Tennessee Titans: B+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Titans are already winners in the 2016 NFL Draft, as far as I'm concerned. They moved down in a mediocre class and acquired a bunch of picks, including a first-rounder in 2017 (here's my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) With tons of selections, Tennessee can afford to pick the best players available, some of whom would naturally upgrade big areas of need, including cornerback, right tackle and receiver.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As mentioned, the Titans were considered winners for moving down from No. 1 and acquiring tons of resources in the process. Unfortunately, Tennessee surrendered a significant pick - a 2017 second-rounder - to move up from No. 15 to 8. Sure, the team had to do so in order to leap the Giants for Jack Conklin, but in hindsight, it could have given up so much less to move up to No. 11 or 12 in order to pick Laremy Tunsil, a far-superior prospect.
The rest of the Titans' draft was just fine. Derrick Henry is a big name, albeit an overrated one, as teams were never going to select a Nick Saban-coached running back in the first round of the draft. Kevin Byard was a slight reach atop Round 3. Austin Johnson and Tajae Sharpe, however, were solid choices.
If there's one thing wrong with Tennessee's draft class, it's that the front office waited until the fifth round to find a cornerback. Considering that Jalen Ramsey would've been the No. 1 overall choice had the Titans stayed put, this is a huge downgrade. Covering opposing receivers will be extremely difficult for the Titans next year, which is very significant considering that they'll have to battle T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, William Fuller, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in six games.
If I were grading the Titans' picks by themselves, this would probably earn a B- or so. However, I have to bump them up nearly a full letter grade for obtaining a first-round choice in a loaded class next year.
Cleveland Browns: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Browns have the worst roster in the NFL right now, thanks to all of the departures this offseason. Almost every position must be addressed, so Cleveland needs to just take the best player available. That sounds simple, but let's see if the Browns reach at all.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: When the Browns said that they would be using analytics to draft, no one was quite sure what that meant. Well, as we've learned, they prefer players who were highly productive in college. Their initial three picks - Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib - were especially active on the football field this past season. The same can be said of seventh-rounder Scooby Wright, who was one of the late steals of the draft.
There were three things I disliked about Cleveland's draft. The first was that the team passed on Myles Jack atop Round 2 when it became clear that he wouldn't need microfracture knee surgery. A losing franchise like the Browns definitely needed someone like Jack to point them toward the right direction, so eschewing him was a huge mistake. Second, several mid-round choices - Ricardo Louis, Derrick Kindred, Seth DeValve - were reaches. And third, Cody Kessler was an absolute abomination of a draft pick, as he should've been chosen in the sixth frame at the very earliest.
I think I'd give the Browns a "C" or so in a vacuum. However, like the Titans, Cleveland deserves a big bump for obtaining extra selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, which is a superior class (check my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) The Browns picked up a one and a three from the Eagles, then snatched a two from Tennessee. That's outstanding maneuvering.
San Diego Chargers: C Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Chargers have two simple goals in the 2016 NFL Draft: Improve Philip Rivers' pass protection to avoid a repeat of both 2014 and 2015, and bolster the defense with a couple of play-makers, particularly in the secondary. Eric Weddle is gone, and San Diego can replace him with its No. 3 overall pick.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's amazing that no one knew what the Chargers were going to do at No. 3 overall leading up to the draft. People speculated Ronnie Stanley, DeForest Buckner and Jalen Ramsey, but no one had Joey Bosa. And quite frankly, no one had it because it didn't make much sense. Bosa doesn't speculate to transition poorly into the 3-4, but he's more of a 4-3 player. Plus, there were better prospects available.
The Chargers got off to a bad start, and they didn't improve much more after that. I liked a couple of their mid-rounders - Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown - but that was about it. Aside from Bosa, who is guaranteed to help them this year? Hunter Henry will, but only if Antonio Gates gets hurt. Max Tuerk might not be recovered from his injury. Perry will have to wait for Manti Te'o to leave.
With Philip Rivers entering the twilight of his career, San Diego had to obtain players who could help the team win now. I don't think the front office accomplished this, and I just don't understand why the team barely focused on the offensive line and secondary.
Dallas Cowboys: C Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Neither Tony Romo nor Jerry Jones has very many years remaining with the Cowboys, so they have to prepare for one last hurrah. They can do so by improving the defense and finding some weapons to complement Romo. In terms of the latter, a new running back and a No. 2 receiver are required. The defense, meanwhile, needs a pass-rusher badly in the wake of the Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence suspensions.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Cowboys had done a great job of drafting prior to this April. Jerry Jones used to select all of the splash players who wouldn't amount to anything, so other members of that organization have taken control. Had this not happened, Dallas would be the laughing stock of the NFL right now, as Johnny Manziel would probably be the quarterback.
I have a theory, and it's that Jones has wrestled control away from the other members of his front office in the wake of the 4-12 finish. No sane general manager would've spent the No. 4 overall pick on a running back in this day and age, especially over a cornerback who could, in Dallas' own words, erase half the field. If this were 1995, that strategy would be acceptable. And it would probably be the correct one. But to do that now is completely asinine, and it reeks of someone who once wanted Johnny Football to quarterback his football team.
Making matters worse, Jaylon Smith probably won't be able to play next year. He could emerge as a perennial Pro Bowler, or it's entirely possible that he won't ever be able to play, much like Marcus Lattimore. To spend such a premium pick on a big risk like that is also nuts, especially when considering that Romo needs all of the help he can get at this very moment.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys failed to address their pass rush and secondary until much later. I liked some of Dallas' choices toward the end of the draft, but the front office, as a whole, did not do a very good job.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: It's all about improving the defense. The Jaguars have eight selections in the 2016 NFL Draft, and it wouldn't surprise me if as many as seven were used to improve the horrible stop unit. The offensive line also needs to be bolstered, but the defense is the first, second and third priority.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's pretty crazy that the Jaguars will be adding three top-five draft prospects to their defense next year. Of course, there's Jalen Ramsey, who might have been the top player in the entire 2016 NFL Draft. Then, Jacksonville nabbed Myles Jack in the second round, despite the fact that he was also under consideration at No. 5 overall. Jack, of course, fell because teams were worried about his knee. Those concerns were quelled once Dr. James Andrews came out and said that Jack wouldn't need microfracture knee surgery. Add in Dante Fowler, who missed all of 2015, and Jacksonville's defense is set to improve by leaps and bounds this upcoming season.
The Jaguars absolutely killed it. Ramsey and Jack were outstanding picks, as were Sheldon Day and Tyrone Holmes on Day 3. In fact, Jacksonville didn't select a single player who was graded below a "B" until the seventh round.
Jacksonville appears to have put together the best draft class. And there's really not much to say beyond that. Bravo. Easy A+.
Baltimore Ravens: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: It's a good thing the Ravens have plenty of picks because they have terrible depth. They need to hit on most of their selections, all while addressing the many holes on their roster. The top priorities have to be left tackle, cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker. However, there are many more areas that need improving, so taking the best available player at most spots could do the trick.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Ravens were the first team truly affected by Bong-gate (yes, I'm calling it that.) Adam Schefter reported Saturday that as speculated, the Ravens were planning on drafting Laremy Tunsil before the video of him taking a hit from a bong surfaced on Twitter. I can understand why Baltimore was cautious, but I think it'll end up costing them. Ronnie Stanley may seem like a fine replacement, but teams that needed tackles told us that they weren't fans of him; they disliked his lacking toughness and low passion for football.
As expected, however, Ozzie Newsome had a strong draft after that. Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi, Tavon Young and Chris Moore were solid subsequent picks, and then the rest of the class featured six prospects, all of whom earned a B+ or higher in their individual grades. My only qualm is that the Ravens didn't address the cornerback position until late.
Had the Ravens selected Tunsil, I would be giving them an A- right now. Stanley is quite the downgrade, unfortunately, but i don't think I can harshly penalize Baltimore, considering the circumstances. I think a solid "B" here seems appropriate.
San Francisco 49ers: C Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The 49ers are a complete mess, and nailing every single selection in the 2016 NFL Draft couldn't even undo what Jed York and Trent Baalke have done. That said, they have to start somewhere, and that somewhere would include a franchise quarterback and some weapons for that player. The offensive line and pass rush also need to be addressed.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The 49ers got off to a great start by landing DeForest Buckner. The Oregon product easily could've gone No. 3 overall if the Chargers had any clue, so obtaining him with the seventh-overall pick was great. It might have made the fans forget for a second that the trust-fund idiot of an owner and the paranoid general manager who can't work with anyone talented have both sabotaged their team over the years.
And then, reality set in. The 49ers moved up into the first round to select a third-round guard at No. 28 overall. It was an embarrassing series of events, to say the least. San Francisco almost certainly would've been able to obtain Joshua Garnett had it remained at No. 37. Trading like that was reckless and sadly typical of the Trent Baalke regime.
The rest of San Francisco's haul was a mixed bag. On one hand, the Will Redmond and Fahn Cooper choices were pretty solid. On the other, San Francisco acquired a couple of players (Ronald Blair, Jeff Driskel) who didn't fit their system, as Chip Kelly can't quite seem to identify what works for his team. Also, the John Theus choice in the fifth round was horrible. See NFL Draft Grades for every single 49ers pick.
Miami Dolphins: C+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Dolphins don't strike me as the smartest organization. They covet Ezekiel Elliott, yet they moved down below some teams that will strongly consider him, all for an overpaid cornerback and an injury-prone linebacker. It'll take a miracle for Elliott to fall to No. 13, so Miami will have to settle on a cornerback. The running back, guard and linebacker positions will all have to be addressed later. A young quarterback would also make a ton of sense.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It's amazing how things work out sometimes. The Dolphins agreed to a completely senseless trade with the Eagles prior to the draft, moving down five spots for a pair of lemons. Doing so all but ensured that one of the blue-chip players wouldn't fall to them at No. 13. Well, we all know what happened. Bong-gate shook up the entire 2016 NFL Draft, prompting Laremy Tunsil to drop right into Miami's lap. It's truely better to be lucky than good sometimes.
So, the Dolphins started well, but how would they finish? Not well, actually. Seemingly addicted to stupid trades, Miami needlessly moved up twice. The first occasion wasn't very egregious, as it was for Xavien Howard. However, it wasn't a necessary move, considering all of the cornerbacks still available. The second occasion was the real killer though, as the Dolphins relinquished third- and fourth-round choices in 2017 - a better class - for Leonte Carroo, a player who didn't fill any sort of need.
If it wasn't for Tunsil, the Dolphins would be in C- or even "D" territory. However, they can thank their lucky stars that someone set out to ruin Tunsil's career. That's the only way the Dolphins can draft well, apparently.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Buccaneers seem almost set on offense, with tackle and receiver being just two of the needs they have on that side of the ball. Thus, they'll have to concentrate on defense in the 2016 NFL Draft. Upgrades are needed almost everywhere, save for linebacker. Tampa going pass rush then safety seems pretty likely.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Tampa's draft is like this delicious-looking apple pie that you take several bites out of, and you absolutely love it - until you discover that there's a single worm in there, and now your entire appetite is spoiled.
The worm, I'm referring to, of course, is the kicker the Buccaneers chose in the second round. And not only did Tampa select him there; the team dealt a fourth-round pick in order to move up for him! Look, Roberto Aguayo is a talented kicker, and the position is more prevalent now in the wake of the new PAT rule, but selecting one during the draft's second day - let alone moving up for one - is just ridiculous and completely irresponsible.
As you can infer from the apple pie analogy, the rest of Tampa's draft was great. It started well, when the Buccaneers moved down for Vernon Hargreaves, whom they easily could've chosen at No. 9. Noah Spence, picked in the second round, has great talent, but fell only because of character concerns. The rest of Tampa's selections seem solid as well, save for Devante Bond.
So, what do you give a yummy apple pie with a single worm? I couldn't imagine going higher than a C+, but I wouldn't want to drop any lower either.
New York Giants: B- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Giants have to improve Eli Manning's protection, but will they get the opportunity to do so with their first-round choice without reaching? We'll see. Elsewhere, New York needs to bolster its receiving, running back and linebacking corps. Some depth in the defensive backfield wouldn't hurt either.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As with the Ravens, the Giants were adversely affected by Bong-gate. With Ronnie Stanley off the board as early as No. 6, as a result of Laremy Tunsil falling, the Titans moved up for Jack Conklin instead of Stanley, meaning that Conklin, whom the Giants had targeted all along, was not available. Of course, New York should've just picked Tunsil, but I can't blame Jerry Reese too much for not doing so.
Eli Apple was not a great selection, by any means, but he wasn't a horrible one considering the alternatives. The Dolphins or Raiders would've taken Apple, so he was not an egregious reach. Meanwhile, I liked the rest of the picks. Sterling Shepard in the second frame was solid, as were Darian Thompson, B.J. Goodson, Paul Perkins and Jerell Adams in subsequent rounds. They all filled needs and provided good values.
The one glaring issue with New York's draft was that the team didn't address the offensive line. The Giants absolutely had to do this, and I have a feeling that they'll regret passing on Tunsil. They made solid picks to make up for it, so a B- grade seems appropriate.
Chicago Bears: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Bears had an excellent free-agency period, so they'll need to continue to build momentum with some strong picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. Aside from left tackle, cornerback and five-technique, there's not a glaring position of need, so the Bears can spend a couple of early choices on the best player available.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I'm torn on what the Bears did to start the draft. They found a quality pass-rusher in Leonard Floyd, but moved up to do so. They had to leap the Giants for Floyd, but there would've been plenty of similarly ranked prospects available at No. 11 had they not done that. It wasn't a terrible decision, but it certainly wasn't a good way to kick off the draft.
Fortunately for the Bears, the rest of their haul was mostly strong. Cody Whitehair and Jonathan Bullard were excellent values on Day 2. Whitehair, who fills a need on the offensive line, was obtained after trading down twice. Bullard, meanwhile, was chosen in the third round despite being regarded as a first-round prospect by some. He'll satisfy an even greater void on the roster, the defensive end position.
Chicago did well in the third round, save for the Nick Kwiatkoski pick. I didn't mind Kwiatkoski as a prospect, but moving up for him wasn't necessary. Still, the Bears had a solid "B"-type draft overall, which would be graded higher had they addressed left tackle and cornerback.
New Orleans Saints: C+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Drew Brees is capable of leading the Saints deep into the playoffs right now, but that won't last much longer. Thus, the Saints need a strong draft to shore up their weaknesses. Unfortunately for them, there are just too many holes that need to be plugged. Every level of the defense must be upgraded. On the other side of the ball, receiver and guard are liabilities right now.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Saints failed to upgrade every level of their defense, though that was difficult to do, considering that they had just five selections. The first three were good ones, as two of them were used to help their anemic stop unit. Sheldon Rankins wasn't an exciting choice at No. 12, but he was a quality pick who will help New Orleans' lacking interior pass rush. Vonn Bell, meanwhile, was chosen a round later than where some expected him to go. Safety is not an immediate need, but Bell provided lots of value, though he came with a price (which I'll get to later.) In between Rankins and Bell, Michael Thomas will help the offense, which needed a receiver.
Unfortunately for the Saints, they barely did anything after Day 2. They reached for a pass-rusher, and that was it until the seventh round. Part of the problem was that by trading up for Bell, they surrendered a fourth-round selection, which was not a good idea considering all of the needs they have.
Overall, the Saints added some nice players, but didn't do nearly enough to strengthen their team. The pass rush will improve, but not nearly enough. The linebacking corps will still struggle, while the cornerback group didn't get any boost. I'm fine with giving New Orleans a C+ for this class.
Philadelphia Eagles: C Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Eagles moved up for a quarterback, but that means that they won't have many resources to complement their new franchise signal-caller. This is not a recipe for success, as Philadelphia will have to hit on every single draft pick to give Carson Wentz a chance. The Eagles will need to add a receiver and a blocker, and they have needs on the other side of the ball as well.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: In the individual grades, the Eagles failed to make a single selection that was graded higher than a "B" until the seventh round. Granted, I absolutely loved what Philadelphia did at the very end, grabbing great values like Jalen Mills and Alex McCalister, but that wasn't enough to salvage the rest of the draft.
Having said that, I don't think Philadelphia's haul, in terms of the players picked, was poor at all. I like Carson Wentz better than Jared Goff, and adding versatile lineman Isaac Seumalo in the third round to help protect Wentz was a good idea. Last May, I actually had Seumalo in the first round of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft, but he dropped because of injury issues. If he can remain healthy, he'll be a good player for Philadelphia.
The problem with the Eagles' draft was that they surrendered way too much to move up for Wentz. Teams trading up for players have a dubious track record, even if those prospects pan out. The toll taken on the depth of the roster is too much to overcome, and Philadelphia's lack of resources in the next few years will hurt. Thus, I can't give the Eagles anything higher than a "C."
Oakland Raiders: C Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Raiders are a Super Bowl sleeper, thanks to all of the outstanding moves they made in free agency. Let's see if they're just as successful in the draft. Most of their needs are on defense, and they seemingly need at least one upgrade on every level of the stop unit.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I love what the Raiders did in free agency, and I still believe that they can make a deep push into the playoffs - as long as the hype and high expectations don't get to them. However, their 2016 NFL Draft class was underwhelming at best.
Per the individual grades, Oakland didn't score higher than a "B" with any of its picks. Karl Joseph was a reach at No. 14, as none of the near-dozen teams we spoke to were convinced that he would even be chosen in the first round. Joseph could turn out to be a good player, but the Raiders easily could've moved down and still obtained him or another player of his exact caliber. Meanwhile, second-day selections Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun were just fine picks. They earned a "B" and B-, respectively, but nothing too exciting.
Oakland screwed up early on Day 3, wasting picks on Connor Cook and DeAndre Washington. The Cook choice was especially bad because the Raiders made the mistake of moving up for him. I don't know how Cook possibly helps the Raiders win now. It was a horrible error to use multiple resources on a quarterback the entire league was down on.
All in all, this feels like a "C" draft to me. The Raiders filled some of their needs, and the first three players they chose should be able to contribute this upcoming season. However, Oakland didn't do anything remotely great in this draft.
Los Angeles Rams: C- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Everyone knows the Rams are going to select Jared Goff No. 1 overall at this point. The rest of the draft needs to be about protecting Goff and acquiring some weapons for him. However, with no second- and third-round selections, that could prove to be very difficult.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As with the Eagles, the Rams moving up so high ended up costing them. Sure, they obtained Jared Goff, but they didn't have any other selections until Round 4, and they also lost their first-round choice in 2017. Making this sort of move wasn't worth the cost. On top of Goff being a sketchy quarterback prospect, there are superior signal-callers entering the draft in the next two years. I'll use this opportunity to once again spam a link to my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.
As if not owning many resources wasn't bad enough, the Rams spent their second choice on a recidivist tight end who wasn't expected to be drafted. Sure, Tyler Higbee is talented, but no one was touching him because of his various legal issues. I liked Pharoh Cooper and Temarrick Hemingway after that, but they weren't enough to compensate for the other blunders.
I'm giving the Rams a C-, which is the lowest grade I've handed out thus far. I can understand why they moved up for Goff, but exercising more patience and building up the rest of the roster would've been the better route.
Detroit Lions: B- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Calvin Johnson's retirement stole all of the headlines this offseason, but the Lions signed Marvin Jones to a big deal, so they're bound to address greater needs. Those areas of weakness are in the trenches, on both sides of the ball. Help in the secondary is needed as well.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Lions were resigned to the fact that they wouldn't be able to upgrade Riley Reiff at left tackle, but they at least bolstered two other areas of their offensive line. They used the 16th-overall pick on Taylor Decker, who should be way better than what Detroit possessed at right tackle last year. Meanwhile, third-rounder Graham Glasgow should provide good depth in the interior and eventually emerge as a starter.
Sticking with addressing their needs, Detroit used its second-round choice on A'Shawn Robinson. While it may seem like Robinson was a great value pick, his drop was rather predictable, as he interviewed poorly and showed a lack of passion for football. The Lions could've done better.
I like what Detroit did on the beginning of the third day, though some of its picks after that were rather confusing, especially Antwione Williams and Jake Rudock. Overall, the Lions' draft class wasn't bad, as some decent prospects were taken to satisfy needs, but the total haul wasn't very great either.
Atlanta Falcons: C- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Atlanta's defense was pathetic this past season, so the team needs to add help to every level of its stop unit. Additionally, Matt Ryan needs assistance. Better interior blocking and tight end play could help his red-zone woes.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Excluding the seventh-rounder, every single pick the Falcons made scored a C+ or worse in the individual grades, save for one: Austin Hooper in the third frame. The Stanford tight end is highly athletic and offers tons of upside, and he'll perhaps finally fill the void created by Tony Gonzalez's retirement several offseasons ago.
The rest of the draft, as you can tell by the individual grades, was just mediocre, at best. We heard some buzz about Keanu Neal perhaps being chosen at the end of the first round, but the rest of the league was shocked when Atlanta snatched him off the board at No. 17, passing on talented prospects like Shaq Lawson and Darron Lee in the process. Meanwhile, second-rounder Deion Jones was also taken early. A mid third-round prospect, Jones could've been obtained via trading down or simply being patient.
In terms of needs, the Falcons filled some, but failed to address the anemic pass rush and interior blocking. Thus, their draft class as a whole is pretty disappointing. I don't absolutely hate it, but it deserves a C- grade.
Indianapolis Colts: A- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Colts' top priority is an obvious one - Andrew Luck's pass protection must improve. A repeat of 2015 would be disastrous. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, it also has other dire needs; its defense is a mess, as it needs help at nose tackle, linebacker, cornerback and safety.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I am utterly shocked right now. Indianapolis obviously needed to improve its offensive line, but general manager Ryan Grigson has shown a complete disregard for that area of the team in the past. I guess after what transpired in 2015, he finally learned his lesson.
Since I've criticized Grigson for neglecting the front in previous years, I have to commend him for addressing it this time. Ryan Kelly was a quality choice at No. 18, as he's exactly what Andrew Luck needed. Le'Raven Clark, taken in the middle of the third round, could easily win the right tackle job as a rookie. Meanwhile, fifth-rounder Joe Haeg might also claim the job. If not, he figures to provide solid depth as a swing tackle.
The Colts also made some decent improvements to their defense. T.J. Green, taken at the end of the second round, could've been obtained a bit earlier. The same goes for fourth-rounder Hassan Ridgeway.
Excluding the seventh round, five of the six picks the Colts made earned a B+ or higher. Couple that with key needs being filled, and it seems as though Indianapolis walked away with a great draft class.
Buffalo Bills: A Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Bills appear close to being a playoff team, but they need to shore up their front seven, which was a major issue last year. Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Nigel Bradham were all major disappointments, and they all must be upgraded. Elsewhere, the Bills have to find a new No. 2 receiver.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Bills put together an excellent draft. Most of the players they selected provided great values, and all of them potentially fill major needs.
Things got off to a great start when Buffalo nabbed Shaq Lawson at No. 19 overall. Lawson was expected to be chosen in the 11-16 range, so getting such a talented edge rusher with the 19th pick was a steal. And speaking of steals, Reggie Ragland was an incredible find in the second frame. Ragland was under consideration by at least one other team in the bottom of the first round, so I don't know why he dropped all the way to the middle of the second frame. The Bills won't complain, as they found their upgrade over Bradham.
Buffalo's initial selections on Day 3 were also great, as Cardale Jones and Jonathan Williams both could've been chosen a round earlier without any complaints. Actually, the only pick of Buffalo's I wasn't a fan of was Adolphus Washington. He's one of the worst athletes in the entire class and possesses character concerns. I wouldn't say he was a horrible option though, as he does potentially fill a need.
The Bills definitely deserve an "A" for what they were able to accomplish. While they didn't find a sure-fire No. 2 receiver, they at least filled all of the holes in their front seven with prospects who offered outstanding value.
New York Jets: B- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Jets don't have a quarterback, so finding one is obviously the top priority. I don't think they'll take Paxton Lynch at No. 20, so a second-day signal-caller is more likely. New York also has some other glaring needs, particularly at linebacker and right tackle.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: New York's individual grades were pretty much all over the place. The team had five picks if the seventh round is excluded. One was an "A," two were in the "B" range, while the other two both earned a "C." Fortunately, there were no Millens involved.
The Jets' initial selection actually earned the "A." Darron Lee was expected to come off the board in the 13-17 range, and it was absolutely shocking that the Falcons passed on him. The Jets didn't complain, as they nabbed the athletic linebacker at No. 20 overall. New York has needed help in the interior of its defense for quite a while, and Lee should help solve that issue.
The one other pick of New York's that I liked was Jordan Jenkins in the third round. However, taking Christian Hackenberg in the second frame will hurt this overall grade. Hackenberg has loads of talent, but processes information way too slowly and is horribly inconsistent. I'm a Penn State alumnus, and even I have been way down on Hackenberg, calling him a trap. I wouldn't have taken him prior to the fourth round, but I can understand why the desperate Jets pulled the trigger on a quarterback.
Overall, New York did an OK job with its draft. Some picks were solid; a couple of needs were filled; and there weren't any truly horrific selections. Conversely, however, the Jets' haul could've been much better.
Washington Redskins: A- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Redskins seem to have figured out their quarterback situation, so they can now focus on improving the defense. Help is needed on all three levels, particularly the defensive line and secondary. Multiple early selections should be used to bolster those areas.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I actually wrote the above goals prior to the Josh Norman trade. The Redskins were set to pick William Jackson at No. 21 prior to the deal (after they deemed Kendall Fuller too injured to be the choice there), but obviously shifted gears. And rightfully so.
With a huge hole filled, Washington was able to focus on other ares of the roster. The team was able to move down a spot and select Josh Doctson. While the TCU product doesn't fill an immediate need, he'll likely be a starter in 2017 and beyond, as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are entering contract seasons. It could be argued that Doctson was the best player available, so the pick was a good one.
The Redskins' second day was even better. Su'a Cravens was a solid choice, but the pick I want to focus on is Fuller at No. 84. Washington once deemed Fuller to be good enough (and yes, tall enough) to be chosen at No. 21, but his medical situation changed that. Still, Fuller was outstanding value in the third round, and it won't be any sort of surprise if he's an effective starter one day.
Overall, Washington scored worse than a "B" with only one pick, and that was a B- for Nate Sudfeld in the sixth frame. The Redskins had a great draft, though if I had one qualm, it's that there wasn't enough focus on the defensive line.
Houston Texans: B+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Houston appears to have solved its quarterback problems in the wake of the Brock Osweiler signing. Now, the main issue is not having enough talent around Osweiler. A No. 2 receiver, a tight end and a new center all have to be obtained. On the other side of the ball, Houston needs to consider adding talent to the defensive end and safety positions.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Considering I correctly mocked William Fuller, Nick Martin and D.J. Reader to the Texans, I can't possibly be upset about three of their six picks. And by the way, none of this was me. It's all thanks to Charlie Campbell, who once again proved that he's the best NFL Draft reporter on the Web.
I gave Fuller, Martin and Reader a B+, B+ and A-, respectively. All of those picks made sense for obvious reasons, and all three provided solid value for when they were chosen. I didn't love that Houston moved up a bit for Fuller or Martin, but the team barely surrendered anything, so it's not a big deal.
So, what about the other selections? None of them earned worse than a "B," so pretty good as well. Third-rounder Braxton Miller may seem redundant, but adding as much speed as possible to the offense was extremely important, and he was just too good to pass up at No. 85. Meanwhile, Tyler Ervin was the sort of third-down complement Houston was looking for to combine with Lamar Miller. Safety K.J. Dillon helps fill one of the few needs on defense.
The Texans had a very good draft. I have no problem giving them a B+, with a minor deduction being made for the two minor trades. Houston would've earned an A- otherwise.
Minnesota Vikings: A Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Vikings appear close to making a Super Bowl run; they just need a few more pieces, and they don't have many major areas of weakness. Some of the few problems they have are at receiver and safety, but they should be able to plug those holes in the 2016 NFL Draft.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Vikings put together one of the best draft classes in the NFL. They filled their most-prominent need, took players who provided great value, and didn't make any poor choices. This is hardly a surprise, as Minnesota's front office has been on fire in recent years.
Excluding the seventh round, of the six choices Minnesota made in the 2016 NFL Draft, only two graded worse than a B+, and both earned a "B." Things got off to a great start when the Vikings nabbed Laquon Treadwell at No. 23 overall. Some believed Treadwell to be the best receiver in the class and worthy of a top-15 selection. Thus, obtaining him with the 23rd pick was quite the bargain. However, that was nothing compared to selecting Mackensie Alexander near the end of the second frame. Alexander comes with character issues, but in terms of pure talent, he was a top-20 player in this class.
The one issue I have with Minnesota's haul is that the team didn't pick up a safety until the seventh round. However, the Vikings were great otherwise, as they once again did an outstanding job of bolstering their roster.
Cincinnati Bengals: A Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Bengals did a good job of retaining most of their free agents this offseason, but a couple of positions that got away from them were receiver and safety. I expect those spots to be addressed early in the 2016 NFL Draft. Elsewhere, Cincinnati still needs to fix defensive tackle, which has been an area of weakness for a while now.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Good news-bad news for the Bengals, and I'll begin with the latter. The bad news is that the three targets Cincinnati had planned for No. 24: Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman and William Fuller - in that order - were all snatched off the board by the 22nd pick. Thus, the Bengals obtained their fourth option, at best. The good news is, and I'm sure Cincinnati fans will appreciate this, the front office repeatedly trolled the Steelers throughout the draft, taking players Pittsburgh would've considered (William Jackson, Andrew Billings) on multiple occasions.
Oh, and there's some great news, too, and that happens to be the fact that Cincinnati obtained some outstanding prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft. Beginning with Jackson, there was some buzz that he could be chosen in the early teens, so obtaining him at No. 24 was clutch. I also loved the Tyler Boyd pick in the second round. Boyd had more talent than any receiver entering the second round, yet Cincinnati was able to snatch him with the 55th pick. Boyd comes with some character concerns, but the Bengals have succeeded with players of his ilk in the past.
The Bengals' best selection, in my opinion, was Andrew Billings in the fourth round. Billings fell for no explicable reason; he easily could've gone during the first day. In fact, he's someone Cincinnati could've trolled Pittsburgh with on Thursday. Billings figures to be a solid replacement for Domata Peko in the near future.
There were a couple of picks I wasn't a big fan of, such a Nick Vigil and Cody Core, but they weren't awful. Thus, the Bengals deserve a great grade for what they were able to accomplish this weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Steelers appear to have the fire power on offense to make a Super Bowl run. The problem has been their defense, particularly their secondary. The cornerback and safety spots must be shored up early in the 2016 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh also needs a couple of upgrades in the trenches, and a new backup quarterback wouldn't hurt either.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Steelers often are able to obtain a top-ranked prospect who somehow falls to them late in the first round. Jarvis Jones, David DeCastro and Alvin Dupree all qualify as examples. That, however, did not happen this year, and Pittsburgh didn't have a great option as usual. As a result, the team reached on the raw Artie Burns. The Miami product could fill a need if he develops, but there's still a lot of work left to do with him. That's not ideal for a first-round pick.
It got better for the Steelers after that, but only by default. Sean Davis was a fine pick in the second round, as he'll further bolster Pittsburgh's horrible secondary. Fourth-rounder Jerald Hawkins has some upside and could eventually start at left tackle. However, Javon Hargrave, taken in the third frame, was a confusing selection in terms of his fit into a 3-4 scheme.
Excluding seventh-rounder Tyler Matakevich, who actually might have been the steal of the entire draft, the Steelers didn't score higher than a B+ with any of their picks. Only two choices were worse than a "B," but one of those happens to be the No. 1 selection, so that carries extra weight.
The Steelers deserve an underwhelming C+. This certainly wasn't a horrible haul, but they could've done much better with their 2016 class.
Seattle Seahawks: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Seattle's No. 1 weakness is well-publicized; the offensive line is a mess. However, the Seahawks don't value protection as highly as other teams, so it seems like they'll be focusing on other areas of need, particularly their defensive line, which struggled to put heat on Cam Newton in the playoff defeat. That said, I expect the blocking unit to be addressed at some point.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Seahawks certainly had a great start to their draft. They were able to move down five spots from No. 26 and still acquire the player they coveted all along. Germain Ifedi was a borderline first-round prospect, but he fits exactly what Seattle looks for in its blockers from an athleticism standpoint.
The second day was great as well. Jarran Reed easily could've been chosen on Thursday night, so obtaining him in the middle of Round 2 was outstanding. C.J. Prosise was also a steal in the third frame, as he projects to be a great complement for Thomas Rawls.
I wasn't really a fan of what Seattle did with some of its subsequent picks. Nick Vannett was an underwhelming target at No. 94, while Quinton Jefferson was acquired by trading a 2017 fourth-round selection. I didn't like that at all, though getting Alex Collins at Pick No. 171 made up for it a bit.
I'm comfortable with giving a "B" to the Seahawks. I like that they finally addressed their offensive line, and they made some outstanding early choices. I didn't agree with some of their later selections, but aside from the Jefferson decision, they weren't bad enough to crush this grade.
Green Bay Packers: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Packers have been focusing on adding more speed to their defense in previous years, and I expect them to continue that trend. They'll have to address the defensive line and linebacking corps early and often. Later on, finding depth on the offensive line is crucial, considering what happened to them in 2015.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Of the seven picks the Packers made, only one was graded worse than a B-. That happened to be Jason Spriggs in the second round, who earned a "C." I don't have much of an issue with Spriggs, who actually has plenty of upside because of his athleticism, but I didn't like that the Packers moved up for him. Green Bay could've obtained a comparable football player without pulling the trigger on that deal, and it's not like Spriggs will help out this year anyway, unless there are injuries.
As for the Packers' initial selection, Kenny Clark was given a B-. I was surprised that the Packers passed on Vernon Butler, who was the consensus better prospect. Still, I understand the Clark selection, as he'll replace the retired B.J. Raji.
Green Bay spent its next couple of selections acquiring linebackers, and rightfully so. The group has been a mess for a while now, and the two choices - Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez - were solid ones. Fackrell was especially great, as there were some teams considering him in the second round.
I think the Packers deserve a "B" overall. They made some solid choices to improve the roster, but they were also guilty of some minor mistakes early in the process.
Kansas City Chiefs: B+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Chiefs have a loaded roster, save for a few spots. The one glaring hole is at quarterback, and it wouldn't be a complete surprise if Paxton Lynch happened to be the pick at No. 28. Otherwise, Kansas City needs to focus on the trenches, as help is needed on both the offensive and defensive lines. A second receiver should be acquired as well, and it wouldn't hurt if the Chiefs found someone to replace the departed Sean Smith.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: First and foremost, the Chiefs need to be commended for trading down twice and acquiring lots of extra resources in the process. Two other franchises were in desperate need of a third-round guard (on Thursday night) and a kicker on the following evening, and Kansas City was there to take advantage of all the stupid decisions.
So, how did the Chiefs make out with their actual picks? I'd say it was a mixed bag. Some of the better choices they made came early. Chris Jones, obtained at No. 37 overall, could've easily been taken in the first round, so he provided some value. Jones will fill the void left by the departed Mike DeVito. After that, KeiVarae Russell and Eric Murray will help replace Sean Smith. Russell has the best chance of starting, as he would've been chosen much earlier than No. 74 overall if it wasn't for his character concerns.
Kansas City made some picks I disagreed with, however. Parker Ehinger was selected too early as a fourth-rounder, but there were two I have greater issues with. The first is Demarcus Robinson, who was suspended four times at Florida. I know that Andy Reid has gotten the most out of troublesome players, but Robinson was never even that great when he took the field. The second is Tyreek Hill; he was picked at No. 165 despite not being in my top 400.
Based solely on the players they acquired, I'd probably give the Chiefs a B-. However, their two great trades need to be taken into account. Thus, I'm bumping the grade up to a B+.
New England Patriots: D Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Patriots don't have a first-round pick, so it'll be difficult for them to address their top needs. For instance, obtaining a tackle is crucial, but unless someone like Jason Spriggs falls, there probably won't be anyone who fits their prospect profile at the position. The same goes for defensive tackle. Elsewhere, New England could use a defensive end, wide receiver and interior offensive lineman.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: We reported last year that Bill Belichick effectively quit during the second day of the draft because all of his second-, third- and fourth-round prospects were snatched off the board. Thus, he took Jordan Richards in Round 2 when other teams wouldn't have even considered him until the fifth or sixth frame.
The same appears to have happened this year, which isn't a surprise, considering that it was a weak class. Cyrus Jones and Joe Thuney weren't great picks to start off, but they weren't bad. However, Jacoby Brissett was an absolute head-scratcher. Why take another quarterback when Tom Brady is in the twilight of his career and needs as much as possible around him in order to win now? With that said, Brissett was an amazing pick when compared to Vincent Valentine five spots later. Perhaps Belichick just wanted a Final Fantasy VII character, and Cait Sith wasn't available. I don't know. That's only explanation I have for taking another late-round prospect during the second day.
The Patriots made some better choices on Saturday, but by then, the damage was already done. It appears as though New England put together the worst draft class this year.
Arizona Cardinals: B Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Cardinals probably have the best roster in the NFL. They have to make sure Carson Palmer is well protected, however, which means an offensive lineman almost has to be chosen early. Elsewhere, Arizona has a couple of holes at cornerback, safety and linebacker that need to be addressed.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Arizona obtained its offensive lineman a bit later than initially anticipated. Ryan Kelly was the primary target at No. 29, but the Colts snatched him off the board 11 picks earlier. Graham Glasgow was considered at the end of the third round, and he probably should've been the pick. However, the Cardinals were able to ultimately settle on Evan Boehm in the fourth frame. Boehm, the sort of versatile blocker the Cardinals covet, could end up starting this year.
The Cardinals also excelled with their opening-round choice, taking Robert Nkemdiche. Some teams completely removed Nkemdiche off their draft boards because of his character issues, but Arizona has thrived with players of his ilk in the past. Nkemdiche has top-10 talent, so the Cardinals will have a terror in the trenches if he can get his act together.
While I was a fan of those two selections, some of Arizona's other decisions weren't as great. Brandon Williams was an enormous reach as a third-rounder, while Marqui Christian, chosen in the fifth, should have been a better player.
I feel as though the Cardinals deserve a solid "B." They've improved their roster for sure, and I only have a major problem with just one of their picks.
Carolina Panthers: C+ Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: In a surprising turn of events, the Panthers lost Josh Norman after franchising him earlier in the offseason. They already needed a cornerback, so now two should be drafted. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that they'll take one in the first couple of rounds. With so other few needs, Carolina can focus on taking the best player available, though a tackle should be obtained at some point.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It was not a surprise at all to see the Panthers stay true to their board on Thursday night. They could've taken a cornerback or tackle at the end of the first round, but opted for Vernon Butler instead. Butler doesn't fill an immediate need, but he'll figure to be a great rotational player until Star Lotulelei moves on, allowing him to become the full-time starter. Butler, who has drawn comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson, was just too good to pass up.
The Panthers took a trio of corners after that, and understandably so. None of them were outstanding prospects, but two were solid (Daryl Worley, Zack Sanchez). The other was chosen a bit too early (James Bradberry), but the Samford product possesses elite athleticism, so the sky's the limit for him.
Carolina had a good draft overall, but needs to be punished a bit for not addressing the offensive tackle position whatsoever. Michael Oher and Mike Remmers were finally exposed in the Super Bowl, and at least one had to be upgraded. Part of the issue was having only four picks (excluding the seventh round), and that occurred because Carolina moved up for Worley, which was not a good decision.
Had the Panthers taken a tackle at some point, I probably would've given them at least a "B." They didn't, however, so because of that, as well as the trade, they get downgraded to a C+.
Denver Broncos: A- Grade Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Broncos don't have a quarterback, so finding one is obviously the top priority. The problem is that Paxton Lynch might be long gone by No. 31. If so, Denver will have to find a solution on Day 2, such as Dak Prescott or Connor Cook. The Broncos also need to address the guard, defensive end and linebacker positions - the three non-quarterback areas that were hit the hardest by free-agency departures.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I'm not sure if you're aware of this by now, but I'm usually not a fan of teams trading up, as relinquishing resources is seldom worth the move. However, this case is different. The Broncos' starting quarterback prior to the draft was Mark Sanchez. Something absolutely had to be done about that, and it's not like Denver could've waited on Paxton Lynch. With the Browns and Cowboys also trying to trade up, and the Chiefs being a threat to take him, the Broncos had to pull the trigger. All they gave up was a late third-round pick, and obtaining a potential franchise quarterback is well worth that.
The rest of Denver's haul was mostly great. In fact, the Broncos earned three grades in the "A" range. This includes an A+ for Devontae Booker, who was a ridiculous steal at No. 136. Justin Simmons and Connor McGovern were outstanding selections as well.
The one blemish for the Broncos was taking Adam Gotsis at the end of the second frame. One team we spoke to was going to consider him in the fourth or fifth round, and we hadn't heard from any other franchise that had him ranked highly. Gotsis was a mega reach, though he will fill a need if he happens to pan out.
Overall, John Elway did a great job. He addressed three of the four glaring needs, including quarterback. He had numerous great picks as well. The one blemish hurts, but I'm still willing to give the Broncos an A-.
I messed up the 2nd round order, so I'm gonna try this again. Same deal as last time, no trades this time around like I did in my first mock even though projecting them can be fun. I'll do another one in about a month or so after the Super Bowl, Senior Bowl, combine and all that other good stuff.