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 continue the 2011 NFL Draft re-grade with the AFC West.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: LB Von Miller (2nd overall), DB Rahim Moore (45), OT Orlando Franklin (46), LB Nate Irving (67), DB Quinton Carter (108), TE Julius Thomas (129), LB Mike Mohamed (189), TE Virgil Green (204), DE Jeremy Beal (247)
Best pick: Von Miller
For every season Miller failed to make 16 starts or register more than 10 sacks he has a First Team All-Pro selection. The only year he hasn’t been invited to the Pro Bowl was 2013, when a suspension and torn ACL limited him to nine games. Miller’s 106 sacks are 10 more than any other player over the past decade. The Super Bowl MVP is a nice complement to the rest of the awards he’s picked up.
Worst pick: Nate Irving
Irving did not make his first start until 2013, contributing a total of 17 tackles in his first two seasons. He became a free agent after the 2014 season and signed a three-year deal with the Colts. Irving appeared in eight games for the team before landing on injured reserve and Indianapolis released him after one season. He finished his career with 118 tackles and three sacks.
Miller was by no means the only impact player the Broncos found in this draft. Franklin was a consistent starter for over half a decade. Thomas made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014 while catching 12 touchdowns both years. Green has played in 131 games, four fewer than Miller. Moore and Irving both saw action in over 60 games in their five-year careers. Having six picks in the first four rounds certainly helps, but Denver still had to capitalize on them.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: WR Jonathan Baldwin (26), C Rodney Hudson (55), LB Justin Houston (70), DE Allen Bailey (86), DB Jalil Brown (118), QB Ricky Stanzi (135), LB Gabe Miller (140), DT Jerrell Powe (199), RB Shane Bannon (223)
Best pick: Justin Houston
A four-time Pro Bowler and 2014 First Team All-Pro, Houston is one of two players — Jared Allen is the other — to record 22 sacks in a season in the 2010s. His 89.5 career sacks are the sixth-highest total in the last decade. Houston has started all 102 games he’s played in since 2012. He started every game and recorded double-digit sacks for the fourth time in his career as a member of the Colts last season.
Worst pick: Jonathan Baldwin
If Baldwin repeated his career two more times, he would still have fewer games played and starts than Hudson, Houston and Bailey. After 41 receptions, 579 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons with Kansas City, Baldwin was traded to the 49ers for fellow wideout and first-round pick A.J. Jenkins. He caught three passes in seven games during the 2013 season and was waived before the 2014 preseason. Baldwin was claimed by the Lions a day later but was released following a failed physical.
Kansas City missed in round one, nailed all three picks on day two and whiffed on the last five. Hudson has 111 starts in his career and made the Pro Bowl three of the last four seasons. With the exception of his rookie season, Bailey’s started at least one game every season and has 117 career appearances. Baldwin had the best career of the other six guys, and he lasted three seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers (then the San Diego Chargers)
Picks: DT Corey Liuget (18), DB Marcus Gilchrist (50), LB Jonas Mouton (61), WR Vincent Brown (82), DB Shareece Wright (89), RB Jordan Todman (183), OG Stephen Schilling (201), LB Andrew Gachkar (234)
Best pick: Marcus Gilchrist
The former Clemson Tiger reeled off seven straight seasons with at least 55 tackles starting in 2012. In 2015, he posted career-highs in tackles (82) and interceptions (three) while starting every game for the third year in a row. Liuget has more starts, but a more productive career, playing in eight more games and being selected 32 picks later tip the scales in Gilchrist’s favor.
Worst pick: Jonas Mouton
A shoulder injury kept Mouton out for all of the 2011 season. He was inactive to begin 2012 and eventually played in three games. Mouton tore his ACL during training camp in 2013, forcing him to miss the entire season again. His career was over less than a year later. He made one tackle as a professional football player.
Everyone except Mouton saw action in more than 25 games. Brown compiled 941 receiving yards in five seasons. Wright made 53 starts and is one of four players who appeared in over 90 contests. Gachkar was mostly used on special teams but did not miss a game until 2017 and made nine starts. The only real disappointment was Mouton, which says a great deal even if no one turned into an elite player.
Los Angeles Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders)
Picks: C Stefen Wisniewski (48), DB DeMarcus Van Dyke (81), OT Joe Barksdale (92), DB Chimdi Chekwa (113), RB Taiwan Jones (125), WE Denarius Moore (148), TE Richard Gordon (181), WR David Ausberry (241)
Best pick: Stefen Wisniewski
Wisniewski started 77 games in his first five seasons, four of which he spent in Oakland. Last season marked the first time in his career the two-time Super Bowl champion didn’t appear in at least 14 games. His 103 career starts are 35 more than any of the other seven players the Raiders drafted.
Worst pick: DeMarcus Van Dyke
Van Dyke picked off a pass and recovered a fumble as a rookie in the only season he would play a snap on defense. He was released by Oakland prior to the 2012 season. Van Dyke signed with the Steelers and was used sparingly on special teams for two seasons. He was on and off rosters until September 2016 but didn’t appear in a game after 2013. Van Dyke is currently a quality control analyst for the University of Miami (FL), his alma mater.
Three of the first five players taken by Oakland started fewer than five games in their careers yet all eight guys were still active in 2014 and appeared in at least 25 games. Barksdale spent five seasons as a starter for the Rams and Chargers. Moore hauled in 142 passes, 17 of which went for touchdowns. Wisniewski and Jones saw the field in 2019. Though the class isn’t all that impressive from a statistical perspective, finding eight players who last four or more years is hard to ignore.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons