The NFL Draft has come and gone, and while there will still be flurries of signings of undrafted free agents, it’s time to hand out the grades for who nailed the draft, and who is left with more questions than answers. Here are my official draft rankings and ratings, from worst to first. Here are my top eight!
Note: Especially in the top eight, the ‘worst’ pick was usually just a position I felt didn’t need to be addressed as soon as it was. It very rarely has anything to do with the player, unless there was a clear steal available that the team passed on.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Rating 67 out of 100)
Best Pick: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa (Round 1, Pick 13)
Worst Pick: Tyler Johnson WR, (Round 5, Pick 16)
1-Sentence Analysis: I was confused why the Bucs traded up one spot in the first round to get Wirfs, who the 49ers probably weren’t targeting, but they still took the right guy there, and they filled most of their needs, really nailing their first three picks in my opinion, but I would have liked them to the defensive tackle position earlier, as adding a 5th-round receiver to the strongest part of their team does little to improve their chances of winning right away.
7. Houston Texans (Rating 68 out of 100)
Best Pick: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU (Round 2, Pick 8)
Worst Pick: John Reid, CB, Penn State (Round 4, Pick 35)
1-Sentence Analysis: I’ll stand up for Bill O’Brien here, as I actually didn’t think Houston bombed the draft like many say they did, picking up a great talent in Blacklock, a late-round flier at receiver Isaiah Coulter, and some decent value in the trenches to both adequately fill needs and build for the future, although they probably could have done better at cornerback, as Virginia’s Bryce Hall was still available.
6. Miami Dolphins (Rating 72 out of 100)
Best Pick: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama (Round 2, Pick 24)
Worst Pick: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn (Round 1, Pick 30)
1-Sentence Analysis: Miami was superb with attention to detail, filling lots of little holes – they even added a really good long snapper to shore up their special teams – with pretty good value, adding intriguing prospects for much of the draft, although I think I would have preferred to see Miami get a playmaker cornerback with some bigger upside with their first round pick.
5. Baltimore Ravens (78 out of 100)
Best Pick: Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU (Round 1, Pick 28)
Worst Pick: Tyre Phillips, OT, Mississippi State (Round 3, Pick 42)
1-Sentence Analysis: The Ravens are entering a championship-or-bust window, and they excelled in picking up guys that look NFL-ready, securing huge steals in Queen, and running back JK Dobbins, and several others, filling most of their needs – Phillips is a great developmental pick, he just seemed to fit outside the ‘win-now’ mode Baltimore is in, considering they spent a third-rounder on him.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (81 out of 100)
Best Pick: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (Round 2, Pick 1)
Worst Pick: Khalid Kareem, DE, Notre Dame (Round 5, Pick 1)
1-Sentence Analysis: Adding Higgins to give Burrow an immediate weapon was a stroke of genius, and the Bengals did a great job filling needs and finding great value along the way, as Kareem gets the nod as ‘worst pick’ largely because he, in my opinion, has the lowest ceiling, but he could still be a decent impact player for the Bengals.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (82 out of 100)
Best Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson (Round 1, Pick 20)
Worst Pick: Laviska Shenault Jr (Round 2, Pick 10)
1-Sentence Analysis: Jacksonville came in with a wealth of draft picks and they filled most of their major needs, making a great call on Chaisson to fill a hole at linebacker in the first round, getting great value at receiver in Collin Johnson in the fifth round, grabbing a sixth-round quarterback to keep some competition for Gardner Minshew, and the only thing I would have liked to see is prioritizing a tight end selection earlier than the 6th round (Cole Kmet was available when they took Shenault).
2. Arizona Cardinals (89 out of 100)
Best Pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston (Round 3, Pick 8)
Worst Pick: Evan Weaver, ILB, California (Round 6, Pick 23)
1-Sentence Analysis: Arizona was able to surprisingly grab defensive swiss-army-knife Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall pick, and despite not picking until the third round, got amazing value in Jones while filling their biggest need, and they went on to add a pair of intriguing defensive tackles that should fill a hole for the Cardinals, as, all-in-all, my only minor complaint is their refusal to go get another wide receiver for Kyler Murray, but their earlier trade for DeAndre Hopkins helps alleviate that grievance.
1. Minnesota Vikings (91 out of 100)
Best Pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU (Round 1, Pick 22)
Worst Pick: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State (Round 3, Pick 25)
1-Sentence Analysis: The Vikings had 14 draft picks and did well to cover all their needs, getting a steal at receiver in Jefferson, trading back and getting a good corner in Jeff Gladney, another major steal at offensive tackle in Ezra Cleveland, and that was just the start of an excellent weekend for Minnesota, whose biggest (and very minor) regret may be taking two cornerbacks in their first four picks, but you can still argue it was a position of need, and Dantzler is a very good prospect.