NFL Draft Grades 2018

By: Jason Gandhi

These grades are based on how each team drafted and/or traded up or down during the 3-day draft! I will give a grade and then my favorite pick and least favorite pick of the draft!

We are going to use the same Grading scale as ESPN: “An A means it’s exceptional; a B is pretty good; a C is average, with hits and questions marks; A D or F … well, keep reading.”

 

Arizona Cardinals: A-

Best Pick: Josh Rosen (R1: P10)- Absolutely loved this pick. Only lost a 3rd and 5th rounder and now they have their franchise guy. I’ve been very public saying I see Rosen as the best QB in the class and now along with the addition of Christian Kirk, Arizona has a future for once.

Worst Pick: Mason Cole (R3: P33)- I like Cole as a center but really I felt like they just didn’t do enough to build the O-line. Rosen’s success will be built upon whether or not he can stay upright in the pocket (ask Indy if you don’t believe me).

Atlanta Falcons: B

Best Pick: Isaiah Oliver (R2: P26)- Great value for Oliver in the late 2nd round. I thought he might go 1st round if a run of CB’s went late 1st but when Mike Hughes went #30 it was obvious DB’s are not as highly valued in this year’s class. Oliver is a freak athlete who can come in and solidify an already solid group. Ridley was almost my pick because he is a perfect fit in Atlanta. Julio and Sanu on the outside with a precise route-runner like Ridley in the slot! 

Worst Pick: Russell Gage (R6: P20)- His tape didn’t impress me this year, but it was more of the lack of offensive line depth in their class that disappointed me. It was a weak class anyway but there was no plan to improve the O-line

Baltimore Ravens: A

Best Pick: Lamar Jackson (R1: P32)- The Ravens absolutely killed this draft! They got both their guys while trading back multiple times. Jackson shows a clear change in the Ravens plans. Not this year, but if Flacco struggles again, Lamar Jackson could be starting as early as week 1 next year. Hurst, Bozeman, and Lasley all were great picks in my mind and really boosted their offense!

Worst Pick: Jaleel Scott (R4: P32)- Hard to find bad moves by the Ravens. The A grade was because of how much I loved their draft offensively. The only negative I could find is only 3 defensive picks and they got Lasley, Andrews, and Hurst already earlier. Their mantra was ground and pound and defense, but a clear change is coming in Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills: B

Best Pick: Tremaine Edmunds (R1: P16)- The Bills got tremendous value on Tremaine Edmunds. They were able to get their franchise QB in Josh Allen, but then also trade up to get, on my board, a top 11 talent to add to their defense. Allen and Edmunds give BillsMafia reason for hope.

Worst Pick: Taron Johnson (R4: P21)- Johnson just wasn’t great value, unlike Edmunds… I thought he was worth a 5th or 6th round pick due to the fact he lacks the speed necessary to cover elite receivers. They still did not address the WR issue unless you believe Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl can be any better than Zay Jones and Jeremy Kerley…

Carolina Panthers: C

Best Pick: Ian Thomas (R4: P1)- I liked this pick not because it fits a need or anything like that, but solely because how good I see Ian Thomas potentially being. He is physical enough to block and protect the QB, but fast enough to go out and pass-catch. Thomas fits with the Panthers nicely as they can run a solid 2-TE set with Olsen and Thomas.

Worst Pick: D.J. Moore (R1: P24)- I know I am one of few here, but I am not a big fan of Moore’s fit with the Panthers. Since they traded Kelvin Benjamin, they were in need of a WR. I thought Ridley would have been a beautiful fit but Moore is another speedster for the Panthers. They need either a route runner or a big WR to go get the ball… Also, their defensive backfield needs work and they passed on Mike Hughes as well.

Chicago Bears: A+

Best Pick: Roquan Smith (R1: P8)- If you follow us on Twitter @thesportzsermon, then you know how much I love Roquan. I had him as the #1 player on my board not named Bradley Chubb and I see Roquan as a BEAUTIFUL fit in Chicago. He is a speedy LB who can cover a lot of ground alongside fellow Bulldog, Leonard Floyd.

Worst Pick: Anthony Miller (R2: P19)- This is another unpopular opinion, but I’m not as high on Miller as others. I didn’t think he was worth next year’s 2nd rounder and a 4th rounder this year. I would have taken a CB in the 2nd round and then a WR later in the draft. I like Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Kevin White, etc. ENOUGH to get a WR later but not their defensive secondary. CB is a big need to pair alongside Kyle Fuller and help shore up the backside of this defense.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+

Best Pick: Malik Jefferson (R3: P14)- I went back and forth here with Jefferson or Hubbard. I thought they nailed the 3rd round. Malik Jefferson was a top-10 prospect at the beginning of the season, and I had been saying whoever got him would get a steal. Rounds 2-5 were an A, but Price and their later picks are why they are at a B+

Worst Pick: Billy Price (R1: P21)- If he was healthy and had no injury concerns, he would not be here. I thought they reached on Price when he has those concerns, and I actually had Will Hernandez rated higher as an interior lineman. I would bet Ragnow was their guy but when the Lions took him at #20, they reached.

Cleveland Browns: A-

Best Pick: Austin Corbett (R2: P1)- A lot of great picks from the Browns. Mayfield was their guy, and although I liked Rosen and Darnold better, they did their due diligence and decided upon Baker… now just don’t screw it up. Corbett was my pick because he beefs up the already solid O-line and with Joe Thomas gone at LT, the interior line is going to have their hands full. I also loved the Chubb pick… They should have had 2 Chubbs’.

Worst Pick: Denzel Ward (R1: P4)- Speaking of 2 Chubbs’… That is why Ward is my worst pick. I really like Denzel Ward and had him as a top 7 guy on my board, but Chubb was my #1. It is just a difference in preference. The Eagles proved that if you have a plentiful amount of pass rushers, that your DB’s will do enough to keep you in it. Bradley Chubb and Myles Garrett would have been scary. No hate on Ward, but just because Chubb was available is why they are an A-.

Dallas Cowboys: C+

Best Pick: Connor Williams (R2: P18)- Williams was one of the best O-line available before the major drop-off in talent. They got a solid OT who can move inside to guard due to needs and make the O-line great to protect Dak and Zeke. The running game should be very strong, but about that passing game…

Worst Pick: Michael Gallup (R3: P17)- I really thought Calvin Ridley would be a perfect fit for the Cowboys at #19… They decided to push off their WR needs until the 3rd round, and now Dak has almost no one. Witten retired and obviously, Dez is gone, so Dak’s weapons are Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and now Michael Gallup.

Denver Broncos: A+

Best Pick: Bradley Chubb (R1: P5)- The best player in the draft fell into the lap of the Denver Broncos. Chubb and Miller bring Denver right back to what won them the Super Bowl a few years back. Roby will have to fill in for Talib on the outside, but with Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby, Von Miller and now Bradley Chubb, the Denver defense is back!

Worst Pick: Royce Freeman (R3: P7)- I really do like this pick too! I couldn’t find a bad pick. Courtland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton are perfect replacements for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders when the time is right. I’m not AS high on Freeman as some other guys, but I still think he can be a very effective 3rd down back.

Detroit Lions: C-

Best Pick: Da’shawn Hand (R4: P14)- I really liked Hand in the 4th round. He is very pro-ready and can play in both a 3-4 or 4-3. The Lions defense struggled to get a lot of pass rush not named Ezekiel Ansah. A good solid grab in the 4th round who could contribute immediately.

Worst Pick: Kerryon Johnson (R2: P11)- Picking Johnson in the early-mid 2nd round was a very far reach for me. Derrius Guice was still available and Kerryon Johnson was not nearly the RB that Guice was. Kerryon could very much be a solid NFL back, but for the value, I could not get behind the pick.

Green Bay Packers: A-

Best Pick: Jaire Alexander (R1: P18)- Yes, Jaire Alexander was a very good pick but the best “pick” of the night was the one they will be receiving next year. Not only did they get their guy in Jaire Alexander, but they got a 2019 1st round pick from the Saints. The secondary was obviously a hole and they addressed it nicely with Alexander and Jackson.

Worst Pick: JK Scott (R5: P35)- No disrespect for my favorite punter in the class JK Scott, but a 5th rounder??? I just can’t get behind drafting a punter in the 5th round. Very good class in general though.

Houston Texans: C

Best Pick: Justin Reid (R3: P4)- Justin Reid has really been one of those players who has been up and down on people’s boards. I had him as a late 2nd-early 3rd grade and that’s exactly where he went. Some people saw him as an early 2nd round pick so they got some value. Reid can pair up with Mathieu in a pretty good secondary to help complement the offense led by Watson and Hopkins.

Worst Pick: Jordan Akins (R3: P34)- As mentioned above, I loved Ian Thomas and the Texans passed on him for Akins. The Texans didn’t have many picks and a miss like this could matter down the road. I give the grade a C due to no real stars but some hits and misses, very average.

Indianapolis Colts: B+

Best Pick: Quenton Nelson (R1: P6)- I went back and forth between Nelson and Deon Cain. Nelson brings an edge to the Colts that they desperately needed. The Colts still lack weapons and I think Cain could be a nice complement to T.Y., but in regards to Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Nelson are building blocks to rebuild the Colts O-line.

Worst Pick: Braden Smith (R2: P5)- I thought there were better players available and I was surprised they went 2 guards in their first 3 picks. Ideally, I would have drafted Harold Landry over Darius Leonard and then went WR like Sutton or Kirk with this pick. Luck needs weapons and I’m not sure they gave him enough to be excited about.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

Best Pick: Taven Bryan (R1: P29)- The Jaguars knocked this draft out of the park. Taven Bryan, Ronnie Harrison, and DJ Chark are all proven big school guys with loads of potential. Bryan is a monster physically and adds even more depth to the Jags front line. They didn’t pick up Dante Fowler Jr’s option so they clearly believe in Bryan’s potential.

Worst Pick: Tanner Lee (R6: P29)- I like the QB pick in the later rounds, I just don’t like Tanner Lee AT ALL. He is one of my least favorite QB’s in the draft and I was very underwhelmed. I like Woodside, Ferguson, Allen, and Etling all more than I do Tanner Lee.

Kansas City Chiefs: C+

Best Pick: Derrick Nnadi (R3: P11)- The comp I’ve heard that I really like is Brandon Mebane. He is a big body that the Chiefs defense desperately need. They traded Marcus Peters away so they will have less safety in the secondary which means Nnadi and the front line will need to get to the QB faster.

Worst Pick: Kahlil Mckenzie (R6: P24)- This was more of a jab at the Raiders than it was a solid fit. They already drafted Nnadi and their D-line is not as big of a need as their secondary. As a Raider fan, obviously, it was not my favorite pick!

Los Angeles Chargers: A-

Best Pick: Derwin James (R1: P17)- The Chargers got one of the best athletes in the draft and are creating “LOB” in Los Angeles with Gus Bradley. This very well could be the biggest steal in the draft. He is a top 5 guy on my board and the Chargers could stay pat and snag him at #17. LA went from having 0 to 2 really good teams REAL QUICK.

Worst Pick: Justin Jones (R3: P20)- I like Jones as a prospect, I thought the value just wasn’t there. It felt a bit early as I saw him as a 4th round grade but he definitely has potential. The Chargers draft was very successful though.

Los Angeles Rams: C

Best Pick: Brian Allen (R4: P11)- The draft really wasn’t a priority for the Rams. Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and others all were brought in while shipping out draft picks. Allen has potential to be a starting-caliber center but time will tell.

Worst Pick: John Kelly (R6: P2)- As mentioned above, this draft was not very important for the Rams besides depth. I wasn’t impressed by Kelly so that’s why he is here. The grade is a C because it was very average and didn’t make them better or worse.

Miami Dolphins: B+

Best Pick: Kalen Ballage (R4: P31)- I have been really high on him since the Senior Bowl. He is big and fast but can also catch the ball out of the backfield, and it gives the Dolphins an every-down back like they had in Ajayi. Miami isn’t in a position to win and Ballage can come along at his own pace.

Worst Pick: Durham Smythe (R4: P23)- Smythe is a very good blocker but a subpar pass catcher. Yes, they got Geisicki in the 2nd round who can route run but I just don’t like 2 TEs on a team that has SOO many holes.

Minnesota Vikings: B

Best Pick: Mike Hughes (R1: P29)- I was a huge fan of Mike Hughes. I thought he was an ideal nickel corner and with Terrance Newman retiring, this is a perfect fit. The offensive line was of concern, but this wasn’t the draft to boost that and they couldn’t pass on Hughes, who can come in and truly compete with Alexander for the Nickel spot.

Worst Pick: Brian O’Neill (R2: P30)- If you can’t tell, I was very low on the O-line class. O’Neill is just way too much of a developmental project for me in the 2nd round. I get the pick due to need, but they passed on some other players who are much better.

New England Patriots: B+

Best Pick: Sony Michel (R1: P31)-Not very often does the 2nd best running back in the class fall to the New England Patriots. After years of running backs by committee, they finally have their guy who can truly be a 3-down back. He can catch out of the backfield as well as be the bell cow… I loved this pick.

Worst Pick: Christian Sam (R6: P4)- They went back-to-back linebackers in Bentley and Sam. Sam had injury concerns and never really impressed me on tape. He is twitchy, but I don’t see the test speed translating to the game speed. It is the Patriots though, and I won’t bet against him so he will probably be the Super Bowl MVP.

New Orleans Saints: C-

Best Pick: Marcus Davenport (R1: P14)-I really like Marcus Davenport and I think he is a good get for the Saints. I just can’t justify it by giving up a 1st round pick. I thought the pick, after the trade, was Lamar Jackson. When it was Davenport, I immediately questioned the value. Davenport could prove us wrong if he comes in and is the final piece to the contending Saints. He could be, but not this year.

Worst Pick: Rick Leonard (R4: P27)- Just a questionable pick here. Leonard was one of my least favorite tackles in the draft. He is very off-balance and just does not have body control. After an A+++ draft last year, I was very underwhelmed this year.

New York Giants: A+

Best Pick: Will Hernandez (R2: P2)-I thought the Giants absolutely knocked their draft out of the park as well. Barkley is a franchise-altering player and getting one of the best guards in the draft in the 2nd round was huge. Eli will have better protection and a MUCH improved running game. There are still holes, but the Giants could be on the track to return to title contenders if these picks pan out.

Worst Pick: R.J Mcintosh (R5: P2)-Like I said, hard to find a pick I didn’t like in the Giants draft. I love Hill, Lauletta, and Carter as well. Mcintosh just didn’t wow me is why he is the “worst pick”. Fantastic draft by the Giants.

New York Jets: B

Best Pick: Sam Darnold (R1: P3)-I loved this pick. Manziel and others who have backed up McCown have talked about how great of a veteran he is to back up. Darnold walks into the perfect situation. Josh McCown can start this year and teach Darnold everything he needs to know, to be ready to take over the job in 2019.

Worst Pick: Nathan Shepherd (R3: P8)-Besides Darnold, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Jets draft. Obviously, they had to give up a lot of picks, including their 2nd rounder, in order to get Darnold but still. Shepherd will have the chance to start right away in the middle, but the offense is still lacking weapons for Darnold to throw to.

Oakland Raiders: B

Best Pick: Maurice Hurst (R5: P3)- We all have heard about Mo Hurst’s heart condition and the reasons why he fell. I want to focus on why he could be one of the steals of the draft. He gets in the backfield quicker than most and is truly one of the best rushers in this class. The Raiders got an absolute steal in him and Arden Key, both because of non-football related question marks, and they could have two franchise cornerstones in the making.

Worst Pick: Kolton Miller (R1: P15)- Check out our Twitter for the reaction to this pick. I was VERY not happy. Miller will be a fine LT or RT to fill in whenever needed, but they passed on Derwin James and reached incredibly far for Miller. I gave them a B grade because I think Key, Hall, and Hurst were three incredible picks but Miller and Parker have me a little worried.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-

Best Pick: Dallas Goedert (R2: P17)-I liked this Goedert pick a lot because they lost Burton and Celek in the offseason, and now Ertz and Goedert, who have very similar qualities, will not be fighting for playing time. Goedert is a good run-blocker but is very valuable in the passing game as well.

Worst Pick: Avonte Maddox (R4: P25)-I wasn’t huge on Maddox but I don’t hate the pick. I thought they got good value in their next pick in Josh Sweat, so it made up for the Maddox pick. The secondary was good for the Eagles because of the insane pass rush last year. Maddox provides more depth in that secondary.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

Best Pick: Mason Rudolph (R3: P12)-I loved both Oklahoma State picks for the Steelers. James Washington was a great pickup as well as Rudolph. Both could be key contributors in the next few years. I went with Rudolph more because it could be similar to the Patriots situation with Garoppolo. If Rudolph can light a fire under Roethlisberger, Great! If not, wait until he declines enough to retire and let Rudolph take over! No, lose situation.

Worst Pick: Terrell Edmunds (R1: P28)- The Edmunds pick was announced by Ryan Shazier, which might have been the coolest part of the draft! But, the pick itself, was not great. It was a stretch to get Edmunds who probably would have been there by the time they picked on Day 2. Pretty good draft by the Steelers just reached on Terrell Edmunds in the 1st round.

San Francisco 49ers: A-

Best Pick: Dante Pettis (R2: P12)-The 49ers made it VERY clear that they wanted to build around their new toy, Jimmy Garoppolo. McGLinchey in the 1st round was probably a bit early, but I liked the pick and then getting Pettis in the 2nd was a mjor move to show this 49ers offense is legit. So many weapons for the Niners to play with now and just do the classic trial-and-error until a few stick.

Worst Pick: Tarvarius Moore (R3: P31)- Moore, a very athletic safety, could prove me wrong but I just was not a fan of him with a day 2 pick. There is definite potential there, but after killing the first 3 picks, this one brought the 49ers back from Cloud  9.

Seattle Seahawks: C+

Best Pick: Shaquem Griffin (R5: P4)- The feel-good story of the draft. Griffin has defied all odds up until now, and I have no reason to think that would end now. He will be an insane special teams player in 2018, with the opportunity to get on the field defensively as the season goes on.

Worst Pick: Rashaad Penny (R1: P27)- If Penny was their favorite running back, there is no reason to not trade back. I am a big fan of the SDSU running backs. I liked Pumphrey last year, and I like Penny again, but just not in the first round.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B-

Best Pick: Ronald Jones (R2: P6)-The Bucs lost Doug Martin in FA to Oakland, but they won’t miss him too much. Jones comes in and can catch out of the backfield to help Jameis when pressure arises. I was high on the Bucs last year, and obviously, they fell way short of my expectations. Jones could come in and bolster up the running back position.

Worst Pick: Vita Vea (R1: P12)- I thought Derwin James and Tampa were a match made in heaven. The Bucs desperately needed help in the seconday and Derwin is a fantastic athlete. Vea is a run-stopper but not much of a pass-rusher. There were better options at DT later in the draft, and the same can’t be said about the secondary positions.

Tennessee Titans: A

Best Pick: Rashaan Evans (R1: P22)- I think Evans and the Titans are perfect fits for both teams. Evans comes into the Titans who had a major gap on the inside. Evans will be an immediate starter in Tennessee. Landry and Falk I thought were also major picks at positions that lacked depth. Landry will take over as a pass-rusher in the coming years and could be a dominant force.

Worst Pick: Dane Cruikshank (R5: P15)- No real bad pick for the Titans. Only had 4 picks and nailed 3/4 of them. Cruikshank is big and athletic but is caught falling asleep A LOT. I loved Landry, Evans, and Falk though.

Washington Redskins: B+

Best Pick: Derrius Guice (R2: 27)- An absolute stud in the 2nd round in Guice. My #2 overall RB fell into the late 2nd round, and the Redskins got a STEAL! Penny and Michel were both drafted in the 1st, yet Guice fell to almost the 3rd. Guice is a workhorse back who can complement Alex Smith.

Worst Pick: Da’Ron Payne (R1: P13)-This was obvious that the Redskins were targeting Vita Vea. When he was gone, I thought they would go with the best player available. Instead, they stuck with the need of DT and went with Payne. I would have liked to see them trade back, but instead, they stayed put. Just questionable value.

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