We know that NFL draft grades of past are consistently ripped up as looking silly and baseless, from immediately to years down the line, but that hasn’t stopped fans from reading them en masse and clamoring for more content that tells them opinions presented as some sort of fact. A team’s immediate draft grade, from any source, including me, is stupid.
Beyond simply not knowing what the future brings for any of these players, here are a couple of other dumb things that draft grades do:
- Give bonus points to teams that have multiple first round picks or early picks without punctuating why they have multiple first round picks or early picks.
The Cincinnati Bengals got an A grade for a draft in which they made no moves and ended up with seven players, highlighted by number one pick Joe Burrow. “Sure, the Burrow pick seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still a great one that instantly rejuvenates the franchise,” they say. But ... why is it a great one? I love Burrow. I think he’s the best QB prospect in a long time. Love him. But is it a great pick? After a week??? What? How is that supposed to work? I’m really more befuddled at the idea that anyone could confidently say, “Great pick” during a draft.
The Minnesota Vikings also got an A grade, having made 15 selections. But how did they get Justin Jefferson? They had to trade away Stefon Diggs. Is there no accounting for the loss? If a team, like the LA Rams, uses their first round pick to acquire a veteran like Jalen Ramsey, what about the value of their usage of that pick? It would be one thing to grade process, but process doesn’t seem to be the focus of most draft grade articles.
But I know I’m in the minority on that one. I’m in threads. (Probably not as many as I could be, if I’m always this negative.) I’m on Twitter. “Oh great pick.” “Oh the Cowboys had such a great draft.”
What? Why? I’ll tell you why, here’s another weird reward system:
- When NFL teams pass on prospects who had been projected to go much earlier than they end up going, the drafting team gets rewarded because the media and fans were incorrect in their assessment of said player’s draft value. People rarely instead focus on: Wait, why did that player go lower than I thought?
“I thought Tyler Biadasz was a second round pick. The Cowboys got him in the fourth? Damn. That is a good pick.”
Why? What if Biadasz isn’t good? Many fourth round picks are not good. You thought Bradlee Anae should have been a third round pick but the Cowboys got him in the fifth? I wonder what happened to the other 31 teams. And Anae, Biadasz, Neville Gallimore, Trevon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, the other Dallas “steals” could any or all be great. I don’t know.
I. Don’t. Know.
- Patriots get an A after picking two players in the first round — Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel — then trading up for cornerback Duke Dawson in the second.
“They did select Dawson, a slot corner and trouble-maker for receivers, trading away a fourth-round pick to Tampa Bay to select him. He’ll contribute right away. New England traded out of the fourth round to pick up a 2019 third-round pick. Bentley and Sam were picks the Patriots needed to make to aid the second level of their defense. Berrios was the perfect New England pick on Day 3. He’s a quick slot receiver who will fight for passes from Tom Brady.”
Michel, unsurprisingly for a running back, has had a couple of games where he seems really important, but then mostly fallen off. His last 100-yard game came in the AFC Championship game two playoffs ago. Wynn has played in eight of a possible 32 games. Dawson missed all of his rookie campaign and had some spot duty last season. And I’m not sure if Braxton Berrios ever fought “for passes from Tom Brady” but he did catch some from Sam Darnold last season.
Really meaningful that we “knew” that the Patriots had an “A” draft two years ago.
- According to that same article, the Baltimore Ravens had a good draft (A-) but not as good as the Patriots. Especially not on Day 2 (B+, which in “draft grade terms” is pretty poor since most people seem not afraid to grade a team but sort of afraid to say anything bad about a prospect; it’s sort of how like a lot of movie reviewers will say, “In spite of its cast, who I wouldn’t want to offend in case I run into Christian Bale at a party one day...”) so we can assume that those second and third round picks for the Ravens might as well have been thrown into a dumpster.
Picks like Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown. At least they didn’t blast Baltimore for taking Lamar Jackson.
That’s just a really immediate example, as it would be easy to pull up any article about draft grades and quickly be able to produce sentences and evaluations that look horrible with hindsight. Maybe that’s the only reason draft grades do exist: hindsight. To feel silly about the ways we used to feel.
How will we feel about the 2020 LA Rams draft class, which is probably all you wanted to talk about in the first place before I start droning on about what I hate about what I’m about to report on?
On that strange grading curve, the Rams got a “B-” and were ranked 23rd for their efforts last weekend.
“So I guess the Rams will be running it back with the same (offensive line) unit Pro Football Focus ranked 31st last season. That is a failure. So why does the grade not reflect that sentiment? Well, putting the O-line issues aside for a second, the first four players Snead selected really tickled this draft grader’s fancy. “
Oh okay, here’s a third thing that is not good about draft grades (sorry, buddy):
- It’s a “failure” to not draft players who may or may not be able to help you. The implication here is that if the Rams had drafted a guard at 52 and a tackle at 57, that their offensive line problems would be solved or at least closer to solved. Except that, as we’ve seen from these draft grade articles, people are not good at evaluating the future value of talent. LA could have drafted Ezra Cleveland and Damien Lewis and potentially had the same amount of issues on the line in a year as they have today. In fact, given that draft picks should get 1-2 years to develop (at least), we should expect the Rams to have the same offensive line woes in a year.
The biggest thing standing between that happening is not reaching on an offensive line prospect that you didn’t want that bad, but waiting to see if the picks of Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, or the trade for Austin Corbett, or the bounceback attempts of Rob Havenstein and Austin Blythe work out.
Not reaching on yet another body for that pile. Instead the Rams have Cam Akers and Van Jefferson, which are two players that the NFL writers like (of course they do), and yet they still punish the team for it. It doesn’t stand against logic when you break it down, which nobody really seems to care to do, except me, which should probably tell me something.
I mean ... they literally say “They didn’t draft offensive line, instead they drafted two skill players who’d work well in spite of no offensive line” but then continue to ding the Rams for not drafting offensive line.
“The former five-star recruit routinely produced behind a porous offensive line at Florida State — which could be good training for his pro career, if the Rams’ O-line doesn’t shape up quick. Jefferson’s exactly the kind of polished route runner you’d expect from the son of a former NFL receiver/current NFL receivers coach.”
Nobody takes the time to point out the contradiction, and next year you’re gonna get a ton more draft grades articles.
“Before you tweet something derogatory about us, Steelers fans, just know that the grade would be higher if we were taking into account the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade and move up to snag Devin Bush last year, which cost them valuable capital in this year’s draft.”
Uhhh, then ... account for it. Why aren’t you accounting for it?
Anyways, NFL.com also liked the picks of Terrell Lewis and Terrell Burgess and that’s that.
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