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.
Leading off the 2017 NFL Draft re-grade is the AFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Tre’Davious White (27th overall), WR Zay Jones (37), OT Dion Dawkins (63), LB Matt Milano (163), QB Nathan Peterman (171), LB Tanner Vallejo (195)
Best pick: Tre’Davious White
Three seasons, 47 starts, 12 interceptions and a First Team All-Pro selection for White so far. Only White and Marcus Peters have at least 12 interceptions and three forced fumbles in the last three seasons. He didn’t miss a game his first two years and was named to Pro Football Focus’ second team in 2017. It’s no secret that White’s arrival has played a vital role in Buffalo becoming one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.
Worst pick: Zay Jones
The NCAA Division I all-time receptions leader caught 27 passes for 316 yards in his first NFL season. Jones then led Buffalo in receiving in 2018 with 56 catches for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. After seven receptions through five games last season, the Bills traded Jones to the Raiders for a 2021 fifth round pick. He has 1,184 receiving yards in three seasons and his 34 starts are the fewest of the three players the Bills took before the fifth round.
No team wants to be the one who traded the pick that is used to take Patrick Mahones, but the Bills have done exceptionally well with the picks they got in return, including White. Dawkins has started every game the past two seasons for Buffalo. Milano is coming off a 101-tackle campaign and picked off three passes in 2018. Peterman threw four interceptions for every touchdown in the eight games he played. Everyone else has at least 39 appearances.
Picks: DE Charles Harris (22), Raekwon McMillan (54), DB Cordrea Tankersley (97), OG Isaac Asiata (164), DT Davon Godchaux (178), DT Vincent Taylor (194), WR Isaiah Ford (237)
Best pick: Davon Godchaux
Godchaux is without a doubt the best player Miami drafted — regardless of round — three years in. He was a part-time starter as a rookie and registered 40 tackles in 15 games. The Dolphins permanently inserted Godchaux into the starting lineup in 2018 and he has appeared in every game since. The Louisiana native has played in more games (47) and made more starts (37) than anyone else in the group.
Worst pick: Charles Harris
Harris has 3.5 sacks and 61 tackles in 41 games, eight of which were starts. He played in all 16 contests in his rookie season and recorded multiple sacks for the only time in his career to date. Over half of his 23 quarterback hits came in 2017 as well. On May 1, 2020, Harris was traded to the Falcons for a 2021 seventh round pick. Atlanta declined his fifth-year option the next day.
Miami jettisoned Harris and McMillan for next to nothing this offseason. Tankersley tore his ACL in 2018 and was waived on Aug. 4, 2020. Asiata appeared in two games. No one except McMillan and Godchaux has started more than 11 times. There’s no need to dwell on this anymore. You get the picture.
New England Patriots
Picks: DE Derek Rivers (83), OT Antonio Garcia (85), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (131), OT Conor McDermott (211)
Best pick: Deatrich Wise Jr.
Wise has started 11 times, which is five more games than Rivers and Garcia have played in combined. His 46 appearances are more than double the total of the other three players. Wise saw action in every game his first two seasons, producing 9.5 sacks and 56 tackles. He has started at least three contests all three years he’s been in the NFL.
Worst pick: Antonio Garcia
Garcia left practice early on Aug 9. 2017 and did not play in the preseason. He was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list on Sept. 2. It was later reported Garcia had developed blood clots in his lungs. He participated in the Patriots’ voluntary workout program in 2018 and was released on May 11, 2018. Garica spent time on the Colts’ and Dolphins’ practice squads but has never appeared in an NFL game. He was suspended for the first four games of 2019 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
Trades for Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen left New England with just four picks. Remember that these grades are relative to where and how often teams are selecting, as that plays a huge role for a class like this one. Neither third round pick worked out at all and McDermott’s played in 15 games. The Wise pick was solid but that’s about all the Patriots got out of three picks in the top 150.
New York Jets
Picks: DB Jamal Adams (6), DB Marcus Maye (39), WR ArDarius Stewart (79), WR Chad Hansen (141), TE Jordan Leggett (150), LB Dylan Donahue (181), RB Elijah McGuire (188), DB Jeremy Clark (197), DB Derrick Jones (204)
Best pick: Jamal Adams
Adams, Demario Davis and Darius Leonard are the only players with 12+ sacks and 250+ tackles over the past three seasons. The two-time Pro Bowler also has two interceptions, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries to his name. Adams’ 75-tackle, 6.5 sack campaign in 2019 earned him First Team All-Pro honors. Everyone knew he wanted out of New York this offseason and it still took two first-rounders, a third-rounder and a guy with 75 starts to make it happen.
Worst pick: ArDarius Stewart
Stewart caught six passes for 82 yards and rushed for another 27 yards on seven carries in 15 games as a rookie. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since. Stewart was suspended for the first two games of 2018 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy and the Jets released him on Sept. 19, 2018. He signed a futures contract with the Winnipeg Bombers on Dec. 3, 2019, after stints on multiple NFL practice squads.
None of the seven players New York selected after round two played a down in the NFL last season. That’s not even true of most draft classes from the middle of the decade, let alone one from 2017. Adams and Maye have a combined 84 starts while no one else has more than five. The Jets got really good value for their two top-40 picks, which is the most important thing at the end of the day. It’s not pretty after that though.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Jeffery Beall / Wikimedia Commons