And so, this year's NFL Draft has come to a close. 254 players were selected and many more will be affected, but this is a natural process in the world of american sports. What isn't so natural is the trade between the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins which included Josh Rosen, a quarterback who was picked tenth overall in just last year's draft. Then again, a whopping 40 trades took place during this year's event, so it shouldn't be that surprising.
The thing is, how could we even begin to grade transactions like that and of other kinds with a scale from A+ to F-? Well, this series of articles is going to do things a bit differently. I thought I could use a more accurate rating of 1-10, but, still, how am I supposed to come to a fair conclusion? You see, I don't think this kind of information should be kept and so, I will reveal and explain my algorithm up next. In case you aren't really interested in it, I will just indicate which part you can skip by starting and ending the next part with the symbol ***. Ok, here we go.
***In order to produce this algorithm, there needs to be a distinction between the quality of a player and the thought process of a team, because it is quite common for a team to pass up on the best player available only to fill a need or due to the fact that this certain player may not be a scheme fit. To be fair, I considered both of these two parameters to be of equal value, so I theorized that a team's grade should be the average value of these variables, which resulted in the following equation. Team Grade = (Total Player Value + Team Strategy) / 2. But, there needs to be a systematic way to evaluate both of these parameters.
Let's start with Player Value. Before I dive into analyzing more specific variables, we need to agree that Total Player Value is measured by the average value of all players combined, so this equation is produced: Total Player Value = (Player Value 1 + Player Value 2 + ... Player Value n) / n, in which "n" is the amount of picks a team has made. I think now is the time to identify all of the players' attributes that I incorporated into the parameter Player Value.
Those are the following:
>>> 0-2 points for none to a slim chance to succeed
>>> 3-5 points for career backups
>>> 6-7 points for solid, servicable starters
>>> 8-9 points for All-Pro Caliber players
>>> 10 points for generational talents.
Draft Investment (DI)
With this parameter, I examine whether a player was a reach, a steal or picked close to his value's spot. Trade-ups are factored in the decision as well.
This may annoy some readers, but I can't ignore the importance of certain positions in comparison to others. For example, no matter how much someone doesn't want to admit it, a quarterback is far more important than a wide receiver.
>>> 10 points for Quarterbacks
>>> 8 points for Pass Rushers
>>> 5 points for Cornerbacks, Offensive Linemen, Defensive Tackles, Safeties
>>> 4 points for Sub-Package Cornerbacks, Inside Linebackers
>>> 3 points for Wide Receivers, Running Backs, Tight Ends
>>> 2 points for Kickers
>>> 1 point for Punters, Kick Returners, Punt Returners, Special Teams Players
If a player was chosen to play 2 positions, it will be indicated accordingly. For example, if a player was chosen to be a wide receiver and a kick returner, he will receive 3+1 points in this category.
Team's Expected Position (TEP)
With this parameter, I examine if the position a player is best suited for is related to the position the team picked him for. If a player was drafted to play two or more positions, only the one he was primarily drafted for has been taken into account. Also, instead of using my previous position scale, I used a much more specific one which analyzes each positions there is. For example, I split the Wide Receiver position in Wideout, Slot Receiver and Gadget Receiver.
With this parameter, I don't intend on evaluating a player's adaptability to any other positions. Instead, I intend to evaluate a player's adaptability to the positions that the team which picked him need him to be able to be productive in.
Instant Impact (II)
The sooner a player helps his team the better, right? Well, there are some picks which are picked to be immediate starters and some picks that are picked to be helpful in the future. But, that's not all. This parameter is also used to add or subtract value based on whether a player was picked to be a starter or a backup, in general.
>>> 0 points if a player had known serious problems in the past. (Drug abuse, violence etch.)
>>> 5 points if a player has character problems that can be lessened over time. (Noncompetitiveness, being slightly overweight etc.)
>>> 10 points for no apparent or very slight character concerns.
The obvious approach would be finding an average value between all these variables, but this wouldn't be correct due to the fact that not all of them are of equal importance to the others. So, in order to keep this simple, I divided the less important parameters by 2 and multiplied the more important ones by two. Therefore, based on everything that was explained above, I came up with this equation: Single Player Value = (P + S/2 + DI + POS/2 + TEP/2 + A*2 + II*2 + C) / 8.
Now, before you math buffs try to check the validity of this equation by inputing the maximum values (10 for each parameter) and find it doesn't make sense, let me save you the trouble. This equation is not meant to max out at 10 (It maxes at 10.625), because it is an approximation, not an exact result. An exact result cannot be given even with double the variables, due to the fact these players haven't even set foot in an NFL field. That's the reason most draft experts choose the scale F- to A+, so that they can hide that fact, but, even if I can't be precise, I want to be more precise than that. In case an approximation equals to or is greater than 10, the resulting grade would be 10.
In the beginning, I also mentioned that Team Strategy would also be examined. Lucky for you, it's much easier to evaluate than the players, so this won't take long. These are the parameters I considered:
Need Filling (NF)
This parameter's cause is to evaluate if a team has capably filled it's needs.
Practical Plan Existence (PPE)
This one may seem a bit confusing, but I will try to explain it as well as I can. Most, if not all, teams have obvious plans and stick by them. The existence of this parameter is due to the fact that many plans are a bit overzealous. This aims to test that overzealousness for the plans that are obvious and criticize the plans that aren't that much obvious.
>>> 0 points for a non-apparent plan.
>>> 1-4 points for a relatively apparent plan.
>>> 5-9 for an obvious yet overzealous plan, depending on how overzealous the plan is.
>>> 10 for an obvious and practical plan.
Incapably Met Needs (IMN)
The existence of the Practical Plan Existence may seem unfair to some, which is why I created this equation: Team Strategy = (NF*2 + PPE/2)/2 - 0.5*IMN. This equation maxes out at 12.5 just to give team executives the benefit of the doubt. If, by some means, a team scores greater or equal to 10, then the Team Strategy parameter's grade will be 10. On the other hand, in the improbable circumstance that a team's score is lower than 0, then the Team Strategy parameter's grade will be 0. Now that everything has been explained, let's move on to the actual evaluation.***
This first article is meant to assess the picks made by the teams in the AFC East. From the Patriots being the Patriots to the Dolphins acquiring Josh Rosen, the AFC East was certainly involved heavily in this year's draft. On the other side, the Jets managed to blow it again and the Bills had a surprisingly uneven draft. But, the prologue isn't why you came to read this article, so I believe it's time to delve into the draft grades.
No. 9 (Round 1, Pick 9) Ed Oliver - Defensive Tackle, Houston
(P: 10, S: 9, DI: 9, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 10 (10.125)
No. 38 (Round 2, Pick 6) Cody Ford - Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma
(P: 10, S: 8, DI: 10, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 9, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.9375
No. 74 (Round 3, Pick 11) Devin Singletary - Running Back, Florida Atlantic
(P: 9, S: 8, PC: 4, POS: 3, TEP: 10, A: 7, II: 6, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.4375
No. 96 (Round 3, Pick 33) Dawson Knox - Tight End, Ole Miss
(P: 6, S: 2, DI: 2, POS: 3, TEP: 7, A: 4, II: 5, C: 10) -> Grade = 5.25
No. 147 (Round 5, Pick 9) Vosean Joseph - Linebacker, Florida
(P: 7, S: 6, DI: 6, POS: 4, TEP: 9, A: 9, II: 7, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.0625
No. 181 (Round 6, Pick 8) Jaquan Johnson - Safety, Miami (Fla.)
(P: 9, S: 7, PC: 9, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 7, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.125
No. 225 (Round 7, Pick 11) Darryl Johnson - Defensive End, North Carolina A&T
(P: 4, S: 3, DI: 5, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 7, II: 3, C: 10) -> Grade = 6
No. 228 (Round 7, Pick 14) Tommy Sweeney - Tight End, Boston College
(P: 7, S: 6, DI: 2, POS: 3, TEP: 8, A: 8, II: 5, C: 10) -> Grade = 6.6875
>>> (NF: 5, PPE: 5, IMN: 2) -> Team Strategy Grade = 5.25
>>> (Average Player Value: 7.8125, Team Strategy Grade: 5.25) ->Team Grade = 6.53125
Best Pick: Ed Oliver, Defensive Tackle
This is as simple as it gets. The Bills needed a pass rushing tackle and they got one of the best in the draft, if not the best. Ed Oliver has been praised repeatedly for what he brings to the table and he has often been called "Aaron Donald 2.0". The best part is the Bills didn't even need to trade up to acquire him. This was a job well done.
Worst Pick: Dawson Nox, Tight End
This selection is baffling, to say the least. With this pick, the Bills are probably expecting a great blocking tight end to help their running game and a solid backup to Tyler Kroft, but Nox hasn't shown the ability to do neither. The fact he was chosen in the third round is an even bigger knife in the back.
My Favourite Pick: Jaquan Johnson, Safety
It was really hard to decide between Johnson and Cody Ford for this column, but I chose Johnson due to the fact he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft. Johnson has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler, which makes his slide really confusing.
The Bills certainly hit some home-runs in this draft, but they also had some major lapses in judgement on other picks. All in all, this was a mediocre draft which will ultimately be considered a success or a failure if players like Ed Oliver and Cody Ford prove to be stalwarts or busts, respectively.
No. 13 (Round 1, Pick 13) Christian Wilkins - Defensive Tackle, Clemson
(P: 10, S: 8, DI: 7, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.8125
No. 78 (Round 3, Pick 15) Michael Deiter - Guard, Wisconsin
(P: 10, S: 7, DI: 9, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 8, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.5
No. 151 (Round 5, Pick 13) Andrew Van Ginkel - Linebacker, Wisconsin
(P: 10, S: 7, DI: 10, POS: 4, TEP: 7, A: 7, II: 7, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.375
No. 202 (Round 6, Pick 30) Isaiah Prince - Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
(P: 10, S: 6, DI: 8, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 8, II: 8, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.8125
No. 233 (Round 7, Pick 19) Chandler Cox - Running Back (Full-Back), Auburn
(P: 3, S: 5, DI: 0, POS: 3, TEP: 10, A: 7, II: 2, C: 10) -> Grade = 5
No. 234 (Round 7, Pick 20) Myles Gaskin - Running Back, Washington
(P: 8, S: 7, DI: 8, POS: 3, TEP: 10, A: 8, II: 4, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.5
Honorary Pick: Josh Rosen - Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
(P: 10, S: 6, DI: 10, POS: 10, TEP: 10, A: 7, II: 7, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.875
>>> (NF: 4, PPE: 2, IMN: 3) -> Team Strategy Grade = 1
>>> (Average Player Value: 8.2678..., Team Strategy Grade: 1) -> Team Grade = 4.6339...
Best Pick: Christian Wilkins, Defensive Tackle
Wilkins is an excellent tackle and will probably not disappoint the Dolphins for drafting him. Apart from that, he was a major need in a defensive line bereaved of too much talent in free agency. Although, to be fair, the Dolphins only lost quality defensive ends, since they didn't have quality tackles to begin with. Brian Flores will certainly love this pick.
Worst Pick: Chandler Cox, Running Back
Wow. If you think the Bills' selection of Dawson Nox was bad, you were mistaken. This might be the worst pick in the entire draft. Chandler Cox isn't the worst player at his position, but his position isn't even worth drafting. If the Dolphins wanted a full-back, they could certainly pick one up in free agency. This was a waste of a pick for a team in desperate need of all the picks it can get.
My Favourite Pick: Josh Rosen, Quarterback
I don't say things like that very often, but I loved this move. If I were the Dolphins, I would prefer giving up the No. 48 pick instead of the No. 62 pick and a fifth round selection in next year's draft, but it still was a pretty good move. Even if the Dolphins decide Rosen isn't their guy, they can draft another quarterback next year and keep him as a backup or, even better, try to focus this year on losing, but making Rosen look good in the process, so they can trade him for an even better collection of picks. Either way, it's a huge win for the Dolphins.
Don't let some really high player values deceive you. This might have been the worst draft class this year. If it weren't for Rosen, this would be one of the worst draft classes of all time. Why? Because the Dolphins either ignored or underdrafted most of their biggest needs. Right now, the Right Tackle position is a competition between last year's underforming starter, Jesse Davis, and sixth round pick Isiah Prince. If that's not enough for you, the defensive end position opposite Charles Harris is currently slated to go to either Tank Carradine or Johnathan Woodard. Want some more? There is absolutely no idea who will start at center. With all those problems, the Dolphins picked not one, but two running backs back-to-back with their last two picks, one of which was a full-back. I can't overexaggerate how bad this draft class was, especially when Xavien Howard doesn't even have a partner on the other side. Ok, it's time to move on. The Dolphins probably will, by tanking.
New England Patriots
No. 32 (Round 1, Pick 32) N'Keal Harry - Wide Receiver/Returner, Arizona State
(P: 8, S: 7, DI: 6, POS: 3+1, TEP: 8, A: 7, II: 9, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.1875
Νο. 45 (Round 2, Pick 13) Joejuan Williams - Cornerback, Vanderbilt
(P: 9, S: 6, DI: 5, POS: 5, TEP: 8, A: 6, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.875
No. 77 (Round 3, Pick 13) Chase Winowich - Defensive End, Michigan
(P: 10, S: 8, DI: 7, POS: 8, TEP: 9, A: 7, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.1875
Νο. 87 (Round 3, Pick 23) Damien Harris - Running Back, Alabama
(P: 7, S: 7, PC: 5, POS: 3, TEP: 10, A: 8, II: 6, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.5
No. 101 (Round 3, Pick 37) Yodny Cajuste - Offensive Tackle, West Virginia
(P: 7, S: 5, DI: 4, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 6, II: 3, C: 10) -> Grade = 6.125
No. 118 (Round 4, Pick 16) Hjalte Froholdt - Guard, Arkansas
(P: 9, S: 8, DI: 8, POS: 5, TEP: 7, A: 7, II: 5, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.625
No. 133 (Round 4, Pick 31) Jarrett Stidham - Quarterback, Auburn
(P: 8, S: 6, DI: 8, POS: 10, TEP: 10, A: 9, II: 1, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.375
No. 159 (Round 5, Pick 21) Byron Cowart - Defensive Tackle, Maryland
(P: 7, S: 5, DI: 7, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 8, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.75
No. 163 (Round 5, Pick 25) Jake Bailey - Punter, Stanford
(P: 7, S: 5*, DI: 0, POS: 1, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 0, C: 10) -> Grade = 5.625
No. 252 (Round 7, Pick 38) Ken Webster, Cornerback, Ole Miss
(P: 7, S: 6, DI: 7, POS: 5, TEP: 7, A: 7, II: 6, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.375
*I couldn't find Bailey's college stats, so I put a 5, which is squarely in the middle. That's probably something I will have to do with all the punters.
>>> (NF: 9, PPE: 10, IMN: 1) -> Team Strategy Grade = 10 (11)
>>> (Average Player Value: 7.5625, Team Strategy Grade: 10) -> Team Grade = 8.78125
Best Pick: Chase Winowich, Defensive End
This might be considered a huge steal when all is said and done, especially considering the fact Winowich was selected by the Patriots, who are known to maximize the talents of most of their players due to their flexible system.
Worst Pick: Jake Bailey, Punter
I know what most Patriots fans will be thinking when they read this. Bill Bellichick doesn't make mistakes. I don't think taking a punter was a mistake, which is why I gave a near perfect strategy rating. This was a player evaluation and Bailey isn't on par with the other picks. I think it would be best if Bellichick picked up an undrafted free agent instead, but who am I to judge a guy who's been incredibly succesful over the past 18 years?
My Favourite Pick: Byron Cowart, Defensive Lineman
Most of you are most likely wondering : "Who is Byron Cowart?". Well, he is a versatile defensive lineman with starting experience in both the Defensive End and the Defensive Tackle position. If he Patriots crave anything scheme-wise, it's versatility and I can't blame them.
In true Patriot fashion, Bill Bellichick ignored the popular picks and went with the selections he deemed fit. I must say he did a splendid job. Since I can spend 5 pages praising this draft class, I will just say this: Pulling the trigger on Jarrett Stindham may be either his best move ever or a move that won't matter. Either way, it's a win-no serious loss situation. That's good enough for me. My only issue with this draft is that no tight end was drafted. I guess we will find out who will fill that spot after the draft.
New York Jets
No. 3 (Round 1, Pick 3) Quinnen Williams - Defensive Tackle, Alabama
(P: 10, S: 7, DI: 9, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 10
No. 68 (Round 3, Pick 4) Jachai Polite - Defensive End, Florida
(P: 10, S: 6, DI: 8, POS: 8, TEP: 7, A: 7, II: 10, C: 10) -> Grade = 9.0625
No. 92 (Round 3, Pick 28) Chuma Edoga - Offensive Tackle, USC
(P: 8, S: 5, DI: 4, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 3, C: 10) -> Grade = 7.25
No. 121 (Round 4, Pick 19) Trevon Wesco - Tight End, West Virginia
(P: 6, S: 3, DI: 3, POS: 3, TEP: 10, A: 7, II: 6, C: 10) -> Grade = 6.625
No. 157 (Round 5, Pick 19) Blake Cashman - Linebacker, Minnessota
(P: 7, S: 6, DI: 8, POS: 4, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 7, C: 10) -> Grade = 8.625
No. 196 (Round 6, Pick 24) Blessuan Austin - Cornerback, Rutgers
(P: 6, S: 2, DI: 2, POS: 5, TEP: 10, A: 10, II: 2, C: 10) -> Grade = 6.3125
>>> (NF: 3, PPE: 6, IMN: 3) -> Team Strategy Grade = 3
>>> (Average Player Value: 7.9791..., Team Strategy Grade: 3) -> Team Grade = 5.4895...
Best Pick: Quinnen Williams, Defensive Tackle
Don't get me wrong, I don't believe Quinnen Williams was the best available player. That honour belongs to Josh Allen, who would fill the Jet's biggest need more than just adequately. Anyway, Williams has the potential to become an all-time great, so this pick is a good one nonetheless.
Worst Pick: Blessuan Austin, Cornerback
Austin may have been picked in the sixth round, but his college production wouldn't even warranty him being selected in the draft with any pick. Maybe the Jets have information on the matter someone like me can't get their hands on. Whether that is true or not, I base my opinion on the information I currently possess, so I won't change anything.
My Favourite Pick: Blake Cashman, Linebacker
Sure, the Jets got lucky by stealing Jachai Polite in the start of the third round, but Cashman is an even bigger acquisition. Getting a swiss-army knife player with the potential to be a hybrid linebacker-safety in the sixth round would be a boon for any team with a defensive play-caller utilising exotic, modern packages and Gregg Williams will sure get the most out of Cashman.
The Jets' draft was a failure in the same sense the Dolphins' draft was, just not as bad. While their front seven is certainly bolstered, between their offensive line and their defensive backfield, their team has a plethora of holes that can't easily be addressed in free agency.
AFC East Draft Grade Rankings:
New England Patriots (8.78125)
Buffalo Bills (6.53125)
New York Jets (5.4895)
Miami Dolphins (4.6339)
If these draft rankings are any indication, this division will once again be dominated by the New England Patriots.