talented quarterback, strong running game and skilled receivers, Austin isn't really needed as a gadget player. Austin carried the ball 59 times in 2017, gaining 270 rushing yards. I don't think Austin was a horrible pick by himself, but the Rams could've done much better and certainly didn't need to trade up for him.
I'm usually not a fan of teams moving up for players because if they end up drafting a bust, their depth is completely destroyed. However, the Rams had the resources to do something like this, and they really needed to find a weapon for Sam Bradford. Tavon Austin is the only player in this draft who has plenty of experience and can go the distance on any play. He'll help Bradford, but hopefully he can stay on the field, unlike Danny Amendola.
New York Jets: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: C+ Grade Five-Year Grade: MILLENer Grade
Wow, my third Millen re-grade. The aptly named Dee Milliner hasn't played a snap since 2015. He was torched throughout three NFL seasons, and he hasn't been able to find a job since.
The Jets essentially traded Darrelle Revis for Dee Milliner. I just don't get why they'd deal Revis to just take another cornerback when they have two corners on the roster (Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson) who proved themselves to be capable starters after Revis went down. Milliner had just six interceptions in his college career. He also was never asked to backpedal. Alabama cornerbacks have a history of busting in the NFL, so the Jets better hope that Milliner doesn't continue that tradition.
Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: C Grade Five-Year Grade: D Grade
This is probably the worst top 10 in NFL Draft history. It's pathetic how many horrible picks there were, and Chance Warmack rounds out this incompetent group. Warmack had one good year, back in 2014, but he's been abysmal since. He's now a backup for the Eagles.
It's one thing to draft Jonathan Cooper in the top 10 because he can play center as well as guard. It's another to go with Chance Warmack, who can't be anywhere but guard. Once again, this is way too early to select a guard, but I'm not giving the Titans as poor of a grade as the Cardinals because they didn't have much of a choice. The front office needed to do something to help Jake Locker and Chris Johnson in order to keep their jobs, and Warmack is the best offensive talent on the board. It would have been nice if Tennessee could have traded down, but that may not have been possible.
San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, OT/G, Alabama: B- Grade Five-Year Grade: C- Grade
D.J. Fluker played well in his first couple of seasons, but injuries have derailed his career. Fluker signed on with the Giants this past offseason, but struggled as a guard. He can still run block fairly well, but he's completely overmatched in pass protection.
This pick is a difficult one to grade. Unlike his teammate Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker can play tackle, giving him a bit more positional value. However, he can only line up on the right side if he's on the outside, meaning San Diego still has a big hole at left tackle. The thing is that San Diego almost had to go offensive line, and with the top tackles off the board, Fluker was the next-best option.
D.J. Hayden was a big injury risk entering the 2013 NFL Draft. He missed 19 games in his first four NFL seasons, but he hasn't even been good when he's been healthy. Hayden played a healthy amount with the Lions this past season, but struggled. He was a failure of a pick, but at least the Raiders traded down before taking him.
I was prepared to give the Raiders a "Millen" grade had they drafted D.J. Hayden at No. 3, as some reports indicated they would. This isn't so bad. Hayden is a big injury risk, so I don't know how he can possibly go so early. I do like that Oakland picked up a second-round though, which was essential given the lack of talent on the roster. I just don't know how the Raiders can justify passing on Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei.
New York Jets: Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Missouri: B Grade Five-Year Grade: A Grade
I questioned Sheldon Richardson over Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei, but that turned out to be the right choice! Unfortunately for the Jets, Richardson is no longer with the team, as they dealt him to the Seahawks in the summer of 2017. Richardson performed extremely well for Seattle this past season.
Wow, Sheldon Richardson before Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei? Many will bash this selection, I'm sure, but I don't mind it. Sheldon Richardson is the top interior pass-rusher who fits the 4-3 and 3-4 - which is key for New York because Rex Ryan loves to use both looks. I'm not sure why Richardson wasn't considered a higher-rated prospect. The Jets had to bolster their pass-rush, and they did just that with Richardson.
Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: A Grade Five-Year Grade: C Grade
Star Lotulelei was considered a top-10 prospect prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, but he dropped to No. 14 overall. I'd say that teams were smart for passing on him, but many of them took horrible prospects instead. Lotulelei hasn't been horrible for the Panthers, but he's certainly been somewhat of a disappointment. He had 1.5 sacks in 2017, but didn't make up for it with his pedestrian run defense.
I think Sharrif Floyd would have been a better pick because A) he's a superior pass-rusher and B) he doesn't have any sort of health concerns. But this is still a great pick for the Panthers because they needed tons of help on the interior of their defensive line. Star Lotulelei would have gone in the top 10 if smarter teams were drafting there, so Carolina is reaping the benefits, much like other smarter teams will in the second half of the draft.
Kenny Vaccaro has endured an up-and-down career. He's been mostly solid when he's been healthy, but he's had trouble staying healthy. He's played just one full season in his career, and that includes 2017. Vaccaro was playing extremely well in the slot, but was placed on injured reserve in December. His absence was huge in the Minnesota game. Vaccaro would probably be re-graded as an "A" if he didn't have injury problems.
This is a very good pick by a smart team. The Saints had major issues at safety, and Kenny Vaccaro is one of the top players available. With Matt Ryan and Cam Newton in the division, New Orleans absolutely had to upgrade its secondary. Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper weren't cutting it.
Buffalo Bills: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State: MILLEN UNCLE RUSLAN'S LOSER KIELBASA Grade Five-Year Grade: I HAD TO LOOK UP WHO UNCLE RUSLAN WAS MILLEN KIELBASA Grade
I totally forgot about Uncle Ruslan! I can't believe all of that was five years ago. It almost feels like it happened yesterday. At any rate, this was always considered a horrible pick, as the Bills reached for a crappy quarterback.
Only the Bills. With Geno Smith available, as well as Ryan Nassib, the head coach's former quarterback, Buffalo, for whatever reason, chose E.J. Manuel. I guess the only tape of Manuel's that Buddy Nix watched was the Senior Bowl. There's no reason why Manuel should have been chosen No. 16, especially with the other quarterbacks remaining. Manuel is extremely raw and doesn't have the same decision-making skills as the other signal-callers. He was terribly inconsistent throughout his career. He does project as a read-option quarterback, but he's nowhere near as skilled as Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson.