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 2016 NFL Draft re-grade has arrived at the AFC West.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: QB Paxton Lynch (26th overall), DT Adam Gotsis (63), DB Justin Simmons (98), RB Devontae Booker (136), OG/C Connor McGovern (144), FB Andy Janovich (176), DB Will Parks (219), P Riley Dixon (228)
Best pick: Justin Simmons
The last time Simmons was not on the field for a Broncos defensive snap was 2017. In that time frame, he has amassed 190 tackles and seven interceptions. He is one of 16 players to record multiple seasons with 3+ interceptions and 90+ tackles this decade and one of two players to do so in both 2018 and 2019. Simmons has started all 45 games he’s played in since 2017 and tops the group with 48 starts in his career.
Worst pick: Paxton Lynch
The next quarterback chose after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went first and second, respectively, Lynch made two starts in his rookie season. He was inactive for the first 10 weeks of 2017 but started in Week 12 and Week 17. The Broncos waived Lynch on Sept. 2, 2018, and he remained unsigned for the entire 2018 season. He failed to make the Seahawks’ roster in 2019 and was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad, ultimately ending up on the active roster as the backup. The last time Lynch saw the field was 2017.
The 399 combined appearances of everyone besides Lynch is the primary reason the grade is a B and not something worse. Booker rushed for 612 yards as a rookie and his numbers have decreased every year since. Gotsis has served as a rotational piece the past four seasons. McGovern didn’t play a down in 2016 but has 31 starts the past two years. Booker, Parks and Dixon have played in over 60 games.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: DT Chris Jones (37), DB KeiVarae Russell (74), OG Parker Ehinger (105), DB Eric Murray (106), WR Demarcus Robinson (126), QB Kevin Hogan (162), WR Tyreek Hill (165), DB D.J. White (178), DE Dadi Nicolas (203)
Best pick: Tyreek Hill
Hill pled guilty to domestic assault and battery charges while at Oklahoma State, causing teams to take him off their draft board. Kansas City eventually took him in the fifth round and he immediately became the most electric player in the league. Hill has made four Pro Bowls and been named a First Team All-Pro twice in his four-year career for his contributions on special teams and offense. Last season was the first time Hill failed to return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown.
Worst pick: KeiVarae Russell
Russell never got comfortable in Kansas City and was waived on Sept. 14, 2016, without appearing in a game. The Bengals claimed him off waivers the next day and he picked off Ryan Mallett on the first defensive snap of his career. Russell played in 20 games over three seasons in Cincinnati. He was waived during final roster cuts in 2019 and briefly joined the Chargers’ practice squad last season.
While nobody except Hill and Jones has more than 23 starts, Kansas City got two key pieces to a Super Bowl team with two top-100 picks at their disposal. Jones’ 24.5 sacks the past two years led to a four-year, $80 million extension this offseason. Murray has started multiple games three seasons in a row and Robinson is 51 receiving yards away from 1,000 in his career. This is what you call doing more with less.
Las Vegas Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders)
Picks: DB Karl Joseph (14), DE Jihad Ward (44), DE/LB Shilique Calhoun (75), QB Connor Cook (100), RB DeAndre Washington (143), LB Cory James (194), OG Vadal Alexander (234)
Best pick: Karl Joseph
Joseph has started at least half of the Raiders’ games every season since entering the league, which is enough by itself to get this honor. His 15 starts in 2017 are more than any of Oakland’s six other draft picks have in their career. Joseph has picked off exactly one pass and registered at least 48 tackles in all four of his seasons as a pro. He was a starter in 41 of the 49 games he’s played in.
Worst pick: Shilique Calhoun
It was a tough call between Calhoun and his college teammate Cook. Calhoun made 10 appearances in his rookie season prior to landing on injured reserve. He was waived and signed to the team’s practice squad at the beginning of the 2017 season. The same thing happened in 2018, with Calhoun ending up on the active roster again both times. He signed with the Patriots last offseason and played in 15 games for New England, bumping his career total up to 41. Calhoun has spent over half his time on the field on special teams.
Oakland’s four picks in the top 100 returned one starter, two reserves who have been released multiple times and a quarterback who was a third-stringer for two seasons. Washington leads the group with 55 appearances and has not rushed for 400 yards since he posted 467 as a rookie. Cook, James and Alexander were done after two seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers
Picks: DE Joey Bosa (3), TE Hunter Henry (35), C Max Tuerk (66), LB Joshua Perry (102), LB Jatavis Brown (175), P Drew Kasper (179), FB Derek Watt (198), OG Donavon Clark (224)
Best pick: Joey Bosa
Bosa is averaging .78 sacks and 1.04 tackles for loss per contest in his 51-game career. He is one of eight players with at least three double-digit sack campaigns since 2016. The season he did not reach double-digit sacks was 2018, when a foot injury sidelined him until Week 17. The two seasons Bosa played in all 16 games (2017 and 2019) resulted in Pro Bowl invitations. Bosa signed a five-year, $135 million extension in July that made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
Worst pick: Max Tuerk
The California native and former USC Trojan was inactive for his entire rookie season. Tuerk was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Chargers released him once he was reinstated and signed him to their practice squad. Arizona signed him on Nov. 6, 2017, and Tuerk made his only appearance in an NFL game on Dec. 24, 2017. He was released on April 12, 2018, and tragically passed away while hiking with his parents in the Cleveland National Forest on June 20, 2020.
This is primarily about landing a transcendent talent like Bosa, but Watt has played in every single game for four consecutive seasons and Henry’s produced 1,709 yards in the three seasons he’s been healthy. Brown began his career with two 79-tackle seasons and a 97-tackle campaign in 2018. There’s enough aside from Bosa to warrant more than a plain, boring B.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons