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.
We head to the AFC North for the third installment of the 2011 NFL Draft grades series.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Jimmy Smith (27th overall), WR Torrey Smith (58), OT Jah Reid (85), WR Tandon Doss (123), DB Chykie Brown (164), DE Pernell McPhee (165), QB Tyrod Taylor (180), RB Anthony Allen (225)
Best pick: Tyrod Taylor
In the three seasons Taylor started more than three games, he accounted for 65 touchdowns and threw 16 interceptions. He threw for over 3,000 yards twice and was a replacement for Cam Newton in the Pro Bowl his first season as a starter. And don’t forget it was Taylor who guided the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 17 years back in 2017. Any quarterback with a 23-21-1 record as a starter taken in the sixth round is an absolute steal.
Worst pick: Tandon Doss
Doss caught 26 passes in his career, seven in 2012 and 19 in 2013. The highlight of his time in the NFL was an 82-yard punt return touchdown on his 24th birthday. It was one of two touchdowns Doss ever scored. Doss signed a two-year deal with the Jaguars in March 2014 but suffered an ankle injury and never played for the team.
What this group lacks in high-level talent it makes up for with depth. Every player the Ravens drafted appeared in at least 20 games. McPhee and both Smiths have played in over 100. Torrey Smith has a 1,000-yard season in 2013 and caught 11 touchdown passes in 2014. McPhee has 34 sacks and 212 tackles to his name. Jimmy Smith has started 83 games and intercepted multiple passes in five different seasons. Half of the group was active in 2018.
Picks: WR A.J. Green (4), QB Andy Dalton (35), LB Dontay Moch (66), OG Clint Boling (101), DB Robert Sands (134), WR Ryan Whalen (167), DB Korey Lindsey (207), RB Jay Finley (246)
Best pick: A.J. Green
In the past decade, Green ranked in the top 10 in targets (sixth), receptions (ninth), receiving yards (fifth), yards per game (fourth) and receiving touchdowns (sixth). Remember that Green was still in college in 2010 and did not play in 2019. He made the Pro Bowl each of his first seven seasons in the NFL despite never getting an opportunity to work with an elite quarterback. That could all change if Green is healthy in 2020.
Worst pick: Dontay Moch
Moch lit up the combine with a 4.44 40-yard dash, prompting Cincinnati to take him in the third round. He played in eight games for three teams from 2012 to 2014. Moch was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for using a banned substance. The Falcons signed him to their practice squad in December 2015 but he never played in a game for the team.
Dalton is a fine NFL quarterback who has a 70-61-2 record in 133 career starts and an 0-4 record in the playoffs. Green, Dalton and Bowling have a combined 353 starts. The rest of the group has zero and no one played in more than 17 games. Missing that badly on five picks stops the grade from going any higher than an A-.
Picks: DT Phil Taylor (21), DE Jabaal Sheard (37), WR Greg Little (59), TE Jordan Cameron (102), RB Owen Marecic (124), DB Buster Skrine (137), OT Jason Pinkston (150), DB Eric Hagg (248)
Best pick: Buster Skrine
Skrine ranks third among all players drafted in 2011 in total tackles (507) and solo tackles (428). He has missed five games in nine seasons and started 89 times. In the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Skrine played 2,182 snaps on defense, approximately 95% of the team’s total over that two-year stretch. He appeared in every game for the Bears last season.
Worst pick: Phil Taylor
Taylor recorded four sacks and 59 tackles in his first season, earning a place on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team. He played in 28 games from 2012 to 2014 and contributed a total of three sacks. Taylor signed with Denver and Washington following his release from Cleveland on September 1, 2015 but never appeared in a regular season game. He officially retired on March 13, 2019.
Sheard has at least 4.5 sacks in eight of the last nine seasons and 51.5 in his career. He started every game in 2011, 2012, 2017 and 2018. Cameron was a Pro Bowler in 2013, which was the only time he caught more than 35 passes in a season. Sheard and Skrine are the only two of this group who appeared in a game after 2016. The rest of the class doesn’t quite make up for picking two guys in the first two rounds who didn’t play past 2014.
Picks: DE Cameron Heyward (31), OT Marcus Gilbert (63), DB Curtis Brown (95), DB Cortez Allen (128), LB Chris Carter (162), OG Keith Williams (196), RB Baron Batch (232)
Best pick: Cameron Heyward
Heyward is coming off a 2019 season where he earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl and second First Team All-Pro selection thanks to nine sacks and 83 tackles. The next start he makes will be the 100th of his career. Heyward is one of nine players drafted in 2011 to register more than 50 sacks. He ranks seventh in that group with 54 behind Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, J.J. Watt and Von Miller.
Worst pick: Curtis Brown
Brown was primarily used on special teams in his three seasons with the Steelers. He played in 12 games as a rookie and 15 the following season. A torn ACL cut Brown’s 2013 campaign short after seven games. He was let go on March 5, 2014, and signed with the Jets in February 2015 but failed to make the team’s final roster. Brown made 34 appearances in his career.
Gilbert has started 87 times in his career. No one Pittsburgh took after him made more than 18 starts and three of the five players never made a start. Allen and Carter put together careers lasting at least five years and played in more than 55 games. Though Heyward’s been terrific the past three seasons, he didn’t have more than 7.5 sacks any year before 2017 and only recorded more than five twice.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Navin75 / Flickr