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.
Part two of the 2015 NFL Draft re-grade focuses on the NFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Byron Jones (27th overall), DE/LB Randy Gregory (60), OT Chaz Green (91), LB Damien Wilson (127), DE Ryan Russell (163), LB Mark Nzeocha (236), OT Laurence Gibson (243), TE Geoff Swaim (246)
Best pick: Byron Jones
Jones has 73 career starts while the rest of the group has a total of 79. He appeared in every game from 2015 to 2018 and has missed one contest in five seasons. Following back-to-back 80-tackle seasons as a safety in 2016 and 2017, Jones moved to cornerback in 2018 and made the Pro Bowl. The five-year, $82 million contract he signed with the Dolphins this offseason made Jones the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Worst pick: Randy Gregory
A failed drug test at the combine dropped Gregory from the top half of the first round to the back end of round two. He missed four games with a high ankle sprain in 2015 and produced 11 tackles. Gregory was suspended for 30 of the next 32 games for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. He was reinstated for the 2018 season and produced six sacks in 14 appearances before getting suspended indefinitely for another violation of the substance abuse policy. The former Nebraska Cornhusker has played in 28 games in his career.
Before this season, nobody in the group except Jones had more than 22 starts. Wilson had four unremarkable seasons with Dallas before becoming a regular starter for the Chiefs in 2019. Gregory, Green, Russell and Gibson have not appeared in a game since 2018. Dallas has gotten a combined eight starts from its second and third round picks, and there’s no guarantee that number increases.
New York Giants
Picks: OT/OG Ereck Flowers (9), DB Landon Collins (33), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (74), DB Mykkele Thompson (144), WR Geremy Davis (186), OT Bobby Hart (226)
Best pick: Landon Collins
Collins started every game as a rookie and recorded 112 tackles. His sophomore season made those numbers look mediocre though: 125 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes defended and four sacks. Collins is just the third player this century to record 125+ tackles, 4+ sacks, 5+ interceptions and 10+ passes defended in a season. Naturally, he was named a First Team All-Pro and made the first of what would be three straight Pro Bowls. In five seasons, Collins has compiled 554 tackles and eight interceptions.
Worst pick: Owamagbe Odighizuwa
Odighizuwa drew comparisons to another defensive end the Giants took with the 74th pick: Justin Tuck. Tuck’s career spanned 11 seasons and 147 games. Odighizuwa saw the field 18 times in three years. Odighizuwa was hampered by injuries as a rookie and registered three tackles in four appearances. He made another three tackles in 2016 while playing sparingly in 14 contests. The Giants released Odighizuwa during the 2017 preseason after he was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Flowers struggled mightily until moving from tackle to guard with Washington last season. Odighizuwa and Thompson played in a combined 19 games. Davis has five catches for 59 yards in his career, though he’s been active every season since being drafted. Hart played 100% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps in 2018 and 99% of them in 2019. He, Flowers and Collins are the only members of the group with multiple starts, but all of them have over 50.
Picks: WR Nelson Agholor (20), CB Eric Rowe (47), LB Jordan Hicks (84), CB JaCorey Shepherd (191), CB Randall Evans (196), DE Brian Mihalik (237)
Best pick: Jordan Hicks
In the three seasons Hicks has played in at least 12 games, he has recorded at least 85 tackles. He recorded a career-high 150 in 2019 — the third-highest total in the NFL — while playing every defensive snap for the Cardinals. Hicks is one of seven players with at least three forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions in the last five seasons. And that’s while only playing in 59 of a possible 80 games.
Worst pick: Eric Rowe
The Eagles had three picks before the sixth round, so it was going to be Agholor or Rowe. Philadelphia traded Rowe for a fourth round pick after one season and then targeted him in the Super Bowl when he started in place of Malcolm Butler, which is primarily why he’s here. After three seasons in New England, Rowe signed with the Dolphins in 2019 and returned a Tom Brady pass for a touchdown in Week 17. He has 32 starts and 53 appearances in his career.
Agholor has played in at least 11 games all five seasons he’s been in the NFL but has produced more than 365 receiving yards just twice. Rowe’s had his fair share of struggles as well. Shepherd, Evans and Mihalik played in a total of 32 games and none of them were active in 2019. Whether it’s Agholor’s struggles with drops or Hicks’ injuries, the first three picks have been at least mildly disappointing for one reason or another.
Washington Football Team
Picks: OG Brandon Scherff (5), DE/LB Preston Smith (38), RB Matt Jones (95), WR Jamison Crowder (105), OG Arie Kouandjio (112), LB Martrell Spaight (141), DB Kyshoen Jarrett (181), DB Tevin Mitchel (182), WR Evan Spencer (187), C Austin Reiter (222)
Best pick: Brandon Scherff
Scherff was on the field for all of Washington’s offensive snaps his rookie season, started every game and made the Pro Bowl in 2016, made the Pro Bowl again in 2017, missed half of 2018 with a torn pectoral and made the Pro Bowl for a third time in 2019. Basically, he gets invited to the Pro Bowl every year he is remotely healthy. He becomes even more valuable for an organization that has gone through so much turnover at the quarterback position since he arrived.
Worst pick: Matt Jones
Jones contributed 490 rushing yards and 304 receiving yards as a rookie and it went downhill from there. He began the 2017 season as Washington’s starting running back but injured his knee and ultimately fell behind Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson on the depth chart. He was waived on Sept. 2, 2017. Jones spent 2017 with the Colts, rushing for 14 yards on five carries. Indianapolis waived him after the season and he hasn’t been on an active NFL roster since. However, he did perform well in the XFL before it ceased operations.
Scherff is a foundational piece for Washington’s offensive line. Smith hasn’t missed a game in his career and has three seasons with at least eight sacks. Crowder is one catch away from 300 for his career and has 40 starts. Reiter started every game for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs last season having never made more than four starts in a season prior to 2019. Everyone except Mitchel and Spencer have played in at least 16 games.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by All-Pro Reels / Flickr