NFL Draft First Round Grades

Editor in Chief Eric Ting grades the first 20 picks of this year’s NFL Draft

NFL Draft First Round Grades

Eric Ting, Editor in Chief

Another NFL Draft is in the books, so it’s time to speculate on how well teams drafted (even though these rookies have yet to play a down for their respective teams). Regardless, it’s time to grade the top 20 picks of the first round.

1: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The consensus number one overall pick since Bowl Season ended, Winston gives the Buccaneers their first franchise-caliber quarterback for a long time. Still, his off the field issues present red flags.

Grade: A-

 

2: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans: The Titans have decided they prefer Mariota over incumbent Zach Mettenberger, and rightfully so. Mariota’s mobility and work ethic can aid him as he becomes a more consistently accurate passer.

Grade: A

 

3: Dante Fowler, Jacksonville Jaguars: Fowler tore his ACL last week during the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp, and won’t see the field this season. Still, Fowler is incredible and with people recovering from ACLs like they’re nothing these days, Fowler will make his impact felt when he returns for his sophomore season.

Grade: A

 

4: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders: Remember your last history test whenyou picked an answer that may have been right but there was a more correct answer you overlooked? That’s the Cooper pick for the Raiders. In a receiver deep draft and Leonard Williams (a once in five years talent) still on the board who happens to play a position of need for the Raiders, the Raiders should have taken Williams and then grabbed a receiver in round two or three.

Grade: B

 

  1. Brandon Scherff, Washington Redskins: The Redskins must keep Robert Griffin III healthy to be competitive, and they nabbed a great piece to their offensive line. Scherff will be a monster right tackle or potentially even guard, and with Trent Williams at left tackle the Redskins could have two bookend tackles for the foreseeable future. Still, number five overall may be a little too rich for an offensive lineman that won’t play left tackle.

Grade: B+

 

  1. Leonard Williams, New York Jets: The Jets didn’t need Williams with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson on their roster, but Williams was the best player to enter this year’s draft and taking him at number six is a no brainer from a value standpoint. It also makes Wilkerson and Richardson valuable trade pieces to potentially address other needs.

Grade: A+

 

  1. Kevin White, Chicago Bears: With Brandon Marshall gone, the Bears needed someone to line up opposite Alshon Jeffery and stretch the field vertically. White is a physical freak at 6’3 with 4.35 speed and had the most upside of any receiver in the draft. Despite having just one year of production at West Virginia, White is oozing with potential and could become one of the game’s best at wide receiver.

Grade: A

 

  1. Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons haven’t had a pass rush for a number of years now, so adding a premier edge defender in this year’s draft was a must for Atlanta. With Gregory and Ray dropping due to character concerns, Vic Beasley became the obvious selection for new head coach Dan Quinn. Beasley possess all the physical traits to succeed, although some questions remain about his effort. Beasley will still be productive as a rookie, and give Atlanta an injection of youth into the front seven of their defense.

Grade: A

 

  1. Ereck Flowers, New York Giants: The Giants reached here for offensive line help, as Flowers was considered a mid to late first round talent due to technical issues in his game. Flowers gives the Giants flexibility up front, since they now can move Justin Pugh to guard and have Flowers play right tackle. Offensive line is a need for the Giants, but the value just wasn’t here at number nine.

Grade: C-

 

  1. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams: A bit of a luxury pick when you consider the Rams have Tre Mason and Zac Stacy on their roster, but the Rams have since jettisoned Stacy to make room for possibly the best running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Gurley has it all: size, speed, vision, toughness and even catching ability. The one concern regarding Gurley is his health since he tore his ACL in the middle of last season. However, like Fowler whenever he gets on the field he will live up to his potential.

Grade: B

 

  1. Trae Waynes, Minnesota Vikings: With Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Alshon Jeffery and now Kevin White in the NFC North, the Vikings need to be able to cover people. Waynes is a solid cover corner, but is a minor liability in run support and may be a little on the skinny side. Waynes is still a freaky smooth athlete with great ball skills, so this pick was a success for Minnesota

Grade: B

 

  1. Danny Shelton, Cleveland Browns: Incumbent nose guard Phil Taylor has not performed well in recent seasons and the Browns have been unable to stop the run as a result. Shelton physically can’t be moved at nose guard, and will shore up a lot of the Browns’ deficiencies against the run. The one knock on this pick is the fact that DeVante Parker was available, and wide receiver was a bigger need than nose guard for the Browns.

Grade: B-

 

  1. Andrus Peat, New Orleans Saints: This pick was a bit of a head scratcher, seeing as the Saints have two bright young tackles in Terron Armstead and Zach Streif. The Saints are also desperate for pass rush help, and even if they weren’t willing to take a chance on Randy Gregory or Shane Ray, Bud Dupree was still available. Peat is a bit of a project, so he likely won’t see the field his rookie season, especially behind Streif and Armstead.

Grade: D

 

  1. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins: DeVante is the third elite receiver in this draft, offering glue like hands and polished route running. Receiver was the Dolphins’ biggest need, and Parker fell right to them. The Dolphins filled their number one need and grabbed a player rated higher than 14 without having to move up. Bravo.

Grade: A+

 

  1. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers: Who said running backs were going extinct? Gordon was the second running back taken in the top 15, and will carry the load for San Diego as Philip Rivers continues to age. Gordon is a smart, shifty, do-it-all back, and fits head coach Mike McCoy’s scheme nicely.

Grade: A

 

  1. Kevin Johnson, Houston Texans: Kevin Johnson benefitted from competing against less than stellar competition while at Wake Forest, but still has eye-popping intangibles. Like Waynes, Johnson is a liability against the run, although Johnson isn’t as good in coverage as Waynes. A bit of a reach, although with Jonathan Joseph aging, Johnson has time to develop into the team’s new starting cornerback opposite Kareem Jackson.

Grade: C+

 

  1. Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers needed defensive line help badly. Ray McDonald is gone after a domestic violence incident and Justin Smith is likely to retire. Armstead is a monster at 6’7 280, although he has yet to translate his size and athleticism to production on the field. Thankfully for the 49ers, Jim Tomsula has a great track record developing young defensive linemen and under Tomsula’s tutelage, Armstead could become one of the NFL’s best.

Grade: A-

 

  1. Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs: Despite being dismissed from Washington halfway through the season, Marcus Peters still found himself taken in the first round. Peters is the most talented cornerback in this year’s draft, and Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has experience turning around players with behavior issues. Peters will only make the already scary Chiefs’ defense scarier, and could become one of the best corners in the league.

Grade: A-

 

  1. Cameron Erving, Cleveland Browns: Another head scratcher here as Erving was at his best at center at Florida State and the Browns need a right tackle. Erving was moved to center due to struggling at tackle, and the Browns have an All-Pro at Center in Alex Mack. Erving may be unfit to play tackle in the NFL, and with a glaring need at wide receiver, this pick appears ill advised.

Grade: D

 

  1. Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles: Another odd pick, since most people had a second round grade on Agholor and the Eagles have a bigger need in the secondary. This continued to raise questions about Chip Kelly’s decision making with his new role as general manager, and adds another item to the list of bizarre personnel decisions the Eagles made this offseason.

Grade: D+