Hub Arkush's 2019 NFL Draft Grades

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In fact the one thing we can say with certainty after 50 years of previewing, analyzing and eventually evaluating the league’s second-most important annual event each season at Pro Football Weekly, is you have to wait at least two seasons and even more accurately three to judge any team’s draft with any degree of actual knowledge and data to prove your analysis.

At the same time, we understand many fans needs for more information about what their favorite clubs are doing, how they’ve addressed obvious needs and wishes and may have improved or stumbled, and what their prospects may be going forward in the immediate future.

So what we can do is take a look at each club’s picks and attempt to rate the overall value of those choices based on where players are selected as compared to a consensus of how multiple evaluators we respect had them ranked overall and by position; which teams created the most value with their picks via trade; and which clubs may have best addressed needs with solid value for solid prospects.

There is one very solid trend we noticed this year: A number of top evaluators reported in the weeks leading up to this draft that there may not have been more than a dozen-to-20 legitimate first-round picks, and that the next 25-to-40 prospects could be tossed in a hat and might be first-, second- or third-round value in any other draft.

If you had a top-12-to-20 pick, you had better have gotten it right. And if you didn’t, you might want to feel free to trade down and add multiple picks for a better chance at adding top talent.

We believe this was proven out by the fact there was only one trade in the top 20 picks this year — between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers — but 21 of the next 30 picks were traded.

Rather than attempt to judge talent we have yet to see perform or develop, here is how we think each NFL front office did with its budget on draft weekend.

AFC EAST

New England Patriots: A-

The Patriots start every year with seven picks like everybody else but then somehow every year through a combination of compensatory awards and trades they end up with more picks than anybody. That is getting great value, especially when you finish five of the top-101 picks and seven of the top 133, as New England did this year.

How well they used them always remains to be seen, but N’Keal Harry at 32, Yodny Cajuste at 101 were very nice value, and Chase Winovich at 77 was at least half a round later than we thought he’d go. Joejuan Williams at 45 seems at least half a round too early, but do you want to match wits with Bill Belichick when it comes to football?

Buffalo Bills: A-

There is a lot to like with each of the Bills first six picks landing at least a few if not more spots below where we saw them going. Ed Oliver has a red flag or two, but the late talk leading up to Thursday night had him at three to the Jets or six to the Giants. Cody Ford (38) was definitely a first-round prospect, and Dawson Knox at 96 could have gone a round sooner, while Vosean Joseph at 147 should have gone at least a round or maybe even a round and a half sooner than he was taken. Very nice work here.

Miami Dolphins: B

The Dolphins are the toughest team we have to grade here. Even though he wasn’t in the Draft, getting Josh Rosen in essence at 62 and only throwing in a fifth-rounder next year is the NFL's greatest heist since Malcolm Butler’s Super Bowl XLIX-clinching interception. Chris Grier also did a nice job of adding extra ammunition for next year’s Draft. But to be as bad as the Dolphins are right now and only make three picks in the top 200 – Christian Wilkins at 13, Michael Deiter at 78 and Andrew Van Ginkel at 151 – reaching at least a slightly on all of them is pretty disappointing.

New York Jets: B

The Jets got the consensus best prospect in this Draft while filling a huge need with Quinnen Williams on the third pick, so they’re going to get a solid grade. Jachai Polite was higher than 68 on most boards, while also filling a real need. We don’t know a lot of clubs that rated Trevon Wesco any higher than the sixth round but definitely expected Blake Cashman to be a top-120 pick.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

If we had known going into the Draft that only one club would move up in the top 20, no one would have guessed it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we just love the fact that they did. Devin Bush and Devin White have basically the same grade and both fit in the top 10. The fall-off from there was huge, and the Steelers had to plug the middle. That they were able to do it with Bush and still get Diontae Johnson maybe a couple spots too high at 66 but steal Justin Layne at 83 and fit in Benny Snell and Sutton Smith later than where we thought they’d go at 122 and 175, respectively, was good weekend’s work.

Baltimore Ravens: B

Nothing very special here but overall you have to say well played to Eric DeCosta in his first Draft. Marquise Brown at 25, Jaylon Ferguson at 85, Miles Boykin at 93 and Iman Marshall at 127 all could have gone a couple picks to half a round higher than where they were taken, and we wouldn’t have blinked had Ferguson gone a full round earlier. A group of solid values almost all filling significant needs.

Cleveland Browns: B-

Who’s to say if the Browns overpaid for Odell Beckham Jr. or not? We can’t even come to a consensus in our own offices. We can say that Greedy Williams appears to be a steal at 46 after many had him top 15 to top 20. On the other hand, Sione Takitaki at 80 is one of the biggest reaches in this Draft, Sheldrick Redwine feels a bit high at 119 and we just can’t endorse kickers like Austin Seibert with picks in the top 200. Mack Wilson was a nice value at 155.

Cincinnati Bengals: B-

This could be more in the C range but how often do you get the Draft’s best left tackle prospect and the top O-line prospect in the Draft at 11 — and it just happens to be your greatest position of need? Jonah Williams is a really nice pick. Honestly, though, after that, Drew Sample at 52 feels way too early, as in two rounds at least, and other than Trayveon Williams at 182, we’re not seeing where the Bengals outsmarted anybody.

AFC SOUTH

Tennessee Titans: A-

It feels like the Titans absolutely slayed it this weekend. Without the ACL injury, Jeffery Simmons was a top-five pick — and many still saw him going five-to-15 rather than 19th. A.J. Brown was a first-rounder on a number of boards, so getting him while sitting still at 51 is like nailing a trifecta at the track, and Nate Davis at 82, Amani Hooker at 116 and D’Andre Walker at 168 all could easily have gone half a round to a round earlier.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A-

It was not a perfect weekend for the Jags: 69 feels too rich for Josh Oliver and Quincy Williams was one of the first who picks of the weekend. But Josh Allen at seven and Jawaan Taylor at 35 are arguably the two biggest steals of the Draft. On top of that, I know what the trade value charts say, but in moving up from 38 to 35 to grab Taylor in a deal with the Raiders and getting that pick, a five and a seven while giving up just their two and four, we’re not sure they didn’t win the trade too.

Indianapolis Colts: B

We love what Chris Ballard did here with all the quantity he was able to generate making multiple trades for multiple picks, and love that he had three in the second round. That said, the players he used the picks on don’t jump out at you based on where they were valued, although some felt Rock Ya-Sin could be the first corner off the board a dozen picks or so higher than 34 and we saw Parris Campbell 20-to-25 picks higher than 59 on multiple boards. Beyond that though most of the rest of his picks are either tight squeezes or perhaps could have even waited a bit longer?

Houston Texans: C+

Whoa Nellie? Everyone knew about Tytus Howard, and we love Max Scharping as a prospect, but we never saw Howard going before 35-to-45, rather than the 23rd pick the Texans used, and we expected Scharping might last half a round longer too. Lonnie Johnson we love and he fits where they got him, and Kahale Warring is a fascinating prospect that was definitely a late riser and probably fell just about right at 86.

AFC WEST

Los Angeles Chargers: A-

Jerry Tillery at 28 and Nasir Adderly at 60 are perfect fits for the Chargers and where they were drafted, if not bargains who could have each gone 10, 15 picks higher. Trey Pipkins, Drue Tranquill and Easton Stick at 91, 130 and 166 were also pretty much spot on as to where we thought they’d go. Egmeke Egbule and Cotez Broughton at 200 and 242 were as much as a round higher on a number of boards making for an excellent weekend in L.A.

Denver Broncos: B+

This is another group we really like, with Noah Fant at 20 probably about where we expected but an excellent prospect in Dalton Risner at 41 and Drew Lock after trading up to 42 each went half a round lower than we expected. Much like the Dolphins and Washington, John Elway gets extra credit here for playing the QB market so shrewdly. Trading 52, 125 and 182 for a prospect most rated in the top 20 worst case is excellent use of your assets.

Oakland Raiders: B-

We get what Mike Mayock is selling in his Draft philosophy — and like it — but still can’t find a team or a respected analyst who had Clelin Ferrell higher than 14 or 15 in the first round. Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen fit nicely at 24, 27 and 40, but 137 was a bit rich for Foster Moreau, who we actually like and thought could be a sleeper in this Draft, because we expected him to go in the middle of the fifth round earliest.

Kansas City Chiefs: C

The Bears and Cowboys got extra points for having acquired Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper with their picks and already having gotten significant production from them. The Chiefs get docked for badly overpaying for Frank Clark. We have found no one who understands how Clark is worth a one, a two and a swap of threes, if Dee Ford was only worth a 2020 second-round pick and Clark actually ended up with a slightly bigger contract.

Add that the Chiefs reached probably a half a round early at the least for Mecole Hardman in their panic to replace Tyreek Hill, and made a similar reach for Rashad Fenton at 201, and even though we do think Juan Thornhill was good value at 63, it was not a good weekend in Kansas City.

NFC EAST

New York Giants: B+

We are underwhelmed by Daniel Jones as the sixth pick but still feel he’s a better fit there than Murray was at one, and are confident he would not have been there at 17. Again, we’re told the phones were unusually quiet this year at the top of the first round after the Murray and Ferrell picks. Beyond that, the Giants got some of the best value in this Draft — with Dexter Lawrence at 17, Deandre Baker at 30 — who we don’t believe would have been available had the Giants waited until their 37th pick without trading up. Oshane Ximines at 95 and Julian Love at 108 are potential steals. Darius Slayton is also a very nice value at 171.

Philadelphia Eagles: B

The Eagles got a very solid haul while filling needs and protecting their investment in the franchise, Carson Wentz. Andre Dillard at 22, Miles Sanders at 53 and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside should all eventually be starters and make Wentz better. Dillard and Miles Sanders could each easily have gone five-to-10 picks higher. Arcega-Whiteside on the other hand may have moved half a round too soon. Shareef Miler is also a bit reach at 138, but Clayton Thorson was nice fit at 167.

Washington: B

Hats off to Washington for having the patience to sit tight at 15 and get Dwayne Haskins. With no QB trades in front of Washington, and the Cardinals taking Murray and the Giants grabbing Jones, this is apparently where he belonged. But the restraint from D.C. to sit and wait was uncharacteristic.

It’s hard to know what to say about Montez Sweat, a top-10 talent who fell all the way to 26 because of an uncertain medical. As a prospect you’re getting top-10 value there, but we have no idea what the realities of the medical are. We do have to point out one of the worst values of this draft is Bryce Love at 112. He’s a great kid who we wish much better things for than the way his last year has gone, but we had good reason to believe he was a sixth- or even seventh-rounder (if not a free agent) because of what everybody seems to think the medical on his knee is — at least right now. We hope we’re wrong on this one.

Dallas Cowboys: C+

Trysten Hill may or may not be the 58th best prospect in this Draft; there is no denying his talent. But the character red flag scared a number of teams away, and of all teams to take him, do the Cowboys, rebuilding their defensive front because of bad bets on Randy Gregory and David Irving make any sense at all here? Connor McGovern at 90, Michael Jackson at 158 and Joe Jackson at 165 – no, you can’t make this stuff up, but no relations – are all nice gets where they got them. Tony Pollard at 128 was a long reach, and the rest of the choices are reasonable but uninspiring where they were taken.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears: B

We have no quarrel with David Montgomery being taken at 73 and would have been fine if he’d gone even five or 10 picks earlier, so nice selection, but you can’t ignore that he cost the Bears their third-, a fourth- and fifth-round picks — although they did get a sixth-rounder back from New England with Montgomery.

It seems a bit rich.

Riley Ridley saves their grade here, as he could have gone a full round higher than where the Bears got him at 126. Kerrith Whyte at 222 and Stephen Denmark at 238 aren’t reaches in the seventh round, but they might have been priority free agents, and Duke Shelley — who they took at 205 — almost certainly should have been. So why is this a B instead of a C or even C-? Because they also got Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller.

Minnesota Vikings: B

This is actually a very nice group with everyone fitting pretty much where you’d expect or possibly even higher. Irv Smith could easily have gone 20 picks sooner than No. 50, and almost half their three sixes and four sevens could have gone half a round to a round earlier. The one player that seems a bit rich was at 162, where we thought Cameron Smith was a seventh-rounder or priority free agent.

Green Bay Packers: B

This is one where we have to be careful because in our scouting reports we have some questions on some of these kids, but those don’t get answers for two or three years. As far as where they were taken, this looks like a very solid list. Most had Rashan Gary at a top-10 pick — and some even saw him in the top five — so No. 12 is very nice. Everybody else looks like a very solid fit, and Dexter Williams at 194 and Ty Summers at 24 each could have gone a round or even a round and a half sooner.

Detroit Lions: C+

We are wildly excited about T.J. Hockenson as a potential star, but he went right about where we expected, to the club we expected to take him. After that, the Lions appeared to consistently have players rated a bit higher than most. Travis Fulgham is an excellent value at 184, and Amani Oruwariye was good value at 146, but those picks aside, Jahlani Travai at 43 and Will Harris at 81 appeared to be significant reaches.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints: B

The Saints got very nice value trading up with Erik McCoy still on the board at 48, and we definitely thought Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was coming off the board by the end of the second round, so he almost reaches the steal category at 105. We didn’t love the Saquon Hampton pick at 177, as our consensus listings show him in the seventh round, but that late on Day 3, we’re splitting hairs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B

This is a solid job by the Bucs' Jason Licht with his new brain trust of Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles. We had Devin White as perhaps the eighth to 12th best prospect in this Draft. But once the Cardinals pulled the trigger on Murray at one, Ferrell went too high and few saw the Giants taking Jones at six, there was minimal interest in teams trading up into the top 10 with players like Josh Allen, Dwayne Haskins and T.J. Hockenson lasting longer than we might have expected.

White may be a perennial Pro Bowler, and Sean Bunting at 39 – perhaps that’s 10-12 spots too high — and Jamel Dean at 94 felt about right with all three filling huge needs. We’d prefer Licht hadn’t used a fifth-rounder on a kicker, Matt Gay, after his spectacular miss on Robert Aguayo, but we’re not punishing for past blinders here.

Carolina Panthers: B

The Panthers draft looks just about right. EDGE and OT were their two greatest needs — and they got top-five prospects at each position right about where we expected them to go. Some thought Greg Little could have even gone a few spots higher than 37. Will Grier is a fascinating pick for them, and we’re anxious to see how he plays out, but as far as snaring him at 100, it seems right.

Atlanta Falcons: B-

This is another group where we have to remind you we’re not questioning the prospects, we’re just curious about where they were taken. Atlanta had to upgrade its offensive line — and did a nice job of it with its first two picks — but we thought each was taken about 10 or perhaps even 15 spots early. Could the Falcons have worked the phones and maybe added a pick or two while still getting Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary? This is a classic all we can do is wait and see group.

NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks: A-

While nothing here is based on the kind of players we think these prospects will be in two or three years, we can certainly talk about the value four-year veteran Frank Clark has, and getting a one, a two and a three for just Clark and your own three was highway robbery on the Seahawks part.

They then had a typical Seattle Draft, picking for speed and need with almost every choice, some a few spots high, some better values than you’d expect, but nothing off the charts until you focus on D.K. Metcalf at 64. Listen, he was passed 63 times, so we can’t say every team in the league screwed up, but we can tell you a number of those teams indicated to us he was the top pass catcher on their boards going into the Draft. Great work by Schneider and Carroll.

Los Angeles Rams: B

L.A. did a very nice job with Taylor Rapp at 61, and Darrell Henderson was a nice fit at 70, but the Rams used two thirds to deal with the Bucs to move up and get him. The trade chart says that’s the value of moving up from 94 to 70, so it’s hard for us to say Henderson isn’t worth the two threes, as he almost certainly would have been gone at 94. David Long at 79 was a little rich, but Bobby Evans at 97 was a little bit of a bargain so good group.

San Francisco 49ers: B-

Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel fill huge needs and were selected right about where most expected them to be. On the other hand, we saw Jalen Hurd as more of a fourth-round choice at best, not at the top of the third round. And while Mitch Wishnowsky is a top punter prospect, the fourth round on a punter for a team with the needs the 49ers have just feels too rich. TE Kaden Smith may have been a fourth-rounder prior to poor pre-Draft workouts making him a nice grab/gamble in the sixth.

Arizona Cardinals: C+

Kyler Murray may be the next superstar QB, a bust or land anywhere in between. But was he worth the No. 1 overall pick? Is there another club in the league that would have taken him there? Is there another team that would have taken him top 10? And is there another team that would have taken him in the first round?

We are convinced the Cardinals could have traded this pick, created some additional very valuable assets — even if not the haul a team might usually get for this pick — and still have landed Murray. Andy Isabella was also a reach at 62, especially after trading up to get him there and realizing the price was Josh Rosen and last year’s No. 10 overall pick, a third- and a fifth-rounder. Isabella almost has to become a perennial Pro Bowler now.

This grade would be even lower were it not for the excellent values Arizona did get with Byron Murphy at 33, Zach Allen at 65, Hakeem Butler at 103 and Deionte Thompson at 139. Every one of those players was projected to go earlier.

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