Yes, grading a draft class or draft pick before they even play a single snap in the NFL might be a bit farfetched. Keep in mind that this is simply opinion and that in the end, nobody knows how this year’s rookie draft class will progress and develop. That being said, let’s get down to business.
Grading each team in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals- Grade: A. Kliff Kingsbury has made his message known. And that is Josh Rosen is not the man to play quarterback for him in Arizona. The Cardinals took Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray number one overall. Trading Rosen to the Dolphins was key as it allows the Cardinals to go all in on Murray and focus on getting him up to speed to lead Arizona next season.
Atlanta Falcons- Grade: B-. Atlanta went offensive line with their first-round pick, selecting Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom. Not a sexy pick by any means, but Lindstrom should be able to contribute immediately on Atlanta’s O-line. The Falcons did not have any picks in both the second and third rounds on Friday night.
Baltimore Ravens- Grade: A-. Marquise Brown is a player that I have been high on for quite some time now. The speed demon wide receiver out of Oklahoma will serve as a nice outside option to second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Yes, Brown does not have that blow you away type of size and strength that a receiver like Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf possesses, but to me, he reminds me of a DeSean Jackson type burner capable of blowing the top off a defense at any given moment.
Buffalo Bills- Grade: B. Drafting University of Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver at ninth overall seemed like a stretch given the other defensive line talents available then. Oliver’s character issues have been public for some time now. Stuff like that does not fly for too long in the NFL, so unless Oliver changes up his approach to the game of football, this pick could come back to bite them. Aside from that, Buffalo was able to snag Oklahoma offensive tackle Cody Ford 38th overall. One of the better blocking talents in the draft, snagging Ford at 38 is a great value pick.
Carolina Panthers- Grade: B+. The Panthers took Florida State defensive end Brian Burns with their first-round pick at 16, helping address the need that the Panthers had at getting after the quarterback. Pretty imperative in a division with the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan twice on your schedule. In the second round, Carolina took Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little addressing the need of keeping quarterback Cam Newton upright and healthy. If not, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier was taken by the Panthers 100th overall to serve as a likely backup to Newton.
Chicago Bears- Grade: B. Two words, Riley Ridley. The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Cam Ridley was taken by the Bears in the fourth round. Personally, I did not envision Ridley lasting longer than the third round, so getting him where they did was an incredible value pick by the Bears who had no first or second round picks.
Cincinnati Bengals- Grade: B-. The Bengals were in severe need of a left tackle. They addressed this need with their first-round selection of University of Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams who excelled both at left and right tackle during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Cleveland Browns- Grade: A. This grade is solely due to just one player. LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Williams was projected by several to be a potential first-round talent. When he fell to the Browns at pick 46, Cleveland knew what to do and picked the LSU product to help bolster their secondary. Oh, and after he was drafted, Williams said that the Browns will make the Super Bowl this year so you know the rookie does not lack confidence.
Dallas Cowboys- Grade: B. The Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick after trading for wide receiver Amari Cooper. On the second day, Dallas took UCF defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second round and Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern. Hill will help replace David Irving, and McGovern’s versatility up front will serve him well on an offensive line that has dealt with injury issues of late.
Denver Broncos- Grade: A. John Elway was a great quarterback on the field. Off it, he is also a great general manager. Not reaching to take Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was the biggest W for Denver as he fell to them with their second pick in the second round at 42. In the first round, the Broncos snagged Iowa tight end Noah Fant. Fant will likely play early as Denver’s tight end by committee approach last season was not successful. Fant has a chance to take over the starting tight end position and run away with it in the 303.
Detroit Lions- Grade: B. Detroit took the other Iowa tight end and teammate of Fant, CJ Hockenson with their first-round pick. A true blocking and receiving threat, Hockenson is exactly what the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford needed. A big and strong every down type contributor.
Green Bay Packers- Grade: B. The Packers took Michigan linebacker Rashan Gary and I am all about it. Gary’s numbers from his days in Ann Arbor may not scream top-15 pick, but he also was double or triple teamed more times than not. An imposing force that can play both inside and outside will help sturdy up the middle of the Packers defense. Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger will be a nice addition to Rodgers’ receiving corps and Maryland safety Darnell Savage addresses a vital need in the secondary.
Houston Texans- Grade: B-. Houston didn’t turn any heads over draft weekend. Taking FCS school Alabama State’s offensive guard Tytus Howard will hopefully help keep quarterback Deshaun Watson upright and healthy. Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson is a great pick for the Texans as their secondary needs to improve to keep up with the arms of Andrew Luck and now Nick Foles twice a year.
Indianapolis Colts- Grade: A-. Indianapolis moved out of the first round to pick up a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. Even though their first pick wasn’t until 34, the Colts were able to take Temple cornerback and arguably the coolest name in the draft, Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin was projected by many to go in the first round. Expect TCU linebacker Ben Banogu and Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell to step in as first-year contributors along with Ya-Sin.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Grade: A-. The Jaguars took one of the best defensive players in the draft at number seven overall. Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen. Scouts hailed Allen as a potential top-three pick so getting him at seven is incredible for Jacksonville. A quarterback nightmare when rushing, Allen is also capable of dropping into coverage and using his athleticism to make plays all over the field.
Kansas City Chiefs- B. The Chiefs sent three picks to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for defensive lineman Frank Clark. Kansas City views Clark as a better fit than Dee Ford who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Virginia cornerback Juan Thornhill will be able to help out on a back end that needs some improvement to make the next jump.
Los Angeles Chargers- Grade: B+. The Chargers ignored needs in the secondary and at offensive tackle to go with a defensive tackle for their first-round pick. Taking Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery 28th overall will provide a nice pairing with Joey Bosa on the D-line. In the second round, the Chargers went with Delaware safety Nasir Adderley. Adderley is one of the best safeties in the draft and will be a back end nightmare duo with safety Derwin James.
Los Angeles Rams- Grade: C+. The Rams did not pick until 61st overall. With that pick, they chose Washington safety Taylor Rapp. Despite having average athleticism for the position, he uses his high football IQ to find his way into the action. Not much to read about here with the Rams low-key draft.
Miami Dolphins- Grade: B-. The Dolphins never found a replacement for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh last year as he thrived on the Los Angeles Rams. The Dolphins missed a big plug up front last season but drafted for that need picking Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins at 13 overall. Wilkins is a quality player with great character and versatility to play all over the defensive line. Acquiring quarterback Josh Rosen was something that was accounted for in this grade. I am not high on him whatsoever, however, a change of scenery can sometimes help players reach their full potential.
Minnesota Vikings- Grade: A-. Minnesota got some help up front with their first-round pick of North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury. Bradbury, who has been touted as one of the best center prospects in some time, is athletic, big and gritty. Exactly what you need to be a successful offensive lineman in today’s NFL. Alabama tight end Irv Smith was a nice selection too, considering that tight end Kyle Rudolph has struggled with staying healthy throughout his entire career.
New England Patriots- Grade: A. When tight end Rob Gronkowski was forced to line up outside time after time in the playoffs, it showed that the Pats need a big downfield threat to help stretch the field for quarterback Tom Brady. Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry should fit that need well standing at 6’2. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham might be in the best scenario out of all the quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft class as he now gets to learn under the tutelage of the greatest quarterback of all-time. Not a bad gig.
New Orleans Saints- Grade: C+. New Orleans didn’t make a lot of noise over the course of draft weekend. A combination of boring picks and not filling a serious need at pass rusher earns them a barely passing grade.
New York Giants- Grade: B-. Taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones sixth overall was a massive reach. I think we can all agree that he surely would have still been on the board by the time of their next first round pick at 17. Yet, the Giants were sold on taking a guy who looks like he could play Eli Manning in a movie to be his backup and potentially future full-time starter. All in all weird move in my opinion.
At 17 they selected Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence who is more than capable of being both a wall up front in the run game and also a reliable interior pass rusher. The Giants final first-round pick was Georgia Cornerback Deandre Baker. Baker was an absolute stud at UGA and should be able to step in and help fill a need in the Giants secondary. Their grade would have been higher had it not been for the Jones pick at six.
New York Jets- Grade: A-. The Jets took one of the best players in this 2019 draft class at three overall in Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Williams is a corn-fed big man in the middle who will be an absolute pain for opposing offensive lines. In most drafts, Williams would have most likely gone first overall. This pick will be able to come in and be an absolute disruptive force from day one.
Oakland Raiders- B+. The Oakland Raiders pulled off a far better draft than I predicted they would. Maybe Jon Gruden is on to something. At number four overall the Raiders took Clemson defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell is probably the second best pass rushing hand down lineman in the class behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa. At 24 overall, they snagged Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. After longtime NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch’s retirement, this pick makes sense as Jacobs is a three-down back who can make a man miss in the open field or lay the lumber head on and maul defenders who stand in his way.
Philadelphia Eagles- B+. Long-time NFL star tackle Jason Peters is 37. With his contract due to expire after next season, picking Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard 22nd overall will allow him to learn from one of the better pass protecting tackles in recent times. Philly was not able to get Josh Jacobs, but they were able to get the second-best running back in the draft in Penn State’s Miles Sanders. Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside was one of the best wide receivers in the Pac-12 last season at Washington State and will be a great red zone target for quarterback Carson Wentz.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Grade: B. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush is a perfect fit for the Steelers defense. Versatile and athletic, he will help fill a need for the Steelers linebacking corps that has been left vacant since the horrible Ryan Shazier injury. Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne was a great value pick at 83rd overall and will likely be able to make an impact this season.
San Francisco 49ers- Grade: A. The 49ers might have taken the best player in the draft with Nick Bosa at number two. The 49ers defense ranked in the bottom third of teams in the NFL last season in sacks with a mere 37 sacks. Bosa and newly acquired Dee Ford should help change that narrative. Bosa is both a force when rushing the passer and a roadblock for opposing running backs. South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s toughness, breakaway speed and great hands will be a great weapon for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Seattle Seahawks- Grade: B+. The Seahawks took TCU defensive end L.J. Collier with their first-round pick at 29. Collier, who runs a 4.91 40, will be a solid run stopper and pass rusher on the Seattle D-line. The most noise from their 2019 class comes from the 64th overall pick Ole Miss wide receiver and physique freak D.K. Metcalf. If Metcalf gets the playbook down quick, expect him to become quarterback Russell Wilson’s new favorite downfield target.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Grade: C+. I absolutely loved their first round pick at fifth overall in LSU linebacker Devin White. He is going to be a nice addition to the Tampa defense for years to come. Aside from that, Tampa did not make much noise with the rest of their picks. Not a great effort rounds 2 and on from the Bucs.
Tennessee Titans- Grade: A-. Had Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons not torn his ACL in February, he most likely would not have fallen to the Titans at 19. Thankfully for them, he did. Ever since his 2016 arrest, he has been nothing short of a model teammate and citizen. He very well could be a name we get used to hearing. I expect him to get after the likes of Luck, Foles, and Watson in the AFC South. Taking the other Ole Miss wide receiver AJ Brown at 51 was a solid selection for the Titans. This adds to quarterback Marcus Mariota’s pass-catching arsenal.
Washington Redskins- Grade: B. Washington went with two Ohio State offensive studs from last season. They chose quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round and wide receiver Terry McLaurin in the third round. If Alex Smith is not able to return from his gruesome season-ending injury, Haskins will be able to step in. He should lead the Redskins from day one. At 15 overall, Washington took Mississippi outside linebacker Montez Sweat. Sweat will be able to contribute to the pass rushing effort in Washington from the start.