Another NFL Draft is in the books. After seven rounds and 253 picks, all 32 teams now officially have their incoming class of prospects. Of course, the biggest question fans have in the aftermath of the draft is how well their favorite team did in terms of addressing their biggest positional needs.
Now it must be said that it’s difficult to give a fully accurate evaluation this early in the process. The true measure of whether or not a given draft class was hit or miss won’t be evident until these players have been on the field for a few years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do some immediate post-draft prognostication.
Which teams aced the 2017 NFL Draft? Which ones left fans and experts scratching their heads? And which ones fell in between those two extremes? All of it will be explored in our draft grades. Here, the focus is on the NFC East and NFC North.
Last Word On Pro Football 2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC Part One
NFC East, by Chris Bolden
Dallas Cowboys: C+
1 (28): Taco Charlton, edge rusher, Michigan
2 (60): Chidobe Awuzie, cornerback, Colorado
3 (92): Jourdan Lewis, cornerback, Michigan
4 (133): Ryan Switzer, wide receiver, North Carolina
6 (191): Xavier Woods, safety, Louisiana Tech
6 (216): Marquez White, cornerback, Florida State
7 (228): Joey Ivie, interior defensive lineman, Florida
7 (239): Noah Brown, wide receiver, Ohio State
7 (246): Jordan Carrell, interior defensive lineman, Colorado
The Cowboys had two glaring weaknesses coming into this draft: defensive secondary and defensive line. The team nailed the first three rounds. With Randy Gregory suspended for the season, Dallas needed to address defensive end early and they did so with Taco Charlton. Selecting Chidobe Awuzie in the second round and Jourdan Lewis in the third round helped fill the gaps left by Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys already have a solid receiving corps in Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Lucky Whitehead. Receiver shouldn’t have even been on Dallas’ board but Ryan Switzer was Dallas’ fourth round selection. Taking receiver instead of a safety such as Desmond King or a defensive tackle like Carlos Watkins lowers Dallas’ draft score. The only pick, other than defense, that would’ve made sense in the fourth round is a tight end like Jake Butt.
Dallas did, however, address the need at safety in the sixth round with Xavier Woods as well as another corner, Marquez White. Two defensive tackles were selected in the seventh round, Joey Ivie and Jordan Carrell, as well as receiver in Noah Brown. With the Cowboys passing on good defensive players to take receivers, as well as leaving the Draft without an heir to Jason Witten, they earn a C+ grade.
New York Giants: B+
1 (23): Evan Engram, tight end, Ole Miss
2 (55): Dalvin Tomlinson, interior defensive lineman, Alabama
3 (87): Davis Webb, quarterback, California|
4 (140): Wayne Gallman, running back, Clemson
5 (167): Avery Moss, edge rusher, Youngstown State
6 (200): Adam Bisnowaty, offensive tackle, Pittsburgh
The Giants started out on a questionable note, taking tight end Evan Engram in the first round. With the departure of Johnathan Hankins and the poor play from Ereck Flowers, a defensive tackle like Malik McDowell or offensive tackle like Ryan Ramczyk would have made more sense. Tight end was a need but could’ve easily been filled in a later round.
Defensive tackle was addressed in the second round with Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson should come in right away and give the Giants some help in the pass rush. I understand wanting to bring in a quarterback to take over when Eli Manning retires but, the third round selection should’ve been someone else. D’Onta Foreman, for instance, could’ve come in and helped boost the run game for the Giants. This would’ve made more sense since the Giants chose a running back in the fourth round, where quarterback Nathan Peterman would’ve been available.
New York finished things with a defensive end in the fifth round (Avery Moss) and, finally, an offensive tackle in the sixth round (Adam Bisnowaty). Taking a tight end early and passing on so much defensive talent hurt the Giants draft grade. However, the Giants did address every need, other than linebacker, and put together a solid draft. For this reason, they get a B+.
Philadelphia Eagles: B-
1 (14): Derek Barnett, edge rusher, Tennessee
2 (43): Sidney Jones, cornerback, Washington
3 (99): Rasul Douglas, cornerback, West Virgina
4 (118): Mack Hollins, wide receiver, North Carolina
4 (132): Donnel Pumphrey, running back, San Diego State
5 (166): Shelton Gibson, wide receiver, West Virginia
5 (184): Nate Gerry, safety, Nebraska
6 (214): Elijah Qualls, interior defensive lineman, Washington
With their NFC East opponents having such electrifying offenses, the one thing Philadelphia needed to improve was defense. Many expected cornerback to be the Eagles first round pick. While Marlon Humphrey appeared to be the right move here, Derek Barnett is still a great pick. Sidney Jones, if he returns from injury at 100 percent, is probably the best corner in this draft class. Taking him in the second round could end up being a steal for the Eagles.
Rasul Douglas is another corner that could end up being great for the Eagles coming out of the third round. While receiver Mack Hollins seems like a reach in the fourth, running back Donnel Pumphrey seems like the perfect heir to Darren Sproles. Shelton Gibson is a decent pickup in the fifth round but Nate Gerry was a reach. If the Eagles wanted to go safety in the fifth round, they should’ve taken Xavier Woods or Rudy Ford.
Elijah Qualls could end up being the sleeper for the Eagles in this draft. Selected in the sixth round, many experts had Qualls going in the third or fourth. With a strong first three rounds, the Eagles get a good draft grade. However, they seemed to reach in the fourth and fifth rounds and so as a result, their grade goes down a bit.
Washington Redskins: A
1 (17): Jonathan Allen, interior defensive lineman, Alabama
2 (49): Ryan Anderson, linebacker, Alabama
3 (81): Fabian Moreau, cornerback, UCLA
4 (114): Samaje Perine, running back, Oklahoma
4 (123): Montae Nicholson, safety, Michigan State
5 (154): Jeremy Sprinkle, tight end, Arkansas
6 (199): Chase Roullier, center, Wyoming
6 (209): Robert Davis, wide receiver, Georgia State
7 (230): Josh Harvey-Clemons, safety, Louisville
7 (235): Joshua Holsey, cornerback, Auburn
The Redksins had one of the better drafts this year. Washington used their first three picks very wisely to fill much needed defensive spots. Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, and Fabian Moreau should all be able to come in during their rookie seasons and contribute to the defense. Moreau could end up being a steal for the Redskins. Before injuring his pectoral muscle at the Combine, he was considered a first round corner by many experts.
With Washington lacking a solid rushing attack, an explosive, powerful runner like Samaje Perine makes a lot of sense in the fourth round. Montae Nicholson is a reach, however, especially coming off of shoulder surgery. There’s just no way to justify taking Nicholson in the fourth round when so many better safeties were available (Desmond King, Xavier Woods, Rudy Ford). Not to mention, the safety they took in the seventh round, Josh Harvey-Clemons, is ranked higher than Nicholson.
With Jordan Reed struggling with injuries, Jeremey Sprinkle seems like a great pick in the fifth round. Chase Roullier is a safe pick, with his versatility making him valuable to the offensive line depth. While Joshua Holsey is a bit of a reach, the Redskins may have landed a sleeper with Robert Davis. Davis is a big bodied receiver that drew a lot of Julio Jones comparisons at the combine. While the Redskins had a very good draft, there is still the reach on Nicholson and Holsey which lowers their grade a bit. Other than the reaches, the Redskins seem to have addressed their needs as well as any team this year.
NFC North, by Jocelyn Berg
Chicago Bears: C-
1 (2): Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina
2 (45): Adam Shaheen, tight end, Ashland
4 (112): Eddie Jackson, safety, Alabama
4 (119): Tarik Cohen, running back, North Carolina A&T
5 (147): Jordan Morgan, offensive guard, Kutztown (PA)
Well, the Bears are gonna Bear. The team gave up two first round picks and a third
in order to move up just one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at number two
overall. Why? Nobody really knows. If Trubisky pans out and becomes a franchise
quarterback, this becomes a valuable draft. If he doesn’t, the Bears mortgaged those
future picks for nothing and set back their future. There is potential in this draft class, but
at first glance the risk seems to outweigh it.
Detroit Lions: B+
1 (21): Jarrad Davis, linebacker, Florida
2 (53): Teez Tabor, cornerback, Florida
3 (96): Kenny Golladay, wide receiver, Northern Illinois
4 (124): Jalen Reeves-Maybin, linebacker, Tennessee
4 (127): Michael Roberts, tight end, Toledo
5 (165): Jamal Agnew, cornerback, San Diego
6 (205): Jeremiah Leadbetter, edge rusher, Arkansas
6 (215): Brad Kaaya, quarterback, Miami (FL)
7 (250): Pat O’Connor, edge rusher, Eastern Michigan
Detroit may have had the best draft in the division. They landed a pair of Florida
defenders with first round talent in linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Teez Tabor.
At pick 53, Tabor will prove to be an absolute steal. He has top ten talent and may be
looked at as the best cornerback in this draft in three years. Davis is a highly talented
linebacker and should assume a starting role early, instantly bolstering the Detroit
defense. The Lions are gonna need these defensive additions in a division with the likes
of Aaron Rodgers for the Packers, blossoming star running back Jordan Howard for the Bears, and a
balanced Minnesota offense with guys like Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, and Stefon
Diggs to worry about.
Green Bay Packers: B
2 (33): Kevin King, cornerback, Washington
2 (61): Josh Jones, safety, N.C. State
3 (93): Montravius Adams, interior defensive lineman, Auburn
4 (108): Vince Biegel, linebacker, Wisconsin
4 (134): Jamaal Williams, running back, BYU
5 (175): DeAngelo Yancey, wide receiver, Purdue
5 (182): Aaron Jones, running back, UTEP
6 (212): Kofi Amichia, center, South Florida
7 (238): Devante Mays, running back, Utah State
7 (247): Malachi Dupre, wide receiver, LSU
Lengthy cornerback Kevin King will be a massive upgrade to Green Bay’s secondary,
no pun intended.Their secondary play was atrocious last year and King will almost
certainly be an instant starter. Beyond the first four rounds, this year’s draft was focused
on adding offensive depth, as evidenced by the three running backs and two wide
receivers taken. Fourth rounder Jamaal Williams has a chance to become the starter
early in a backfield lacking talent.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
2 (41): Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State
3 (70): Pat Elflein, center, Ohio State
4 (109): Jaleel Johnson, interior defensive lineman, Iowa
4 (120): Ben Gedeon, linebacker, Michigan
5 (170): Rodney Adams, wide receiver, South Florida
5 (180): Danny Isidora, offensive guard, Miami (FL)
6 (201): Bucky Hodges, tight end, Virginia Tech
7 (219): Stacy Coley, wide receiver, Miami (FL)
7 (220): Ifeadi Odenigbo, defensive lineman, Northwestern
7 (232): Elijah Lee, linebacker, Kansas State
7 (245): Jack Tocho, cornerback, N.C. State
The Vikings had a rock solid draft.They addressed needs, added depth, and in the long
run the franchise will improve. Top-tier running back talent Dalvin Cook fell into their laps
in round two, and he will address one of the biggest needs. Cook looks to be the heir
apparent to Adrian Peterson, who finally saw his time as a Viking come to an end.
The Vikings addressed holes on the rest of their roster as well. They took two interior
offensive lineman, which should aid what is their biggest hole, and they also grabbed
depth players at five other positions. This draft should prove to be a solid one for the
Vikings, even if it isn’t loaded with star power beyond Cook.