2018 NFL Draft Grades for Every Team

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyContributor IApril 30, 2018

2018 NFL Draft Grades for Every Team

0 of 8

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The 2018 NFL draft saw 256 players realize their dreams as they were selected to start their professional careers. The opportunity for teams to find the right fit for their rosters and coaching staffs is an unrivaled one. We've graded every team's draft haul and added a breakdown of why it earned its mark. 

    Missing on draft picks will harm a franchise for years after the fact. It's important to find quality athletes who have a track record of production, as relying on outliers too often is likely to lead to disappointing results.

    Grading draft picks immediately after the conclusion of the three-day mega event is a tough task because much of it depends on differences in player evaluation. But by factoring in team needs, scheme fits and player strengths, we examined the process of how the teams determined their decisions. Some unexpected players will bust, while others will rise above their draft slots and prove everyone wrong, but these grades are based on what is known right now.

    Picks in the earlier rounds will be considered more than picks on Day 3, and trades factor into the valuation of selections. We'll be looking at all 32 teams, broken up by division, and then assigning their cumulative grades.

AFC East

1 of 8

    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Buffalo Bills

    Draft Picks:

    Wyoming QB Josh Allen (No. 7 overall), Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds (No. 16 overall), Stanford DT Harrison Phillips (No. 96 overall), Weber State DB Taron Johnson (No. 121 overall), Jacksonville State DB Siran Neal (No. 154 overall), Virginia Tech OG Wyatt Teller (No. 166 overall), Clemson WR Ray-Ray McCloud (No. 187 overall), North Carolina WR Austin Proehl (No. 255 overall)

    The Buffalo Bills avoided the worst-case scenarios, which included either missing completely on the consensus top four quarterbacks or having to completely unload all of their stashed assets to get one. They were able to acquire Josh Allen for the cost of tackle Cordy Glenn, two second-round picks and the No. 7 overall pick. Passing up Josh Rosen, a much more natural passer and safer choice than Allen, looks like the wrong decision at the moment.

    The rest of the Bills class looks strong. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will be head coach Sean McDermott's version of Shaq Thompson, and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips should earn rotational pass-rushing snaps early in his career. Day 3 defensive backs Taron Johnson and Siran Neal are athletic-upside picks and have the luxury of developing behind quality starters already in place.

    The late-round offensive picks are notable as well. Guard Wyatt Teller may earn a starting job with Richie Incognito retired, and receiver Austin Proehl should challenge for immediate playing time as a slot specialist. Their grade would've been higher had they landed Rosen instead of such a volatile prospect in Allen, but the rest of their class was impressive.

    Grade: B

         

    Miami Dolphins

    Draft Picks:

    Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 11 overall), Penn State TE Mike Gesicki (No. 42 overall), Ohio State LB Jerome Baker (No. 73 overall), Notre Dame TE Durham Smythe (No. 123 overall), Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage (No. 131 overall), Southern Miss DB Cornell Armstrong (No. 209 overall), Ohio LB Quentin Poling (No. 227 overall), New Mexico K Jason Sanders (No. 229 overall)

    After a few years of being athletically deficient compared to their peers, the Miami Dolphins landed several of the most dynamic players in the class. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was a steal at No. 11 and will fit perfectly next to Reshad Jones. Third-round pick Jerome Baker was viewed as a potential first-rounder after his breakout 2016 season, but an up-and-down junior campaign in 2017 caused him to fall. Miami will need to simplify his role as an outside linebacker to ensure he's effective in pass coverage.

    Second-round pick Mike Gesicki is a massive upgrade for the Dolphins. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn't had a reliable target since Charles Clay departed, and Gesicki is a higher-upside player with his ability to win contested catches. Fourth-round running back Kalen Ballage should also contribute as a pass-catcher early on, as he'll fill Damien Williams' role as a versatile movable piece.

    It's highly questionable as to whether the Dolphins should've addressed their backup quarterback situation instead of taking blocking tight end Durham Smythe in the fourth round. Although the athletic profiles of both Cornell Armstrong and Quentin Poling are promising, the Dolphins offensive line desperately needed depth.

    Grade: B+

         

    New England Patriots

    Draft Picks:

    Georgia OT Isaiah Wynn (No. 23 overall), Georgia RB Sony Michel (No. 31 overall), Florida CB Duke Dawson (No. 56 overall), Purdue LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (No. 143 overall), Arizona State LB Christian Sam (No. 178 overall), Miami WR Braxton Berrios (No. 210 overall), LSU QB Danny Etling (No. 219 overall), Western Carolina DB Keion Crossen (No. 243 overall), Florida State TE Ryan Izzo (No. 250 overall)

    It was key for the New England Patriots to revamp their offensive line while not forgetting to address the defense. They characteristically made several trades to stockpile future picks and also traded for right tackle Trent Brown from the San Francisco 49ers. Brown and first-round pick Isaiah Wynn are excellent pass-blockers and will immediately pay dividends for this offense.

    Many expected the Patriots to find their quarterback of the future in this class, but instead they passed up Lamar Jackson and others, simply settling on Danny Etling as a possible backup. They're maximizing their window with quarterback Tom Brady by surrounding him with versatile running back Sony Michel. That'll help considerably in 2018.

    Their defensive picks were more hit-and-miss. Taking Florida cornerback Duke Dawson in the second round was a reach, and it's unknown where he'll play right away. The Patriots have two boundary corners in Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty, and both Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones played well enough in the slot last year to hold the team over. At least linebackers Ja'Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam are accomplished collegiate players who can immediately challenge for playing time.

    Grade: B

         

    New York Jets

    Draft Picks:

    USC QB Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall), Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd (No. 72 overall), Miami TE Christopher Herndon (No. 107 overall), Tulane CB Parry Nickerson (No. 179 overall), Connecticut DT Foley Fatukasi (No. 180 overall), Virginia State RB Trenton Cannon (No. 204 overall)

    Many were quick to criticize the New York Jets for moving up to the third overall pick so early, and for moving three second-round picks to do so, but their gamble paid off, as they were gifted USC quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold is naturally accurate despite footwork issues and is excellent at extending plays. He must lower his turnover-worthy plays, but he was worthy of being picked so high because of the potential payoff.

    The Jets also found great value on the defensive side of the ball. Trading for defensive tackle Henry Anderson from the Indianapolis Colts was a shrewd move, and acquiring both Nathan Shepherd and Foley Futakasi adds explosive bodies to the trenches. This team lacked pass-rush threats in 2017 but now has several capable young players who can win one-on-one.

    The lack of offensive line help added is a questionable strategy. Taking a blocking tight end at No. 107 in Chris Herndon was a reach pick considering the low value of that role. But overall the Jets did well with limited picks.

    Grade: A-

AFC North

2 of 8

    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens

    Draft Picks:

    South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst (No. 25 overall), Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall), Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown (No. 83 overall), Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews (No. 86 overall), Alabama CB Anthony Averett (No. 118 overall), UCLA LB Kenny Young (No. 122 overall), New Mexico State WR Jaleel Scott (No. 132 overall), UCLA WR Jordan Lasley (No. 162 overall), Texas S DeShon Elliott (No. 190 overall), Wagner OT Greg Senat (No. 212 overall), Alabama C Bradley Bozeman (No. 215 overall), Ferris State DE Zach Sieler (No. 238 overall)

    Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's draft class is a confusing one. As terrific as it was for the Ravens to invest in Lamar Jackson as the successor to the declined Joe Flacco, they surrounded him with a rookie class that doesn't seem to fit him well. Jackson has superstar talent and will benefit from a stable organization.

    The Hurst pick was a confounding reach, as the 24-year-old had just four touchdowns in college. Former Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown has much to prove as well after a historically bad combine, and pairing Jackson with him is a questionable strategy. At least Day 3 additions Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley offer some depth and size at the receiver position for the Ravens to develop.

    The Ravens almost always do well on Day 3, collecting quality players who they'll be able to develop into role players in future years. Defensive picks Anthony Averett, Kenny Young and DeShon Elliott were savvy pickups as depth pieces. Watch out for Alabama center Bradley Bozeman to potentially start early in his career as well.

    Grade: B-

         

    Cincinnati Bengals

    Draft Picks:

    Ohio State C Billy Price (No. 21 overall), Wake Forest S Jessie Bates (No. 54 overall), Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard (No. 77 overall), Texas LB Malik Jefferson (No. 78 overall), Miami RB Mark Walton (No. 112 overall), Illinois State DB Davontae Harris (No. 151 overall), Virginia DT Andrew Brown (No. 158 overall), Western Michigan CB Darius Phillips (No. 170 overall), Toledo QB Logan Woodside (No. 249 overall), Mississippi OG Rod Taylor (No. 252 overall), Florida State WR Auden Tate (No. 253 overall)

    Though the Cincinnati Bengals haven't been able to take the next step as a franchise because of an overly frugal front office, they've been one of the better drafting teams over the last decade when it comes to finding value in the middle rounds. They did it again, landing multiple players who can see the field right away and several others who can be long-term answers. It started with center Billy Price in the first round.

    Price will immediately start and boost what was a porous unit in 2017. Day 2 defenders Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard and Malik Jefferson are all solid athletes who can assume at least rotational roles this season. Bates will be an athletic upgrade on Shawn Williams but can also be a third safety in dime packages. Hubbard is the heir apparent to strong-side end Carlos Dunlap because of his size and run-stuffing ability. Jefferson is especially intriguing as a Vontaze Burfict replacement, although he's always been more of a raw athlete playing the position as opposed to a finished product.

    The Bengals may not get much out of their Day 3 picks for a few years, but they've excelled at bringing along developmental players to start in the future. Running back Mark Walton is talented enough to become a rotational back, while defensive tackle Andrew Brown and Darius Phillips were accomplished collegiate players worth a flier. If there's one complaint about this class, it's that the Bengals didn't add a quarterback who could actually push Andy Dalton as a starter in the future.

    Grade: A-

         

    Cleveland Browns

    Draft Picks:

    Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall), Ohio State CB Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall), Nevada OG Austin Corbett (No. 33 overall), Georgia RB Nick Chubb (No. 35 overall), Miami DE Chad Thomas (No. 67 overall), Florida WR Antonio Callaway (No. 105 overall), Memphis LB Genard Avery (No. 150 overall), Texas A&M WR Damion Ratley (No. 175 overall), Louisiana-Lafayette CB Simeon Thomas (No. 188 overall)

    After so much talk about the death of analytics with the arrival of John Dorsey as the general manager, it's clear the Cleveland Browns are still favoring metrics as part of the evaluation process, as they should be. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will make or break the class, but taking him No. 1 was surprising. The former Heisman Trophy winner was terrific at Oklahoma, but he'll have to improve playing within structure and in the pocket before he'll be a great NFL quarterback. If the Browns took anything other than what will be one of the best two quarterbacks from this class, it'll be viewed as a failure again.

    Taking cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4 over Bradley Chubb was questionable despite needs at both positions. A third pass-rusher in their rotation would've built a line in the same manner as the Philadelphia Eagles. Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett may have been a third consecutive reach at No. 33, as it's unknown whether he can play tackle or if he'll back up their expensive interior linemen for a few years.

    Day 3 picks Antonio Callaway and Genard Avery are high-upside players worth their respective risks. The thought of Callaway, who has a history of marijuana-related incidents, being in the same locker room as Josh Gordon is somewhat worrisome. The Browns certainly improved their roster, but whether they maximized their treasure-chest worth of picks remains to be seen.

    Grade: B

         

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Draft Picks:

    Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds (No. 28 overall), Oklahoma State WR James Washington (No. 60 overall), Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (No. 76 overall), Western Michigan OT Chuks Okorafor (No. 92 overall), Penn State S Marcus Allen (No. 148 overall), NC State RB Jaylen Samuels (No. 165 overall), Alabama DT Joshua Frazier (No. 246 overall)

    The challenge for Super Bowl contenders is to find early contributors despite picking late in rounds. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a small window right now, and they failed the test of properly adding immediate help to their core. First-round pick Terrell Edmunds was the biggest reach of the round, and the Steelers didn't necessarily need a third safety with Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis already on the team.

    Trading veteran Martavis Bryant for a third-round pick was good value for a disgruntled player, and James Washington is a dangerous downfield threat who will help right now. But then adding a backup in Mason Rudolph and developmental tackle in Chuks Okorafor instead of filling bigger needs is going to be costly when the 2018 playoffs arrive. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wanting to play three more years makes the Rudolph pick highly questionable.

    Passing on Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, UCF cornerback Mike Hughes or even an edge-rusher like Boston College's Harold Landry will loom large if Edmunds doesn't drastically improve on his 2017 tape. The Steelers have been stuck as contenders with a limited playoff ceiling because of their inconsistent drafting over the last five years. This class appears to be another disappointing one in helping this current core reach its potential.

    Grade: D

AFC South

3 of 8

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Houston Texans

    Draft Picks:

    Stanford S Justin Reid (No. 68 overall), Mississippi State OL Martinas Rankin (No. 80 overall), UCF TE Jordan Akins (No. 98 overall), Texas Tech WR Keke Coutee (No. 103 overall), Wake Forest LB Duke Ejiofor (No. 177 overall), Mississippi State TE Jordan Thomas (No. 211 overall), Stanford LB Peter Kalambayi (No. 214 overall), San Jose State CB Jermaine Kelly (No. 222 overall)

    The Houston Texans had the nearly impossible challenge of fixing their offensive line and replenishing their talent with only one top-75 pick. Versatile safety Justin Reid was a good value at No. 68 overall, but the team has also devoted most of its assets this offseason toward the secondary and Reid likely won't help much this year. Offensive tackle Martinas Rankin can challenge for the starting right tackle job, but then the Texans never went back to the well for line help.

    Instead, the Texans added 26-year-old tight end Jordan Akins at No. 98 overall and a second tight end (Jordan Thomas) in the sixth round. Wide receiver Keke Coutee will challenge for the starting slot job right away as he's a more natural slot than anyone else on the roster. Wake Forest edge-rusher Duke Ejiofor also looks like a sixth-round steal with considerable upside.

    The big concern is that quarterback Deshaun Watson will return from his torn ACL and again be running for his life behind a terrible offensive line. Houston did little to alleviate that concern, instead opting for some luxuries. Failing to shore up the team's biggest weakness could be devastating if Watson gets injured again.

    Grade: C-

         

    Indianapolis Colts

    Draft Picks:

    Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson (No. 6 overall), South Carolina State LB Darius Leonard (No. 36 overall), Auburn OG Braden Smith (No. 37 overall), Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay (No. 52 overall), Ohio State DE Tyquan Lewis (No. 64 overall), NC State RB Nyheim Hines (No. 104 overall), Northern Iowa WR Daurice Fountain (No. 159 overall), Mississippi RB Jordan Wilkins (No. 169 overall), Clemson WR Deon Cain (No. 185 overall), Houston LB Matthew Adams (No. 221 overall), Syracuse LB Zaire Franklin (No. 235 overall)

    After moving back from the third overall pick to the sixth overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts were still able to land arguably the best player in the draft in guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson is a mauler, and pairing him with second-rounder Braden Smith creates a fantastic interior line with former first-round pick Ryan Kelly at center. Prioritizing the line will benefit whichever quarterback plays in 2018 and the running back combination of Marlon Mack and fourth-round pick Nyheim Hines.

    Since the Colts had essentially two free second-round picks from their trade down, taking a flier on athletic marvels Darius Leonard and Kemoko Turay could alter the direction of the defense if they pan out. Neither is refined or ready to be impactful rookies, but both have uncommon traits that could blossom over the next few years. Former Ohio State defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis is more of a sure thing, as he was a quality starter on a loaded defense for several years.

    Adding wide receiver Deon Cain and Hines should give the offensive unit two immediate role players. Cain may start due to the lack of competition on the roster, as he's a devastating deep threat. Hines is in the mold of recent undersized but shifty playmakers like Tarik Cohen and Tyreek Hill.

    Grade: B

        

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Draft Picks:

    Florida DT Taven Bryan (No. 29 overall), LSU WR D.J. Chark (No. 61 overall), Alabama S Ronnie Harrison (No. 93 overall), NC State OT Will Richardson (No. 129 overall), Nebraska QB Tanner Lee (No. 203 overall), Wisconsin LB Leon Jacobs (No. 230 overall), Mississippi State P Logan Cooke (No. 247 overall)

    The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the draft with needs at middle linebacker and offensive guard yet walked away without an alternative to the incumbents at both positions for 2018. That knocked down their grade a little, although their haul was impressive without factoring team needs. They chose to swing for the fences with explosive defensive tackle Taven Bryan and wide receiver D.J. Chark.

    Bryan runs hot and cold but is an ideal player to use in a rotation while he's groomed for a bigger role in 2019. He's fast and powerful as he gets off the snap, making him a tough matchup for less gifted blockers. Chark is similar despite only 66 career receptions, boasting elite deep speed and downfield playmaking ability.

    Bryan and third-round safety Ronnie Harrison should allow the Jaguars to move on from higher-priced veterans next offseason when their spending finally catches up with them. Even without filling their biggest needs, this was a draft all about the long term. It achieved an important goal of preparing for when there's less margin for error in free agency.

    Grade: B

        

    Tennessee Titans:

    Draft Picks:

    Alabama LB Rashaan Evans (No. 22 overall), Boston College edge-rusher Harold Landry (No. 41 overall), Arizona S Dane Cruikshank (No. 152 overall), Washington State QB Luke Falk (No. 199 overall)

    It's hard to do well with just four selections in an entire draft class, but the Tennessee Titans were big winners despite the lack of resources. They traded up twice, stealing linebacker Rashaan Evans and edge-rusher Harold Landry from several suitors nearly on the clock. These were no-brainer decisions considering the lack of depth at each position in the class and the quality of players they attained.

    Both Evans and Landry will be able to help this defense right away. Evans is a physical and efficient player in the box, making him an affordable replacement for Avery Williamson. Landry's role will grow in the future as both Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are in contract years, but watch for his speed to become a huge asset on third-down passing plays in his rookie season. 

    Even Dane Cruikshank (No. 152 overall) and Luke Falk (No. 199 overall) were value picks. Cruikshank projects as an excellent special teamer and downhill enforcer as a third safety. Falk is more physically limited in the pocket but can become a quality backup for Marcus Mariota.

    Grade: A-

AFC West

4 of 8

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Denver Broncos

    Draft Picks:

    NC State DE Bradley Chubb (No. 5 overall), SMU WR Courtland Sutton (No. 40 overall), Oregon RB Royce Freeman (No. 71 overall), Boston College DB Isaac Yiadom (No. 99 overall), Iowa LB Josey Jewell (No. 106 overall), Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton (No. 113 overall), Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli (No. 156 overall), Arizona State OG Sam Jones (No. 183 overall), Washington LB Keishawn Bierria (No. 217 overall), Arkansas RB David Williams (No. 226 overall).

    The Denver Broncos had arguably the best draft haul in the league. Few expected defensive end Bradley Chubb to fall to No. 5, giving the Broncos an elite pass-rush rotation of Von Miller, Chubb, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray. Although it may have made sense to add a quarterback, the staff has entrusted Case Keenum to compete for a Super Bowl, and spending a premier pick on a backup quarterback wouldn't have helped the team this year.

    Day 2 brought incredible value to the Broncos. They added a Demaryius Thomas clone in Courtland Sutton, a starting running back in the athletic and productive Royce Freeman and defensive back depth in Isaac Yiadom. It's possible their first five picks will earn starting jobs this year.

    General manager John Elway continued to find depth with high-floor linebacker Josey Jewell, receiver DaeSean Hamilton and an expected contributor in tight end Troy Fumagalli. Hamilton was a luxury value at that point, but the rest of the Broncos' needs were addressed in some form. Only the right guard position remains a question mark entering training camp.

    Grade: A

         

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Draft Picks:

    Mississippi LB Breeland Speaks (No. 46 overall), Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi (No. 75 overall), Clemson LB Dorian O'Daniel (No. 100 overall), Texas A&M S Armani Watts (No. 124 overall), Central Arkansas CB Tremon Smith (No. 196 overall), Tennessee OG Kahlil McKenzie (No. 198 overall).

    Unlike other teams that still found great value despite having limited resources to work with, the Kansas City Chiefs struggled to add potential difference-makers. Giving up a third-round pick to move up for a one-year wonder and project Breeland Speaks puts immense pressure on him to fulfill his athletic upside. It's also questionable whether Derrick Nnadi will be playable on passing downs or if linebacker Dorian O'Daniel can find success as a tweener.

    The best pick was easily safety Armani Watts. Watts can challenge for a starting job as someone who is always around the ball. He created 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles and recovered five fumbles in his collegiate career.

    Sixth-rounders Tremon Smith and Kahlil McKenzie were fliers who will have to fight for a roster spot. This draft class faces an uphill battle to be impactful considering only one was a notable player in college. The pressure is on the Chiefs coaching staff to maximize this unimpressive haul.

    Grade: D

         

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Draft Picks:

    Florida State S Derwin James (No. 17 overall), USC LB Uchenna Nwosu (No. 48 overall), NC State DT Justin Jones (No. 84 overall), West Virginia S/LB Kyzir White (No. 119 overall), UCLA C Scott Quessenberry (No. 155 overall), Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell (No. 191 overall), Northwestern RB Justin Jackson (No. 251 overall).

    The unexpected slide of Florida State safety Derwin James gave the Los Angeles Chargers an easy decision in the first round. They continued to address defensive needs with edge-rusher Uchenna Nwosu and nose tackle Justin Jones. All three will play right away, with Nwosu and Jones being rotational pieces, but the latter two lack physical upside to be standout players.

    The third day of the draft brought a mixed bag. Kyzir White is similar to currently rostered players in Jahleel Addae and Rayshawn Jenkins, as all are better moving downhill than in coverage. White and James will destroy receivers running mesh concepts, but there's not a clear pathway for White to play much.

    Offensive depth pieces Scott Quessenberry, Dylan Cantrell and Justin Jackson face similar uphill battles to see much playing time. Jackson will fight for third on the depth chart, while Cantrell may not make the team and Quessenberry is a backup. It was a utilitarian-type class for the Chargers with few risks.

    Grade: C

         

    Oakland Raiders

    Draft Picks:

    UCLA OT Kolton Miller (No. 15 overall), Sam Houston State DT P.J. Hall (No. 57 overall), North Carolina A&T OT Brandon Parker (No. 65 overall), LSU DE Arden Key (No. 87 overall), Wisconsin CB Nick Nelson (No. 110 overall), Michigan DT Maurice Hurst (No. 140 overall), Florida P Johnny Townsend (No. 173 overall), Washington LB Azeem Victor (No. 216 overall), Oklahoma State WR Marcell Ateman (No. 228 overall).

    There's not a more volatile draft class than what the Oakland Raiders assembled. Their entire class is extremely athletic, which the team desperately needed. But they'll also be trusting offensive line coach Tom Cable to mold two projects at offensive tackle in Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker, and used premier assets to reach for those players. Trades for receivers Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer were shrewd moves that helped increase their grade.

    Edge-rusher Arden Key and defensive tackle P.J. Hall are also a mixed bag in terms of projection. Key has on- and off-field issues but is talented enough to justify the third-round gamble. Hall has great mobility but has to adjust his play from small-school competition to the NFL. It'll take some time for three of their top four picks to become competent NFL players.

    The third day of the draft was excellent, though. Nick Nelson is a solid corner, and Maurice Hurst was a terrific bargain in the fourth round. Both should play in 2018. If even two of their first four picks work out, then the Raiders will have had an excellent draft, but they could easily get next to nothing from this group.

    Grade: C+

NFC East

5 of 8

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys

    Draft Picks:

    Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch (No. 19 overall), Texas OG Connor Williams (No. 50 overall), Colorado State WR Michael Gallup (No. 81 overall), Kansas DE Dorance Armstrong (No. 116 overall), Stanford TE Dalton Schultz (No. 137 overall), Western Kentucky QB Mike White (No. 171 overall), Indiana LB Chris Covington (No. 193 overall), Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson (No. 208 overall), Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough (No. 236 overall)

    Few teams were able to add the balance of athletic upside and quality players that the Dallas Cowboys did. They got top prospects at linebacker in Leighton Vander Esch and guard Connor Williams, and both will step in as starters with considerably high ceilings to improve. They're joined by two players who had average measurables but excellent tape in receiver Michael Gallup and defensive end Dorance Armstrong.

    Vander Esch and Gallup are especially notable as early contributors. The linebacker trio of Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch is among the most physical and athletically gifted in the league. Vander Esch will swiftly slide into a natural role. Gallup will also be able to take advantage of a depth chart that has an opening for a playmaker with Dez Bryant gone.

    Day 3 brought depth along the roster, too. Quarterback Mike White is an ideal backup, while receiver Cedrick Wilson and running back Bo Scarbrough were good enough to go several rounds higher. The biggest complaint to be had is that the Cowboys traded the younger, healthier slot receiver on the roster in Ryan Switzer instead of getting cheaper by moving Cole Beasley.

    Grade: A-

         

    New York Giants

    Draft Picks:

    Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (No. 2 overall), UTEP OG Will Hernandez (No. 34 overall), Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter (No. 66 overall), NC State DT B.J. Hill (No. 69 overall), Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta (No. 108 overall), Miami DT R.J. McIntosh (No. 139 overall)

    There's no question the New York Giants bettered their team in this draft. What's concerning about their draft is the strategy of selecting a running back No. 2 overall instead of a much more valuable position such as quarterback, edge-rusher or even offensive guard. They'll be paying Saquon Barkley the fourth-highest salary in the league at his position as opposed to saving money on an impact player elsewhere.

    It worked out because guard Will Hernandez unexpectedly fell to the 34th overall pick, but the Giants' process was questionable. They settled for the physically gifted but completely unrefined pass-rusher Lorenzo Carter in the third round. An alternate draft that started with Bradley Chubb, Hernandez and then Royce Freeman would've been a better usage of assets.

    Both defensive tackles B.J. Hill and R.J. McIntosh were solid picks that can help build depth for the future. Quarterback Kyle Lauletta projects as a safe backup to push Davis Webb. It doesn't make much sense for the team to carry both behind Eli Manning, though, so it's conceivable the one who loses the backup job in training camp could be traded.

    Grade: B-

         

    Philadelphia Eagles

    Draft Picks:

    South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert (No. 49 overall), Pittsburgh CB Avonte Maddox (No. 125 overall), Florida State DE Josh Sweat (No. 130 overall), TCU OT Matt Pryor (No. 206 overall), OT Jordan Mailata (No. 233 overall)

    The benefit of building a Super Bowl winner is there are few immediate holes to be concerned about. Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman made the most out of his limited picks despite having just three selections in the top 130 picks. Tight end Dallas Goedert and edge-rusher Josh Sweat will be rotational players immediately and were unexpectedly available when the Eagles were on the clock.

    Goedert will assume Trey Burton's old role as a versatile player, freeing Zach Ertz to star as a receiver. Sweat, who has knee injuries in his past, is an incredible athlete with upside who will assume a starting role once several of the Eagles veterans exit their prime years. But the real steal is Avonte Maddox.

    The small-school cornerback is an ideal slot fit. He'll slide into the void left by Patrick Robinson, as there's no corner on the roster with the skill set to be an impactful slot defender. Watch for Maddox to establish himself as a steal early in his career with the team.

    Grade: B+

         

    Washington Redskins

    Draft Picks:

    Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne (No. 13 overall), LSU RB Derrius Guice (No. 59 overall), Louisville OT Geron Christian (No. 74 overall), Penn State S Troy Apke (No. 109 overall), Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle (No. 163 overall), Alabama LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (No. 197 overall), Virginia Tech CB Greg Stroman (No. 241 overall), SMU WR Trey Quinn (No. 256 overall)

    The Washington Redskins had a seemingly random rookie class join the roster. It makes sense they'd want to address the nose tackle position considering the defensive line has been problematic for several years. As well as Da'Ron Payne played in the College Football Playoff, he hasn't bottled up his physical traits consistently enough to be counted on as more than a run-stuffer. If Payne doesn't develop as a pass-rusher, he'll be a one- or two-down player with maddening inconsistency on passing downs.

    Second-round running back Derrius Guice was a tremendous steal at 59th overall and will finally be the workhorse the franchise has been searching for. His power, balance and toughness demoralize opponents throughout the game. He and Chris Thompson will combine to make one of the best duos in the NFL.

    The rest of the Redskins' haul is a roll of the dice. Geron Christian and Troy Apke are upside picks but not quality players right now. Their two seventh-round picks are competitors and have a chance of sticking at least, but there's not a sure thing outside of Payne's run defense and Guice in this class.

    Grade: C-

NFC North

6 of 8

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears

    Draft Picks:

    Georgia LB Roquan Smith (No. 8 overall), Iowa C James Daniels (No. 39 overall), Memphis WR Anthony Miller (No. 51 overall), Western Kentucky LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (No. 115 overall), Delaware DE Bilal Nichols (No. 145 overall), Utah LB Kylie Fitts (No. 181 overall), Georgia WR Javon Wims (No. 224 overall)

    There's not a team that has undergone as positive of a roster overhaul as the Chicago Bears did this offseason. Adding two offensive studs in center James Daniels and wide receiver Anthony Miller put the cherry on top of their aggressive approach to build a healthy ecosystem around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. As if that wasn't enough, they got the best defensive player in the class at No. 8 overall, Roquan Smith.

    The defense needed a superstar to man the middle, and there's not a better leader to build the unit around. Smith is the complete package on and off the field. Chicago also did well to build up the depth around him on defense as well.

    Day 3 linebackers Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Kylie Fitts and defensive end Bilal Nichols give defensive coordinator Vic Fangio a set of athletic bodies to develop. Iyiegbuniwe is the most intriguing despite being undersized at 6'1" and 229 pounds. It'll still be one of the best classes across the league even if the late-rounders end up being little more than depth pieces.

    Grade: A

        

    Detroit Lions

    Draft Picks:

    Arkansas C Frank Ragnow (No. 20 overall), Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson (No. 43 overall), Louisiana-Lafayette DB Tracy Walker (No. 82 overall), Alabama DT Da'Shawn Hand (No. 114 overall), Oregon OL Tyrell Crosby (No. 153 overall), San Diego State RB Nick Bawden (No. 237 overall)

    The first draft for new Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was one filled with conviction, if nothing else. The team traded up twice to get questionable values in running back Kerryon Johnson and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand. Losing a 2019 third-round pick for Hand is a heavy price, and they moved a fourth-rounder to jump eight spots for Johnson.

    First-round center Frank Ragnow is a stud, though, and they did well to bolster the line again with Oregon's Tyrell Crosby. Crosby surprisingly fell but will bring versatility to play either tackle or move inside to guard. It's amazing how the Lions have rebuilt the offensive line to be a real strength after being toward the bottom of the league only a few years ago.

    The reach on Tracy Walker and poor trade values for their other picks limits their grade, however. The team still needs a pass-rusher and linebacker corps improvements.

    Grade: C

        

    Green Bay Packers

    Draft Picks:

    Louisville CB Jaire Alexander (No. 18 overall), Iowa CB Josh Jackson (No. 45 overall), Vanderbilt LB Oren Burks (No. 88 overall), Missouri WR J'Mon Moore (No. 133 overall), Washington State OG Cole Madison (No. 138 overall), Alabama P JK Scott (No. 172 overall), South Florida WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (No. 174 overall), Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown (No. 207 overall), Cal DT James Looney (No. 232 overall), Mississippi State LS Hunter Bradley (No. 239 overall), Southeast Missouri LB Kendall Donnerson (No. 248 overall)

    Not only did the Green Bay Packers walk away with an impressive draft class, but they added a 2019 first-round pick when they traded down. They completed their overhaul of the cornerback position, with both Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson being important picks for their defense. The unit was horrible in 2017 but that should be a position of strength in the next few years.

    Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine also has the athletic Oren Burks to work with now, and he should be a considerable upgrade on Jake Ryan as a middle linebacker. Nabbing defensive tackle James Looney was also a good steal as a developmental piece.

    The offense wasn't neglected, as Green Bay added two explosive receivers in J'Mon Moore and Equanimeous St. Brown. The latter fell inexplicably and could be one of the biggest steals of the draft. It would've been wise for the Packers to add another offensive tackle to bring along while they could afford to stash one.

    Grade: A-

        

    Minnesota Vikings

    Draft Picks:

    UCF CB Mike Hughes (No. 30 overall), Pittsburgh OT Brian O'Neill (No. 62 overall), Ohio State DE Jalyn Holmes (No. 102 overall), Central Michigan TE Tyler Conklin (No. 157 overall), Auburn K Daniel Carlson (No. 167 overall), Appalachian State OG Colby Gossett (No. 213 overall), Tulane DE Ade Aruna (No. 218 overall), Cal LB Devante Downs (No. 225 overall)

    As good as the Minnesota Vikings are, they entered this draft needing more talent along the offensive line and extra depth at the cornerback position. They achieved the latter by taking talented UCF corner Mike Hughes. Hughes is a dynamic man-coverage option with great explosiveness and timing. He should be able to challenge for the starting slot job right away.

    Passing up on help at guard for Hughes is debatable, though, and the Vikings doubled down by selecting developmental tackle Brian O'Neill in the second round. They'll enter the year with an unsettled guard position in front of new quarterback Kirk Cousins. Sixth-round pick Colby Gossett will be expected to compete for a starting job unless a veteran is signed.

    Day 3 defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Ade Aruna are good athletes with potential to become rotational players even in a deep group. Watch for Tyler Conklin to earn repetitions as a rookie behind veteran Kyle Rudolph. He's a good athlete who can operate on underneath routes with reliable hands.

    Grade: B

NFC South

7 of 8

    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Atlanta Falcons

    Draft Picks:

    Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (No. 26 overall), Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver (No. 58 overall), South Florida DT Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall), Southern Mississippi RB Ito Smith (No. 126 overall), LSU WR Russell Gage (No. 194 overall), Yale LB Foye Oluokun (No. 200 overall)

    While it was expected the Atlanta Falcons would beef up their defensive line early in the draft, general manager Thomas Dimitroff pivoted when Alabama star receiver Calvin Ridley was still on the board. It's a tremendous fit as Ridley will occupy Taylor Gabriel's old role. The speedy Ridley is similar to Gabriel as a capable route-runner with deep explosiveness and quickness on underneath routes.

    Day 2 brought more good players into the fold. Cornerback wasn't an immediate need, but Isaiah Oliver has the tools to develop into a plus boundary corner in the future. Incumbents Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are talented and versatile enough to move into the slot if Oliver proves ready in 2018. Third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat is also a stout presence in the middle, addressing the team's average run defense.

    Grade: B+

         

    Carolina Panthers

    Draft Picks:

    Maryland WR D.J. Moore (No. 24 overall), LSU CB Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall), Tennessee DB Rashaan Gaulden (No. 85 overall), Indiana TE Ian Thomas (No. 101 overall), Mississippi LB Marquis Haynes (No. 136 overall), Maryland LB Jermaine Carter (No. 161 overall), North Carolina LB Andre Smith (No. 234 overall), Miami DT Kendrick Norton (No. 242 overall)

    The natural comparison for new Carolina Panthers receiver D.J. Moore is Steve Smith, as he's tough, quick and effective after the catch. Moore doesn't create easy separation as often as his combine numbers would suggest but was worth a late first for the playmaker-starved Panthers. The 21-year-old should give the offense an immediate boost.

    On Day 2, the team resupplied the secondary, starting with Donte Jackson. He's lacking size and bulk, so No. 55 overall was a reach in regards to paying a premium for a smaller corner. Former Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Rashaan Gaulden may have to play safety after a disastrous combine, but his tape is better than his play in shorts.

    The Panthers did well on Day 3, though. They stuck with higher-profile FBS prospects in hopes of getting production early on. Both tight end Ian Thomas and edge-rusher Marquis Haynes are athletic enough to play now and continue their development in the future.

    Grade: C

        

    New Orleans Saints

    Draft Picks:

    UTSA DE Marcus Davenport (No. 14 overall), UCF WR Tre'Quan Smith (No. 91 overall), Florida State OT Rick Leonard (No. 127 overall), Wisconsin S Natrell Jamerson (No. 164 overall), Boston College DB Kamrin Moore (No. 189 overall), Louisiana Tech RB Boston Scott (No. 201 overall), LSU C Will Clapp (No. 245)

    With all due respect to the rest of the New Orleans Saints draft class, the 2018 crop will be remembered for how well first-round defensive end Marcus Davenport performs. The Saints paid heavily to move up 13 spots for him, including their 2019 first-round pick and a 2018 fifth-rounder. Davenport tested incredibly well at the combine and will need to realize his potential within the next four years to pay off the investment the Saints made.

    Quarterback Drew Brees will love having Tre'Quan Smith as his newest receiver, though. Smith is a big, fast and vertically explosive player who can separate with ease on crossing routes. He'll quickly upgrade the receiver corps.

    Day 3 brought a mixed bag of backups and developmental fliers. The most notable was Boston College defensive back Kamrin Moore, who is a potential slot safety in the NFL, and the Saints have favored that role over the last two seasons.

    It would've been wise for the team to address its depth issues at defensive line and linebacker and find a capable backup quarterback.

    Grade: C

          

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Draft Picks:

    Washington DT Vita Vea (No. 12 overall), USC RB Ronald Jones (No. 38 overall), North Carolina DB M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Auburn CB Carlton Davis (No. 63 overall), Humboldt State OG Alex Cappa (No. 94 overall), Pittsburgh S Jordan Whitehead (No. 117 overall), Pennsylvania WR Justin Watson (No. 144 overall), Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy (No. 202 overall)

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did well to move back and collect two second-round picks in the 2018 NFL draft. They had the chance to add safety Derwin James to their secondary but instead went with mammoth defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round. Vea is not yet a complete three-down player but is a terrific athlete for his size and is the latest investment this offseason as the team tries to shore up a woeful run defense.

    General manager Jason Licht had a terrific Day 2, led by explosive running back Ronald Jones. The USC ball-carrier has home run speed and consistent vision. He should excel behind the Buccaneers' athletic offensive line and has untapped potential as a pass-catcher.

    Defensive backs M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis immediately add needed talent into one of the worst cornerback depth charts in the league, and Tampa Bay now boasts a bit of a surplus at the position. Humboldt State guard Alex Cappa had dominant film and could be the next Ali Marpet for the Buccaneers' offensive line.

    Grade: B+

NFC West

8 of 8

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Arizona Cardinals

    Draft Picks:

    UCLA QB Josh Rosen (No. 10 overall), Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk (No. 47 overall), Michigan C Mason Cole (No. 97 overall), Fordham RB Chase Edmonds (No. 134 overall), Penn State DB Chris Campbell (No. 182 overall), Cincinnati OT Korey Cunningham (No. 254 overall)

    It's not often the best quarterback falls to the 10th overall pick, but the Arizona Cardinals gave up only a third- and fifth-round pick to move up to grab him. That's a home run for a team that was starved for a young quarterback to develop. He has All-Pro potential if he can stay healthy.

    Their next three picks, Christian Kirk, Mason Cole and Chase Edmonds, will help the offense now and after Rosen eventually takes the reins. Kirk is a dynamic space player, ideally built for the slot as he wins quickly off the line of scrimmage. Cole is a reliable blocker capable of playing early in his career.

    Edmonds will have an opportunity to earn snaps early on as David Johnson returns from a major injury. His path to snaps is relatively easy, and he's a good-enough pass-catcher to be trusted on third downs.

    Watch for defensive back Chris Campbell to be stashed and developed. He's a fantastic athlete who lacks the fundamentals to play right now but can play either corner or safety with the right technical improvements.

    Grade: A

       

    Los Angeles Rams

    Draft Picks:

    TCU OT Joseph Noteboom (No. 89 overall), Michigan State C Brian Allen (No. 111 overall), Stephen F. Austin DE John Franklin-Myers (No. 135 overall), Virginia LB Micah Kiser (No. 147 overall), Oklahoma LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (No. 160 overall), Tennessee RB John Kelly (No. 176 overall), Maine OG Jamil Demby (No. 192 overall), Rutgers DT Sebastian Joseph (No. 195 overall), Louisville LB Trevon Young (No. 205 overall), TCU LB Travin Howard (No. 231), SMU DE Justin Lawler (No. 244 overall)

    The Los Angeles Rams made a pointed effort to address each of their major needs. They threw most of their assets into the trenches, with the lone skill-position selection being running back John Kelly. The former Tennessee ball-carrier can earn his way into a backup job behind Todd Gurley, which is fantastic return on a sixth-round pick.

    Two of their fifth-round picks could start on defense, as both Micah Kiser and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are pro-ready players entering positions needing talent. Both are plus athletes who have compensated well for their lack of ideal size. But defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will get the most out of them in 2018 in significant roles.

    The rest of their draft added vital depth to the offensive and defensive lines. With multiple free-agents along both next year, they must develop from within to replace departing talent.

    Grade: B

         

    San Francisco 49ers

    Draft Picks:

    Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey (No. 9 overall), Washington WR Dante Pettis (No. 44 overall), BYU LB Fred Warner (No. 70 overall), Southern Mississippi S Tarvarius Moore (No. 95 overall), NC State DE Kentavius Street (No. 128 overall), Kansas State DB D.J. Reed (No. 142 overall), Florida DB Marcell Harris (No. 184 overall), Temple DT Jullian Taylor (No. 223 overall), Middle Tennessee WR Richie James (No. 240 overall)

    San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch took a safe approach for his second draft class. That's not a bad thing, as offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, wide receiver Dante Pettis and linebacker Fred Warner are good players with high floors. They should each help this team immediately.

    None of those players seem to have more than above-average positional potential, though. Pettis especially is more of a third receiver than high-impact talent, which would be a big reach at No. 44 overall.

    Lynch did take bigger swings after his initial three picks, with defensive back Tarvarius Moore and defensive end Kentavius Street having the athletic background that developmental projects need to possibly pay off in a big way. Most of their picks should make the final roster, and the steadiness of their early picks will make this a blue-collar class.

    Grade: B

         

    Seattle Seahawks

    Draft Picks:

    San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny (No. 27 overall), USC DE Rasheem Green (No. 79 overall), Washington TE Will Dissly (No. 120 overall), UCF LB Shaquem Griffin (No. 141 overall), Oklahoma State DB Tre Flowers (No. 146 overall), Texas P Michael Dickson (No. 149 overall), Ohio State OT Jamarco Jones (No. 168 overall), Temple DE Jake Martin (No. 186 overall), Florida International QB Alex McGough (No. 220 overall)

    The Seattle Seahawks appear to be turning back the clock on their offense after looking at the talent they prioritized in this draft. Running back Rashaad Penny can be a workhorse for the offense, boasting tremendous size and downhill speed. He was an unexpected name to be called in the first round, but he wasn't going to last long on Day 2 if the Seahawks passed on him.

    Taking a blocking tight end at No. 120 in Will Dissly was a questionable investment for a team needing to rebuild most of the depth on the roster. Adding defensive end Rasheem Green and linebacker Shaquem Griffin boost the athletic profile of the unit, and Green in particular could be a better NFL player than collegiate player if he can take advantage of his uncommon size and explosiveness.

    Fifth-round tackle Jamarco Jones tested terribly at the combine but should compete for the right tackle job with incumbent Germain Ifedi. Jones had a great career at Ohio State as a reliable pass-blocker.

    Still, this wasn't a class that stands out with sure-things or potential short-term production.

    Grade: C