The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is just a couple weeks away, meaning the NFL draft is coming down the pike. But before completely shifting focus to the next crop of prospects entering the league, we took full stock of the rookies who just finished up Year 1.
Over the past couple weeks, NFL.com rolled out division-by-division files featuring grades for each team’s rookie class, with Gennaro Filice and Nick Shook sharing the evaluation duties. Upon completion of this series, Filice and Shook had a meeting of the minds to officially rank every group, from 1 to 32. Here’s the pecking order:
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: A
» Round 1: (No. 2 overall)
Nick Bosa, DE, 16 games/14 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 36)
Deebo Samuel, WR, 15 games/11 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 67)
Jalen Hurd, WR, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 110)
Mitch Wishnowsky, P, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 148)
Dre Greenlaw, LB, 16 games/11 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 176)
Kaden Smith, TE, 0 games/0 starts (now with Giants); (No. 183)
Justin Skule, OT, 15 games/8 starts; (No. 198)
Tim Harris, CB, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, 15 games/4 starts.
Filice: Third draft’s a charm? John Lynch’s first two ventures into the college marketplace produced mixed-bag results: While the Niners committed highway robbery in snagging
George Kittle in the fifth round (!) and also unearthed budding star
Fred Warner in Round 3, they spent a pair of 2017 first-rounders on
Solomon Thomas and
Reuben Foster (oof). But this latest draft class sings. It’s a group that played an absolutely crucial role in San Francisco’s astounding turnaround from 4-12 bottom feeder to 13-3 NFC champion. Consequently, it’s a group that played an absolutely crucial role in
Lynch’s Pro Football Writer’s Association Executive of the Year honor. Let’s start at the top, with the game-wrecking force of nature acquired at No. 2 overall. Bosa ran away with Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. And while the ageless
Richard Sherman churned out another stellar campaign and
Arik Armstead broke out in a major way, there’s a solid argument to be made that Bosa was the best player on this dominant defense. Including the playoffs, Pro Football Focus credited the defensive end with a whopping 102 pressures (second in the entire NFL, behind only
Za’Darius Smith‘s 104). And he finished the season with a bang, terrorizing Kansas City’s offense with a dozen pressures on
Super Bowl Sunday. The Niners’ second-round pick, Samuel, was similarly imposing to K.C.’s defense in the Lombardi Trophy game, gaining 92 yards on eight touches. That was the cherry on top of a delicious rookie season that saw Samuel emerge as one of the most exciting young playmakers in the league. In his notebook column last week, my colleague Bucky Brooks astutely pointed out that
Deebo’s basically a modern-day wing back. Yep, part receiver, part running back, all open-field terror. Kyle Shanahan’s gonna cook up fun things with No. 19 for years to come. Lynch didn’t just nail his top two picks, either. Greenlaw is another fifth-round steal, and not just because
he made the play to secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The linebacker filled in for the injured
Kwon Alexander so well that the Niners’ defense didn’t really skip a beat, with the rookie finishing second on the team in tackles (92). Lastly, Skule proved highly valuable as a swing tackle with the injuries to
Joe Staley and
Mike McGlinchey, while Wishnowsky handled the team’s punting duties all season.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: A-
Round 1: (No. 5 overall)
Devin White, LB, 13 games/13 starts.
Round 2: (39)
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, 16 games/10 starts.
Round 3: (94)
Jamel Dean, CB, 13 games/5 starts; (99)
Mike Edwards, S, 15 games/7 starts.
Round 4: (107)
Anthony Nelson, DE, 9 games/1 start.
Round 5: (145)
Matt Gay, K, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (208)
Scott Miller, WR, 10 games/2 starts.
Round 7: (215)
Terry Beckner Jr., DT, 0 games/0 starts.
Shook: White (91 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three passes defensed, one pick, three forced fumbles) was a stud, proving himself worthy of the No. 5 pick. Murphy-Bunting (44 tackles, three picks) also proved to be a legitimate player as a rookie, as did Dean, who finished with 17 passes defended and two interceptions in 13 games. Edwards was a valuable contributor as well, recording 45 tackles, one sack and six passes defended. Gay solved Tampa Bay’s kicking problem, showing off his strong leg on multiple occasions in making five of eight attempts from 50-plus yards. Miller caught just 13 passes but made the most of them, recording 200 yards (15.4 yards per catch) and a touchdown in 10 games. Nelson played a healthy amount of defensive snaps to go along with 111 snaps on special teams but didn’t make a significant statistical mark. Beckner was suspended for violating the league’s PED policy and eventually released.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: A-
» Round 1: (No. 7 overall)
Josh Allen, OLB, 16 games/4 starts.
» Round 2: (35)
Jawaan Taylor, OT, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 3: (69)
Josh Oliver, TE, 4 games/1 starts; (98)
Quincy Williams, LB, 11 games/8 starts.
» Round 5: (140)
Ryquell Armstead, RB, 16 games/1 starts.
» Round 6: (178)
Gardner Minshew, QB, 14 games/12 starts.
» Round 7: (235)
Dontavius Russell, DT, 3 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Matthew Orzech, LS, 16 games/0 starts;
Andrew Wingard, S, 16 games/2 starts.
Filice: Let’s start with the most interesting development in an otherwise-forgettable
Jaguars season: MINSHEW MANIA!! OK, I won’t go
completely overboard here, because let’s be honest: At least some of the allure had to do with the mustache and the headband and the distinct je ne sais quoi that tickled the average football watcher’s fancy. That said,
the Jock Strap King posted a 21:6 TD-to-INT ratio and went 6-6 as a rookie starter for a team that finished the season at 6-10. Fumbles were an issue, but overall, he clearly outplayed prized free-agent signee
Nick Foles. Pretty nice return on the 178th overall selection, no? Five rounds and 171 picks prior, the Jags had Allen fall right into their lap, and the no-brainer selection paid off in a major way, racking up 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Resident draft guru Daniel Jeremiah
ranked Allen as his No. 5 overall rookie (second on defense, behind only Nick Bosa) and offered this enticing appraisal: “He has the potential to eventually lead the league in sacks.” Taylor started every game at right tackle and developed nicely over the course of the season. And Armstead, despite limited snaps, showed flashes as a change-of-pace back, especially in the passing game.
NEW YORK GIANTS: A-
Round 1: (No. 6 overall)
Daniel Jones, QB, 13 games/12 starts; (17)
Dexter Lawrence, DT, 16 games/16 starts; (30)
Deandre Baker, CB, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 3: (95)
Oshane Ximines, DE, 16 games/2 starts.
Round 4: (108)
Julian Love, CB, 15 games/5 starts.
Round 5: (143)
Ryan Connelly, LB, 4 games/3 starts; (171)
Darius Slayton, WR, 14 games/9 starts.
Round 6: (180)
Corey Ballentine, CB, 13 games/2 starts.
Round 7: (232)
George Asafo-Adjei, OT, 0 games/0 starts; (245)
Chris Slayton, DT, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signing:
Kaden Smith, TE, 9 games/6 starts.
Giants made the most of their haul from the
Odell Beckham trade, which landed them, in part, the 17th overall pick, by selecting Lawrence, who had a solid rookie season. New York also might have found its franchise QB in Jones, answering a huge question for the team’s foundation. Baker had a tough start but finished strong and stands to make a significant improvement in Year 2. Ximines was effective in his first season despite making just two starts, recording 4.5 sacks. Love is an exciting young player for the back end of New York’s defense.
Darius Slayton was an excellent find in the fifth round. Ballentine struggled with a position change to the slot, but he could improve with more time.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: A-
Round 1: (No. 15 overall)
Dwayne Haskins, QB, 9 games/7 starts; (26)
Montez Sweat, DE, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 3: (76)
Terry McLaurin, WR, 14 games/14 starts.
Round 4: (112)
Bryce Love, RB, 0 games/0 starts; (131)
Wes Martin, OG, 9 games/5 starts.
Round 5: (153)
Ross Pierschbacher, OG, 5 games/0 starts; (173)
Cole Holcomb, LB, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 6: (206)
Kelvin Harmon, WR, 16 games/8 starts.
Round 7: (227)
Jimmy Moreland, CB, 14 games/5 starts; (253)
Jordan Brailford, DE, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Hale Hentges, TE, 11 games/4 starts;
Steven Sims, WR, 16 games/2 starts.
Shook: Haskins might be the
Redskins‘ quarterback of the future, which earns plenty of points for this class. McLaurin was an excellent find in the third round and stands to make plays for years to come. Sweat recorded seven sacks and 50 tackles but can still improve to fulfill his first-round status. Martin needs to show he can hack it on the interior, as does Pierschbacher. Holcomb was excellent after he was thrust into an unexpected position following
Reuben Foster‘s injury. Harmon was a nice find but will have to prove he can do more than just step up as a healthy body in Washington’s depleted receiving corps. Moreland was a good depth addition and saw plenty of time in the defensive backfield as a rookie.
TENNESSEE TITANS: A-
» Round 1: (No. 19 overall)
Jeffery Simmons, DT, 9 games/7 starts.
» Round 2: (51)
A.J. Brown, WR, 16 games/11 starts.
» Round 3: (82)
Nate Davis, OG, 13 games/12 starts.
» Round 4: (116)
Amani Hooker, S, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (168)
D’Andre Walker, OLB, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (188)
David Long, LB, 14 games/0 starts.
Filice: Successful drafting, quite frankly, typically comes down to crushing your first few picks. Sure, found money on Day 3 is nice, but the core of most rosters is built through premium selections. And on that front,
Titans GM Jon Robinson just knocked it out of the park. Viewed as one of the most talented players in this entire class at the outset of 2019, Simmons tore his ACL in February and consequently tumbled into the second half of the first round. The
Titans pounced, despite not knowing what kind of production — if any — they’d get out of the disruptive DT. Amazingly, Simmons took the field in Week 7 and recorded a sack in his NFL debut. His production varied the rest of the way, but he showed plenty of game-wrecking potential. Then in Round 2, Tennessee might’ve landed the best pure playmaker in the entire draft. An absolute terror after the catch, Brown especially flourished once
Ryan Tannehill took over under center, finishing with a 1,000-yard rookie campaign on just 52 catches, averaging a whopping 20.2 yards per reception with eight catches of 40-plus yards. This was no fluke. Fast, physical and a crisp route runner, Brown gives the
Titans their first true WR1 since … Derrick Mason? Lastly, Davis had a rough start to the season after missing a big chunk of training camp due to injury, but he showed promise down the stretch.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: A-
Round 1: (No. 4 overall)
Clelin Ferrell, DE, 15 games/15 starts; (24)
Josh Jacobs, RB, 13 games/13 starts; (27)
Johnathan Abram, S, 1 game/1 start.
Round 2: (40)
Trayvon Mullen, CB, 16 games/10 starts.
Round 4: (106)
Maxx Crosby, DE, 16 games/10 starts; (129)
Isaiah Johnson, CB, 5 games/0 starts; (137)
Foster Moreau, TE, 13 games/7 starts.
Round 5: (149)
Hunter Renfrow, WR, 13 games/4 starts.
Round 7: (230)
Quinton Bell, DE, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
A.J. Cole, P, 16 games;
Keelan Doss, WR, 8 games/2 starts;
Alec Ingold, RB, 16 games/4 starts;
Andre James, OT, 12 games/1 start.
Shook: Ferrell showed promise as a rookie, recording 4.5 sacks, but he needs to be more consistent in rushing the passer. Analysis on Abram is incomplete, as he played only one game due to
a shoulder injury. Jacobs, however, was an excellent addition, breaking 1,100 yards as a rookie and providing the
Raiders with a much-needed bellcow in the backfield. Mullen was a solid corner as a rookie, excelling in run support while also recording one interception. Crosby was even better, recording 10 sacks opposite Ferrell. Moreau served as a complementary but scarcely targeted option opposite breakout tight end
Darren Waller. Renfrow made the transition by doing what he did at Clemson: maximizing his talents. The receiver ran sharp routes and found soft spots in the defense on his way to breaking 600 yards receiving and catching four touchdowns as a rookie. Johnson didn’t see action until later in the season, primarily playing special teams. Bell ended up on Tampa Bay’s practice squad. Considering how much help the young
Raiders received from a number of picks in this class, they earn the division’s best grade, even without the contributions of Abram.
ARIZONA CARDINALS: A-
» Round 1: (No. 1 overall)
Kyler Murray, QB, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 33)
Byron Murphy, CB, 16 games/16 starts; (No. 62)
Andy Isabella, WR, 15 games/1 start.
» Round 3: (No. 65)
Zach Allen, DE, 4 games/1 start.
» Round 4: (No. 103)
Hakeem Butler, WR, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 139)
Deionte Thompson, S, 11 games/2 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 174)
KeeSean Johnson, WR, 10 games/4 starts; (No. 179)
Lamont Gaillard, C, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 248)
Joshua Miles, OT, 7 games/0 starts; (No. 249)
Michael Dogbe, DT, 8 games/0 starts; (No. 254)
Caleb Wilson, TE, 0 games/0 starts.
Supplemental draft: (Round 5)
Jalen Thompson, S, 15 games/9 starts.
Filice: In his first six drafts as
Cardinals GM, Steve Keim largely whiffed on a pretty crucial area of talent accumulation: the first round. Here are Arizona’s Round 1 selections from 2013 through ’18:
Jonathan Cooper (No. 7 overall pick),
Deone Bucannon (27),
D.J. Humphries (24),
Robert Nkemdiche (29),
Haason Reddick (13),
Josh Rosen (10). And then Keim raised a lot of eyebrows last April when he selected a quarterback in the top 10 for the second consecutive draft. But Murray proved Keim right by becoming the first No. 1 overall pick to earn Offensive or Defensive Rookie of the Year honors since
Cam Newton in 2011. In a related story, Murray also followed in Newton’s footsteps by becoming the second rookie quarterback — and just the sixth QB of any experience level — to post a 3,500/500 NFL season in passing/rushing yards. With the dual-threat playmaker running Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense, Arizona jumped from dead last in Football Outsiders’ Offensive DVOA metric in 2018
all the way up to 13th. (In fact, the Cards finished this past season ranked No. 7 in
weighted DVOA, which provides a more accurate assessment of how efficiently an offense is running in the moment, as opposed to over the course of the entire season.) Although they took an unconventional route to get here, the Cards now have a 22-year-old franchise quarterback to build around — and that alone makes this a highly successful draft class. Though it would have been nice if one of the three receivers Arizona selected had been able to provide a modicum of production. Isabella, a polarizing second-round pick, had
an 88-yard touchdown and
a 55-yard catch-and-run in back-to-back weeks — unfortunately, those were basically the only two plays he made all season. On defense, Murphy was thrown right into the deep end of the pool, starting all 16 games, and he struggled to keep his head above water. Meanwhile, Thompson provided encouraging Year 1 returns for a fifth-round supplemental draft pick.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: B+
Round 2: (No. 48 overall)
Erik McCoy, C, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 4: (105)
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, 16 games/7 starts.
Round 6: (177)
Saquan Hampton, S, 5 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (231)
Alize Mack, TE, 0 games/0 starts; (244)
Kaden Elliss, LB, 3 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Carl Granderson, DE, 8 games/0 starts;
Deonte Harris, WR, 14 games/1 start;
Shy Tuttle, DT, 16 games/1 start.
Saints nailed their selection of McCoy, who started all 16 games and became a reliable blocker at center. Gardner-Johnson had a very solid season, too, recording 49 tackles, eight passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble. Tuttle found success in spots, recording
a memorable interception, and he could grow to become a solid player. Hampton and Elliss ended up on injured reserve, cutting their brief seasons short. Mack was cut from the practice squad. New Orleans deserves a lot of credit for finding its center of the future in McCoy and a player with a ton of potential in Gardner-Johnson, as well as
Pro Bowl returner Harris, but the entirety of this class isn’t deserving of the highest grades.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: B+
Round 1: (No. 10 overall)
Devin Bush, LB, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 3: (66)
Diontae Johnson, WR, 16 games/12 starts; (83)
Justin Layne, CB, 10 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (122)
Benny Snell Jr., RB, 13 games/2 starts.
Round 5: (141)
Zach Gentry, TE, 4 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (175)
Sutton Smith, OLB, 0 games/0 starts (now with Seahawks); (192)
Isaiah Buggs, DT, 9 games/0 starts; (207)
Ulysees Gilbert III, LB, 7 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (219)
Derwin Gray, OT, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Devlin Hodges, QB, 8 games/6 starts.
Steelers‘ trade up to select Bush was worth it, proven by his fine rookie play. Bush recorded 109 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He’s a stud. A+ for that. The third round provided some value to Pittsburgh in the form of Johnson, who saw additional playing time due to
JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s injury issues and caught 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes a bigger leap in his second season with
Ben Roethlisberger back under center. Layne projected to perhaps answer the
Steelers‘ long-running question at cornerback, but he didn’t play a defensive snap in 2019, spending his entire time on special teams. Snell, however, flirted with a 4-yards-per-carry average on his 108 attempts, gaining 426 yards and making two trips to the end zone. He’s a worthy backup to
James Conner. Gentry saw very little action and caught only one pass in 2019. Smith is now with the
Seahawks. Buggs made an occasional rotational contribution, and Gilbert spent his season on special teams. Gray spent 2019 on the practice squad and was signed to a futures contract. The undrafted Hodges initially arose from afterthought who’d beaten out
Joshua Dobbs for a roster spot to the symbol of hope for Pittsburgh, though his struggles down the stretch contributed to the
Steelers missing the playoffs for a second straight season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: B+
» Round 1: (No. 12 overall)
Rashan Gary, DE, 16 games/0 starts; (No. 21)
Darnell Savage, S, 14 games/14 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 44)
Elgton Jenkins, C/OG, 16 games/14 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 75)
Jace Sternberger, TE, 6 games/1 start.
» Round 5: (No. 150)
Kingsley Keke, DE, 14 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 185)
Ka’Dar Hollman, CB, 4 games/0 starts; (No. 194)
Dexter Williams, RB, 4 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 226)
Ty Summers, LB, 16 games/0 starts.
Filice: Green Bay had three picks in the top 50, and
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst absolutely nailed two of them.
Sing it, Meat Loaf! For real, though: In the thoroughly researched crapshoot that is the NFL draft, two out of three ain’t bad at all. Every franchise would kill for a 66.7 percent hit rate on premium selections. So let’s start with the good. Draftniks didn’t anticipate Savage being the first defensive back taken, but
Packers brass clearly had the right plan in mind. Green Bay slotted the rangy playmaker alongside free-agent acquisition/box enforcer
Adrian Amos, instantly giving the Pack one of the stronger safety tandems in the NFL. Savage flies around the field in a blur,
closing passing lanes and
clobbering ball-carriers. If there’s one thing the instinctive center fielder can work on, it’s learning to throttle down at times and make the sure tackle, but he’s a dynamic presence in the back end. Jenkins, meanwhile, showed extraordinary polish for a first-year starter at left guard. It’s hard to find flaws in his game: He didn’t allow a single sack and improved as a run blocker throughout the season. Savage and Jenkins each earned a spot on
the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. Here’s the rub, though: Green Bay’s first selection — the highest draft pick this franchise made the entire decade — was one of the least productive players in the entire first round. To be fair, Gary was always viewed as a raw athlete who’d take time to develop under NFL coaching. And with the free-agent additions of
Za’Darius Smith and
Preston Smith preceding his arrival, a rotational role was indeed expected in Year 1. That said, you’d like to get more than 16 total pressures from an edge rusher taken 12th overall.
DENVER BRONCOS: B+
Round 1: (No. 20 overall)
Noah Fant, TE, 16 games/11 starts.
Round 2: (41)
Dalton Risner, OG, 16 games/16 starts; (42)
Drew Lock, QB, 5 games/5 starts.
Round 3: (71)
Dre’Mont Jones, DT, 14 games/1 start.
Round 5: (156)
Justin Hollins, LB, 15 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (187)
Juwann Winfree, WR, 3 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Andrew Beck, FB, 16 games/6 starts;
Malik Reed, LB, 15 games/8 starts.
Broncos have to be happy with the product of their last two drafts. In 2019, they might have found their franchise quarterback in Lock after a handful of swings and misses. Fant steadily improved, posting two games of 110-plus yards in the
Broncos‘ final eight contests. Risner was a starting-caliber guard as a rookie, finishing 29th among NFL guards in pass-blocking grade, per Pro Football Focus. Jones needs to improve in the run game but found success rushing the passer, finishing with 3.5 sacks. Hollins saw increased playing time later in the season, recording 21 tackles and one sack. Winfree spent most of his time on special teams.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: B+
Round 2: (No. 56 overall)
Mecole Hardman, WR, 16 games/5 starts; (63)
Juan Thornhill, S, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 3: (84)
Khalen Saunders, DT, 12 games/4 starts.
Round 6: (201)
Rashad Fenton, CB, 12 games/0 starts; (214)
Darwin Thompson, RB, 12 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (216)
Nick Allegretti, OG, 7 games/0 starts.
Chiefs sent a first-round pick to Seattle for
Frank Clark, then followed that up by nailing their two second-round picks in Hardman and Thornhill. The latter’s success came as somewhat of a surprise; Thornhill created an excellent tandem with
Tyrann Mathieu in the back end of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense before tearing his ACL in Week 17. Saunders was able to make a rotational contribution, recording 22 tackles and one sack in his 12 games played. Fenton worked his way onto the field in both special teams and defensive roles, while Thompson received a handful of carries and contributed on special teams. Nearly all of Allegretti’s 49 snaps played came on special teams. When counting the first-round pick traded for Clark, who finished with 13 sacks, including five in the playoffs (one of which helped secure the win in
Super Bowl LIV), the
Chiefs did very well at the top of this draft.
BUFFALO BILLS: B
Round 1: (No. 9 overall)
Ed Oliver, DT, 16 games/7 starts.
Round 2: (38)
Cody Ford, OT, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 3: (74)
Devin Singletary, RB, 12 games/8 starts; (96)
Dawson Knox, TE, 15 games/11 starts.
Round 5: (147)
Vosean Joseph, LB, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (181)
Jaquan Johnson, S, 13 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (225)
Darryl Johnson, DE, 16 games/0 starts; (228)
Tommy Sweeney, TE, 6 games/1 start.
Filice: Falling into the
Bills‘ lap at No. 9 overall, Oliver was widely regarded on draft night as the steal of the first round. And in
the season-opening win over the Jets, he provided the type of interior disruption that validated the hype, recording five pressures and a QB hit. But he struggled over the next couple months and lost his starting job at midseason. To his credit, Oliver offered his most consistent play as a rotational piece in the second half of the season — racking up four sacks during one three-game stretch — and it’s not hard to imagine a breakthrough Year 2. Thus far, Singletary has actually proven to be the biggest steal of Buffalo’s rookie class. After dealing with a hamstring injury in September and splitting carries with the ageless
Frank Gore in the first half of the season, the elusive rookie really came on down the stretch, eclipsing 600 yards rushing in his final eight regular-season games. Ford started 15 games, spending the vast majority of his time at right tackle, but the results were underwhelming, rekindling the question that plagued him prior to the 2019 draft: Would he be better served playing guard? Knox wasn’t the steadiest producer over the course of the season — which is nothing to be alarmed about, as tight end is one of the NFL’s slowest-developing positions — but he flashed enticing playmaking ability, most notably on
a beastly 49-yard catch-and-run against the Bengals at a key point in the Week 3 win.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: B
» Round 2: (No. 34 overall)
Rock Ya-Sin, CB, 15 games/13 starts; (49)
Ben Banogu, DE, 16 games/0 starts; (59)
Parris Campbell, WR, 7 games/3 starts.
» Round 3: (89)
Bobby Okereke, LB, 16 games/8 starts.
» Round 4: (109)
Khari Willis, S, 14 games/9 starts.
» Round 5: (144)
Marvell Tell, S, 13 games/1 starts; (164)
E.J. Speed, LB, 12 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (199)
Gerri Green, edge, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (240)
Jackson Barton, OT, 0 games/0 starts (now with Chiefs); (246)
Javon Patterson, C, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Chase McLaughlin, K, 4 games/0 starts (plus 7 games with 49ers/Chargers).
Filice: One year after assembling the top rookie class in the entire league — according to many, including
my fine NFL.com ranking brethren —
Colts GM Chris Ballard’s selections were more hit-or-miss. On the plus side, Okereke looks like a third-round steal. Joining a stout linebacker corps that already included
Darius Leonard and
Anthony Walker, the rookie only received a half portion of snaps, but the dynamic athlete made the most of them, particularly with his excellent work in pass defense. Given the vastly increased coverage demands of modern linebacking, don’t be surprised if Okereke takes a greater share of Walker’s snaps going forward. Leonard and Okereke could become a dominant second-level duo in today’s pass-happy game. This rookie class also upgraded the third level of Indy’s D, with Ya-Sin and Willis each assuming prominent roles in Year 1. Ya-Sin was touted as a highly competitive and physical corner coming out of Temple, and that’s exactly what he was — sometimes to a fault, as evidenced by a few flag-flooded games. But he improved over the course of the season, and the outlook’s bright entering 2020. Meanwhile, the only thing that limited Willis’ highly encouraging rookie season was a spate of injuries. As an enforcer safety, he nicely complements ballhawking center fielder
Malik Hooker. And one more positive development: McLaughlin could be the successor to
Adam Vinatieri. On the downside, it appears Indianapolis chose the wrong Buckeye burner at No. 59 overall. Yeah, Campbell deserves the opportunity to kick the injury bug and show what he can do going forward, but his former Ohio State teammate,
Terry McLaurin, immediately displayed WR1 stuff despite playing in an impotent
Redskins offense. Banogu had a chance to make an impact after
Kemoko Turay suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5, but the TCU product couldn’t supply the consistent edge pressure Indy desperately needed.
» Round 2: (No. 61 overall)
Taylor Rapp, S, 15 games/10 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 70)
Darrell Henderson, RB, 13 games/0 starts; (No. 79)
David Long, CB, 8 games/0 starts; (No. 97)
Bobby Evans, OL, 9 games/7 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 134)
Greg Gaines, DT, 10 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 169)
David Edwards, OG, 16 games/10 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 243)
Nick Scott, S, 16 games/0 starts; (No. 251)
Dakota Allen, LB, 0 games/0 starts (now with Jaguars).
Notable rookie FA signings:
Troy Reeder, LB, 16 games/8 starts.
Filice: Despite not making a first-round pick for the third straight year — the
Rams don’t currently hold a Round 1 chip until the 2022 draft, by the way — Les Snead did a pretty nice job adding talent in multiple areas. Rapp is the belle of this ball, logging 100 tackles, eight passes defensed and two interceptions (including
a pick-six of Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray). The sure-tackling safety filled in quite admirably for the injured
John Johnson, whom he’s set to start alongside in 2020 following the retirement of
Eric Weddle, but he still has room for improvement in coverage. (Remember
the third-and-16 coverage bust on Emmanuel Sanders that essentially lost the Week 16 game in San Francisco?) Rapp wasn’t the only rookie pressed into starting duties by injury. When right tackle
Rob Havenstein busted up his knee in Week 10, Evans took the torch. The rookie certainly experienced some struggles, but he allowed only one sack and didn’t commit a single penalty. Edwards was a heck of a find in the fifth round. The college tackle showed great versatility by capably manning both guard spots for an injury-riddled O-line. On the disappointing side, neither of L.A.’s two third-round picks, Henderson and Long, offered much of anything in Year 1. Henderson, though, could have a much bigger role with the
Rams in 2020, especially if
Todd Gurley is legitimately compromised or even sent packing.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: B
Round 2: (No. 46 overall)
Greedy Williams, CB, 12 games/12 starts.
Round 3: (80)
Sione Takitaki, LB, 15 games/1 start.
Round 4: (119)
Sheldrick Redwine, S, 12 games/5 starts.
Round 5: (155)
Mack Wilson, LB, 16 games/14 starts; (170)
Austin Seibert, K, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (189)
Drew Forbes, OL, 2 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (221)
Donnie Lewis Jr., CB, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Stephen Carlson, TE, 9 games/5 starts;
Jamie Gillan, P, 16 games/0 starts.
Browns landed a first-round talent in the second round when they snagged Williams, whose biggest knock ahead of the draft was his seeming apprehension toward tackling. That wasn’t much of an issue as a rookie (one missed tackle in coverage in 2019, per Pro Football Focus), though his hamstring was, causing him to miss four games. Cleveland greased the skids for Williams to start, and he proved worthy of the job opposite
Denzel Ward. As for the second defensive back selected, Redwine found himself buried behind four other safeties, but injuries and
a midseason release of Jermaine Whitehead opened the door for the rookie to get valuable playing time. He was beaten at times, but did show incremental improvement. Redwine is an instinct-reliant player, and he’ll take time to learn about proper positioning. The
Browns landed a legitimate starter in Wilson, who was forced into such a role after an early season-ending injury to
Christian Kirksey, and while he needs to work on his coverage skills, Wilson looks to be a steal. Takitaki didn’t get as much burn, but plays with passion and speed above all else and could replace
Joe Schobert if he isn’t retained. Forbes shifted from tackle to guard and made strides on the practice field, but spent most of the season on IR. The
Browns finally found their kicker in Seibert, though he needs to become more consistent on PATs. Lewis was a cutdown-day casualty, but spent most of the season on Cleveland’s practice squad. Lastly, the undrafted Gillan has a cannon for a leg and boomed some absurdly long punts, but is still working on developing his entire bag of clubs, as special teams coaches like to say. The
Browns‘ retention of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer should go a long way toward accelerating Gillan’s development as a well-rounded punter — and his rugby background helps him with tackling, if needed, too.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: B
Round 1: (No. 22 overall)
Andre Dillard, OT, 16 games/4 starts.
Round 2: (53)
Miles Sanders, RB, 16 games/11 starts; (57)
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, 16 games/5 starts.
Round 4: (138)
Shareef Miller, DE, 1 game/0 starts.
Round 5: (167)
Clayton Thorson, QB, 0 games/0 starts (spent season on
Cowboys‘ practice squad).
Notable rookie FA signings:
Marcus Epps, S, 7 games/0 starts (8 games/0 starts with
Vikings before being acquired by Eagles);
Anthony Rush, NT, 9 games/0 starts.
Shook: Dillard couldn’t hack it as a replacement starter at either tackle position, but he still has natural talent that is worth working on. Sanders, who led all rookies with 1,327 scrimmage yards in 2019, was a revelation and a slam-dunk pick for the
Eagles. Arcega-Whiteside found success in a barren receiving corps but wasn’t anywhere near marvelous. Thorson ended up elsewhere in the NFC East, landing with the
Cowboys. Miller played a total of two snaps in 2019. The
Eagles earn a B for the quality of Sanders and potential of Dillard, despite not having a ton of picks to work with.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: B
Round 1: (No. 25 overall)
Marquise Brown, WR, 14 games/11 starts.
Round 3: (85)
Jaylon Ferguson, edge, 14 games/9 starts; (93)
Miles Boykin, WR, 16 games/11 starts.
Round 4: (113)
Justice Hill, RB, 16 games/0 starts; (123)
Ben Powers, OG, 1 game/0 starts; (127)
Iman Marshall, CB, 3 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (160)
Daylon Mack, DT, 1 game/0 starts.
Round 6: (197)
Trace McSorley, QB, 1 game/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Patrick Mekari, OG, 11 games/5 starts.
Shook: Brown didn’t end up being
the best receiver drafted with the last name Brown in 2019, but he was still a healthy contributor to the
Ravens‘ offensive efforts. Ferguson didn’t replicate the efforts that earned him the “Sack Daddy” nickname at Louisiana Tech, however he was able to carve out a role for himself, starting nine games for Baltimore. Boykin and Hill each played rotational roles, and Hill remains as a speedy option in the
Ravens‘ backfield to spell
Mark Ingram and
Gus Edwards. Powers, Marshall and Mack didn’t get many chances to contribute due to their lack of games played. McSorley could help another team as a dual-threat option, perhaps even filling a Taysom Hill-like role elsewhere, but he’s buried on the depth chart behind
Lamar Jackson and
Robert Griffin III.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: B-
» Round 1: (No. 18 overall)
Garrett Bradbury, C, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 50)
Irv Smith Jr., TE, 16 games/7 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 102)
Alexander Mattison, RB, 13 games/0 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 114)
Dru Samia, OG, 2 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 162)
Cameron Smith, LB, 5 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 190)
Armon Watts, DT, 7 games/1 start; (No. 191)
Marcus Epps, S, 8 games/0 starts (now with Eagles); (No. 193)
Oli Udoh, OT, 1 game/0 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 217)
Kris Boyd, CB, 16 games/0 starts; (No. 239)
Dillon Mitchell, WR, 0 games/0 starts; (No. 247)
Bisi Johnson, WR, 16 games/6 starts; (No. 250)
Austin Cutting, LS, 16 games/0 starts.
Filice: Former third-round pick
Pat Elflein struggled in his first two years at the pivot, so GM Rick Spielman used the No. 18 overall pick on an athletic center who appeared born to play in Minnesota’s zone-blocking scheme — and at times, Bradbury
was, adeptly blowing open running lanes for
Dalvin Cook and the
Vikings‘ sixth-ranked ground game. But he struggled mightily at times as a pass blocker and was too inconsistent overall. Minnesota has to hope for the kind of Year 2 improvement the division-rival
Lions just got from a first-round interior O-lineman of their own,
Frank Ragnow. The next two picks were on the mark, though, as Smith and Mattison both excelled in complementary roles. With
Kyle Rudolph providing his typically solid play as a traditional in-line tight end, Smith (36 catches, 311 yards, 2 TDs) gave the Vikes some juice at the position as a versatile athlete who lined up all over the place. As for all those draftniks who immediately labeled Minnesota’s third-round selection of Mattison a reach? Yeah, that was hogwash. He proved to be a fine running mate for Cook, and not just because the two backs posted nearly identical yards-per-carry figures (4.5 for Cook, 4.6 for Mattison) and sport matching dreadlocks. Mattison packs a ton of power into his 5-11, 220-pound frame, but he also displayed the kind of burst through the hole and soft hands in the passing game that make Cook such a terror in this offense. Lastly, Johnson was a seventh-round steal. Despite being one of the last 10 players selected in the entire draft, Bisi leapfrogged former first-round pick/bust
Laquon Treadwell for the WR3 spot in Minnesota.
HOUSTON TEXANS: B-
» Round 1: (No. 23 overall)
Tytus Howard, OT, 8 games/8 starts.
» Round 2: (54)
Lonnie Johnson, CB, 14 games/7 starts; (55)
Max Scharping, OT, 16 games/14 starts.
» Round 3: (86)
Kahale Warring, TE, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (161)
Charles Omenihu, DE, 14 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (195)
Xavier Crawford, CB, 5 games/0 starts (now with Bears).
» Round 7: (220)
Cullen Gillaspia, FB, 16 games/0 starts.
Deshaun Watson took a league-high 62 sacks in 2018, Houston clearly needed to upgrade its offensive line, and the
Texans did just that with two of their first three picks. Widely panned as a desperate reach provoked by Philadelphia leapfrogging Houston on draft night to select more highly pedigreed OT
Andre Dillard, Howard acquitted himself quite well, making
the Professional Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Injuries limited the Alabama State product to just eight games, but his continual development makes it appear that Houston has a true complementary bookend across from
Laremy Tunsil. Scharping took some knocks early on — no surprise for a rookie who moved to left guard after spending the bulk of his Northern Illinois career at tackle — but he ended up starting 14 games and significantly contributed to
Carlos Hyde‘s 1,000-yard campaign and Watson’s improved protection. And the hulking 6-foot-6, 326-pounder finished the season on a high note, as Pro Football Focus gave him
the highest pass-blocking grade of any offensive lineman for the Divisional Round. Johnson remains intriguing, given his ideal length and athleticism, but Year 1 featured some definite growing pains. Granted, he was put in some difficult positions, like drawing the
Travis Kelce assignment in a playoff game. That didn’t go well, but Johnson’s certainly not the first cover man Kelce has overwhelmed.
ATLANTA FALCONS: B-
Round 1: (No. 14 overall)
Chris Lindstrom, OG, 5 games/5 starts; (31)
Kaleb McGary, OT, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 4: (111)
Kendall Sheffield, CB, 16 games/11 starts; (135)
John Cominsky, DE, 10 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (152)
Qadree Ollison, RB, 8 games/0 starts; (172)
Jordan Miller, CB, 10 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (203)
Marcus Green, WR, 0 games/0 starts (signed to
Eagles‘ practice squad in September).
Shook: McGary was available all season, but he finished 90th in pass blocking and 74th in run blocking, per Pro Football Focus. Lindstrom was lost for much of the season due to injury, leaving his evaluation incomplete. Sheffield earned a sub-50 grade in pass coverage from PFF, but he was statistically effective, recording 46 tackles, three passes defended and one forced fumble in 16 games. Cominsky was effective per PFF, finishing 23rd in overall defensive grade among edge rushers despite not racking up a ton of traditional stats. Ollison didn’t make much of an impact, while Miller spent the majority of his season on special teams, playing 89 of 114 snaps with the third phase of the game,
then was hit with a PED suspension that began in Week 17 and will carry through the first three games of 2020. Green ended up on Philadelphia’s practice squad.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: B-
Round 1: (No. 13 overall)
Christian Wilkins, DE, 16 games/14 starts.
Round 3: (78)
Michael Deiter, OG, 16 games/15 starts.
Round 5: (151)
Andrew Van Ginkel, OLB, 6 games/1 starts.
Round 6: (202)
Isaiah Prince, OT, 4 games/2 starts (finished season on Bengals).
Round 7: (233)
Chandler Cox, FB, 13 games/3 starts; (234)
Myles Gaskin, RB, 7 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Nate Brooks, CB, 3 games/2 starts;
Shaq Calhoun, OG, 10 games/ 7 starts;
Nik Needham, CB, 12 games/11 starts;
Preston Williams, WR, 8 games/7 starts.
Dolphins‘ first two selections produced a pair of Year 1 starters, but they experienced varying degrees of success. Wilkins’ most impressive trait might be his unrelenting motor, which allowed him to rack up an impressive 56 tackles despite lining up primarily on the defensive interior. He also flashed athleticism, versatility, infectious energy and
a unique approach to trash talking (
“I’m not scared of you!”), but he didn’t routinely disrupt opposing quarterbacks, which is the name of the game in 2020. (He did, however, boost the
Dolphins‘ aerial attack with
a one-handed touchdown grab in December.) Deiter led Miami’s offense in snaps and probably has the most upside of any
Dolphins O-lineman — a low bar, to be certain — but he was benched in favor of an undrafted rookie in December. GM Chris Grier’s most impressive work might have actually come after the draft concluded, when he unearthed an undrafted gem on each side of the ball. Williams tied for the most catches among rookies (32) before suffering a torn ACL in Week 9. The 6-foot-5, 218-pounder put together quite a highlight reel in half a season. Meanwhile, Needham was pulled up from the practice squad in Week 6 and immediately tossed into the starting-lineup fire. He survived! And, at times, thrived, finishing the season with a team-high 11 pass breakups and two picks.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: C+
» Round 1: (No. 29 overall)
L.J. Collier, DE, 11 games/0 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 47)
Marquise Blair, S, 14 games/3 starts; (No. 64)
DK Metcalf, WR, 16 games/15 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 88)
Cody Barton, LB, 16 games/2 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 120)
Gary Jennings, WR, 0 games/0 starts (now with Dolphins); (No. 124)
Phil Haynes, OG, 0 games/0 starts; (No. 132)
Ugo Amadi, CB, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 142)
Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 204)
Travis Homer, RB, 16 games/1 start; (No. 209)
Demarcus Christmas, DT, 0 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 236)
John Ursua, WR, 3 games/0 starts.
Filice: At the outset of draft week last April, Seattle owned just four picks. But following a Tuesday trade of
Frank Clark and a weekend full of wheelin’ and dealin’, the
Seahawks wound up making 11 selections.
Go, John Schneider, go! Unfortunately, only one of those picks made steady contributions in Year 1.
Whoa, John Schneider, whoa. Alas, that one pick ended up being one of the biggest steals in the draft.
Hmm, John Schneider, I dunno … Yes, this grader’s SO conflicted about how to evaluate Seattle’s rookie class that the internal monologue’s butting in on this paragraph. On the one hand, the
Seahawks worked the draft in an inspired manner, taking as many bites out of the apple as possible, and ended up landing a stud outside receiver with the last pick of the second round. On the other hand, over the course of the entire 18-game season (playoffs included), the remaining 10 picks logged a grand total of 959 snaps
combined. Do I reward the team for wisely stopping Metcalf’s draft slide? I mean, he gave Seattle’s offense an entirely different dimension, logging 900 receiving yards in the regular season and then breaking the rookie playoff record with 160 yards in his victorious postseason debut. Or do I punish the ‘Hawks for the first-round pick’s first-year flop? On a defense that desperately needed more pass rush off the edges, Collier contributed exactly one QB pressure on the season. I guess I’ll settle at a C+ — Mr. and Mrs. Schneider aren’t happy, but John’s probably looking at dish duty over an extensive grounding.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: C+
Round 1: (No. 16 overall)
Brian Burns, DE, 16 games/5 starts.
Round 2: (37)
Greg Little, OT, 4 games/3 starts.
Round 3: (100)
Will Grier, QB, 2 games/2 starts.
Round 4: (115)
Christian Miller, LB, 7 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (154)
Jordan Scarlett, RB, 9 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (212)
Dennis Daley, OT, 14 games/9 starts.
Round 7: (237)
Terry Godwin, WR, 0 games/0 starts (signed to
Jaguars‘ practice squad in September).
Notable rookie FA signings:
Joey Slye, K, 16 games/0 starts.
Shook: Burns finished 80th in overall defensive grade among edge rushers per PFF, doing better in the pass rush (his forte) than in run defense, and he recorded 7.5 sacks in 16 games. Daley played most of the season, mostly out of necessity, finding more success in the run game than in the pass, per PFF grades. Little wasn’t the stout tackle Carolina hoped he’d be as a rookie, earning sub-60 grades in both pass and run blocking before landing on injured reserve in mid-December. Grier was simply not good in his two games, posting a passer rating of 33.2. Miller played less than half the season, recording just three tackles in his little time spent on the field. Scarlett primarily played special teams, spending 113 of his 121 snaps there. Godwin ended up on Jacksonville’s practice squad. Slye made just 78.1 percent of his field-goal attempts, but he also attempted and made more kicks from 50-plus yards out than anyone else (8 for 11) in 2019, with his conversion rate at that distance (72.7) standing as the second best in the NFL among those with more than four such tries.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: C+
Round 1: (No. 28 overall)
Jerry Tillery, DT, 15 games/3 starts.
Round 2: (60)
Nasir Adderley, S, 4 games/0 starts.
Round 3: (91)
Trey Pipkins, OT, 13 games/3 starts.
Round 4: (130)
Drue Tranquill, LB, 15 games/3 start.
Round 5: (166)
Easton Stick, QB, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (200)
Emeke Egbule, LB, 15 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (242)
Cortez Broughton, DT, 2 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signing:
Roderic Teamer, DB, 7 games/6 starts.
Shook: Tillery wasn’t a home-run pick, but he was a solid contributor and just about matched his value as the 28th overall pick as a rookie, finishing with two sacks. Adderley’s rookie season became a redshirt year of sorts after he landed on IR just four games into the season. Pipkins struggled with edge rushers in his three starts but provides depth at tackle for the
Chargers. Tranquill saw plenty of playing time and was solid against the run. Stick didn’t appear in a game while entrenched behind
Philip Rivers and veteran backup
Tyrod Taylor. Egbule spent the majority of his first season on special teams. Broughton played just 25 snaps in 2019.
CHICAGO BEARS: C+
» Round 3: (No. 73 overall)
David Montgomery, RB, 16 games/8 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 126)
Riley Ridley, WR, 5 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 205)
Duke Shelley, CB, 9 games/0 starts.
» Round 7: (No. 222)
Kerrith Whyte, RB, 0 games/0 starts (now with Steelers); (No. 238)
Stephen Denmark, CB, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Jesper Horsted, TE, 6 games/1 start.
Filice: Beyond the well-documented quarterback issue, the biggest culprit behind Chicago’s unexpectedly blah season was the offensive line.
Bears GM Ryan Pace openly acknowledged the unit’s shortcomings in his end-of-season press conference:
“We struggled in that area this year — that’s real.” And therein lies the problem in evaluating the rookie campaign of Montgomery, whose yards-per-carry mark (3.7) left a lot to be desired. But honestly, Chicago’s O-line hung Montgomery out to dry pretty routinely — and obviously, opposing defenses weren’t too worried about getting burned by the Mitchell Trubisky-led passing game on a snap-by-snap basis. Montgomery did his best to overcome these adverse circumstances, breaking the eighth-most tackles in the NFL (47) — which is how he finished second among all rookies in both rushing yards (889) and rushing touchdowns (6). Besides Montgomery’s production, the
Bears didn’t get much of anything out of the rookie class. This isn’t all that surprising, considering Chicago made just five selections last April, with Montgomery being the only player taken before Day 3 of the draft. Coming out of Georgia, Ridley was advertised as a polished route runner — like his brother, Calvin — but he couldn’t even crack the game day roster until Week 13. Adding insult to ineffectiveness: The very next two wideouts selected after Ridley —
Hunter Renfrow and
Darius Slayton — provided significant Year 1 contributions.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: C+
Round 1: (No. 11 overall)
Jonah Williams, OT, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 2: (52)
Drew Sample, TE, 9 games/2 starts.
Round 3: (72)
Germaine Pratt, OLB, 16 games/9 starts.
Round 4: (104)
Ryan Finley, QB, 3 games/3 starts; (125)
Renell Wren, DT, 11 games/2 starts; (136)
Mike Jordan, OL, 13 games/9 starts.
Round 6: (182)
Trayveon Williams, RB, 11 games/0 starts; (210)
Deshaun Davis, LB, 0 games/0 starts (now a free agent); (211)
Rodney Anderson, RB, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (223)
Jordan Brown, CB, 0 games/0 starts (now with Raiders).
Notable rookie FA signings:
Fred Johnson, OT, 6 games/1 start;
Damion Willis, WR, 10 games/2 starts.
Incomplete is honestly the most accurate grade we could give to this group, thanks to
Jonah Williams‘ season-ending torn labrum that occurred before he even got started. Add in Sample, who battled an ankle injury that ultimately landed him on IR in early December. Pratt ascended to a starting role once it became clear veteran
Preston Brown couldn’t help these young
Bengals, and the younger linebacker figures to find himself with a starting role next season. Finley was temporarily handed the keys before the
Bengals wised up after seeing him post a 62.1 passer rating and a sub-50 completion percentage in three starts. Wren was decent in the small amount of defensive snaps he received. The
Bengals might have found something in Jordan, who ranked above players like
Austin Blythe and
Joseph Noteboom in pass blocking, per PFF.
Trayveon Williams found it tough to see playing time behind
Joe Mixon and
Giovani Bernard, contributing mostly on special teams. Anderson tore his ACL in the final preseason game, and Davis is currently without a team. Brown ended up with the
DETROIT LIONS: C
» Round 1: (No. 8 overall)
T.J. Hockenson, TE, 12 games/7 starts.
» Round 2: (No. 43)
Jahlani Tavai, LB, 15 games/6 starts.
» Round 3: (No. 81)
Will Harris, S, 16 games/6 starts.
» Round 4: (No. 117)
Austin Bryant, DE, 4 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (No. 146)
Amani Oruwariye, CB, 9 games/2 starts.
» Round 6: (No. 184)
Travis Fulgham, WR, 3 games/0 starts; (No. 186)
Ty Johnson, RB, 16 games/1 start.
» Round 7: (No. 224)
Isaac Nauta, TE, 6 games/0 starts; (No. 229)
P.J. Johnson, DT, 0 games/0 starts (now with Chargers).
Notable rookie FA signings:
David Blough, QB, 5 games/5 starts.
Lions took a lot of heat — especially in Detroit — after spending a top-10 pick on a tight end for the second time in six years. But the Eric Ebron-tinged snideness started to fade when Hockenson created a buzz in training camp and the preseason. And then he went out and racked up 131 receiving yards in the season opener — a record for a tight end in his first NFL game — with four catches of 20-plus yards and
Eric WHO?! Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Hockenson totaled just 236 yards over the next 10 games before hitting injured reserve with an ankle injury in early December. Detroit’s second pick initially raised even more eyebrows than the first, given that most football fans had never heard of Tavai and most draftniks had never imagined him going 43rd overall, but the linebacker enjoyed a solid first season with a game as versatile as his box score numbers: 58 tackles, two sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble. He could push for a full-time starting role in 2020, which is exactly what the
Lions hope to get out of Harris. The
Lions‘ controversial deadline trade of
Quandre Diggs opened up the safety spot opposite
Tracy Walker, and Harris filled it with up-and-down play, though he did finish on a high note with his best game of the year in Week 17 vs. Green Bay. Oruwariye also earned more snaps in the back half of the season, and the lengthy corner flashed potential surpassing his fifth-round draft slot. Both of his picks were
impressive “GIMME THAT!”
literal takeaways. Blough, the
Lions‘ backup to the backup plan at quarterback, was clearly in above his head as a rookie starter. No surprise, given that he spent August as the fourth-string QB in Cleveland.
DALLAS COWBOYS: C-
Round 2: (No. 58 overall)
Trysten Hill, DT, 7 games/0 starts.
Round 3: (90)
Connor McGovern, OG, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (128)
Tony Pollard, RB, 15 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (158)
Mike Jackson, CB, 0 games/0 starts (1 game/0 starts with Lions); (165)
Joe Jackson, DE, 5 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (213)
Donovan Wilson, S, 11 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (218)
Mike Weber, RB, 0 games/0 starts (spent most of ’19 on
Cowboys‘ practice squad before heading to
Chiefs‘ practice squad); (241)
Jalen Jelks, DE, 0 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signing:
Brandon Knight, OT, 7 games/1 start.
Cowboys‘ greatest contribution from this class came from Pollard, who served as an effective spell back to
Ezekiel Elliott, rushing 86 times for 455 yards and two scores. The rest of the group wasn’t able to do all that much. Wilson’s footprint was limited to special teams. Hill played 121 defensive snaps but recorded just five tackles. As shown above, no draft picks made a single start. Jelks and McGovern headed to injured reserve in September, while Weber ended up with the
Kansas City Chiefs on their practice squad.
Mike Jackson ended up with the
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: D+
Round 1: (No. 32 overall)
N’Keal Harry, WR, 7 games/5 starts.
Round 2: (45)
Joejuan Williams, CB, 9 games/0 starts.
Round 3: (77)
Chase Winovich, DE, 16 games/0 starts; (87)
Damien Harris, RB, 2 games/0 starts; (101)
Yodny Cajuste, OT, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (118)
Hjalte Froholdt, OG, 0 games/0 starts; (133)
Jarrett Stidham, QB, 3 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (159)
Byron Cowart, DT, 5 games/0 starts; (163)
Jake Bailey, P, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (252)
Ken Webster, CB, 8 games/5 starts (on Dolphins).
Notable rookie FA signings:
Jakobi Meyers, WR, 15 games/1 start;
Gunner Olszewski, PR, 8 games/0 starts.
Filice: As the first receiver ever selected in Round 1 by the Bill Belichick
Patriots, Harry was supposed to provide a boost to a receiving corps that desperately needed some youthful exuberance. That did not occur. After spending the first half of the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury sustained in training camp, Harry returned to log just 14 grabs in eight games (including
New England’s wild-card loss). With a famously demanding quarterback at the controls, the rookie caught more of
Tom Brady‘s ire than his passes.
Patriots fans weren’t too pleased seeing a number of receivers selected after Harry — including
Mecole Hardman and
Darius Slayton — immediately impacting their respective teams. On the plus side, Winovich played like the third-round steal everyone knew he’d be the moment New England nabbed him at No. 77 overall, efficiently racking up 5.5 sacks and 10 QB hits in just 293 defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus ranked him as
the No. 14 rookie in the entire class. Stidham showed promise in the preseason, but anyone talking about him as the clear heir to the
Tom Brady‘s throne is highly overcaffeinated. And probably drunk. Cajuste and Froholdt were essentially medical redshirts, but they will have ample opportunity to patch up the Pats’ line in 2020. Bailey was pretty solid punting the football, though a poor effort on Wild Card Weekend left a bad taste in New Englanders’ mouths.
Round 1: (No. 3 overall)
Quinnen Williams, DE, 13 games/9 starts.
Round 3: (68)
Jachai Polite, DE, 0 games/0 starts (finished season on Rams); (92)
Chuma Edoga, OT, 8 games/8 starts.
Round 4: (121)
Trevon Wesco, TE, 16 games/1 starts.
Round 5: (157)
Blake Cashman, LB, 7 games/5 starts.
Round 6: (196)
Blessuan Austin, CB, 7 games/6 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings:
Kyle Phillips, DE, 15 games/4 starts.
Filice: Fresh off a breakout redshirt sophomore season at Alabama, Williams was viewed as a slam-dunk selection when the
Jets came on the clock at No. 3 overall. But his first campaign with New York was quite underwhelming. A penetrating, game-wrecking force of nature with the Tide, Williams was reduced to a block-eating space-filler on the
Jets. Now, Gang Green didn’t exactly put the rookie in a position to put up numbers — routinely deploying him as more of a two-gapping defensive tackle, as opposed to putting him in a playmaking role — but you can bet that everyone will expect more than 2.5 sacks and six QB hits in 2020. Sadly, the
Jets‘ second selection went far worse. Polite, who had first-round buzz before completely bombing the pre-draft process,
was released before the regular season even began. That’s an unmitigated disaster for a Day 2 selection. Honestly, the
Jets‘ last two picks were their best two picks, at least in terms of 2019 returns. Cashman was a sideline-to-sideline playmaker — against both the run and pass — before a shoulder injury in late October sidelined him for the season. (This is concerning, as the former Minnesota Golden Gopher had multiple shoulder surgeries in college.) Austin got a late start on the season, as he was recovering from a torn ACL, but he acquitted himself quite well when he hit the field. That is,
gave up a bad touchdown pass against the
Steelers in Week 16 and was banished to Gregg Williams’ doghouse, never to be seen again. The lengthy cover man should get a chance to prove himself again in 2020.
Follow Gennaro Filice on Twitter @GennaroFilice.
Follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook.