NFC Draft Grades By Division
Call grades and mock drafts worthless, but it's necessary to take a glimpse at each team's talents and see how it ranks among each other.
The 2018 NFL Draft was huge in terms of interesting picks, trades and storylines.
Here are my grades for the NFC, crowning the winners and losers of each division:
For AFC grades, click here.
Draft picks: Georgia LB Roquan Smith (No. 8 overall), Iowa C James Daniels (No. 39 overall), Memphis WR Anthony Miller (No. 51 overall), Western Kentucky LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (No. 115 overall), Delaware DE Bilal Nichols (No. 145 overall), Utah LB Kylie Fitts (No. 181 overall), Georgia WR Javon Wims (No. 224 overall)
No, he’s not Brian Urlacher, but linebacker Roquan Smith was the perfect pick for the Bears at eighth overall due to his versatility, speed and high football IQ. The Bears needed some protection for quarterback Mitch Trubisky and they fulfilled that with center James Daniels in the second.
Green Bay Packers
Draft picks: Louisville CB Jaire Alexander (No. 18 overall), Iowa CB Josh Jackson (No. 45 overall), Vanderbilt LB Oren Burks (No. 88 overall), Missouri WR J'Mon Moore (No. 133 overall), Washington State OG Cole Madison (No. 138 overall), Alabama P J.K. Scott (No. 172 overall), South Florida WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (No. 174 overall), Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown (No. 207 overall), Cal DT James Looney (No. 232 overall), Mississippi State LS Hunter Bradley (No. 239 overall), Southeast Missouri LB Kendall Donnerson (No. 248 overall).
Louisville corner Jaire Alexander was a questionable grab in the first round by the Packers, but they made up for it with a steal in Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson in the second. The Packers did need some receiving help, in which they prioritized a little late by getting Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
Draft picks: UCF CB Mike Hughes (No. 30 overall), Pittsburgh OT Brian O'Neill (No. 62 overall), Ohio State DE Jalyn Holmes (No. 102 overall), Central Michigan TE Tyler Conklin (No. 157 overall), Auburn K Daniel Carlson (No. 167 overall), Appalachian State OG Colby Gossett (No. 213 overall), Tulane DE Ade Aruna (No. 218 overall), Cal LB Devante Downs (No. 225 overall).
Although the Vikings need some protection up front, the pickup of UCF cornerback Mike Hughes, the fastest prospect out of the draft, might turn out well for their secondary. Getting tight end Tyler Conklin late in the third round was a nice pickup, and by drafting four players on both sides of the line, the Vikings are trying to rectify their offensive and defensive fronts.
Draft picks: Arkansas C/OG Frank Ragnow (No. 20 overall), Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson (No. 43 overall), Louisiana-Lafayette DB Tracy Walker (No. 82 overall), Alabama DT Da'Shawn Hand (No. 114 overall), Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby (No. 153 overall), San Diego State RB Nick Bawden (No. 237 overall).
Picking up Arkansas hybrid lineman Frank Ragnow seemed a little premature for the Lions picking 20th overall. But they made up for it by snatching Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson, who is by far the team’s best pick. Beyond that, the Lions filled depth at their utility roles.
Draft picks: Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne (No. 13 overall), LSU RB Derrius Guice (No. 59 overall), Louisville OT Geron Christian (No. 74 overall), Penn State S Troy Apke (No. 109 overall), Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle (No. 163 overall), Alabama LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (No. 197 overall), Virginia Tech CB Greg Stroman (No. 241 overall), SMU WR Trey Quinn (No. 256 overall).
The Redskins started and finished the draft on par, but in between, they veered off the right path. They picked up Alabama run-stopper Da’Ron Payne at No. 13, followed by a tailback that succeeded Leonard Fournette at LSU, running back Derrius Guice. The late pickup of SMU wideout Trey Quinn could prove to be a smart one, as Quinn possesses the talent to actually play minutes this fall.
Draft picks: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch (No. 19 overall), Texas OG Connor Williams (No. 50 overall), Colorado State WR Michael Gallup (No. 81 overall), Kansas DE Dorance Armstrong (No. 116 overall), Stanford TE Dalton Schultz (No. 137 overall), Western Kentucky QB Mike White (No. 171 overall), Indiana LB Chris Covington (No. 193 overall), Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson (No. 208 overall), Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough (No. 236 overall).
Okay, Cowboy fans, this one’s for you. I’ll spend time dissecting this lackluster Dallas draft that some are going as far as praising. Well, you shouldn’t.
Their flat draft began when Dallas decided to forgo a top-level wideout like Calvin Ridley or D.J. Moore by taking Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. If he pans out, at best, this will be always a good, not great, pick.
Highlights included picking Texas guard Connor Williams in the second, who is a hardworking, Texas-bred prospect. Finishing the draft with Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough was huge, as he will take significant caries behind Ezekiel Elliott.
But Dallas really needed a run-stopper this draft, which they failed to find a solution for. They also needed a play-maker that can catch the ball exceptionally well, but didn’t bother drafting a receiver early.
Instead they went with a couple toss-up picks and some make-or-break grabs. UTEP fans are familiar with Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White, and let me be the first to say this guy has a cannon. He might have the best deep ball out of any quarterback besides Josh Allen. Everyone’s quick to crown Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup as the next best thing, but at best, Gallup will start off working his way into some spread packages, but is far from filling the void of Dez Bryant.
New York Giants
Draft picks: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (No. 2 overall), UTEP OG Will Hernandez (No. 34 overall), Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter (No. 66 overall), N.C. State DT B.J. Hill (No. 69 overall), Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta (No. 108 overall), Miami DT R.J. McIntosh (No. 139 overall).
Try to find a flaw in the Giants draft, I dare you. They picked the best talent at tailback in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and picked arguably one of the best guards in the draft to block for him, former UTEP standout Will Hernandez.
That’s a one-two punch that will see the field early 2018.
Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter is a prime overlooked tackler that shined in the National Championship against Alabama, and N.C. State’s B.J. Hill is starter material on the defensive front. Getting a backup for Eli Manning like Kyle Lauletta allows Manning to mentor a young quarterback and develop him into a strong product.
Draft picks: South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert (No. 49 overall), Pittsburgh CB Avonte Maddox (No. 125 overall), Florida State DE Josh Sweat (No. 130 overall), TCU OT Matt Pryor (No. 206 overall), OT Jordan Mailata (No. 233 overall).
The defending Super Bowl champions played a passive role in the draft, only picking up depth at their utility positions. South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert could have been chosen in the first, which was probably their best pick. Beyond the second round, the Eagles didn’t get too much talent that sparked much interest.
Draft picks: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (No. 26 overall), Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver (No. 58 overall), South Florida DT Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall), Southern Mississippi RB Ito Smith (No. 126 overall), LSU WR Russell Gage (No. 194 overall), Yale LB Foyesade Oluokun (No. 200 overall).
When Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley dropped down past the mid-20’s, Atlanta capitalized by picking up the highly-regarded wideout. Now Matt Ryan will have both Ridley and Julio Jones to throw to, creating a deadly receiving group for the Falcons.
Picking up Southern Mississippi’s Ito Smith was another big move for the Falcons, as Smith emerged through college and has a strong ability to run the football.
Draft picks: Maryland WR D.J. Moore (No. 24 overall), LSU CB Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall), Tennessee DB Rashaan Gaulden (No. 85 overall), Indiana TE Ian Thomas (No. 101 overall), Mississippi LB Marquis Haynes (No. 136 overall), Maryland LB Jermaine Carter (No. 161 overall), North Carolina LB Andre Smith (No. 234 overall), Miami DT Kendrick Norton (No. 242 overall).
Picking up Maryland receiver D.J. Moore over Ridley came as a shock to some, but the Panthers seemed confident in their first round draft choice. Carolina, however, did need some help on the line, which they didn’t solve in the draft. Instead they picked up six defensive players to add to their already strong defensive unit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Draft picks: Washington DT Vita Vea (No. 12 overall), USC RB Ronald Jones (No. 38 overall), North Carolina DB M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Auburn CB Carlton Davis (No. 63 overall), Humboldt State OG Alex Cappa (No. 94 overall), Pittsburgh S Jordan Whitehead (No. 117 overall), Pennsylvania WR Justin Watson (No. 144 overall), Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy (No. 202 overall).
Instead of taking Florida State safety Derwin James, Tampa selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12 overall, which might not be a bad choice. By trading back in the first round with Buffalo, the Buccaneers were able to get two decent second round picks in running back Ronald Jones of USC and defensive back M.J. Stewart of North Carolina.
New Orleans Saints
Draft picks: UTSA edge rusher Marcus Davenport (No. 14 overall), UCF WR Tre'Quan Smith (No. 91 overall), Florida State OT Rick Leonard (No. 127 overall), Wisconsin S Natrell Jamerson (No. 164 overall), Boston College DB Kamrin Moore (No. 189 overall), Louisiana Tech RB Boston Scott (No. 201 overall), LSU C Will Clapp (No. 245)
I might be the only one who thinks trading up for Marcus Davenport was a brilliant idea for the Saints. They have a defense that is up to par, but needed a consistent edge rusher, and Davenport can fill that hole. Their need at wideout was filled with UCF Tre’Quan Smith, but he can be a hit or miss for the Saints. Seems like Leonard and Jamerson were selected a bit too early, but might pan out for New Orleans.
Draft picks: UCLA QB Josh Rosen (No. 10 overall), Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk (No. 47 overall), Michigan C Mason Cole (No. 97 overall), Fordham RB Chase Edmonds (No. 134 overall), Penn State DB Christian Campbell (No. 182 overall), Cincinnati OT Korey Cunningham (No. 254 overall)
The Cardinals did nice work in the draft to rectify their offense and attempt to fill the void left with the retirement of Carson Palmer by drafting UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. They gave him two nice weapons by drafting Texas A&M wideout Christian Kirk and Fordham tailback Chase Edmonds. With the return of running back David Johnson, this Cardinals teams might be set for this upcoming season.
Los Angeles Rams
Draft picks: TCU OT Joseph Noteboom (No. 89 overall), Michigan State C Brian Allen (No. 111 overall), Stephen F. Austin DE John Franklin-Myers (No. 135 overall), Virginia LB Micah Kiser (No. 147 overall), Oklahoma LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (No. 160 overall), Tennessee RB John Kelly (No. 176 overall), Maine OG Jamil Demby (No. 192 overall), Rutgers DT Sebastian Joseph (No. 195 overall), Louisville LB Trevon Young (No. 205 overall), TCU LB Travin Howard (No. 231), SMU DE Justin Lawler (No. 244 overall)
Picking up four linebackers in a single draft is inexcusable, even if you need to fill the depth at the position. The Rams had a promising number of draft picks, but too many times passed up on better talent on the board.
Their lone diamond in the rough came from Stephen F. Austin defensive end John Franklin-Myers, who could make an immediate impact on the field for the Rams.
San Francisco 49ers
Draft picks: Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey (No. 9 overall), Washington WR Dante Pettis (No. 44 overall), BYU LB Fred Warner (No. 70 overall), Southern Mississippi S Tarvarius Moore (No. 95 overall), N.C. State DE Kentavius Street (No. 128 overall), Kansas State DB D.J. Reed (No. 142 overall), Florida DB Marcell Harris (No. 184 overall), Temple DT Jullian Taylor (No. 223 overall), Middle Tennessee WR Richie James (No. 240 overall)
The 49ers did an average job at picking talent this year to add depth to their up-and-coming roster. While Mike McGlinchey will protect prized possession gunslinger Jimmy Garoppolo, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safeties Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick were still on the board early and probably would have been the better pickup in the first.
BYU linebacker Fred Warner has a modern look to the linebacker spot and can do a nice job for the team. Also, N.C. State defensive end Kentavius Street has the ability to rush the passer well, so that was a prime addition.
Draft picks: San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny (No. 27 overall), USC DE Rasheem Green (No. 79 overall), Washington TE Will Dissly (No. 120 overall), UCF LB Shaquem Griffin (No. 141 overall), Oklahoma State DB Tre Flowers (No. 146 overall), Texas P Michael Dickson (No. 149 overall), Ohio State OT Jamarco Jones (No. 168 overall), Temple DE Jacob Martin (No. 186 overall), Florida International QB Alex McGough (No. 220 overall)
The Seahawks had too many picks where they left the best available talent on the board, and it started in the first round when they drafted San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny at 27. Penny could have probably been chosen on day three in the fourth or fifth round.
UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin and Texas punter Michael Dickson were prime additions to their special teams unit, but they didn’t do enough to address their disparity in the defensive backfield.