NFL1000: Final Team-by-Team Grades for the 2017 NFL Draft
It’s been said that grading a draft right after it happens is like judging how good your meal was in a restaurant right after you’ve ordered it, and before it arrives at your table. And while that’s true to a degree, when you know the proclivities of the chefs involved, and the kinds of ingredients they prefer, you can get some insight into how drafts will affect teams on the day.
In grading drafts, I look at specific team needs and the “best player available” scenario, with a focus on scheme fit. Nobody knew Dak Prescott would become what he became in his rookie year, but with Dallas’ quarterback situation, the selection of Ezekiel Elliott, a great offensive line and a fine receiver corps, Prescott was walking into a better situation than many.
Similarly, I like to grade teams for overall thought processes. When the Cleveland Browns have grasped for quarterbacks over the years, and failed repeatedly because of the desperation involved, and they then go with three great non-quarterbacks in the first round—and take a great developmental quarterback in the second round—those kinds of things don’t escape notice.
If a team has one or two clear liabilities, and it hasn’t addressed them adequately in the draft after striking out in free agency, it’s fair to wonder what the front office is thinking.
Yes, it’s best to grade a draft two or three years down the road, when the players have had time to develop within their systems and show their full potential. But based on their potential in college, here’s how I see the first aftereffects of the 2017 NFL draft.
Arizona Cardinals: B
Round 1 (13): Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple (B+)
At 6’1” and 237 pounds, Reddick doesn’t fit the paradigm of the traditional outside linebacker, but that’s fine in his new home. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher will have him patrolling the field covering slot receivers and tight ends, facing up to the run at times and occasionally blitzing.
The Cards love moving chess pieces at linebacker (think Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington), and Reddick fits that profile.
Round 2 (36): Budda Baker, S, Washington (A)
Baker is another player who seems too small for his position—there aren’t many 5’10”, 195-pound safeties in the NFL. But the reason the Cards took him with the 36th overall pick is he can play the run surprisingly well and can cover from just about any spot.
His demon speed in the slot and strong safety roles make him a great sub-package defender. And to the Cardinals, every defensive formation is a sub-package.
Round 3 (98): Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State (B)
Williams needs help with advanced route concepts, but he’s great when the ball is in the air and defenders force him to make contested catches. He doesn’t have much good tape against top-level competition, but his raw skill set shows up, and he’s a nice fit in Bruce Arians’ offense.
Round 4 (115): Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh (A-)
Round 5 (157): Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt (B)
Round 5 (179): T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina (B)
Round 6 (208): Rudy Ford, FS, Auburn (B)
The Cardinals didn’t get their quarterback of the future in this draft—they might have found Patrick Mahomes appealing if he was there at 13—but they did get two first-day starters in Reddick and Baker, two players who will thrive in a defense that doesn’t tie guys to specific positions.
It's a great marriage of talent and scheme.
Johnson has the potential to start on the right side over time, and Holden could be a good guard convert. Logan is a smaller, quicker back who can help in the return game, and Ford is a thumper safety who could see the field in a rotation.
Atlanta Falcons: B
Round 1 (26): Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA (B)
McKinley went viral after his emotional and profane speech on the stage of the draft. Once that calms down and it’s time to play football again, Falcons fans will see a great addition to the defense.
The UCLA alum had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss last season, and his nonstop motor fits perfectly with Dan Quinn’s defensive mindset.
Round 3 (75): Duke Riley, OLB, LSU (B-)
It’s the second straight year the team has taken an LSU linebacker high in the draft, and with Deion Jones’ revelatory rookie season in 2016, Jones looks like an ideal bookend. The Falcons needed to add more quick linebackers who could fill multiple roles, and Riley can do that if he stays strong at the point of attack.
Round 4 (136): Sean Harlow, OG, Oregon State (B)
Round 5 (149): Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State (A-)
Round 5 (156): Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming (B-)
Round 5 (174): Eric Saubert, TE, Drake (C)
The defending NFC champs have done a marvelous job of drafting defensive players since hiring Quinn in 2015, and that’s no coincidence. He knows what kinds of players work for his defense, and he’s an astute evaluator.
Atlanta had four rookie starters on defense in its Super Bowl loss, and the Falcons went back to the well early in this draft. McKinley gives them a great bookend for Vic Beasley, and Riley could see a lot of time in sub-packages.
Harlow could be a plug-and-play guy from day one, given the team’s current guard situation. Kazee isn’t the biggest cornerback, but he’s always around the ball, and he’ll see some time in the slot. Hill is a power back, and Saubert will need to learn to block at the NFL level.
Not a bad haul for a franchise already loaded with talent.
Baltimore Ravens: B-
Round 1 (16): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (B)
General manager Ozzie Newsome’s love for Alabama players is well-known, so it wasn’t surprising when the Ravens took cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall pick, even though there may have been better pure cover cornerbacks still on the board.
Humphrey is a great short-area defender, and his physicality shows on tape—he’s a good press cornerback, and he’s not afraid to tackle. However, he shows limited ability to run with speed receivers on deep routes, which could limit his effectiveness.
He’s a fit in zone coverage, which makes this a sensible pick, though for pure coverage talent, there were better options.
Round 2 (47): Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston (B-)
Bowser from Houston is a raw prospect, but he brings serious pass-rush potential. In 2016, he amassed seven sacks, four hits and 18 quarterback hurries in just 511 total snaps. Like a lot of talented collegiate pass-rushers, he’ll need an array of moves to go with his blinding speed.
Round 3 (74): Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan (C)
Wormley from Michigan is a bit of a tweener—at 6’5” and 298 pounds, he can play with surprising quickness for his size at end, though his NFL projection is more as an inside rusher in rotation. He’s a bull-rusher who needs to time his gaps well as opposed to a quick, explosive player.
Round 3 (78): Tim Williams, DE, Alabama (B-)
Newsome went back to ‘Bama for the 78th overall pick in the draft, taking yet another pass-rusher in Tim Williams. Like Bowser, Williams has great speed off the edge, and he was productive in 2016.
He dropped this far because he’s a bit of a one-trick pony, and there are off-field issues to consider. In March, he admitted to multiple failed drug tests.
Round 4 (122): Nico Siragusa, OG, San Diego State (B)
Round 5 (159): Jermaine Eluemunor, OG, Texas A&M (B)
Round 6 (186): Chuck Clark, FS, Virginia Tech (B-)
Ravens fans who wanted the 2017 draft to provide multiple players to help Joe Flacco and the team’s dormant offense couldn’t have been happy with the way this draft went. Baltimore went heavy on defense (specifically pass rush), and though the Ravens got some interesting players with that approach, questions about the offense still remain.
Siragusa (no relation to Tony Siragusa) is a mauling guard who needs technique work in pass blocking. Likewise, Eluemunor is a developmental blocker, but you can see the emphasis on the interior line here. Clark is a box safety who will tackle well, but he isn’t an asset in coverage.
Buffalo Bills: B
Round 1 (27) Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (B+)
The Bills went from 10th to 27th in the draft when the Chiefs came calling to trade up and take quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but they may have two first-round talents with their first two picks.
White will ease the sting of losing Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency—he’s a smaller defender, but he’s an efficient tackler, and he has the speed and agility to match receivers on deep routes or over the middle.
Round 2 (37): Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina (A)
Jones led the NCAA with 216 targets last season, bringing in 158 of them for 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns. He is the FBS all-time leader in receptions, and he’s a great addition to an offense that desperately needs development in the receiver corps.
Jones isn’t a top-end speed guy, but he runs routes well for a small-school player, and he’s great after the catch.
Round 2 (63): Dion Dawkins, G, Temple (D)
Dawkins from Temple fits Buffalo’s preference for bigger, tougher linemen who may struggle with technique at first. He can wall defenders off in the run game with his impressive frame, but speed-rushers will bedevil him, and he may need a year to sort that out.
Round 5 (163): Matt Milano, OLB, Boston College (B)
Round 5 (171): Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh (B+)
Round 6 (195): Tanner Vallejo, OLB, Boise State (B)
The Dawkins pick is a bit of a head-scratcher, but I like what the Bills did at the top of the draft.
Getting two immediate starters at positions of need even after a trade-down is good work, and many NFL executives love Peterman’s game intelligence. He doesn’t have a rocket arm, which doesn’t fit with the offense the Bills have put on the field with Tyrod Taylor.
Milano is a smaller, quicker linebacker who can play in sub-packages but may find his ultimate spot on special teams. Vallejo is a hard worker who doesn’t amaze with his physical characteristics but seems to be around the ball a lot.
Carolina Panthers: B-
Round 1 (8): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (A)
For years, the Panthers’ signature on offense has been a power-running game with the option potential of Cam Newton as a runner. But Newton has taken too many hits, and it was time for a change.
The selection of McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick is as clear a sign as possible that Carolina intends to change its offense. He isn’t a power back, though he’s decent between the guards. Where he excels is as an outside runner and with his ability to run a full route tree and juke defenders out of their shoes with spatial awareness.
McCaffrey led the FBS in all-purpose yards in each of the last two seasons. Given the issues along Carolina’s offensive line and receiver corps, you can expect him to get a lot of reps in which he’ll be tasked to take quick passes and create outside the tackles.
Round 2 (40): Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State (B-)
Samuel is listed as a receiver, and he has an intriguing combination of speed and toughness, but he’s played all over the field. He finishes his collegiate career as the only Ohio State player ever with over 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving.
Samuel and McCaffrey give offensive coordinator Mike Shula a ton of new options, and you can expect to see a lot of moving parts. Samuel may have been available later, though.
Round 2 (64): Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan (C)
Moton is a massive blocker with the strength and leverage to run-block with great effectiveness, though his technique and balance will leave him short as a pass blocker for a while. The team needs help along the line sooner rather than later.
Round 3 (77): Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M (C)
Hall could eventually be a starter for a Panthers defense in need of youth at the position, though his lack of pass-rushing moves makes him developmental. He won’t benefit from opposing offenses focusing on Myles Garrett anymore.
Round 5 (152): Corn Elder, CB, Miami (FL) (A+)
Round 6 (192): Alexander Armah, FB, West Georgia (B)
Round 7 (233): Harrison Butker, K, Georgia Tech (B)
Props to general manager Dave Gettleman and the Panthers’ coaching staff for making a decision to change the offense and then go aggressively in the draft to facilitate it.
For this draft to be a success, they’ll have to hit on Samuel and Moton, and I have questions there. However, I’m bumping up the grade for the selection of Elder, who reminds me a bit of Denver’s Chris Harris.
Armah is a fullback who can catch the ball, and Butker holds just about every kicking record for the Yellow Jackets.
Chicago Bears: D
Round 1 (2): Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (D)
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but I’m not sure what the heck the Bears were doing in this draft. They say that when you decide on your quarterback of the future, you move heaven and earth to get him. Bears general manager Ryan Pace may have taken that edict a bit too seriously.
To trade up from the third to the second overall pick and take North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Pace gave the 49ers three mid-round picks over the next two years despite the fact San Francisco probably wasn’t in play for Trubisky at all.
And given the three-year, $43.5 million contract given to Mike Glennon in free agency, the Bears have given up a lot of capital for two quarterbacks with a lot of question marks. Moreover, reports indicate that head coach John Fox may not have been aware of the Trubisky target until just before the draft.
Trubisky may be a one- or two-year project, especially given the paucity of offensive weapons on the roster.
Round 2 (45): Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland (D)
Shaheen is a massive (6’6”, 278 lbs) tight end and former basketball player with a ton of physical tools, but there’s a lot of work required when it comes to route-running and separating from defenders.
The pick is defensible if Shaheen is a developmental player, but with so many other playmaker options and no third-round pick, it looks like Pace shorted himself twice in the early rounds.
Round 4 (112): Eddie Jackson, SS, Alabama (A-)
Round 4 (119): Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T (B)
Round 5 (147): Jordan Morgan, OG, Kutztown (B-)
If Trubisky turns out to be a Hall of Fame quarterback, that’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact the cost of the pick was high and unnecessary. Pace schooled himself out of some picks, and though he made deals later to get them back, the point still stands.
I have issues with Shaheen taken this high based on tape. Days 1 and 2 appear to be developmental for the Bears.
I like the pick of Eddie Jackson, who’s a talented, versatile safety and outstanding return man when healthy. Cohen is a smaller back with electric speed, and Morgan is a better athlete than blocker at this point.
It’s possible the Bears won’t have a single first-year starter in this class. Oh, and they were 3-13 last season.
Cincinnati Bengals: C
Round 1 (9): John Ross, WR, Washington (A-)
Ross is as complete a college speed receiver as you could ever expect. He broke the record for the combine 40-yard dash with a blistering 4.22, and every bit of that speed showed up on the field.
But Ross is more than an in-line burner—he’s a well-developed route-runner with surprising toughness over the middle for his size. If he stays healthy, he has the potential to become a DeSean Jackson-level deep threat, and he’s a great complement to A.J. Green.
But Ross’ medical history (shoulder and knee issues) does give pause.
Round 2 (48): Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma (D)
Mixon may be the best player in this class at his position, but the assault committed upon a woman in July 2014—his punch caused a broken jaw, eye socket and cheekbone—had a lot of teams taking him off their boards entirely.
The Bengals didn’t blink, and as my colleague Mike Freeman noted, a locker room in which abhorrent behavior is tolerated is not an ideal fit for such a character risk. Mixon may prove everyone wrong going forward, but people have a right to be suspicious.
Round 3 (73): Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State (B+)
Willis is a bigger pass-rusher who can win with quickness or strength, and he fits the Bengals’ preference for outside rushers who can move inside situationally.
Round 4 (116): Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (A)
Round 4 (128): Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee (A)
Round 4 (138): Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan (B)
Round 5 (153): Jake Elliott, K, Memphis (B)
Round 5 (176): J.J. Dielman, OT, Utah (C)
Round 6 (193): Jordan Evans, ILB, Oklahoma (B)
Round 6 (207): Brandon Wilson, CB, Houston (B)
Round 7 (251): Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo (C)
It's a classic boom-or-bust draft from a team that’s had a lot of them.
With left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler leaving in free agency, the Bengals needed to give Andy Dalton more explosive playmaking options who required less time in the pocket—players who could take short-to-intermediate throws and make things happen.
They definitely did that with their first two picks, though both players come with different questions. Lawson dropped far more than I thought he would based on his tape, which means his medical issues may be more severe than I thought. I’m still giving the pick a high grade based on talent and where the Bengals took him.
Malone is another acknowledgement that this offense fell apart when A.J. Green was hurt last season. He doesn’t have Green’s talent, but he’s a big receiver with great speed. I like Glasgow as a backup, and the addition of Elliott at the kicker position was a necessity.
Cleveland Browns: A-
Round 1 (1): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (A)
As the best overall player in this class, Garrett is a pass-rushing gem whose game lands somewhere between Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
Some have expressed concern about his 8.5 sacks in 2016, but that relatively low number doesn’t account for the fact that Garrett was the primary focus of every blocker he faced. He’ll be a force in Gregg Williams’ hyper-aggressive hybrid fronts.
Round 1 (25): Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan (B+)
Similarly, Peppers is an ideal fit for what Williams likes to do. Peppers played 15 different positions for Michigan (no, that’s not a typo), but he projects best early in his career as a slot defender and multifaceted safety with some dime linebacker reps.
Williams calls as many dime defenses as any coordinator in the league, and Peppers could fill the role Mark Barron played for the Rams in 2016. Add in his potential as a running back and hybrid quarterback, and things get even more interesting.
Round 1 (29): David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL) (A-)
The Browns filled out their first-round haul with Njoku, a matchup nightmare in the formation and from the slot. Njoku has the speed to get past some cornerbacks, never mind safeties and linebackers, and he’ll present challenges to every defense he faces.
Round 2 (52): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (A)
Kizer has the size and arm to fill out the prototypical role at the position. He needs to develop his accuracy on the move and overall mechanics—he’s definitely a work in progress—but he’s in an ideal situation under head coach Hue Jackson, who has a history of developing quarterbacks.
Round 3 (65): Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte (B-)
Round 4 (126): Howard Wilson, CB, Houston (C)
Round 5 (160): Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State (B+)
Round 6 (185): Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida (D)
Round 7 (224): Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State (A)
Round 7 (252): Matthew Dayes, RB, North Carolina State (B)
The Browns have cycled through quarterback after quarterback since their return to the league in 1999, and they have nothing to show for it because they’ve always reached at that one position and steadfastly refused to surround those quarterbacks with credible talent.
The Browns’ new regime, however, is doing things differently. With three picks in the first round, including the first overall selection, Cleveland took players who can make impacts at other positions, and the Browns continued to do so down the line.
The only ding I would give the Cleveland front office is the selection of Brantley, whose off-field stuff had the Browns saying that, when they’re done investigating, they may have to drop the player.
Dallas Cowboys: A-
Round 1 (28): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan (B-)
The 6’6,” 287-pound Charlton can play inside and outside, he has above-average hand usage for a collegiate defensive end, and he’s quicker and slipperier though gaps than his size might suggest.
However, he does tend to get demolished by power blockers, something Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will look to correct.
Round 2 (60): Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (A)
Awuzie looks the part of a first-year outside starter, and the tape backs that up. He’s an impressively aggressive defender at the line of scrimmage, he tackles well, and he can move inside to the slot.
Deep speed can be an issue, but Awuzie fits the prototype of the modern NFL cornerback. He has first-round talent.
Round 3 (92): Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan (A-)
Lewis is a smaller cornerback (5’10,” 188 lbs), but he can start in press coverage, flip his hips quickly and stay with receivers downfield. Expect to see him everywhere in this defense: outside, in the slot and perhaps even at safety depth in certain sub-packages.
Round 4 (133): Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina (A)
Round 6 (191): Xavier Woods, SS, Louisiana Tech (A)
Round 6 (216): Marquez White, CB, Florida State (B)
Round 7 (228): Joey Ivie, DT, Florida (B)
Round 7 (239): Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State (B)
Round 7 (246): Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado (A)
The Cowboys go into the 2017 season with the best overall offense they’ve had since the Jimmy Johnson glory days, but between free-agency departures and general talent attrition, the defense took a hit. So, the franchise went all out to try to correct that.
The Cowboys got a number of outstanding athletes at their positions. Woods and White show a ton of potential in particular, and Carrell could be a sleeper as an inside pass-rusher. The team will benefit from Switzer’s slot work and return ability.
A team that used to draft mercurially has learned to stick to its board, and the results are positive over the last few seasons.
Denver Broncos: B-
Round 1 (20): Garett Bolles, OT, Utah (B)
Bolles is an ideal fit in Denver’s zone offense. He has an enticing blend of quickness to the edge in pass protection and a mauling mentality in the run game. He’ll need to work on a few technique issues. He tends to lean his way out of power, and he’s susceptible to counters and swim moves.
But he has all the physical tools, and having recovered from a difficult early life and two years out of football suggests a certain toughness. He’s almost 25, but he’s a long-term improvement.
Round 2 (51): DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State (A-)
Walker had an amazing 16 sacks in 2016, including 4.5 in the season opener against Mississippi. He can play inside and outside, and he could be a Malik Jackson replacement in time at 6’4” and 280 pounds.
Denver’s interior defensive line was one of its few weaknesses on that side of the ball in 2016.
Round 3 (82): Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech (B)
Henderson is a smaller speedster who has the ability to take any simple screen pass to the house. He’s not a polished receiver when it comes to route concepts, but he should be able to win in the slot in the short term, and he adds return ability.
Round 3 (101): Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar (C)
Langley is a former Georgia defender who was frustrated by position switches and a lack of playing time. He fits the Broncos’ preference for aggressive press cornerbacks, but he’ll have to develop as a run defender.
Round 5 (145): Jake Butt, TE, Michigan (A)
Round 5 (172): Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia (C)
Round 6 (203): De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina (B)
Round 7 (253): Chad Kelly, QB, Mississippi (C)
Denver’s offensive line needed a lot of work, and Bolles should help there right away. And Walker looks like a great interior rusher here.
The guy to watch is Jake Butt, the Michigan tight end whose torn ACL caused his stock to plummet, but he has Jason Witten-like potential if he comes all the way back. To get such a player in the fifth round is a more than acceptable risk.
Similarly, if Kelly is able to overcome his injury and off-field issues, he’s a first-round talent. It’s a risky draft in that regard, but lower picks make that palatable.
Detroit Lions: B-
Round 1 (21): Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida (B)
The Lions have preferred to be lighter, faster and more flexible at linebacker, and the addition of Florida’s Jarrad Davis in the first round is a commitment to that mindset.
Davis has everything you’d want in such a ‘backer. He flies around the field and can cover inside and in the slot, as well as cleaning up tackles. He’s not an ideal run defender, but he’s better in that regard than you’d expect from a 6’1”, 238-pound player.
Round 2 (53): Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (A)
Tabor put a lot of first-round tape out there, but his less-than-stellar combine numbers dropped his stock. Regardless, the film shows a hyper-aggressive defender who lives to win battles at the line of scrimmage in press coverage, and he has the athleticism to follow any receiver around the field.
If Davis was a bit of an overdraft, getting Tabor in the second round could be quite a bargain.
Round 3 (96): Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois (B+)
Golladay, a huge target for Matthew Stafford, has great hands. Though he’s not as strong with contested catches as his size would indicate, he could fill an Anquan Boldin-like role over time.
Round 4 (124): Jalen Reeves-Maybin, OLB, Tennessee (B-)
Round 4 (127): Michael Roberts TE, Toledo (B-)
Round 5 (165): Jamal Agnew, CB, San Diego (B)
Round 6 (205): Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE, Arkansas (B)
Round 6 (215): Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (A)
Round 7 (250): Pat O’Connor, DE, Eastern Michigan (B)
After a great defensive haul in the first two rounds, the Lions took risks on a couple of players in Reeves-Maybin and Agnew, who have had fairly serious injury issues.
The most interesting pick might be Kaaya, who struggles with mechanics and accuracy but has to be considered a developmental steal with the 215th overall pick.
Green Bay Packers: B
Round 2 (33): Kevin King, CB, Washington (A-)
It’s always good when you can trade out of the first round and still get a first-round talent at a position of need. Green Bay needs to overhaul its secondary, and King is a perfect fit for Dom Capers’ preferred style of aggressive man and press-zone coverage.
At 6’3” and 200 pounds, King has the size and wingspan to envelop receivers at the line, and he can trail anybody deep. He’ll need to work on his quick-twitch reactions to shorter routes, but this is a great pick for a defense in need.
Round 2 (61): Josh Jones, SS, North Carolina State (B-)
Jones has played both safety spots and slot corner, and that versatility will be used and appreciated. He’s a good deep-pass defender for his size, but he needs to quit biting on backfield motion and work on his tackling technique.
Round 3 (93): Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn (B)
Adams played all over the defensive line and projects best as a pass-rushing tackle and occasional end. Green Bay has had great success putting Mike Daniels in different gaps, and it might try the same thing with Adams.
Round 4 (108): Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin (B)
Round 4 (134): Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU (A)
Round 5 (175): DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (B)
Round 5 (182): Aaron Jones, RB, Texas-El Paso (C)
Round 6 (212): Kofi Amichia, OG, South Florida (B)
Round 7 (238): Devante Mays, RB, Utah State (B)
Round 7 (247): Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU (B)
If there’s one team that drafted for need, it’s the Packers, who require a lot of talent at the running back position, a redefined secondary and help with pass rush.
Williams could be the steal here. He has a nice combination of size and speed, and he’s an upgrade to what the team had at the position last year. Look for local boy Biegel to get reps as a pass-rusher.
Houston Texans: A-
Round 1 (12): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (B)
The Texans came into this draft as the most QB-needy franchise in the NFL, with only Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden on their depth chart. To try to remedy that situation, they traded up to the Browns’ 12th overall pick and took Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who we last saw bringing his team back against Alabama for a national championship.
There is no question about Watson’s toughness, savvy and intelligence, and he has the arm and athleticism to create splash plays. If he learns to read coverages and cuts down on the interceptions (those issues are related), he has a future in the NFL.
Round 2 (57): Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt (B+)
Cunningham stops the run well for his size (6’3,” 234 lbs), and he’s an excellent blitzer when asked to do that. He’s not as notable for his pass coverage—he’ll need to stay underneath and cover shorter routes—but he’s one of the better ‘backers in this class against the run.
Round 3 (89): D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (B)
Foreman has dealt with a host of injuries throughout his collegiate career, but when healthy, he can be a force. He rushed for 2,028 yards in 2016 against credible competition. To succeed in the NFL, he’ll have to keep his weight down.
Round 4 (130) Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (A)
Round 4 (142): Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson (B)
Round 5 (169): Treston DeCoud, CB, Oregon State (B)
Round 7 (243): Kyle Fuller, C, Baylor (A)
Getting Watson could take the Texans deep into the playoffs if he continues to develop. This team has just about everything else. And Cunningham adds dynamism to the second level of the defense.
Foreman might be a great rotational back, and in Davenport and Fuller, Houston has a couple of interesting projects along the line.
Indianapolis Colts: B
Round 1 (15): Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State (A)
Hooker is the best deep safety in this class and one of the best in recent years. He has the speed, flexibility and field awareness to be a starter from day one and a star over time. He’s not always a sure tackler, but the Colts will take his coverage abilities and work with the rest.
Round 2 (46): Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (B)
Wilson is the kind of big, aggressive cornerback the NFL now prefers. He’s good in short coverage and as a run defender, though his deep speed is a question.
Round 3 (80): Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio (B)
The MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Basham is an ideal fit for a Chuck Pagano defense. At 6’4” and 269 pounds, he has the ability to create pressure from multiple gaps.
Round 4 (137): Zach Banner, OG, USC (C)
Round 4 (143): Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida (A)
Round 4 (144): Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (B-)
Round 5 (158): Nate Hairston, CB, Temple (B)
Round 5 (161): Anthony Walker Jr., ILB, Northwestern (B)
The move from Ryan Grigson to Chris Ballard is a mammoth upgrade, and Ballard showed his acumen with the first two picks. It was a stroke of luck that Hooker fell as far as he did, but Wilson is a nice fit in this defense, as is Basham.
In Banner and Stewart, the Colts took a couple of project players whose size may obstruct their NFL potential. Mack is the player to watch here, with his intriguing combination of power and agility.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B-
Round 1 (4): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (A)
In selecting Fournette fourth overall, it’s clear the Jaguars are going to make him the face of their offense, and he has the ability to get that done. With a rare combination of destructive power and agility, he’s one of the best running back prospects since Adrian Peterson.
Round 2 (34): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (B)
Robinson is further testimony to the idea that the Jags are now committed to the power game. He’s an excellent run-blocker who can push defenders back easily when his mechanics are sound, but he tends to lean out of his base in pass protection.
Round 3 (68): Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois (B-)
Smoot is known for his speed around the edge and relentless motor. To succeed in the NFL, he’ll have to develop better hand moves and counters and time his turns around offensive tackles more efficiently.
Round 4 (110): Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (C)
Round 5 (148): Blair Brown, ILB, Ohio (B)
Round 7 (222): Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota (B)
Round 7 (240): Marquez Williams, FB, Miami (FL) (C)
The Jaguars have until May 3 to decide whether they want to pick up Blake Bortles’ fifth-year option, and whether they do or not, passing on a quarterback in this draft is an interesting move.
Fournette and Robinson point to the future of this offense, as does Williams, a huge fullback. Brown and Myrick are undersized but versatile players. Between his injuries and off-field issues, Westbrook remains an unknown.
Kansas City Chiefs: B
Round 1 (10): Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (B)
When projecting how Mahomes will work with Andy Reid, the best comparison might be what Reid did for Michael Vick in the early 2010s in Philadelphia.
Reid cut down on Vick’s pocket issues and gunslinger tendencies—two things Mahomes needs help with—and Mahomes has the arm, physical talent and intelligence to make a similar jump in development.
Round 2 (59): Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova (B)
A massive defender with tremendous speed and agility, Kpassagnon is a work in progress when it comes to the nuances of the pass-rusher position. He’ll get lost in gaps and needs a lot of work with his hand movement, but there’s enough pure potential to make this pick understandable.
Round 3 (86): Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (A)
The Chiefs are still looking to define the running back position in the post-Jamaal Charles era, and Hunt—who could wind up being one of the steals of this draft—looks ready to contribute.
He ran for nearly 5,000 yards in college and fumbled just once. Hunt has the ability to create plays beyond the line of scrimmage that should give this offense some electricity.
Round 4 (139): Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan (B)
Round 5 (183): Ukeme Eligwe, OLB, Georgia Southern (C)
Round 6 (218): Leon McQuay III, FS, USC (B)
Trading up with the Bills to take Mahomes puts some pressure on that pick, but NFL teams are more willing to redshirt QBs, and Mahomes will probably need that.
Kpassagnon is an ideal fit for Bob Sutton’s defense, but he’ll need time to develop. Hunt could well be the team’s best first-year contributor. Chesson is one to watch as a slim, quick outside receiver.
Los Angeles Chargers: A-
Round 1 (7): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (A)
As the best contested-catch receiver in this class by a wide margin, Williams combines leaping ability with physical aggression at the catch point in a way that brings Dez Bryant to mind. He has good overall attributes, but that’s why the Chargers picked him when they did.
Round 2 (38): Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky (A)
A tackle at Western Kentucky, Lamp projects as an NFL guard due to short arms, but he’s an outstanding technician with a nasty streak. He’s an immediate starter.
Round 3 (71): Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana (B)
Think the Chargers needed some guard help? Like Lamp, Feeney displays a lot of agility at the point of attack. He adds the kind of strength the Chargers have preferred in their power-blocking schemes.
Round 4 (113): Rayshawn Jenkins, FS, Miami (FL) (B-)
Round 5 (151): Desmond King, CB, Iowa (B)
Round 6 (190): Sam Tevi, OT, Utah (B)
Round 7 (225): Isaac Rochell, DE, Norte Dame (A)
The Chargers were already well-stocked at receiver, but adding Williams as a target for Philip Rivers was too good a scenario to ignore. And the Lamp-Feeney combination could immediately solve the team’s most glaring need.
Jenkins can help at safety if he stops looking for the knockout blow all the time, but the sleeper here could be King, who projects well at safety and slot cornerback. Rochell could also surprise as an interior rusher.
Los Angeles Rams: B-
Round 2 (44): Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama (B-)
Everett is an easy mover from the line of scrimmage or the slot, and he can get up to full speed in a hurry. At 6’3” and 239 pounds, he’ll likely be a tight end in name only in Sean McVay’s offense. “Big receiver” would be a more appropriate designation.
He’s interesting as a pure receiver, but there were better options left at the position at this pick.
Round 3 (69): Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington (B)
Kupp excelled in the Eagles’ high-volume offense, and he has the look of an immediate starter at slot receiver. He doesn’t have the deep speed to win battles against edge cornerbacks, but with his toughness and route awareness, he’ll excel inside.
Round 3 (91): John Johnson, FS, Boston College (B+)
A versatile player who started at all four defensive back positions in college, Johnson projects best as a coverage safety because of his size and aggressiveness to the ball.
Round 4 (117): Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M (A)
Round 4 (125): Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington (B)
Round 6 (189): Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane (B)
Round 6 (206): Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech (B)
Round 7 (234): Ejuan Price, OLB, Pittsburgh (C)
Taking Everett with the 44th overall pick seems like a reach, especially since the Rams had no first-round pick. The Kupp pick seems more in line, and he’ll help Jared Goff immediately.
The real steal in this receiver haul might be Reynolds, a thin target who needs to bulk up and fill out his route tree. However, he has the acceleration to take cornerbacks and safeties all the way downfield.
Smart and Price are interesting undersized hybrid players for Wade Phillips.
Miami Dolphins: A-
Round 1 (22): Charles Harris, DE, Missouri (B+)
Harris should be a big part of the Dolphins’ defensive line from the start of his professional career, and he projects well as Cameron Wake’s eventual replacement. He doesn’t have elite speed around the edge, but he times gaps well and has the power to win from multiple spots.
Round 2 (54): Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State (B)
McMillan is primarily a downhill thumper with good speed. Though he can cover in short zones, his primary value to the Dolphins defense will be an enforcer in the middle and a tackle magnet.
Round 3 (97): Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson (B)
Tankersley is a big, aggressive cornerback who struggles at times with speed routes and off-coverage, but he’s an asset as long as he’s covering more physical receivers and getting his hands on them early.
Round 5 (164): Isaac Asiata, OG, Utah (A)
Round 5 (178): Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU (A-)
Round 6 (194): Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State (B)
Round 7 (237): Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech (B)
Few teams went all-out on defense the way the Dolphins did, and they grabbed some important contributors for their trouble.
Harris and McMillan have the look of first-day starters, and Tankersley could join them in the right circumstances. Godchaux could surprise as a rotational interior rusher, and Ford is a downfield burner who needs to work on his hands and routes. Asiata is a huge blocker with surprising agility at times.
Minnesota Vikings: A-
Round 2 (41): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (A-)
Were it not for his off-field issues, there’s little question Cook would have been a first-round pick. If he keeps things straight in the NFL, the Vikings get themselves a potential franchise back for a low draft price.
Cook has an ideal combination of power, agility, speed and versatility.
Round 3 (70): Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (B-)
Few teams need more help along the offensive line than the Vikings, and Elflein should help a lot at the center position. Similar to Chicago’s Cody Whitehair, Elflein latches onto defenders from the snap and redirects them with power.
He doesn’t have a lot of second-level agility, but he’s an upgrade as a power blocker.
Round 4 (109): Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa (A-)
Round 4 (120): Ben Gedeon, ILB, Michigan (B)
Round 5 (170): Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida (A)
Round 5 (180): Danny Isidora, G, Miami (FL) B
Round 6 (201): Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (A-)
Round 7 (219): Stacy Coley, WR, Miami (FL) (B)
Round 7 (220): Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Northwestern (A)
Round 7 (232): Elijah Lee, OLB, Kansas State (B)
Round 7 (245): Jack Tocho, CB, North Carolina State (B)
This draft will revolve around Cook’s future, but if he keeps things clean, this is the steal of the draft.
Elflein isn’t a do-it-all center, but he has a nice set of power moves at the line of scrimmage. Johnson and Odenigbo are two linemen to watch in Mike Zimmer’s aggressive system, especially Johnson, who looks like a bargain in the fourth round.
New England Patriots: A
Round 3 (83): Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State (A+)
The Patriots got what might be the steal of the draft in Rivers, a pass-rushing monster who holds his school’s record with 41 sacks. He has speed around the edge, but he can also get pressure inside on passing downs.
Round 3 (85): Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy (B-)
Garcia has great agility and foot speed, which he’s used to make himself a solid pass protector. He has some issues with his hand placement, but New England has one of the best line coaches in the league in Dante Scarnecchia, so expect the tutelage to begin immediately.
Round 4 (131): Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas (B)
Round 6 (211): Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA (C)
Ever get the feeling that Bill Belichick is playing 3-D chess while everyone else is playing checkers? The Patriots surrendered their first- and second-round picks in the Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy trades but still got maximum value with their two third-round picks despite the longest wait for a first pick in franchise history.
Rivers could have been a first-round pick, and Garcia has a lot of potential. Wise looks a lot like Trey Flowers, the multigap pass-rusher who was one of the stars of Super Bowl LI. The only real question mark here is McDermott, a 6’8” tackle who has had trouble holding together solid blocking tape in the run and pass games.
Add in the Cooks and Ealy acquisitions, and this is an easy "A."
New Orleans Saints: B
Round 1 (11): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (A)
The best overall cornerback in this draft class, Lattimore has had a few hamstring issues, and he’s not an ideal press defender at this point in his career. Other than that, he’s about as clean a pick as you can get.
A big, rangy player who trails receivers all over the field and has a nose for the ball, Lattimore presents the Saints with one of the better player/need scenarios.
Round 1 (32): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (B+)
Ramczyk showed excellent technique in pass protection and drive-blocking in his one year with a major college program. He still has technique lapses at times, but he’s a right tackle from day one if the Saints need it, and he could become a franchise left tackle in time.
Round 2 (42): Marcus Williams, FS, Utah (B)
Williams has the ability to cover and deliver a blow. He’s a big, rangy defender who projects best as a moving free safety, something the Saints desperately need.
Round 3 (67): Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (A-)
The Saints already have Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, but what they don’t have until now is someone with Kamara’s shiftiness in space and ability to create home run plays. There are minor injury and off-field issues, but Kamara is an ideal back for Sean Payton’s offense.
Round 3 (76): Alex Anzalone, OLB, Florida (B)
The only thing keeping Anzalone from a higher pick in this draft is his injury history.
He can cover the field effortlessly and delivers punishment to running backs and short-level receivers with great intensity, and he might be New Orleans’ best linebacker right now.
Round 3 (103): Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic (B-)
Hendrickson doesn’t scream around the edge as you’d ideally want a pass-rusher to do, and his short arms could be a problem against NFL blockers. However, he does have good field awareness and could be a specialty player in certain packages because he can drop to cover in zone blitzes.
Round 6 (196): Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami (FL) (C)
After a terrific 2015 season for the Hurricanes, Muhammad was dismissed from the team for receiving illicit benefits from a car company. He was also suspended for the 2014 season after breaking his roommate’s nose.
It’s interesting that one of the people advocating the Saints’ selection of him was Miami coach Mark Richt. If he can keep his head straight, Muhammad has a ton of potential as a run-stopping edge-rusher.
The Saints had to address their abysmal pass defense, and the additions of Lattimore and Williams do that. Anzalone and Muhammad come with different red flags. Ramczyk could be the long-term replacement for right tackle Zach Strief.
New York Giants: B
Round 1 (23): Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi (A-)
The Giants were already loaded with dynamic targets for Eli Manning, but Engram would have been tough to pass up with the 23rd pick. Right from the start, he’ll add a lot at the tight end position with his speed off the line, ability to break into zones and ability to create after the catch.
He’s not a blocker, and he’ll need a more expansive route tree, but Manning has to be happy about this pick. Engram could be the Giants’ best tight end since Jeremy Shockey.
Round 2 (55): Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama (B)
Tomlinson was an underrated name on Alabama’s talent-rich defensive line because he doesn’t have a ton of pass-rush potential, but he will team with Damon "Snacks" Harrison to keep running backs in line.
Round 3 (87): Davis Webb, QB, Cal (B)
Webb transferred from Texas Tech to Cal after losing the starting job to Patrick Mahomes, and he broke many of Jared Goff’s school records in his one season there. He’s a cerebral quarterback with the arm to make any throw, but he needs to refine his mechanics under pressure.
Round 4 (140): Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson (B)
Round 5 (167): Avery Moss, DE, Youngstown State (C)
Round 6 (200): Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh (B)
Engram and Tomlinson should be starters or major contributors from day one. Webb looks like a potential Manning replacement down the road, and he’ll have the time to develop into that. Gallman could add a lot as a power back.
New York Jets: B-
Round 1 (6): Jamal Adams, SS, LSU (A)
As perhaps the safest defensive player in this draft class, Adams brings a headhunter’s mentality to the field, but he’s always under control. While he’s a fine run-stopper and excels in short coverage, he has the potential to win battles in deep coverage as well.
Round 2 (39): Marcus Maye, FS, Florida (B)
Maye suffered a broken arm that robbed him of much of his 2016 season, and that may be the only reason he slipped to the second round. He has the size and range to deal with deep receivers.
Round 3 (79): ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama (C)
Stewart is a good overall receiver, but until he can overcome his drops, he may be limited to special teams, even for a team as receiver-needy as the Jets.
Round 4 (141): Chad Hansen, WR, Cal (B)
Round 5 (150): Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson (B-)
Round 5 (181): Dylan Donahue, OLB, West Georgia (B)
Round 6 (188): Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette (B)
Round 6 (197): Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan (B-)
Round 6 (204): Derrick Jones, CB, Mississippi (B)
Given the overall lack of talent on this roster, there was no way the Jets were going to come out of this draft making everyone happy unless they had a first-round haul like the Browns did.
With that said, the selection of two safeties at the top of the draft, and the desire to take chances on a lot of injured players, makes this a boom-or-bust proposition, and the team still has a ton of needs.
Oakland Raiders: B-
Round 1 (24): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State (C)
The story of this pick is simple: If Conley is not guilty of the sexual assault allegations brought against him, getting him with the 24th pick is a great value, given his talent as a pass defender. If the story goes the other way, this is a disaster for all involved.
Round 2 (56): Obi Melifonwu, SS, Connecticut (B)
A tremendous athlete who blew up the combine with his test numbers, Melifonwu may project best as a safety, though he could move to cornerback at times in the right scheme. Wherever he plays, he’s going to be a problem for speed receivers with his ability to track opponents downfield.
Round 3 (88): Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA (B)
Vanderdoes is more of a gap-plugger and run-stopper than a pass-rush artist, though he performs those tasks at a high level. He recovered nicely from a torn knee ligament that caused him to miss most of the 2015 season.
Round 4 (129): David Sharpe, OT, Florida (C)
Round 5 (168): Marquel Lee, OLB, Wake Forest (B)
Round 7 (221): Shalom Luani, SS, Washington State (B)
Round 7 (231): Jaylen Ware, OT, Alabama State (B-)
Round 7 (242): Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina (A)
Round 7 (244): Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo (B+)
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is rightfully regarded as one of the best personnel men in the NFL, but taking Conley this high before the whole story is told is a major risk, no matter how much due diligence the team has done.
Depending on how it goes, Melifonwu may be the top defensive back in the Raiders’ draft class.
Philadelphia Eagles: B-
Round 1 (14): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (B+)
The Eagles came into this draft loaded with pass-rushers and with a lot of needs in the secondary, but taking a player of Barnett’s talent still makes sense here. He has the agility to win against linemen inside and outside, and he brings good run defense to the table as well.
Round 2 (43): Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (C)
Had Jones not torn his Achilles tendon at his pro day in March, there’s no question he would have gone in the first round. He may have had the best tape of any cornerback in this draft class.
The team will have to wait to see whether Jones is able to retain his long speed and quick-twitch athleticism against short and intermediate routes.
Round 3 (99): Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia (B-)
Douglas is a big, physical defender who excels when he’s able to jostle receivers at the line, though he’ll have to work to bring his playing style under control and grow as a zone defender.
Round 4 (118): Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina (B-)
Round 4 (132): Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State (B)
Round 5 (166): Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia (B)
Round 5 (184): Nathan Gerry, SS, Nebraska (B-)
Round 6 (214): Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington (A-)
Barnett is a great first-round pick, though it could be argued there were greater needs elsewhere. Jones is a risk, though a second-round pick is a major steal if he comes back healthy.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
Round 1 (30): T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin (B-)
J.J. Watt’s younger brother would still get a lot of play from NFL teams without the name. He can bring pressure from a number of gaps, and he understands how to use leverage to beat blocks. Watt is a bit too aggressive against the run at times, but he’ll find a place as a pass-rusher in this defense early and often.
Round 2 (62): JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (B)
The Steelers are already loaded at receiver, but Smith-Schuster is the kind of receiver any team would like—prolific, tough, aggressive and dynamic after the catch.
Round 3 (94): Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee (B)
Sutton isn’t a pure speed cornerback, but he has the discipline to maintain coverage in zone and disguised defenses. He also adds value as a return man.
Round 3 (105): James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh (B-)
Conner is primarily known for the toughness he displayed in recovering from cancer, but he’s a good fit in Pittsburgh’s offense because he’s an old-school runner who goes after defenders with power and passion.
Round 4 (135): Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee (B)
Round 5 (173): Brian Allen, CB, Utah (B-)
Round 6 (213): Colin Holba, LS, Louisville (C)
Round 7 (248): Keion Adams, DE, Western Michigan (C)
Watt could be an explosive pass-rusher, but size issues may upend him, and he needs to get his run defense under control. The Smith-Schuster and Sutton picks are probably the safest, and Conner certainly adds a nice story.
San Francisco 49ers: A-
Round 1 (3): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford (A-)
Some may have wondered how Thomas fit into a defensive line that already had Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, but when you have a talent like this available, you don’t worry about stuff like that.
Thomas has rare penetrative abilities at the 3-tech position, and though he’s not an elite speed-rusher, he can be disruptive from any gap.
Round 1 (31): Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (B)
Foster fell in the draft due to an incident at the combine and a diluted test sample, but there’s no denying his talent, and the 49ers were wise to pick him here.
The modern NFL requires linebackers who can roam the field with great speed and an ability to do everything from cleaning up run tackles to covering tight ends, and Foster does it all with aplomb.
Round 3 (66): Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado (B)
Colorado’s secondary may have been underrated on a national level, but football experts understand just how much talent was in that group. Witherspoon brings size and aggression to the NFL.
Round 3 (104): C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa (D)
This was a weird pick at this point. Beathard is a shorter player with limited mobility and an unimpressive arm. Clearly head coach Kyle Shanahan sees something in him, but it’s hard to justify a third-round grade based on the tape.
Round 4 (121): Joe Williams, RB, Utah (B)
Round 5 (146): George Kittle, TE, Iowa (A-)
Round 5 (177): Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech (C)
Round 6 (198): D.J. Jones, DT, Mississippi (A)
Round 6 (202): Pita Taumoepenu, OLB, Utah (B-)
Round 7 (229): Adrian Colbert, FS, Miami (FL) (B)
Especially after the draft-day failures of former general manager Trent Baalke, first-year GM John Lynch impressed. He deftly took advantage of the Bears’ desperation to get Mitchell Trubisky, and there are potential contributors all along this list.
Of special interest beyond the top guys is Iowa tight end George Kittle, who caught passes from third-round pick C.J. Beathard and may be the more impressive player.
Seattle Seahawks: B
Round 2 (35): Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State (A-)
There were times in 2016 when McDowell looked like the best defensive lineman in this class and others when he tended to disappear. That said, the effort concerns are a bit overblown, and he has the rare ability to win from every gap.
Round 2 (58): Ethan Pocic, C, LSU (C)
Pocic played center for the Tigers, but the Seahawks could have him playing guard or tackle depending on how things shake out. He has good inline power and agility, though he can be rocked back at times when his pad level isn’t straight.
Round 3 (90): Shaquill Griffin, CB, Central Florida (A-)
Griffin is an ideal fit as a Seahawks cornerback because he brings size and toughness to the equation, and he can trail receivers deep. He will need to gain more experience covering combo routes and short breaking routes, but there’s a lot to like here.
Round 3 (95): Delano Hill, FS, Michigan (B)
Hill’s scouting reports read a lot like Kam Chancellor’s when Chancellor came out of college—a thumper who couldn’t cover deep and may have to move to linebacker. But just as Chancellor developed his coverage ability over time, Hill has the potential to do the same.
Round 3 (102): Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina (B-)
Jones was more of a hole-plugger than a pure pass-rusher at North Carolina, and that’s the role he’ll likely play for the Seahawks, who have been rotating through bigger defensive tackles over the last few seasons.
Round 3 (106): Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan (B)
Darboh’s backstory is both inspiring and terrifying. He grew up in Sierra Leone, and both of his parents were killed in the civil war there. He eventually made his way to the U.S. and turned himself into a dynamic target for the Wolverines.
Darboh doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he can leap well to snatch the ball, and he tracks it in traffic.
Round 4 (111): Tedric Thompson, SS, Colorado (A)
Round 6 (187): Michael Tyson, FS, Cincinnati (B-)
Round 6 (210): Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi State (B)
Round 7 (226): David Moore, WR, East Central (OK) (B)
Round 7 (249): Christopher Carson, RB, Oklahoma State (B+)
The success of this draft depends a lot on McDowell’s and Pocic’s transition to the NFL, but the untold story here is how much secondary talent the Seahawks got in the later rounds. As much as any team, they took advantage of the best defensive backs class in the last decade.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A-
Round 1 (19): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (A)
The Bucs already added great talent to their receiver corps in the offseason with the acquisition of DeSean Jackson, and now Jameis Winston has another outstanding target.
Howard is the most complete tight end in this class. His ability to get open combined with his blocking acumen will make him a valued player right away.
Round 2 (50): Justin Evans, SS, Texas A&M (A-)
The Aggies’ co-Defensive MVP in 2016 along with Myles Garrett, Evans can cover from sideline to sideline in the deep third, and he looks to separate the receiver from the ball right away. He needs to be a bit more disciplined with his angles, but he has a great deal of potential at a position the Bucs need.
Round 3 (84): Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State (A)
Adding to Winston’s abundance of riches is Godwin, one of the NCAA’s most prolific pass-catchers. He’s not a speed demon by any means, but he does give Tampa Bay an ability to take contested catches away from defenders.
Round 3 (107): Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU (B-)
Round 5 (162): Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State (B)
Round 7 (223): Stevie Tu'lkolovatu , DT, USC (B)
Getting Howard and Godwin shows just how committed this team is to making sure its quarterback has everything possible to succeed. And if Evans plays to his potential, he erases an enormous liability in Tampa Bay’s defense.
Tennessee Titans: B
Round 1 (5): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (B)
This could be a bit of an overdraft, but given the Titans’ need to surround Marcus Mariota with credible targets, maybe not.
Davis brings a rare combination of size, speed and catching ability to the NFL, and don’t let the small-school label fool you. In nine games against Big Ten competition, he caught 52 catches for 701 yards and five touchdowns.
Round 1 (18): Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC (B-)
Jackson isn’t quite ready for prime time as an NFL cornerback—he needs to develop his ability to track the ball, and consistency against speed receivers is a surprising issue given his athleticism. But as an athlete and a multipositional weapon, Jackson will see time right away, especially in the return game.
Round 3 (72): Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (B)
Taylor was a prolific player for the Hilltoppers, setting the stat sheets alight over the last two seasons. He’s a good, balanced receiver with an equal amount of toughness and speed.
If he can get his drops eliminated and learn to catch the ball with his hands instead of into his body, he could be one of the better deep receivers in the NFL.
Round 3 (100): Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International (C)
Smith has dealt with injury and off-field issues, and at 6’3” and 248 pounds, he isn’t of the ideal size for the position. But the Titans have done well with hybrid tight ends in the past, and Smith has shown his hard work with an ability to win contested catches.
Round 5 (155): Jayon Brown, OLB, UCLA (B)
Round 6 (217): Corey Levin, OG, Chattanooga (B-)
Round 7 (227): Josh Carraway, DE, Texas Christian (A-)
Round 7 (236): Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova (B)
Round 7 (241): Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Cal (C)
Between Davis and Taylor, the Titans have made it clear: It’s time to get new weapons for Mariota so the team can take the next step. And if Jonnu Smith can live up to his potential, all the better.
Jackson’s future as a cornerback could put this draft over the top, but that’s a work in progress.
Washington Redskins: B
Round 1 (17): Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama (A)
Allen fell out of the top 10 because of shoulder issues, but if there aren’t problems over time, he has the strength, agility and versatility to make a major impact on Washington’s defensive line. In the short term, he’s an ideal replacement for Chris Baker, who departed for Tampa Bay in free agency.
Round 2 (49): Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama (B-)
Anderson has had a few minor off-field issues in his past, but he was appealing to NFL teams because he takes a malevolent attitude to the field. As long as that’s where he keeps it, he’ll be a valuable resource.
He’s an ideal strong-side linebacker who uses toughness and instincts to win.
Round 3 (81): Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA (B)
Moreau is still recovering from pectoral surgery, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the more interesting pass defenders in this class. He’s a quick, fluid cover man who can follow receivers all over the field.
Round 4 (114): Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (A)
Round 4 (123): Montae Nicholson, SS, Michigan State (B)
Round 5 (154): Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas (A-)
Round 6 (199): Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming (C)
Round 6 (209): Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State (B)
Round 7 (230): Josh Harvey-Clemons, SS, Louisville (A)
Round 7 (235): Joshua Holsey, CB, Auburn (B)
The Redskins fired general manager Scot McCloughan in March, but the characteristics he prefers are all over this board. This is a draft full of size, speed and raw athletic talent, with Allen, Moreau and possibly Perine as the standouts.