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 East is the topic of the second part of the 2018 NFL Draft re-grade.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: LB Leighton Vander Esch (19th overall), OT Connor Williams (50), WR Michael Gallup (81), DE Dorance Armstrong Jr. (116), TE Dalton Schultz (137), QB Mike White (171), LB Chris Covington (193), WR Cedrick Wilson (208), RB Bo Scarbrough (236)
Best pick: Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch was terrific in his first NFL season, playing in every game and recording 102 solo tackles. His 140 tackles were the third-most of any player. Vander Esch’s performance got him a spot on Pro Football Focus’ second team and an invitation to the Pro Bowl. He was having another very good year last season until a nerve issue in his neck sidelined him for the final seven games.
Worst pick: Dalton Schultz
Schultz has been targeted 19 times in the 27 games he’s played in. He’s turned those 19 targets into 122 yards on 13 receptions. Of those 13 catches, only one came last season when Schultz did not miss a game. He was on the field for 300 offensive snaps in 2018 and only 117 in 2019.
Vander Esch is an all-pro in the making if he can stay healthy. Williams has started at least 10 games in both of his seasons. Gallup doubled his receptions (33 to 66) and yards (507 to 1,107) while tripling his touchdowns (2 to 6) from year one to year two. Everyone besides White has appeared in at least six games. The five guys taken ahead of White have played in at least 24.
New York Giants
Picks: RB Saquon Barkley (2), OG Will Hernandez (34), DE Lorenzo Carter (66), DT B.J. Hill (69), QB Kyle Lauletta (108), DT R.J. McIntosh (139)
Best pick: Saquon Barkley
Barkley came into the league and promptly led the NFL in all-purpose yards as well as yards from scrimmage. He touched the ball 352 times (261 rushes, 91 receptions) and scored 15 touchdowns to go with his 2,028 total yards. Barkley’s encore consisted of 1,003 rushing yards and 52 receptions in 13 games. Only Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott have more yards from scrimmage than Barkley since he was drafted.
Worst pick: Kyle Lauletta
The most noteworthy part of Lauletta’s career to date was getting arrested on his way to practice and charged with a variety of offenses, including eluding police. He threw six passes in his NFL debut on Dec. 9, 2018: five incompletions and an interception. The Giants waived Lauletta after one season and he was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2019. He was signed by the Falcons on Sept. 2, waived on Sept. 5 and then re-signed to their practice squad.
Barkley has missed more games (3) than Hernandez, Carter and Hill combined (2). Hernandez has started all 32 contests since being drafted. Carter and Hill have 15 sacks and 31 starts between them. McIntosh appeared in 12 games last season. It certainly helps when all six picks are in the top 150, but Barkley is a transcendent talent and the next three guys have shown a great deal of promise.
Picks: TE Dallas Goedert (49), DB Avonte Maddox (125), DE Josh Sweat (130), OT Matt Pryor (206), OT Jordan Mailata (233)
Best pick: Avonte Maddox
Goedert and Maddox are the only ones to start a game, so the other three are eliminated from consideration right there. Maddox got nine starts as a rookie, picking off two passes and registering 25 tackles. He started six of the 12 games he played in last season and produced 47 tackles. As the lower pick and the more consistent producer (1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles to go with the 82 tackles and two interceptions), Maddox gets the nod over Goedert.
Worst pick: Josh Sweat
Sweat barely saw the field in his first season, playing 68 snaps on defense and 24 on special teams. He became a regular part of the rotation and played in all 16 contests last season. The result was four sacks, seven tackles for loss and 21 total tackles. Three picks in the first five rounds doesn’t provide many options to choose from.
Goedert also made a huge jump in year two and ended up as the Eagles’ second-leading receiver with 58 catches for 607 yards. Pryor missed all of 2018 and played in 12 games last season. Rugby star Mailata remains an intriguing prospect who has struggled to stay healthy so far. The potential is there for this to turn into a really good draft class down the line.
Washington Football Team
Picks: DT Da’Ron Payne (13), RB Derrius Guice (59), OT Geron Christian (74), DB Troy Apke (109), DT Tim Settle (163), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (197), DB Greg Stroman (241), WR Trey Quinn (256)
Best pick: Da’Ron Payne
There is no need to do some deep analysis here. All eight players drafted by Washington have started at least one game and Payne has more starts (25) than the other seven guys combined (21). Payne posted five sacks and a forced fumble in year one while starting all 16 contests. He played in 15 games last year, finishing the season with 56 tackles and two sacks.
Worst pick: Derrius Guice
Guice has played in five of a possible 32 games since Washington drafted him. A torn ACL cost him his entire rookie season and tore his meniscus in the 2019 season opener. He recovered in time to produce 245 yards and two touchdowns on 42 carries. On Aug. 7, 2020, Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and Washington quickly released him. Less than a month later, two women accused Guice of sexually assaulting them while he was in college at LSU.
Payne has been fine for a top-15 pick. Guice will probably never play in the NFL again. Quinn has 273 receiving yards and is the only one aside from Payne with more than four starts. Payne, Settle and Hamilton have played in more than 30 games. No one else has more than 18 appearances. There are some bright spots in the later rounds (Hamilton and Quinn in particular), which keep this from dropping to a D+.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by KA Sports Photos / Flickr