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 2012 NFL Draft re-grade begins in the AFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Stephon Gilmore (10th overall), OG Cordy Glenn (41), WR T.J. Graham (69), LB Nigel Bradham (105), DB Ron Brooks (124), OT Zebrie Sanders (144), LB Tank Carder (147), OG Mark Asper (178), K John Potter (251)
Best pick: Stephon Gilmore
This would have gone to Bradham if Gilmore wasn’t the best cornerback on the planet at the moment. In the past four years, Gilmore has made three Pro Bowls and been named a First Team All-Pro twice. He even returned two of his league-leading six interceptions for touchdowns in 2019. Gilmore has started 111 times and intercepted 24 passes in his career.
Worst pick: Zebrie Sanders
Sanders spent all of 2012 on injured reserve with a hip injury and didn’t make the Bills’ roster in 2013. His only professional football appearances have come in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders.
Gilmore, Glenn and Bradham have at least 95 starts in their careers. Bradham recorded over 100 tackles in 2014 and 2016. His 619 career tackles place him ninth among all players drafted in 2012. Graham, Brooks and Carder played in over 45 games as well. Odds are this class looks even better in another year or two.
Picks: QB Ryan Tannehill (8), OT Jonathan Martin (42), DE Olivier Vernon (72), TE Michael Egnew (78), RB Lamar Miller (97), LB Josh Kaddu (155), WR B.J. Cummingham (183), DT Kheeston Randall (215), WR Rishard Matthews (227)
Best pick: Olivier Vernon
Vernon is the second-most accomplished pass rusher that came out of the 2012 draft. He ranks second in sacks (54.5), is tied for third in tackles for loss (75) and is also second in quarterback hits (141). Vernon’s 11.5-sack season in 2013 began a six-year period where he registered at least 6.5 sacks every season. His Pro Bowl appearance came in 2018, the final year of that stretch.
Worst pick: Michael Egnew
All 18 of Egnew’s career appearances came in his first two seasons. He played in two games in 2012 without touching the football. Egnew saw action in every contest the following year and made five starts. He caught seven passes for 69 yards. The consensus first-team all-american spent time with four other teams from 2014 to 2015. He is now the head coach at Tolton High School in Columbia, Missouri.
While Tannehill was not worth taking eighth overall, he has been one of the best 25 quarterbacks since he entered the league. At times, he’s been in the top 20. Miller had two 1,000-yard seasons, carried the ball more than 175 times six years in a row and made a Pro Bowl. Miami also found a nice piece in Matthews (230 receptions, 3,160 yards, 21 touchdowns). Those three guys — along with Martin and Vernon — have each made more than 30 starts.
New England Patriots
Picks: DE Chandler Jones (21), LB Dont’a Hightower (25), DB Tavon Wilson (48), DE Jake Bequette (90), DB Nate Ebner (197), DB Alfonzo Dennard (224), WR Jeremy Ebert (235)
Best pick: Chandler Jones
For starters, Jones has 41.5 more sacks than anyone else in the 2012 draft class. Von Miller is the only player with more total sacks or seasons with double-figure sacks than Jones in the last decade. Jones was a First Team All-Pro two of the three seasons he was elected to the Pro Bowl (2017 and 2019). He set a new career high with 19 sacks last season, giving him 49 in the past three years.
Worst pick: Jake Bequette
Bequette was on the field for 79 snaps in the eight games he played in. He was a member of the Patriots for three seasons, primarily with the team’s practice squad. New England released Bequette on Sept. 4, 2015. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after his career ended and currently holds the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
Jones, Hightower, Wilson and Ebner were active in 2019 and have played in over 100 games. Jones and Hightower have 215 starts and five Pro Bowls between them. Wilson is coming off the best year of his career, which featured 98 tackles and 13 starts. Dennard made 20 starts and picked off five passes in three seasons. Is there another player besides Jones who actually improved after leaving the Patriots? The fact that’s a question tells you just how good he is.
New York Jets
Picks: DE Quinton Coples (16), WR Stephen Hill (43), LB Demario Davis (77), DB Josh Bush (187), RB Terrance Ganaway (202), OG Robert Griffin (203), DB Antonio Allen (242), WR Jordan White (244)
Best pick: Demario Davis
The one First Team All-Pro selection Davis has does not do justice to how good his career has been. He is one of five players to appear in every game since 2012 and record more than 300 tackles. The other four guys have between 344 and 465. Davis has 803. Only Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner have more 90-tackle seasons than Davis’ seven. In 2017, he led the NFL with 97 solo tackles. Davis has 356 tackles, two forced fumbles and 14 sacks in the last three seasons.
Worst pick: Stephen Hill
Hill started six of the first seven games of his career and scored two touchdowns in his debut. Those two touchdowns wound up being half of his career total. Hill caught 45 passes for 594 yards in two seasons with the Jets. He was released on Aug. 30, 2014, and spent the 2014 season on the Panthers’ practice squad. The following August, Hill tore his ACL, ending any hope of getting back on an active roster.
The gap between Davis and the rest of the group is staggering. Coples lasted four seasons and registered 16.5 sacks in 62 games. It was his performance — not injuries — that forced him out of the league. Allen saw meaningful playing time on defense for two seasons. Ganaway, Griffin and White didn’t get in a game after 2012. Only Davis and Allen played in 2016, and Davis was the lone survivor after that.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by SD Dirk / Wikimedia Commons