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Sports Commentary: 2017 NFL Draft Grades


Austin Darrow


The 2017 NFL Draft will now be the main focal point for the NFL season, now that the top college athletes have found their homes.

Now let’s see the teams who drafted well and set themselves up for the future vs the teams who just have no idea what they’re doing.

Arizona Cardinals

Grade: B+

They landed LB Haason Reddick in the first round from Temple and S Budda Baker from Washington in the second round. Both those selections will bolster up that defense that already has Tyrann Mathieu. They did a good job adding depth to their O-Line, which G Dorian Johnson will most likely see early playing time. WR Chad Williams in the third round was their only head scratcher, but other than that the Cardinals have taken a step in the right direction.

Atlanta Falcons

Grade: B

The Super Bowl runner-up had a good draft to trade up for Takk McKinley from UCLA. He’s an edge rusher which is what they needed, and he’s going to be scary with Vic Beasley and Dontari Poe. They got faster on defense with a couple more selections with LB Duke Riley and CB Damontae Kazee. They filled a gap in their offensive line. Overall they got faster on defense in a conference with speed.

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: B

Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama, had NFL Scouts questioning this selection by the Ravens. Some probably would’ve went elsewhere on that defense, or not pick Humphrey in the first round altogether. This team also made defense a focal point in the draft, by taking multiple defensive players before finally picking an offensive linemen on day three of the draft. Humphrey will have a lot on his shoulders to prove he was worth the first round selection.

Buffalo Bills

Grade: B

They fired their GM after the draft was over and I’m sure he had no say in these selections. They took LSU’s Tre’Davious White, who has spectacular talent, and you can’t go wrong with a DB from LSU. They took a WR in their second round pick, which has some upside. The Bills day three picks weren’t anything fancy, but good enough to stay on the roster and earn some playing time. Sean McDermott has his Bills going in the right direction for this season.

Carolina Panthers

Grade: B

The offense was boosted with the addition of Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey. Some pressure was taken off Cam Newton’s shoulders now that they have a solid RB in the backfield. He will kill defenses on the ground or beat them as a receiver. Curtis Samuel is almost the same type of threat. But the defense was not a big issue for this team, which could be a concern for them going forward.

Chicago Bears

Grade: D

I think we all know what happened here. They pass on Deshaun Watson for Mitchell Trubisky, after trading for the second pick. They had the third pick and could’ve landed him there, instead of giving everything including the kitchen sink. My question is why give Mike Glennon all that money if this is what they had planned? The defense is terrible and they didn’t focus on that at all, which most likely means they’ll be a top five pick again next year.

Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: A-

John Ross out of Washington was a good pick up, because you can’t coach speed and that kid has it. I like Ross and A.J. Green on the same team. Joe Mixon has baggage, and personally, I don’t think he should get the opportunity. I guarantee he’s on a tight leash in the NFL. They added a couple of quality defensive rushers. Overall the Bengals had a good draft, just not a fan of Mixon.

Cleveland Browns

Grade: A-

The Browns had two first round picks, so that’s impossible to mess up. They took Myles Garrett, who everyone expected. They traded down to get Jabrill Peppers late, and then managed to acquire a third pick on day one, and added a TE. Peppers could be a questionable pick, as his size doesn’t really put him in a great spot on defense. Not sure how he’ll be used, but the Browns really wanted athleticism. And just when you thought things were going great, they took DeShone Kizer, QB Notre Dame. They could’ve taken Watson, but decided on trading down in the draft. They added two more defensive picks to help out the rebuild.

Dallas Cowboys

Grade: B

Taco Charlton—great name—will help the Cowboys off the edge on defense. They took two good CB’s on defense, who can hold their own, and we know the Cowboys needed help on the outside. Cole Beasley might be on his way out after Brian Switzer was selected. Xavier Woods has a chance to help Byron Jones in the secondary. The Cowboys needed help on defense, and they made sure they took the right guys to help propel them passed the first round of the playoffs.

Denver Broncos

Grade: B

The Broncos landed an offensive linemen they needed to help up front. They also added a D-Linemen to help bolster them up. They took WR Carlos Henderson, who is electrifying. I like TE Jake Butt, even though he is coming back from ACL surgery. A DB selection with high upside was a good choice, since they already have dominant DB’s and he can learn from them. Elway took a gamble on Chad Kelly from Ole Miss, and we’ll see if he can stay on the roster.

Detroit Lions

Grade: C

LB Jarrad Davis was a good first round pick, but comes with injury question marks. He could be a long term roster fit. They passed on Reuben Foster, who would’ve been a better fit. Teez Tabor, CB Florida, was a good selection, but after him there’s not much else the Lions did well. Miami QB Brad Kaaya could make this roster, but the Lions needed help on the defensive front and didn’t make that a big concern.

Green Bay Packers

Grade: B+

The Packers struggled on defense, and it was clear in the playoffs. They didn’t make a first round selection, but still landed solid defenders. They added CB Kevin King and S Josh Jones to help that terrible secondary. This defense was rough and made the offense have to put up ridiculous numbers just to compete in the games, and the Packers did a good job in their selections.

Houston Texans

Grade: B-

I love that they took Watson, because they got rid of the Brock Osweiler contract and brought in someone who can help this offense reach its potential. Second round LB Zach Cunningham was a good addition to that great defense. RB D’Onta Foreman will make Lamar Miller’s life easier in the backfield. This draft comes down to whether or not Watson fits with Bill O’Brien’s scheme. This team is playoff ready, but the QB spot has been holding them back.

Indianapolis Colts

Grade: B

S Malik Hooker and CB Quincy Wilson will start right away for the defense. And their third selection, Tarell Bashem can have some impact for them. I like their addition at RB to help Frank Gore out in the back. The Colts needed the help on defense, and they’re trying to not waste Andrew Luck’s best years.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: B

Leonard Fournette comes with some injury concerns, but he could be a help to the Jaguars offense, and that’s a team that doesn’t have it figured out at QB right now. They T Cam Robinson to help out on the offensive line. Third round pick Dawuane Smoot could end up being a steal. The Jaguars didn’t really do much to propel them in their franchise, Blake Bortles is the question mark to me.

Kansas City Chiefs

Grade: B-

Not sure I like the Chiefs throwing a lot of picks away to draft a QB who won’t play for them until Alex Smith is out of town. If Patrick Mahomes can develop under Andy Reid, then this pick will have been very good. They didn’t really add many players who will add an immediate impact. This team already is built to be a Super Bowl contender, but they didn’t add anyone in the draft to help next year.

Los Angeles Chargers

Grade: A-

The Chargers made the right choice in Clemson WR Mike Williams. He will help Phillip Rivers out in the passing attack. They may or may not have needed to take him, but he’s got upside and unreal talent. They took two needed guards in their next two selections, which will help them out even more. They needed help on that offensive line.

Los Angeles Rams

Grade: C-

The Jared Goff trade last year didn’t help them, since they didn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft. They focused on receivers in day two, by taking two WR’s and a TE. They didn’t add anything to their offensive line, which is a head scratcher. Overall the Rams organization is a joke and will probably be a top five pick next year.

Miami Dolphins

Grade: B

The Dolphins passed on Reuben Foster and a few quality CB’s, and instead took an edge rusher. They added Isaac Asiata in the fifth round, who will most likely be a starter in his rookie campaign. Other than that, they didn’t ruin or do anything spectacular in this draft. They made a few good selections, but could’ve made better ones.

Minnesota Vikings

Grade: B-

The Vikings didn’t have a first round pick because of the Sam Bradford trade, but somehow managed to steal a first round player. They took RB Dalvin Cook in the second round. Cook has a lot of upside and can be a star RB, and will make an impact on the team that lost Adrian Peterson. He is also complemented by Latavius Murray, so the Vikings are stacked in the backfield. They took a needed O-Lineman.

New England Patriots

Grade: A

The Patriots didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds. But that means their first round pick was Brandin Cooks. They got DE Kony Ealy in the second round. And they added Mike Gillislee with a fifth round pick. Those weren’t the actual picks, they traded those picks for those guys. Other than that they drafted some okay players, but they traded draft picks for guys who will get them back to the Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints

Grade: B

New Orleans has a Hall of Fame QB with no one to help him, but that changed when they got CB Marshon Lattimore to help out on defense. Then they get Marcus Williams, who is just below Malik Hooker’s ability. The Saints did a good job with six picks before the 100th pick was taken of the draft. Alvin Kamara could be a nice fit in the backfield.

New York Giants

Grade: C

They used their first round pick on a TE, which is odd, because their O-Line is a liability. However, Evan Engram is going to be a good weapon for Eli Manning, but he’s got two already. This team is in a win now situation, and not a rebuild, so they should’ve taken someone who can help Manning now.

New York Jets

Grade: C+

S Jamal Adams was a great pick up by the Jets at the six pick. They didn’t really address the needs at all. They drafted two WR’s and a TE. There’s no QB to throw them the ball. So that brings me to my other point, that they didn’t draft a QB at all. They also didn’t really pick any DB’s. They just got more mediocre with this draft.

Oakland Raiders

Grade: C

The Raiders drafted guys with some baggage. Gareon Conley, their first pick, is dealing with a rape allegation. Their other picks are overhyped, and for a team that is in a win now situation, they didn’t address any guy to help that cause. I don’t see any player they drafted to be a huge impact for them.

Philadelphia Eagles

Grade: B+

The Eagles needed to address the defense in the draft and they did just that. They took Derek Barnett, an edge rusher in the first round, then went Sidney Jones, who can be very good at 100% health. They addressed their WR problem in free agency, but added two more guys who can stretch the field in the draft. Then they took a RB, who can be Darren Sproles’ successor.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: B

Steelers landed T.J. Watt, who dominated at the combine. He brings the same energy and effort as his brother J.J. Then they land Juju Smith-Shuster in the second round, and Martavis Bryant has not been as reliable as expected. James Connor is going to be a good guy to have at RB. And he beat cancer, so he’s going to win fans hearts. They landed a good CB in the third round.

San Francisco 49ers

Grade: A-

I give a lot to GM John Lynch. I wasn’t sure how he’d be in his first draft, but he did a great job, aside from finding a QB. He took the Bears future away and landed Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round. They took a QB too high in the third round, with much better options available. Other than that, they’ll stole players, and I’m impressed by Lynch.

Seattle Seahawks

Grade: B

They found a DT in the second round, Malik McDowell will be a great fit for the Seahawks defense. They made their secondary a little deeper in the final days of the draft. They added an offensive lineman who can be expendable. I would’ve expected them to get more linemen in this draft, since that was a major issue last year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Grade: B

They took TE O.J. Howard in the first round and he will help that offense a lot. He is a very good blocker for the run game. He and Cameron Brate will be damaging to defenses. They added a touch CB in the second round. Chris Godwin will be an interesting guy with DeSean Jackson. Jameis Winston will have two guys to stretch the field for him.

Tennessee Titans

Grade: B+

Marcus Mariota will break out this year, and he will have WR Corey Davis to help him. They had two top 20 picks and took Adoree Jackson with the second first round pick to help the secondary out. I think they nailed the first two picks, and this team will be one to look out for.

Washington Redskins

Grade: A-

They stole LT Jonathan Allen at 17. They stole CB Fabian Moreau, because if he’s 100% healthy he can be a dominant presence in the secondary. They got a good pass rusher with their second pick. With the right GM for this team, they might be on to something.