Grading NFL draft picks


Alex Behunin, Reporter

The first ever virtual NFL draft has come and gone. The draft went without many technical blunders and fans could still boo commissioner Roger Goodell. This year’s draft was also the most-watched draft of all time, with more than 55 million viewers.

For the most part, the draft picks were normal but there were some selections that raised eyebrows, as there are every year.

Here are the draft grades for every NFL team:

Arizona Cardinals: A

While just about every draft analyst predicted the Cardinals were going to select an offensive tackle in the first round, they were wrong. The Cardinals took the best player available and the best linebacker in the draft, Isaiah Simmons. They didn’t have a second-round pick after they stole DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, and in the third round took a very capable tackle in Josh Jones.

Atlanta Falcons: B-

The Falcons needed to rebuild their defense in this year’s draft and that they did. In the first round, they took athletic cornerback A.J. Terrell. They followed that with a big defensive lineman and then a successor to All-Pro center Alex Mack. They finished with two more defensive players. Nothing crazy this year and pretty safe picks.

Baltimore Ravens: A+

With 10 picks this year, the Ravens had an excellent draft. They ended the first day by patiently waiting for the second best linebacker, Patrick Queen. They made their already scary offense more powerful by taking one of the best running backs in the draft, J.K. Dobbins, in the second round. With four third-round picks, the Ravens added depth at much needed positions with offensive linemen, a quick receiver, and another linebacker. Another year and another solid Ravens draft.

Buffalo Bills: C

The best thing the Bills did this draft was trade away their first-round pick earlier in the offseason for No. 1 receiver, Stefon Diggs. For their first pick, they got defensive end A.J. Epenesa in the second round. Next they got a running back, followed by a receiver, and a quarterback that will most likely be a backup his whole career. If the Bills can get the ball to Diggs this upcoming season, then this draft was worth it.

Carolina Panthers: A

The Panthers needed to restructure their defense and they did that. Every single pick of this year’s draft was a defensive player. They drafted the best defensive lineman in the 2020 draft, Derrick Brown, and then followed that up with a quality defensive end. The rest of their draft went with defensive backs. It was a very good first draft for new head coach Matt Rhule.

Chicago Bears: D

The Chicago Bears are still feeling the effects of the Khalil Mack trade. They did not have many picks this year but with the ones that they did have, the Bears did not do much. The Bears picked the best tight end in the draft, Cole Kmet in the second round. This pick sent fans crazy because as of now, the Bears have 10 tight ends on their roster. The only bright spot was cornerback Jaylon Johnson, a position that the franchise really needs.

Cincinnati Bengals: A

Last year’s worst team scored quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick and then gave him a weapon with WR Tee Higgins. After the first two picks the Bengals went all defense, picking up some really good prospects. The Bengals are definitely looking to turn their franchise around.

Cleveland Browns: B-

The Browns desperately needed an offensive tackle to protect Baker Mayfield and they got one with the eighth pick. Jedrick Wills Jr. is a very good lineman and will start game one. Next, they got safety Grant Delpit, which asks the question: Is Cleveland getting the stud Delpit or the Delpit who misses tackles?

Dallas Cowboys: A

America’s team added the best receiver in the draft in CeeDee Lamb after he fell into their laps at pick No. 17. The biggest need of this draft also fell right into their lap in the second round, CB Trevon Diggs. Their later round picks were all defense, which they needed badly. If new head coach Mike McCarthy can keep this team focused, the Cowboys will be a special team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Denver Broncos: A-

General manager and president of football operations John Elway has taken flack for bad drafts in years past. This year, he gave second-year quarterback Drew Lock two really good weapons: Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. The rest of the draft was spent on defensive players and filling needed positions.

Detroit Lions: C+

The Lions surely needed a cornerback, but there was a lot to choose from throughout the draft. They had the third pick and got CB Jeff Okudah, who will step in and start week one. They also took one of the best running backs, D’Andre Swift, which was questionable. It wasn’t a bad draft per se, it just was average.

Green Bay Packers: F

This year’s draft was a colossal failure of the Packers. They desperately needed weapons for Aaron Rodgers and drafted zero. Instead, they traded up in the draft to grab quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, and did not get any receivers with any of their picks. No one knows what this franchise was thinking, but it left the fan base in shock and angered.

Houston Texans: C-

Another team and another average draft. The Texans really screwed themselves over in free agency and when they traded away their first-round pick last year. The Texans could have easily received a first-round pick plus more for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but they didn’t. Their first pick was an average defensive lineman Ross Blacklock. The Texans only had five picks and they drafted no one of note.

Indianapolis Colts: A-

The Colts had a really good draft. They traded their first round pick to the 49ers for DT DeForest Buckner earlier in the offseason. Their first pick was receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in the second round, a steal at a much needed position. They traded up to grab workhorse running back Jonathan Taylor and grabbed potential future quarterback Jacob Eason. Not bad.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B+

To say the Jaguars needed to repair their defense is an understatement. The Jaguars had a whopping 11 picks to play with and used six of them on defense. They took two defensive standouts in the first round, CB CJ Henderson, and DE K’Lavon Chaisson. The rest of the draft picks were on weapons for second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew.

Kansas City Chiefs: B

The defending Super Bowl champions reached a little by taking No. 4 ranked running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to close the first round, but he is still a good player. They got a potential elite linebacker in the second round with Willie Gay Jr. While they should have drafted a cornerback a little earlier, the Chiefs still got one in the last round.

Las Vegas Raiders: C+

It wouldn’t be a Raiders draft if there wasn’t an odd pick and the fastest receiver in the draft taken. While the Raiders had the chance to take the two best receivers, they opted to take receiver Henry Ruggs III. He has the chance to be a Tyreek Hill clone, which is good for their offense. The biggest eyebrow raiser, however, was the drafting of cornerback Damon Arnette, who came out of virtually nowhere. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have a plan, so now it’s time to wait and see.

Los Angeles Chargers: B-

The Chargers drafted quarterback Justin Herbert fifth overall and traded their round two and three picks to slide back in the first round to get linebacker Kenneth Murray. In all honesty, this year’s draft falls on these two players’ heads and it will be interesting to see how they shape up. A sleeper pick was fourth-round pick running back Joshua Kelley.

Los Angeles Rams: B

The Los Angeles Rams have gone from NFC Champions and Super Bowl runner up to potential rebuild mode. It all depends on the 2020-21 season. The Rams filled much of their needed positions, especially at running back and wide receiver. They also restocked on the defensive side of the ball. Not one offensive lineman was drafted, which was highly questionable and is what ultimately dropped their grade.

Miami Dolphins: A-

All eyes were on the Dolphins this year. They traded away four of their stars last season and hoarded picks. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the first of their three first-round picks, is going to be fascinating to watch. Tagovailoa has all of the tools to be a superstar quarterback. Next, they took tackle Austin Jackson and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. This draft will shape the Dolphins for years to come.

Minnesota Vikings: A

With 15 picks this year, the Vikings did a good job filling positions. The glaring needs were in the receiver and cornerback positions, which the Vikings took care of in the first round. Receiver Justin Jefferson will start week one and cornerback Jeff Gladney surely has a chance to start as well.
The Vikings really did a great job filling the holes on their roster.

New England Patriots: C

While most NFL fans thought the Patriots were going to take quarterback or receiver, they opted to take none. Instead, the Patriots traded out of the first round and decided to draft defensive players, two tight ends and two offensive linemen. Leave it to head coach Bill Belichick to shake up the draft.

New Orleans Saints: B-

With only four picks, the Saints took center Cesar Ruiz in the first round and then a linebacker and a tight end in the third round. They traded back into the seventh round to draft a quarterback to replace backup Teddy Bridgewater.

New York Giants: B+

The Giants passed on the best linebacker to take tackle Andrew Thomas. While it is not the flashiest pick, it was smart. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs protection and the Giants gave it to him. They came back in round two to take the best safety in the draft, Xavier McKinney. It was a somewhat safe draft, but it worked for the Giants.

New York Jets: B

Much like their New York Giants neighbors, the Jets needed offensive line help to protect quarterback Sam Darnold. They got it with the towering 6-foot-7-inch tackle Mekhi Becton. They also needed receiver help with Robby Anderson leaving. They drafted Denzel Mims in the second round, which is definitely seen as a steal. The rest of their draft was full of eye-catching athletes.

Philadelphia Eagles: C+

The Eagles were on their way to a failure of a draft until they traded for 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. They needed receivers this draft and only drafted two. Receiver Jalen Reagor will most likely start week one, which is positive. The biggest head scratcher of the entire draft was the choice to draft quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round. No one really knows why they took Hurts. If they needed a backup quarterback, they could have got one much later.

Pittsburgh Steelers: C

Without a first round pick because of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, the Steelers took receiver Chase Claypool in the second round. Pittsburgh needed a running back and potentially a quarterback to start thinking about the future, they only got a running back in the fourth round. They took outside linebacker Alex Highsmith in the third round, which was a head scratcher because the Steelers are stacked with linebackers. They did also score a very talented offensive guard in the fourth round, who has the chance to start in a few years.

San Francisco 49ers: B-

The Super Bowl runner up 49ers only had five draft picks with two of them in the first round. They took Javon Kinlaw to replace DeForest Buckner and they took a much needed receiver, Brandon Aiyuk. The decision to not take a cornerback might come back to bite them next season.

Seattle Seahawks: C-

The Seahawks whiffed in last year’s draft, other than receiver D.K. Metcalf — this year has the same vibes. There isn’t a player that they drafted that stands out. It is hard to doubt the people in charge as the Seahawks rarely miss the playoffs, so time will tell.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A

The Buccaneers keep on winning this offseason. The biggest need this draft was a tackle to protect Tom Brady and they got him in the first round. Tristan Wirfs will protect Brady and start week one. They also picked up one of the best safeties in the draft in Antoine Winfield Jr. Running back was a big question as well and they drafted two of them.

Tennessee Titans: B

It was an average draft for the Titans. They grabbed a good tackle in the first round with Isaiah Wilson and then got a solid cornerback in round two with Kristian Fulton. Other than those two picks, it was a lot of average players who have high ceilings.

Washington Redskins: A

The Redskins scored the best player in the draft with the second overall pick, defensive end Chase Young. They did not have a second-round pick, but came back in the third with receiver Antonio Gibson. They also drafted a couple of offensive linemen to help protect their young quarterback. The Redskins quietly had one of the best drafts.