The Patriot Press

2018 NFL Draft Team Grades

By Jacob Waxman, Staff Writer

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The 2018 NFL Draft is complete and teams either played the board smart, or took too many risks. Will they pay off during the season? We will find out.

AFC North

  • Browns: A-
    • After taking their future franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the Browns continued to have a strong draft, selecting Denzel Ward, Austin Corbett, Nick Chubb, Chad Thomas, Antonio Callaway, and more. Overall, they had a very strong draft, adding depth to many positions while filling holes in the starting lineup.
  • Bengals: B+
    • The Bengals first round pick, Billy Price, is a very talented and versatile player, but there are durability concerns with him as he tore his pectoral muscle at the combine. Even with this concern Price has a lot of potential talent along with Jessie Bates, Sam Hubbard, Mark Walton, Malik Jefferson, and others. The Bengals added a lot of talent in the first three rounds this year and I think it will help them contend for an AFC North title.
  • Ravens: A
    • The Ravens acquired more picks in the draft by trading down many times, eventually getting them talented players late in the draft. With the addition of Hayden Hurst, Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown, Deshon Elliot, Anthony Averett and more, in GM Ozzie Newsome’s last draft, the Ravens have a big future in front of them.
  • Steelers: C+
    • The Steelers had a dissapointing Day 1 of the draft, when they selected Terrell Edmunds who wasn’t projected to be selected until the third or fourth round. Although they had this hiccup, they had a great Day 2 & 3. With the selections of Marcus Allen, Chukwuma Okorafor, Jaylen Smauels, Joshua Frazier, and teammates James Washington and Mason Rudolph, their team seems to be set after Ben Roethlisberger retires.

AFC East

  • Bills: B+
    • The Bills had a strong draft, but there isn’t a lot of raw talent that they drafted. Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds, and Harrison Phillips headline the Bills draft. In Day 3 the Bills took a lot of small school players, and players that have a lot to prove. If the players can meet their potential, then this will end up being a very strong draft for Buffalo.
  • Dolphins: A-

    • The Dolphins improved every side of the ball in the 2018 NFL Draft. The selections of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker can add a sense of youth and speed to their aging defense. Mike Gesicki, tight end out of Penn State, can add a huge red zone presence and vertical threat to a Dolphins offense that struggled last season.
  • Jets: B+
    • The Jets secured their franchise quarterback with the third overall pick, selecting Sam Darnold out of Southern California. Along with drafting the QB, they stepped up their offense drafting tight end Chris Herndon out of Miami as a steal in the fourth round. For a team who is in the rebuilding process, the Jets only had six picks in the draft. If Darnold plays the way he is expected to, this could be the best the Jets have drafted in years.
  • Patriots: B
    • The Patriots did something unusual this year in the draft and not only acquired an additional first round pick, but they also didn’t trade any away, resulting in a big draft for them. Drafting teammates Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel, they wanted to add some strength to their offensive line and speed to the backfield. In later rounds they took some pretty reliable players, but one you can look out for is Miami wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Berrios is the typical Bill Belichick slot receiver, who can see time on the field early in the season with the departure of Danny Amendola.

AFC South

  • Colts: B+
    • The Colts had a good draft for themselves this year. Even though they had the sixth overall pick, they selected the second best player in the draft, Quenten Nelson. Nelson is a plug and play guard who will immediately add consistency on the left side of the offensive line to protect Andrew Luck. Later in the draft they looked to add some depth to the defense selecting Darius Leonard, Kemoko Turray, Tyquan Lewis, and others. This draft class can be promising for the Colts, and if they can get Andrew Luck back on the field this season, you can expect to see them in the playoffs.
  • Jaguars: B
    • Last season the Jaguars had a season like no other, getting to the AFC Championship. The Jaguars had their ups and downs this season specifically with quarterback play, but with Lamar Jackson still on the board at 29, they opted for a quick twitch, strong defensive lineman in Taven Bryant. They had a strong Day 1 & 2, selecting future starters on the defensive side of the ball in Bryant and Ronnie Harrison, and added a speedy wide receiver to an already fast and young wide receiver room.
  • Texans: B-
    • After trading up in last years draft to select DeShaun Watson, the Texans gave the rights to their first and second round picks this year. Fortunately for them, a potential first round pick in Justin Reid was available in the third round when the Texans were on the clock. Taking Reid will not only help the defense with skill, but also with youth.
  • Titans: B-
    • With new head coach Mike Vrabel at the helm, he looked to improve his side of the ball, the defense. With his first two picks, he took Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, two linebackers who will feast in the 3-4 defense and will get better by learning from great linebackers in Mike Vrabel, Brian Orakpo, and Derrick Morgan. The Titans only had four picks in this years draft and with their last pick they took Luke Falk, a quarterback, who doesn’t relate to Mariota’s play style. Seeing him learning from Mariota will be interesting.

AFC West

  • Broncos: A-
    • The Broncos had a great draft, especially in the later rounds. With the selection of Bradley Chubb, Cortland Sutton, Royce Freeman, Josey Jewell, DaeSean Hamilton, Troy Fumagalli, and others they improved every side of the ball in this years draft. Adding Chubb, who is a top three player in the draft is going to step up the defensive line, distracting the lineman from Von Miller. Hamilton a wide receiver from Penn State, can add consistency and production to the offense for new quarterback Case Keenum.
  • Chargers: B+
    • Holding the 17th overall pick this year, the Chargers got a top 10 talent in Derwin James, a player who could have gone anywhere from 5-20. Along with James, the Chargers added Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, Justin Jackson, and others. These four players that I named can add an extra level of speed to the already improved defense, as Jackson can add a speedy, pass catching ability similar to Jerrick McKinnon.
  • Chiefs: C
    • Current Browns GM John Dorsey was the Chiefs GM last season when they moved up in the first round to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes. With moving up, comes giving away picks, and thats exactly what the Chiefs did. Due to that trade, the Chiefs didn’t have a first round pick. The Chiefs didn’t have any standout picks in this years draft, even with the slide of many players. Their best in the draft may have come in the fourth round when the selected Armani Watts. Even with the aging front seven, they didn’t seem to try and add youth to it.
  • Raiders: B
    • The Raiders had a very interesting draft, filled with lots of potential, but not a lot of plug and play type of players. They took Kolton Miller who as a tackle has good footwork and hands, but on film he doesn’t look good at all, and often gets beat. In addition to him they took two, first round talent players, in the later rounds. Both Arden Key and Maurice Hurst have amazing skill but off the field issues can diminish their careers. If the Raiders hit on all three of the players, they have an extremely bright future ahead of them.

NFC North

  • Bears: B+
    • Chicago had a very strong first two round of the draft, beefing up their defense and offense for second year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Roquan Smith, their first round draft pick will bring speed, strength, and a Mike Singletary esque physicality to the field. In the second round they chose an extremely versatile offensive lineman in James Daniel, who had a terrific combine with his quick footwork. Along with Daniels comes, Anthony Miller, who can make the newly put together receiving corp for Chicago even better.
  • Lions: B-
    • The Lions have had their franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, playing for them for 10 years. Up to this point he has not had a steady running game to support his quarterback play, and part of their mission was to fix that. In the first round they drafted interior lineman, Frank Ragnow, who climbed up teams boards late in the draft process. Along with Ragnow’s blocking skills they want to improve their run game as a whole by selecting Kerryon Johnson. Unfortunately for Matt Patricia and the Lions, I don’t think he’s the answer.
  • Packers: A-
    • The Packers loaded up on draft picks, constantly trading down. Eventually they need up with 11 picks for this years draft, instantly making the defense better. With their first two picks they selected two very talented cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, to improve their pass defense. With the departure of Jordy Nelson, they also looked to improve the wide receivers, selecting three on day three.
  • Vikings: B-
    • The Vikings had some rough play by the secondary in playoffs last year, and with Terrance Newman at the age of 39, they needed to do something about cornerbacks. They opted to take Mike Hughes, a physical, ball hawk defender. Along with that they added an offensive tackle in Brian O’Neil, and Jaylen Holmes a strong punishing defensive end from Ohio State to round out their first three picks.

NFC East

  • Cowboys: C+
    • Jerry Jones and the rest of the front office for Dallas focused on depth more than anything for this years draft. with their first round pick they selected a true middle linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch, out of Boise State. They would’ve received a B-, but Vander Esch doesn’t fit their scheme too much and with the uncertainty of fit.
  • Eagles: A-
    • The Super Bowl 52 Champions have brought back almost every player from last year, while adding some elite talent in Michael Bennett. Holding the 32nd pick in this years draft, they chose to trade back and acquire a second round pick. With the departures of Brent Celek and Trey Burton a tight end, Eagles chose arguably the best tight end, Dallas Goedert. With four picks on Day 3, one of their picks may have been the steal of the draft. They selected Josh Sweat out of Florida State, a guy who has first round talent, but has serious knee concerns. If the draft is any indication of how their season will shape out, it looks like another playoff run in Philadelphia.
  • Giants: A-
    • New Head Coach Pat Shurmur, and new GM Dave Gettleman knew what they had to do when they took over the 3-13 Giants. While holding the second overall pick they took the best player in the draft, Saquon Barkley. The Giants got their franchise running back but they needed to block for him, so they took Will Hernandez. After lots of talk about Eli Manning and how me may be leaving soon, Gettleman pulled the plug on what can be the next starting quarterback in Kyle Lauletta.  They focused on the defense side of the ball as well, selecting Lorenzo Carter, BJ Hill, and RJ McIntosh.
  • Redskins: B+
    • Last year the ‘Skins took Jonathan Allen in the first round to improve their defensive line, and this year they drafted a similar player. With the 13th pick and Derwin James still on the board the Redskins opted to take one of Allen’s old teammates Da’Ron Payne. In the second round they got a steal in Derrius Guice who will become their starting running back in the near future. A lot of off the field concerns came across teams on draft night about Guice causing him to drop.

NFC South

  • Buccaneers: B
    • The Bucs had a pretty good draft this year getting talent that they need on Day 2 and 3. In the first rounf they traded back, to 12, and got the best available player in Vita Vea. Vea wasn’t a need for Tampa Bay with them acquiring Jason Pierre-Paul, and signing Vinny Curry and Beau Allen. Getting Ronald Jones, Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart, Jordan Whitehead on Day 2 secured their grade in the draft, improving a secondary that was underachieving last season.
  • Falcons: B
    • Coming off a disappointing season compared to 2016 the Falcons addressed their needs early in the draft this year, getting wide receiver Calvin Ridley and cornerback Isaiah Oliver. With the addition of Ridley to the offense can open up some plays for Julio Jones, and will overall improve the offense since they lost Taylor Gabriel to the Bears.
  • Panthers: A-
    • Carolina had an off year last season, even with Cam Newton putting up career high numbers. With the trade removing Kelvin Benjamin from the team, with Greg Olsen’s career coming to an end soon, and Josh Norman leaving for Washington, the Panthers focused on offensive weapons and defensive backs in this years draft. They selected DJ Moore (WR), Donte Jackson (CB), Rashaan Gaulden (CB), Ian Thomas (TE), and Jermaine Carter Jr (CB).
  • Saints: C+
    • The Saints had the best draft class of last year with players winning offensive and defensive rookie of the year. This year they traded up from 27 to select Marcus Davenport at 14. While trading up they also gave up picks in the later rounds, as well as next years first round pick. Along with the priciness of Davenport, the Saints didn’t have much of a name star studded draft, leaving uncertainty in New Orleans.

NFC West

  • 49ers: B-
    • After acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo the 49ers finished the 2017 season going 5-0. The 49ers held nine picks in the draft this year. With the uncertainty of how much longer Joe Staley will be on the roster, they took Mike McGlinchey who most scouts think will play right tackle instead of left tackle. With Staley to learn from, McGlinchey can be their future bodyguard. Second year GM John Lynch took care of a variety of positions, selecting offensive lineman, wide receivers, defensive backs, defensive lineman, and a linebacker.
  • Cardinals: B
    • Arizona moved up from 15 to 10 to select Josh Rosen, the most pro ready quarterback in the draft. Rosen has unbelievable accuracy and touch, and with the future of the Cardinals quarterback situation questionable they needed to select him here. They also gave Rosen a weapon in Christian Kirk, a fast, smooth route runner. The Cardinals also added depth to the running back, center, tackle, and cornerback positions. Arizona got a steal in the sixth round when they drafted former Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell. Campbell was projected to go as early as the third round.
  • Rams: B
    • After trading for Brandin Cooks. Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib, the Rams gave up a lot of picks, but still had 11. After a breakout season for the Rams, with head coach Sean McVay winning coach of the year, they front office focused on the offensive line and defensive front seven. In this years draft alone they drafted three offensive lineman, four defensive lineman, three linebackers, and one running back.
  • Seahawks: C
    • Seattle had quite the surprise in the first round when they selected Rashaad Penny who wasn’t projected to go until the third or fourth round. The Seahawks stole the show when the drafted former UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round, to pair him up with his brother in the Seattle defense. Shaquem was born with a tendon disorder in his left hand which eventually resulted in him getting his hand amputated. Aside from them two they also drafted Jamaica Jones who can add depth to their offensive line and drafted Tre Flowers, a safety who plays similar to Kam Chancellor.

 

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