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NFL Draft Grades

Draft 2016: NFC Draft Grades

by Evan Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The 2016 NFL draft concluded Saturday evening. Rotoworld blurbed every single selection, picks one (Jared Goff) through 253 (Kalan Reed). You can use our search engine in the top right-hand corner of this page to access our in-depth rookie writeups.

After a grueling three days of “work,” we'll put the finishing touches on our intensive draft coverage with post-draft grades.

But let's be clear: We don't believe in assessing draft hauls immediately after the three-day event. This is strictly for your pleasure. If you're reading this intro, you're interested. And we want to appeal to you. Don't take these grades too seriously. We'll know a lot more about this draft around 2019.

 

(Bang it here for my AFC Draft Grades.)

Arizona Cardinals

1 (29). Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche
3 (92). Texas A&M CB Brandon Williams
4 (128). Missouri C Evan Boehm
5 (167). Midwestern State DB Marqui Christian
5 (170). Harvard OT Cole Toner
6 (205). SE Louisiana CB Harlan Miller

Overview: Included in Arizona's draft haul is OLB Chandler Jones, whom GM Steve Keim acquired from New England for failed G/C Jonathan Cooper and the No. 61 pick. While not a likely starter, Nkemdiche should be an immediate sub-package contributor, rushing inside on passing downs. The Boehm picked addressed a need and was good value for Keim to land a potential rookie starter in the fourth round. A converted running back who struggled at corner last year for Texas A&M, Williams was a surprising day-two pick and doesn't solve Arizona's cornerback need opposite Patrick Peterson. Keim rounded out the draft with three small-school long shots. A good team that doesn't have many needs, the Cardinals did well to emerge from this haul with three probable year-one contributors. I would've given this draft a higher grade if third-round pick Williams wasn't likely to max out as a special teamer.

Grade: B-

Atlanta Falcons

1 (17). Florida SS Keanu Neal
2 (52). LSU LB Deion Jones
3 (81). Stanford TE Austin Hooper
4 (115). Minnesota LB De'Vondre Campbell
6 (195). San Jose State OG Wes Schweitzer
7 (238). UCLA WR Devin Fuller

Overview: Another piece in Atlanta's draft haul is LG Andy Levitre, whom top execs Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli acquired for a sixth-round pick (193) last year. Levitre was a league-average starter or a little better his first season as a Falcon. Atlanta lost its fifth-rounder for pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. After landing hard-hitter Neal to fill the Kam Chancellor role in Dan Quinn's defense, the Falcons went hunting for linebacker athleticism with the Jones and Campbell picks. Although rookie tight ends typically struggle to make early NFL impacts, I think Hooper could be an exception and settle in as Atlanta's long-term starter. I was not familiar with Schweitzer before the draft. Seventh-round throwaway Fuller averaged nine yards per reception in his college career. Dimitroff and Pioli entered the draft with a depleted arsenal and were never in position to fix their flawed roster, but I'm not sure how much better they got with this draft. The Falcons still have weaknesses at right guard, wideout, slot corner, and in the pass-rush department.

Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

1 (30). Louisiana Tech DT Vernon Butler
2 (62). Samford CB James Bradberry
3 (77). West Virginia CB Daryl Worley
5 (141). Oklahoma CB Zack Sanchez
7 (252). Montana State TE Beau Sandland

Overview: The Panthers did not have a sixth-round pick after GM Dave Gettleman traded it for Jared Allen last October. Gettleman kicked off his draft with one of his beloved "hog mollies," then addressed Josh Norman's loss by selecting three straight cornerbacks. Gettleman targeted Worley aggressively, sending Cleveland fourth- (129) and fifth-round picks (168) in exchange for a 16-slot climb on day two. I liked the seventh-round flyer on Sandland, who has NFL-starter traits. Butler is a pro-ready stud and will immediately bolster the Panthers' already deep defensive line rotation. At corner, Gettleman threw three darts at the wall in hopes one sticks. Big and long armed with ball skills, small-schooler Bradberry is easily the best prospect of the group, but his playing readiness is questionable coming from the FCS Southern Conference. Gettleman is an awesome GM and Carolina is set up to be an annual NFC contender, but I don't think his roster has gotten better this offseason.

Grade: C+


Chicago Bears

1 (9). Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd
2 (56). Kansas State G/C Cody Whitehair
3 (72). Florida DE Jonathan Bullard
4 (113). West Virginia ILB Nick Kwiatkoski
4 (124). Miami (FL) S Deon Bush
4 (127). Northern Iowa CB Deiondre' Hall
5 (150). Indiana RB Jordan Howard
6 (185). William & Mary S DeAndre Houston-Carson
7 (230). Western Michigan WR Daniel Braverman

Overview: Bears GM Ryan Pace wanted Floyd badly, sending a fourth-round pick (106) to Tampa Bay to climb just two slots and steal Floyd ahead of the Giants. Pace stayed active on day two, trading down and securing Buffalo's fourth-round pick in 2017. In addition to reeling off consistent value picks, Pace attacked needy areas on his roster and stockpiled quality football players who were productive in college. What Floyd lacks in floor he makes up for in ceiling as a long-armed, versatile edge player with the most explosive get-off in the draft. Whitehair needs to get stronger, but he profiles as an early starter. Bullard was one of the top value picks in the draft and legitimately could start as a rookie. A downhill bruiser at 6-foot, 230, it wouldn't shock me if Howard emerged as the Bears' lead ball carrier at some point this year. In Kwiatkoski, Hall, and Houston-Carson, Chicago added year-one special teams contributors with a chance to become more down the line. After having only six picks in his first draft, I think sophomore GM Pace hit a homerun here. It should also be noted that the 2016 Bears should finally get a fully-healthy Kevin White.

Grade: A-

Dallas Cowboys

1 (4). Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott
2 (34). Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith
3 (67). Nebraska DT Maliek Collins
4 (101). Oklahoma DE Charles Tapper
4 (135). Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
6 (189). Purdue CB Anthony Brown
6 (212). Central Michigan S Kavon Frazier
6 (216). Eastern Michigan RB Darius Jackson
6 (217). Baylor TE Rico Gathers

Overview: I'm not in the camp that is devoutly anti-first-round running back, but I'm also not sold Elliott represented Dallas' best-possible use of the No. 4 pick. I think Jalen Ramsey and DeForest Buckner would have improved the Cowboys' outlook more than Zeke, both in the short and long term. Despite working around one of the NFL's worst passing games, the 2015 Cowboys ranked fifth in rushing efficiency (4.63 YPC) and top ten in Football Outsiders' running-game DVOA. At present, the Cowboys arguably have the worst combination of pass rushers and cover guys in the league -- holes Ramsey and Buckner could have helped fix. After what was likely sub-optimal use of a top-four pick, Dallas proceeded to spend No. 34 on a linebacker who won't play football in 2016. The Smith pick was made with Mackensie Alexander, Myles Jack, Noah Spence, Reggie Ragland, and Kamalei Correa on the board. I'm a fan of plenty of Dallas' picks (Collins, Prescott, Brown, Jackson), but suspect decision making at 4 and 34 warrants a lowered grade. It's hindsight, of course, but the Cowboys could conceivably have gone with Ramsey at 4 and Derrick Henry at 34 if they were so intent on taking a running back early. (Or, Buckner and Alexander.) The Cowboys are going to have a great 2016 running game either way.

Grade: C

Detroit Lions

1 (16). Ohio State OT Taylor Decker
2 (46). Alabama DT A'Shawn Robinson
3 (95). Michigan C Graham Glasgow
4 (111). Southern Utah SS Miles Killebrew
5 (151). Washington State OG Joe Dahl
5 (169). Georgia Southern LB Antwione Williams
6 (191). Michigan QB Jake Rudock
6 (202). Penn State DL Anthony Zettel
6 (210). Baylor LS Jimmy Landes
7 (236). Washington RB Dwayne Washington

Overview: This haul also includes second-year DT Gabe Wright, whom ex-GM Martin Mayhew selected in the 2015 fourth round in exchange for parting with Detroit's 2016 third-round pick. (Wright was a bit player as a rookie.) New GM Bob Quinn knocked out a big need with his first-ever pick, bookending Riley Reiff with 2015's Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Albeit short on pass-rush skills, Robinson gives Detroit an immediate contributor in DC Teryl Austin's defensive line rotation. Glasgow will push ineffective C Travis Swanson to start, while Killebrew is a sneaky bet to earn early-career snaps across from FS Glover Quin. Dahl adds interior depth with OGs Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford coming off disappointing 2015s. I wasn't a fan of Quinn's final five picks, none of whom profiled as impact NFL players in college. The Lions came out of this draft still weak at cornerback and defensive end, and with unsolved questions at wide receiver, center, strong-side linebacker, and safety.

Grade: B-

Green Bay Packers

1 (27). UCLA DT Kenny Clark
2 (48). Indiana OT Jason Spriggs
3 (88). Utah State OLB Kyler Fackrell
4 (131). Nebraska ILB Blake Martinez
4 (137). Northwestern DE Dean Lowry
5 (163). California WR Trevor Davis
6 (200). Stanford OT Kyle Murphy

Overview: A high-energy nose tackle with a wrestling background, Clark addressed a pressing need following NT B.J. Raji's retirement. Packers GM Ted Thompson coveted Spriggs, sending Indianapolis fourth- (125) and seventh-round picks (248) in exchange for a nine-slot climb in round two, where LT David Bakhtiari's new backup was selected. Fackrell should replace Mike Neal as Green Bay's swiss-army-knife linebacker. Despite it continuing to be Green Bay's biggest need, Thompson has refused to draft an inside linebacker before the fourth round in back-to-back offseasons. With the exception of Clark, this draft was all about depth and supplementing the back end of Thompson's roster, particularly in the trenches. I would have liked the class better had Thompson emerged with a legitimate starter at inside linebacker, which could have ensured Clay Matthews will move back onto the edge.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Rams

1 (1). California QB Jared Goff
4 (110). Western Kentucky TE Tyler Higbee
4 (117). South Carolina WR Pharoh Cooper
6 (177). South Carolina State TE Temarrick Hemingway
6 (190). Kentucky LB Josh Forrest
6 (206). Southern Miss WR Mike Thomas

Overview: The Rams' trade up for Goff will hit if he becomes a franchise quarterback, but it was a costly gamble. In exchange for a 14-spot jump in round one (and two third-day dart throws), Los Angeles sent Tennessee two second-round picks (43, 45), a third-rounder (76), and the Rams' first- and third-round picks in 2017. The Rams also forfeited their 2015 fifth-rounder by selecting backup OT Isaiah Battle in last July's supplemental draft. This is an impossible draft to "grade" because it was so depleted by the Goff trade, and its success or lack thereof is so contingent on how Goff will play. I do believe GM Les Snead made solid use of his remaining resources, securing two long, athletic tight ends and a pair of intriguing day-three wideouts. The Rams' roster remains needy at center and free safety with big short-term questions throughout Goff's supporting cast, and another depleted draft coming in 2017.

Grade: C+


Minnesota Vikings

1 (23). Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell
2 (54). Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander
4 (121). Western Michigan T/G Willie Beavers
5 (160). Missouri ILB Kentrell Brothers
6 (180). Germany WR Moritz Boehringer
6 (188). Texas-San Antonio TE David Morgan
6 (227). Vanderbilt DE Stephen Weatherly
7 (244). Clemson S Jayron Kearse

Overview: On top of the above eight players, GM Rick Spielman acquired Miami's 2017 third- and fourth-round picks by trading out of his third-round slot (86). Spielman checked off a huge need with the Treadwell pick, giving Teddy Bridgewater a big-bodied, playmaking possession target to fill the Z role opposite X receiver Stefon Diggs. Although cornerback wasn't necessarily a Vikings need entering the draft, Alexander was a terrific late second-round value and could become Minnesota's slot corner in the next calendar year. The Brothers pick stands out as solid on day three, but Beavers and (especially) Boehringer are developmental players. Morgan was a productive FCS tight end, but ran a 5.02 forty before the draft. Kearse's name is much bigger than his game, frequently shying away from contact. I did like Spielman's flyer on toolsy pass rusher Weatherly late in round six. The Vikings' grade gets a bump after Spielman swindled the Dolphins out of two quality picks next year.

Grade: B

New Orleans Saints

1 (12). Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins
2 (47). Ohio State WR Michael Thomas
2 (61). Ohio State S Vonn Bell
4 (120). Manitoba DT David Onyemata
7 (237). California RB Daniel Lasco

Overview: The Saints' second-round trade up for Bell cost a fourth-round pick (112) to upgrade their third-rounder by 17 slots. GM Mickey Loomis also had the hots for Canadian DT Onyemata, sending the Redskins a 2017 fifth-round pick to climb 32 slots and make him the 120th pick. Although this class was short on quantity, I expect New Orleans to get immediate returns on Rankins and Thomas, and quite possibly Bell in "big nickel" packages. Rankins is a pro-ready and complete three-technique tackle, while Thomas should figure into the Saints' three-receiver sets right away. Loomis has a track record of success with unheralded small-schoolers like Onyemata. Seventh-round flyer Lasco offers upside as a 92nd-percentile SPARQ athlete. Big roster weaknesses remain at edge pass rusher, guard, and cornerback.

Grade: C+

New York Giants

1 (10). Ohio State CB Eli Apple
2 (40). Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard
3 (71). Boise State S Darian Thompson
4 (109). Clemson LB B.J. Goodson
5 (149). UCLA RB Paul Perkins
6 (184). South Carolina TE Jerell Adams

Overview: Struggling GM Jerry Reese's draft began with a disaster. Loose lips in the Giants' organization leaked Reese's love for Leonard Floyd, so Bears GM Ryan Pace leapfrogged New York to land Floyd at No. 9. Reese panicked and overdrafted Apple, a fringe first-round prospect who didn't address a pressing need on a roster littered with them. Shepard is a plug-and-play slot receiver and a high-floor pick. Although Thompson showed prolific ball skills in the Mountain West Conference, he has 4.69 speed and lacks the requisite range to solve New York's free safety woes. Goodson, Perkins, and Adams were all rock-solid day-three picks; Perkins in particular could be an early contributor in a Giants backfield that is long on quantity but short on quality. While I'm confident Reese came away with a few good football players here, the first-round panic pick of Apple hurts New York's draft grade. Reese further failed to address an offensive line that needs new starters at both right guard and right tackle.

Grade: C

Philadelphia Eagles

1 (2). North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz
3 (79). Oregon State G/C Isaac Seumalo
5 (153). West Virginia RB Wendell Smallwood
5 (164). TCU T/G Halapoulivaati Vaitai
6 (196). Auburn CB Blake Countess
7 (233). LSU DB Jalen Mills
7 (240). Florida DE Alex McCalister
7 (251). Oregon LB Joe Walker

Overview: Eagles GM Howie Roseman made a YOLO aggressive pre-draft move to land Wentz, sending Cleveland third- (77) and fourth-round picks (100), Philly's 2017 first-rounder, and its 2018 second-round pick in exchange for just a six-spot jump in round one. That left the Eagles with two selections inside the top 150, and prevented Roseman from acquiring a starting-caliber cornerback, which was very much needed. Seumalo could get an early look for snaps at left guard, while fifth-round sleeper Smallwood combines 4.47 speed with an above-average running back build (5'11/208). Vaitai, McCalister, and Walker are day-three long shots. Countess is a 184-pound slot corner, while Mills is a 'tweener safety/corner. Like the Rams, the Eagles' draft is tough to grade because the results are so heavily tied to Wentz's development. This could be a franchise-changing draft, or it could be a killer.

Grade: C


San Francisco 49ers

1 (7). Oregon DE DeForest Buckner
1 (28). Stanford OG Josh Garnett
3 (68). Mississippi State CB Will Redmond
4 (133). LSU CB Rashard Robinson
5 (142). Appalachian State DE Ronald Blair
5 (145). Georgia OT John Theus
5 (174). Ole Miss OT Fahn Cooper
6 (207). Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel
6 (211). Florida RB Kelvin Taylor
6 (213). Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge
7 (249). Western Kentucky Prince Charles Iworah

Overview: GM Trent Baalke got good value with Buckner, who was believed to be in consideration as high as San Diego's pick at No. 3. Baalke then made an odd-ball move to trade up for Garnett, costing fourth- (105) and sixth-round picks (178) in exchange for just a nine-spot jump. It's rare to see an NFL team trade up in the first round for an offensive guard, especially one with Garnett's athletic limitations. Redmond and Robinson are undersized, inexperienced projects at cornerback who weren't deserving of the draft capital Baalke spent. The Blair pick was probably Baalke's best from a value perspective, while Driskel is toolsy enough to bring to camp and perhaps stash on the practice squad. On a bad team like the 49ers, however, it was disappointing to see Baalke emerge with so few likely immediate contributors when he was working with 11 picks. The back-to-back cornerbacks figure to determine how this draft is viewed years from now. I can't say I'm optimistic about either.

Grade: D+

Seattle Seahawks

1 (31). Texas A&M T/G Germain Ifedi
2 (49). Alabama DT Jarran Reed
3 (90). Notre Dame RB C.J. Prosise
3 (94). Ohio State TE Nick Vannett
3 (97). Boise State OG Rees Odhiambo
5 (147). Maryland DT Quinton Jefferson
5 (171). Arkansas RB Alex Collins
6 (215). TCU C Joey Hunt
7 (243). California WR Kenny Lawler
7 (247). Clemson RB Zac Brooks

Overview: Heavily rumored to be interested in trading down from No. 26, GM John Schneider executed in a deal with Denver, dropping just five first-round slots and adding the Broncos' third-round pick (94) in the process. Schneider traded up in round two, landing Reed after a seven-spot jump that cost Seattle a fourth-round pick (124). Schneider moved up again on day three, sending a 2017 fourth-round pick to New England in a move up for Jefferson. This draft brought to Seattle a lot of good football players; three much-needed offensive line reinforcements, running back competition following Marshawn Lynch's retirement, likely year-one defensive line help from Reed and perhaps Jefferson, and steady in-line tight end Vannett. How Ifedi and Odhiambo fare under the tutelage of Tom Cable will go a long way in determining the results of this draft. On paper, I think Seattle emerged with a nice haul.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1 (11). Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves
2 (39). Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence
2 (59). Florida State K Roberto Aguayo
4 (108). North Carolina Central CB Ryan Smith
5 (148). UCLA T/G Caleb Benenoch
6 (183). Oklahoma LB Devante Bond
6 (197). Northwestern FB Dan Vitale

Overview: Bucs GM Jason Licht kicked off his draft by dropping just two slots in the first round, picking up Chicago's fourth-round pick (106) in the process, and still landing his man in new No. 1 corner Hargreaves. After hammering needs with each of his first two selections, Licht got greedy by trading up for Aguayo, sending Kansas City a fourth-round pick (106) in exchange for upgrading his third-rounder (74) by 15 slots -- only to draft a kicker. I loved that Licht attacked his two biggest needs with value picks in rounds one and two, and believe he could eventually get useful snaps from Smith, Benenoch, and/or Bond within the next few years. I'm entirely not a fan of trading up to draft any kicker in the second round.

Grade: C+

Washington Redskins

1 (22). TCU WR Josh Doctson
2 (53). USC S/LB Su'a Cravens
3 (84). Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller
5 (152). Temple DE Matt Ioannidis
6 (187). Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
7 (232). Boston College LB Steven Daniels
7 (242). Georgia RB Keith Marshall

Overview: On top of this haul, GM Scot McCoughan added fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-round picks in 2017 via trades with Houston, New Orleans, and the Jets. The pre-draft signing of Josh Norman increased McCloughan's flexibility, allowing him to stay true to his board with Doctson and land a high-impact talent at a position that otherwise could have become a huge need as soon as next offseason, when DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon's contracts expire. From the jump, Cravens will be a tone-setting playmaker in the middle of Joe Barry's defense, while Ioannidis profiles perfectly as quality five-technique depth. I was less a fan of the Fuller pick due to his recovery from microfracture surgery, and of the Sudfeld pick because I'm skeptical he'll even make it as an NFL backup. I do think the Marshall pick could prove a steal if Marshall regains his running confidence after losing it over the course of an injury-riddled college career. I also wanted to see McCloughan come out of this draft with a center. The three selections added in next year's draft elevate Washington's grade.

Grade: B+

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .