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NFL Draft Grades: Round 1

None of these teams took Viska, but there were some good picks nonetheless.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 13 CFP National Championship - LSU v Clemson Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Draft concluded around 11:30 pm (MT), roughly three weeks after it began that evening. Of the highlights and the lowlights — and it was mostly lowlights, tbh — there were smart trades and great fits, miscalculations and reaches, and Al Davis living on through the Raiders. Here are some draft grades for this round, even though it’s too early judge and I’m certainly not an expert.

1. Bengals — Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Joe Burrow had arguably the greatest QB season in college football history. He’s so poised and accurate that it’s all but certain he succeeds in the NFL. Will it be worth the 1st overall pick? Probably, but who knows if the Bengals will build a contender around him.

Fit: A+

Grade: TBD

2. Washington — Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

Washington is already loaded on the defensive line, so Chase Young is something of a luxury pick. He’s a damn good pass rusher who should make an impact immediately, even if he’s still reliant on pure athleticism. If Young doesn’t develop that polish, however, he could be good but not great. Check back in two years or so.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

3. Lions — Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

For my money, Okudah is the best coverage corner in the past few draft classes. He’s probably going to be a star, but he’s on the Lions so anything could happen.

Fit: A+

Grade: TBD

4. Giants — Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

There was a consensus that New York would choose an offensive tackle, but Andrew Thomas is certainly a surprise. He’s probably the safest pick of the top four tackles, even if he has less of a ceiling. To grade this pick probably, we need to see how the other tackles develop.

Fit: A-

Grade: TBD

5. Dolphins — Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Arguably the biggest question mark in this draft, will Tagovailoa stay healthy enough to build off his storied college career? Moreover, will he clean up some bad habits that plagued him at times, such as daring throws and happy feet? Miami will develop him in 2020, so it’s going to be awhile before we see him play.

Fit: B

Grade: TBD

6. Chargers — Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

There’s always going to be a mediocre quarterback who’s drafted too high because he’s tall, white and athletic. Similar to Josh Allen and Daniel Jones, and Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, and J.P. Losman and Blake Bortles, and Mitch Trubisky and Jake Locker, Herbert is probably a reach and is unlikely to develop into anything special. You just can’t teach feel for the game, or vision, or consistency.

Fit: C-

Grade: D+

7. Panthers — Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

Derrick Brown is really good and plays a position of need. Nice job, Carolina.

Fit: A+

Grade: A

8. Cardinals — Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson

My favorite player in this draft, besides Laviska Shenault and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Isaiah Simmons is a size/athleticism hybrid linebacker who comes along every 10 years or so. The closest comparison for him is probably Brian Urlacher. Simmons could stumble if he’s put in a box, but Vance Joseph surely has a creative plan for him.

Fit: A

Grade: A

9. Jaguars — C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

The Jaguars had a need at cornerback after jettisoning Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye for draft picks. It looks like they’re drafting for the future, likely tanking in 2020, and having their young guys learn on the fly. Will the losing affect Henderson, or is he used to disappointment from his Florida days?

Fit: A-

Grade: TBD

10. Browns — Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

According to reports, the Browns never had Wills on their mock drafts because they didn’t think he would fall that far. He’s an amazing athlete with a full body of work at Alabama, but is there something Cleveland doesn’t know? Is there a reason the Giants chose Thomas over him?

Fit: A-

Grade: TBD

11. Jets — Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Jokes aside, this selection could go any number of ways. Becton is a massive human being who is far more athletic than should be humanly possible. He’s also a raw tackle prospect and smoked weed apparently (how dare he), and is going to the Jets, so there’s potential for things to go awry.

Fit: A+

Grade: TBD

12. Raiders — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This is the most Raiders selection possible, as they once again chose the player with the fastest 40-yard-dash. But Ruggs isn’t just a speed threat. He has massive hands, can jump out of the gym, and he’s developing as a route runner. There’s legitimate star potential for him, but still, he has to prove himself a better player than Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb.

Fit: B

Grade: TBD

13. Buccaneers — Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Tristan Wirfs is the best tackle in the class, according to me, and he’s going to be a day 1 starter protecting Tom Brady. Honestly a perfect fit, but they did trade a fourth round pick to move up one selection. You know who was a fourth round? David Bakhtiari, the best tackle in the NFL.

Fit: A+

Grade: TBD

14. 49ers — Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

Why aren’t the 49ers the 49rs? It’s forty-nine-ers, so I’m not sure what they’re doing. But whatever, Kinlaw is an athletic specimen with diagnosed knee tendinitis, so no one knows how that’s going to go.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

15. Broncos — Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Without even doing anything, the Broncos landed the best receiver in a historically great draft class, all while needing a star receiver opposite Courtland Sutton. Jeudy is so polished, so smooth, and has terrific hands. The only reason this could flop is because Drew Lock turns into a pumpkin (quite possible).

Fit: A+

Grade: A

16. Falcons — A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

If not for the Raiders a few picks later, this would be the biggest reach of the draft. A.J. Terrell is fine, but his size/speed combination oversells what he can do on the field. He has a tendency to get handsy and he struggled against elite receivers in college. This does fill a position of need for Atlanta, but it’s not like they’re one player away from contention.

Fit: B+

Grade: C-

17. Cowboys — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The Cowboys had some other gaps to fill, but Lamb was a luxury pick that proved too tempting to pass up. Dallas might have the most loaded receiving corps in the NFL now, as they extended Amari Cooper and developed Michael Gallup.

Fit: B

Grade: A-

18. Dolphins — Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Austin Jackson is only 20 years old, so it makes sense he’s relatively raw for a tackle prospect. He has a lot to work on but his tools are rare to find. The main concern here is that the Dolphins’ free agency activity is built for a quick rebuild, but Tagovailoa, Jackson and later Noah Igbinoghene might take longer to develop.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

19. Raiders — Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

The Raiders needed a cornerback and don’t draft again until the 80th pick. However, Arnette had third round grades and could have been available when they chose next. This is a massive reach, to say the least.

Fit: C+

Grade: F

20. Jaguars — K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU

On the one hand, the Jaguars needed another edge rusher after Yannick Ngakoue demanded a trade, and they got the best player available. On the other hand, the clock is already ticking before Chaisson wants out.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

21. Eagles — Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

The Eagles need immediate help in their receiving corps, but instead of choosing the obvious pick in Justin Jefferson, they went with the speedy receiver who is still developing. It could be the better choice, as Reagor has shades of DeSean Jackson and Brandin Cooks in his game, but we won’t know if this was the correct pick for some time.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

22. Vikings — Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jefferson was the best receiver still around and he steps in for Stefon Diggs, whom the Vikings traded for this pick. The LSU product is polished, catches everything and seems to get along with his teammates. The issue might be his fit in Minnesota, since both he and Adam Thielen prefer to work in the slot.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

23. Chargers — Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Chargers traded second and third round picks to move back into the first round, all to draft a linebacker who needs some time to grow in an NFL role. If the Chargers believe Murray can be a star, it’s smart to be aggressive, but it’s a lot to give up for the time being.

Fit: B

Grade: TBD

24. Saints — Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan

The Saints were linked heavily to linebacker Patrick Queen, but instead of going with the local star, they added depth to a solid offensive line, or perhaps moving on from Pro Bowl guard Larry Warford. New Orleans has a solid track record developing offensive linemen, so they should get the benefit of the doubt for now.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

25. 49rs — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

The Niners traded up from the 31st pick to select a receiver who would have likely been available at 31. It’s not a great move, but no one will care if Aiyuk proves to be a the perfect fit that offense.

Fit: A

Grade: Should have drafted Shenault

26. Packers — Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Jordan Love is talented enough to take this risk, but man is this going to bother the cantankerous Aaron Rodgers.

Fit: B

Grade: TBD

27. Seahawks — Jordyn Brooks, OLB, Texas Tech

My favorite draft day tradition is the Seahawks ignoring team needs to draft someone who would be available late in the second round. (That’s if they don’t trade their pick, which they have done four times since 2014.) Their past three first round picks have been L.J. Collier, Rashaad Penny and Germain Ifedi, none of whom turned out.

Fit: C+

Grade: TBD

28. Ravens — Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Like the Broncos, the Ravens just sat still and waited for the best player at their most pressing position of need. Patrick Queen is a perfect fit in Baltimore, and also fits their ethos of being cool as hell.

Fit: A+

Grade: A+

29. Titans — Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia

After Jack Conklin left for Cleveland, the Titans were in need of a road-grading right tackle. That’s exactly who they got in the massive 6’6, 350-lbs. Isaiah Wilson. He’s maybe a bit raw in terms of pass protection, but he excels at manhandling defenders in the run game.

Fit: A-

Grade: B

30. Dolphins — Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

Like their picks of Tagovailoa and Jackson, defensive back Igbinoghene is very much a work in progress. He’s plenty talented, but has just two years experienced playing defense.

Fit: B+

Grade: TBD

31. Vikings — Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

The Vikings needed a cornerback, traded down from the 25th pick, and still got their guy. Jeff Gladney is sticky in man coverage and has all the confidence in the world, but it’s still a question as to how he develops.

Fit: A

Grade: TBD

32. Chiefs — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

The perfect little running back for Andy Reid’s offense, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to run circles around linebackers and run through slot cornerbacks. He’s the best route-running back since Christian McCaffrey, the thiccest since C.J. Anderson, and he’s as fun to watch as anyone in this draft. I’m only upset the secret is out, because I was going after CEH in fantasy football.

Fit: A++++
Grade: A+