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 2013 NFL Draft re-grade heads north, starting with the AFC.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Matt Elam (32nd overall), LB Arthur Brown (56), DT Brandon Williams (94), DE John Simon (129), FB Kyle Juszczyk (130), OT Ricky Wagner (168), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (200), OT Ryan Jensen (203), WR Aaron Mellette (238), DB Marc Anthony (247)
Best pick: Kyle Juszczyk
Any player who was invited to the Pro Bowl four years in a row deserves to be recognized, regardless of the position he plays. Sure, Juszczyk is a fullback, but he is the highest-paid one in NFL history thanks to the four-year, $21 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2017. He has caught 20 or more passes each of the last five seasons. Plus, he is the first Harvard graduate to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Kyle Juszczyk becomes the first ever player from Harvard to score a Super Bowl touchdown. pic.twitter.com/aLg5NO0Ycs
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 3, 2020
Worst pick: Matt Elam
It all fell apart for Elam after a promising rookie season. He went from being on the field for 94% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps in 2013 to 59% in 2014. Elam then missed the entire 2015 season with a torn bicep. The following May, the Ravens announced they were not picking up the fifth year of his rookie deal, making him a free agent after the 2016 season. He was arrested twice in a span of three months in 2017 with the charges eventually being dropped in both cases. Elam had stints in the Canadian Football League and XFL after his NFL career came to a close.
After taking two players whose careers lasted less than 50 games in the first two rounds, Baltimore went on to draft four guys who have made more than 50 starts: Williams, Juszczyk, Wagner and Jensen. Those four players — along with Simon — were active in 2019 and have 453 appearances among them. This draft got off to an extremely rough start but Ozzie Newsome and Co. saved it by hitting on four straight picks in rounds three, four and five.
Picks: TE Tyler Eifert (21), RB Giovani Bernard (37), DE Margus Hunt (53), DB Shawn Williams (84), LB Sean Porter (118), OT Tanner Hawkinson (156), RB Rex Burkhead (190), WR Cobi Hamilton (197), OT Reid Fragel (240), C T.C. Johnson (251)
Best pick: Giovanni Bernard
Eifert may have a 13-touchdown season in which he made the Pro Bowl, but he has only played in 59 of a possible 112 games in his career. Bernard, on the other hand, has appeared in 99 and recorded three straight seasons of 650+ rushing yards and 300+ receiving yards. Bernard hit the 3,000 rushing yards mark in 2018 and surpassed 2,500 receiving yards in 2019. He has carried the ball at least 50 times and caught at least 30 passes every year of his career.
Worst pick: Sean Porter
Porter saw action in three games in his career: one in 2014 with the Bengals and two in 2016 with the Jaguars. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve and was waived by Cincinnati on Nov. 30, 2015. From there, Porter joined the Jaguars’ practice squad, staying with the team until May 1, 2017. His career came to a close following a 21-day stint with the 49ers in August 2017.
Cincinnati’s first four picks were a future Pro Bowler and three guys who would go on to play over 90 NFL games, all of whom featured last season. Burkhead is closing in on 1,000 career receiving yards to go with 1,127 yards on the ground. Johnson appeared in 45 contests and made five starts. The Bengals deserve props for finding six notable contributors with their 10 selections, even if none of them turned into stars.
Picks: LB Barkevious Mingo (6), DB Leon McFadden (68), DB Jamoris Slaughter (175), DE Armonty Bryant (217), OT Garrett Gilkey (227)
Best pick: Barkevious Mingo
Although Mingo has played nearly as many snaps on special teams (2,016) as defense (2,727) and started 37 of the 110 games he’s appeared in, he still has 74 more appearances than anyone else the Browns drafted. Mingo registered five sacks as a rookie and has five total in the last six seasons. In fairness to Mingo, he’s been an extremely durable player, only missing two games in his seven-year career.
Worst pick: Jamoris Slaughter
Slaughter signed a four-year contract with Cleveland on May 21, 2013 and was released by the end of August. He spent nine months on the team’s practice squad before his career came to a close. Slaughter was never on the active roster for an NFL game.
Mingo hasn’t come close to living up to expectations as a top 10 pick while the other four guys have a combined eight starts. None of them saw the field after 2016 and as noted above, Slaughter didn’t appear in a single game. Bryant did record 11.5 sacks in 36 games as a backup, which is more than Mingo has in his career. With two picks in the first five rounds, Cleveland had to get it right at No. 6 and didn’t.
Picks: LB Jarvis Jones (LB), RB Le’Veon Bell (48), WR Markus Wheaton (79), DB Shamarko Thomas (111), QB Landry Jones (115), DB Terry Hawthorne (150), WR Justin Brown (186), LB Vince Williams (206), DT Nick Williams (223)
Best pick: Le’Veon Bell
Surprise, surprise. Bell still managed to produce 1,250 yards of offense last season, the worst year of his career to date. The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro has three seasons with over 1,250 rushing yards and at least nine total touchdowns. In 2014, Bell rushed for 1,361 yards and caught 83 passes for another 854. Despite sitting out the entire 2018 season, he ranks third in rushing yards and is first among running backs in receiving yards since 2013.
Worst pick: Jarvis Jones
Jones played in 50 games over four seasons with the Steelers, starting 35 of them. He only recorded 30+ tackles twice despite seeing action in at least 14 games three times. Pittsburgh declined his fifth-year option and he signed with the Cardinals prior to the 2017 season. Jones was then released by Arizona with an injury settlement on Sept. 2, 2017. He finished his career with 130 tackles and six sacks.
Pittsburgh’s top four picks all appeared in at least 50 games. Williams and Williams — the team’s last two selections — both played last season. Vince Williams’ 107 games played are 30 more than anyone else in this draft class. Jones (the quarterback) was a serviceable backup who won more games than he lost as a starter. Missing in the first round and Hawthorne never playing a down in the NFL keeps the grade at an A-.
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Photo by Alexander Jonsei / Wikimedia Commons