Perhaps the only thing more impressive about the NFL draft than the amount of time it takes to complete all seven rounds is the amount of grades produced in the aftermath of each selection. The draft’s winners and losers are decided before any pick plays a down of professional football.
For all the immediate evaluation that is done, it is impossible to fairly assess a draft class without data and the gift of time. Starting with 2010, 110 Sports is going back and grading every NFL draft of the past decade on a team-by-team basis.
These grades are based first and foremost on production. Other factors were taken into consideration, but the primary goal is figuring out how successful teams were at identifying talent.
The second piece in our 2011 NFL Draft re-grade features the NFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: OT Tyron Smith (9th overall), LB Bruce Carter (40), RB DeMarco Murray (71), OG David Arkin (110), DB Josh Thomas (143), WR Dwayne Harris (176), RB Shaun Chapas (220), OG Bill Nagy (252)
Best pick: Tyron Smith
Since Smith entered the league, Cowboys running backs have led the NFL in rushing three times. Last season, Dallas generated 383 more yards of total offense than any other team. Neither of those things happen without Smith and the rest of its outstanding offensive line. He has started at least 13 games every season and made the last seven Pro Bowls. Smith was also a First Team All-Pro in 2014 and 2016.
Worst pick: David Arkin
While Arkin’s career didn’t officially come to a close until May 1, 2017, he only appeared in four games. Arkin was inactive for every game of his rookie season and was released by the Cowboys on October 26, 2013. He played in one game for the Dolphins in 2013 and two for the Rams in 2016. Most of the time in between was spent going from practice squad to practice squad.
Murray made three Pro Bowls in a four-year span from 2013 to 2016. In 2014, he led the NFL in rushing attempts (392), rushing yards (1,845), rushing touchdowns (13) and rushing yards per game (115.3). Carter was primarily a special teams player by 2015 but started 32 games in the three years prior. Harris made the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2016 and has four punt return touchdowns in his career. This draft marked the beginning of the Cowboys’ plan to rebuild their team around their offensive line, a decision that has proven to be quite beneficial.
New York Giants
Picks: DB Prince Amukamara (19), DT Marvin Austin (52), WR Jerrel Jernigan (83), OT James Brewer (117), LB Greg Jones (185), DB Tyler Sash (198), LB Jacquin Williams (202), RB Da’Rel Scott (221)
Best pick: Prince Amukamara
Amukamara has 62 more appearances and 77 more starts than any other player the Giants selected. That pretty much sums it up.
Worst pick: Marvin Austin
Austin spent his rookie season on injured reserve thanks to a torn pectoral muscle during a preseason game. He saw action in eight games in 2012 with the Giants. The Dolphins signed Austin on Sept. 24, 2013, and he played for them twice before being released. He then appeared in another game with the Cowboys. He joined the Broncos before the 2014 season and took part in 15 games in what would be the last year of his NFL career.
On the bright side, all eight picks played in at least 20 games. Everyone not named Amukamara was gone by 2015 and combined for 40 starts. Austin, Jernigan, Brewer, Jones and Sash accounted for 17 of those. Williams was easily the second-most productive member of the group and he barely reached the 50-game mark. It’s not very often a team misses on five straight picks in the top 200 in the fashion New York did.
Picks: OG Danny Watkins (23), DB Jaiquawn Jarrett (54), DB Curtis Marsh (90), LB Casey Matthews, K Alex Henery (120), RB Dion Lewis (149), OG Julian Vandervelde (161), C Jason Kelce (191), LB Brian Rolle (193), LB Greg Lloyd (237), RB Stanley Havili (240)
Best pick: Jason Kelce
Kelce has appeared in 126 games in his career and started every single one of them. The other 10 guys taken by Philadelphia have made a total of 93 starts. It just so happens Kelce is also a three-time First Team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler who has started every game since 2015.
Worst pick: Danny Watkins
Watkins was taken fourth overall in the 2010 Canadian Football League Draft before going in the first round of the NFL draft in 2011. He became the Eagles’ starting right guard in Week 5 of his rookie season and held onto the position the rest of the year. Watkins started the first six games in 2012 and only played three snaps from Week 7 on. He spent 2013 with the Dolphins, appearing in his 24th and final game. By 2014, Watkins had returned to following what appears to be his true passion: serving as a firefighter.
One of Philadelphia’s 11 picks has more than 27 starts to his name. That would be the aforementioned Kelce. Four other players did reach the 50 game mark, and Lewis has compiled 2,310 rushing yards and 1,281 receiving yards over nine seasons. Henry’s career ended when he went 1-for-5 on field goals as a Lion to start the 2014 season. Granted, all five attempts were from 40-plus yards out. The Kelce pick has turned out too well for this to drop any lower than a C.
Washington Football Team
Picks: DE Ryan Kerrigan (16), DT Jarvis Jenkins (41), WR Leonard Hankerson (79), RB Roy Helu (105), DB DeJon Gomes (146), WR Niles Paul (155), RB Evan Royster (177), WR Aldrick Robinson (178), DB Brandyn Thompson (213), OG Maurice Hurt (217), DE Markus White (224), DT Chris Neild (253)
Best pick: Ryan Kerrigan
The only two players with more sacks in the past decade than Kerrigan are Von Miller and J.J. Watt. Kerrigan also ranks fourth in that span with 140 starts, all for Washington. He forced a league-leading five fumbles in 2014 and has recorded at least 11 sacks four times. Any other player Washington drafted could start every game for five seasons and still not have as many career starts as Kerrigan.
Worst pick: DeJon Gomes
Gomes rotated between starting and serving as a backup during his two seasons in the nation’s capital. He played in 30 games and started eight of them. Washington released Gomes before the start of the 2013 season and the Lions claimed him off waivers. He appeared in every game for Detroit in 2013 and was let go during the 2014 preseason. On Christmas Eve 2011, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and MCL as a result of a tackle by Gomes.
Every player Washington took in the top 200 saw action in at least 32 games. Only Kerrigan and Jenkins, though, started in more than 27. Helu finished his career with over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. He had more receptions than any of the three receivers Washington took. Hankerson caught 107 passes and Robinson reeled in 14 touchdowns. Kerrigan is the only player who stands out in a positive or negative way.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Tom Wolf / Wikimedia Commons