Silva's NFC Draft Grades

Evan Silva
Evan Silva unveils his 2019 post-draft grades for all 16 NFC teams. (Getty Images)
Evan Silva unveils his 2019 post-draft grades for all 16 NFC teams. (Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals

1 (1). – Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
2 (33). – Washington CB Byron Murphy
2 (62). – UMass WR Andy Isabella
3 (65). – Boston College DE Zach Allen
4 (103). – Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler
5 (139). – Alabama FS Deionte Thompson
6 (174). – Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson
6 (179). – Georgia C Lamont Gaillard
7 (248). – Morgan State OT Joshua Miles
7 (249). – Temple DE Michael Dogbe
7 (254). – UCLA TE Caleb Wilson

Overview: The Cardinals smartly avoided falling victim to the sunk-cost fallacy by shipping poor Kliff Kingsbury system fit Josh Rosen to Miami for the 62nd pick after taking dynamic dual threat Murray first overall. GM Steve Keim placed a major emphasis on playmakers in this draft; Murphy is a ballhawking clone of Chargers All-Pro slot CB Desmond King, Isabella runs 4.31 and led the nation in yards per route run as a senior, Allen graduated with over 40 tackles for loss and 16 pass breakups, and Butler paced Division I in yards gained on 20-plus-yard downfield targets. Thompson and Gaillard dominated at the highest level of college football, each earning first-team All-SEC accolades in 2018. Johnson is Fresno State’s all-time leader in catches and receiving yards. After landing OLs Marcus Gilbert, J.R. Sweezy, and Max Garcia prior to the draft and supplementing their front seven with Terrell Suggs, Jordan Hicks, and Darius Philon, the combined hauls give Arizona a real chance to field the NFC’s most-improved team. Gilbert should be included as part of this draft class after the Cards acquired him for the No. 207 pick.

Scroll to continue with content

Grade: A


Atlanta Falcons

1 (14). Boston College OG Chris Lindstrom
1 (31). Washington OT Kaleb McGary
4 (111). Ohio State CB Kendall Sheffield
4 (135). Charleston DT John Cominsky
5 (152). Pittsburgh RB Qadree Ollison
5 (172). Washington CB Jordan Miller
6 (203). Louisiana-Monroe WR Marcus Green

Overview: The Falcons dedicated their offseason to offensive line improvement, dishing out multi-year deals to LG James Carpenter, RG candidate Jamon Brown, and T/G Ty Sambrailo, then surprisingly reaching for Lindstrom at No. 14. They sent No. 79 to the Rams to climb 14 slots for McGary, gaining access to a fifth-year option and landing what GM Thomas Dimitroff hopes will be his long-term right-tackle solution. Sheffield arrived in another trade up, parting with a sixth-rounder to climb six slots in round four. Sheffield is a ball skills-bereft cornerback prospect better at track than football and coming off a torn pectoral. Arriving in Atlanta’s third trade up – and costing a seventh-rounder to move two spots – was Cominsky, a dominant D-2 defensive lineman with elite athleticism but low probability of making an impact this year. Ollison, Miller, and Green look like throwaway picks. Although the Falcons have solidified their front-five position group, they’ve disappointingly done almost nothing to fix one of the league’s weakest pass-rush units. Dan Quinn’s 2018 defense ranked bottom eight in sacks (37), bottom seven in quarterback hits (79), and dead last in the NFC in tackles for loss (68).

Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

1 (16). Florida State DE Brian Burns
2 (37). Ole Miss OT Greg Little
3 (100). West Virginia QB Will Grier
4 (115). Alabama DE Christian Miller
5 (154). Florida RB Jordan Scarlett
6 (212). South Carolina OT Dennis Daley
7 (237). Georgia WR Terry Godwin

Overview: The Panthers addressed glaring weaknesses with each of their first two draft picks, happily plucking explosive outside rusher Burns in one of the first round’s best matches of value to team need before climbing ten second-round slots for Little in a deal that cost Carolina the 77th overall pick. Graded as a first-rounder by GM Marty Hurney’s scouting department, Little has a good chance to start at left tackle as a rookie. Grier reminded me of Tony Romo on tape as a freewheeling gunslinger. I think he should have gone higher. Miller was another steal after a big senior season at Alabama. A long-armed edge player, Miller should be able to contribute early to Carolina’s previously-anemic pass rush. Scarlett slipped to day three due to off-field concerns but is talented enough to beat out Cameron Artis-Payne behind Christian McCaffrey. Daley probably doesn’t have an NFL future – he got owned by Kentucky’s Josh Allen last season and tested as a 16th-percentile athlete – but Godwin is an intriguing slot prospect with a chance to push Jarius Wright off the roster. There’s not much to complain about in this haul.

Grade: B-


Chicago Bears

3 (73). Iowa State RB David Montgomery
4 (126). Georgia WR Riley Ridley
6 (205). Kansas State CB Duke Shelley
7 (222). Florida Atlantic RB Kerrith Whyte
7 (238). Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark

Overview: Khalil Mack should be included in this haul because he represents Chicago’s first-round pick. GM Ryan Pace used this year’s second-rounder to acquire slot WR Anthony Miller, although that move was graded as part of last year’s class. In a deal with the Patriots, Pace surrendered a 2019 fifth-rounder and 2020 fourth-rounder to climb 14 third-round slots for Montgomery, who will compete with Mike Davis for lead-back duties with Tarik Cohen continuing to change the pace. Montgomery offers plus versatility and led the nation in missed tackles forced last season, but his big-play ability is extremely limited. I’ve never seen a college running back so consistently caught from behind. Riley is another subpar athlete whose game boils down to route-running chops. I suppose he could upgrade on Taylor Gabriel. Denmark stands out among Chicago’s day-three picks as a gargantuan (6’3/220) converted wide receiver who picked off seven passes over the last two seasons, then blazed 4.46 with a springy 43-inch vertical at Valdosta State’s Pro Day. Whyte was a backup at FAU. The Bears should be very pleased with Mack and Miller, but forfeiting two picks to trade up for a third-round running back with 4.63 speed was unnecessary, and it’s entirely possible Chicago gets very little from the other four players Pace selected.

Grade: C


Dallas Cowboys

2 (58). Central Florida DT Trysten Hill
3 (90). Penn State G/C Connor McGovern
4 (128). Memphis RB/KR Tony Pollard
5 (158). Miami CB Michael Jackson
5 (165). Miami DE Joe Jackson
6 (213). Texas A&M S Donovan Wilson
7 (218). Ohio State RB Mike Weber
7 (241). Oregon DE Jalen Jelks

Overview: Amari Cooper should be included in this haul after the Cowboys acquired him for the No. 27 pick. Word leaked in the weeks leading up to the draft that Hill would be Dallas’ selection at No. 58 if available, and he was. Hill had a 2018 falling out with UCF’s new coaching staff but was a fringe first-round talent on film and turned in a top-five SPARQ score among interior defensive linemen at the Combine. Compared to Rodger Saffold by O-Line guru Lance Zierlein, McGovern is insurance on C Travis Frederick (illness, shoulder) and LG Connor Williams, who lost his starting job as a rookie. Pollard was the best kick returner in the draft and caught 104 passes in only three seasons at Memphis, where he dabbled at slot receiver and tailback behind Darrell Henderson. The Cowboys threw a bunch of darts at potential role players on day three. Weber has a relatively big name but looked ordinary on college tape, largely getting what was blocked, averaging only 5.5 career yards per reception, and generating yards after contact at one of the lowest rates in the class. Jelks was a highly productive pass rusher in the Pac 12 but bombed athletically in pre-draft workouts. Ultimately, this was a solid-if-unspectacular class.

Grade: C


Detroit Lions

1 (8). Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
2 (43). Hawaii LB Jahlani Tavai
3 (81). Boston College S Will Harris
4 (117). Clemson DE Austin Bryant
5 (146). Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye
6 (184). Old Dominion WR Travis Fulgham
6 (186). Maryland RB Ty Johnson
7 (224). Georgia TE Isaac Nauta
7 (229). Arizona DT P.J. Johnson

Overview: NT Damon Harrison is part of this class after Detroit acquired him for the No. 142 overall pick. Amid reports they preferred to trade down, the Lions stood pat and selected elite two-way tight end Hockenson, who won the Mackey Award as a redshirt sophomore and adds a new dimension to OC Darrell Bevell’s offense. Although the Tavai pick was met with fanbase derision, draft guru Dane Brugler compared Tavai to a poor man’s Leighton Vander Esch before the draft as a versatile level-two defender capable of both run thumping in the middle and rushing off the edge. Harris’ college production was lacking, but he crushed the Combine for top-four SPARQ results among invited safeties, including a 4.41 forty time. Bryant was Clemson’s “No. 4” guy up front, overshadowed by Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins but highly productive in his own right with 35 career tackles for loss and 20 sacks. It would not be shocking if Bryant beat out Romeo Okwara for a starting job as a rookie. Oruwariye was one of my favorite day-three picks after a breakout senior year where he held opponents targeting him to a 52% completion rate, then blazed 4.47 with a twitchy 6.82 three-cone time at 6-foot-2, 205. He has a chance to be a steal. Johnson is one of the most-athletic backs in this class. Overall, I thought this was a rock-solid haul for GM Bob Quinn.

Grade: B


Green Bay Packers

1 (12). Michigan DE Rashan Gary
1 (21). Maryland S Darnell Savage
2 (44). Mississippi State G/C Elgton Jenkins
3 (75). Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger
5 (150). Texas A&M DE Kingsley Keke
6 (185). Toledo CB Ka’dar Hollman
6 (194). Notre Dame RB Dexter Williams
7 (226). TCU LB Ty Summers

Overview: I loved what GM Brian Gutekunst did in his first draft last year, and this was another good-looking haul for the most part. But I quibbled with his day-one decision making. Gary underachieved throughout college and will try to play through a torn labrum in his shoulder as a rookie. Gutekunst sent two fourth-rounders to Seattle to climb from No. 30 to No. 21, not terrible value but also perhaps a bit overly aggressive for a late-process riser in Savage whose stock didn’t really gain steam until he ran 4.36 at the Combine. Savage reminds me of Kenny Vaccaro, a solid but not-special NFL safety. Jenkins and Sternberger were direct hits on day two and could both easily earn early-career starting jobs at positions of need. I thought Jenkins had a real shot at the first round. Keke has a Malik Jackson-like game as an interior gap shooter and adds desperately-needed depth to Green Bay’s previously-thin front. Injuries and off-field stuff hurt Williams’ draft slot, but he was one of the most-underrated pure runners in this class. Hollman has some upside as a press-man corner. I’m giving this class an above-average grade.

Grade: C+


Los Angeles Rams

2 (61). Washington S Taylor Rapp
3 (70). Memphis RB Darrell Henderson
3 (79). Michigan CB David Long
3 (97). Oklahoma T/G Bobby Evans
4 (134). Washington DT Greg Gaines
5 (169). Wisconsin OT David Edwards
7 (243). Penn State S Nick Scott
7 (251). Texas Tech LB Dakota Allen

Overview: Marcus Peters and Dante Fowler should be included in this haul after the Rams acquired them for the Nos. 63 and 98 picks, respectively. GM Les Snead traded down twice in round two, dipping from No. 45 to No. 61 and adding the Nos. 101 and 167 picks along the way. He traded back up for Henderson, Evans, and Gaines after pocketing the extra ammo. Top-pick Rapp ran slow (4.74) at his Pro Day but crushed the three cone (6.82) and short shuttle (3.99) and was arguably the best tackling safety in college football over the past three years. He should be the Rams’ third safety behind Eric Weddle and John Johnson as a rookie. Henderson’s 8.2 yards-per-carry average in 2018 tied for the highest mark in NCAA history since 1956. The Rams clearly have concerns about Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee, and Henderson offers explosive insurance. An elite athlete, Long allowed just nine completions last season despite shadowing No. 1 receivers. Peters and Aqib Talib are entering contract years. Both Evans and Edwards made over 30 starts on power-five offensive lines, and the Rams’ front five badly needs replenishment after parting with Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. Especially with Super Bowl starters Peters and Fowler factored in, Snead and coach Sean McVay should be pleased with this group.

Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings

1 (18). NC State C Garrett Bradbury
2 (50). Alabama TE Irv Smith
3 (102). Boise State RB Alexander Mattison
4 (114). Oklahoma OG Dru Samia
5 (162). USC LB Cameron Smith
6 (190). Arkansas DT Armon Watts
6 (191). Wyoming S Marcus Epps
6 (193). Elon OT Oli Udoh
7 (217). Texas CB Kris Boyd
7 (239). Oregon WR Dillon Mitchell
7 (247). Colorado State WR Olabisi Johnson
7 (250). Air Force LS Austin Cutting

Overview: GM Rick Spielman entered the draft with one of the NFL’s best rosters but colossal offensive-line weaknesses. He did exactly what he needed to do; pour resources into that position group. An elite athlete and move blocker, Bradbury is a match made in heaven for Gary Kubiak’s offense. The Vikings traded up for Samia, who allowed zero sacks on 879 snaps last season. Udoh (6’6/323) is a massive individual with 35 3/8-inch arms and tested well above average after starting all four years at Elon. He is a high-ceiling project for OL coach Rick Dennison. One of the most-overrated players in the draft, Smith is a smallish H-back who won’t help in the run game and may struggle to earn early snaps. Mattison isn’t a better prospect than pre-draft No. 2 back Mike Boone. Of Spielman’s nine day-three picks, Udoh and Boyd stood out, the latter for his high-end combo of production and athleticism. Corner was a sneaky Vikings need amid Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes trade chatter with Mike Hughes coming off a torn ACL. Minnesota’s grade took a hit from the Smith and Mattison selections, but I think the offensive line situation improved considerably, and that was the No. 1 goal.

Grade: C


New Orleans Saints

2 (48). Texas A&M C Erik McCoy
4 (105). Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
6 (177). Rutgers S Saquan Hampton
7 (231). Notre Dame TE Alize Mack
7 (244). Idaho LB Kaden Elliss

Overview: Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Apple are included in New Orleans’ grade after arriving for the Nos. 93 and 132 picks. They also traded this year’s first-rounder to move up for Marcus Davenport last year. The Saints went back on the offensive on Friday, sending Miami a 2020 second-rounder to climb 14 second-round slots for McCoy, then giving the Jets a fifth-rounder to jump 11 fourth-round slots for Gardner-Johnson. They maximized both picks; McCoy was firmly in the first-round mix and Gardner-Johnson was a field-flipping ballhawk in the SEC who fell over nebulous character concerns. He’s a top-50 talent on tape. One of the most-athletic tight ends in this draft, Mack’s college production underwhelmed largely due to poor quarterback play. Son of former Lions DT Luther Elliss, Kaden was a monster producer as a four-year starting linebacker for the Idaho Vandals and even dabbled at tight end, where he logged 176 yards and two touchdowns on ten career catches. Even as someone who generally isn’t a fan of trades up and trading future picks, I thought this was an impressive haul when you include Apple and Bridgewater. I’m not giving the class a super-high grade for process reasons, but I think there’s a good chance the Saints get at least two multi-year starters from their five draftees.

Grade: B-


New York Giants

1 (6). Duke QB Daniel Jones
1 (17). Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence
1 (30). Georgia CB Deandre Baker
3 (95). Old Dominion OLB Oshane Ximines
4 (108). Notre Dame CB Julian Love
5 (143). Wisconsin LB Ryan Connelly
5 (171). Auburn WR Darius Slayton
6 (180). Washburn CB Corey Ballentine
7 (232). Kentucky OT George Asafo-Adjei
7 (245). Syracuse DT Chris Slayton

Overview: Odell Beckham turned into Jabrill Peppers, a nose tackle in Lawrence, and a small-school long-shot pass rusher in Ximines. The Nos. 132 and 142 picks Dave Gettleman acquired for Eli Apple and Damon Harrison were used in Thursday’s trade up for Baker. Jones’ college production puts him in Kyle Boller-Jake Locker territory; he went 17-19 as a 36-game college starter and averaged 6.4 yards per attempt. Love was my favorite value pick as a Logan Ryan-type slot corner in the fourth round. Ballentine also has a shot with high-end athleticism, instincts, and playmaking ability. His name would be much bigger had he attended a bigger school. Lawrence and Baker are high-floor, likely rookie-year starters, and Ximines was worth the risk based on his production-athleticism profile as a probable situational pass rusher. Although Gettleman brought aboard several quality prospects, the laugh-track Jones pick combined with the immense amount of proven talent the Giants surrendered to amass their high volume of selections crushes New York’s draft grade. Gettleman has now gone seven drafts as an NFL general manager without a single trade down, in any round. That’s got to be a record.

Grade: D+


Philadelphia Eagles

1 (22). Washington State OT Andre Dillard
2 (53). Penn State RB Miles Sanders
2 (57). Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
4 (138). Penn State DE Shareef Miller
5 (167). Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson

Overview: Howie Roseman kicked off the Eagles’ draft with a bang, sending Baltimore fourth- and sixth-rounders to leapfrog the tackle-needy Texans for Dillard, easily the top pass protector in the draft. He is 37-year-old Jason Peters’ heir apparent at one of football’s most-valuable positions. Neck and neck with Josh Jacobs for this year’s top running back prospect, Sanders brings true feature back potential to Philly with a far more versatile game than two-down thumper Jordan Howard. I was not as impressed with Arcega-Whiteside’s tape as other observers, but he remains an intriguing size-speed-ball skills specimen after leading the nation in contested-catch conversion rate last year. Thorson threw way too many picks at Northwestern as a game-manager quarterback. Miller adds depth to a front-four rotation where the Eagles emphasize depth in waves. This class isn’t blowing anyone away with only five draftees, but its grade improves when you include pick-swap acquisitions WR DeSean Jackson and DT Hassan Ridgeway.

Grade: B


San Francisco 49ers

1 (2). Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
2 (36). South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel
3 (67). Baylor WR Jalen Hurd
4 (110). Utah P Mitch Wishnowsky
5 (148). Arkansas LB Dre Greenlaw
6 (176). Stanford TE Kaden Smith
6 (183). Vanderbilt OT Justin Skule
6 (198). Virginia CB Tim Harris

Overview: Bosa and Samuel were chalky and unsurprising but quality picks at positions of need. Bosa and Dee Ford have a chance to turn what was a weakness into a legitimate strength after San Francisco’s pass rush was among the weakest in football last year. Samuel is a high-energy, Golden Tate-style slot receiver who dusted Clemson’s National Championship defense for 210 yards in 2018. Kyle Shanahan should get creative with Hurd, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound “big slot” receiver who began his career starting over Alvin Kamara as a running back at Tennessee. Day three wasn’t as productive; the fourth round is awfully rich for 27-year-old punters, and San Francisco’s final four selections project as lifetime backups and/or throwaway picks. The Niners did next to nothing to address a secondary that last year allowed an NFC-high 35 touchdown passes and caught a league-low two interceptions.

Grade: C


Seattle Seahawks

1 (29). TCU DE L.J. Collier
2 (47). Utah S Marquise Blair
2 (64). Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf
3 (88). Utah LB Cody Barton
4 (120). West Virginia WR Gary Jennings
4 (124). Wake Forest OG Phil Haynes
4 (132). Oregon CB Ugo Amadi
5 (142). Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven
6 (204). Miami RB Travis Homer
6 (209). Florida State OT Demarcus Christmas
7 (236). Hawaii WR John Ursua

Overview: Flipping 25-year-old top pass rusher Frank Clark straight up for the pick that became Collier – an 11th-percentile athlete who didn’t break out until his fifth-year senior season – was an horrifically suboptimal exchange. But GM John Schneider saved himself from a failing grade by putting on a clinic in trading down, all told turning the No. 21 pick into the Nos. 47, 77, 114, 118, 132, and 142 picks, drafting Blair at 47, and using Nos. 77 and 118 to move back up for Metcalf. Schneider landed No. 204 by flipping No. 114 for the 120th pick. A physical striker, Blair adds a tone-setting presence to Seattle’s secondary. At 6-foot-3, 228 with 4.33 wheels, Metcalf is going to be an impossible cover when Russell Wilson exits the pocket on off-script plays. Barton adds depth, promise, and athleticism as a Joe Schobert-style linebacker. Jennings always popped when watching West Virginia QB Will Grier's tape, and Haynes is toolsy enough to challenge Mike Iupati right away at left guard. 2018 Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year Burr-Kirven is an undersized overachiever with 4.56 speed. I was still disappointed Seattle didn’t add more pass rush after the Clark trade made it this team’s biggest need. A positive; LT Duane Brown should be included as part of this haul after the Seahawks acquired him for this year’s No. 54 pick.

Grade: B-


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1 (5). LSU LB Devin White
2 (39). Central Michigan CB Sean Bunting
3 (94). Auburn CB Jamel Dean
3 (99). Kentucky S Mike Edwards
4 (107). Iowa DE Anthony Nelson
5 (145). Utah K Matt Gay
6 (208). Bowling Green WR Scott Miller
7 (215). Missouri DT Terry Beckner

Overview: White was one of this year’s most-telegraphed first-round picks. Virtually everyone sent White to Tampa Bay in their mock drafts. Even as Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen slipped further than most anticipated, GM Jason Licht held strong to tab Kwon Alexander’s successor. Licht immediately began hammering the secondary thereafter, landing three straight plus athletes with starting potential. Nelson was a fourth-round steal as a long-armed pass rusher with a high floor. Miller is a 4.3 burner well worthy of a sixth-round flyer. My biggest quibble; Licht needs to lose his infatuation with kickers. Either way, I thought this was a nuts-and-bolts draft that made the roster better and the defense much faster.

Grade: B-


Washington Redskins

1 (15). Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
1 (26). Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat
3 (76). Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin
4 (112). Stanford RB Bryce Love
4 (131). Indiana OG Wes Martin
5 (153). Alabama C Ross Pierschbacher
5 (173). North Carolina LB Cole Holcomb
6 (206). NC State WR Kelvin Harmon
7 (227). James Madison CB Jimmy Moreland
7 (253). Oklahoma State OLB Jordan Brailford

Overview: Standing firm even as owner Dan Snyder pushed for a trade up for Haskins and landing him anyway has to be considered a major win for Washington. Sweat at No. 26 was another monster addition, even if it cost the Skins their 2020 second-round pick to climb 20 slots. Not only is Sweat a freakshow athlete with dominant pass-rush potential, he was one of the SEC’s premier run defenders last year. The Redskins’ defensive personnel has quietly reached top-12 status across the league from a talent standpoint. McLaurin and Love had many pre-draft supporters, but I wasn’t a fan of either. McLaurin is likely to max out as a special teams gunner and situational deep threat, while Love’s ACL recovery has not been setback free, and he was rarely used in the passing game at Stanford. I thought there was a real chance Love might go undrafted. The middle-round offensive line picks both look like long-term backups. Holcomb’s college production and elite athleticism suggest he could outkick his draft slot at a position of need. Moreland was a takeaway-forcing machine at JMU, logging a school-record 18 career picks with six pick sixes. He’s a sleeper to develop into a playmaking slot corner. Harmon was publicly overrated in the pre-draft phase but well worthy of a flyer here. He may have the best hands in the draft. It’s probably just a tease because Washington will never win under Snyder’s ownership, but it would also be very difficult to not like this draft. About time for that Bruce Allen contract extension.

Grade: A-

What to Read Next