NFL Draft 2018 Grades: Final Results and Grades Following Day 3

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2018

Saquon Barkley has the ability to change the fortunes of the New York Giants offense.
Saquon Barkley has the ability to change the fortunes of the New York Giants offense.Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

The NFL draft remains one of the great sporting spectacles of the year for football fans.

As important as free agency is to building a team, the draft is still the best way for a team to set its direction and come up with the backbone players of the organization. The idea is that the key players will remain with the team for anywhere between eight and 10 years, and they will dominate games.

However, the draft is an inexact science, and first-round players fail every year. The same holds for players taken in every round.

But there are successful draft choices, and there are a number of teams that do an excellent job of finding talented players deep into the draft, and that's how teams establish themselves.

It's fair to judge the effectiveness of any year's draft three years down the road. We are not grading the 2015 draft, though; we are grading the 2018 draft.

Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round, and the Cleveland Browns shocked many observers by taking Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the first pick, and the New York Giants followed up by taking running back Saquon Barkley, who is probably the best player in the draft.

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Here are our grades for the 2018 draft, and a more detailed look at three teams follows:


Team, Grade, Summary

Arizona Cardinals, A: Josh Rosen throws a beautiful ball and should be able to step in quickly and start paying dividends. Wideout Christian Kirk has the skills to make a contribution as a rookie and become an eventual star.

Atlanta Falcons, B+: Calvin Ridley should make a good receiving group even better, while second-round choice Isaiah Oliver is a fine cover man who plays a physical game.

Baltimore Ravens, B: It looks like the Ravens have their quarterback of the future in Lamar Jackson, and while he needs time to develop, he is a special player. Orlando Brown fills a key need at offensive tackle.

Buffalo Bills, A-: The Bills selected a tremendous prospect in quarterback Josh Allen; he has a sensational arm and wonderful athletic ability. He should be ready to play top-notch football in 2019. Tremaine Edmunds has a chance to be a dominant linebacker.

Carolina Panthers, C-: D.J. Moore is a nice receiver, and he appears to be a fit, but the second- and third-round picks of cornerback Donte Jackson and safety Rashaan Gaulden appear ordinary.

Chicago Bears, B+: General manager Ryan Pace hit a home run with linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round. Second-round selection Anthony Miller appears to fill a key need at the wide receiver position.

Cincinnati Bengals, B: The selection of Billy Price should help the Cincinnati offensive line, and that's vital since the Bengals struggled badly with that group last year. Linebacker Malik Jefferson has excellent range and figures to play a key role in his vital position.

Cleveland Browns, C-: Selecting Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick will turn out to be a regrettable move. So will passing on Bradley Chubb with the No. 4 pick. The Browns blew their opportunity, and they seem destined to remain at or near the bottom of the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys, C: The first-round selection of Leighton Vander Esch was a disappointment since Courtland Sutton was still on the board. Wideout Michael Gallup is decent, but there were other receivers who had higher ceilings when the pick was made.

Denver Broncos, A: Chubb should be a dominant player on his own, and he gets to play across from Von Miller. This will help the Broncos defense become ferocious in the pass-rush area. Royce Freeman does not have eye-opening speed, but the running back displays make-you-miss moves and power.

Detroit Lions, D+: Frank Ragnow is a decent player, but he could have been selected in the second round. Kerryon Johnson was not the best running back available at the time he was selected, and Tracy Walker is a major reach.

Green Bay Packers, B+: The Packers went for their biggest needs and collected a pair of ace cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Both players represent major upgrades at this key position.

Houston Texans, B-: The Texans didn't have a pick until the third round, and the selection of Stanford safety Justin Reid was an absolute steal. On the other hand, tight end Jordan Akins is older (26) and was a minor league baseball player.

Indianapolis Colts, B-: The Colts hit a home run with their selection of Quenton Nelson, based on his overall talent and ability, as well as the team's need for help on the offensive line. Tyquan Lewis should provide value as a pass-rusher, but the other picks were unimpressive.

Jacksonville Jaguars, B+: The Jaguars are one of the more physically talented teams in the league, and they went for the best player available with the selection of defensive tackle Taven Bryan. The Jaguars are loaded up front. Wideout D.J. Chark of LSU is a fine addition.

Kansas City Chiefs, D: The Chiefs did not have a selection in the first round, and their other picks were reaches. Defensive end Breeland Speaks has a quick first step but takes too long to disengage.

Los Angeles Chargers, A: The Chargers appeared to hit home runs during the first two days of the draft with safety Derwin James, edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu and defensive tackle Justin Jones. Their good fortune continued into Day 3.

Los Angeles Rams, C-: The Rams have been trading their picks for veteran talent, and their only pick in the first two days was offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom. Still, this team should be ready for a championship run. It did have an array of sixth-round picks, and that could help make training camp much more competitive.

Miami Dolphins, B+: Minkah Fitzpatrick has a chance to be a special player, and the Dolphins can line him up at cornerback or safety. Linebacker Jerome Baker should be a tackling machine.

Minnesota Vikings, B: It was not a surprise to see head coach Mike Zimmer pick a defensive player with his first selection. Cornerback Mike Hughes has excellent skills and should give the secondary a lift.

New England Patriots, C+: The Patriots have been the smartest team in the room for a long time, but one has to question head coach Bill Belichick with his selections this year. Isaiah Wynn was a tackle during his college career at Georgia, but he will be asked to move inside. Sony Michel is a decent selection.

New Orleans Saints, D: The Saints gave up too much to select defensive end/outside linebacker Marcus Davenport, who may be a slightly above-average player. Their other selections were unimpressive.

New York Giants, A-: The Giants should be thrilled after selecting Barkley, the best overall player in the draft. He has a chance to challenge Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley as the best running back in the league. Defensive tackle B.J. Hill should fit into the rotation on the defensive line. Fourth-round choice Kyle Lauletta has a chance to turn into a solid quarterback.

New York Jets, B+: The Jets moved up to get the top quarterback in the draft in Sam Darnold, and he appears to have the talent to lead this team for 10 years or more. If this pick works out, the Jets will have enjoyed a tremendous draft.

Oakland Raiders, C-: Kolton Miller appears to be a good but not great offensive tackle, and the Raiders appear to have reached for this pick. Arden Key is a solid pass-rush talent, but off-field issues have been raised.

Philadelphia Eagles, D+: The Eagles traded out of the first round, and second-round selection Dallas Goedert is a tight end with size and strength. He could turn out to be a decent contributor.

Pittsburgh Steelers, B+: The Steelers may have made the value pick of the draft with Mason Rudolph in the third round. Terrell Edmunds is a good safety, but there were better picks available with the 28th pick. James Washington is a home run-hitting wideout. Safety Marcus Allen could be a solid contributor.

San Francisco 49ers, B-: Mike McGlinchey looks like a fine selection at offensive tackle, but the Niners did not distinguish themselves with their other picks.

Seattle Seahawks, C: The selection of running back Rashaad Penny was an uninspired move. Rasheem Green could turn out to be a nice surprise. Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who has one hand, has overcome doubts and may be an excellent fifth-round selection.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, A-: Vita Vea will be a starter from day one, and he will both benefit from and help out Gerald McCoy. The Bucs clearly have strength on the defensive interior. Cornerback Carlton Davis is a razor-sharp cover man and a top second-round selection.

Tennessee Titans, B+: The Titans needed to step up on defense, and they did just that with the selections of linebacker Rashaan Evans and defensive end Harold Landry. Both project as starters in their rookie seasons, and Landry appears to be a game-changing pass-rusher.

Washington Redskins, B+: The Redskins went after a run-stuffing monster in defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne with their first pick. Running back Derrius Guice has game-breaking talent, but he dropped because of character questions. Fifth-round defensive tackle Tim Settle of Virginia Tech has shocking power in the middle of the defensive line.


Denver Broncos

General manager John Elway has been criticized in recent years for some of his moves, but he got a huge gift when the Browns passed on Bradley Chubb.

Elway saw Chubb as the best defensive player in the draft and was happy to snap him up. If Chubb lives up to expectations, the Broncos defense should be dominant. Von Miller is still one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the NFL, and those two will create havoc on nearly an every-week basis.

John Elway @johnelway

We really wanted Bradley Chubb and are thrilled to make him a Denver Bronco. Bradley's the best defensive player in the draft. He can rush the passer, is a hard worker and will be a great fit, complementing Von, Shane & Shaq! https://t.co/pEHS4kmyG2

"You can never have enough good pass-rushers, and we've got another good pass-rusher, but also a really good football player," Elway said, per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today.

Courtland Sutton of SMU is a fine receiver who is going to challenge for a starting position, and the same is true for Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton. Sutton was selected in the second round, while Hamilton came in the fourth round.

The Broncos also selected a hard-hitting fourth-round linebacker in Josey Jewell from Iowa. Jewell has excellent tackling form, understands what the defense is going to do and is a very hard hitter.


New York Giants

The Giants have been playing without a decent running game for multiple seasons, and they have changed that dramatically with their selection of Barkley.

The Giants were 26th in rushing yards per game last year, and their inability to run the ball hurt Eli Manning because opposing defenses were able to ignore the threat of the running game and tee off on the veteran quarterback.

That thought process goes out the window with Barkley, who has explosive power because of his strong lower body and game-changing speed. Barkley can get the job done running between the tackles or when he blazes to the outside.

Barkley averaged 5.7 yards per attempt on 671 carries and 11.7 yards per catch on 102 receptions during his career at Penn State. He gained 5,038 yards and scored 51 touchdowns.

Former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called Barkley a player without weakness.

"I'm going on year 20, and you've seen guys that have some of the things," Moorhead said, per Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. "Maybe the speed, maybe the size, maybe the physicality, but not all of them packaged into one. That's what makes Saquon the most unique and gives him the highest ceiling."

Second-round linebacker Lorenzo Carter of Georgia has a nonstop motor and the ability to get after the quarterback. He appears to be a solid fit for the 3-4 scheme the Giants will use under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher.

The Giants selected quarterback Kyle Lauletta of Richmond with their fourth-round choice. While they decided to pass on a quarterback with the second overall pick, they have hope that Lauletta will develop into a solid starter in year two or three.

Pro Football Focus @PFF

The Giants didn't grab a potential QB of the future on the opening two days of the draft, but grab talented Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta! https://t.co/tYz33GvpGS

Lauletta is quite advanced when it comes to reading defenses and excels at throwing on the move. If he gets time to develop and a Manning injury does not force him into the lineup before he is ready, Lauletta has a chance to be solid, if not special.


Cleveland Browns

The Browns decided to pass on a finished product like Josh Rosen of UCLA and a brilliant prospect in Sam Darnold. They also decided to let a quarterback with overpowering arm strength in Josh Allen slip through their grasp.

Instead, they went with the Heisman Trophy-winning Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, who may be the most competitive quarterback of the bunch.


.@bakermayfield said he could win with the @Browns. Now he gets to prove it. #NFLDraft https://t.co/2Fe2Bs8iXO

Mayfield plays with a chip on his shoulder and wants to get the "win" on every play. While he has a somewhat off-putting personality, the Browns don't seem worried about Mayfield becoming another Johnny Manziel.

The fact that such a subject even comes up is somewhat troubling. Also, Mayfield is a smaller quarterback, as he is listed at 6'1", and it may be difficult for him to see over the line of scrimmage.

Many of Mayfield's biggest plays came as his receivers broke wide-open against soft Big 12 defenses. He was also able to connect on short- and medium-range throws that his receivers were able to turn into long plays.

Mayfield will never surrender on a play, and while that paid off at the college level, he will quickly learn that putting himself at risk in the NFL is not going to help his team or his career.

The Browns selected Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick when they could have taken the draft's best pass-rusher in Bradley Chubb. Ward should be a fine player and a potential star, but they may regret not taking Chubb.

However, they did select Georgia running back Nick Chubb in the second round. Nick Chubb is not the fastest running back, but he does have excellent power and finishing ability.

Memphis linebacker Genard Avery appears to be a fine fifth-round selection who has the quickness and drive to make key contributions on defense and special teams.


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