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.
As you might have guessed, this part of the 2013 NFL Draft re-grade features the AFC South.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: WR DeAndre Hopkins (27th overall), DB D.J. Swearinger (57), OT Brennan Williams (89), DE Sam Montgomery (95), DE Trevardo Williams (124), OT David Quessenberry (176), WR Alan Bonner (195), DT Chris Jones (198), TE Ryan Griffin (201)
Best pick: DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins ranks first in targets (1,048), third in receptions (632), third in receiving yards (8,602), second in receiving touchdowns (54) and eighth in receiving yards per game (78.2) since entering the league. He has as many 1,500-yard seasons (2) as he does games missed in his career. In eight years, Hopkins has caught over 100 passes three times and compiled more than 1,150 receiving yards five times. The four-time Pro Bowler was named a First Team All-Pro each of the last three seasons.
Worst pick: Brennan Williams and Sam Montgomery
Both Williams and Montgomery were taken in the third round. Neither appeared in an NFL game, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Williams missed his rookie season with a microfracture in his knee and was released on July 21, 2014. Montgomery was let go along with two teammates on Oct. 21, 2013, for a violation of team rules, reportedly related to the use of marijuana. Both spent short periods of time with other NFL teams. Montgomery has since played in the Canadian Football League, the National Arena League, Alliance of American Football and XFL. Williams is now a professional wrestler with the WWE under the name Dio Maddin.
Houston followed the Hopkins pick with Swearinger, who has started 73 games and has 14 interceptions in his career. Then came the string of five straight players — three taken before pick 125 — who have appeared in six or fewer games. Quessenberry was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 and made his NFL debut on Christmas Day in 2017. The other bright spot was Griffin, who’s appeared in 90 contests and was still active in 2019. This class is defined by two things: Hopkins and the two top-100 picks who never played a game.
Picks: DE Bjorn Werner (24), OG Hugh Thomas (86), C Khaled Holmes (121), DT Montori Hughes (139), DB John Boyett (192), RB Kerwynn Williams (230), TE Justice Cunningham (254)
Best pick: Kerwynn Williams
Williams’ 39 appearances are the most of anyone Indianapolis selected. What’s more, he only played one game for the team. After bouncing around multiple practice squads for a full calendar year (September 2013 to September 2014), Williams was promoted to the Cardinals’ active roster on Nov. 1, 2014. He went back and forth from the practice squad for the remainder of the 2014 season and did the same thing in 2015. Williams became a more consistent presence in 2016 and 2017, seeing the field in 26 games. He finished his career with 971 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Worst pick: Bjoern Werner
Werner’s three-year journey with the Colts is a rather interesting one. He went from one start and 2.5 sacks as a rookie to 15 starts and four sacks in his sophomore season. In 2015, Werner was only on the field for 153 defensive snaps. He was waived by the Colts in the offseason and signed with the Jaguars, but failed to make their roster. Werner announced his retirement while calling a playoff game for German broadcaster Sat. 1 on Jan. 15, 2017, citing ongoing injuries as a reason for his decision.
Williams was the sole player to see the field past 2016 and one of four draftees whose career lasted at least 25 games. Only Werner (16) and Thornton (32) reached double-digits in starts. Boyett ended his career without appearing in a game. By the end of the 2015 season, everyone except Holmes and Williams had appeared in their final game.
Picks: OT Luke Joekel (2), DB Jonathan Cyprien (33), DB Dwayne Gratz (64), WR Ace Sanders (101), WR Denard Robinson (135), DB Josh Evans (169), DB Jeremy Harris (208), DB Demetrius McCray (210)
Best pick: Jonathan Cyprien
Let’s start with the fact that Cyprien has played in 20 more games and made 21 more starts than any of the Jaguars’ other seven picks despite missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL. From 2013 to 2016, he averaged 113 tackles per season, the seventh-highest total in the NFL. Cyprien signed a four-year $25 million deal from the Titans in 2017 and hasn’t been the same player since leaving Jacksonville.
Worst pick: Luke Joeckel
Joeckel suffered the unfortunate combination of injuries and poor performance in his five-year career. His rookie season was limited to five games thanks to an ankle injury. He started every contest in 2014 and was at fault for eight sacks according to Pro Football Focus. Jacksonville declined Joeckel’s fifth-year option, making him a free agent after 39 starts in four seasons. Joeckel signed a one-year deal with Seattle and started 11 games in 2017, his final season in the NFL.
Jacksonville’s decision not to pick up Joeckel’s option speaks volumes about how poorly the selection turned out. Aside from Cyprien, no one appeared in an NFL game past 2017, yet another indictment of this class. However, everyone except Sanders and Harris played at least 43 games and started more than a dozen times. This is about Joeckel first and foremost, but the rest of the picks weren’t half bad.
Picks: OG Chance Warmack (10), WR Justin Hunter (34), Bildi Wreh-Wilson (70), LB Zaviar Gooden (97), Brain Schwenke (107), DE Lavar Edwards (142), DB Khalid Wooten (202), DB Daimion Stafford (248)
Best pick: Brian Schwenke
Tennessee actually got more games from Schwenke (57) than Warmack (48). All 30 of the former Cal Golden Bear’s career starts came as a member of the Titans. He made at least two starts in each of his five seasons with the team, appearing in every game in 2016 and 2017. Schwenke played over 200 total snaps every year he was a Titan. He won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2018, the final season of his career.
Worst pick: Zaviar Gooden
Gooden has fewer appearances (32) and starts (3) than any other player Tennessee took in the first four rounds. He played in five games as a rookie and 15 the following season. Gooden landed on injured reserve on Sept. 5, 2015, and was waived by the Titans the next week. He spent time on the active roster and practice squad of the Lions and Cardinals during the 2015 and 2016 seasons before getting released by Arizona on Sept. 2, 2017. Gooden made 43 tackles in his career.
Of the eight players Tennessee took, four played more than two full seasons worth of games and one started more than 30 times. Hunter compiled 1,349 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns over six seasons. Stafford played in all but two games from 2013 to 2016 in a limited role. One regular starter from five of the first 107 picks is undoubtedly a disappointing return, but it’s not like the Titans spectacularly whiffed on anyone.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons