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 AFC West is the penultimate division in the 2013 NFL Draft re-grade.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DT Sylvester Williams (28nd overall), RB Montee Ball (58), DB Kayvon Webster (90), Quanterus Smith (146), WR Tavarres King (161), OG Vinston Painter (173), QB Zac Dysert (234)
Best pick: Sylvester Williams
No need for deep contemplation and analysis on this one. Williams has 63 starts in his seven-year career. The rest of the group has a total of 22. He is also the most productive player Denver drafted with 5.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. Williams started 55 games between 2014 and 2017, 44 of which came as a member of the Broncos.
Worst pick: Montee Ball
Things went from bad to worse for Ball as his short career progressed. He rushed for 559 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role as a rookie, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Ball made three starts in 2014 before a groin injury prematurely ended his season. A poor performance in the preseason led to his release on Sept. 6, 2015. He showed up to a tryout with the Packers 30 pounds overweight and eventually landed on the Patriots’ practice squad. New England cut ball in February 2016 after he was arrested on a felony battery charge reportedly relating to a dispute with his girlfriend.
Denver had seven picks, four of which were in the top 150. Nobody the Broncos selected except Williams and Webster appeared in more than 21 games or started more than three times. The fact that Williams — who was certainly not an overwhelming success — is far and away the best player in this class tells you everything you need to know.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: Eric Fisher (1), TE Travis Kelce (63), RB Knile Davis (96), LB Nico Johnson (99), DB Sanders Cummings (134), C Eric Kush (170), FB Braden Wilson (204), DE Mike Catapano (207)
Best pick: Travis Kelce
Knee surgery limited Kelce to one game and zero receptions as a rookie. Since then, he has compiled five Pro Bowl appearances, two First Team All-Pro selections, 6,465 receiving yards and 37 receiving touchdowns. Kelce ranks second in receptions, first in receiving yards and third in receiving touchdowns among tight ends since entering the league in 2013. He has caught at least 80 passes and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark each of the past four seasons.
Worst pick: Nico Johnson
Johnson’s tenure with Kansas City lasted one season and six appearances. He was released at the end of the 2014 preseason and signed to the team’s practice squad. Cincinnati claimed him off Kansas City’s practice squad, where Johnson played 11 games and started twice that season. The last of his 18 NFL games came as a member of the Giants in 2015. Johnson recorded 22 tackles in his career.
Fisher didn’t turn into a franchise cornerstone, though he’s started 98 games for the Chiefs and made the Pro Bowl in 2018. After taking Fisher first overall, Kansas City didn’t have another pick until round three, where both Kelce and Davis (who scored 12 touchdowns in 57 games) were selected. Kush appeared in every game for the Browns last season and is one game away from 50 for his career. Kansas City didn’t fare all that well outside of Kelce but did make the right call in choosing Fisher over Luke Joeckel, who went second to the Jaguars.
Las Vegas Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders)
Picks: DB D.J. Hayden (12), OT Menelik Watson (42), LB Sio Moore (66), QB Tyler Wilson (112), TE Nick Kasa (172), RB Latavius Murray (181), TE Michael Rivera (184), DT Stacy McGee (205), WR Brice Butler (209), DE David Bass (233)
Best pick: Latavius Murray
Murray spent his rookie season on injured reserve and carried the ball 82 times in his first year as a pro. He then put together the best season of his career in 2015, rushing for 1,066 yards and earning an invite to the Pro Bowl. It was the first of five straight years Murray carried the ball at least 140 times and eclipsed 500 rushing yards. His 4,335 career rushing yards are more than any player drafted in 2013 not named Le’Veon Bell.
Worst pick: Tyler Wilson
Expected to compete with Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn for the starting job, Wilson became the highest drafted player in his draft class not to make his team’s opening day roster. He was eventually activated and then released again. Tennessee picked up Wilson for the remainder of the season and let him go on Aug. 6, 2014. His one-year career came to a close with an unsuccessful attempt to make the Bengals’ roster following his release from the Titans.
Aside from wasting a fourth-rounder on Wilson, Oakland did a great job with its later picks. The last six players the Raiders drafted — starting with Murray — appeared in 60+ contests and started at least eight times. The team’s first three selections were more disappointing, as neither Watson or Moore saw the field after 2017. While the group won’t blow you away, it was built with six picks in the final two rounds, for which Oakland’s front offense deserves a round of applause.
Los Angeles Chargers (then the San Diego Chargers)
Picks: OT D.J. Fluker (11th overall), LB Manti Te’o (38), WR Keenan Allen (76), DB Steve Williams (145), DE Tourek Williams (179), QB Brad Sorensen (221)
Best pick: Keenan Allen
Over the past seven seasons, Allen ranks ninth in the NFL in receptions (524), 11th in receiving yards (6,405) and seventh in receiving yards per game (74.5). He is second, third and fourth, respectively, when the time frame is narrowed to the last three seasons. Allen bounced back from a torn ACL in the first game of the 2016 season to average 101 receptions and 1,263 yards from 2017 to 2019, making the Pro Bowl all three years.
Worst pick: Manti Te’o
Te’o hasn’t been nearly as successful as the guys San Diego took before and after him, which is why he ends up here. In seven seasons, Te’o has played in more than 13 games once and he’s never been on the field for more than 710 defensive snaps. After starting 10 games in his first year with the Saints in 2017, he has appeared in eight total contests the past two seasons.
You’re doing something right when a guy who’s started 48 times and stuck around for seven seasons in the worst pick of the group. Fluker was a slight reach at 11, but he’s been a consistent starter throughout his career. Everyone except Sorensen has appeared in at least two full season’s worth of games. Allen’s emergence separates this class from others that are similarly productive but lack star power.
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Photo by Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons