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 2019 NFL Draft re-grade moves north, starting with the AFC.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: WR Marquise Brown (25th overall), LB Jaylon Ferguson (85), WR Miles Boykin (93), RB Justice Hill (113), OG Ben Powers (123), DB Iman Marshall (127), DT Daylon Mack (160), QB Trace McSorley (197)
Best pick: Marquise Brown
Potential admittedly has something to do with Brown being here, but nobody else did enough to take this spot from him. “Hollywood” started and ended his debut campaign with his best games of the season. Brown hauled in four passes for 147 yards and scored two touchdowns in Week 1. He didn’t have another 100-yard game until the playoffs when he caught seven passes for 126 yards in the loss to the Titans. Brown finished the year with 584 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.
Worst pick: Miles Boykin
Boykin appeared in all 16 games for Baltimore in 2019 but averaged just 12.4 yards per contest. He caught 13 of the 22 passes thrown his way, three of which went for touchdowns. As the 13th receiver taken in the 2019 draft, Boykin ranked 19th in receiving yards and 28th in receiving yards per game among rookies.
The biggest thing the Ravens have going for them is that their first four picks were absent for a total of four games and made 31 starts. One of the largest critiques of this group is the lack of effectiveness of said players. The other is that Powers, Marshall, Mack and McSorely played in a combined six games with zero starts. You would hope eight top-200 picks would make more of an immediate impact.
Picks: OT Jonah Williams (6), TE Drew Sample (52), LB Germaine Pratt (72), QB Ryan Finley (104), DT Renell Wren (125), OG Michael Jordan (136), RB Trayveon Williams (182), LB Deshaun Davis (210), RB Rodney Anderson (211), DB Jordan Brown (223)
Best pick: Michael Jordan
One of the offensive linemen the Bengals drafted stepped into a starting role right away but it wasn’t the one they expected. While Williams missed the 2019 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum, Jordan played in 13 games and started nine times. He is tied with Pratt for the most starts in the group.
Worst pick: Drew Sample
Williams would take this spot in some situations, though a labrum injury has very little bearing on the rest of his career. Sample played 108 offensive snaps and was targeted all of six times. He caught five of the six passes sent his direction for 30 yards. Again, it’s too early to draw any conclusions, but those numbers are more concerning than an injury that shouldn’t be a major factor moving forward.
Pratt played in every game and compiled 76 tackles. Finley got three starts in which the Bengals went 0-3 and scored a total of 33 points. There is a world where Williams becomes an elite offensive linemen, Jordan and Pratt are regular starters, Sample becomes a weapon and Finley is Joe Burrow’s backup for the next five years. Then the grade would be very different. Based on the information available right now, Cincinnati’s first two picks keep this from anything higher than a C.
Picks: DB Greedy Williams (46), LB Sione Takitaki (80), DB Sheldrick Redwine (119), LB Mack Wilson (155), K Austin Seibert (170), OG Drew Forbes (189), DB Donnie Lewis (221)
Best pick: Mack Wilson
Draft position aside, Wilson had the best rookie season of anyone the Browns selected. He played in every game and led the group with 14 starts. Wilson logged 82 tackles while also contributing an interception, a forced fumble and a sack. Only five newcomers posted more tackles than Wilson, three of whom were taken in the first two rounds.
Worst pick: Sione Takitaki
Takitaki played more than twice as many snaps on special teams as he did on defense in 2019. He recorded 21 tackles in 15 games, starting once. For comparison, everyone else Cleveland took in the first five except for Seibert made at least five starts.
Williams started all 12 games he appeared in, finishing the year with 47 tackles and two passes defended. Redwine posted 42 tackles in 12 appearances, five of which were starts. Seibert converted field goals (86.2%) at a higher rate than he did extra points (85.7) last season. He was waived after missing a field goal and extra point in Week 1 of the 2020 season. The Bengals claimed him off waivers the next day. Cleveland got quite a bit of production from its rookies for a team without a first round pick.
Picks: LB Devin Bush Jr. (10), WR Diontae Johnson (66), DB Justin Layne (83), RB Benny Snell Jr. (122), TE Zach Gentry (141), DE Sutton Smith (175), DE Isaiah Buggs (192), LB Ulysees Gilbert (207), OT Derwin Gray (219)
Best pick: Devin Bush
Bush checked every box in year one. He did not miss a game and started all but one of them. His 109 tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries earned him a spot on the All-Rookie team. Bush was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 6 when he registered seven tackles to go with an interception and a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown in a 24-17 win over the Chargers.
Worst pick: Justin Layne
Layne was used exclusively on special teams, playing 93 snaps in 10 games. He made three tackles, all solo efforts. Bush, Johnson and Snell all made significant contributions, leaving Layne as the lone pick in the first four rounds who failed to make a meaningful impact right away.
Bush is on his way to becoming a star if his career continues on its current trajectory. Johnson caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns. Snell carried the ball 108 times for 426 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers got very little from the rest of the group but there’s plenty of time for that to change. Even if it doesn’t, Pittsburgh’s got three guys with bright futures.
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Photo by Maize & Blue Nation / Wikimedia Commons