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NFC Draft Grades

By: Robert Davis

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Arizona Cardinals - B
Best Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss(1st Round)
Nkemdiche is a top ten talent that has some character and off the field concerns. The Cards are in win now mode and they are willing to take the gamble to add an elite talent to an aging defensive line. There is some risk, but at this point, they could have a special talent that helps them on their push for a championship.
Keep an eye on: Evan Boehm, C, Missouri(4th Round)
Center was a big need for the Cardinals, so Boehm has the ability to push for immediate playing time. He's intelligent and tough, which bode well for him earning time.
Overall: There is a lot of boom or bust potential in this draft for the Cardinals. Nkemdiche is the epitome of such a label, but he was a worthwhile gamble at the end of the first. CB Brandon Williams(3rd Round) is another talented player that needs some polish and discipline to his game. Day three gave the Cards some potential depth on the offensive line with Boehm and OL Cole Toner(5th Round).

Atlanta Falcons - C
Best Pick: Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford(3rd Round)
The offense has not been the same since Tony Gonzalez retired and they haven't done anything to replace him. Now they have. Hooper is the latest Stanford tight end to hit the NFL and his potential as a receiver will make Matt Ryan very happy.
Keep an eye on: D'Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota(4th Round)
Adding speed to the linebacking corp was a priority and they filled it in a big way with a couple guys. Campbell brings all the physical tools to the position, including the size that Deion Jones doesn't possess. He'll need to become smarter and disciplined on the field, but the ability is there to develop into a player down the road.
Overall: 1st round S Keanu Neal was a heavy reach. LB Deion Jones(2nd Round) can really cover ground and is a great piece to have on defense. Hooper will give the offense an element it has lacked for years.

Carolina Panthers - C-
Best Pick: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech(1st Round)
This may not have been the biggest immediate need, but he's an underrated talent. He is a load in the middle that can get upfield. He will give the Panthers the league's best interior line trio.
Keep an eye on: Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma(5th Round)
Sanchez has tremendous ball skills and a natural feel for playmaking. He is very thin and will struggle against bigger receivers, but the awareness and athleticism heh as should allow him to find a role to make an impact. He may be the least gifted of the three defensive backs selected, but he's a playmaker.
Overall: Vernon Butler is a good player in the first, and gives the Panthers a tremendous interior line presence. The real need for depth was on the edge though, and they didn't select anyone at that spot the rest of the way. The departure of Josh Norman made the corner position a priority and the Panthers selected three straight DB's after Butler. James Bradberry is a developmental prospect that may have gone a bit high in the second. The Panthers might have been smart to add some more talent to the offensive line as well as off the edge.

Chicago Bears - A
Best Pick: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia(1st Round)
Floyd was the premier edge rusher available this year in a draft that doesn't feature many at the top. Give the Bears credit for moving up for the slight cost of a fourth rounder for getting their man. His speed off the edge is sorely needed in the Bears front seven.
Keep an eye on: Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida(3rd Round)
During the season there was some talk of him as a potential first round pick. While that was not going to happen, his quickness and versatility will allow him to make an impact right away. For a team lacking playmakers and depth in the front seven, he addresses both.
Overall: The Bears may have landed three impact players with their first three picks. That is always the hope, but rarely works out that way. Floyd fills a huge hole with his speed off the edge. OL Cody Whitehair(2nd Round) is a versatile lineman that can start a multiple positions up front. Bullard may not be a starter, but he will factor into the rotation and add a playmaking element to the defensive line. As he continues to grow, he could be a steal. On day three, they landed two long DB's with upside Deiondre' Hall and DeAndre Houston-Carson. RB Jordan Howard(5th round) could be a steal and adds some power running to complement Jeremy Langford.

Dallas Cowboys - B+
Best Pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio St(1st Round)
Elliott as one of the draft's elite players and should even be an upgrade from Demarco Murray who left a year ago. He's a game changer and will be a force Week One.
Keep an eye on: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame(2nd Round)
This kid was possibly the top overall talent in the draft had he not gotten injured against Ohio St. He may need to take a year off and there is concern any time that happens, but his ability level is special. You can wait a year on a talent like that and the Cowboys could reap huge benefits a year from now.
Overall: While Elliott is a stud, it may not have been the best value at the pick. Jalen Ramsey might have been a better selection since you can get quality backs later on in the draft. He will make a difference on the offense right away though. Smith will need a year to recover, but could be the steal of the draft when you look back on the draft ten years from now. DT Maliek Collins(3rd round) is a bit of a project, but he's loaded with talent and is another potential steal down the road. Great fit in the system. QB Dak Prescott(4th Round) is quality value and gives them a real backup QB with upside.

Detroit Lions - B
Best Pick: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama(2nd Round)
Robinson was a top twenty talent that the Lions stole in Round Two. He may need some polish, but his combination of size, strength, and athleticism is special. Learning from Haloti Ngata could be a blessing.
Keep an eye on:
Overall: For years, the offensive line has been a question mark and the Lions finally did something about it. OT Taylor Decker(1st Round) and OG/C Graham Glasgow(3rd Round) can play right away and add a new level of toughness up front. Robinson was a steal in the second at a big need position. S Miles Killebrew(4th Round) will give the team a physical presence in the secondary, and could possibly bump down to a hybrid linebacker position with his size.

Green Bay Packers - A
Best Pick: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana(2nd Round)
Spriggs is a first round talent and will be the most athletic lineman on the Packers from day one. The fact that he will not be forced to start from day one is a good thing. He needs to get more consistent with his mechanics and get stronger, but he will be a great swing tackle right away, and eventually could be an excellent starting left tackle.
Keep an eye on: Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah St(3rd Round)
The team has needed help at linebacker the past couple years, and Fackrell could make an impact right away. His length and athleticism off the edge should allow him to be a disruptive force off the e4th dge.
Overall: The first three rounds saw them address needs with very talented players. Kenny Clark adds some versatility on the defensive line, Spriggs depth and upside on the offensive line, and Fackrell a playmaker off the edge. Three players who can make an impact now, but also possess a lot of growth potential as well. ILB Blake Martinez(4th Round) is tough and instinctive and his presence could give Clay Matthews the ability to bounce outside at times.

Los Angeles Rams - B-
Best Pick: Jared Goff, QB, Cal(1st Round)
With the price the Rams paid to move up to select Goff, he better be the best pick of the draft for them. He's got the ability to sling the ball through the air, and already has a great rushing attack assembled for him. He is a bit on the thin side and may need some time to hone his skills, but he has all the talent, the work ethic, and was productive despite not playing on the best team in the Pac 12.
Keep an eye on: Tyler Higbee, TE, Western Kentucky(4th Round)
A dependable option at tight end has not been a part of the Ram offense for years. Higbee has the athleticism, hands, and speed to be a difference maker at the position. He could become a great weapon for Goff in short order.
Overall: The draft is going to be judged by how good Goff is. That gives the entire class a boom or bust feel. It's a great draft if he proves worthy of all the picks traded to move up. They need a QB and got their guy, so they accomplished what they set out to do.

Minnesota Vikings - A
Best Pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss(1st Round)
As other teams moved around in the first round to select three wide receivers before he Vikings picked, they stayed put at 23 and landed the drafts best prospect at the position. He may not be a burner, but he's got a big body, and is going to give Teddy Bridgewater a true #1 weapon.
Keep an eye on: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson(2nd Round)
Alexander is a first round talent and the Vikings stole him in the second round. There is some concern about his lack of interceptions, but he is a great cover man that plays with aggressiveness.
Overall: Treadwell and Alexander give the Vikings two first round talents that can play now, but also have some room to grow and get even better. OT Willie Beavers(4th Round) gives them depth at both tackle spots with some upside as well. ILB Kentrell Brothers(5th Round) is a steal and could be in the rotation right away with his quickness and instincts. This was a very good draft for the Vikings. They hit on need, landed value, and got players who have big time upside.

New Orleans Saints - B
Best Pick: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville(1st Round)
Rankins was the Saints first round pick, and should be their best pick by default. But his ability to get upfield and make plays as well as defend the run will really help the Saints defensive front. It was sorely needed.
Keep an eye on: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio St(2nd Round)
There was a lot of talk about Bell cracking the first round because of his cover ability as a safety. He is a difference maker back there and brings tremendous value as a late second round pick.
Overall: While they could have used some help off the edge as well as more picks overall, it's hard to argue with what the Saints did add on draft weekend. In addition to Rankins and Bell, 2nd round WR Michael Thomas will add some much needed size and ability to go up and get the ball to the passing game. This is essentially a three man draft, because the Saints only made two other selections, and 4th Round DT David Onyemata is a huge project.

New York Giants - B-
Best Pick: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma(2nd Round)
Shepard may not bring the size to be the ideal complement to Odell Beckham, but he will be dependability and another big play threat to the offense. He profiles as a slot man with his lack of size, but he is willing to work over the middle and has tremendous quickness.
Keep an eye on: Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina(6th Round)
Adams was projected to go much higher on draft day but the Giants were able to land him deep into the draft. With his length, he could be a matchup problem at the next level in the passing game.
Overall: CB Eli Apple(1st Round) has big time upside, but appeared to be a bit of a reach at ten, and wasn't a reach for their most pressing need. Shepard is a quality addition that will help out of the slot and on special teams. S Darian Thompson(3rd Round) brings big play ability, but is a gambler that gives up big plays to the other team as well. RB Paul Perkins(5th round) and TE Adams were solid value picks on day three.

Philadelphia Eagles - B-
Best Pick: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St(1st Round)
Like the Rams, the Eagles paid quite a price to move up and this draft will be judged on how well Wentz performs. He has the complete package from talent to intangibles, but he'll need a little time to develop. This is a great situation for him to learn and develop, and should help him maximize his potential.
Keep an eye on: Isaac Seumalo, OL, Oregon St(3rd Round)
Seumalo has played LT, C, RG, and RT during his career. That versatility is a big plus at the pro level. While he probably won't suit up at left tackle in the NFL, he is a technician with the mobility and toughness to play any other position at the next level. His intelligence and polish will allow him to play early on for the Eagles.
Overall: This draft will be judged solely on how well Carson Wentz plays. Trading so many picks for one player is a big gamble, but if he pans out, it is worth it. Adding Wentz and the versatile Semualo are two quality additions, but the lack of early picks has limited their ability to upgrade and add depth at other spots.

San Francisco 49ers - B-
Best Pick: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon(1st Round)
Buckner is the ideal five technique and brings much needed toughness and ability up front on defense. Buckner and former Duck teammate Arik Armstead give the 9ers a long, physical, and athletic presence along their defensive front.
Keep an eye on: Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi St(3rd Round)
For a variety of reasons throughout his career, Redmond did not get to play as much as his talent would suggest. When he did play, he showcased first round ability as a cover man with his quickness and change of direction ability. The ACL injury that ended his senior year caused the slide to the third round, but he could be a steal once he's healthy and back on the field.
Overall: Buckner was a solid pickup in the first round, and Redmond is a worthwhile risk in the third. Trading back up into the first round to draft OG Josh Garnett is a bit puzzling. He's a solid player, but was a reach in the first round. 4th Round CB Rashard Robinson is extremely talented, but hasn't played in two years. He could be a sleeper.

Seattle Seahawks - B+
Best Pick: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama(2nd Round)
Defensive tackle was a need position, and Reed is a steal in the mid second. He could've gone mid first and nobody would've been surprised
Keep an eye on: CJ Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
He's not the hammer the Seahawks have grown accustomed to at the position in recent years, but Prosise has real upside as a feature back in the NFL. He is a former wide receiver who looked very good carrying the ball last year. He can carry it between the tackles but is more of a slasher that can make plays as well. As he gains experience and develops more of a feel for the position, he could be a three down back.
Overall: Pete Carroll and Co. did a good job matching need and best player available with their picks. OL Germain Ifedi is raw, but ultra talented at a huge need position. DT Reed was a flat out steal. RB Prosise has a lot of upside, as does 3rd Round OL Rees Odhiambo. Day three saw them land talented offensive weapons in WR Kenny Lawler and RB Alex Collins. There is a little boom or bust potential to the class, but there's a lot of talent added.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - B
Best Pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida(1st Round)
Hargreaves is arguably the top true cover man available this year, and was rumored to go to the Bucs at nine. They were able to obtain an extra fourth rounder to move down and select him at 11 overall. He will start from day one and be an instant playmaker.
Keep an eye on: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky(2nd Round)
Spence has some off the field concerns and doesn't have great timed speed, but he's got everything else to be a quality pass rusher in the NFL. He is quickness, athleticism, and bend off the edge to apply consistent pressure off the edge. If not for the off the field concerns, he's a first round pick. The talent is real. If his head is on right and he's focused, this is a tremendous pick up at a huge position of need.
Overall: Hargreaves and Spence fill glaring needs immediately, as does K Robert Aguayo, who they moved up for in the second round. On day three, they landed a small school corner in Ryan Smith who has intriguing upside.

Washington Redskins - B-
Best Pick: Su'a Cravens, LB/S, USC(2nd Round)
Cravens is the LB/S hybrid that is coveted in today's NFL. He has a natural feel for being around the action and adds a new element to the Skins front seven. He'll be a movable piece that can cover or blitz to create mismatches.
Keep an eye on: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech(3rd Round).
If Fuller is healthy, you're looking at a potential first round pick. He's got the quickness and ball skills to make a difference, even if he doesn't have great speed or size.
Overall: Most had the Skins pegged for the offensive or defensive line to continue getting more physical. They did just the opposite. They opted for WR Josh Doctson in the first, which brings much needed youth and leaping ability to the WR corps . Cravens and Fuller add two instinctive playmakers to the defense. Waiting to address the defensive line until the fifth round could be a mistake. 6th Round QB Nate Sudfield has some upside.

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