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.
No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield headlines the AFC North’s 2018 NFL Draft re-grade.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: TE Hayden Hurst (25th overall), QB Lamar Jackson (32), OT Orlando Brown Jr. (83), TE Mark Andrews (86), DB Anthony Averett (118), LB Kenny Young (122), WR Jaleel Scott (132), WR Jordan Lasley (162), DB DeShon Elliott (190), OT Greg Senat (212), C Bradley Bozeman (215), DE Zach Sieler (238)
Best pick: Lamar Jackson
Jackson led the NFL in touchdown passes while finishing sixth in rushing with 1,206 yards last season en route to being named MVP. He did so in 15 games because there was nothing to play for by Week 17. Jackson threw six touchdowns for every interception in 2019 and has won 19 of the 22 games he’s started. This is also an opportunity to point out the four quarterbacks taken ahead of Jackson are a combined 41-57.
Worst pick: Hayden Hurst
Andrews dwarfs Hurst in every statistical category, which almost certainly contributed to Baltimore’s decision to send Hurt and a fourth-rounder to the Falcons for a second-rounder and a fifth-rounder. He has 43 receptions and 512 yards in 28 games. Hurst’s numbers improved significantly last season, so maybe a change of scenery will allow him to reach his full potential. From the Ravens’ perspective, he provided very little value for a first round pick.
It is incredibly tempting to give Baltimore an A+. Brown and Andrews made the Pro Bowl last season and Bozeman started every game at center. Not all 12 of Baltimore’s picks turned out so well though, beginning with Hurst. Nine of the 12 players in this group have started seven or fewer games. Five have fewer than 10 appearances, two of whom (Lasley and Senat) haven’t played in a game. There is just too much uncertainty outside of Jackson to make this an A+ right now.
Picks: C Billy Price (21), DB Jessie Bates III (54), DE Sam Hubbard (77), LB Malik Jefferson (78), RB Mark Walton (112), DB Davontae Harris (151), DE Andrew Brown (158), DB Darius Phillips (170), QB Logan Woodside (249), OG Rod Taylor (252), WR Auden Tate (253)
Best pick: Jessie Bates III
Bates has been a model of consistency in his first two seasons, starting every game and producing 211 tackles. He recorded 73 solo tackles and three interceptions in 2018. In 2019, it was 71 solo tackles and three interceptions. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon is one of three players with 32 starts, 200+ tackles and at least five interceptions between 2018 and 2019.
Worst pick: Malik Jefferson
Jefferson is the only one of the eight players Cincinnati took in the first five rounds without a start. He’s been used almost exclusively on special teams and has 11 tackles in 21 appearances. The Bengals let him go after one season and the Browns claimed him off waivers the next day. Jefferson failed to make the Chargers’ roster in 2020 after spending time on their practice squad last season. The Titans signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 9, 2020.
The Bengals have gotten mixed results from their five top-115 picks. Hubbard is coming off a 8.5-sack, 76-tackle season in which he started all 15 games he played in. Price made 10 starts in 2018 and eight in 2019. However, he only played 54% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps last season despite seeing the field in every game. The other player of note is Auden, who caught 40 passes for 575 yards in 2019. Four of the 11 players in the group have more than six starts.
Picks: QB Baker Mayfield (1), DB Denzel Ward (4), C/OG Austin Corbett (33), RB Nick Chubb (35), DE Chad Thomas (67), WR Antonio Callaway (105), LB Genard Avery (150), WR Damion Ratley (175), DB Simeon Thomas (188)
Best pick: Nick Chubb
Chubb is averaging 1,245 yards per season on 5.1 yards per carry and has yet to miss a game in his career. His 1,494 yards in 2019 trailed only Derrick Henry, as did his 93.4 yards per game. Chubb’s performance earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl as well as a place on Pro Football Focus’ first team. He has more rushing yards than Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkey since Chubb and Barkley entered the league in 2018.
Worst pick: Austin Corbett
Corbett was on the field for 15 offensive snaps in his 14 appearances as a member of the Browns. Cleveland traded him to the Rams for a 2021 fifth round pick on Oct. 15, 2019. He proceeded to start seven of the eight games he played in for Los Angeles and become a valuable member of the Rams’ offensive line. Corbett has 22 appearances and eight starts in his career.
You’ve got to hand it to the Browns. They have won more games in two years since drafting this group than they did in the previous four seasons combined. The jury is very much still out on Mayfield, but he’s guided Cleveland to successive seasons with at least six victories for the first time since Tim Couch did so in 2001 and 2002. Ward was a Pro Bowler as a rookie. All those high picks have actually translated to substantial improvement on the field.
Picks: DB Terrell Edmunds (28), WR James Washington (60), QB Mason Rudolph (76), OT Chukwuma Okorafor (92), DB Marcus Allen (148), RB Jaylen Samuels (165), DT Joshua Frazier (246)
Best pick: Terrell Edmunds
Edmunds produced an interception, a forced fumble, a sack and 78 tackles in 15 starts in his debut season. He finished second on the Steelers with 105 tackles while starting all 16 contests in 2019. Edmunds has been available for every game and has made more starts than anyone else has appearances. It is difficult to mount a convincing case that someone besides Edmunds belongs here.
Worst pick: Marcus Allen
Allen saw minimal action in two games in his rookie campaign. The Steelers waived him and re-signed him to their practice squad prior to the 2019 season. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 20 and played in one game on special teams. He has two tackles to his name.
Washington has caught 60 passes for 952 yards and four touchdowns in 29 games. Rudolph is 5-3 as a starter despite never passing for more than 251 yards. At the very worst, he is a serviceable backup. Samuels has 431 yards rushing, 504 receiving yards and 35 passing yards on five attempts. Unfortunately, the one he didn’t complete was an interception. Edmunds is the lone guy to lock down a starting role but Pittsburgh’s gotten meaningful contributions from a variety of guys in this class.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Erik Drost / Flickr