MBL Season 50 Draft Grades - Analysis
Welcome to the Season 50 draft grades presented by the Draft Pros! Every season owners’ dreams live and die with the selection of new players, each owner hoping for that special player that will change the franchise for the better. Whether it's a top 10 pick or a late round gem, perhaps even a bust. The infusion of rookie talent is an exciting time for all. Without further ado, here are the criteria we use for grading:
Age - How young was your class, did you get guys that can grow quickly?
Talent - How good was your player, were you picking based on combine scores?
Value - Did you reach for your player or did you find a stud that fell in the draft?
Potential - Does this player have room to grow or are they pro-ready now?
Need - Was this a position of need or was it a best player available situation?
49ers- Grade B+
The 49ers were poised to make a big selection this draft and they didn't disappoint. They snagged DT Kristain Bradham in the 1st to play opposite stud DT Javon Kinlaw, good move. They snagged a starter at RG in the 2nd with Pierce out of FSU. They were very high on CB Ziegler out of Memphis who can really run and got him in the 4th.. They also grabbed two interesting safety prospects in the 5th (Dom Smith) and 7th (Eddie Vickers) who will learn behind Jaquiski Tart for a couple seasons of growth. A very good draft all things considered. Look for Ziegler in blitz packages some this season.
Seahawks - Grade C+
The Seahawks were down their 1st (Adams trade) and had to make their selections count, a difficult task picking 32nd in each round. They grabbed CB Roosevelt Pemberton out of ND in the 2nd, but he figures to be buried in the depth chart this season. In 3rd the team reached a bit on App St product Delvin Stallworh who won’t likely figure into many carries at the RB position this season. Their best pick of the draft was 5th rounder Cedric Whitehead who was a teammate of Pemberton at ND, the DT will learn for a year and liely be a major contributor on D next season. They did also grab 2 interesting prospects at DE in the 6th and 7th rounds but they will also enter a crowded field at the position and could be ticketed for the PS. Not a great draft from a Seahawks team that admittedly had few needs.
Cardinals - Grade B
The Cardinals came into ths draft needing to fill out a roster with a few holes. The addressed their need on DL Notre Dame DT Tyler Cohen, younger brother of Tyrik Cohen. Tyler will move into a large role as a rookie this season. In the 2nd, picked up speedy RB Chris Dixon of Syracuse who will likely be used in a change of pace role with new starter Leveon Bell. TCU CB Vernon archer will likely see the field in nickel and dime packages and was a nice pickup in the 3rd. Shaq Candidate will probably not see much time at WR and will likely find himself on the PS. TE Kevin Faust might see some time next year and be given a chance to start after the team moves on from Jared Cook as the Cards like Faust athletic ability.
Rams - Grade B-
The Rams were not set to be major players in this draft down most of their picks, however a late trade with CLE netted the team some capital and they ended up with 3 late 1sts. They put them to good use grabbing OLB Rashard Harris (MSU), WR Brad Winslow (Clemson), and G Pete Mason (Missouri) who all figure to move into starting roles on a depleted Rams squad. The team all snagged speedy CB Matt Walls from Texas A&M in the 6th who fell due to concerns about his stiff hips, Walls will likely figure into nickel and dime packages in yr 1. Not a bad draft, though not very deep due to few selections.
Eagles- Grade - D+
The Eagles fans are probably still grumbling after a questionable start to the teams draft. The Eagles took RT Devin Widemer out of Auburn with their 16th pick, don’t get us wrong Widmer is a fine player and a great T but the team already has cornerstone T Lane Johnson and young Andre Dillard who was taken in the 1st a few years ago. The team did have a hole at C and perhaps there will be some cross training, this one was a head scratcher though. In the 2nd they picked up DT Dontae Rabb who figures to play a prominent role down the road after the Cox era ends, this was good value. North Texas product, Mike Cowan was the pick in the 3rd and was a pretty big reach in our eyes, the Eagles liked his speed though and we’ll see how he is used. The Eagles scouts did fine work in the late rounds adding DE Nate Meriweather, CB Gordon Fields, and TE Lance Shultz.
Cowboys - Grade - C+
The Cowboys didn't have a 1st to work with in this years draft so they had to do major work in the middle to late rounds to salvage a draft class. They certainly made the most of their 2nd selecting talented CB Jay Jones out of Wisconsin who fell farther than we anticipated, so great value there. He’ll step in as an immediate starter. In the 3rd the Boys selected LOLB Aaron Calhoun, while good value for the slot we wonder what his role on the team will be with newly acquired LB Harold Landry and star Jaylon Smith, time will tell. They grabbed TE Richard Brewer late in the 4th and that might prove to be one of the steals of the draft as Brewer was very productive at Missouri and he’ll step into a favorable situation in Dallas. They also snagged their punter in the 7th, Marvin Heck. A good draft based on needs situation.
WFT - Grade - B-
The WFT were down a 1st this season and had to find value in the middle rounds to make things work. Things got off to a poor start in the 2nd as they inexplicably picked Bubba Russel out of UF, while productive as a RB, he seems to have no role on a team with holes in other areas that needed addressed. We don’t know what the WFT was thinking here. The team did get back to work in the 3rd and 4th rounds picking up talent on the DL that was much needed after a shocking trade that sent Chase Young to BAL. They grabbed two big time players in Thomas Hall (OSU) and Marcus Demps (ALA) whose teams actually played each other in the National Championship game. Each had a great game. Very solid value here. As they will be competing for playing time and a starting role. The 5th and 6th rounds were back to confusion as the team quadrupled down on the DE and picked two more, each of which will be fighting for a roster spot in a crowded DL room. This was a strange draft for the WFT and one the fans won’t soon forget, the confusing 2nd round pick will resonate with many.
Giants - Grade - C-
The Giants were without their 1st so this draft was already an uphill battle. Lets not mince words here, this one was a doozy. The Giants spent two of their precious draft capital to add to one of the most crowded WR rooms in the MBL. Redzone target Donnell Tatum of Air Force might be the guy to stick here, but many considered him a guy that peaked in college against lesser competition. Similar story for BYU WR DeAndre Allen who had one of the poor combine performances this year. Not a good use of two high 2nd round picks in our estimation. RB James Cook was a redundant choice for a team that just signed speedy vet Tevin Coleman to backup Barkley. LSU TE Zach Batten was a fine pickup in the 6th and figures to be the #2 TE after the team moves on the Cameron Brate. This was a bad draft, no way around it.
Falcons- Grade - B
The Falcons were in need of a youth infusion this draft, particularly in the skill position groups. As such its no surprise they took two safeties and two CBs. They did well to nab FS Niles Kelly in the 1st, who was the 2nd highest rated safety and grabbed FS REggie Melton in the 2nd for depth . Both have high ceilings and are a good fit in the Atlanta defensive scheme which needs good safeties. OL was also a huge need for ATL and they addressed that as well taking maulers at G Tim Skinner (UGA) and Sean Graves (Miss) both of which figure to start on the OL. TE JR Lewis out of Auburn was good value in the 5th and figures to be the nominal #2 and blocking TE and will see the field some in jumbo packages. Overall a solid draft for the Falcons. ATL did great work in the 4th round grabbing two very useful players in MLB Anthony Massey (UCLA) who will learn from a great and might one day replace Deion Jones. CB Julius Scroggins had speed to burn playing for the Rams of CSU and he’ll be a strong addition to the DB room. WR Luke Mitchell (3rd) will likely see the field extensively out of the slot this season. This draft was basically a home run for a Falcons team in dire need of a youth infusion.
Panthers - Grade - B
The Panthers had plenty to work with in terms of picks this draft. They were able to and the top signal caller this draft in Alexander Moorman, who many thought was a second rounder at best, but getting him late in the 1st wasn’t great value. The 2nd and 3rd round picks weren’t great as the team reached on a FB and WR Dakota Platt of Mid Tenn St who certainly feasted on lesser competition. They did grab polished DT JD Holliday in the 4th who will play some big snaps this season for CAR. A similar story for RB Quincy Kelly (5th round) from LSU who will give CMC a much needed break at times. Keep and eye on WR Jaron Smallwood who has sneaky athleticism. This was a solid effort by Carolina but taking a FB in the 3rd was a real head scratcher.
Saints - Grade - B
The Saints had work to do this draft no donut about it, up against the cap and down a Hall of Fame QB they needed to hit big this draft. Down a 1st in a big draft they got to work in the 2nd and grabbed stud OLB Cordell Calhoun (BYU) who likely find his way into the Saints starting lineup. Calhoun was known for his spin move at BYU. They doubled down on the position grabbing LOLB Dom Walton out of Boise Stl in the 3rd, Luke Wells (MIA) in the 4th, and Frank Orr (CAL) in the 5th, and Trent Banks (Syracuse). The group will compete for a starting position across from Calhoun. The Saints are big believers in letting the cream rise to the top. The Saints also nabbed CBS Dell Forbes (VT) in the 3rd who was a straight steal of a pick and Glen Rattler (LSU) in the 7th who many had labeled with a 2nd-3rd round grade. They also grabbed young C Colin Shepphard from UF in the 6th who will get a year of seasoning on a strong NO offensive line. This was a pretty good effort by the Saints, thought a touch heavy on OLBs. The absence of a QB is troubling though.
Bucs - Grade - C+
Tampa Bay started their draft in the 1st by grabbing OLB Derrick Hardison who was the highest rated OLB in this draft and a star at UGA. With their 2nd 1st they selected big power back Nate Westbrook out of Boston College, power back U basically. He will provide a nice change of pace to the speedy RoJo. Really nice value on these picks as both were picked much lower than expected. Without any 2nd or 3rd round picks the Bucs managed to still get WR Linsey Hayward out of KSU whom they nearly took with their late 1st. Lookout for this speedy rookie who figures to play a prominent role in what could be TB12’s last season. Huge pickup for Tampa here. In the 5th Tampa found more speed when they added WR Juwan Rudd from Auburn who will handle kickoff duties from day one. The team found a speedy CB Stephen Bowles from Mizzou late in the 7th and he’ll have a year to get ready for a bigger role next season. Ditton for talented DE Quincey Harvey from Purdue. This was a very strong draft for a Tampa team down a few selections.
Vikings- Grade - C
The Vikings were down a few picks from previous deals so they were really up against it to salvage a useful draft class. Sadly for Vikings fans there isn’t much to be excited about here. The Vikings had 5 picks between the 4-6th and they grabbed a myriad of depth players on a roster struggling with cap concerns. CB Vernon McLaughlin out of Illinois figures to see the field a little in dollar/quarter packages and FS Tevin Brooks will fight to lock down the 4th safety spot. Southern Utah WR Joseph Malone figures to find himself on the PS unless MIN opts to carry 6 WRs. Not much to say about this class filled with depth players.
Bears - Grade - B-
Chicago was down 3 selections from offseason trades and had to do solid work with the picks they had. The Bears lucked out when Heisman Winning SS Forrest Kemp fell to them at 20 which was a huge boon after Teshaun Gipson left in the offseason. Kemp will battle it out with vet Ricardo Allen for the starting SS role. The next Bears pick wasn’t until the 5th where the team just needed to fill the roster out, but LE Jaren Hurts will have a starting role on the team. Not much else to say here as the team just drafted some depth in the 6th and 7th rounds. Getting Kemp was huge but this was a shallow draft to be sure.
Lions - Grade - B-
Detroit had a full complement of selections and needed to add to a fairly old roster. In the first they went with a safe pick and grabbed LG Artie Black who will step right into a starting role. They reached in the 2nd when they grabbed Laron Craver out of Hawaii who many had tabbed as a 4t round talent, but Detroit liked him all offseason and he’ll get his shot to start. The Lions also went ahead and took a flyer on QB Shaun Hill who put up a nice career at Tulane and will have a season to sit behind Matt Stafford and learn the ropes. Scouts really like Hill’s arm. MLB Kevin Smith was a solid pickup in the 4th and he’ll fight for the backup MLB job. Devante Shields was a surprise pick in the 5th but the value was just too good to pass up as many scouts had a 2nd round grade on the big TE from FAU. Detroit finished the draft with raw RT Tyrique Freeman. All in all this was a solid if unspectacular effort from Detroit.
Packers - Grade - A
The Packers came into this draft needing to hit on their picks as they suffer through Aaron Rodgers contract hit while filling holes on the Def. They got things started in the 1st with MLB Manny Thomas who ran one of the fastest 40 times for a linebacker in MBL history. The sky is the limit for the former Vanderbuilt star. In the second they found a gem in LE Joe Nails who many scouts had tabbed as 1st round talent, so great value here. Nails will likely slot into a starting role on the defensive line. Following a run on OL the Packers were left scrambling in the 3rd as they reached on LG Ricky Sharp who many scouts didn’t think would even be selected, rough value in the 3rd to be sure. Armed with two additional 3rds the Pack did hit on a great pick with Wilie Craver who was very productive as a 3 technique DT at Maryland. They also grabbed productive ND WR DAnny Rutledge who likely peaked in college. The team found another gem in the 4th though with LE Jalen Cowan who should never have been available so late, and he’ll compete for a starting job as well. Cowan is one to keep an eye on the next few years, injuries held him back in is Junior season and some thought he might be a 1st round talent. UGA WR and return specialist, Daniel Redmond, was the pick in the 6th and he’ll handle return duties. This was a very good draft for Green Bay.
Stay tuned for the AFC grades coming up!