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 two of the 2019 NFL Draft re-grade focuses on the NFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DT Trysten Hill (58th overall), OG Connor McGovern (90), RB Tony Pollard (128), DB Michael Jackson (158), DE Joe Jackson (165), DB Donovan Wilson (213), RB Mike Weber (218), DE Jalen Jelks (241)
Best pick: Tony Pollard
The answer will probably be different in a year or two, but Pollard was absolutely the Cowboys’ best rookie in 2019. The former Memphis Tiger played in all but one game and touched the ball 101 times. He picked up 455 yards on 86 carries while catching 15 passes for 107 yards. Pollard averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored a total of three touchdowns.
Worst pick: Connor McGovern
McGovern was sidelined for his first season with a torn pectoral muscle. He initially injured it in the offseason and left his first practice in late August with soreness in the same muscle. The Cowboys placed him on injured reserve on Sept. 2, 2019. McGovern made his NFL debut on special teams in Dallas’ 40-39 come-from-behind win over the Falcons on Sept. 20, 2020.
While it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term future of this group, there is nothing to suggest any of these players will become significant contributors at this point. None of them started a game in 2019. Hill made five tackles in seven appearances. Wilson was used almost exclusively on special teams. Pollard was good but is not posing any kind of threat to Ezekiel Elliott in the Cowboys’ backfield.
New York Giants
Picks: QB Daniel Jones (6), DT Dexter Lawrence (17), DB DeAndre Baker (30), DE Oshane Ximines (95), DB Julian Love (108), LB Ryan Connelly (143), WR Darius Slayton (171), DB Cody Ballentine (180), OT George Asafo-Adjei (232), DT Chris Slayton (245)
Best pick: Darius Slayton
Slayton finished fifth among rookies in receiving yards (740) and receiving yards per game (52.9). The four players ahead of him in both categories were drafted in the first three rounds while Slayton didn’t come off the board until round five. He also tied second round pick A.J. Brown for the most receiving touchdowns of 2019 draftees with eight. Slayton ended the season as the Giants’ leading receiver and was fourth on the team in receptions.
Worst pick: DeAndre Baker
Baker made 15 starts and recorded 61 tackles in what could very well be the only season of his career. The Giants waived him on Sept. 8, 2020, after he and Seahawks defensive back Quinton Dunbar allegedly robbed guests at gunpoint during a party. Baker was charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. He is facing 10 years to life in prison if convicted.
This is a really solid class even with the Baker situation. Seven of the 10 players appeared in at least 13 games last season. Lawrence started every game and made the All-Rookie team. The jury is still out on Jones but the Giants aren’t giving up on him any time soon. He will have every opportunity to prove he’s the guy for the next 10 years. Baker and the three first round picks it took to get this group are the reasons the grade isn’t higher.
Picks: OT Andre Dillard (22), RB Miles Sanders (53), WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (57), DE Shareef Miller (138), QB Clayton Thorson (167)
Best pick: Miles Sanders
Sanders was the lone rookie to compile at least 800 rushing yards and at least 500 receiving yards last season. He ranked third among all newcomers in rushing (818 yards) and 11th in receiving (509). Sanders made more starts (11) than the Eagles’ other four picks combined (9) and scored six touchdowns, three on the ground and three through the air. Consider the following: Philadelphia was so banged up in 2019 that Sanders was the team’s leading rusher and posted more receiving yards than any of the Eagles’ wideouts.
Worst pick: JJ Arcega-Whiteside
Arcega-Whiteside appeared in all 16 contests for the Eagles in 2019 and played a total of 486 offensive snaps. He caught 10 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. Not only has Arcega-Whiteside’s career gotten off to an extremely slow start, but the Seahawks selected DK Metcalf seven picks later. Philadelphia might be regretting its decision to go with Arcega-Whiteside instead of Metcalf for a while.
Dillard played in all 16 contests and made four starts in his rookie campaign. He was in line to start at left tackle in 2020 until he tore his bicep and went on injured reserve. Miller played in one game and was waived on Sept. 5, 2020. The Panthers claimed him the next day. Thorson failed to make the team and spent 2019 on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
Washington Football Team
Picks: QB Dwayne Haskins (15), DE Montez Sweat (26), WR Terry McLaurin (76), RB Bryce Love (112), OG Wes Martin (131), C Ross Pierschbacher (153), LB Cole Holcomb (173), WR Kelvin Harmon (206), DB Jimmy Moreland (227), DE Jordan Brailford (253)
Best pick: Terry McLaurin
McLaurin was tied for second in receptions (58), second in receiving yards (919), second in yards per game (65.6) and tied for third in receiving touchdowns (7) among rookies last season. Washington’s second-leading receiver behind McLaurin was running back Chris Thompson, who caught 58 passes for 378 yards. That’s how important he was to their offense.
Worst pick: Bryce Love
Love tore his ACL in his final game at Stanford, causing him to slide down draft boards and miss his entire rookie season. Washington obviously drafted Love knowing he would not be healthy for some time, so it’s unfair to put a lot of stock in him being unavailable in 2019. This is more about how well the other four guys Washington took in the first four rounds performed than it is about Love.
Almost every first round quarterback’s grade is incomplete at the end of year one. Haskins wasn’t spectacular but won three games and showed some promise. Sweat started every game and produced 50 tackles to go with his seven sacks. Holcomb had 105 tackles in 15 starts. Harmon and Moreland made a combined 13 starts. This has the makings of an outstanding class if Haskins continues to develop.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by All-Pro Reels / Wikimedia Commons