Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
In almost any other draft, this would be an A+. Garrett has been a nightmare for opposing offenses from the first snap of his NFL career, where he recorded a sack. His combination of speed and power to overwhelm even the strongest of offensive linemen, along with his elite size and phenomenal technique in his hand usage and body positioning, has solidified him as one of the best players in the game. He could end up being one of the greatest pass rushers of all time (if not THE greatest). However, they passed on 2 potential future Hall of Fame QBs when they sorely needed one.
Chicago Bears: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC
While Trubisky gets a ton of hate for being taken ahead of Mahomes and Watson, it wasn’t his fault. Plus, it’s not like he’s a bad player or anything. This is an F all the way not because of the quality of the player, but more because of how high he was taken and who else was available at the time. Trubisky is in that below-average-starter/elite-backup tier with guys like Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Teddy Bridgewater. He is a really good athlete for his position and has a decent arm, but his accuracy is shaky and his footwork is not where it needs to be for him to be a good starter. I bet he’ll end up having a long career in the same category as those guys. However, in the end this was a miserable failure of a pick considering he is not even with the team anymore and Mahomes and Watson were on the board. I still don't know what Ryan Pace was thinking.
San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
I was skeptical of this pick at the time, considering Thomas was not a great athlete or pass rusher coming out of college, and unfortunately that skepticism has been validated. Except, he is even worse I thought he was going to be. Like Trubisky, he is not a bad player, but he’s not good either--more of a solid rotational DL that provides some versatility and won’t affect the game much. John Lynch focused too much on Thomas’ tremendous character in interviews rather than how his game translated to the NFL, and it cost him. Thomas provided good leadership in the locker room and if he were a 3rd or 4th round pick, this selection would be seen as a good one. Lynch declined his fifth year option and let him walk free for a reason. For the 3rd overall pick though, Thomas was a colossal bust for the Niners.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Some of these teams really screwed up at the top of the draft, and that includes the Jaguars with Fournette. Compared to Adrian Peterson coming out of high school and college, Fournette had some injury and character concerns during his time with the Jaguars that got in the way of him reaching his potential. He had some great moments and was/is certainly a Pro Bowl-caliber runner, with his tremendous combination of explosiveness and power, but he has not lived up to being the 4th overall pick. The Jags expected him to be their bell cow back and All-Pro level player for them, but the injuries and attitude problems led to his release, along with the emergence of UDFA James Robinson last year. Robinson’s emergence proves that you can find Pro Bowl-caliber RBs in the late rounds or after the draft, which also hinders this grade. He was a really good player for them during their AFC Championship run and throughout his rookie contract, and he was a key player for the Buccaneers during their Super Bowl run last year. He's still a talented player who has had some great moments in the NFL, so I won't give this an F. They passed on Mahomes and Watson because they thought Blake Bortles was their guy (oops) when it was obvious that he wasn’t (despite pretty garbage-time passing stats). Also, Christian McCaffrey was on the board, who is the far superior player at the same position. Good player, terrible pick.
Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Unlike Fournette, this selection was regarded as a reach at the time. Initial public perception of these last 2 picks were completely different; ironically, their careers have been extremely similar. Davis is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent that developed steadily for the Titans, going from being a solid 3rd option his rookie year to signing a big deal with the Jets in free agency this year to be their #1 receiver (at least initially). Davis has good hands and is a good route runner; he is an excellent WR2 that can serve as a possession-type receiver and thrive on routes 10-20 yards down the field. Like Fournette, he has turned into a good player, so they could have done far worse. However, you can find players of Davis’ caliber on Day 2 like… A.J. Brown (who is actually much better). This has to be a poor grade.
New York Jets: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Similar to the Garrett pick, this is tough to grade because Adams has turned into arguably the best safety and one of the best defensive players in football. However, the fact remains that they had Mahomes and Watson on the board and passed on them without having a QB of their own. As opposed to QB, strong safety is one of the least important positions in football, and although Adams is a game-changer, it is impossible for him to overcome that. I have to give this a good grade because Adams is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, and they got a 1st round pick for him after he demanded a trade to Seattle, but passing on Mahomes and Watson is tough to swallow.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Similar to Davis, Williams has been a good, not great player for the Chargers. As the 7th overall pick, you are expected to be an elite #1 receiver, and Williams is not remotely close to that status. He has turned out to be a big, physical #2 who still has room to grow and remains with the team. With Keenan Allen in his way on the depth chart and injuries hindering his progress, it is not entirely his fault that he has failed to live up to expectations, but more was expected of him. Considering he still has the potential and talent to be a #1 receiver in the future, this is not a terrible pick as of today, but it’s definitely not a great pick.
***UPDATED GRADE: B+***
Williams has been an absolute beast in 2021. Like I said, he has the talent to be a top 10 receiver in the league, and he has shown that so far this season. We'll see if he keeps it up; his rapport with Justin Herbert is growing by the week. Still not an A or anything because they already had Keenan Allen and you don't take WR2s in the top 10 of the draft.
Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
CMC almost won the Heisman and had tons of hype coming out of Stanford, and he has absolutely lived up to expectations for the Panthers. McCaffrey is one of the best RBs in the NFL. Normally, considering the position he plays, this would get a poor grade automatically as a top 10 pick. What makes this different is CMC’s amazing receiving ability, which is so good that they can line him up outside at WR and he will still play at an All-Pro level. His amazing versatility, incredible character, and dynamic talent all contribute to this pick being a great one in spite of the position he plays.
Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR, Washington
After breaking the 40-yard dash time record at the combine at 4.22 seconds, Ross got a ton of hype and skyrocketed up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft. The Bengals took him in the top 10, hypnotized by his game-changing foot speed that led to Tyreek Hill comparisons. Whoops. Ross has been horrible, barely getting on the field and being one of the least efficient receivers in the league whenever he has played. Turns out, he can’t catch a cold and his ONLY good trait is his pure foot speed, which can only take him so far. Think of this as an even worse version of the Rams taking Tavon Austin in the top 10 several years ago. Ross is a huge bust and this pick was a colossal failure for the Bengals. Easy F.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
If it was possible to give an A++, this would be the time to do so. Mahomes has arguably the greatest arm in the history of the game and is already on his way to the Hall of Fame after 4 years, bringing Kansas City their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. He may end up as the greatest QB of all time. The trade up was well worth it, to say the least, and this is already cemented as one of the greatest draft steals in NFL history. Not much else to say here.
New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Saints couldn’t stop anyone on defense in the beginning-to-mid 2010s, especially against the pass, which allowed the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and other top-tier receivers to dominate them for years. Enter Marshon Lattimore, and the rest is history. Lattimore has been a shutdown #1 corner whenever he has been on the field for New Orleans and deserved his massive extension. He has deceptive speed and tremendous hip fluidity to cover the fastest/quickest of receivers, along with excellent length/size to match up with the biggest of receivers. Capable of playing great in man or zone and has no holes in his game. I couldn’t find any reason to make this pick less than an A+.
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
3 A+’s in a row is unprecedented, especially for a tough grader like me, but here we are. When Dabo Swinney compared Watson to Michael Jordan at the time of the draft, he wasn’t kidding. Watson is a top-5 QB in the league today and on his way to the Hall of Fame--given he finds a better franchise to go to after demanding a trade this offseason. He has all-time great mobility, excellent arm strength, and amazing anticipation, and is a hard-worker who sets an example in the locker room. Play after play, week after week, he put the team on his back for 4 years. The OL, mediocre running game, and defense constantly let him down, so don’t look at the Texans’ record over the years as an indictment on him. Hopefully, he goes to a competent franchise where he can compete for a championship one day. The Texans couldn't have foreseen the recent off-the-field issues, and their own disfunction as an organization is why he wants out. They'll probably get a king's ransom for him from the Dolphins, Eagles, or Steelers anyway.
Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
Reddick may have recorded 13 sacks in 2020, which makes this grade look questionable, but 7.5 of those came in a three game span. Also, multiple of his sacks occurred because he was unblocked or lucky. Either way, before this season, Reddick was a bonafide bust for the Cardinals. He still showcases his rare athleticism to make some great plays here and there, but he has been the definition of inconsistent and not what the Cardinals wanted out of him. They took him considering his ultra high ceiling as a hybrid OLB/EDGE who can excel in coverage and rushing the passer; unfortunately, he only developed into a capable pass rusher and remains mediocre (at best) in coverage. Plus, they overlooked his tackling deficiencies in the run game, which is a blatant liability for the defense as a whole. I won’t give this an F because he still has potential and played better in 2020, but there’s a reason the Cardinals declined his fifth-year option and let him walk in free agency. Reddick was a bust for the Cardinals, but could revive his career in Carolina.
Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
In hindsight, this pick is as average as it gets. Barnett notably produced tons of sacks in college, but he was never an outstanding athlete or anything. Barnett has been a decent albeit unspectacular player for the Eagles who has had some injury issues of late. His sack production has not translated to the NFL, as he has turned into a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” EDGE. However, he did make some legendary plays during the Eagles’ playoff run during his rookie year, including a crucial fumble recovery after a strip-sack that helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl. So, I'll give it a slight bump up from a C. He just hasn’t done anything of note since then.
Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
This might be the most difficult grade of them all for me. Hooker was seen as a steal at the time of the draft and drew inevitable comparisons to former Colts safety Bob Sanders. Ironically, Hooker has had the same injury issues that plagued Sanders’ career, except he hasn’t gotten a chance to reach his ceiling yet. Hooker has been a ballhawk every time he’s stepped on the field for the Colts, and if he can get over those injury problems with the Cowboys, he has All-Pro ability. He never had injury problems before the league and is still young, so I just can't give this a legitimate grade--at least yet.
Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Wow, this was a great draft for shutdown corners. Humphrey was neck-and-neck with Lattimore coming out, and that analysis has rung true to this day. The only difference is, Humphrey has been on the field more and has actually been a bit more consistent as he has not had to nurse injuries. He is exceptional in every aspect, shutting down top-tier receivers routinely in man and being arguably the best zone corner in the entire league thanks to his great length and lateral agility. There is a reason the Ravens put him on an island versus every team's WR1 week in and week out. Baltimore absolutely nailed this pick.
Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama
At Alabama, Jonathan Allen was an absolute monster, being one of the best players in the nation regardless of position. He was actually a Heisman candidate at one point. This was seen as a steal at the time, as he fell because there were reports that he had severe arthritis after needing surgery 2 weeks before the draft. Dealing with those injuries initially, they proved to be no match for Allen as he has been a terror on the interior for Washington. While he undoubtedly benefits from having beasts all around him (Young, Payne, Sweat, Ionnaidis, Kerrigan, etc.) giving him 1-on-1 matchups, he is still impossible to contain in the run game and good as a pass rusher. Proving how solid of a pick this was, Washington re-signed him to a massive 4 year, $72 million deal this offseason.
Tennessee Titans: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
While Adoree’ Jackson is a solid player, he clearly did not perform up to the level that Tennessee expected of him considering they released him during his rookie deal. The Giants gave him a 3 year, $30M+ contract in free agency, but he’s still merely an above average slot corner who can be an effective, albeit unspectacular return man. In hindsight, they definitely should’ve taken Tre’Davious White. All in all, this was an average mid-1st round pick by the Titans.
TB: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
This is a grade subject to change in the future. While Howard hasn’t put up great stats in his 3+ years with the Bucs (and was injured for all of 2020), he’s still a good blocker and athletic threat at tight end. Unfortunately for Howard, the Bucs picked up Gronk, arguably the GOAT of tight ends, so Howard was relegated to the bench. On top of that, Cameron Brate and Tanner Hudson are solid options as well, so their TE room is too crowded for Howard to receive much playing time. That being said, I can envision him signing with or getting traded to another team and becoming an All-Pro caliber player--he still has that kind of potential. The fact that the Bucs are refusing to trade him despite interest from other teams is telling. When Howard goes to another team, this grade may be higher in the near future, similar to Mike Williams for the Chargers. For now though, he has not lived up to expectations, especially considering the hype he generated as a special talent coming out of Alabama.
DEN: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Despite a bumpy first few years in the league being as a penalty machine, Garett Bolles has gradually developed and is now a top 10 LT in the NFL. While they could’ve taken Ryan Ramczyk, the better player at the tackle position, Bolles has cleaned up his on-field disciplinary issues to become a top flight pass protector and solid run blocker for the Broncos. His development led to the Broncos re-signing him a massive long-term contract, and he deserves it. I want to see high-level play from him for more than just one year, though, so I won't give this an A+ at the moment. Still, phenomenal pick.
DET: Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida
While not a HUGE bust, Jarrad Davis performed well below the Lions’ expectations of him--enough to decline his fifth-year option and let him walk in free agency. While Davis can be a solid player at times and is a good locker room guy, he’s as inconsistent as they come and does not have the ceiling to turn his career completely around in the future like some other guys in this draft. He signed with the Jets in free agency this offseason, but got hurt and is out for the season. Being a tackling machine is not necessarily a good thing, as the majority of Davis’ tackles are at least 5 yards past the LOS. He can also be a liability in coverage, especially guarding athletic TEs man-to-man. He can still play like an average starter, but that’s about it, and he was only with the organization for 4 underwhelming seasons. For a 1st round pick, this was another regrettable pick by Detroit.
MIA: Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
Charles Harris jumped into the spotlight his last year at Missouri and was seen as another athletic EDGE with the potential to be a devastating pass rusher. Unfortunately, he never came close to reaching his potential. In fact, it can be argued he has regressed since his rookie season. Harris has been a massive disappointment in all regards and has shown no signs of being even a quality rotational pass rusher. He offers nothing in the run game as well. Harris is another example of a college one-year wonder who flamed out in the pros. Miami gave up on him after only 3 seasons by trading him to Atlanta for a mere 7th round pick, where he was unable to revitalize his career, and is now in Detroit buried on the depth chart. What a disaster.
NYG: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Coming out of Ole Miss, Evan Engram was an athletic phenom at the TE position and not far behind O.J. Howard as the highest ranked TE in the class. So far, he has been a decent weapon for the Giants who is a mismatch for LBs trying to cover him and big enough to give DBs problems. However, the reason this is not a higher grade is because Engram has had a serious issue with his hands thus far. He seems to commit drops in the most critical moments of the game, which may be an indication that he folds under pressure. If this is the case, it’s a fixable problem. He’s put up decent production for the Giants and Daniel Jones, and this has the potential to be a better grade in the future. The jury is still not out on this pick, but so far it has been just fine.
OAK: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Raiders took former Ohio State corner Gareon Conley with this pick, and it turned out pretty ugly. Conley showed flashes of potential towards the end of his second season, but he got bitten by the injury bug, and his play has declined because of it. He is constantly injured and a liability when on the field. However, the Raiders did get a 3rd round pick from the Texans, and it’s not like they could have foreseen Conley having injury problems. And who knows, he could’ve panned out if he was able to stay healthy. This doesn’t get an F because of these factors, but it’s close. Conley has undoubtedly been a bust, although it’s not completely his or the Raiders’ fault.
CLE: Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
As a top high school recruit and athletic specimen without a true position for the NFL, Peppers was regarded as a boom-or-bust prospect. For the Browns, he showed his rawness in his terrible rookie season as he was learning a new position and as the team was learning where to play him. Fortunately, he has improved significantly and is now a solid starting strong safety in the league. The Browns traded him early to the Giants, but it was in the package deal for OBJ, so it was a rare occasion in which getting traded actually proved his value. He doubles as an effective punt returner as well. All in all, Peppers has defied the odds in a way of him being a boom-or-bust prospect--he is a solid starter that is decent against both the run and the pass, although he is not quite a Pro Bowl-level player--at least yet.
ATL: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
Like Charles Harris, “Tak” McKinley was seen as another hyper-athletic and big EDGE guy who was a one-year wonder in his last collegiate season for UCLA. They sought to pair him with Vic Beasley, who was coming off a phenomenal season for the NFC Champions as arguably the best defensive player on the team. However, McKinley has proven to be a bust, and it is not due to his on-field capability. He came with character concerns coming out of the draft, and those concerns have been validated in the pros. He displayed flashes of brilliance early on in his career for Atlanta, but he has regressed ever since, reportedly due to his lack of work ethic and poor habits off-the-field. The Falcons ended up giving up on him after only a few years, and is now bouncing around the league as a rotational pass rusher.
BUF: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
As a Bills fan, it pains me to say this, but Tre White is overrated. He’s really good, but not top 10 like most people think (and I say this as someone who watches every Bills game). That being said, he was a big-time steal at the 27th pick--ESPECIALLY because the Bills traded down. He’s still of tremendous value at the end of the 1st round, and better yet, they received a 1st round pick in the process. This was tough to grade; the only reason this is not an A+ is because they were in position to select Mahomes at #10, but passed. Also, they used the 2018 first round pick from KC on Tremaine Edmunds, an athletic specimen in the middle and one of the leaders of the defense. On top of that, they got Josh Allen the following year, who is a Hall of Fame talent like Mahomes. So, Buffalo made it out just fine, and this was still a great selection.
DAL: Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
Yet another EDGE who ended up being a huge bust. While Taco Charlton has a funny name, he was never even that good in college to me, and I was critical of this pick (as were my friends that are Cowboys fans). Charlton did nothing for Dallas before being shipped off to Miami after only a couple of years. He couldn’t do anything, even with defensive wiz Brian Flores as his coach. They let him go after 1 year and he has been struggling to find an NFL home ever since. This was a surprise pick at the time, and an epic failure of a pick at the end of the 1st round.
CLE: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Coming out of Miami, David Njoku was seen as yet another hyper-athlete at TE who had a high ceiling like Howard and Engram, and like them, he has not quite met expectations. He’s had a similar career to Howard, as he has shown flashes but happens to be one of several options at TE for the Browns at the moment, so he can’t really stick out. Plus, they’re giving Austin Hooper a ton of money (what an overpay), so they want to get him on the field as much as possible. There’s other factors outside of his control preventing him from putting up good receiving stats; this is a better pick than the stats indicate so far. Njoku is a player who can blossom with another team as soon as he enters free agency or gets traded. However, you have to think that if he was that good, Stefanski and Baker would find a way to get him the ball more.
PIT: T.J. Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
It’s astounding how T.J. Watt fell so far. The Steelers certainly aren’t complaining, as Watt has developed into arguably the best defensive player in the NFL like his brother before him. He is a monster on the edge, as he LIVES in the backfield of every opponent they face--no matter the offensive lineman who is tasked with blocking him. He is on his way to the Hall of Fame and would be the 3rd or 4th overall pick if there was a re-do of this draft. One of the greatest draft steals in recent memory. This grade goes without saying.
SF: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
You may be wondering why this is not an F. After all, Reuben Foster lasted just one season with the 49ers. However, that season he was absolutely phenomenal and one of the best linebackers in the NFL (4th best amongst all linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus). He was on his way to being a perennial All-Pro, but legal issues got in the way. Here’s the thing: it was all bullshit. He was suspended for marijuana (which is a joke) and then arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against his girlfriend. It turns out that his ex-girlfriend falsely accused him and admitted her lie in court. In other words, Foster got completely fucked over, and it wasn’t his fault. He was released by the Niners following the false accusation, and hasn’t played a down since. Who knows, Foster could’ve been one of the best linebackers in the NFL today if not for the unfortunate off-field incident. However, he has struggled to get back into the league, which tells me he lacks work ethic (like reported at Alabama). San Francisco took a chance with Foster, and while it paid off initially, he couldn’t stay out of legal trouble--even if it wasn't his fault. This is the hardest pick to grade outside of maybe Malik Hooker in this 1st round, but I have to go low because he only spent one season with the team. Also, he was flagged for off-the-field issues coming out of Alabama, so the Niners knew they were taking a chance with Foster.
NO: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
What a pick to end the 1st round! Ryan Ramczyk is arguably the best RT in the league today, being excellent in all phases of the game. He fell because there were reports he lacked passion for the game, but he has more than proven those to be dead wrong. He was deservedly rewarded with a massive extension even before his fifth-year option year, which tells you everything about what the Saints think of him. In a re-draft, he would undoubtedly be in the top 10. Huge steal.