Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff: C- Grade One-Year Grade: MILLEN DETAINED AT AIRPORT FOR TOO MUCH KIELBASA IN LUGGAGE
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 grade is an easy "F." I gave the Rams a "D" for surrendering so many picks in the trade and a C- for the actual pick, but it appears as though I was too kind at the time. Jared Goof has shown absolutely no signs that he can be a professional quarterback. In fact, in one of my crackpot theories on our picks podcast, I speculated that Jeff Fisher intentionally sabotaged the Rams by taking Goff over Carson Wentz. All of our NFL sources prior to the draft liked Wentz over Goff, and that includes members of the Rams organization! Fisher overruled everyone and took Goof for some unknown reason.
I've already given the Rams a "D" for moving up to the No. 1 pick in my NFL Draft Trade Grades page, and part of this mark has to take the deal into account. Los Angeles was desperate for a quarterback, but didn't need to panic like this. There will be better quarterback prospects next year - check my 2017 NFL Mock Draft - and 2018 as well, with Josh Rosen set to declare. Rosen and Deshaun Watson are superior prospects - at least at the moment - compared to Jared Goff, who might not even be the top signal-caller in this class.
Goff is a rail-thin quarterback coming out of a goofy spread offense. He had a losing record in college, and his completion percentage wasn't great. These are all red flags, and it's baffling that the Rams are ignoring them. The Rams actually liked Carson Wentz more in between the Senior Bowl and Combine, so I don't know what changed for them. Whatever it is, I don't agree with it, and our contacts around the NFL feel the same way. For example, one successful offensive coach on a team that doesn't need a quarterback was completely baffled by Los Angeles' preference, indicating that Wentz was the easy pick of the two.
I think a C- grade is appropriate for the first-overall choice in the 2016 NFL Draft. This looks to be a bad pick, and the Rams surrendered way too much for it, but I can at least understand why they're taking a quarterback at this selection.
Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State B- Grade One-Year Grade: A+ Grade
When the Eagles made the trade for Carson Wentz, I thought they gave up too much. And at the time, they did. What I didn't anticipate was Philadelphia finding a franchise desperate enough to take Sam Bradford off their hands. By doing so, the Eagles recouped their 2017 first-round pick, so they effectively didn't give much up for Wentz.
With that in mind, I don't see how this grade could be anything but an A+. Wentz was terrific during his rookie year at times, posting a 5-1 record when he had Lane Johnson blocking for him - a mark that would've been 6-0 had Ryan Mathews not fumbled at the end of the Detroit game. The future is bright for the Eagles, and it's all because they boldly moved up for the quarterback who should've been selected first overall.
As with the Rams' grade, I'm going to have to penalize Philadelphia for its trade. I gave the Eagles a Millen on my NFL Draft Trade Grades page, as they surrendered way too much. Even if Wentz hits, Philadelphia will struggle to maintain success because of a lack of resources. Think about what happened to the Falcons in the wake of the Julio Jones deal. Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback, and Jones obviously panned out, but Atlanta hasn't visited the playoffs in a while because of a severe lack of depth. Unless Wentz is the next Andrew Luck and can single-handedly carry the Eagles as Luck does with the Colts in a soft division, Philadelphia will have trouble consistently reaching the postseason for quite a while.
Having said that, I think Wentz is the better option, so the Eagles will be given a full letter grade higher than the Rams. Wentz is seen as the superior signal-caller by most of our NFL contacts, and it's easy to understand why. While the rail-thin Jared Goff played in a goofy spread system and maintained a losing record in college, Wentz won and was more accurate in a pro system, and he doesn't look like he'll snap in half at any second.
While it would probably be better for the Eagles to wait a year or two to land a franchise quarterback - again, check the 2017 NFL Mock Draft for what appear to be two top-five signal-callers next April - it seems like Wentz is the better option of the two available in this class.
San Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State C Grade One-Year Grade: A Grade
I didn't understand the Joey Bosa pick very much when it was made, but the Chargers obviously knew what they were doing. Bosa was the best defensive player in this class during the 2016 season. He missed some time early in the year, but he put a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing passers when he was on the field. Teams did have some off-the-field concerns about Bosa, and they could certainly surface at some point, but this looks like a great selection thus far.
Wow. No one had this. Everyone we polled around the league had DeForest Buckner, Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley. No one we polled, and no mock-draft analyst predicted Bosa. I'm so shocked, I'm almost at a loss for words. Almost. Bosa should be a good player, but his fit in a 3-4 is pretty questionable, and so is the decision to take him over DeForest Buckner. The Chargers weren't going to be able to trade down and get Bosa, but still, this is a reach. Some of Bosa's off-the-field stuff has to be a concern as well. I'm not a fan of this pick, but I don't hate it either.
Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State D Grade One-Year Grade: B Grade
This "B" grade is in no way a reflecton of Ezekiel Elliott's talent level. Elliott has emerged as one of the best running backs in the NFL, performing way better than anyone expected him to. Team sources we spoke to though Elliott would be very good; perhaps on the Fred Taylor level. Elliott proved his detractors wrong by leading the league in rushing as a rookie.
That said, taking a running back at No. 4 overall is still a dangerous strategy. Players at the position are very injury-prone and have a short shelf life, and it could be possible that we've seen Elliott at his best. Plus, running backs grow on trees, and many players at the position would've looked great behind Dallas' dominant offensive line.
Jalen Ramsey wasn't as great during his rookie campaign, but he played very well and will continue to improve. He'll also be in the league much longer than Elliott, barring inexplicable regression.
For the past several years, the Cowboys have drafted very well. They had gotten away from the Jerry Jones-style of selecting players. Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, it's been rumored that Jones wanted Elliott, while everyone else was in favor of Jalen Ramsey. I don't know why, but the Cowboys are stupid again.
If you draft a running back No. 4 in this day and age, you better make sure that he's the next Emmitt Smith or Barry Sanders. Elliott is not that. He's not even as good as Todd Gurley. You can find very good running backs anywhere. Hell, the Cowboys found DeMarco Murray after the first round. This would be a Millen grade if I didn't like Elliott as a prospect, but selecting him in the top five is borderline insane.
I see no reason why this grade should change. Jalen Ramsey wasn't a shutdown cornerback as a rookie, but he played very well, and it's extremely likely that he'll improve by leaps and bounds over the next few years. It still seems as though Ramsey should've been Dallas' pick, so Jacksonville definitely got a steal at No. 5 overall.
Stupid teams do stupid things. The Jaguars used to be a stupid team, but they've made great strides recently, and now look like they're on the cusp of competing for the playoffs. They've taken another step toward that with this pick. Jalen Ramsey is one of the top two players in the draft. Jacksonville shouldn't have been able to obtain him with the fifth-overall selection, but it did. Congrats, Jaguars! You're one of the winners of the draft.
This is a great pick, worthy of an A+. Ramsey is very talented, and he can play both cornerback and safety. Jacksonville's secondary was a complete mess, but that's no longer the case with Ramsey on the roster.
I still think the Ravens panicked by passing on the player they originally planned on taking, Laremy Tunsil. Who cares if he smoked a bong? If players were kicked out of the NFL for doing something like that, half the league would be gone.
That said, Ronnie Stanley appears to be a very solid pick. Stanley struggled to begin his rookie campaign, but finished on a strong note. He should continue to improve in 2017 and beyond.
Over Laremy Tunsil? I wonder if Tunsil's bong picture/video had something to do with this. Still, picking Stanley over Tunsil doesn't make much sense. Some teams told us that they were scared of Stanley's lack of passion for the game. They were also concerned about Stanley not being tough enough. That would terrify me if I drafted him. Plus, passing on Tunsil in the process just doesn't seem like a smart move, given how talented Tunsil is. The Ravens have done well with chracter-issue guys in the past, so I don't really understand this.
San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon A Grade One-Year Grade: A Grade
Trent Baalke screwed up a lot when he was general manager of the 49ers. This move wasn't an error. DeForest Buckner was the obvious choice in this spot, and he seems to be working out for the 49ers thus far. Buckner wasn't great as a rookie, but he was solid, particularly as a pass-rusher. He was on the field for almost every defensive snap, and he's one of the few cornerstones on San Francisco's depressing roster.
In the two hours in which I changed my third pick to Ronnie Stanley, I wrote that one team that won because of San Diego's decision-making was the 49ers, because it allowed DeForest Buckner to fall into their laps. Excluding Tunsil, who is now scaring teams off because of some random picture, Buckner was the best player available. He also fills a huge need. The 49ers needed help on the defensive line to replace Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. They now have that with Buckner and his Oregon teammate Arik Armstead.
Speaking of Oregon, it's nice that Buckner has familiarity with Chip Kelly. I think it always helps when a prospect or free agent goes to a team where he's comfortable with the scheme and coaching, and that's the case here.
Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT/G, Michigan State B- Grade One-Year Grade: A+ Grade
The Titans' decision to move up for Jack Conklin surprised a lot of people, and some thought they reached, especially considering that Laremy Tunsil was available. It turns out that Tennessee out-smarted everyone. Jack Conklin was one of the top right tackles in the NFL last year, and he was a major reason why Marcus Mariota was able to take a big step forward in Marcus Mariota's sophomore campaign.
I'm usually not a fan of teams trading up, but the Titans had tons of resources to do so. It would've been ridiculous for them to keep all of their picks, so moving up for a player they weren't going to obtain at No. 15 made a ton of sense. Right tackle was a huge need, and that has been filled with Conklin.
What's interesting is that the Titans passed on Laremy Tunsil. It's crazy that one of the top two players in the draft continues to fall, and teams that need him are passing on him.
Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia B- Grade One-Year Grade: C+ Grade
I couldn't argue anyone thinking that this grade should remain a B-. Leonard Floyd had some nice moments as a rookie, but he was inconsistent as a pass-rusher and a major liability in run support. Floyd should get better though, and I'd have to think that the Bears won't regret their decision to draft him. That said, Floyd is well behind all of the picks in the top 10 of the 2016 NFL Draft, save for Jared Goof and perhaps Eli Apple, so I have to drop this to a C+.
The Bears felt the need to leap the Giants for Leoanrd Floyd, and rightly so. The Giants were going to take Floyd, and the Buccaneers had interest in him as well, but they obviously must have liked the trade better.
This pick makes sense. Floyd is arguably the best 3-4 edge rusher in this class - yes, above Joey Bosa, who was a 4-3 player - and he fills a position of weakness for Chicago. I can't really say anything is wrong with this pick, as it would've been a "B" without the trade.
New York Giants: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State C- Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
I thought Eli Apple was a slight reach when the Giants took him at No. 10. They panicked, as they wanted Jack Conklin and thought the Michigan State tackle would be available. He wasn't, so they settled for the Ohio State product. Apple flashed a bit as a rookie, but struggled overall. He missed lots of tackles and was torched quite a bit. Apple does appear to have potential though, so I'm willing to improve this grade from a C- to a "C."
I had a feeling that Eli Apple might be chosen over Vernon Hargreaves. But that was more of teams being down on Hargreaves than front offices liking Apple. I think this is a bit of a reach. I had Apple at No. 14, but with Shaq Lawson, Hargreaves and Laremy Tunsil available, the Giants could've gone in a different direction. Still, I won't penalize the team too much, as they were blind-sided with Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd both being snatched off the board right in front of them. However, it sounds like Jerry Reese could've moved down, but didn't because the deal wasn't good enough. A C- grade seems appropriate.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida A Grade One-Year Grade: C Grade
Vernon Hargreaves was a major disappointment as a rookie. He struggled mightily, as he was constantly torched. I'm not saying that he's definitely going to be a bust, as he has a ton of raw talent, but he needs to make some big improvements to his game before he's labeled yet another bust cornerback Tampa has drafted early.
The Buccaneers landed a prospect many consider to be the second-best cornerback prospect in this class. Even better, they did so while trading down. That's exactly how teams should draft. Cornerback has been a huge problem area for Tampa, and Hargreaves projects as an immediate upgrade. This is a big win for the Buccaneers, even if the deal to move from nine to 11 wasn't that great. I'll be grading all of the trades on a separate page. I'll have those posted later tonight.
New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville B Grade One-Year Grade: C+ Grade
It's difficult to grade Sheldon Rankins right now because he missed half of his rookie campaign with an injury and then struggled because he wasn't healthy. I think a neutral grade like C+ seems appropriate for now. I'll obviously have a more definitive grade in four years.
This isn't a great pick by any means, but it's definitely a solid one. Sheldon Rankins was expected to go in the 12-16 range, so this is obviously the top end of it. The Saints spoke about their dire need at three-technique defensive tackle at length during the offseason, so it's hardly a surprise that they pulled the trigger on the athletic Rankins, who should be able to provide an immediate boost to New Orleans' horrid defense. Generating a pass rush on Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston is crucial, and Rankins should help with that.
Miami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss A+ Grade One-Year Grade: A+ Grade
Looking back, it was so silly that Laremy Tunsil fell all the way to No. 13 because of some bong video. Tunsil was a model citizen as a rookie and performed well, especially considering that he was playing out of position. Tunsil should be even better once he moves to tackle, which should happen soon because Branden Albert can't stay healthy.
How did the best player in the draft (according to some) fall to No. 13? I'll be shocked if Laremy Tunsil is on Twitter ever again.
This is a slam-dunk A+. I suppose Miami isn't the most ideal environment for Tunsil, but his talent level is unquestionable. He's a franchise left tackle with an All-Pro skill set, and Miami will need one once the injury-prone Branden Albert moves on. Taking Tunsil here is a no-brainer. The risk is well worth the reward, and this could end up being the best pick in the entire 2016 NFL Draft.
Oakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia C Grade One-Year Grade: A- Grade
I definitely missed on this one. I guess it took me by surprise because I expected Karl Joseph to be drafted later, considering his injury. Joseph had a solid rookie campaign as a cover safety, though he missed a good amount of tackles. Still, Joseph flashed major potential and could emerge as one of the better safeties in the NFL a few years from now.
When there were rumors about Karl Joseph shooting up to the first round, we reached out to team sources and asked if they agreed with that. They didn't. Some said he might be a fringe first-rounder, but most told us that they relegated him to the second round, with his injury being somewhat of a factor. With that in mind, I think the Raiders are reaching here. I wouldn't have minded it if the Raiders moved down and took Joseph, but I think No. 14 is too early.
That said, I don't think this is a horrible pick. Joseph is a risk because of his injury, but if he completely gets over it, he could be a very good player for Oakland. The Raiders have definitely improved this offseason and could make a run into the playoffs.
Much like the Sheldon Rankins situation, this was a tough re-grade. Corey Coleman had a big Week 2 performance versus Baltimore and then didn't see the field in nearly two months because of an injury. Then, when he returned, he was playing with terrible quarterbacks protected by a battered offensive line. We still have no idea how good Coleman is, so as with Rankins, I'm going to jot down a C+.
The Browns needed a play-maker. Actually, they needed about five play-makers. Well, one down, four to go.
This is a bit higher than I've seen Corey Coleman projected, but part of that was the fit. Most teams like larger receivers, so it was difficult to slot him. However, Coleman is an athletic freak, and he's exactly what Cleveland had to acquire. Even better, the Browns moved down to snag him, which definitely helps this grade.
Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State B Grade One-Year Grade: A+ Grade
Wow, what a whiff. For multiple reasons. First of all, the grade was wrong. Taylor Decker was exceptional as a rookie. Second, I believed that Decker could only be stationed at right tackle. The Lions put him on the blind side, and Decker rewarded them with Pro Bowl level-type play. No one we spoke to though Decker could thrive at left tackle, so give the Lions major credit for absolutely nailing this pick.
Taylor Decker was projected to go in the 14-20 range, so this makes sense as far as that is concerned. He's also a good fit in terms of need. The Lions' pass protection was an abomination at times last year. They needed a left tackle, but weren't going to get that here at No. 16. The right tackle spot had to be addressed as well, however, and the Lions will be better at that spot with Decker. This deserves a solid "B" grade.