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 closes out the 2018 NFL Draft re-grade.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: QB Josh Rosen (10th overall), WR Christian Kirk (47), C Mason Cole (97), RB Chase Edmunds (134), DB Christian Campbell (182), OT Korey Cunningham (254)
Best pick: Christian Kirk
Kirk is one of five players drafted in 2018 with 100+ receptions and 1,000+ receiving yards. Three of the other four players were taken in the first round and the last one is Courtland Sutton, who went 40th. Kirk has managed to post 111 catches and 1,299 yards in just 25 games. He started all 13 contests he appeared in last season, finishing with 709 yards on 68 receptions. Nobody in the Cardinals’ draft class has been as consistent as Kirk in their first two years.
Worst pick: Josh Rosen
Rosen got one season where he led Arizona to three wins in 13 starts with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions before the Cardinals decided to move off him. They sent him to Miami for a second round pick and a fifth round pick in this year’s draft. Rosen replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick after Week 2 and the Dolphins lost the three games he started. Miami waived him on Sept. 5, 2020. Rosen is now learning from Tom Brady as a member of the Buccaneers’ practice squad.
It speaks volumes that two teams have given up on Rosen after just one year. Cole played every offensive snap for Arizona in 2018 but was relegated to a reserve role in 2019, starting twice. Kirk’s 20 starts are the most in the group, which means nobody else has held down a starting spot. Cunningham was traded to the Patriots for a sixth-rounder, so the Cardinals were able to get a higher pick in return than the one they spent on him.
Los Angeles Rams
Picks: OG Joseph Noteboom (89), C Brian Allen (111), DE John Franklin-Myers (135), LB Micah Kiser (147), DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (160), RB John Kelly (176), OG Jamil Demby (192), DT Sebastian Joseph (195), DE Trevon Young (205), LB Travin Howard (231), DE Justin Lawler (244)
Best pick: Sebastian Joseph
Joseph did not see the field as a rookie but started 15 times last season, giving him the most starts of any player in the group. For context, Allen is second with nine. Joseph finished the season with 44 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss and five quarterback hits. That is more than enough to earn this spot as the eighth player the Rams drafted.
Worst pick: John Franklin-Myers
Though Franklin-Myers played a minimal role in his lone season in Los Angeles, he did force a fumble and record a sack in the Super Bowl. The Rams released him during final roster cuts in 2019 and the Jets claimed him off waivers the next day. He was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 4, where he stayed for the remainder of the year. Notebloom and Allen — the two guys Los Angeles took ahead of Franklin-Myers — have 15 starts to his zero.
The bar can only be so high for a team without a top-75 pick. All 11 players have appeared in multiple games and three have at least six starts. Eight of the 11 have played in 10 or more games. Joseph could end up being a really good find if he can build off what he did in 2019.
San Francisco 49ers
Picks: OT Mike McGlinchey (9), WR Dante Pettis (44), LB Fred Warner (70), DB Trevarius Moore (95), DT Kentavius Street (128), DB D.J. Reed (142), DB Marcell Harris (184), DT Jullian Taylor (223), WR Richie James (240)
Best pick: Fred Warner
Warner is one of 12 players with more than 240 tackles in the past two seasons. Of those 12, five — including Warner — have started all 32 games. He finished with the 12th-most tackles (124) in the league as a rookie. In year two, he found more ways to impact games with an interception, three forced fumbles, three sacks and 118 tackles. Warner would undoubtedly go in the first round if the 2018 class was redrafted today.
Worst pick: Dante Pettis
Pettis is tied for 29th in receptions (38), 19th in receiving yards (576) and 20th in receiving yards per game (25.0) among 2018 draftees as the fourth wideout to come off the board. He went from 27 catches, 467 yards and five touchdowns in year one to 11 catches, 109 yards and two touchdowns in year two while playing in just one less game. His catch percentage also dropped from 60.0% to 45.8%.
The headliners here are the aforementioned Warner and McGlinchey, who was on the field for all of San Francisco’s offensive snaps as a rookie. The two of them have a combined 60 starts to the group’s 28. Moore’s played in every game and Reed’s played in 31. San Francisco did well with its early picks aside from Pettis and got decent value late too. The 49ers should be extremely pleased even if there isn’t the star power to get an A.
Picks: RB Rashaad Penny (27), DT Rasheem Green (79), TE Will Dissly (120), LB Shaquem Griffin (141), DB Tre Flowers (146), P Michael Dickson (149), OT Jamarco Jones (168), LB Jacob Martin (186), QB Alex McGough (220)
Best pick: Tre Flowers
Flowers — the second of Seattle’s four fifth round picks — has three times as many starts than anyone else. He has started 15 games each of his first two seasons, compiling three interceptions, two sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 149 tackles. The Seahawks could’ve taken Flowers 27th overall instead of Penny and he still would’ve been in this spot.
Worst pick: Rashaad Penny
Fair or not, there is an increased amount of pressure when a team spends its only pick in the first two rounds on a running back. Though Penny is averaging 5.3 yards per carry for his career, he has yet to rush for more than 419 yards in a season. To be fair, he was on pace to do so through 10 games last season prior to tearing his ACL. Still, 32.9 yards per game in 24 appearances is not what you’re hoping for from a first round back.
Penny has shown some promise even if he’s been disappointing overall. Four of the players Seattle took after the fourth round have played in more than 30 games, but one of them is a punter and only Flowers has multiple starts. Martin has provided 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles while also playing special teams. The Seahawks did the hard part in finding value late but would probably like their first three picks back.
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Photo by Eric Chan / Wikimedia Commons