I’d like to preface this by saying I like every team here, I have 0 bias (if you choose to believe that) and I hope every player pans out and every team succeeds. That being said, I am basing these evaluations on my personal takes on these players, the teams needs and whether there were better options available. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and ask me any questions about any player, or find me on Twitter @CML2812. Thanks
FALCONS – C-
1.16 – AJ TERRELL, CB, CLEMSON – B+
I do like this pick, and I like the player, I just thought it was a slight reach. Terrell was my CB5 and at the time he was taken I had my CB3 (Fulton) and CB4 (Gladney) available, now I know Fulton is not a scheme fit here but I believe Gladney could have been, especially as he is great in deep coverage and Atlanta loves to run a lot of cover 3. I had an early 2nd grade on Terrell and I do think he is a really nice CB without any big flaws to his game but ideally, he would have been taken 10-20 picks later. I wrote this about Terrell “Mullen is a long, competitive CB with great athleticism and very fluid hips. He is very light and usually struggles against physical receivers (Chase) but plays very tight coverage and stays tall in press. He is a balanced CB who plays man and zone very well due to his route recognition, tackle ability and stickiness. Is not ideal for run Defense. Ideal for a press-zone scheme.”. Does that not sound like the ideal CB for this scheme? He is a good player and a good fit, and he fills a massive need, I simply would have taken someone else.
2.15 – MARLON DAVIDSON, EDGE/IDL, AUBURN – C-
This was a reach for me. I see Davidson, as do many analysts, as an IDL as opposed to the EDGE he was used as in college. Davidson was my IDL9 and not only did I have a mid-3rd round grade on him but I had multiple better true IDL and EDGE players available. I like him but he does not burst off of his tape and showcase the qualities worthy of a top 50 pick. I said this about Davidson “Davidson is a fairly athletic hybrid EDGE/ID, he played a lot of EDGE in college and was not overly productive but he should be moved to IDL where he will be more effective. He has quite an explosive get off and has long arms that he uses effectively as he stays low. Has the upside to be an EDGE run defender and an IDL pass rusher on 3rd downs.”. This is a nice piece to have on your team and I’m sure he will be used effectively here in Atlanta but he was taken a round too early and there were better options at both EDGE and IDL.
3.14 – MATT HENNESSY, OC, TEMPLE – C+
This is an okay pick as IOL was a sneaky need here with the ageing Alex Mack at OC. Hennessy was my IOL9 though and I had higher grades on 3 centers who went later (Cushenberry, Harris, Biadasz) in the draft. I like Hennessy’s game but I had him with a 4th round grade and with them passing on better options to take Hennessy I am left a little disappointed. I said this about him “A solid but unspectacular player, Hennessy is a good Center. A player who is an athletic blocker; on run, pass and space blocks, he gets upfield quickly. His footwork can use some coaching but he has really solid hands and isn’t beat often. A sturdy frame with good power on run plays he can block defenders comfortably; he does struggle with pass blocking power and will falter against powerful Nose defenders such as a Kenny Clark type.”. This is a good backup C to have who can be a nice swing man as a rookie and a potential starter at OG, he may be able to sit and develop into a low-level starter when Mack retires.
4.13 – MYKAL WALKER, LB, FRESNO STATE – F
Walker was my LB23 and I did not like his tape very much, not just that but I had much higher grades on many remaining LBs; both athletic unrefined players and refined less-athletic players. I said this about Walker “Walker is a good athlete. He has good pursuit speed and great flexibility which lets him tackle well. He is almost completely unable to read routes and is a liability in coverage at times as he leaves his zone. Should be great on special teams but likely never more than a LB4.”
4.28 – JAYLINN HAWKINS, S, CALIFORNIA – F
I had an UDFA grade on Hawkins and he was my S17. This is what I said about him “Hawkins is a box safety. He has good coverage instincts and average athleticism. Despite his size he does not tackle very well and does not take on blocks effectively. A smart player who I do not expect to do much more than contribute on special teams due to a low-floor and a low-upside.”. This was not a good pick as I do not believe he adds quality depth to the roster as a solid backup nor do I think he can develop into a good player.
7.14 – STERLING HOFRICHTER, P, SYRACUSE – F
I’ll be honest, I don’t watch Kickers and Punters (sorry!), and I am not in favor of drafting one (especially a Punter) at any point in the draft. There is the lowest chance of translation of quality between college and the NFL with Punters and they are not just a pick you could have used elsewhere, they are also unlikely to work out and can be picked up as UDFAs, you can take a cheaper backup QB here than a backup QB you could potentially get in FA.
I felt really harsh grading this one, because I’ve always like the Falcons but man I just did not like this draft at all. I honestly thought that giving it a C- was generous. Firstly, the Falcons entered the draft with holes at; CB, IDL, EDGE, LB and smaller needs at OL and WR depth. The Falcons did pick up a really nice CB in Terrell who should be CB2 worthy as a rookie and may well develop into a quality CB1 with good coaching. Next, they took a versatile player in Davidson who can help on the DL, however as I said this was a reach as he is neither a true EDGE or IDL and I had better players at both positions and even a better “tweener” on the board. Then they took a solid backup IOL in Hennessy who provides good depth and the possibility of developing into a starter, but multiple better OCs were available. Then they took 2 UDFA prospects for me which were bad picks with how early they were and they wasted a pick on a Punter. I neither feel that the holes were filled nor were the best players taken at the positions they selected with each pick. A poor draft from Atlanta who will need to perform this year or be under serious pressure from the owner
PANTHERS – B+
1.07 – DERRICK BROWN, IDL, AUBURN – C+
Why such a low grade? It’s not because he’s a bad player, because he’s not, it’s more that I would never take him in the top 10. Don’t get me wrong, Brown is a nice “safe” pick as a very high-floor player who defends the run at an elite level and pushes the pocket. But he simply isn’t an elite pass rusher and he is never likely to be, and if you are taking an IDL this high (you shouldn’t BTW) then it really should not be Brown, it should be a player with explosive pass rush potential like Kinlaw (my DT1 a Brown is DT2). I said this about Brown “Brown has elite tools to be a dominant 3-Down Interior D-Lineman who can stuff the run at a top-tier level and offer a little pass rush. Has a good not great get off due to his size, he has very good strength though far from elite as he was locked down at times (see the Alabama game), and reads where the ball is going vs the run. Likely to never be more than just a good pass rusher without elite quickness and without elite strength, but should be a consistent 50 pressure getter. Seems to give up on some pass rush plays when he is double-teamed or when he is not winning a 1 vs 1.”. This is not a bad pick but when picking in the top 10 you should either be taking quality players at value positions or if you are taking an IDL then make sure he has high-upside. I feel confident of Brown being a good 8-year starter, but I doubt he justifies this selection.
2.06 – YETUR GROSS-MATOS, EDGE, PENN STATE – C+
This was a touch of a reach to me also. Matos was my EDGE7 and I had 4 EDGEs available who were higher on my board. Matos is not a bad player but much like Brown he is more of a run defender than pass rusher as he both didn’t produce as a pass rusher (low pressure rate) and did not display the power to bull-rush or the finesse to win with his hands. I said this about Matos “Has long arms and a nice balance of strength and athleticism to his game. Has virtually 0 pass rushing skillset and will need to learn not just counters but also how to bull-rush more effectively and win with finesse. Does a fine job firing off the ball and hitting on his punches but does not do this at more than just a “good” level. Uses his strength well in the run game, defending the run on the EDGE on early downs will be his strength and he may want to add a touch more weight to rush from the interior more on 3rd downs.”. This feels like another “safe” pick in a player who has a high floor as a quality run defender with a little pass rushing upside, but it is not the kind of player I want to take over actual pass rushing EDGEs. Again, not a bad pick, but not the pick I believe should have been made.
2.32 – JEREMY CHINN, S, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS – A-
Okay, the draft gets better from here. Chinn is a player I really liked and I cannot think of a better team for him to go to. Chinn was my S6 (early 3rd rounder) and a quality prospect who had a solid floor but the highest ceiling of any Safety in the class, and I believe that he can flourish with Matt Rhule who is an excellent Defensive coach who takes elite athletes and teaches them how to play football. I said this about Chinn “Chinn is an explosive safety with huge upside as a modern-game Dime Linebacker or base/nickel Strong Safety with great length and size along with elite; speed, agility and coverage capabilities. Due to his ridiculous athleticism he flew across the field in coverage and thumped as a tackler. Chinn showed elite range but poor play/route recognition and was often a little slow to react. Likely a box defender. He must develop his reading of the game as he cannot succeed purely with his athleticism in the NFL unlike in college. He is certainly a project player; however, he is a rare player and his ceiling for the modern game is definitely elite.”. This is the kind of fun exciting prospect I expect can work well here and potentially be the “Keuchly” replacement in this Defense (no, I’m not saying he’s as good as Keuchly before you ask).
4.07 – TROY PRIDE JR, CB, NOTRE DAME – A-
Another really nice high-upside selection. Pride was mu CB12 and I had a late 3rd round grade on him. I wrote this about Pride “Pride is an agile and fast CB with great upside. Has the elite speed and movement ability to run man coverage effectively along with deep zone. However, he lacks strength vs the run as he cannot get off blocks or wrap up tackles, and he is not very physical in press. He shows slow route recognition and does not play zone very well. A nice upside player who must sit and learn for a year or 2.”. This is another of the type of players that Matt Rhule will love to work with as he has the ability to turn Pride into a solid CB2.
5.06 – KENNY ROBINSON, S, WEST VIRGINIA – A-
Robinson was my S11 in the draft, he’s got some of the highest upside in the class and showed quality player at WVA and in the XFL. I think this is a slightly risky pick but the high-upside is well worth it, I said this about him “On the field he is a great single-high Safety with the range, instincts, and ball skills to be a playmaker on the back end. He does very little as a run defender and tackler. He shows good range and speed, and has tonnes of upside, without his off-field concerns he would have been a top 6 safety for me”. I like his tape a lot and hope his off-field issues are no longer issues as these are not what I usually care about.
6.05 – BRAVVION ROY, IDL, BAYLOR – A-
Another one of “my guys”, Roy was my IDL11 and is a really fun player to watch. I said this about him “High floor, low ceiling nose tackle. Quick hands feet to shed blocks. Has long, thick arms and dominates 1 on 1 assignments vs the run. Wanted no part of double team. Lacks burst to be a quality pass rusher but isn’t that bad of an athlete that he has to come off the field on passing downs. Productive as a pass rusher, but was in large part thanks to the number of opportunities he saw at Baylor.”. This was the kind of solid foundational piece that Rhule can actually use effectively in his Defense, a nice run stuffer on 1st and 2nd down who can help rush the passer a little later in the draft. The selection of Roy simply makes the selection of Brown redundant.
7.07 – STANLEY THOMAS-OLIVER, CB, FIU – C
I did not grade Oliver’s tape; however, the CB room here was not very deep and an extra athletic player is useful.
The Panthers entered the draft with holes at; TE, OG, IDL, EDGE, LB, CB, SS and a smaller need with depth at WR. The Panthers, in an insane move, did not address offense at all despite being in the most offensive era of the game that we have ever seen and despite this offense being far from great. However, there were a lot of holes on this Defense and by filling them out you do round out this team well and will have another offseason next year to round out the offense. They added some great run Defense across the DL in Matos, Brown and Roy, who can also rush the passer a little and push the pocket. They added 2 really nice high-upside Safety prospects, and with Tre Boston on the roster also, now have an excellent Safety room with which they can develop. They also drafted 2 athletic CBs who have high-upside, this shows that Matt Rhule is willing to take risks with athletic DBs because he can develop players there but wants high floor players in the trenches with lower ceilings. I don’t hate this approach but we know that pass rush up front is much more valuable and if you were taking an IDL in the top 10 it should have been Kinlaw in my opinion. A quality draft all being said, but a very “safe” draft with the early picks when Carolina should have been swinging for the fences.
SAINTS – B
1.24 – CESAR RUIZ, IOL, MICHIGAN – B-
Okay so if any other team takes Ruiz here, I’d probably give it at least a B+ or an A-, the reason I’m dinging the Saints for doing it is for a few reasons; 1. This is neither BPA to me nor a need, at the time he was taken I had 12 players higher on my board (Ruiz was 32nd and my #1 center and my IOL3, as to me Isaiah Wilson is an IOL and not an OT and he is my IOL1) and many of the available players were needs. For example, I had Patrick Queen, Kristian Fulton and Michael Pittman above Ruiz, and these 3 positions are all needs and are all more valuable positions. 2. This does not help NO win now. Ruiz is very unlikely to play this year as Warford is still on the roster at RG and is currently a better player, and the Saints just paid Peat a LOT of money so he has to play at LG, and they have Erik McCoy at OC who was fantastic as a rookie. While Warford is a FA after 2020 this is not a win now move and whilst Drew Brees is on the roster the Saints should be trying to win now. 3. The Saints had very few picks in this draft and should have traded back to ensure they have the most cap space possible (though the Saints keep showing the cap is just a myth). This is however a good pick as it gives NO a great swing-man IOL in year 1 and a potentially great player from 2021 and beyond. This is what I said about Ruiz “Nobody has developed more in college than Ruiz, he got better not just each season but his play got significantly better as the 2019 season went along also. Ruiz has great mobility and is fantastic on run plays and out in space. He has a solid frame and good strength that shows on pass plays. He has great footwork and good balance and isn’t moved around too often. He could do with some improvements in his hand technique and he could add more strength to his run game, but he’s an all-round good player who can make an immediate impact in a zone scheme and keep improving.”. Not a bad selection, but not the one I would have made.
3.10 – ZACK BAUN, LB/EDGE, WISCONSIN – B+
This is a pretty good pick and this is near where I graded Baun (late 2nd) despite the media acting like teams would value him as a near 1st rounder. Baun is a good well-balanced player who is very versatile but the reason teams did not value him as highly as many analysts believed is because he simply does not have the frame or skillset required to be a consistent EDGE and will likely have to move to LB (which Sean Payton said he would do) but this is a project as he was not a true LB in college and will need to sit and develop. I said this about Baun who was my LB6 “Undersized “EDGE” in college who must move to more of an off-ball role in the NFL, similar to Anthony Barr. Very athletic and he is very instinctive when lined up as a mismatch on the edge, but I do not know what his instincts will be as a true LB. Baun may thrive in a “Belichikian” scheme that utilizes his speed and bend as an EDGE and his quality cover movement skills dropping back as an EDGE/OLB, though he can never be an elite pass rusher due to his size/length and lack of power”. This is a nice versatile piece to have on the Defense, and again if this were another team the grade may be higher but with the current quality EDGE depth on the roster it would have been in my mind to draft an actual LB if that’s the position you wanted.
3.41 – ADAM TRAUTMAN, TE, DAYTON – A
Had they not traded up to take him this would be an A+. Trautman has the potential to be a great player and was one of my favorite evaluations as he was just so very dominant at his level of competition. Trautman was my TE1 and I had a late 2nd round grade on him so getting him here is a great pickup to me, just a team with few picks and little cap space shouldn’t be moving up to take players. I think Trautman can seriously contribute here and I put this about him “Trautman is one of the most fun players to watch that I’ve evaluated. He’s so much bigger and better than everyone else (obviously, look at his competition) that it’s like watching Aaron Donald play against 90% of the NFL. He’s big, strong and very fast. He has some unbelievably dominant reps where he mosses defenders, crushes LBs and edge rushers on blocks, flies past defenders or runs them over. He’s a great blocker, strong at the LOS and when flying up into the 2nd level to block there. He’s fast and can run routes pretty well using really good foot speed to beat press even against CBs. He was often lined up out wide and beat DBs down the field. He doesn’t drop the ball too much, was able to break a lot of tackles after the catch and go up and get it effectively in traffic. However, he was doing this against very small school competition against XFL players. He didn’t run a huge number of short routes and didn’t have a lot of targets to truly judge his receiving ability, plus his tape is very hard to find. This means that while he may be the best TE in the class, it’s very hard to say for certain and he’s a little bit of a risk to take early in the draft”. This a good pick and before long I think Trautman can play a role here, especially as a blocker, and I fully expect him to be the TE1 within a couple of seasons.
7.26 – TOMMY STEVENS, QB, MISSISSIPPI STATE – D
I did not have tape on Stevens, however I am grading this a D for the same reason I gave Dallas a D for taking a QB that wasn’t on my list of 27 watched QBs; I had 2 top 10 QBs on my board available in Gordon (QB6) and Huntley (QB9) and I would have take one of them. Still, a shot on a QB is never a horrible decision.
The Saints entered this draft with only 5 picks and needs at; WR depth, CB depth, S depth, LB, QB (for the future). The saints addressed just 1 (or 2 if you count Stevens) of these needs. Ruiz is a fantastic player but I am not a big fan of taking him over a good player at a bigger need or more valuable position, I have no doubts though that he will develop into a quality versatile IOL and the league’s best OL just got better. In Baun they got a nice versatile player who can play a little EDGE and a little LB, but as the Saints have said he will be moving to LB mostly and this will not be a quick transition and he may not be very impactful as a rookie. These are not win now moves to me and while I am obviously all for drafting for the future (it’s why I hate drafting a running back in round 1, you don’t know what you will need in 3 years but you can bet running back won’t be the biggest need) the Saints brought Brees back to win now and they should have at least drafted early to try to do this. Trautman is a good pick in the middle of the class who, if he plays in the NFL as he did in college, should contribute a little as a nice TE2 especially as a blocker and he is someone who can develop into a quality player behind Jared Cook. Then they took a late shot on a QB. This was a solid draft from the Saints who did not have massive needs but who did fail to address the small needs they had and did not accumulate more capital in order to fill the roster out to save cape space. I’m sure the Saints will be good in 2020 but I am not sure how much these rookies will contribute.
BUCS – A+
1.13 – TRISTAN WIRFS, OT, IOWA – A+
It was a great stroke of luck to be able to get my OT3 here as I was sure Wirfs would not be available and he is probably the best pass blocking OT in the draft, not to mention the fact that he is a true RT and can step in day 1 but he has played LT so he has a little more positional versatility. I said this about him “Wirfs is an elite prospect. He’s already NFL ready and could start tomorrow if he wanted to and he isn’t close to his ceiling yet. Wirfs is a fantastic pass protector and gives almost nothing up on pass plays; he can effectively block on pull pass plays, PA passes and true pass sets. He gives almost nothing up against power rushes as he has elite strength to block them, and he’s great against speed rushers too as he has the mobility to fly up and block them with his lightning quick hands. However sometimes he over exposes himself and leaves himself open to counter rushes; in college he had the natural agility to get back inside and this wasn’t much of a problem due to the competition he faced but it may be in the NFL against better players. He’s a great run blocker who has fantastic mobility to moveout in space or the strength to stonewall defenders at the LOS. He’s great out in space and while he wasn’t asked to move block a lot, he showed the intelligence and athleticism to get out in front and find a blocker. His footwork is fantastic and he rarely loses his footing or moves too slowly to block rushers, and he’s really refined his hand technique which can be worked on again speed moves but he already has fantastic hand strength and counters to power rushes. He generally has good balance but does slip sometimes on outside runs which he will need to work on.”. A slam dunk selection.
2.13 – ANTOINE WINFIELD JR, S, MINNESOTA – A+
Another steal. Winfield was my S1 and the 20th player on my board in total, he was the only Safety I graded as a 1st round pick and he is the best true Free Safety in the class, a position of need in Tampa for many years now that I believe is filled. I said this about Winfield “Winfield is a versatile playmaker with good coverage skills. He has nice range; he has elite tracking and ball skills. He has quickness to stick play out of the slot vs WRs, despite his small size he is quite physical and aggressive with his tackles and when playing the run, he has a high football IQ and knows how and when to make plays whilst he has a serious knack for getting the ball. He lacks the ideal length for the position to break up passes but this has not yet affected his game.”. This was a fantastic pick in my mind and may just give this Defense the player they needed on the back end to elevate it to a Defense worthy of helping Tampa of competing in the Superbowl.
3.12 – KE’SHAWN VAUGHN, HB, VANDERBILT – B+
This is another really nice pick, Vaughn was my HB8 and the 2nd best HB I had on my board (Zack Moss was my HB2) and the reason this is only a B+ is because I had Moss as my HB2 and I had Vaughn as an early 4th rounder, but I think he is a really nice player with a good floor and some potential upside and is pretty clearly the HB1 on this roster. I said this about Vaughn “Vaughn is a really solid back who has a chance at being a low end #1 or high end #2type starter, and at the very least a rotation player. Vaughn has good speed and can explode past the LOS when the blocks line up. He’s got some really nice power to him and can fight off defenders and be really hard to bring down at times. He rarely fumbles and takes care of the ball well. He has above average vision when running and finds lanes and gaps well between the poor blocking and he’s a yardage-fighter as he gained a lot of yards after contact. But he’s lost weight since finishing the college season and may not be as tough. He’s not really much of a route runner or receiver and doesn’t block particularly well. He’s not got the type of agility to make defenders miss and rarely jukes guys out”. A solid 3rd round pick and a player I think can play a nice role.
5.15 – TYLER JOHNSON, WR, MINNESOTA – A+
Oof this was the steal of the draft to me. Without the off-field issues Johnson was my WR5 and even with them he was still my WR10 and a player I would have taken in rounds 2 or 3. While Godwin plays a little in the slot this selection means that he can play out wide and Johnson can be the ideal slot WR that Brady loves as he is quite a similar player to Edelman in that he isn’t super-fast but runs great routes, gets open often, drops it sometimes but always holds on through contact. I said this about him “Johnson is an incredibly skilled player; he’s had to develop a very technical game due to a lack of top-tier athleticism. An incredibly refined route-runner who will be an elite red-zone threat due to his ability to create quick separation. He separates early due to fantastic footwork, agility and his route running skills. He’s great in traffic and almost never drops the ball from contact with a DB. His agility is special and this helps make some unbelievable catches down the side-line or at the back of the endzone (the 1-handed grab vs Auburn). However, he seriously lacks the desired speed or acceleration you’d want in a modern WR and will probably have to win from the slot. His lack of athleticism translates into a poor RAC ability as he’s easily run down and doesn’t do enough in terms of tackle-breaking or forcing missed tackles to really be special with the ball in hand. He’s also suffered from concentration drops in his career as he’s had 24 drops on 238 catchable career targets with 6 drops this year”. This is far from a perfect player, he was a 2nd round talent to me and he had some off-field issues, but he was well worth an earlier pick and this pick here is an absolute steal.
6.15 – KHALIL DAVIS, IDL, NEBRASKA – A-
This is the kind of high upside day 3 pick that I am all for. Davis was my IDL17 and was good value here as I had a 5th rounder on him. I said this about him “An explosive player who was utilized a lot on the edge in college, but he will have to move to IDL in the NFL like a few other players in the class. He has nice get off and can be a solid pass rusher but lacks moves or the processing to resort to a “plan B” and he needs to add play strength. Has potential to develop with a balanced skillset but needs quality coaching to fulfil his potential as a 3-down player.”. This was a nice pick here as I think he can learn behind the quality IDL here and the good coaching staff.
7.27 – CHAPELLE RUSSELL, LB, TEMPLE – D
Russell was my LB29 and I did not have a draftable grade on him, I said “Russell is a long player with average straight-line speed. His length and athleticism allowed him to get by in college but he lacks any decent level of instincts and has too weak of a physicality to last in the NFL. Lacks much upside and will probably be a special teamer.”. This is a low-floor and low-upside pick and I had better players available.
7.31 – RAYMOND CALAIS, HB, LA-LAFAYETTE – D
Calais was my HB38 and I had an UDFA grade on him. I said this about him “Speed threat and a kick returner. Will be useful on gimmick plays as well like sweeps. No power or vision to his game and I question his hands”. A low floor player with a medium upside who has a chance of making the team as like a HB4/5.
This was one of the best draft classes in the league and when the only picks you don’t like are late 7th rounders than it’s a really nice class. The Bucs entered the draft with needs at; OT, S, CB, HB, IDL and some depth needs at WR and IOL. The only positions not addressed were CB and IOL but you can only address so many needs in the draft. The Bucs picked up a top-3 OT prospect in a great OT draft and Wirfs to Tampa is probably the best fit of all the OTs. They picked up what I believe to be the best Safety in the draft and now have a really nice rangy Free Safety to make plays on the back end of the Defense. They got a nice potential starter at HB and a player who fits their scheme quite well, along with what is to me a top 5 WR and the 2nd best slot WR to go with a QB who loves throwing to slot WRs. Then you got a nice high-upside late day 3 IDL who has the potential to develop and took 2 shots on players in round 7. I think this is an excellent draft and I believe the first 4 players taken will be quality starters for their rookie seasons and have the potential to become the Bucs equivalent of THAT Saints draft back in 2017.