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NFC Draft Grades

By: Robert Davis

Click here for 2017 AFC Draft Grades

Arizona Cardinals: B.
Best Pick: Haason Redick, LB, Temple(1st round)
Redick was one of the drafts biggest risers throughout the course of the year. His production on the field stood out, but his physical tools stand out even more. His ability to attack off the edge and to play in space give him the ability to move around and make plays. That versatility will be a nice addition to the Cardinals front 7.
Keep an eye on: Dorian Johnson, G, Pitt(4th round)
Johnson was a second round talent that fell based on some health concerns. Those concerns may be overstated, and the Cardinals could have a starter on the offensive line as a rookie. He's that good.
Redick and 2nd round DB Budda Baker give the defense plenty of range and playmaking ability. 3rd round WR Chad Williams gives the team someone to groom under Larry Fitzgerald for a year, and there is some potential there. Dorian Johnson has starting ability despite his fourth round selection. The Cardinals passed on a few opportunities to add a QB to develop under Carson Palmer, and that could end up proving to be a big mistake.

Atlanta Falcons: B.
Best Pick: Takkarist McKinley, DE/LB, UCLA(1st round)
McKinley could've come off the board in the mid first and been a good selection, so landing him at 26 is excellent value. His ability to apply pressure off the edge gives the Falcons two explosive pass rushers, pairing with Vic Beasley.
Keep an eye on: Sean Harlow, OL, Oregon St(4th round)
Harlow has extensive experience at tackle, but lacks the length to play there in the NFL. He could play all three interior line spots though. He's experienced, tough, and has great bloodlines, as his father Pat played on the offensive line in the NFL. He provides immediate depth and versatility, but could push for a starting job relatively early.
McKinley will help the pass rush right away, and Harlow improves offensive line depth. 3rd round LB Duke Riley tested out well at the combine, but didn't play up to that ability in his one year as a starter. 5th round CB Damontae Kazee may be limited to slot duty because of his size, but his toughness and ball skills could allow him to be productive in that role. 5th round TE Eric Saubert is a project, but has the size and athleticism to surprise in a few years.

Carolina Panthers: B+
Best Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford(1st round)
As the 8th pick in the draft, he should be their best pick, but he really will bring a new element to the offense. His big play ability as an RB or out of the slot gives the team it's most explosive weapon. That versatility will really help Cam Newton.
Keep an eye on: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas AM(3rd round)
Julius Peppers is back to finish up his career, and that is great news for Hall. Hall is long and athletic, but started to come into his own as a senior with his hand down. Learning from Peppers could be a great spot for him to continue his development, and aid him in reaching his full potential.
Getting Cam Newton some help was obvious the goal during the draft, and they did an excellent job of doing that. McCaffrey and 2nd round WR Curtis Samuel gives him two versatile big play threats. Youth at DE was a need, and Hall brings a lot of potential. 2nd round OL Taylor Moton could help out at tackle or guard right away.

Chicago Bears: D+
Best Pick: Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama(4th round)
Despite being a day three selection, Jackson brings the ability to help out right away. He will bring excellent instincts and ball skills to a team in need of help at safety.
Keep an eye on: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland(2nd round)
Had Shaheen played at a big school, he could've been a first round pick. He began his college career as a basketball player before switching to the gridiron. His size and athleticism combination make him a touch matchup as a receiver. He may take some time to develop, but he has big time upside.
This team needed a lot of help, and they traded three picks to move up one spot to draft Mitchell Trubisky, after being the high bidder on Mike Glennon to be the starter in the off season. Trubisky himself isn't a bad player, but he wasn't worth #2 overall, and the three extra picks dealt away could've added much needed talent to the roster. The trade up left the Bears with just five picks, and three of them played at the FCS level, making you wonder how much of an immediate impact they will get from this class. If Trubisky is not a star, this draft is a bust.

Dallas Cowboys: B+.
Best Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan(1st round)
Charlton is trending up. He finally turned his size and athleticism into production as a senior, and has a lot of untapped potential. The Cowboys were looking for edge help, and they got a tremendous talent at the end of the first round.
Keep an eye on: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan(3rd round)
There are size limitations with Lewis, but he's tough, instinctive, and has good natural cover skills. There is a pending domestic violence charge that may have hindered his draft stock a bit, but if he is proven innocent, this is a great pickup for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys got three immediate contributors with Charlton, 2nd round CB Chidobe Awuzie, and Lewis at their biggest positions of need. There is talent, upside, and versatility amongst that group and they should help the club right away. 4th round WR Ryan Switzer could surprise as a slot man in the future and 6th round S has big time ball skills.

Detroit Lions: B+
Best Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida(1st round)
Davis may have been a bit of a reach on my board, but he's athletic, versatile and fills a big need. Hes had some trouble staying healthy, but he will make an impact when on the field.
Keep an eye on: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee(4th round)
Reeves-Maybin has some injury concerns hanging over him as well, but he can really run and get to the football when he's on the field. If he and Davis can stay healthy, the Lions have turned an area of weakness into a strength, with plenty of speed and athleticism to go around.
Davis, 2nd round CB Teez Tabor, and Reeves-Maybin provide depth right away, and eventual starting ability. 3rd round WR Kenny Golladay was a reach, but does have some intriguing tools to work with. 6th round QB Brad Kaaya was excellent value, and could prove to be a very wise selection in a couple years.

Green Bay Packers: A-.
Best Pick: Kevin King, CB, Washington(2nd round)
King's length and athleticism could've gotten his name called in the first. He is good value in the 2nd, and fills an immediate need. He has experience on the outside, in the slot, and at safety. That versatility is a big plus for a secondary hurting for playmakers.
Keep an eye on: Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU(4th round)
There is an opening for immediate help at the RB position in Green Bay. Williams' ability between the tackles could get him on the field early, and get him meaningful touches.
Overall: This was an excellent overall draft for the Packers. They got value, talent, and addressed needs throughout. King and 2nd round S Josh Jones bring toughness and versatility to the secondary. 3rd round DT Montravious Adams could be a steal if he's motivated. 4th round picks LB Vince Biegel and Jamaal Williams could provide immediate depth. 7th round Malachi Dupre is very gifted but was under utilized and under developed at LSU.

Los Angeles Rams: C.
Best Pick: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington(2nd round)
Kupp went a little early, but his polish, refinement and toughness will help provide Jared Goff with some weapons in the passing game.
Keep an eye on: Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington(4th round)
Ebukam gained late attention after a phenomenal pro day. It caused people to go back and look at the tape, and the freakish athletic traits do show up on film. He's an explosive athlete that can fly around the field, but he needs a lot of refinement. He's aggressive, intelligent, and talented so in time, he could develop into a playmaker.
Trading up for Goff last year left them without a first rounder this year. They went and got Goff some weapons with their first two picks, but one has to wonder if they were the right fits. 2nd round TE Gerald Everett is very talented, but TE's rarely make an immediate impact, especially coming from a small school. Cooper Kupp should be a solid intermediate threat, but someone with some more playmaking ability might have fit better. Talented players, but Goff needs help now. 4th round WR Josh Reynolds has nice ball skills, but may not be strong enough to put it to use consistently. 7th round DE/OLB EJuan Price is small and has durability concerns, but is an explosive pass rusher.

Minnesota Vikings: A-.
Best Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St(2nd round)
Cook was a top 20 talent that fell due to some potential off the field concerns. Those may have been overstated, and he could prove to be a steal. The Vikings are use to standout RB play after a decade with Adrian Peterson. Cook is a different runner, but they may have another star in the backfield with this pick.
Keep an eye on: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech(6th round)
I have no idea how Hodges lasted until the 6th round. He's a glorified WR and has a lot to learn about being a tight end, but he's 6'6 260 a nd ran a sub 4.6 40. He is a tremendous athlete and could be a big time mismatch in the passing game. He does need to get more consistent catching the ball and learn to block a bit to reach his potential, but he has tremendous upside.
Despite not having a first round pick, the Vkings did an excellent job on draft day. They got a great deal on Cook in the 2nd, and 3rd round C Pat Elflein was a good pickup as well. 4th round DT Jaleel Johnson and LB Ben Gedeon provide immediate depth on defense. On day three, the addition of WR Rodney Adams and Stacey Coley along with Hodges, give them a chance to add speed and depth to their passing attack.

New Orleans Saints: A.
Best Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St(1st round)
For a team in dire need of defensive help, having a top five talent at corner fall to 11 is a steal. There are rumors that they were interested in QB Pat Mahomes at 11, but the Chiefs traded up and snagged him. In the short and long term, that could benefit the Saints. Lattimore is a stud.
Keep an eye on: Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florid Atlantic(3rd round)
The Saints needed to address the pass rush, and passed on the position three times after picking Lattimore at 11. Hendrickson was a productive, aggressive, high motor guy on film, then impressed at the Shrine game, and tested very well at the combine. He has the ability to give a boost to the pass rush as a rookie.
The Saints did a great job letting certain players fall to them, landing Lattimore and OT Ryan Ramczyk in the 1st round, despite both being projected higher than the spot they landed them. 2nd round S Marcus Williams will help the secondary immediately. 3rd round RB Alvin Kamara is an interesting pick with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in the fold, but his versatility and big play ability will be well used in New Orleans in the long run. The third round saw the front seven get addressed with Hendrickson and athletic but injury prone Alex Anzalone. Their first six picks coulud provide impact as rookies, and long term could become starters.

New York Giants: C-
Best Pick: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama(2nd round)
Tomlinson isn't a sexy pick, but he is stout and consistent versus the run. He should step in right away and help replace the departed Jonathan Hankins.
Keep an eye on: Davis Webb, QB, Cal(3rd round)
So many other teams traded up and reach for QB's, and the Giants landed one that slid. Webb needs work operating under center and becoming more consistent, but he has the size, arm, and intelligence to become a starter one day. That's a great pickup in the third round.
1st round TE Evan Engram is a very talented player, but he's closer to a WR than he is a TE. Taking him at 23 was a reach, and passing over David Njoku for him a mistake. Tomlinson is a solid pick, and Webb has upside. For a team in dire need of help at LB and OT, it's a strange development to see neither addressed until the 6th round, when Adam Bisnowaty was selected. Bisnowaty is a solid developmental pick, but it's hard to count on a 6th round pick immediately.

Philadelphia Eagles: B+
Best Pick: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington(2nd round)
Its hard to say someone still recovering from an Achilles injury is a teams best draft pick when they did a great job of selecting, but that's the kind of upside this pick has. Jones is a guy that probably would not have gotten past the Eagles at 14th overall, and they got him in the 2nd round.
Keep an eye on: Elijiah Qualls, DT, Washington(6th round)
Qualls was an early entry that should have returned to school and gotten himself into better shape. He is a surprisingly good athlete for a 6'1 315lber, and at his best, is stout at the point of attack and a disruptor. He needs to lose some weight to get that quickness and penetrating ability back. If he does, he's a steal.
1st round Derek Barnett will play from day one and make an impact off the edge. Sidney Jones was a potential top ten pick before tearing his Achilles at his pro day, and doctors say he will play this year. 3rd round CB Rasul Douglas brings great length and ball skills to the secondary. The fourth round provides the offense with some big play potential on offense. WR Mack Hollins and RB Donnel Pumphrey could provide specific roles for the team in the future. Qualls in the 6th could be a big surprise if he gets himself in shape.

San Francisco 49ers: A-.
Best Pick: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama(1st round)
Landing a potential top five talent at 31 is a flat out steal. There are some concerns with Foster, but he's still fantastic value at 31.
Keep an eye on: Joe Williams, RB, Utah(4th round)
Williams returned a new man after stepping away from the program for awhile this year. His speed and big play ability fit well with Carlos Hyde, and is big/tough enough between the tackles to handle the load if Hyde misses time.
Overall: The 9ers started their draft off with a bang moving down one spot with the Bears, and acquiring three extra picks, including a third in 2018. That was a great trade while still getting their guy in DL Solomon Thomas at 3. Using one of the picks they acquired in the Bear trade, they moved back up to snag the falling Foster, which was another great move. 3rd round CB Ahkello Witherspoon needs more consistency, but his length/speed combo is special. RB Williams in the 4th could provide an immediate impact, as could 5th round TE George Kittle. The one glaring issue with this draft was the selection of CJ Beathard in the 3rd round. He carried a UDFA grade on most boards. He gives the team three backup quarterbacks, and none with the potential to start. Just a big reach in the third, and hard to see him as the guy the team sees as the future of the position. It was still an excellent draft overall.

Seattle Seahawks: B.
Best Pick: Ethan Pocic, OL, LSU(2nd round)
For a team that has struggled with talent and consistency on the offensive line in recent years, Pocic and his potential to play all five spots up front is a tremendous addition. He is likely a center or guard, but has the length and athleticism to play tackle as well.
Keep an eye on: Shaquill Griffin, CB, Central Florida(3rd round)
Pete Carroll knows corners, and Griffin is a very talented one. He's got the length and aggressiveness we've come to expect in Seattle, but has excellent hips and natural cover ability as well.
2nd round DL Malik McDowell is pound for pound one of the best athletes in the draft. It will be up to the Seahawk defensive staff to motivate him to live up to his potential. Pocic will play immediately, somewhere. Griffin could be the next Seahawk standout at corner. 3rd round DT Nazair Jones is another lineman that needs more consistency, but the talent is obvious. Carroll went with quantity at safety, reaching in the 3rd for Delano Hill, then going for Tedric Thompson in the 4th, and Michael Tyson in the 6th. There is a lot of boom for bust in this class for the Seahawks. With much of it on the defensive side of the ball, you give Pete Carroll the benefit of the doubt.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
Best Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama(1st round)
Howard is the type of big, athletic, all around tight end that usually finds his way into the top ten of the draft. For the Bucs to land him at 19 is tremendous value. His presence will go a long way towards taking pressure and attention off of Mike Evans in the red zone.
Keep an eye on: Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise St(5th round)
McNichols has the quickness and hands to be a factor as a pass catcher, but also enough size and toughness to be a lead back. He could surprise this year and be a very productive back for the Bucs as a rookie.
Starting with Howard, the Bucs did a good job adding talent at positions of need. 2nd round S Justin Evans should start right away. 3rd round WR Chris Godwin could surprise with his downfield ability. McNichols in the 5th is another guy who could provide an immediate impact. Very good draft overall for the Bucs.

Washington Redskins: B.
Best Pick: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama(1st round)
Allen was considered a potential top overall pick for much of the regular season. He was still considered a top five pick until medical reports came out after the combine. There is some concern over the health of his shoulders, but apparently it shouldn't be an issue until after he's done with football. At 17 overall, he's fantastic value and brings versatility and playmaking up front for the Skins.
Keep an eye on: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas(5th round)
Sprinkle's size and dual threat abililty make him the perfect complement to Jordan Reed. As a #2 TE, he could see the field right away. Eventually, he could be a solid fill in when Reed inevitably misses time with injury.
Defense was obviously the area the Skins wanted to address, and they did a good job addressing all levels of the defense with this draft. Allen was a steal in the first, and his Alabama teammate LB Ryan Anderson was a solid pick in the 2nd. Both bring toughness and versatility to the front seven. 3rd round CB Fabian Moreau was gaining steam as a top 50 pick before he tore a pec muscle. Sprinkle in the 5th has upside, and 6th round WR Robert Davis is a physical specimen that could surprise in a year or two.

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