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Will Grier
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Rankings

NFL Draft Grades Using Analytics

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: May 6, 2019, 5:18 am ET

Dallas Cowboys (C)

With Amari Cooper included, I'd give the Cowboys a B+.

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

58

Trysten Hill

F

251

-0.29

Khalen Saunders

90

Connor McGovern

B+

40

0.00

Optimal Pick

128

Tony Pollard

C-

218

-0.07

Qadree Ollison

158

Michael Jackson

A-

32

0.00

Optimal Pick

165

Joe Jackson

C

207

-0.09

Sutton Smith

213

Donovan Wilson

B-

112

0.00

Optimal Pick

218

Mike Weber

B-

131

0.00

UDFA Options

241

Jalen Jelks

D+

233

-0.13

Jordan Brailford

 

Trysten Hill had very little production at Central Florida, but I’ve seen some analysts #MadOnline over Hill being unfairly benched in 2018, so this may end up being a whiff in my model, especially since he’s a great athlete. What gave Hill the F grade was the opportunity cost of passing on Khalen Saunders, who is a great athlete for his huge frame and has high-end production. … Connor McGovern was a much better pick. McGovern is a plus-athlete and he gets a bonus for Penn State’s strength of schedule. … Tony Pollard is listed as a running back, but I bet most of his value will come on special teams. That’s precisely why Pollard was given a C- because No. 138 a little early in the draft to be planning for special teams… Mike Weber doesn’t have the production that my model looks for since he was a backup at Ohio State, but he has enough speed and athleticism as a late Day 3 pick to be worth the pick.

 

Denver Broncos (A-)

With Joe Flacco included, I'd give the Broncos a D an A. 

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could’ve had..

20

Noah Fant

A

10

0.00

Optimal Pick

41

Dalton Risner

B

79

-0.01

Max Scharping

42

Drew Lock

A+

5

0.00

Optimal Pick

71

Dre'Mont Jones

D-

249

-0.29

Khalen Saunders

156

Justin Hollins

A

13

0.00

Optimal Pick

187

Juwann Winfree

D

240

-0.20

Dillon Mitchell

 

The Broncos selected my model’s top tight end prospect in Noah Fant. In fact, his early-age production and insane athleticism made Fant the highest-projected tight end in my 15-year database. … Drew Lock isn’t a great quarterback prospect, but he’s certainly a worthwhile pick in the middle of Round 2. Like I keep mentioning, drafting quarterbacks is a smart strategy regardless because of positional value, but Lock has at least some upside on top of just drafting for positional value. … Justin Hollins was a phenomenal pick. Hollins has elite athleticism -- 4.50 speed with a 36.5 vertical -- and was pretty productive for three seasons at Oregon. … Juwann Winfree was drafted ahead of a lot of decent wide receivers (Kelvin Harmon, Scott Miller, John Ursua, and Dillon Mitchell) and there’s nothing in his production profile that indicates he was a better prospect.

 

Detroit Lions (C)

With Damon Harrison included, I'd give the Lions a B.

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

8

T.J. Hockenson

D

248

-0.20

Noah Fant

43

Jahlani Tavai

B

81

-0.01

Ben Burr-Kirven

81

Will Harris

B-

102

-0.05

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

117

Austin Bryant

C

209

-0.16

Justin Hollins

146

Amani Oruwariye

A-

28

0.00

Optimal Pick

184

Travis Fulgham

C

193

-0.13

Dillon Mitchell

186

Ty Johnson

C

208

-0.07

Rodney Anderson

224

Isaac Nauta

C+

162

-0.04

Caleb Wilson

229

P.J. Johnson

B-

150

-0.02

Jordan Brailford

 

Everyone I trust believes T.J. Hockenson (93rd percentile TE prospect) has All-Pro upside along with a high floor, but my model has never viewed him like that. However, I am skeptical that my tight end model factors in blocking ability enough, so that theoretically hurts Hockenson’s projection. But even if he is a #GenerationalBlocker, what does that even mean in relation to team wins? All the analytics conclude that running the ball is worse than passing, so how valuable is tight end run-blocking? The last issue I have with the Hockenson pick is positional value. Tight end is a position that has continuously been paid poorly in the free agency market, and I think there are two primary reasons for that -- higher injury-risk and late breakouts. Hockenson is a great case of separating a prospect’s skill-set and all of the other factors that are involved with making the optimal pick, but this could be an evaluation where both parties are correct and it’s just a matter of roster construction preferences. … Jahlani Tavai was a very productive linebacker at Hawaii -- he averaged at least 5.5 solo tackles per game for three straight seasons -- but I’m skeptical that he has the athleticism to be worthy of a second-round pick. … Will Harris is a great athlete but he only has seven pass deflections in four collegiate seasons and had average tackling production. … Travis Fulgham is a plus-athlete overall, but I’m a little worried about his 4.58-second 40-time. That speed didn’t hurt his college YPR (17.8), however. What made the Fulgham pick a C was the opportunity cost of picking him over other wide receivers like Kelvin Harmon, Scott Miller, John Ursua, and Dillon Mitchell. … Ty Johnson was an okay pick since he’s really athletic, but my models liked Rodney Anderson more. … Isaac Nauta doesn’t have production or athleticism, and Caleb Wilson, who was selected after Nauta, has both.

Fun Fact: The Detroit Lions had the worst Day 2 success rate over 2004-2014.

 

Green Bay Packers (B)

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

12

Rashan Gary

A-

25

-0.03

Brian Burns

21

Darnell Savage

B-

128

0.00

Optimal Pick

44

Elgton Jenkins

B-

133

-0.04

Erik McCoy

75

Jace Sternberger

B+

38

0.00

Optimal Pick

150

Kingsley Keke

B-

158

-0.05

Daylon Mack

185

Ka'dar Hollman

C-

226

-0.16

Tim Harris

194

Dexter Williams

C+

176

-0.04

Rodney Anderson

226

Ty Summers

B-

115

0.00

Optimal Pick

 

Rashan Gary (93rd percentile EDGE prospect) was a polarizing prospect because he didn’t have high-end production at Michigan, but my models were just fine with that because of his incredible athleticism. Unlike other positions, athleticism is more important than college production for defensive linemen, so I’m fine with being higher than consensus on a freak athlete like Gary. If I was going to nitpick, my model would have drafted Brian Burns instead, but the difference between the two prospects is marginal assuming Gary’s shoulder injury won’t affect his play. … Darnell Savage was the top safety available -- he’s a plus-athlete and was around the ball all the time at Maryland -- but Savage wasn’t a top-25 overall prospect with positional value included. I think my model’s B- grade is fair. … Elgton Jenkins is a solid prospect -- 5.10 speed at 310 pounds is good -- and was a good value at No. 44, so the only nitpick I have is taking him over Erik McCoy, who my model has as a slightly better prospect. … Jace Sternberger was a really nice pick, and I think he’ll be a respectable target for Rodgers in two or three years. Sternberger is a good enough athlete to stay on the field, but it’s his craftiness that led him to 832 yards and 10 touchdowns at Texas A&M last year. Recency bias with George Kittle has made draft analysts downplay the importance of college production for tight ends, but there’s still a relationship between a tight end’s receiving yards in college and his NFL receiving production. … Dexter Williams was a solid runner at Notre Dame after he cleaned up his maturity problems, but he’s not the craziest athlete (4.57 speed) and only caught 22 passes during his college career. I think there was more upside in picking Rodney Anderson.

 

Houston Texans (C+)

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

23

Tytus Howard

B+

57

0.00

Optimal Pick

54

Lonnie Johnson Jr.

B

93

-0.06

Julian Love

55

Max Scharping

B+

36

0.00

Optimal Pick

86

Kahale Warring

C+

171

-0.06

Dawson Knox

161

Charles Omenihu

B+

61

0.00

Optimal Pick

195

Xavier Crawford

C+

163

-0.09

Tim Harris

220

Cullen Gillaspia

C+

169

0.00

UDFA Options

 

Tytus Howard is a toolsy prospect, but there’s an argument that the Texans should have drafted a more experienced tackle since it’s a pressing need. With that said, I’m bullish on Howard long-term since he nearly made the elite speed score club and has plenty of size. … Lonnie Johnson checked all of my boxes as an athlete and with his box score production, but I’m a little worried about Johnson allowing 7.0 yards per target when the rest of the top corners were in the 4.0-6.0 range. My model believes Julian Love would have been the better cornerback prospect, and he gave up 1.6 fewer yards per target than Johnson did. … Max Scharping checked boxes athletically, but it was weird to see the Texans draft another non-Power 5 lineman when they need rookie year contributors. … Kahale Warring is a fantastic athlete, but he’s a raw player with average on-field production. My model also dings Warring for San Diego State’s strength of schedule.

 

Indianapolis Colts (B+)

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

34

Rock Ya-Sin

C

198

-0.13

Joejuan Williams

49

Ben Banogu

A

14

0.00

Optimal Pick

59

Parris Campbell

C+

175

-0.14

Andy Isabella

89

Bobby Okereke

A-

31

-0.02

Ben Burr-Kirven

109

Khari Willis

B-

111

-0.06

Amani Hooker

144

Marvell Tell

B+

66

0.00

Optimal Pick

164

E.J. Speed

C-

221

-0.13

David Long Jr.

199

Gerri Green

C-

217

-0.07

Jordan Brailford

240

Jackson Barton

B-

105

0.00

UDFA Options

246

Javon Patterson

B-

124

0.00

UDFA Options

 

Rock Ya-Sin wasn’t well liked in my model -- the model likes big corners and it dinged him for Temple’s weak strength of schedule -- but his on-field production was great. In fact, Ya-Sin was among the best in yards per target allowed. The real issue with this pick is the opportunity cost, however. My model preferred Joejuan Williams, Greedy Williams, Lonnie Johnson, and Trayvon Mullen to Ya-Sin and they were all selected after No. 34 overall. … Ben Banogu is an analytics dude, so I wasn’t surprised to see this pick graded as an A. Banogu was elite in every athletic measure except for the bench press, and he had elite tackles for loss production (16.5 as a sophomore and 18 as a junior), which has been one of the most correlated on-field production stats for small edge rushers. … Parris Campbell was a good pick in a vacuum, but the selection was downgraded due to the opportunity cost of not drafting Andy Isabella. With that said, I’m bullish on Campbell in this offense and he needs to be near the top of dynasty rookie rankings. … Bobby Okereke is fast and he made a lot of solo tackles. If you only drafted linebackers on 40-yard dash time and solo tackles, you’d be way ahead of the game.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (B)

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

7

Josh Allen

B

84

-0.04

Brian Burns

35

Jawaan Taylor

B+

68

-0.02

Cody Ford

69

Josh Oliver

C-

222

-0.14

Jace Sternberger

98

Quincy Williams

D

247

-0.23

Ben Burr-Kirven

140

Ryquell Armstead

C+

161

-0.02

Qadree Ollison

178

Gardner Minshew

A

17

0.00

Optimal Pick

235

Dontavius Russell

C

206

-0.06

Chris Slayton

 

Josh Allen (93rd percentile EDGE prospect) was a no-brainer for the Jaguars. He was as productive as they get in the SEC, and he’s an exceptional athlete. There’s really nothing left to talk about here. … Jawaan Taylor is not an analytics prospect because he didn’t participate in athletic tests, and I’m nervous anytime a prospect slides because of a leg injury. For those reasons, my model liked Cody Ford instead, but the difference was marginal. … Josh Oliver was a bad pick with Jace Sternberger still on the board. Oliver is a slightly better athlete, but he wasn’t as productive as Sternberger was and Oliver did it with one of the easiest schedules in the FBS. … Quincy Williams was close to being the worst pick in the draft when we include opportunity cost. Williams, who went to Murray State, doesn’t have the athletic profile or production profile of Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven, who was selected after the No. 98 pick. … Ryquell Armstead is a pretty average athlete, but he was a productive runner at Temple. I just don’t like drafting running backs who don’t catch passes, and Armstead’s single-season career high for receiving yards is 75. The model also dings the pick because there were better running backs on the board. … Gardner Minshew was the Jaguars best pick of the draft (maybe the Josh Allen one was better) given his affordable cost. Minshew finished well in Passing EPA, completion percentage, and total production, so there’s some upside and a pretty solid floor for a backup quarterback. It also helps that he wants to be a coach, so I’m guessing he’s great in the quarterback room.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (C)

With Frank Clark included, I'd give the Chiefs a B+.

Pick

Prospect

Pick Grade

Pick Rank

AV/G Opp. Cost

Could've had...

56

Mecole Hardman

D+

236

-0.21

Andy Isabella

63

Juan Thornhill

B-

147

-0.05

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

84

Khalen Saunders

A+

3

0.00

Optimal Pick

201

Rashad Fenton

B

77

-0.02

Kris Boyd

214

Darwin Thompson

B-

109

0.00

Optimal Pick

216

Nick Allegretti

C+

174

-0.02

Javon Patterson

 

Mecole Hardman in the 2nd Round was a reach. Hardman has 4.33 wheels, but he’s a raw receiver after transitioning from position to position in college. Hardman didn’t have a single season with either 40 receptions or 600 yards, so he’ll need to take major steps forward as a receiver or he’ll need to be a Pro Bowl special teamer to make this pick worth it. If the Chiefs wanted speed as they (hopefully) transition to a Tyreek-less offense, they should have drafted Andy Isabella who is faster than Hardman and just led the FBS in receiving by over 200 yards. … Juan Thornhill was a find 2nd Round pick as he’s both athletic and productive, so my only critique is them selecting him over Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, but the difference is pretty marginal. … Khalen Saunders was the third-best pick in the draft according to my models. Saunders posted ridiculous athletic numbers for a 324-pounder, and he was very productive (3.7 solo tackles and 1.2 tackles for loss per game) at Western Illinois. It may take him some time to transition from a small school to the NFL, but my models think he is an absolute steal at No. 84 overall. There are only so many people on Earth that have the twitchiness that Saunders has at that size. … Darwin Thompson was a snag on Day 3, even if his size (5’10/198) prevents him from being anything more than a complementary back in the NFL. Thompson has plenty of athleticism, and he was one of the most efficient ball carriers in college football last year. Thompson also has experience as a receiver (23-351-2 last year), so he’s ideal for the Chiefs offense.

Fun Fact: The Kansas City Chiefs had the worst success rate on drafted defensive players over 2004-2014.