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.
Part five of the 2019 NFL Draft re-grade takes a look at the AFC South.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: OT Tytus Howard (23rd overall), DB Lonnie Johnson (54), OT/OG Max Scharping (55), TE Kahale Warring (86), DE Charles Omenihu (161), DB Xavier Crawford (195), FB Cullen Gillaspia (220)
Best pick: Max Scharping
Scharping and Gillaspia were the only two members of the group to appear in all 16 contests last season. Gillaspia was on the field for 13 non-special teams snaps. Scharping was on the field for 938. He made 14 starts — one less than the rest of the Texans’ draft class combined — and was whistled for just one holding penalty all year.
Worst pick: Kahale Warring
Warring — whose full name is Kahalekuiokalani Michael Wodehouse Warring — missed all of 2019 with a concussion. He made his NFL debut in the Texans’ 2020 season opener against the Chiefs, playing nine snaps on special teams. Warring was placed back on injured reserve less than a week later with an undisclosed injury.
The good news for Houston is that Howard started all eight games he played in before landing on injured reserve and Johnson got the start in seven of his 14 appearances. That means the Texans’ first three picks combined for 29 starts. The bad news is that nobody else started a game, though Omenihu contributed three sacks in 14 games. This group could turn out to be a very good one.
Picks: DB Rock Ya-Sin (34), LB Ben Banogu (49), WR Paris Campbell (59), LB Bobby Okereke (89), DB Khari Willis (109), DB Marvell Tell III (144), LB E.J. Speed (164), DE Gerri Green (199), OT Jackson Barton (240), C Javon Patterson (246)
Best pick: Khari Willis
Willis made more starts (9) than anyone except Ya-Sin, who made 13. He did not start in the first three games but was in the starting lineup for nine of the next 13 contests. Willis played in 14 games overall and was one of 10 newcomers to record more than 70 tackles, finishing the season with 71.
Worst pick: Paris Campbell
You have to feel for Campbell, who has been decimated by injuries in his short career. He suffered a sports hernia, broken hand and broken foot in 2019, limiting him to 18 receptions and one touchdown in seven games. Campbell opened 2020 with his best performance to date (six catches for 71 yards) only to tear his PCL and MCL in Week 2.
The biggest knock on this group is that Banogu and Campbell have three starts between them. Other than that, there is reason to be excited about this class. Ya-Sin looks like he will be a starter for years to come. Banogu produced 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles in limited action. Okereke was right behind Willis on the rookie tackle list with 65 and also forced two fumbles. Green, Barton and Patterson have yet to play in an NFL game.
Picks: DE Josh Allen (7), OT Jawaan Taylor (35), TE Josh Oliver (69), DB Quincy Williams (98), RB Ryquell Armstead (140), QB Gardner Minshew (178), DT Dontavius Russell (235)
Best pick: Gardner Minshew
Don’t get so caught up in Minshew’s mustache and persona that you forget he can really play. In 14 games, Minshew threw more touchdown passes than Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray did in 16 games. He averaged more passing yards per game than both Murray and Daniel Jones. Murray and Jones both threw 12 interceptions. Minshew threw six. He also won more games playing quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars than any other field general in his draft class.
Worst pick: Josh Oliver
Josh Oliver played in four games prior to being placed on injured reserve on Nov. 18, 2019. He started once and caught three passes for 15 yards. Oliver had surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot and was placed back on injured reserve on Aug. 20, 2020, ending his second season before it began.
This is not a deep group but that is of secondary importance when the top of the class seems to be excellent. Allen appeared in every game, registering 44 tackles, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Taylor played every offensive snap and Williams made eight starts. At the very least, Minshew is an average quarterback worth building around. Any team that hits on its first two picks and finds a quarterback in the sixth round is getting an A+.
Picks: DE Jeffrey Simmons (19), WR A.J. Brown (51), OG Nate Davis (82), DB Amani Hooker (116), LB D’Andre Walker (168), LB David Long (188)
Best pick: A.J. Brown
Brown was the lone rookie to top 1,000 receiving yards and tied for the most touchdown catches with eight. He played in every game, leading the Titans in receiving by 450 yards. It should not come as a surprise than Brown’s 52 receptions for 1,051 yards resulted in a spot on the All-Rookie team. He was far and away the most impressive wideout from the 2019 draft class in year one.
Worst pick: D’Andre Walker
The other five guys Tennessee selected played in at least nine contests in 2019 while Walker played in none. He went on injured reserve on Aug. 10, 2019, and was waived on Sept. 5, 2020 during final roster cuts. The Seahawks claimed Walker off waivers the following day. He made his NFL debut on Sept. 27, 2020, in a 38-31 win over the Cowboys.
Simmons was still recovering from a torn ACL at the beginning of his rookie campaign, so two sacks and 32 tackles in nine games is a more than respectable result. Davis started 12 times and made 13 appearances overall. Hooker registered 20 tackles and played in every game, contributing on both defense and special teams. Long saw action in 14 games, mostly on special teams. The Titans got the lovely combination of immediate impact and star potential with Simmons and Brown.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Atlanta Falcons / Wikimedia Commons