Letter grades for the NFL Draft
May 08, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
I will be taking a look at a few NFL teams each week and how they drafted this year, and also a few other changes the team may have made in the offseason.
Arizona Cardinals: They did not do much to give me hope as this does not look to be a good season for the Cards. HC Bruce Arians is gone, replaced by Steve Wilks. QB Carson Palmer has departed as well. Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen will be under center. The Cardinals drafted Rosen, who is a top prospect, but Bradford will be under center as long as he stays healthy.
Rosen is a big QB at 6’4” and 226, but he does bring some off-field baggage with him. I give the Cardinals a “B+” in their draft.
John Brown and Tyrann Mathieu are gone from last year’s edition. The Cardinals did add Justin Pugh to the offensive line and he will give them a big boost. Still, even with their decent draft, I see the Cardinals at the bottom of this division.
Atlanta Falcons: Another team that showed me nothing in the offseason. They didn’t draft until the 26th pick and took WR Calvin Ridley. Ridley is there to take some of the pressure off Julio Jones. This team will regress in 2018, since it seems to me their window began to close ever since they blew that big halftime lead in the Super Bowl. I look for that slide to continue this season.
Baltimore Ravens: I believe the Ravens will show improvement this season. They drafted 25th and took TE Hayden Hurst. They rebuilt the wide receiver core, adding Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV. The addition of Hurst to those new wide outs will boost Joe Flacco. They also added Lamar Jackson with the last pick of the first round at QB, as the heir replacement to Flacco. I do look for Flacco to improve this season with the addition of the talent at wide out. And, that will make this Baltimore team better in 2018.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills drafted Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the 7th pick. I like Allen, he’s big and strong and has a very good arm. However, it will take some time before this team improves overall. There are just too many question marks up and down the roster. While I give their draft an “A-” I give the team a “D”.
Chicago Bears: The Bears had the 8th pick in the first round and took LB Roquan Smith of Georgia. The Bears have had three straight losing seasons after a 5-11 mark last year. John Fox was replaced as the head coach by former Chiefs OC Matt Nagy. Smith is a fine fit to this Bears defense, though he’s a bit undersized.
Mitch Trubisky got thrown in at QB last year in the fourth game, but the Bears still finished last in the NFL in passing yards. They added wide receivers Allen Robinson from Jacksonville and Taylor Gabriel to give Trubisky more targets. The addition of Smith at LB will also help.
The Bears really have nowhere to go but up. I don’t think they will be all that improved, but should be better than their five wins last year.
Cleveland Browns: The team with the biggest picks in this year’s draft was the Cleveland Browns. The Browns took QB Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick and CB Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick. Mayfield is by no means a sure thing. Remember Tim Couch, the Browns first pick in 1999? Not many people do. Since Couch, this Browns team has had 29 starters at quarterback.
The one drawback to Mayfield is his size; at just over six-feet tall he’s one of the smallest QB’s in the draft. Mayfield isn’t without controversy either, off-field public intoxication issues and that crotch grabbing incident vs. Kansas. Only time will tell if this was the right move by Cleveland. If history is any indication, they may be in for trouble.
Denver Broncos: Not sure what is going on in the Mile High City. Maybe the high altitude and thin air are getting to John Elway. I expected a QB to go to Denver, but they drafted Bradley Chubb, DE from NC State with the fifth pick. Chubb is very good, a very physical player to compliment the Broncos DE Von Miller.
I thought long term QB was a goal here, but they added Case Keenum from the Vikings and while he’s good, he’s not the future. QB Josh Allen was available and I thought he would be a very good fit. The defense will again be very good, but you have to score points to win.
I give the Broncos an “A” for a very good defensive draft, but a “C” for an offense with questions.