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 has arrived at the NFC South.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: OG Chris Lindstrom (14th overall), OT Kaleb McGary (31), DB Kendall Sheffield (111), DE John Cominsky (135), RB Qadree Ollison (152), DB Jordan Miller (172), WR Marcus Green (203)
Best pick: Kaleb McGary
McGary started every game in 2019 and was on the field for 95% of the Falcons’ offensive snaps. He also saw a little bit of action on special teams, bringing his total snap count to 1,173. No other Falcons draftee made more than 11 starts and only Sheffield appeared in all 16 contests.
Worst pick: Chris Lindstrom
Lindstrom was easily the least impactful of Atlanta’s three top-120 picks due to a broken foot he suffered in his first game. He won the starting right guard spot but was sidelined until Week 14 because of the injury. Lindstrom started the five games he was available for, so he’s not here for being ineffective.
The aforementioned Sheffield was another bright spot for the Falcons in 2019, posting 46 tackles and starting 11 times. Cominsky, Ollison and Miller were all used sparingly but appeared in a combined 28 games. Miller was handed a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. A healthier Lindstrom makes this an A-.
Picks: DE Brian Burns (16), OT Greg Little (37), QB Will Grier (100), LB Christian Miller (115), RB Jordan Scarlett (154), OT Dennis Daley (212), WR Terry Godwin (237)
Best pick: Dennis Daley
Daley made nine starts as a sixth round pick. The rest of the Panthers’ seven-man draft class made a total of 10. That’s really all there is to it. Burns had the better rookie season but the difference in performance wasn’t enough to compensate for Daley being selected 196 picks later than Burns. Daley was only called for three penalties in the 14 games he played. \
Worst pick: Will Grier
Every team that takes a quarterback in the top 100 does so with the hope that player will challenge for the starting job at some point. So far, it’s not looking like Grier is headed down that path. He completed 53.8% of the 52 passes he threw in two starts last season for 228 yards. The Panthers lost both games and Grier threw four interceptions without accounting for a touchdown. Carolina’s decision to replace Cam Newton with Teddy Bridgewater made it even more unlikely Grier is ever anything more than a backup.
Burns had a solid rookie season with 7.5 sacks and 25 tackles. Little battled both concussions and an ankle injury, playing in only six games and starting four times. Miller got just 91 defensive snaps but managed to record two sacks. There wasn’t much to get excited about in year one outside of Burns and Daley.
New Orleans Saints
Picks: C Erik McCoy (48), DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (105), DB Saquan Hampton (177), TE Alize Mack (231), LB Kaden Elliss (244)
Best pick: Erik McCoy
Only McCoy and Gardner-Johnson started a game in their rookie year. Gardner-Johnson made seven starts while McCoy made 16. The former Texas A&M Aggie played 99% of New Orleans’ offensive snaps in 2019. There isn’t much to separate McCoy and Gardner-Johnson, but McCoy gets the edge based on the sheer amount of playing time he received.
Worst pick: Saquan Hampton
Hampton is basically forced into this position as the other player drafted before the seventh round. He played a total of 97 snaps, 63 of which came on special teams. Hampton saw action in five games and made one tackle.
The Saints took two players before the sixth round and they both ended up on the All-Rookie team. McCoy was a starter from day one and Gardner-Johnson contributed 49 tackles while appearing in all 16 contests. It doesn’t get much better than that for a team with so little draft capital.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Picks: LB Devin White (5), DB Sean Murphy-Bunting (39), DB Jamal Dean (94), DB Mike Edwards (99), DE Anthony Nelson (107), K Matt Gay (145), WR Scottie Miller (208), DT Terry Beckner Jr. (215)
Best pick: Devin White
There is just no ignoring how good White was last season: 91 tackles, three forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks in 13 games. He also picked off a pass and recovered four fumbles, returning two of them for touchdowns. White finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the All-Rookie team. It would be a surprise if there were not multiple Pro Bowl selections in his future.
Worst pick: Matt Gay
Gay made 27 of his 35 field goal attempts and converted 89.6% of his extra points in his lone season with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay waived Gay on Sept. 5, 2020, after signing veteran kicker Ryan Succop. The Colts signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 15. Gay and Becker Jr. were the only memebers of the group who failed to make it to year two with the Buccaneers.
White, Murphy-Bunting, Dean and Edwards were all significant contributors who played in at least 13 games and started at least five times. Murphy-Bunting made the All-Rookie team as well. Dean recorded two interceptions and 21 tackles. Edwards posted 45 tackles and a sack. Miller is a breakout candidate in 2020 with the arrival of Tom Brady. Tampa Bay did a fine, fine job with this class.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Atlanta Falcons / Wikimedia Commons