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Don’t call them “draft grades”: NFC edition

Bryan Fuller, MGoBlog (Flickr album: Michigan vs Ohio State Football 11-28-15)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/]

Welcome to footballyards.com! This is the inaugural post on the site. There was a lot of fan-fare and anticipation in the online world for our arrival, but then my step-dad Tweeted out a picture of me watching soccer right before this went up. That made readers nervous about my NFL bona fides and now only folks in Miami are willing to take a chance on me.

But that just means I’m coming to the league, er, the internet, with a chip on my shoulder, motivated to give you the best darn NFL analysis I can, proving all the doubters wrong.

I’ll start with the NFL draft. Once Mr. Irrelevant hears his name called, every football site is keen to give out draft grades. I’m not going to do the same-old. I’m here to innovate, to provide a fresh voice in an over-saturated and complacent NFL-writing market. So instead of handing out draft grades, I’m going to allocate draft yards. (The site’s called FootballYards, after all.)

Imagine the draft as an opening kickoff that’s caught five-yards deep in the end zone. Based on each team’s draft picks, I assess how far they metaphorically returned the kick.

Did you address all your needs in an efficient manner? Congratulations, you’re starting the drive from the 40!

Did you haemorrhage picks in order to move up the board, only to take a guy you could have gotten later anyway? Sorry, you tripped over the goal line and are starting from the three.

How is that different from assigning a simple letter grade? First: it’s more convoluted. Second: shut-up.

Off we go! Today, I cover the NFC. Tomorrow, who knows? (Probably the AFC.)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Starting position: 12-yard-line

I don’t understand the pick of Ezekiel Elliott at no. 4. He might have a really good year running behind this o-line. So might Darren McFadden (again) or Alfred Morris. There were other needs. Second-rounder Jaylon Smith is obviously a risk. Why that injured linebacker over the equally talented and less injured Myles Jack? (And don’t talk to me about “insider information” from the doctor who did the surgery; he’s damaged goods coming into the most brutal league in sports.)

New York Giants

Starting position: 22-yard-line

Didn’t the G-Men address the secondary in free agency (Janoris Jenkins)? Why spend your first-rounder on CB Eli Apple? That said, Apple projects well at the next level, and the Giants got a decent LB in the fourth round (BJ Goodson). Second-round WR Sterling Shepard gives Eli Manning a solid complement to OBJ. Overall, it was an above average draft for the Giants.

Philadelphia Eagles

Starting position: 13-yard-line

Like the Rams, they gave up a lot to move up the board. Unlike the Rams, they didn’t get the best QB from the mediocre crop. Carson Wentz may pan out, but the div. II product isn’t a sure thing and probably wasn’t worth the price, on a risk/reward metric. They also spent their next three picks on offense. Does the Philly brass know that the team was third-last in total defense and fifth-last in scoring defense last year? Some of their later picks (see Jalen Mills in the seventh) salvaged things.

Washingtons

Starting position: 30-yard-line

They’ve invested a lot in QB Kirk Cousins and first-round WR Josh Doctson gives him another weapon and a better chance to succeed. Yes, they already have DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but both are smaller, speed guys and both are in contract years. Doctson is a bigger target who fills a hole. Was it the most pressing hole? No. See the D-line for that. At least they got DT Matt Ionnidis in the fifth. That looks like good value, by all accounts.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Starting position: 27-yard-line

A lot of people don’t think Leonard Floyd was worth the no. 9 pick. Those people don’t see Floyd as a good pass rusher. I think he has the potential to help Pernell McPhee in that area, though. They also added some great value in the third (DE Jonathan Bullard) and fourth (S Deon Bush). This defense should be much improved.

Detroit Lions

Starting position: 16-yard-line

The Lions had no run game last year and then Megatron retired. So what did they do? Reach on an OT in the first (Taylor Decker) and then go defense in the second (DT A’Shawn Robinson). They didn’t take a skill guy until the seventh round (RB Dwayne Washington). GET EXCITED, LIONS FANS!

Solid lines are the foundation for success. But at some point someone has to get the ball down the field. Apparently Marvin Jones is that guy.

Green Bay Packers

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

The Packers showed last year that they’re a Jordy Nelson injury away from being a completely mediocre offense. They didn’t help their WR depth much, getting Trevor Davis in the fifth. But they did shore up both lines nicely and nabbed a couple mid-round linebackers to help Mr. Everything, Clay Matthews. It was a sensible draft from a team that is very close to the pinnacle.

Minnesota Vikings

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

Teddy Bridgewater needs targets. The Vikings made their best move in the first, getting WR Laquon Treadwell. Getting another corner in the second was quizzical; that Minny secondary is stacked. OT Willie Beavers was a huge reach in the third. Here’s hoping German WR Moritz Boehringer (sixth-round pick) takes the international game to a whole new level.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Starting position: 8-yard-line

Everyone agrees that first-round safety Keanu Neal was a reach. They probably could have gotten the big-hitter at no. 52, and safety wasn’t even their biggest need. They had basically no pass rush last year. They won’t next year, now, either. Oops. At least they added some help for Julio Jones with the underrated WR Devin Fuller (seventh round) and TE Austin Hooper (third round).

Carolina Panthers

Starting position: 11-yard-line

Cam Newton must be pumped, I wrote facetiously. The Panthers added zero to their pass protection. Ok, not every team has a Von Miller to exploit Carolina’s O-line. But the odds of meeting a fearsome pass rush in the playoffs? Oh, pretty good. If letting Josh Norman go meant the team felt compelled to draft three straight corners in rounds two to five, they probably should have ponied up. First-rounder Vernon Butler will be a great run-stuffer, but the Panthers were already solid against the run.

New Orleans Saints

Starting position: 28-yard-line

Sheldon Rankins (DT) fills a big need. But big needs abound on the Saints defense. I would have liked to see another defensive acquisition at no. 47, but safety Vonn Bell – who’s more of a ball-hawk than a tackler – at 61 works for a secondary that got routinely torched. They did what they could with their minimal picks (5).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starting position: 24-yard-line

Everyone loves their top-two picks: corner Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. Both will be immediate contributors on a defense that needed secondary and pass-rush help. Most are less high on third pick Roberto Aguayo, since he’s a kicker … and that pick was in the second round. The kicking game cost them wins last year, though, and Aguayo has the potential to be the best in the league. Points are points, however you get them.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Starting position: 16-yard-line

I like that they’re rolling the dice on Robert Nkemdiche. Bruce Arians is the no-nonsense type of coach to foster his immense talent. (See Tyrann Mathieu.) The rest of their draft had me saying, “really, him?” Taking running back-cum-corner Brandon Williams at no. 92 epitomizes things.

San Francisco 49ers

Starting position: 26-yard-line

The Niners might have gotten the best DE in the draft in the form of DeForest Buckner. They traded back into the first round to get guard Joshua Garnett, too. Both will pay immediate dividends. But I don’t know why anyone would take former Gator QB Jeff Driskel (sixth round) since he couldn’t even hang in the SEC East. (I don’t care that he looked better at LA Tech. I’d look passable in C-USA.)

Seattle Seahawks

Starting position: 25-yard-line

Going O-line and D-line in the first and second rounds was smart, and DT Jarran Reed has serious first-round talent to fill the hole left by Brandon Mebane. Alex Collins (RB) looks like a steal in the fifth round. But it also makes the earlier pick of CJ Prosise look questionable, but a nice haul, overall.

LA Rams

Starting position: touchback (20-yard-line)

They gave up a lot to get the no. 1 pick, which they turned into Jared Goff. They desperately needed a QB and Goff was the best of the bunch, but was this really the year to make that move? Time will tell. Adding three targets in the later rounds was a smart play. Case Keenum and Nick Foles were terrible last year, but they also didn’t have anyone to throw to.

Tags : 49ersBearsBuccaneersCardinalsCowboysDraftEaglesEli AppleFalconsGiantsLionsMoritz BohringerMyles JackNFCPackersPanthersRamsRoberto AguayoRookiesVikingsWashington
Nick Bellis

The author Nick Bellis