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NFL Draft Grades

Silva's NFC Draft Grades

by Evan Silva
Updated On: April 30, 2019, 7:42 am ET

Arizona Cardinals

1 (1). – Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
2 (33). – Washington CB Byron Murphy
2 (62). – UMass WR Andy Isabella
3 (65). – Boston College DE Zach Allen
4 (103). – Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler
5 (139). – Alabama FS Deionte Thompson
6 (174). – Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson
6 (179). – Georgia C Lamont Gaillard
7 (248). – Morgan State OT Joshua Miles
7 (249). – Temple DE Michael Dogbe
7 (254). – UCLA TE Caleb Wilson

Overview: The Cardinals smartly avoided falling victim to the sunk-cost fallacy by shipping poor Kliff Kingsbury system fit Josh Rosen to Miami for the 62nd pick after taking dynamic dual threat Murray first overall. GM Steve Keim placed a major emphasis on playmakers in this draft; Murphy is a ballhawking clone of Chargers All-Pro slot CB Desmond King, Isabella runs 4.31 and led the nation in yards per route run as a senior, Allen graduated with over 40 tackles for loss and 16 pass breakups, and Butler paced Division I in yards gained on 20-plus-yard downfield targets. Thompson and Gaillard dominated at the highest level of college football, each earning first-team All-SEC accolades in 2018. Johnson is Fresno State’s all-time leader in catches and receiving yards. After landing OLs Marcus Gilbert, J.R. Sweezy, and Max Garcia prior to the draft and supplementing their front seven with Terrell Suggs, Jordan Hicks, and Darius Philon, the combined hauls give Arizona a real chance to field the NFC’s most-improved team. Gilbert should be included as part of this draft class after the Cards acquired him for the No. 207 pick.

Grade: A

 

Atlanta Falcons

1 (14). Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom
1 (31). Washington OT Kaleb McGary
4 (111). Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield
4 (135). Charleston DT John Cominsky
5 (152). Pittsburgh RB Qadree Ollison
5 (172). Washington CB Jordan Miller
6 (203). Louisiana-Monroe WR Marcus Green

Overview: The Falcons dedicated their offseason to offensive line improvement, dishing out multi-year deals to LG James Carpenter, RG candidate Jamon Brown, and T/G Ty Sambrailo, then surprisingly reaching for Lindstrom at No. 14. They sent No. 79 to the Rams to climb 14 slots for McGary, gaining access to a fifth-year option and landing what GM Thomas Dimitroff hopes will be his long-term right-tackle solution. Sheffield arrived in another trade up, parting with a sixth-rounder to climb six slots in round four. Sheffield is a ball skills-bereft cornerback prospect better at track than football and coming off a torn pectoral. Arriving in Atlanta’s third trade up – and costing a seventh-rounder to move two spots – was Cominsky, a dominant D-2 defensive lineman with elite athleticism but low probability of making an impact this year. Ollison, Miller, and Green look like throwaway picks. Although the Falcons have solidified their front-five position group, they’ve disappointingly done almost nothing to fix one of the league’s weakest pass-rush units. Dan Quinn’s 2018 defense ranked bottom eight in sacks (37), bottom seven in quarterback hits (79), and dead last in the NFC in tackles for loss (68).

Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

1 (16). Florida State DE Brian Burns
2 (37). Ole Miss OT Greg Little
3 (100). West Virginia QB Will Grier
4 (115). Alabama DE Christian Miller
5 (154). Florida RB Jordan Scarlett
6 (212). South Carolina OT Dennis Daley
7 (237). Georgia WR Terry Godwin

Overview: The Panthers addressed glaring weaknesses with each of their first two draft picks, happily plucking explosive outside rusher Burns in one of the first round’s best matches of value to team need before climbing ten second-round slots for Little in a deal that cost Carolina the 77th overall pick. Graded as a first-rounder by GM Marty Hurney’s scouting department, Little has a good chance to start at left tackle as a rookie. Grier reminded me of Tony Romo on tape as a freewheeling gunslinger. I think he should have gone higher. Miller was another steal after a big senior season at Alabama. A long-armed edge player, Miller should be able to contribute early to Carolina’s previously-anemic pass rush. Scarlett slipped to day three due to off-field concerns but is talented enough to beat out Cameron Artis-Payne behind Christian McCaffrey. Daley probably doesn’t have an NFL future – he got owned by Kentucky’s Josh Allen last season and tested as a 16th-percentile athlete – but Godwin is an intriguing slot prospect with a chance to push Jarius Wright off the roster. There’s not much to complain about in this haul.

Grade: B-

 

Chicago Bears

3 (73). Iowa State RB David Montgomery
4 (126). Georgia WR Riley Ridley
6 (205). Kansas State CB Duke Shelley
7 (222). Florida Atlantic RB Kerrith Whyte
7 (238). Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark

Overview: Khalil Mack should be included in this haul because he represents Chicago’s first-round pick. GM Ryan Pace used this year’s second-rounder to acquire slot WR Anthony Miller, although that move was graded as part of last year’s class. In a deal with the Patriots, Pace surrendered a 2019 fifth-rounder and 2020 fourth-rounder to climb 14 third-round slots for Montgomery, who will compete with Mike Davis for lead-back duties with Tarik Cohen continuing to change the pace. Montgomery offers plus versatility and led the nation in missed tackles forced last season, but his big-play ability is extremely limited. I’ve never seen a college running back so consistently caught from behind. Riley is another subpar athlete whose game boils down to route-running chops. I suppose he could upgrade on Taylor Gabriel. Denmark stands out among Chicago’s day-three picks as a gargantuan (6’3/220) converted wide receiver who picked off seven passes over the last two seasons, then blazed 4.46 with a springy 43-inch vertical at Valdosta State’s Pro Day. Whyte was a backup at FAU. The Bears should be very pleased with Mack and Miller, but forfeiting two picks to trade up for a third-round running back with 4.63 speed was unnecessary, and it’s entirely possible Chicago gets very little from the other four players Pace selected.

Grade: C

 

Dallas Cowboys

2 (58). Central Florida DT Trysten Hill
3 (90). Penn State G/C Connor McGovern
4 (128). Memphis RB/KR Tony Pollard
5 (158). Miami CB Michael Jackson
5 (165). Miami DE Joe Jackson
6 (213). Texas A&M S Donovan Wilson
7 (218). Ohio State RB Mike Weber
7 (241). Oregon DE Jalen Jelks

Overview: Amari Cooper should be included in this haul after the Cowboys acquired him for the No. 27 pick. Word leaked in the weeks leading up to the draft that Hill would be Dallas’ selection at No. 58 if available, and he was. Hill had a 2018 falling out with UCF’s new coaching staff but was a fringe first-round talent on film and turned in a top-five SPARQ score among interior defensive linemen at the Combine. Compared to Rodger Saffold by O-Line guru Lance Zierlein, McGovern is insurance on C Travis Frederick (illness, shoulder) and LG Connor Williams, who lost his starting job as a rookie. Pollard was the best kick returner in the draft and caught 104 passes in only three seasons at Memphis, where he dabbled at slot receiver and tailback behind Darrell Henderson. The Cowboys threw a bunch of darts at potential role players on day three. Weber has a relatively big name but looked ordinary on college tape, largely getting what was blocked, averaging only 5.5 career yards per reception, and generating yards after contact at one of the lowest rates in the class. Jelks was a highly productive pass rusher in the Pac 12 but bombed athletically in pre-draft workouts. Ultimately, this was a solid-if-unspectacular class.

Grade: C

 

Detroit Lions

1 (8). Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
2 (43). Hawaii LB Jahlani Tavai
3 (81). Boston College S Will Harris
4 (117). Clemson DE Austin Bryant
5 (146). Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye
6 (184). Old Dominion WR Travis Fulgham
6 (186). Maryland RB Ty Johnson
7 (224). Georgia TE Isaac Nauta
7 (229). Arizona DT P.J. Johnson

Overview: NT Damon Harrison is part of this class after Detroit acquired him for the No. 142 overall pick. Amid reports they preferred to trade down, the Lions stood pat and selected elite two-way tight end Hockenson, who won the Mackey Award as a redshirt sophomore and adds a new dimension to OC Darrell Bevell’s offense. Although the Tavai pick was met with fanbase derision, draft guru Dane Brugler compared Tavai to a poor man’s Leighton Vander Esch before the draft as a versatile level-two defender capable of both run thumping in the middle and rushing off the edge. Harris’ college production was lacking, but he crushed the Combine for top-four SPARQ results among invited safeties, including a 4.41 forty time. Bryant was Clemson’s “No. 4” guy up front, overshadowed by Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins but highly productive in his own right with 35 career tackles for loss and 20 sacks. It would not be shocking if Bryant beat out Romeo Okwara for a starting job as a rookie. Oruwariye was one of my favorite day-three picks after a breakout senior year where he held opponents targeting him to a 52% completion rate, then blazed 4.47 with a twitchy 6.82 three-cone time at 6-foot-2, 205. He has a chance to be a steal. Johnson is one of the most-athletic backs in this class. Overall, I thought this was a rock-solid haul for GM Bob Quinn.

Grade: B

 

Green Bay Packers

1 (12). Michigan DE Rashan Gary
1 (21). Maryland S Darnell Savage
2 (44). Mississippi State G/C Elgton Jenkins
3 (75). Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger
5 (150). Texas A&M DE Kingsley Keke
6 (185). Toledo CB Ka’dar Hollman
6 (194). Notre Dame RB Dexter Williams
7 (226). TCU LB Ty Summers

Overview: I loved what GM Brian Gutekunst did in his first draft last year, and this was another good-looking haul for the most part. But I quibbled with his day-one decision making. Gary underachieved throughout college and will try to play through a torn labrum in his shoulder as a rookie. Gutekunst sent two fourth-rounders to Seattle to climb from No. 30 to No. 21, not terrible value but also perhaps a bit overly aggressive for a late-process riser in Savage whose stock didn’t really gain steam until he ran 4.36 at the Combine. Savage reminds me of Kenny Vaccaro, a solid but not-special NFL safety. Jenkins and Sternberger were direct hits on day two and could both easily earn early-career starting jobs at positions of need. I thought Jenkins had a real shot at the first round. Keke has a Malik Jackson-like game as an interior gap shooter and adds desperately-needed depth to Green Bay’s previously-thin front. Injuries and off-field stuff hurt Williams’ draft slot, but he was one of the most-underrated pure runners in this class. Hollman has some upside as a press-man corner. I’m giving this class an above-average grade.

Grade: C+

 

Los Angeles Rams

2 (61). Washington S Taylor Rapp
3 (70). Memphis RB Darrell Henderson
3 (79). Michigan CB David Long
3 (97). Oklahoma T/G Bobby Evans
4 (134). Washington DT Greg Gaines
5 (169). Wisconsin OT David Edwards
7 (243). Penn State S Nick Scott
7 (251). Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen

Overview: Marcus Peters and Dante Fowler should be included in this haul after the Rams acquired them for the Nos. 63 and 98 picks, respectively. GM Les Snead traded down twice in round two, dipping from No. 45 to No. 61 and adding the Nos. 101 and 167 picks along the way. He traded back up for Henderson, Evans, and Gaines after pocketing the extra ammo. Top-pick Rapp ran slow (4.74) at his Pro Day but crushed the three cone (6.82) and short shuttle (3.99) and was arguably the best tackling safety in college football over the past three years. He should be the Rams’ third safety behind Eric Weddle and John Johnson as a rookie. Henderson’s 8.2 yards-per-carry average in 2018 tied for the highest mark in NCAA history since 1956. The Rams clearly have concerns about Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee, and Henderson offers explosive insurance. An elite athlete, Long allowed just nine completions last season despite shadowing No. 1 receivers. Peters and Aqib Talib are entering contract years. Both Evans and Edwards made over 30 starts on power-five offensive lines, and the Rams’ front five badly needs replenishment after parting with Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. Especially with Super Bowl starters Peters and Fowler factored in, Snead and coach Sean McVay should be pleased with this group.

Grade: B

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