NFL Draft 2018: Final Analysis of Overall Team-by-Team Grades

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26:  Josh Rosen of UCLA poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #10 overall by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL draft was always going to be one of the most difficult classes to slap letters onto regardless of how things shook out.

It's simply what happens when a barrage of first-round quarterbacks enters the NFL at the same time, as does a deep offensive line class and one stud running back—pushing premium positions such as cornerback, safety and edge-rushers down the board.

As always, post-draft grades are a good way to find a baseline evaluation standpoint for the future, feeling in the dark for how well teams addressed needs and with what sort of value.


2018 NFL Draft Results


Team-by-Team Grades

Arizona Cardinals: (A+) Moving up for Josh Rosen didn't cost much, and both Christian Kirk and Mason Cole should be instant starters who make a difference.

Atlanta Falcons: (A-) Calvin Ridley is the perfect addition to the offense and one of the best picks of the draft.

Baltimore Ravens: (C) Lamar Jackson is the bright spot. But going Hayden Hurst in the first was bad value, and Orlando Brown tested terribly. Doubling up on tight end was odd, too.

Buffalo Bills: (C) This grade changes a lot down the road if Josh Allen pans out. But he's a risk.

Carolina Panthers: (B) More weapons for Cam Newton with D.J. Moore in the first and an H-back like Ian Thomas in the fourth.

Chicago Bears: (A+) Roquan Smith is the new-age NFL 'backer. James Daniels fell and boosts the interior of the line, and trading back up for Anthony Miller to pair with Allen Robinson is a killer draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: (B) Ho-hum draft overall, as the Bengals play it safe with Ohio State guys, hitting big needs like center and defensive end.

Cleveland Browns: (A) Baker Mayfield was the right choice at No. 1, and a blue-chip prospect at a premium position like corner with Denzel Ward is brilliant.

Dallas Cowboys: (A) Leighton Vander Esch was quietly one of the draft's best players, and Connor Williams boosts the line in front of Ezekiel Elliott.

Denver Broncos: (A+) Adding Bradley Chubb alongside Von Miller isn't fair. Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman and a big fourth-round steal with DaeSean Hamilton should have the offense humming.

Detroit Lions: (C) Taking Frank Ragnow was fine, but the rest of the draft was a shrug-worthy affair.

Green Bay Packers: (A) The newly aggressive Packers crushed it, doubling up on cornerbacks and getting some serious size multiple times at receiver.

Houston Texans: (A) Talk about value. Justin Reid in the third round was a steal. Martinas Rankin, another third-round pick, could start on the offensive line right away.

Indianapolis Colts: (C) Picking Quenton Nelson is great, but the rest of the value across the board was average. Branden Smith in the second round should help the line as well, at least.

Jacksonville Jaguars: (B) Taven Bryan joins a loaded defensive line, and Ronnie Harrison should bring the boom after coming off the board in the third round.

Kansas City Chiefs: (C) A mostly all defensive draft focused on the trenches early, with immense pressure now on Breeland Speaks to justify the trade up.

Los Angeles Chargers: (B) Derwin James falling to No. 17 gave the Chargers one of the draft's biggest steals.

Los Angeles Rams: (C) Trading for Brandin Cooks meant no pick until No. 89, though the focus on the offensive line early was the right idea.

Miami Dolphins: (A) Minkah Fitzpatrick is a huge get for the defense in the first round, and tight end Mike Gesicki is one of the best combine performers of all time, even more athletic than somebody like Tyler Eifert.

Minnesota Vikings: (C+) Ignoring offensive line early was odd, and one of the picks went to a kicker, which about sums up the ho-hum performance.

New England Patriots: (A) The rich get richer. Isaiah Wynn helps replace Nate Solder, and Sony Michel might be better than Dion Lewis someday.

New Orleans Saints: (D) While the class was light on edge-rushers, jumping up for Marcus Davenport is a tough pill to swallow.

New York Giants: (B) The Giants should look quite a bit different next year with Saquon Barkley running behind Will Hernandez, though the win-now draft is quite the risk.

New York Jets: (A) In Sam Darnold they trust, while Nathan Shepherd out of Fort Hays State is one of the steals of the draft in the third round.

Oakland Raiders: (D) Odd decisions from head coach Jon Gruden continue. Kolton Miller tested well but had bad film. An FBS player like P.J. Hall in the second round is about as risky as it gets.

Philadelphia Eagles: (C) High risk, high reward. Dallas Goedert could have an impact on the offense, and Josh Sweat in the fourth round looks like good value, though we've got to wonder why he fell.

Pittsburgh Steelers: (D) Terrell Edmunds was a big reach. Mason Rudolph isn't going to steal a job from Ben Roethlisberger anytime soon.

San Francisco 49ers: (C) A rebuilding team passing on Derwin James, Tremaine Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick for Mike McGlinchey is scary.

Seattle Seahawks: (B-) So this happened. The Seahawks did their usual trading down and overdrafted Rashaad Penny in the first round. Shaquem Griffin is the feel-good story of the draft though and a superb player in the fifth round who will have an immediate impact.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (B) Vita Vea next to Gerald McCoy is going to cause the NFL some problems.

Tennessee Titans: (B) The defense gets a big boost with Rashaan Evans arriving as a leader and second-round steal Harold Landry applying pressure.

Washington Redskins: (A) Da'Ron Payne is the bully Washington needed inside next to Jonathan Allen, and Derrius Guice is one of the top steals of the draft, an every-down back found in the second round.


Arizona Cardinals: (A+)

On paper, the Arizona Cardinals should be good for a long time thanks to this class.

Moving up to get Josh Rosen only cost the Cardinals front office a small amount. He's the perfect leader for a modern NFL team, not to mention the fact he stands at 6'4" and 226 pounds with the most polished passing mechanics and footwork in the class.

The move is doubly smart because he'll get to learn while hitting reliable targets like Larry Fitzgerald and an MVP contender like David Johnson. Let's slap some bonus points on there for the fire he brings to the table despite needing to start his career sitting behind Sam Bradford, as captured by Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times:

Sam Farmer @LATimesfarmer

Josh Rosen on being drafted 10th: “There were nine mistakes ahead of me.”

But this is far from just about Rosen. Christian Kirk can start in the slot right away and should make life easy on either quarterback, as the offense can funnel the ball to him for chain-moving plays. And Mason Cole in the third round was a steal who can start at a spot on the line right away after playing center and offensive tackle in college.

Really, even running back Chase Edmonds out of the small Fordham was a fun pick in the fourth round. He's an explosive 5'9" and 205 pounds who can spell Johnson and gives the offense a movable chess piece to create mismatches.

This is how a team needs to usher in a new era if it wants to succeed—do whatever it takes to get the quarterback it likes and then sketch in the surrounding pieces for the future with quality value.


Baltimore Ravens: (C)

This is an odd one.

There's a huge risk invested in trading back up for a quarterback in Lamar Jackson. He piled up the stats in college and is an intriguing player because he's both a quality pocket passer and a Michael Vick-esque runner when he has to get on the move.

But it's going to come down to the coaching staff surrounding Jackson, so it's a good thing the Ravens have Marty Mornhinweg at the controls. The link here is important, as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport pointed out:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Hard to imagine a better offensive coordinator for Lamar Jackson than Marty Mornhinweg, who had Michael Vick. The #Ravens likely have him sit a year, learn, then fully commit to a new offense for 2019.

But the grade here is more about the rest of the class. Hayden Hurst should help at tight end, but he's already 24 and might be maxed. Mark Andrews at the same position in the third round isn't a solid blocker, so he's limited.

Then there's second-round pick Orlando Brown, the 6'8", 345-pound offensive tackle who had one of the worst combine performances in history. The size is great, but again, if the coaching isn't right, it's going to look like a bad value in hindsight.

Kudos go to the Ravens for moving up to get their guy at quarterback, but the value conversation right after the draft doesn't look great otherwise.


Washington Redskins: (A)

The Washington Redskins entered the draft in a luxurious position, and it showed in how the front office drafted.

Washington had already addressed quarterback with Alex Smith via trade, opening up a top-15 selection for a hoss in the middle like Da'Ron Payne. He's a 6'3", 311-pound force in the middle who specializes in stuffing the run, though elite athleticism has him hinting at upside as a pass-rusher. He'll excel next to another Alabama product, Jonathan Allen.

The real prize is LSU running back Derrius Guice, though, a guy the Redskins could have selected with their first-round pick before his unexpected fall. He's an every-down back and a guy who likes to finish runs with violence, filling one of the team's most dramatic needs.

NFL Network's Bucky Brooks was one of many to praise the pick:

Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks

I don't know why Derrius Guice fell down the charts but the @Redskins got a 1st-rd talent on Day 2. DG is a rugged runner with a blue-collar game built on grit, toughness & violence. He is the best runner the 'Skins have featured at RB1 since Clinton Portis. For real. #NFLDraft

Geron Christian in the third round was a good value as well because of his versatility enabling him to act as a swing backup at offensive tackle. And Tim Settle in the fifth round is one of those quietly underrated picks bound to have a huge impact for years as he helps the Redskins boast depth at defensive tackle in a similar fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Even "Mr. Irrelevant" was a solid pick, as Trey Quinn is a trustworthy slot guy who caught 114 passes last year with 13 touchdowns at SMU and has a legitimate chance to make the final roster.

If some fans weren't excited about adding Smith via trade, it's now easy to see why the move at quarterback made sense given how it opened up the draft.


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