Dolphins

Draft Grades: Miami Dolphins

When you draft a quarterback in the 1st round, you’re staking your entire reputation on that one player, which is exactly what Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland did with Ryan Tannehill. No matter what happens with the rest of this draft class, only Tannehill’s performance will be remembered.

I’ve been saying all year that Ryan Tannehill is not a 1st-round talent. I gave him a 3rd-round grade based on the fact that he has the raw skills to start in the NFL, but needs a considerable amount of development before he’s ready. And based on that assessment, I don’t like his chances to succeed in Miami. He’s the type of quarterback that needs to sit and learn, and he won’t have that luxury. The Dolphins are probably going to throw him into the fire, and that rarely works out well for developmental prospects.

Jonathan Martin was extremely overrated throughout the draft process, but he’s a solid 2nd-round pick for the Dolphins. He’ll be plugged in a right tackle where he should be an adequate starter.

Olivier Vernon is a run-stuffing lineman and I’m not sure how he fits in Miami’s 3-4 defense. He may be too small to play end but isn’t athletic enough to play linebacker.

Michael Egnew was a nice pickup in the 3rd round. He’s essentially an oversized receiver, and won’t be a three-down tight end. But they needed to add a pass-catching tight end, and he’ll be a nice compliment to Anthony Fasano, who’s more of a traditional tight end.

Lamar Miller could prove to be a steal in the 4th round, but the running back depth chart in Miami is crowded. He’ll have to fight for playing time behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.

Josh Kaddu adds depth at linebacker and should contribute on special teams. He’ll likely play inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.

B.J. Cunningham is a solid possession receiver who could be a late-round steal. He’s a strong route runner with good hands and has the skills to play immediately. However, he’s similar to some other receivers on the Dolphins roster, such as Davone Bess, which may hurt his chances of seeing any significant playing time as a rookie.

Kheeston Randall is a steal in the 7th round. He’s a tough, hard-working player who fits perfectly at end in the Dolphins 3-4 defense. He may only be a career backup, but in the 7th round he’s well worth the selection.

Richard Matthews will have a tough time making the Dolphins final roster cuts. He’ll find a job somewhere, but the depth chart is crowded at receiver in Miami.

The Dolphins made some nice picks in this draft, but it’s impossible to overlook the gamble on Tannehill. This franchise is headed in the wrong direction, and they don’t appear to have the decision makers in place to turn things around.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Draft Grades: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills were already having a strong offseason, highlighted by the addition of Mario Williams. And their 2012 draft class completes the process, and potentially makes them darkhorse contenders in the AFC.

The Bills reached for Stephon Gilmore. There’s no denying his potential, but he’s will need time to develop – more time than you’d typically expect from a top-10 pick. That said, I believe cornerback was one of their most glaring needs, and there was a fairly significant dropoff in talent at the position. If they felt this was an area they needed to address in order to compete in 2012, the reach was justified.

Cordy Glenn could be a steal in the 2nd round, but it depends where the Bills use him. He played left tackle this past season at Georgia, but is best suited to play right tackle or guard in the pros. If the Bills use him at left tackle, they’ll be missing an opportunity to maximize his skills.

T.J. Graham was a reach in the 3rd round. He’s more of a track star than a football player. He can stretch the field and potentially contribute as a return specialist, but his upside is limited.

Nigel Bradham is a developmental prospect but I like how he fits in Buffalo. He won’t be forced to play a significant role right away and can be brought along slowly.

I love the selection of Ron Brooks. He was stuck behind Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu this past year, but had the skills to start for nearly any other program in the country. His lack of experience makes him a bit of an unknown, but he played well in a nickel corner role at LSU and, at worst, should be able to fill that role in Buffalo.

Zebrie Sanders could be the Bills long-term answer at left tackle, but he isn’t ready for that role just yet. Ideally, they’ll keep him on the sidelines for a year, developing his strength and technique. But they’re desperate for help on the offensive line, which may force him into action.

Tank Carder lacks the measurables, but was extremely productive at TCU. He may never start, but should have a long career as a backup and special teams contributor.

Mark Asper may add some depth to the offensive line, but he’ll have to fight to make the final roster cuts. The Bills have no shortage of mediocre interior linemen.

The selection of John Potter doesn’t make much sense. Rian Lindell seems to be entrenched as the starting kicker and Potter is no better than any number of kickers who could have been picked up after the draft.

Overall, the Bills did a nice job of addressing needs without making many significant reaches. They also landed a few solid developmental prospects who could pay off a few years down the line. This may be Buddy Nix’s best draft class since coming to Buffalo.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Draft Grades: Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins draft was all about one player. And while they made some questionable choices later on, the selection of RGII is all that matters.

Robert Griffin immediately becomes the face of the franchise in DC. But fans who expect him to immediately turn things around are going to be disappointed. He’s still very raw and there will be growing pains. What sets him apart though are his intangibles. We’ve seen players with his raw ability before, but no one with his combination of athleticism, arm strength and accuracy has also had the worth ethic and leadership qualities that RGII possesses.

Josh LeRibeus was a reach in the 3rd round. But they did need to attempt to upgrade the interior offensive line and he should be given an opportunity to win a starting job.

The “controversy” surrounding the selection of Kirk Cousins was purely a media creation. Cousins is a backup quarterback, and he was always going to be a backup. So does it really matter if he’s backing up a 10-year veteran or a rookie? That said, the Redskins could have addressed another need with the 102nd pick. There were still impact players on the board, and Cousins may never see the field in Washington.

Keenan Robinson was a nice pickup in the 4th round. He fits well in their defense and will be a capable backup to Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

I like Adam Gettis more than LeRibeus. Both prospects will compete with each other for playing time.

Alfred Morris was a reach. There were better running back prospects on the board in the 6th round. But Mike Shannahan loves his sleeper running backs, so he’ll give Morris a fair shot to earn a job.

Tom Compton will compete for a backup job at tackle. They don’t have an obvious choice for Trent Williams’ backup, so Compton could be in the mix.

Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine are both long shots to make the roster. The Redskins secondary is crowded and they’ve already signed two cornerbacks this offseason. Bernstine has the size to play safety as well, so he may actually have the edge to earn a job if he can demonstrate the necessary versatility.

The Redskins only added one difference maker in this class, but when that difference maker is a true franchise quarterback, that’s all you need. They definitely missed some opportunities in the 3rd and 4th round to build around Griffin, but they still receive high marks overall.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Redskins 1 Comment

Draft Grades: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had relatively few holes to fill, so this draft class was about adding depth and finding some prospects to groom for future roles.

I like the trade up for Fletcher Cox. The hype surrounding his stock got a little out of control in the weeks leading up to the draft, but he does have the potential to be an impact interior lineman. He’s a prototypical penetrating three-technique tackle and has the potential to be a poor man’s Ndamakong Suh. He’s inconsistent against the run, but Philly has the depth  to use him as part of a rotation.

I like the selection Mychal Kendricks in the 2nd round, but I do wonder where he fits in. He’s best suited to play insider or weak-side linebacker, but the Eagles most glaring hole is on the strong-side. Kendricks can probably make that transition, but it’s not a perfect fit.

Vinny Curry will be steal in the late 2nd round. He’s a relentless pass rusher who could push for playing time immediately, even on crowded defensive line in Philly.

I’m baffled by the selection of Nick Foles. For starters, the Eagles could  have landed an impact player in the late 3rd round, there was no reason to settle for a purely developmental prospect. But to make matters worse, Foles is not worthy of a 3rd-round pick. He’s terribly inconsistent and didn’t show any real potential until the second half of his senior year. There’s a huge bust factor with this pick.

Brandon Boykin is a steal in the 4th round and I’m shocked he fell that far. He’s undersized and may be limited to playing the nickel corner role, but he definitely has the skills to make an impact. He’ll compete with Curtis Marsh for playing time, but should eventually earn a larger role down the road.

Marvin McNutt has limited upside, but he ‘s fairly polished and will have a chance to compete for the fourth receiver role. On a different team I’d like his chances, but the Eagles receiving corps is crowded. He may end up on the practice squad.

Brandon Washington played left tackle at Miami but will need to shift inside to guard in the pros. I’m somewhat surprised by this selection because the Eagles have been targeting smaller, more athletic interior lineman in recent years, and Washington definitely does not fit that mold.

Bryce Brown was a serious gamble, even in the 7th round. He was highly recruited out of high school and ended up at Tennessee, but eventually transferred to Kansas State. However, he’s consistently found himself in trouble and needs to get his life in order before he can be relied upon. He’s made a number of questionable decision throughout his career, including unexpectedly leaving the Kansas State program last September. Even in the 7th round, he probably wasn’t worth the headache that he’ll bring.

The Eagles put together a solid class and added some impressive depth to their front seven. The only pick that really raised any concerns was Foles, which felt like a reach. But they still added at least three players who project as future starters (Cox, Kendricks and Curry) and another (Boykin) who should at least add contribute as a nickel corner.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Eagles Comments Off

Draft Grades: New York Giants

With so few holes, I expected the New York Giants to simply target the best available player – a strategy which Jerry Reese has used frequently in the past – but he strayed from his typical approach and it may come back to haunt him down the road.

David Wilson was a reach, and there’s really no way to sugar coat that. The fact that Reese would reach for Wilson raises a serious question: is Ahmad Bradshaw healthy? If so, the selection makes little sense. But if they’re legitimately worried about Bradshaw’s ability to stay on the field in 2012, the pick is justifiable. Since the motivation behind the pick is a bit of an unknown, I’ll have to factor that into the grade and give Reese the benefit of the doubt.

The selection of Rueben Randle is more in line with the Giants typical draft strategy. He was among the top available players on the board and will help fill the void left by the departure of Mario Manningham. He’s a developmental prospect but should be able to provide some help as a third or fourth option at receiver this year.

Jayron Hosley fell due to character concerns, but was probably worth the gamble in the late 3rd round. He likely won’t see the the field much given the Giants crowded secondary, but he was a solid investment at that point in the draft.

Adrien Robinson was a hot name this offseason and a late riser up the draft boards. He’s a good fit for the Giants, who like their tight ends to be strong blockers. He was likely drafted as insurance behind Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, who are both coming off injuries.

Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants add some much-needed depth to the Giants offensive line. Neither has much upside, but they both have the ability to play multiple positions along the line and have long careers as backup linemen.

Markus Kuhn will become one of the few players born in Germany to play in the NFL. He’s a good athlete for his size and is an interesting developmental prospect. However, the Giants depth chart is crowded at defensive tackle and he may struggle to make the final roster cut.

I’m having a hard time grading the Giants draft without knowing what prompted the selection of David Wilson. If they’re worried about Bradshaw, it makes sense. But if they panicked once Doug Martin was snatched out from under them by the Bucs, it’s a poor decision. Given Reese’s draft history, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this was definitely not his strongest draft class.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Giants 1 Comment

Draft Needs: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys made a bold move by trading into the top 10, but they got a great deal from the Rams and have now solidified their most glaring weakness on defense.

Normally I’m critical of teams that trade up as far as the Cowboys, but only because of the price tag associated with climbing into the top 10. The Cowboys, however, were able to hang on to their 2013 1st-round pick, the usual asking price for such a blockbuster trade.

The selection of Morris Claiborne immediately solidifies what was the Cowboys most glaring weakness entering the offseason. Claiborne should make an immediate impact, and should be considered an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Due to the free agent acquisition of Brandon Carr, Claiborne will be the No. 2 corner, which will put him in favorable matchups and allow him to develop, rather than being thrown into the fire as he would have in Tampa Bay or Minnesota.

Tyrone Crawford may have been a slight reach in the 3rd round, but the Cowboys needed to address the depth at defensive end. He’s a prototypical 3-4 end and should be given an opportunity to compete for playing time with Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman.

The selection of Kyle Wilber was definitely a reach and didn’t address an immediate are of concern.

Matt Johnson is a developmental prospect and a significant reach in the 4th round. He’ll primarily play on special teams early in his career and be groomed to play strong safety down the road. He clearly has the size/athleticism combination, but probably would have still been on the board in the 5th or 6th round.

I love the selection of Danny Coale in the 5th round. His upside is limited due to his lack of speed and overall athleticism, but he is a classic possession receiver who should be able to contribute as the 3rd or 4th option, even as a rookie.

James Hanna rose up draft boards with an impressive combine workout, but his lack of production in college raises some concern. A player with his raw skills should have been able to find a role at Oklahoma, an offense which has a role found roles for athletic tight ends like Jermaine Gresham in the  past. That said, the risk/reward is definitely in the Cowboys favor in the 6th round.

Caleb McSurdy has a decent chance to make the final roster cuts due to the Cowboys lack of depth at inside linebacker. There’s a chance he could beat out Bruce Carter if he impresses in training camp.

Overall, this draft was all about the addition of Claiborne. The Cowboys clearly view him as one of the missing pieces to their championship run. The trade was an aggressive move, but one that could prove to be well worth the risk if he lives up to expectations.

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Draft Grades: San Diego Chargers

A.J. Smith and Norv Turner’s jobs are on the line, so this was a critical draft for the San Diego Chargers. Entering the draft, there were rumors about the Chargers trading up, which made sense if Smith and Turner felt they needed to land an impact player to help save their jobs. But they stayed put on draft day, and it payed off.

It was difficult to imagine a scenario in which Melvin Ingram fell the Chargers, but when he did their front office wasted no time snatching him up. Ingram may not technically be a starter in 2012, with Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson favored to occupy that role, but he will make a significant impact. He played a hybrid end/linebacker role in South Carolina, so he should be able to make a smooth transition in San Diego.

Kendall Reyes had value in the 2nd round, so I can’t argue with the selection too much. However, it’s tough to see how he fits into their immediate plans. He’ll compete with Vaughn Martin and Luis Castillo for playing time. It’s also possible that he is used as a part of a rotation, coming into the game in passing situations with Martin playing on the majority of run downs.

Brandon Taylor was a reach in the 3rd round, but there was such little depth in this year’s class of safeties that the Chargers likely felt the need to go off the board to fill a need. He may be given an opportunity to compete with Atari Bigby for the starting job at strong safety.

I love the selection of Lararius Green. He’s very raw, but has the potential to be an elite pass-catching tight end. He is now the heir apparent to Antonio Gates at tight end, but could be used in some two tight end sets this upcoming season. He’s a matchup nightmare, and has the potential to be a steal in the 4th round.

Johnnie Troutman was a reach in the 5th round and, on top of that, he is expected to miss the entire 2012 season due to injury. Unless a player has elite upside, which Troutman does not, it’s best to stay away from injured players in the draft.

David Molk fell much further than I expected. He’s a smart, physical interior lineman who could be given an opportunity to take over for Nick Hardwick in a year or two.

Edwin Baker also fell on draft day. The Chargers have limited depth behind Ryan Matthews, which should allow Baker to earn a roster spot.

Overall, the Chargers drafted a nice mix of players who can help immediately and can be groomed for the future. It’s a well-balanced class which should help save the jobs of A.J. Smith and Norv Turner.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Draft Grades - 2012 1 Comment

Draft Grades: Oakland Raiders

It’s tough to grade a team with no draft picks, so to make it simple I’ll focus solely on how the Oakland Raiders used the picks they had and ignore the questionable trades that got them here.

With their first selection in the 3rd round the Raiders reached to fill a need. Tony Bergstrom will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job, but he offers only a limited upgrade over their current interior linemen. The Raiders would have been better off settling for the best available player, even if it didn’t fill an immediate need.

Miles Burris will likely compete for the starting job at weak-side linebacker. However, his upside is limited and his role as a rookie may only come by default. His long-term value figures to be limited to special teams duty.

Jack Crawford is an intriguing prospect, but he’s never put it all together on the field. He has all the physical tools necessary to be an elite pass rusher, but he’s just never shown the ability to consistently play at a high level. He’s well worth a gamble in the 5th round, however, and could end up being a player who blossoms in the NFL.

What would Al Davis have to say about the Raiders drafting Juron Criner, who ran a 4.68 in the forty at the combine? The fact that the new Raiders regime would even consider Criner given his poor time shows a considerable shift in philosophy in Oakland. Speed issues aside, this may have been the Raiders best selection. Criner is built like a true No. 1 receiver and has shown that type of play-making ability in the past. He’s inconsistent, but is a nice developmental prospect to add in the 5th round.

Chris Bilukidi will add some much-needed depth to the interior defensive line. He’s needs to improve his overall strength, but has the raw measurables to offer some value as a developmental prospect.

Nathan Stupar projects as a special teams player but, given the lack of depth at linebacker in Oakland, he could see some fairly significant playing time and potentially compete for a starting job if no one else is brought in this offseason.

Considering what limited resources they had to work with, GM Reggie McKenzie and his staff did a nice job. It’s unreaslitic to expect any signficant contributors to come from this class, but the Raiders added enough players with some developmental value that they may find a gem or two.

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Raiders 2 Comments

Draft Grades: Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs gambled early and often in this class, focusing on players with high upside despite minimal on-field production in college. It’s a bold strategy, and Scott Pioli is putting his job on the line. If these draft classes don’t pan out, he’ll be on the hot seat in a year or two.

Dontari Poe is a classic boom-or-bust prospect. It’s impossible to overlook his measurables, but it’s equally tough to ignore his lack of production at Memphis. The Chiefs could prove to be an ideal landing spot for him though. Romeo Crennel has a strong track record developing nose tackles, working with Vince Wilfork in New England and Shaun Rogers in Cleveland. He’s a true player’s coach, and should be able to keep Poe motivated.

Jeff Allen was considered a 2nd-round pick by many, but it feels like a reach to me. He primarily played tackle at Illinois, rotating between left and right tackle in every game. That type of versatility is intriguing, but his athleticism is limited and he’ll be limited to right tackle or guard at the next level. I’d be more comfortable with the selection of Allen if he filled a need, but the Chiefs don’t appear to have any immediate openings on the offensive.

Donald Stephenson has the measurables to play left tackle in the pros but he, like Poe, showed limited production in college. Given his upside, the Chiefs will likely groom him behind Branden Albert. He may take a year or two to reach his full potential, but he does have a chance to take over a starting job down the road.

Devon Wylie is an elite deep threat, who was a solid value in the 4th round. He’s as fast and explosive as any receiver in this class and has the potential to make an impact in a limited role immediately, and potentially on special teams as well. However, Wylie also has an extensive injury history and has struggled to stay on the field.

De’Quan Menzie played corner at Alabama but is a candidate to shift to free safety in the pros. He lacks the speed to be consistently effective in coverage, but does have the size and ability in run support to play safety. However, the Chiefs secondary is crowded. He’ll need to prove his worth on special teams in order to win a roster spot.

The selection of Cyrus Gray was questionable, even the 6th round. While there’s no denying he was worthy of a 6th-round pick, it’s tough to see how he fits into the Chiefs plan. Peyton Hillis, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster are guaranteed roster spots, which makes Gray a long shot to make the final roster cut.

Jerome Long is a developmental prospect. He’ll likely be moved to to end in the Chiefs 3-4 defense but he’ll have to fight with Brandon Bair and others for a spot on the roster.

Junior Hemingway is a decent developmental prospect in the 7th round. He has the measurables and turned in some impressive workouts this offseason. He has limited experience in a pro-style offense, however, which limited his growth as a receiver. He’s definitely a candidate to be one of the steals from the 7th round.

Like their 1st-round pick, this was a boom-or-bust draft class for the Chiefs. Poe is the only prospect who will start immediately, and even he is developmental propsect who may struggle early on his career. While this draft class has the potential to produce three or four starters, there are no slam dunks. This could prove to be a critical draft class for Scott Piolo. Either he hits a home run and the Chiefs become serious contenders, or each of these prospects fails to live up their potential and Pioli finds himself on the hot seat.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chiefs, Draft Grades - 2012 1 Comment

2012 Draft Grades

Are post-draft grades worthess? This time of year the cynics come out of the woodwork to say “you can’t grade a draft until three years  have gone by.” While there is definitely some truth to that statement, grading a draft class immediately after the fact is far from worthless. In fact the post-draft grades are crucial to the grading process down the line.

Consider this example, if Andrew Luck turns out to be the next Ryan Leaf, will the Colts receive a failing grade in three years? Those same cynics who criticize the post-draft grading may say yes, but it’s not that simple. Nearly every scout, coach and general manager in the league would have made the same selection and, as a result, the Colts post-draft grade of the selection receives high marks. No matter what happens down the road, this was the right decision. It would be difficult to ever give the Colts a failing grade for the selection of Luck, regardless of the outcome.

Consider another example, let’s say Mohamad Sanu (Bengals 3rd-round pick) and John Hughes (Browns 3rd-round pick) both turn into busts. Do the teams get the same grade in three years for these selections? If you only look at the draft from the perspective of what happened on the field, yes. But if you refer to the initial reaction of the selections, it’s not even close. Sanu was a consensus top 100 pick, and many teams had 3rd-round grades on him. If he fails, it doesn’t change the fact that it was a safe pick by the Bengals. A certain percentage of 3rd-round picks will turn into busts, even the highly-rated ones. John Hughes, on the other hand, received very few, if any, 3rd-round grades from other teams. The Browns reached to fill a need and if he fails to pan out, the Browns grade should be a reflection of their questionable decision.

So while these grades certainly will change in three years, they will also serve as a valuable tool for evaluating these draft classes in the future.

Click on a team’s logo for their draft grade.

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off