A look at how all the NFL teams fared in the draft
NFL draft grades — an annual exercise of hubris as “draft experts” tell the league’s front office executives and scouts how they performed over the course of three days. (And let’s note here, it’s virtually impossible to assign any fair assessment to a player until he’s been a pro for at least three seasons.) But in this era of instant gratification, who wants to wait until 2021?
For what it’s worth, here’s our “first impression, ahem, grades” for all 32 teams:
New York Giants: A-plus
New GM Dave Gettleman just nailed it. First, give him credit for taking Penn State RB Saquon Barkley at No. 2 rather than reaching for a quarterback. Expect Barkley’s impact to be wide-reaching in the short and long run. G Will Hernandez and OLB Lorenzo Carter should be starters by training camp.
Atlanta Falcons: A
Looks like another masterful job by GM Thomas Dimitroff. He didn’t overthink it when WR Calvin Ridley was sitting there at No. 26 or when CB Isaiah Oliver was there at No. 58. Neither addressed a need, yet both provide significant upgrades to a stacked roster.
Chicago Bears: A
At No. 8, they may have gotten the draft’s best linebacker, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, who’s plenty capable of expanding on a proud Chicago tradition. At No. 39, they may have gotten the draft’s best center in Iowa’s James Daniels. And, after trading up to No. 51, yes, they just may wind up getting the most impactful receiver with Memphis’ Anthony Miller. Bravo, Ryan Pace.
Denver Broncos: A
GM John Elway must be living right with a gift like pass rusher Bradley Chubb sitting there at No. 5. He could restore this defense to dominance. Thirdround RB Royce Freeman could make Broncos Country forget C.J. Anderson, and second-round WR Courtland Sutton may eventually do the same to Demaryius Thomas.
Arizona Cardinals: A-minus
They were staring at a bleak future in a division that seems laden with young quarterbacking royalty. But GM Steve Keim pulled a rabbit out of his hat by obtaining pick No. 10 for QB Josh Rosen. It’s worth wondering if Bruce Arians regrets retiring now that Rosen and second-round WR Christian Kirk should be connecting for years as part of a promising trio that includes RB David Johnson.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A-minus
If QB Blake Bortles was held in higher regard, we’d be talking about this team as a juggernaut. First-round DT Taven Bryan, second-round WR D.J. Chark and third-round S Ronnie Harrison might all make instant splashes as rookies if they played elsewhere. But all will have to scrap for snaps here.
New England Patriots: A-minus
Their evaluation always requires a deeper dive, though Bill Belichick did fill several needs (even if he’d cringe at that framing). Isaiah Wynn, assuming he can handle an NFL tackle’s responsibilities despite projections he’d fit better at guard, could take over for Nate Solder. RB Sony Michel is far more explosive than Dion Lewis was. Second-round CB Duke Dawson eases the Malcolm Butler divorce.
New York Jets: A-minus
GM Mike Maccagnan’s gamble to trade up three spots to No. 3 (for three second rounders) paid off more handsomely than he probably could have imagined. Eight months ago, Jets fans wondered if their team would go 0-16 in order to secure QB Sam Darnold. New York finished 5-11 but got Darnold, who’d likely win an election as the draft’s top passing prospect, anyway.
Baltimore Ravens: B-plus
This draft feels befitting of outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome’s Lombardi-plated legacy. Yes, major gamble taking QB Lamar Jackson, but it could pay off in spades — and may as well get that fifthyear option with a roll of the dice like this after Newsome deftly worked back into the end of Round 1.
Buffalo Bills: B-plus
Must admire GM Brandon Beane’s aggressiveness in his first draft, as he completed his weeks-long trek up the board to get Wyoming QB Josh Allen at No. 7 before dealing up a second time for Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16. Both have massive ceilings but should be afforded patience to develop.
Green Bay Packers: B-plus
Interesting maiden draft for GM Brian Gutekunst. A trade with the Saints netted a 2019 first-rounder. The Pack’s first two picks were understandably spent on corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Super-sized WR Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5, 214) is an intriguing project who went later than expected in Round 6. But did Gutekunst really need to draft a punter and a long snapper?
Houston Texans: B-plus
Remarkable haul given they didn’t pick until Round 3. S Justin Reid and OL Martinas Rankin should step into starting roles. Keep an eye on sixth-round DE Duke Ejiofor, who could flourish opposite J.J. Watt. And don’t forget, the Texans’ first rounder was spent last year in their maneuver to get Deshaun Watson. Worth it.
Los Angeles Chargers: B-plus
Getting S Derwin James at No. 17 was a steal. GM Tom Telesco never stopped infusing talent into an already formidable defense, thought it did need to get much better against the run. LB Uchenna Nwosu, DT Justin Jones and LB Kyzir White may collectively elevate the Bolts to Super Bowl dark horse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B-plus
GM Jason Licht was aggressive, winding up with three second rounders, while wisely procuring toughness. Firstround DT Vita Vea, second-round CBs M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis and third-round G Alex Cappa addressed needs. Round 2 RB Ronald Jones is a home run waiting to happen as Doug Martin’s replacement.
Cincinnati Bengals: B
There may not be a Pro Bowler among
C Billy Price, S Jessie Bates, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Malik Jefferson or RB Mark Walton. Yet all could quickly contribute for a franchise that generally doesn’t get enough recognition for drafting effectively.
Dallas Cowboys: B
Leighton Vander Esch dismissed rumors about his neck, though medical concerns have sadly become commonplace in Dallas’ linebacker room. Assuming he’s OK, he was a good decision in Round 1 rather than reaching for a WR. Jerry Jones and Co. got leapfrogged in the second round by Philadelphia, which took TE Dallas Goedert ... who might have been a fine replacement for Jason Witten. Still, the Cowboys got an excellent player 50th overall in Connor Williams, who will further strengthen what’s arguably the league’s top O-line.
Kansas City Chiefs: B
Low on sex appeal, and that’s fine. The buzz factor was burned up when this year’s first rounder was used to snag QB Patrick Mahomes in 2017. But DL Chris Jones will surely appreciate quality reinforcements Breeland Speaks and Derrick Nnadi.
Miami Dolphins: B
First-round DB Minkah Fitzpatrick should be a slam dunk, not to mention a potentially effective Gronk antidote.
Philadelphia Eagles: B-minus
Champs often draft for depth, and GM Howie Roseman traded down to get more. Stealing TE “Dallas” Goedert in Jerry Jones’ backyard was a nice touch. But getting Florida State pass rusher Josh Sweat in Round 4 might wind up being Roseman’s best pick.
Tennessee Titans: B-minus
They’re banking that quality trumps quantity given trades reduced them to a four-player bounty. Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry could herald the passing of the torch in the linebacking corps. They better.
Detroit Lions: C-plus
Second rounder Kerryon Johnson will get the headlines, assuming he can break with recent tradition and hold up better than other highly drafted Lions tailbacks. Otherwise, new coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were busy fortifying their lines, starting with firstround C Frank Ragnow.
Oakland Raiders: C-plus
Drafts are replete with boom-or-bust prospects. Jon Gruden’s return produced what looks like a boom-or-bust draft. Trading a third rounder to Pittsburgh for WR Martavis Bryant could be a coup ... if Bryant’s head is screwed on soundly. Gruden clearly prioritized offensive tackles, correctly moving down in Round 1 for Kolton Miller before taking North Carolina A&T’s Brandon Parker in the third. Were either overdrafted in a thin tackle class? Stay tuned.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C-plus
Terrell Edmunds was a reach in the first round, though the defense did need safety help. But this draft is more likely to be defined by Oklahoma State stars James Washington and Mason Rudolph, potential heir apparents to WR Antonio Brown and QB Ben Roethlisberger, respectively.
San Francisco 49ers: C-plus
Taking Mike McGlinchey at No. 9 would have felt like a huge reach last week, but it became apparent closer to the draft that the Niners couldn’t wait to get him. Still, too high a price for a right tackle whose value might have been inflated in a weak draft at the position? Second rounder Dante Pettis adds immediate juice to the special teams, but at 6-1 and 186 pounds may be too slight to hold up at receiver.
Cleveland Browns: C
Ultimately, it boils down to No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, whom GM John Dorsey apparently couldn’t live without. If Mayfield lives up to his billing, the rest is gravy. But debate remains as to whether Darnold, Allen or even Rosen should have been the choice. Given RB Nick Chubb was taken in Round 2, also worth questioning if Saquon Barkley should have gotten the call at No. 1 with the guarantee that a QB — possibly even Mayfield — would have remained available at No. 4. Then there’s the notion that DE Bradley Chubb was a much better option with that fourth pick than CB Denzel Ward given how hard it is to collect quality pass rushers (even though Myles Garrett is already aboard), and the wealth of corners in this draft.
Los Angeles Rams: C
Very hard to peg this. GM Les Snead gave up his first-round pick for WR Brandin Cooks, who’s currently under contract for one more year. Snead used his second rounder last year in a trade for WR Sammy Watkins, and that turned out to be a rental.
Carolina Panthers: C-minus
First-round WR DJ Moore is a nice player, but how much does he diversify an offense that already has so many short-area passing targets.
Indianapolis Colts: C-minus
GM Chris Ballard snagged three second rounders from the Jets (two in this draft) to move down three spots. He still got the player, Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson, who might have been pick had Indy stayed put. Perfect choice.
Minnesota Vikings: C-minus
Coach Mike Zimmer is surely happy to add a third first-round corner (Mike Hughes) to his secondary. Hughes will help in nickel packages and as a returner right away. Beyond that, hard to see many rookies here who will play immediately — unless second-round T Brian O’Neill proves he’s ahead of schedule from a strength standpoint.
Washington Redskins: C-minus
DL Da’Ron Payne is made to order for the league’s worst run defense, and fifth-round NT Tim Settle will also help. In second-round RB Derrius Guice, Washington took a player who could add offensive rocket fuel ... assuming concerns that apparently scared so many teams off prove unfounded.
New Orleans Saints: D
Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis had an epic draft in 2017, but this one seems fraught with peril. When they surrendered next year’s first rounder to jump from 27th to 14th in the first round, it appeared like a calculated gamble for QB Lamar Jackson. But New Orleans actually paid that hefty price for DE Marcus Davenport, a tantalizing prospect but one who may not be ready to advance the all-or-nothing Super Bowl mandate this move clearly signals.
Seattle Seahawks: D
Let’s begin by saying that GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have built a powerhouse while making draft “graders” look silly. Yet still ... RB Rashaad Penny seemed like a first-round reach on merit and especially because Seattle already had several backs on the roster. No qualms with USC DE Rasheem Green in Round 3, but the decision to virtually ignore the corner and offensive line (again) crops is puzzling.
New York Giants first-round draft pick Saquon Barkley meets with the media. Barkley was the second overall pick.
Cornerback Mike Hughes was the Minnesota Vikings' selection in the first round of the NFL draft.