Chad Reuter of NFL.com has taken on the task of grading each and every one of the NFL’s 32 draft classes in this year’s draft.
Clearly, the conjecture involved here is what it is, but I really like Reuter and his work for NFL.com.
For the sake of this article, we’ll begin with his thoughts on the AFC West.
Garett Bolles (No. 20 overall), DeMarcus Walker (No. 51 overall), Carlos Henderson (No. 82 overall), Brendan Langley (No. 101 overall), Jake Butt (No. 145 overall), Isaiah McKenzie (No. 172 overall), De’Angelo Henderson (No. 203 overall), Chad Kelly (No. 253 overall)
Day 1 grade: C
Day 2 grade: A-
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B
The skinny: Garett Bolles is an athletic, tough-minded player. He’s also an older prospect who has lived through a lot. Some teams have concerns about his ability to handle complex line adjustments. The team certainly needed a left tackle, but Ryan Ramczyk was also available here. It will be interesting to compare the careers of those two players. Though DeMarcus Walker didn’t get a lot of love after his big first week in 2016, his power and hustle make him a great pass rusher. They got a good receiver in Carlos Henderson in the third round, one of the toughest pass-catchers to tackle in the draft. Bolstering the team’s cornerback depth was a major need, so picking up intriguing former FBS cornerback Brendan Langley was worthwhile.
Denver ended the draft with a bang — taking Chad Kelly at Mr. Irrelevant. Kelly’s potential makes him a non-irrelevant selection. There’s no reason not to make that pick given his arm strength and football acumen — if he can calm himself and focus on the task at hand. The Broncos‘ first pick of Day 3 was the top selection in the fifth round, tight end Jake Butt. He should be a solid starter when he recovers from his bowl game injury. They picked up an extra fifth from Cleveland in an earlier deal. Late-round running backs De’Angelo Henderson and Matt Dayes will make an impression in training camp.
My take on Bolles, Butt and Kelly:
I am not a fan of the fact that I like the Broncos’ draft class this year. Addressing the offensive line — adding Bolles — in the first was a must, and the team added one of my favorite prospects in the entire class in Michigan tight end Jake Butt.
The thing that sticks out to me the most is John Elway pulling the trigger on troubled quarterback Chad Kelly of Ole Miss.
Kelly, nephew of former NFL gunslinger Jim Kelly, was selected by Elway with the last pick of the draft (No. 253). The youngster has all of the makings on the field of a solid early-round prospect — injuries aside — but his inability to stay out of trouble off of the field resulted in his fall to the Mr. Irrelevant selection.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: A
Day 3 grade: C
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: Chiefs GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid saw Brett Favre in Green Bay, and they have to see some of that gunslinger attitude in Mahomes. There is a risk factor here given his penchant for throwing the ball anywhere and from any arm angle (which will turn into interceptions in the NFL), and they have up a future first-round pick to get him. But if anyone can get Mahomes to adjust and succeed, it’s Reid. Villanova doesn’t put out a lot of top football players, but the Philadelphia crowd love seeing Tanoh Kpassagnon get picked. He’s a very good five-technique with a lot of upside. The Chiefs got a starter in Kareem Hunt, an all-around player who can do it all. Patrick Mahomes has all of the tools to be a great quarterback.
The Chiefs continued to move up and down the board on Day 3. Jehu Chesson was inconsistent in his senior year, so I might have waited a bit to pick him given the other receivers available. They also gave up a fifth-round pick to pick him, which isn’t a premium selection, but would have helped with depth. Kansas City didn’t select a cornerback with some size, which would have helped this season.
My take on Mahomes:
Though I like this class as a whole, it begins and ends with the drafting of Mahomes.
The Texas Tech star seems primed to replace current quarterback Alex Smith sooner rather than later, as the latter is hardly an average signal caller at this point in his career.
Mahomes has as good of a chance to succeed in the NFL as any of his peers at the position from this class, possessing an awkward, yet highly accurate deep ball. Though he often throws off of his back foot and from odd trajectories, he still manages to give his receiving weapons great opportunities to come down with the rock. The only team in the AFC West that I was hoping to land the former Red Raider will be playing its home games at the StubHub Center in ’17.
Gareon Conley (No. 24 overall), Obi Melifonwu (No. 56 overall), Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 88 overall), David Sharpe (No. 129 overall), Marquel Lee (No. 167 overall), Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall), Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall), Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall), Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall)
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: B+
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: As long as Conley’s off-field issues are cleared up, the Raiders got the long, agile, ballhawk they needed. If he gets in trouble, then GM Reggie McKenzie will have to answer for the pick. The Raiders are in love with long, athletic secondary members. Obi Melifonwu is a hard-hitting guy with nice speed that Al Davis would have loved. If Oakland gets the junior-year Eddie Vanderdoes, they’ll like his interior push; if he’s the 2016 Vanderdoes, they might not like what they see.
Oakland needed to get better on the offensive line, but David Sharpe must prove he can move with NFL-caliber players on a down-by-down basis. If he can, his length and size make him tough to get around. They met their inside linebacker need with Marquel Lee from Wake Forest in Round 5. Oakland didn’t ignore the running back position despite signing Beast Mode — Elijah Hood is a banger, as well.
My take on general manager Reggie McKenzie:
You sexy mutha.
This dude seems to have turned around what was a horrid franchise when he took over the organization’s general-manager spot.
After effective drafts and free-agency periods the last few seasons, the Raiders are primed to push toward the top of the AFC for the next several years, as they finished last season as the fifth seed and a 12-4 record.
Look out for the Silver and Black, folks.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS:
Mike Williams (No. 7 overall), Forrest Lamp (No. 38 overall), Dan Feeney (No. 71 overall), Rayshawn Jenkins (No. 113 overall), Desmond King (No. 151 overall), Sam Tevi (No. 190 overall), Isaac Rochell (No. 225 overall)
Day 1 grade: A-
Day 2 grade: B
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: Mike Williams is a physically dominating receiver who will make life easier for Philip Rivers. He has enough speed to make plays, as well. Keenan Allen‘s injury forced the team’s hand, as well. It will be interesting to see where second-round pick Forrest Lamp plays for the Chargers; he would be an excellent center. It was an excellent value pick. The Chargers again bolstered the interior of the line with Dan Feeney, who will play guard to protect Philip Rivers and block for Melvin Gordon. Hitting two interior linemen that early is a bit of a knock, as they need safety and linebacker help.
The Chargers‘ safety group needed an upgrade. Desmond King (fifth round) and Rayshawn Jenkins (sixth) should help in that effort. Finding an aggressive swing tackle in Sam Tevi in the sixth was a nice find, and adding versatile 3-4 lineman Isaac Rochell in the seventh was a solid pick.
My take on Tom Telesco:
Sir, you complete me.
The fact that Telesco used three of his team’s seven selections on offensive linemen shows that the team is serious about opening up holes for their up-and-coming running back (Melvin Gordon) while also protecting their highest-paid asset (Philip Rivers).
Still, the question remains the same among the fans and media pundits alike: Has it become too late in the aging quarterback’s career for him to be a true difference maker?
I am a firm believer that the savvy veteran is more than capable of getting the job done for the Bolts for at least the next two years.
This team, knock on wood, will also be able to contend for the postseason should it muster up some ancient wizardry and stay relatively healthy for the first time in what seems like forever.
The Chargers have been one of the most injured teams in recent years, losing hundreds of starters all over the squad and playing 3,482 different offensive-line combinations in the last two years. (It feels as though I am only slightly exaggerating.)
The AFC West will once again enter the 2017 campaign as one of the top divisions in the league, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it turns out to be the best of them all. This division was already tough as nails prior to all four clubs having solid drafts this past weekend.
Thanks a lot for reading.