With the draft over, there’s going to be a lot of speculation about which team has evolved the most and which team looks poised to succeed in four months’ time and one of the easiest ways to do that is to look at the draft and judge how each team went about their business.
There’s no definitive right or wrong pick with the draft, picks can be busts and picks can be hidden gems. There are long lists of busts such as Ryan Leaf, Trent Richardson or practically most players the browns have drafted, whilst late rounders such as Antonio Brown and Tom Brady have dominated the league for years.
With that being said however it’s fairly easy to compare each team’s draft and give them a grade from A* to F, which I’ll be doing, as well as talking about who looks set to win their division next season.
Chicago Bears – A
It may seem weird giving a team that didn’t have a selection until near the end of day two, but when you consider that they got Khalil Mack with some of those picks, their draft take is quite impressive. They took a pair of backs in David Montgomery and Kerrith Whtye Jr. as well as two corners in the later rounds, but my favourite pick has to be Riley Ridley, a WR taken in the fourth who with the right mentoring could become a dependable player for years to come.
Detroit Lions – C+
If the Lion’s draft choices perform well, there’s a good chance this could be the toughest division in the NFL. They addressed perhaps the only real flaw on their offence by going out and grabbing the most Pro ready TE in the draft in T.J. Hockenson. A solid offensive line in front of Stafford who now has an abundance of weapons in his new TE, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Kenny Golladay and RB Kerryon Johnson, should help fire the Lions into playoff contention. Despite spending the next 4 picks on defence, I doubt any of them can help fix the holes they have on that side of the ball.
Green Bay Packers – C-
They might have had two first round picks, but they certainly didn’t make the most of them. Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage Jr. are both going to be good NFL players, but I can’t help but think that the Packers could’ve selected better choices at the picks they had. There are lots of questions about Gary’s consistency and size with some thinking he’s a better athlete than football player. In the end, I can’t help but think that if Green Bay continue drafting like this, then Rodgers won’t get another chance at a Super Bowl before he retires.
Minnesota Vikings – B
I like this draft class. Having twelve picks does make it more likely you’ll hit on at least one player but taking Garrett Bradbury in the first was a good pick, when you’re paying as much as you are for your quarterback. He’ll come in day one and make that offensive line his. He’s arguably the draft prospect most ready to play in the NFL and along with TE Irv Smith Jr. and Guard Dru Samia, the Vikings look like a real threat to take the Bears NFC North crown. They also drafted the only long snapper taken in the draft this year so that’s something.
Team to beat?
I’ll be honest here, this was a hard choice to make but I think the Bears will win this division for the second year in a row, although the Vikings might come close to stopping them.
Dallas Cowboys – D
There’s nothing I really have to say about the Cowboys in this draft. There are no bad selections but there’s no one I’m excited about, none of the selections have me thinking that the Cowboy’s staff know what they’re doing. It’s a very dull class that appears to be more for depth than anything else, which is fine if you are a perennial Super Bowl champion but despite what their fans might have you believe, they aren’t.
Philadelphia Eagles – B+
They only had five selections this year, but they made good use of them. Andre Dillard at Offensive Tackle and Receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside lead this class, but these are all solid selections which should help keep the eagles at the top of their division. The only thing stopping the Eagles from getting an A is I don’t feel you can help a team with just five picks, no matter how good Dillard is.
New York Giants – F
Don’t worry Cowboys, as much as I don’t like your picks, I’d take them any day over these selections. If you take names out of it I actually quite like some of these choices, a QB, a DT and a CB all in round one? Hell yeah! But Daniel Jones at pick 6? Really? This isn’t a Jones thing, I like him, just not at 6. He probably still would’ve been there at the later picks in round one. And if you look at the OBJ trade, you essentially traded him for Dexter Lawrence, and I know which one of the two I’d rather have. Although I do like Oshane Ximines late in the third, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
Washington Redskins – A*
Yes! That’s how you do a draft! The Giants and Cowboys could learn something from this. Dwayne Haskins, franchise QB, check. Montez Sweat, elite pass rusher, check. Bryce Love, elusive RB to help the run game, check. Plus, depth in many more positions, I can’t flaw this draft for the Redskins, they’ve gone in with a plan and come out with a serious team not to be taken lightly.
Team to beat?
If injuries don’t plague them this season as they did last season, then the Redskins should make light work of this division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – B+
This is another good draft. If Bruce Arians can get Jameis to start firing on all cylinders then they might not be the runt of the NFC South litter, as picks like Devin White, Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean help revitalise the defence. Although you’d think that the Bucs of all people would know not to draft a Kicker after the whole Roberto Aguayo debacle, but maybe Matt Gay is the kicker the Bucs have needed.
Atalanta Falcons – A
Double dipping on a position is a brave choice but I like what the Falcons have done. Taking two Offensive Lineman in the first round isn’t exciting but it’s what the Falcons needed. When you have players such as Cameron Jordan, Brian Burns, Jason Pierre-Paul amongst others coming after your aging QB 6 times a year, a strong line is must, and Atlanta have got them selves just that with Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary.
Carolina Panthers- B
I like what the Panthers got from this draft. Brian Burns, Greg Little and Will Grier all fill holes that Carolina needed to fill. I also like the depth players gotten from the latter end of the draft. What I don’t like from this draft is what they didn’t do. Carolina needs help in the secondary, specifically Safety, and they didn’t get a single player who can play secondary in the draft. Last season proved that the answer isn’t on the squad and if it wasn’t in the draft, then where is it?
New Orleans Saints – A
The Saints drafted differently from the rest of their division rivals. Whilst everyone else drafted players to build a team for future seasons, the way New Orleans drafted showed that they are aware of their aging QB. Drew Brees is 40 and time is running out on his chance to win a second Super Bowl. After Max Unger retired, a centre was their only pressing need going into the draft, a need they addressed with their first pick, Erik McCoy. A LB, TE and pair of Safeties round of a good Saints draft.
Team to beat?
Easy, the Saints. Whilst the Falcons might put up a fight, there’s a clear powerhouse team in this division, and until Brees retires, I don’t see New Orleans being toppled.
San Francisco 49ers – A
Nick Bosa. Enough said. Taking the best player in the draft will give you a high grade. Taking Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd will boost that. In fact, the only thing from this 49ers class I’m not keen on is taking a Punter in round four, in my mind that’s a bit of a reach. Even then I’m just looking for flaws.
Arizona Cardinals – C
I like Kyler Murray. I like his fit with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. I just don’t like trading away a first round pick a year later for little in return. The rest of the Cardinals draft is good, I like Byron Murphy and Zach Allen, although I do think they should’ve taken a few more offensive linemen to protect their shiny new toy in the Heisman Winner.
Los Angeles Rams – B-
I’m not keen on selections like Darrell Henderson or Bobby Evans, but Greg Gaines looks like a nice pick in the fourth round, and I really like Taylor Rapp. He’s my favourite Safety in this year’s draft, and despite him not being a combine star, his game film from college looks really good and I think he good make the difference on an already stacked Rams defence. A real steal at the back end of the second round.
Seattle Seahawks – C+
The draft started a little shaky for the Seahawks in my opinion, not because I don’t like L.J. Collier or Marquise Blair, but I feel that positions 29 and 47 were reaches for these two. But with 64th pick to take someone many thought would go in the first round is a real steal, and D.K. Metcalf should shine with Russell Wilson. I Like Guard Phil Haynes and WR Gary Jennings Jr., both taken in the fourth round but my biggest issue with this Seattle draft is that they didn’t take a RB until the sixth round, and Travis Homer is not the solution to the Seahawks run game woes.
Team to beat?
Another fairly easy decision and whilst the 49ers and Seahawks might get lucky and get a wild card spot, this division will once again belong to the Rams.