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.
Up next in the 2017 NFL Draft re-grade is the AFC West.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: OT Garrett Boles (20th overall), DE DeMarcus Walker (51), WR Carlos Henderson (82), DB Brendan Langley (101), TE Jake Butt (145), WR Isaiah McKenzie (172), RB De’Angelo Henderson (203), QB Chad Kelly (253)
Best pick: Garrett Boles
Boles has been the Broncos’ starting left tackle for all 48 games the team has played since he was drafted. No one else has played in more than 34 games and the other seven players have a combined 13 starts. That will be all.
Worst pick: Carlos Henderson
Henderson signed a four-year, $3.2 million contract with $817,984 guaranteed and never saw the field in an NFL game. He tore a ligament in his thumb before the 2017 season started and needed surgery to repair it, which caused him to miss the whole year. The NFL suspended for the 2018 season opener for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy but Denver released him before he could serve it. He spent time on Denver and Washington’s practice squads before joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League.
While Bolles is a very good player, it’s not like he’s the league’s best left tackle or anything. Walker has six sacks and 33 tackles in 23 games. Langley was used primarily on special teams as a rookie and has spent more time on practice squads than active rosters since. Butt has made three appearances. Those are Denver’s first five picks. McKenzie is one reception away from 50 for his career, so that’s something positive.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: QB Patrick Mahomes (10), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (59), RB Kareem Hunt (86), WR Jehu Chesson (139), LB Ukeme Eligwe (183), DB Leon McQuay (218)
Best pick: Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes sat for one season, then won an MVP, then won a Super Bowl. He just signed the most expensive contract in sports history worth up to $503 million. Safe to say, Mahomes is a pretty good quarterback.
Worst pick: Jehu Chesson
Chesson caught two passes for 18 yards in his lone season with Kansas City. The Chiefs waived him during final roster cuts in 2018 and he was signed to Washington’s practice squad. Chesson got promoted to the active roster and played in 12 games, recording one seven-yard reception. He spent 2019 on Washington’s practice squad and failed to survive final roster cuts with the Jets this September.
This is an A+ if Kansas City selects anyone except Hunt and/or gets more than 12 starts combined from the other four picks. Mahomes guarantees an A by himself.
Las Vegas Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders)
Picks: Gareon Conley (24), DB Obi Melifonwu (56), DT Eddie Vanderoes (88), OT David Sharpe (129), LB Marquel Lee (168), DB Shalom Luani (221), OT Jylan Ware (231), RB Elijah Hood (242), DT Treyvon Hester (244)
Best pick: Marquel Lee
Lee produced 25 tackles and made six starts in his rookie campaign for the Raiders. He had a career year in 2018, starting 10 times and appearing in every game. Lee finished the season with 68 tackles, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. Injuries kept him out of 11 games last season as he finished the year with 11 tackles in five contests. Las Vegas waived Lee with a failed physical designation on Aug. 3, 2020.
Worst pick: Obi Melifonwu
Melifonwu didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 9 thanks to a stint on injured reserve. He saw action in five games before returning to injured reserve for the remainder of the season. After being waived by the Raiders, Melifonwu signed with the Patriots on Nov. 6, 2018. He appeared in two games for the team and was signed to New England’s practice squad for the 2019 campaign. Melifonwu was released by the Patriots on April 27, 2020.
Las Vegas sent Conley — the only member of the group with 20 starts — to Houston in the middle of last season for a 2020 third round pick. He has four interceptions and 94 tackles in 31 games. Sharpe, Lee and Luani have between 24 and 34 appearances. Hester has played in more games than anyone else (41) but has started just twice. Conley hasn’t established himself as an elite player and nobody else is starting on a consistent basis.
Los Angeles Chargers
Picks: WR Mike Williams (7), OG Forest Lamp (38), OG Dan Feeney (71), DB Rayshawn Jenkins (113), DB Desmond King (151), OT Sam Tevi (190), DT Isaac Rochell (225)
Best pick: Desmond King
The Chargers had a sensational run from rounds three through six but none of the other picks can match what King’s done in three seasons. In 2018, he was a First Team All-Pro on defense and a Second Team All-Pro as a punt returner. Pro Football Focus had him as the second-highest rated cornerback in the league behind New England’s Stephon Gilmore. Though he did not reach those heights again last season, King has two pick-sixes and two punt return touchdowns to his name in addition to his contributions in coverage.
Worst pick: Forest Lamp
It’s been a tough three seasons for the former Western Kentucky Hilltopper. A torn ACL cost Lamp his entire 2017 season. He entered 2018 as a backup and was a healthy scratch for most of the year, only playing in two games. Things went slightly better in 2019 as Lamp got the first two starts of his career and appeared in seven games. However, a broken fibula ended his season prematurely and sent him to injured reserve.
Everyone with the exception of Lamp has played in 35 or more games. Five of the seven players have at least 17 starts. Feeney leads the group with 41 and Tevi is second with 30. Williams posted 1,001 receiving yards and averaged 20.4 yards per reception last season. King’s spectacular 2018 bumps this grade from an A- to an A.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons