NFL draft grades can and likely will change as time passes, but they still have value in the moment.
Each team has its own board, and it will be years before we know which players live up to expectations and which become busts. However, the draft is still a way for teams to improve their roster, and some squads did a better job of that than others.
Those that added talent and filled needs had a good week, although not every team can say that. Here is a look at grades for each team along with a list of each of the 253 picks in the 2016 NFL draft.
|2016 NFL Draft Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||B+||Came in without many needs, but added some high-upside players who could turn out to be stars. Lot of risk, but could be some rewards.|
|Atlanta Falcons||B||Added a lot of speed to their defense, which should help improve a unit that was inconsistent last season.|
|Baltimore Ravens||A-||Baltimore had 11 picks and got value on each day of the draft. The majority of players will make an impact right away.|
|Buffalo Bills||A||You know Rex Ryan loved this draft with three quality defensive players at the top. Cardale Jones is the wild card.|
|Carolina Panthers||C||Only had five picks, and three were used to find a Josh Norman replacement. Didn't get a lot accomplished.|
|Chicago Bears||B+||There were solid players all over the board, but this draft will come down to whether Leonard Floyd lives up to expectations.|
|Cincinnati Bengals||A-||Looked for value in each round and got it, including two of the strongest players in the draft in Andrew Billings and Christian Westerman.|
|Cleveland Browns||B-||Almost the entire board is full of players who were successful in college but have question marks about reaching the NFL. It is a big class, but there are certainly doubts.|
|Dallas Cowboys||A||Many didn't like the Cowboys' strategy throughout, but there was a lot of talent added that can help next year and beyond.|
|Denver Broncos||B-||Got high-upside players, but most are a long way from contributing. Strange move for a contending team with holes.|
|Detroit Lions||B+||A solid pick in just about every round, mostly physical players who will contribute early. Nothing flashy, but good draft.|
|Green Bay Packers||C+||Picked up some quality defenders, but didn't do a whole lot to help Aaron Rodgers right now.|
|Houston Texans||B||Reaches all around, but Brock Osweiler will have a lot of weapons next year with Will Fuller, Braxton Miller and Tyler Ervin added to DeAndre Hopkins.|
|Indianapolis Colts||B||Ryan Kelly was one of the safest picks in the draft while almost everyone else is a boom-or-bust prospect. Could be a great draft or blow up in their face.|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||A||Got two of the best defensive players in the entire class and then continued to add to the unit. Only missed opportunity was offensive line help.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||C+||Traded out of the first round, and aside from Chris Jones, didn't add much impact talent.|
|Los Angeles Rams||A-||Most of their eggs are in the Jared Goff basket, although they at least gave him some weapons to work with.|
|Miami Dolphins||B||Bizarre circumstances allowed the Dolphins to get Laremy Tunsil, although the rest of the picks appeared to be reaches for need instead of value.|
|Minnesota Vikings||A||Drafted football players instead of workout warriors. Guys who fell for poor combine performances or whatever other silly reason will have a home in Minnesota.|
|New England Patriots||B-||Typical Patriots draft with trade downs and value. Jacoby Brissett remains an intriguing pick.|
|New Orleans Saints||B||Only had a handful of picks, but still did a good job of filling needs with good players.|
|New York Giants||B+||The first pick might have been the worst, but every other player could become a starter down the line.|
|New York Jets||B-||While every draft could look good or bad in time, the Jets might be geniuses or idiots based on this class alone. Lot of risk, lot of reward.|
|Oakland Raiders||A-||Didn't expect this to be the team to get Connor Cook, but drafted value at each spot and got some good players on Days 1 and 2.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||C||Hated the trade to get Carson Wentz and there weren't many chances to make up for it. Puts a lot of pressure on a player who probably won't start at all in 2016.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||B+||Pittsburgh got its help on defense by adding defensive backs and high-upside players for the front seven.|
|San Diego Chargers||A||Picked up a lot of impact players throughout the draft, and will especially be much improved on defense.|
|San Francisco 49ers||B+||Most important moves were shoring up the offensive and defensive lines, which were a strength a few years ago and became a major weakness.|
|Seattle Seahawks||A||On a team without many glaring needs, the Seahawks still added tons of talent with players who can help out early.|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||B||The first two picks could end up being Pro Bowlers, although the rest of the draft lacked any sort of direction.|
|Tennessee Titans||B+||Filled holes on both lines and could have a star in Derrick Henry...if they use him correctly.|
|Washington Redskins||B||Added a lot of athleticism to the roster that can make this team fun to watch next season.|
Head coach Rex Ryan is known for his defensive prowess, and now he has a chance to do some real damage after solidifying the front seven in this draft. Adam Schefter of ESPN notes this was the priority that was accomplished:
Interestingly, general manager Doug Whaley notes the value received in the second round, per Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com:
Adolphus Washington is also a quality player with a lot of upside, and it won't be surprising if each of the first three picks become starters and impact players early in their careers.
Meanwhile, Buffalo did a good job of acquiring talent deeper in the draft.
Cardale Jones was one of the big stories coming into the week and ended up in a good location with a chance to possibly start down the line. The Ohio State quarterback has all the physical tools to be a starter at this level at 6'5", 253 pounds, with outstanding athleticism and a strong arm. He just needs to get more reps and learn how to be consistent as a passer.
Skill players Jonathan Williams and Kolby Listenbee—who is arguably the fastest player in the entire class—could also make an impact this year and beyond. The Bills needed playmakers, and they got them on both sides of the ball in this draft.
You can question value at almost every round, but the Dallas Cowboys got some great football players throughout the draft.
One of the big stories was the selection of Jaylon Smith in Round 2, a linebacker who likely won't play at all in 2016 after suffering a gruesome knee injury. However, Ed Werder of ESPN notes the team was able to do its due diligence on the issue:
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli also had nothing but good things to say about the player's potential, per Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com:
His tape just leaps off the screen. I mean, he is really good. He’s really athletic in space, great hands, great tackler, blitzer. He’s just a real ball player. I think he fits anybody. But in our system the way we’d use him, it’d be pretty special. You look at a guy like this, and you look a year from now, we’ve got one of the best players in the draft. Obviously there’s patience and all those things that go with that, but he’s well worth it.
The risk is there, but Smith could end up being a major steal in Round 2.
This came after selecting Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick, a move that many will question based on positional value alone. Of course, the critics won't have much to say when the former Ohio State star is churning out 100-yard games almost every week behind the best offensive line in football. Elliott is a big-time talent at running back and is already a favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, making him a worthwhile selection.
Maliek Collins and Charles Tapper could also help out early on the defensive line, while Dak Prescott might be the perfect quarterback to learn from Tony Romo and potentially become the quarterback of the future. He is certainly raw, but the upside is as good as almost anyone in the class.
Even Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers could have potential down the line, making this class extremely interesting from top to bottom.
No matter what happened in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars needed a lot of help on defense. They certainly got it with Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey in their first two picks.
ESPN.com's Bill Barnwell summed it up for the Jaguars:
Only the New Orleans Saints allowed more points than Jacksonville a year ago, but this problem should be solved with two of the most dynamic defensive players in recent years. Ramsey can play either cornerback or safety and should be a star at either, shutting down a large portion of the field in the passing game. Jack also has versatility as someone who can play linebacker or safety (or running back) with the coverage skills to stay with tight ends, running backs or even receivers.
Jack slipped to the second round over concerns about his knee and long-term durability, but if healthy, the Jaguars got an enormous steal in the second round.
Of course, the defensive additions didn't stop there, with Yannick Ngakoue and Tyrone Holmes capable of creating a pass rush on the edge and Sheldon Day likely making an impact from the interior of the defensive line. All of a sudden, a terrible pass defense will have a lot of ways to beat you.
Although the team didn't upgrade a questionable offensive line at all, the Jaguars needed an infusion of talent on defense—and certainly got it.
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