As soon as the 2013 NFL Draft concludes, you will read a lot about "This team gets an 'A' and this team gets an 'F'!" You pine for these articles. Don't deny it, because site stats don't lie and "Draft Grade" articles are major, you will see plenty right here at SBNation, too! But there's one slight flaw with grading a draft immediately upon it's conclusion or even right when the pick is made:
It's terribly stupid.
The Seahawks drew some bad grades for their draft last year when they "reached on Bruce Irvin" (who was not a reach according to the actual NFL teams that were reportedly going to take him in the first if Seattle hadn't) and then Bobby Wagner in the second round (good case for NFL DROY) and then wasted a pick on a QB in the third that is too short to play in the pros. Mel Kiper's grade for the Seahawks last year?
C-. The lowest grade he gave to any team. Pete Prisco, Rob Rang, and Chris Burke all agreed and none of them gave Seattle anything better than a C+. So it's anybody's guess as to why Pete Carroll even went on with the season. Why bother paying this terrible draft class any money at all, it's just a waste! Except that Irvin led rookies in sacks, Wagner was exceptional, and I think that I've overheard kids in the bathroom say that Russell Wilson is "pretty good." I don't know though, maybe that's just me! Which is probably why Kiper has now been able to recant after a year and say the draft was a total "A"! Great! Except two problems with that:
- How often do you get to change your draft grade?
- It's still too early.
You have to give a draft a minimum of three years to really play out. I'd love to sit here and agree that the 'Hawks could not have done one iota better than they did, but in reality one year is still not enough. Not in the NFL. Look at how much J.J. Watt improved from Year One to Year Two. This league is just too difficult, the learning curve too steep, to start asking ourselves who did the best after one year, let alone after the final pick has been made in April.
So instead, I look back three years and check back in with the class of 2010. It was an interesting class of players, with some elite, and at least one player who "just wins!" Rather than give grades (Because what the hell would it matter if it's an A- or just a B?) I've tried ranking them from 1-32. One interesting thing you will find is that I've also listed what happened to the coaches of these teams. Because you'll notice: Screw up the draft, start looking for work. Well, more than half of these coaches are no longer with the teams they were with during the 2010 draft.
I hope you're paying attention, Dennis Allen!
32. New York Jets
Top Pick: CB Kyle Wilson (29th overall)
A trade for Braylon Edwards cost the Jets two picks in this draft, and moving up to grab Joe McKnight in the fourth round cost New York a sixth. That left them with only four players drafted in 2010 and Wilson was clearly the best. It's not good when Kyle Wilson is clearly your best pick in a draft. The Jets made the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row in 2010, but have struggled since. Rex Ryan has managed to hold onto his job for now.
Top Pick: CB Chris Cook (34th overall)
The Vikes were also a team coming off of a conference championship game. They traded back five spots with the Lions and wound up with Cook, a player who has made 18 starts in three seasons. Minnesota got interesting depth with Toby Gerhart, Joe Webb, and Everson Griffin, but they might not have any full-time players from this draft. It's more disappointing when you consider they had eight picks. The Vikings fired Brad Childress in the middle of 2010.
30. Buffalo Bills
Top Pick: RB C.J. Spiller (9th overall)
Buffalo wasn't doing as hot as the first two teams mentioned and they actually hit well on their first pick with Spiller. That would be all the hitting they would do, despite having nine picks. The Bills took DT Torell Troup with the 41st pick (Rob Gronkowski went 42nd) and he has played in just 21 career games. Their second best pick of the draft was linebacker Arthur Moats and his 31 career solo tackles. Buffalo is 16-32 in three seasons since and Chan Gailey was fired after 2012.
Top Pick: DT Tyson Alualu (10th overall)
I don't know how other people feel about Alualu, but he might be a bit of an underrated player, even if many people were mocking Jason Pierre-Paul to the Jaguars before the draft and yes that would have been a better pick. Alualu is good. Nobody else in this Jacksonville draft class is. Jack Del Rio was relieved of his duties in the middle of 2011 and the Jags are 7-25 in the last two seasons.
28. Tennessee Titans
Top Pick: DE Derrick Morgan (16th overall)
Morgan came alive a little bit in 2012, but I can't ignore that up to this point he might be having a worse overall career than each of the next eight players selected, right up to Tim Tebow at No. 25. Names like Mike Iupati, Demaryius Thomas, and Dez Bryant. Instead, the Titans got Morgan and then Damian Williams in the third. The only reason the Titans aren't lower is they also got Alterraun Verner and Marc Mariani in this draft. Jeff Fisher was fired after 2010.
Top Pick: QB Jimmy Clausen (48th overall)
The Panthers had no pick in the first round because they traded it to the 49ers in 2009 for second- (Everette Brown) and fouth- (Mike Goodson) round picks. This cost them an opportunity they would potentially have had for a pretty good player. Instead, they got Jimmy Clausen and went 2-14. What saves them from being much lower on this list? Brandon LaFell in the third and Greg Hardy in the sixth are both pretty good values. John Fox was fired after 2010.
26. Chicago Bears
Top Pick: SS Major Wright (75th overall)
The Bears improved from 7-9 to 11-5 in 2010, despite not having first- (Jay Cutler) or second- (Gaines Adams) round picks. They managed to get Wright, DE Corey Wootton, and starting tackle J'Marcus Webb. But overall, the draft lacked depth because the Bears lacked picks. Lovie Smith was fired three seasons later after two late-season collapses. They could be lower on this list, but part of the reason for their lack of picks was to acquire Cutler, who is a pretty good starting QB.
Top Pick: LT Trent Williams (4th overall)
Trading all of the draft picks in Washington didn't start with Robert Griffin. The Redskins had the fourth overall pick in 2010, but a trade for Donovan McNabb and a supplemental pick on Jeremy Jarmon left them without a trip to the podium again until the fourth round. They managed to get a Pro Bowl tackle with Williams and a starting linebacker in Perry Riley, but nothing else. It weighs down their status here that they wasted good picks on McNabb and Jarmon. Mike Shanahan has survived the hot seat thanks to RGIII.
Top Pick: RB Ryan Mathews (12th overall)
The Chargers actually traded their first- (28th overall), second- (40th), and fourth- (126th) round picks to move up to take Mathews plus a fourth and a sixth. Mathews is good, but he's not that good. He's not that good and he's not that healthy. Starting linebacker Donald Butler was acquired in the third round, but there's very little else from this draft. Norv Turner was finally fired three seasons later.
23. Baltimore Ravens
Top Pick: LB Sergio Kindle (43rd overall)
I know, right? Well, not every team near the bottom of this list collapsed and John Harbaugh's job is probably safe. However, they did not hit that well on their picks and they traded their first to the Broncos so they could turn around their franchise with Tebow. Kindle suffered through injuries and is a free agent now. The Ravens did get their tight ends Ed Dickson (third) and Dennis Pitta (fourth) in this draft, but I wonder how much different the world would be if they traded up; Rob Gronkowski went one pick ahead of Kindle. DT Terrence Cody was their other second-round pick that year.
22. New York Giants
Top Pick: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15th overall)
How could a draft be bad when you've got JPP in the first, starting DT Linval Joseph in the second, and a Super Bowl ring? Well, it's not that it's terrible, but there was nothing else after those two. Anytime you get an elite defensive end, that's good. But when your third-best draft pick was a punter who played for you for one season (Matt Dodge), that leaves something to be desired.
21. St. Louis Rams
Top Pick: QB Sam Bradford (1st overall)
And to think, I'm actually a Sam Bradford fan. But there's a major problem with this draft: The Rams had eleven picks. They got Bradford and tackle Rodger Saffold. The next nine picks were not so good. Jerome Murphy (third) was with the Rams for two years, Mardy Gilyard (fourth) for one year, Michael Hoomanawanui (fifth) for two years, Hall Davis (fifth) for no years, Fendi Onobun (sixth) for one year. You can turn around a franchise with eleven picks. Instead, Steve Spagnuolo was fired after 2011. They're this high because it's so hard to find a franchise QB, even though it was almost a no-brainer to take Bradford.
Top Pick: DE Jerry Hughes
Outside of Indianapolis, who knows who Jerry Hughes is? He has made just seven starts in three years with five sacks and 31 solo tackles. The Colts managed to snag Pat Angerer in the second, and linebacker Kavell Connor in the seventh is one of the best values of the draft. Not enough though and Jim Caldwell was fired after 2011 when it became evident that this team was thin as hell without Peyton Manning.
19. Houston Texans
Top Pick: CB Kareem Jackson (20th overall)
The Texans snagged a starting corner in Jackson, plus their main backup running back in Ben Tate with their second pick. But Jackson didn't really come into his own until 2012, Tate missed all of 2010 and then struggled in 2012, and they got very little else with their next seven picks. Trindon Holliday has done his best work with Denver, Garrett Graham is a decent backup tight end, and Earl Mitchell is just a rotational DT. The Texans have been good over the last two years, however. A lot of credit due to J.J. Watt going in the 2011 draft.
Top Pick: DE Brandon Graham (13th overall)
Not only did the Eagles miss on their first-round pick, taking Graham just ahead of Earl Thomas, but they had an NFL-high 13 picks in 2010. They picked CB Nate Allen in the second and starting free safety Kurt Coleman in the seventh. They did not get much else, other than depth picks like QB Mike Kafka, TE Clay Harbor, WR Riley Cooper, and LB Jamar Chaney. Even worse, they traded up with the Denver Broncos and gave up three picks. Those three picks were eventually used on: Dez Bryant, Ed Dickson, and Eric Decker. Now that would have been a good draft. They eventually have parted ways with Andy Reid. They're only not lower on the list because depth is important, but Graham was the worst pick of the first round and they traded up.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Top Pick: WR Dez Bryant (24th overall)
There were mixed opinions on Bryant going into the draft, and he ended up being the second receiver taken. The Cowboys don't really care about mixed opinions as long as a guy has got talent and Bryant has plenty of that, so they traded up from 27 to get him. They also grabbed starting linebacker Sean Lee in the second round and backup DT Sean Lissemore in the seventh. But nothing else, really. Wade Phillips was fired after eight games in 2010.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Top Pick: Sean Weatherspoon (19th overall)
The Falcons got a solid linebacker with 'Spoon in the first, traded their second-round pick for Tony Gonzalez, and defensive tackle Corey Peters in the third. Gonzalez is the only "spectacular" player to come out of this draft, the other two being solid players.
Top Pick: CB Patrick Robinson (32nd overall)
The Saints were Super Bowl winners, so they had less to worry about than everyone else. Robinson became a full-time starter this year and had three interceptions with 18 pass deflections. The bigger get though was the third round, when the Saints took Jimmy Graham. (Did you realize that Graham wasn't on the championship team? Me neither!) They did not get any other full-time players in this draft, but getting one Jimmy Graham in the third is pretty good.
14. Detroit Lions
Top Pick: DT Ndamukong Suh (2nd overall)
You could argue that Suh is more trouble than he's worth, but you'd have to argue he's a whole hell of a lot of trouble because he's worth a lot. Suh has made the All-Pro team already and is arguably the best defensive tackle in the game. The Lions traded up into the back of the first for Jahvid Best, which was a great pick if only he didn't get the concussions. They also drafted safety Amari Spievey, which is either OK or bad. Jim Schwartz has managed to stay alive for now.
13. Cleveland Browns
Top Pick: CB Joe Haden (7th overall)
Haden has registered 47 pass deflections and nine interceptions in 42 career games. He's actually a high pick that the Browns didn't screw up. They also drafted starting safety T.J. Ward, starting right guard Shawn Lauvao, backup running back Montario Hardesty, and Colt McCoy. Now McCoy might not be much, but even a capable backup QB in the third round is OK. Still, the Browns have gone through two coaches (Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur) since.
12. Miami Dolphins
Top Pick: DE Jared Odrick (28th overall)
There is not a lot of excitement in the Dolphins draft, but they did fill some key roles. Odrick in the first, LB Koa Misi in the second, tackle John Jerry in the third, safety Reshad Jones in the fifth, corner Nolan Carroll in the fifth, and they traded their own second-round pick for Brandon Marshall. It was good that they traded down with the Chargers to get back a second-round pick. Still, Tony Sparano was eventually fired.
Top Pick: DT Dan Williams (26th overall)
Williams was a decent pick at 26 (can you believe there was a time that the Cardinals picked 26th and it wasn't because they traded down?) and Andre Roberts was a solid pick in the third round, but the key here is the second round: Linebacker Daryl Washington. He just registered a phenomenal season with the Cards, and hopefully it wasn't all because of Ray Horton since he's gone. So is head coach Ken Whisenhunt. That may have more to do with Arizona's fifth-round pick in 2010: John Skelton.
Top Pick: DT Gerald McCoy (3rd overall)
McCoy is coming off of a great year with Tampa Bay, and it's hard to argue that he wasn't the right pick. Maybe Jason Pierre-Paul, but it's splitting hairs. Second-round pick Brian Price has dealt with injuries, Arrelious Benn has been decent, but fourth-round pick Mike Williams has been (mostly) great. Raheem Morris was still fired.
Top Pick: S Eric Berry (5th overall)
Berry has made an All-Pro team already, but there's also solid depth in this draft: Dexter McCluster, starting guard Jon Asamoah, TE Tony Moeaki, FS Kendrick Lewis. Still, the Chiefs have fired two coaches (Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel) since.
Top Pick: LB Rolando McClain (8th overall)
McClain has underwhelmed and is expected to be let go. But they also got Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, and Jacoby Ford in this draft. Not bad considering that it's the Raiders. And yes, Oakland has fired some coaches, bro.
Top Pick: T Bryan Bulaga (23rd overall)
The Packers snagged B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews a year earlier, but still needed something to get over the hump. They found Bulaga in the first, Morgan Burnett in the third, starting guard Marshall Newhouse in the fifth, and James Starks in the sixth. C.J. Wilson adds great depth for a seventh-round pick. Most of these players didn't contribute much until later, but the Packers did win the Super Bowl that year.
Top Pick: C Maurkice Pouncey (18th overall)
The Steelers were already a good team, having won two Super Bowls over the last five years. Pouncey isn't the "sexy" pick but that's OK. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro center. Hard to argue with that at pick 18. The Steelers mostly found depth in this draft (Jason Worilds, Emmanuel Sanders, Stevenson Sylvester, and Jonathan Dwyer), but they also happened to find one other Pro Bowl player all the way in the sixth round: Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh made the Super Bowl following this draft.
Top Pick: TE Jermaine Gresham (21st overall)
That awkward moment when the Bengals, yes the Bengals, start to kill it in drafts. This is how Cincinnati has made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and could be a perennial contender. Gresham in the first was great, and they've got good depth with Carlos Dunlap, and they got one good season out of Jerome Simpson. But bigger than that, the Bengals might have had the best value pick in 2010: DT Geno Atikins in the fourth round.
4. Denver Broncos
Top Pick: WR Demaryius Thomas (22nd overall)
The oddest thing about this draft working out so well is that Denver traded a second, third, and fourth in order to move up and draft Tim Tebow. Despite that, the Broncos wound up with Thomas, Pro Bowl G Zane Beadles, C JD Walton, Decker, and DB Perrish Cox. Having Peyton Manning helps and grabs headlines, but would Manning have even come to Denver if they hadn't have drafted Thomas, Decker, Beadles, and Walton? This was the draft that set it all up.
Top Pick: T Anthony Davis (11th overall)
The year before he was fired, Mike Singletary helped orchestrate the draft that set up a Super Bowl contender for Jim Harbaugh. There's nothing sexy about using two first-round picks on the offensive line (Davis at No. 11, Mike Iupati at No. 17), but being good in the trenches is what makes the 49ers so tough to beat these days. They whiffed on Taylor Mays in the second, but grabbed All-Pro linebacker Navorro Bowman in the third, plus RB Anthony Dixon and WR Kyle Williams in the sixth. Singletary was fired for going 6-10 the next year, but the foundation was in place.
Top Pick: T Russell Okung (6th overall)
Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider got a gift from the parting front office: A first-round pick from the Broncos thanks to trading away their second-round pick in 2009. They used their own pick on Okung, who some felt was a steal even at six, and then found a Godsend with Earl Thomas at pick 14. Some felt that Carroll would go with his own USC-bred Taylor Mays, but thankfully that's not the case. In addition to the Pro Bowl tackle Okung and All-Pro safety Thomas, the 'Hawks put together the beginnings of what would become an excellent team around Russell Wilson in 2012: Golden Tate in the second, Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor in the fifth, and TE Anthony McCoy in the sixth.
You'll notice that the Broncos, 49ers, and Seahawks all had two first-round picks. It's better to have more picks than not and if a team is willing to trade a second for a first next year, you should really listen. The Patriots only had one first-round pick, but that didn't mean they were light on overall draft picks. Once again, we've been schooled by Belichick:
Top Pick: DB Devin McCourty (27th overall)
McCourty has made one Pro Bowl but that's only the beginning. The Pats had twelve picks, including three in the second round. They found themselves a whole lot of talent and continue to be one of the best teams in the NFL: Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, and C Ted Larsen. Heck, they also drafted starting punter Zoltan Mesko. Having so many picks allows the Pats to miss here and there (LB/DE Jermaine Cunningham in the second round is only a depth player, WR Taylor Price in the third) while still coming away with two of the best tight ends in the NFL.
The Patriots might pick at the end of the first round every year, but they wind up No. 1 on this list.
So when April comes around this year, remember just how important it is. The Broncos, Seahawks, Bengals, and 49ers weren't exactly title contenders in 2010. But that's exactly who was around with a title shot two seasons later. It's very likely to happen again.