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 NFC West rounds out the 2016 NFL Draft re-grade.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DE Robert Nkemdiche (29th overall), DB Brandon Williams (92), C/OG Evan Boehm (128), DB Marqui Christian (167), OG Cole Toner (170), DB Harlan Miller (205)
Best pick: Evan Boehm
Boehm’s 21 starts are more than the rest of the Cardinals’ draft class combined. You could take out one of the years he made a career-high eight starts and he would still have more. Boehm opened the 2017 season as Arizona’s starting right guard but lost his spot after five games. The Cardinals released him right before the 2018 season and he joined the Rams’ practice squad. He was picked up by the Colts a month later and played in 11 games for the team. Indianapolis sent him to Miami on Aug. 30, 2019, where he made 13 appearances and started eight times last season.
Worst pick: Robert Nkemdiche
Nkemdiche’s made 29 appearances while the Cardinals’ next three picks have all made at least 45. He produced one tackle and one quarterback hit in five games as a rookie. All six of Nkemdiche’s starts and all 4.5 of his sacks came in 2018. Arizona released him in 2019 after he showed up to training camp out of shape. Nkemdiche signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins and played in two games before getting waived. Eight days after his release, he was suspended for two weeks by the NFL.
The numbers aren’t pretty: A third of the group has seen the field fewer than 10 times and two-thirds of it hasn’t started more than three games. Nkemdiche’s six starts are as many as Williams, Christian, Toner and Miller have combined. The three players (Williams, Boehm and Christian) who’ve played in 45+ games keep the grade from dropping even further.
Los Angeles Rams
Picks: QB Jared Goff (1), TE Tyler Higbee (110), WR Pharoh Cooper (117), TE Temarrick Hemingway (177), LB Josh Forest (190), WR Mike Thomas (206)
Best pick: Jared Goff
Goff is 33-14 during the regular season with two NFC West titles, two trips to the Pro Bowl and an appearance in the Super Bowl since Sean McVay entered the fold in 2017. No quarterback except Tom Brady has won more games in the past three years. Goff has thrown 2.07 touchdowns for every interception in his career and surpassed 4,600 yards for the second consecutive season in 2019. McVay’s found a way to win with Goff and that’s all that matters.
Worst pick: Temarrick Hemmingway
Sixth round picks usually don’t end up here, but that’s what happens when the three guys picked ahead of you have at least three times as many appearances. Hemmingway’s only career statistics are two tackles because 91% of his snaps have come on special teams. He missed the 2017 season with a fractured fibula and was waived by the Rams during final roster cuts in 2018. Hemingway played in five games with the Broncos in 2018 and spent last season on the Panthers’ practice squad.
Los Angeles gets docked slightly for taking Goff over Wentz but still landed a quarterback capable of winning a Super Bowl. Higbee has 54 starts and 1,406 receiving yards in his career. None of the other four players have more than five starts, though Cooper was named a First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler as a kick returner in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers
Picks: DT DeForest Buckner (7), OG Joshua Garnett (28), DB Will Redmond (68), DB Rashard Robinson (133), DE Ronald Blair (142), OT John Theus (145), OT Fahn Cooper (174), QB Jeff Driskel (207), RB Kelvin Taylor (211), WR Aaron Burbridge (213), DB Prince Charles Iworah (249)
Best pick: DeForest Buckner
The gap between Buckner and the second-most productive player in this class is jarring. He has played in an extra season’s worth of games than Blair, who is second with 47 appearances. The other 10 players have a combined 44 starts. Bucker has 63 by himself. And that’s before factoring in the three seasons with six or more sacks and the trip to the Pro Bowl in 2018. Buckner is one of 30 players with more than 28 sacks in the past four years.
Worst pick: Joshua Garnett
Garnett made 11 starts for San Francisco in his rookie season and has not started a game since. He missed 2017 recovering from a knee injury. In 2018, he dislocated his toe and broke his thumb. The 49ers released him during final roster cuts in 2019 and did not join another team until Detroit signed him on Feb. 3, 2020. He was subsequently released and signed by Washington. The last of Garnett’s 22 appearances came in 2018.
Bucker has been good enough to keep the grade in the “Cs”, but not by much. The other factor in play here is that eight of San Francisco’s 11 selections came after the 130th pick. Still, three guys have more than 22 appearances and only Bucker has more than 15 starts. Not exactly what you’re hoping for with 11 picks and two first-rounders.
Picks: OG/OT Germain Ifedi (31), DT Jarran Reed (49), RB C.J. Prosise (90), TE Nick Vannett (94), OG Rees Odhiambo (97), DT Quinton Jefferson (147), RB Alex Collins (171), C Joey Hunt (215), WR Kenny Lawler (243), RB Zac Brooks (247)
Best pick: Germain Ifedi
Ifedi has started all 60 games he’s appeared in with the Seahawks, playing both right guard and right tackle. The former Texas A&M Aggie was on the field for every one of Seattle’s offensive snaps in 2017 and 2019. Seattle declined Ifedi’s fifth-year option before the 2019 season, making him a free agent at the end of the year. He signed a one-year deal with the Bears on April 1, 2020.
Worst pick: Rees Odhiambo
Odhiambo — who was born in Nigeria — barely got on the field as a rookie. He began 2017 as the Seahawks’ starting left tackle and held that position until going on injured reserve with dislocated fingers on both his hands. Seattle waived Odhiambo on Sept. 2, 2018, and he spent most of the season on the Colts’ practice squad. However, he did appear in one game with the Cardinals, bringing his career total up to 16. Arizona let Odhiambo go during final roster cuts last season.
Ifedi has committed at least 10 penalties each of the past three seasons (including a league-leading 16 in 2017), which probably contributed to Seattle’s decision to decline his option. Collins was released after two seasons as the Ravens’ primary tailback following an arrest for possession of marijuana and a handgun. It’s a slightly underwhelming return for five top-100 picks and seven selections in the first five rounds.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Praveer Sharma / Wikimedia Commons