NFL Draft grades usually end up being embarrassing for those who do them.
So what? We love them, right?
It’s probably unfair to do draft grades right after the draft, but we eat them up. The fair way to do it is to wait three years, which is why I always re-visit my grades and look back at the draft.
For now, the best grade of this year’s draft goes to the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick and crew had an outstanding draft and earned my only A+ grade. I loved what they did, even though I wasn’t totally on board with their first-round pick of receiver N’Keal Harry.
Some personnel people in the league think Belichick enjoys the draft process more than he does coaching. I don’t know if that’s the case, but this draft sure looks that way. It’s part of why he’s the best to ever do it.
Now for the grades:
Arizona Cardinals: A
Best pick: Second-round corner Byron Murphy will be a nice nickel corner early in his career, and then move outside to a starter’s role.
The skinny: Even though I am not crazy about the Murray pick, I still love their draft. They hit on a lot of good players. I like both second-round picks: Andy Isabella and Murphy.
Atlanta Falcons: B
Worst pick: Trading back into the first round to take Washington tackle Kaleb McGary. He’s a good player, but did they need to move to get him?
The skinny: This was a draft about protecting Ryan better. And they accomplished that. The line will be improved. Fifth-round running back Qadree Ellison will be a nice addition.
Baltimore Ravens: B+
Best pick: Third-round receiver Miles Boykin gives them a big target with a lot of raw ability. With a little coaching, he can be a big-play receiver.
The skinny: First-year general manager Eric DeCosta had a nice first draft. Picking receiver Marquise Brown in the first round will pay off in a big way. I like fourth-round running back Justice Hill as well.
Buffalo Bills: B
Worst pick: I didn’t love taking running back Devin Singletary in the third round. That might have been a bit high.
The skinny: Getting Oliver and tackle Cody Ford with their first two picks were good moves. I also like fourth-round tight end Dawson Knox. This is a team that general manager Brandon Beane has moving in the right direction.
Carolina Panthers: B+
Best pick: Second-round tackle Greg Little had first-round ability. I think with a little seasoning he could develop into a Pro Bowl player.
The skinny: They did a nice job with their first two picks, adding Little and first-round edge Brian Burns. The pass rush badly needed help as they move to using more 3-4 defenses. Fourth-round edge rusher Christian Miller could also help there.
Chicago Bears: C
Best pick: Fourth-round receiver Riley Ridley doesn’t run that well, but he plays faster than his 40 times. I think he has a chance to be a quality starter.
Worst pick: They really didn’t have one because they had just two picks in the first four rounds.
Cincinnati Bengals: B-
Best pick: Fourth-round defensive tackle Renell Wren will end up being a steal. He was miscast as a nose tackle at Arizona State, but should flourish in their defense.
Worst pick: I am not a big fan of Ryan Finley, their fourth-round quarterback. He might never be more than a career backup.
The skinny: They smartly addressed offensive line with their first-round pick by taking Jonah Williams, who will be a Pro Bowl player someday. Adding two backs in Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson late were also good moves.
Cleveland Browns: C+
Best pick: Fourth-round pick Sheldrick Redwine is a good-sized safety who can run. There’s value in that.
Worst pick: They took kicker Austin Seibert in the fifth round. I never like that.
The skinny: They traded their first-round pick to the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr., which is a win for them. Greedy Williams is an outstanding cover player, but he needs to work on his tackling. The rest of the draft was just OK.
Dallas Cowboys: B-
Best pick: I like second-round pick Trysten Hill, a defensive tackle from Central Florida. He is a quick, penetrating lineman who will make a deep unit even deeper. He has to be more focused.
Worst pick: I didn’t love the pick of running back Tony Pollard in the fourth round. They had bigger needs.
The skinny: The Cowboys traded their first-round pick for Amari Cooper, and he is better than any of the receivers in this class. So they won that. Getting Hill and third-round guard Connor McGovern were nice picks. They had a decent haul.
Denver Broncos: B+
Best pick: Second-round quarterback Drew Lock will pay off big for this franchise. They will look back on the pick someday and think what a bargain he was in that round.
Worst pick: I liked their first four picks, so it’s tough to find one. I might have gone in a different direction than taking tackle Dalton Risner in the second round. That’s being nitpicky.
The skinny: Some will say it’s weird even mentioning this, but John Elway had a good draft. I like the move to drop from No. 10 overall to add extra picks. First-round tight end Noah Fant will be a nice weapon and if Lock becomes the long-term starter – which I think he will do – they will have a heck of a draft.
Detroit Lions: C
Best pick: Fifth-round corner Amani Oruwarlye was great value. There were some scouts who thought he’d go a lot higher. The Lions have a need, so it makes sense.
Worst pick: I didn’t love fourth-round pass rusher Austin Bryant. He was the fourth guy on a dominant Clemson line. How good is he?
The skinny: I like first-round tight end T.J. Hockenson, but was that really a major position of need after signing Jesse James as a free agent? What about more pass rush? It was just an OK haul.
Green Bay Packers: B
Worst pick: I didn’t love the pick of Rashan Gary in the first round. He’s an athletic kid, but where was the production last season?
The skinny: The Gary pick at No. 14 is a little rich, but I liked safety Darnell Savage, their other first-round pick. Second-round center Elgton Jenkins was one of my favorite lineman in the draft.
Houston Texans: C-
Best pick: Third-round tight end Kahale Warring has a chance to be special. He is raw, but he has a ton of athletic ability.
Worst pick: It was first-round tackle Tytus Howard. Coming from Alabama State, he will be forced to make a big jump as a rookie. Can he?
The skinny: I liked the idea of adding help for the offensive line for Deshaun Watson, but they took some risks in doing so. Second-round corner Lonnie Johnson from Kentucky will push for time as a rookie and eventually be a good starter.
Indianapolis Colts: B-
Worst pick: Second-round pick Ben Banogu has the speed to become an effective rusher, but he needs a lot of seasoning. It may take some time.
The skinny: They did some draft-board maneuvering – moving out of the first round – to end up with 10 picks. That was smart. I love Campbell and I think second-round corner Rock Ya-Sin will be a good player.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B+
Best pick: I will go with their first-round pick Josh Allen. I had one GM tell me he might be the best player in the draft. He will improve a pass rush that needed help.
Worst pick: Third-round linebacker Quincy Williams is a little bit of a risk. A lot of personnel people had him as a undrafted free agent. But the Jaguars loved his speed and explosive playmaking ability.
Kansas City Chiefs: C+
Best pick: Second-round safety Juan Thornhill will give them a nice, rangy player on the back end. He is perfect for the way the game is played now.
Worst pick: I know second-round receiver Mecole Hardman can fly, but I thought there were better options on the board when they made the pick.
The skinny: They didn’t have a first-round pick, trading it away for Frank Clark, and I didn’t love what they did with the picks they did have. Third-round pick Khalen Saunders could end up being a steal.
Los Angeles Chargers: B+
Best pick: I love first-round pick Jerry Tillery. Once he becomes a bit more consistent, he can be a dominant player.
Worst pick: Third-round tackle Trey Pipkins from Sioux Falls seemed like a reach and some personnel people I talked with said it was just that.
The skinny: Landing Tillery and safety Nassir Adderly with their first two picks was good stuff. I also really like seventh-round defensive tackle Cortez Broughton.
Los Angeles Rams: B
The skinny: They didn’t have a first-round pick because of a trade, so they didn’t pick until No. 61 in the second round. They took safety Taylor Rapp with that pick, and he will spend next season watching Eric Weddle and John Johnson. So it’s a future pick. I did like fifth-round defensive tackle Greg Gaines.
Miami Dolphins: B
Best pick: It was their first one, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. He will be a star. He got my only A+ in my first-round grades.
Worst pick: They really didn’t have any, but fifth-round linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was probably taken a little too high.
The skinny: Landing Wilkins was a great move and fills a major need, but I also loved that they traded their second-round pick to land Josh Rosen from Arizona. He could be their long-term quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
Best pick: I think fourth-round guard Dru Samia will be a quality starter – maybe right away. He is a nasty brawler.
Worst pick: Third-round running back Alexander Mattison has some ability, but it might have been a round too high for him.
The skinny: They addressed offensive line need by taking center Garrett Bradbury in the first round and Samia in the fourth. Second-round tight end Irv Smith Jr. gives them insurance for Kyle Rudolph, who has one year left on his deal.
New England Patriots: A+
Best pick: I love second-round corner Joejuan Williams. He was the captain of my Better-Than team – guys I love more than the scouts.
Worst pick: I know they need receiver help, but first-round pick N’Keal Harry doesn’t run well and I think they needed to get faster.
The skinny: The Patriots nailed it again. Even though I didn’t love the Harry pick, he will be a producer. The rest of the draft I loved. Williams and third-round edge rusher Chase Winovich are vintage Patriots players. The only flaw: They took a punter in the fifth round.
New Orleans Saints: B-
Best pick: It was trading up to land center Erik McCoy in the second round. They had to get a replacement for the retired Max Ungar.
Worst pick: There wasn’t one because they didn’t have a lot of picks.
The skinny: They didn’t have many picks because of deals, but I liked what they did with their first two, getting McCoy and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Their first-round pick went to Green Bay in the trade for Marcus Davenport. He needs to play big this season.
New York Giants: B+
Best pick: I love the pick of defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with the 17th choice in the first round. He will be a force on their defense.
Worst pick: Third-round edge rusher Oshane Ximines is a project who might need some time to develop.
The skinny: This draft will be one that is defined by quarterback Daniel Jones, who they took with the sixth overall pick. Most hated the pick. I didn’t like the spot, but I like the player. They also traded back into the first round to take corner DeAndre Baker. If Jones is good, and I think he has a chance, this draft could be special.
New York Jets: B+
Best pick: It was their first, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The kid will be a dominant player for a long time on their line.
Worst pick: It’s hard to find one, but I might go with second-round pass rusher Jachai Polite because of his off-field issues. But as a player, he can be a steal if he can stay focused.
The skinny: I liked their first three picks, which included third-round tackle Chuma Edoga. This draft will be a nice building block as they try and catch the Patriots in the division.
Oakland Raiders: B-
Best pick: Taking running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick was a good move. I don’t usually like taking backs in the first round, but he was one of the best players in this draft and in that spot it’s OK.
Worst pick: I didn’t like taking defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth-overall pick. There were better defensive players on the board.
The skinny: Ferrell was taken too high for my blood, but they bounced back to take Jacobs and safety Jonathan Abrams with their next two first-round picks. I do like fourth-round corner Isaiah Johnson.
Philadelphia Eagles: B-
Best pick: Second-round running back Miles Sanders has a chance to be a 1,200-yard runner in a year or two. He has that type of ability.
Worst pick: I don’t love the pick of receiver J.J. Arecega-Whiteside in the second round. He ran well, but he didn’t seem to play to that speed.
The skinny: This was a draft for the future. They had three picks in the first 57 and it’s doubtful any will start next year. Even so, it’s smart to draft for the future and I like the players they took.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B
Worst pick: Third-round receiver Diontae Johnson is a smallish MAC receiver, which makes him a little bit of a risk. But who are we to argue with the Steelers when it comes to smallish receivers in the draft?
The skinny: They made a bold move to move up to land linebacker Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick, a move I like. The rest of their draft was solid as well. Not flashy, but solid.
San Francisco 49ers: C
Worst pick: They took punter Mitch Wishnowsky in the fourth round. Why? You don’t draft punters this early – if at all. I don’t care how good he is and can be.
The skinny: I liked their pick of Bosa, but wasn’t as enamored with the rest of their draft. They did add receivers in Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, but there were better options there when they took both, in my mind.
Seattle Seahawks: B
Best pick: I think they landed a big-time steal in fourth-round receiver Gary Jennings Jr. The kid can fly.
Worst pick: I think they took second-round safety Marquise Blair a round too high. I know they need range back there, but they had other needs.
The skinny: First-round defensive end L.J. Collier fits with what they wanted to do in replacing the traded Frank Clark. I like the pick. But this draft will be judged on Blair and second-round receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+
Best pick: I love first-round linebacker Devin White. He flies to the football. White has the speed teams need to have these days with all the spread-out offenses.
Worst pick: Why did they take a kicker again? They took Matt Gay in the fifth round, which means they didn’t learn from the Roberto Aguayo fiasco from the past. You sign kickers. You don’t draft them.
The skinny: They had to get better on defense, so spending their first five picks on that side of the ball made sense. White will be a star, and I like second-round corner Sean Bunting.
Tennessee Titans: C
Best pick: Taking defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons in the first round is risky because he’s coming off a torn ACL, but he will pay off in a big way. The kid is a force.
Worst pick: Third-round guard Nate Davis is a project who will need time to develop. I didn’t love that pick.
The skinny: I liked the pick of Simmons and second-round receiver A.J. Brown. Keep an eye on sixth-round linebacker David Long. He has some skills to stick. This draft will be judged by Simmons, which means it may take some time.
Washington Redskins: A
Best pick: It was their first one when they took quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round. He will be their long-term guy and could end up as the best quarterback in this draft.
Worst pick: I didn’t like the pick of fourth-round running back Bryce Love. He is coming off a torn ACL and he didn’t have a great senior season.
The skinny: The Redskins did a nice job being patient to land Haskins and then traded back into the first round to take pass rusher Montez Sweat. If his health isn’t an issue, he could be a steal. They added some other nice pieces as well.