Monday, July 4, 2022

Regrading the 2019 NFL Draft: Bill Belichick goes from perfect to failure, 49ers improve from ‘C’ to ‘A’

It takes three years to truly grade an NFL Draft, although we all do so right after one ends to fulfill the wants and needs of the immediate crowd.

Those grades don’t matter nearly as much as the three-year grades, which is why I always go back and regrade the draft three years out and also regrade myself doing the grading.

Get it?

This is a look back at the 2019 NFL Draft. Included are my grades from immediately after the draft, information on the picks, how I saw the picks as the draft ended three years ago, and my new grade for each team.

It’s an exercise that can make me and others look foolish.

At least in this one, I have really good company in the looking-bad category. It’s me and Bill Belichick, the in-my-mind football genius and the real one.

Back in 2019, we thought alike. We were both woefully wrong.

In that 2019 draft, the Patriots had 10 picks. Of those 10, two are projected starters in 2022, one being punter Jake Bailey, although there is even talk that Bailey could be pushed out because of a bloated cap number. I doubt it, but if that happens, it would mean one starter from the draft. 

The Pats missed on first-round receiver N’Keal Harry and second-round corner Joejuan Williams, two backups who have done little. That draft earned an “A+” grade from me back then, even though as an Arizona State alum I didn’t love Harry. I did really like the rest of the draft.

Bill, you have company in your misery. 

The regrade is the exact opposite. The Patriots now get an “F.” That just goes to show you that perception isn’t always reality. Belichick has a reputation for being a great drafting personnel guy. He’s really no better than the rest, and actually got lucky taking Tom Brady in the sixth. I mean they did draft a defensive back before him in the same round.

The Patriots’ 2019 draft just shows how challenging it can be when drafting. It also shows how wrong we — or me in this case — can be when grading drafts as soon as they conclude.

Three years makes sense. So dive in and look around and see how your teams did in the regrade. I can promise you this: Nobody did as poorly as Belichick.

Arizona Cardinals

2019 Grade: A

The Skinny: They took Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, which has worked out for them, although he has to be better down the stretch. The first four picks — Murray, second-round corner Byron Murphy, second-round receiver Andy Isabella and third-round defensive lineman Zach Allen — are all on the roster. Murray, Murphy and Allen are starters. 

How I did: I didn’t love the Murray pick, so that makes me look bad so far. I liked Murphy, which is a hit, but also thought Isabella could help at receiver. He hasn’t done much so far, even though he can fly. 

New Grade: B

Atlanta Falcons

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: They used their two first-round picks on offensive linemen, getting guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary. Both are starters, but the line struggled last season. Lindstrom has been the much better player. Only two of the remaining five picks are on the roster.

How I did: I liked Lindstrom, and he’s coming off his best season. I questioned going back into the first round to take McGary, and they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. That means I was right. I liked running back Qadree Ollison in the fifth and he is a backup. 

New Grade: C-

Baltimore Ravens

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They had eight picks and not one is scheduled to be a starter this season. First-round pick Marquise Brown was traded to the Cardinals this year. Second-round pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson is a backup for now, although he can push for the starting job. Only two of their remaining six picks are on the roster, both as backups. 

How I did: I thought third-round receiver Myles Boykin would be a hit, but he was let go and is now in Pittsburgh. I didn’t like the pick of quarterback Trace McSorley in the sixth — and he is gone. I thought Brown was a good pick, but he was traded to the Cardinals during the draft, which weakened a weak spot for the Ravens. They took center Tyler Linderbaum with the pick they got for Brown, so his career bears watching. 

New Grade: D

Buffalo Bills 

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: They had eight picks, and three are starters heading into the 2022 season. They are first-round defensive tackle Ed Oliver, fourth-round tight end Dawson Knox and third-round running back Devin Singletary, although he will be pushed by this year’s draft pick, James Cook. Oliver has been good, but not dominant. Second-round offensive lineman Cody Ford is a backup, who has started at times. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Oliver, and he’s been a good player, not a great one. I didn’t love the pick of Singletary in the third, and he’s just been solid. I did like the choice of Knox. 

New Grade: B

Carolina Panthers

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They had seven picks, but just two are on the roster. The only starter is first-round pick Brian Burns, who has developed into a top pass-rusher. They missed on the rest of this draft, which is why this team has talent issues. The big miss was second-round tackle Greg Little, who is now in Miami. 

How I did: I said Little could develop into a Pro Bowl tackle. Oops. I liked the pick of Burns, and questioned picking quarterback Will Grier in the third and he is no longer on the roster. I also mentioned fourth-round pick Christian Miller as pass-rush help, which didn’t work out. 

New Grade: D

Chicago Bears

2019 Grade: C

The Skinny: They traded their first- and second-round picks in the Khalil Mack deal, so the picks were limited. They did take running back David Montgomery in the third, and he’s been a solid player when he’s been healthy. The rest of the draft produced one backup in corner Duke Shelley.

How I did: I liked the pick of receiver Riley Ridley in the fourth, which hasn’t paid off. I also liked the pick of Montgomery in the third. This was an awful draft, especially with Mack now gone. 

New Grade: F

Cincinnati Bengals

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: The Bengals landed three projected 2022 starters in first-round left tackle Jonah Williams, second-round tight end Drew Sample and third-round linebacker Germaine Pratt. Williams is a decent player, but not a top player at his position, although he is developing after missing his rookie season with a knee injury. They moved up to take Sample, but he’s been mostly a backup and blocking tight end. He should be the top tight end this season. Pratt came on strong at the end of 2021. 

How I did: I liked the pick of defensive tackle Renell Wren in the fourth, but that hasn’t played out well for the Bengals after he suffered a hip injury early in his career. I questioned the pick of Ryan Finley in the fourth, and he was traded. I liked the pick of Jonah Williams, but also said taking two backs late was a good move. Trayveon Williams is a backup and Rodney Anderson came with injury issues and then tore up his knee as a rookie and never played. 

New Grade: B-

Cleveland Browns 

2019 Grade: C+

The Skinny: The Browns traded the 17th overall pick, their first, to the Giants to get Odell Beckham Jr. That didn’t work out. They took corner Greedy Williams in the second, and he’s battled injuries, but improved last season. The rest of the draft produced little in terms of definite starters. Third-round linebacker Sione Takitaki has 21 starts, eight last season, but he will battle for a job this season. 

How I did: I liked the pick of  safety Sheldrick Redwine in the fourth, which didn’t work out since he was released and is now in Miami. I questioned taking kicker Austin Seibert, so I got that right since he is now gone. I liked the pick of Williams, but questioned his tackling. 

New Grade: D

Dallas Cowboys

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: The Cowboys traded their first-round pick to get receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders. Cooper was good in his time with the team, but he was traded to Cleveland this year. They took defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second, and he finally started to flash last season. Of the remaining picks, only three are on the roster and none is a projected starter, although a couple will push for jobs. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Hill, but he hasn’t come close to playing up to expectations after tearing an ACL in 2020. I didn’t like the fourth-round pick of running back Tony Pollard, but he’s paid off as a dynamic backup. I also liked third-round guard Connor McGovern, who has started 14 games the past two seasons, but will likely be a backup with the drafting of Tyler Smith in the first round this year. 

New Grade: C-

Denver Broncos

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They took tight end Noah Fant in the first. He was a good player for them, but he was traded to Seattle in the Russell Wilson blockbuster this year. That trade also included second-round quarterback Drew Lock, who never made the Broncos think he was their guy. Second-round guard Dalton Risner and third-round defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones are starters. 

How I did: I loved the pick of Lock, saying the team would someday look back on what a bargain he was in the second. Big miss. I didn’t love the pick of Risner, but said I was nitpicking in finding something I didn’t like. I liked the Fant pick. 

New Grade: C+

Detroit Lions 

2019 Grade: C

The Skinny: They had eight picks, but only two are penciled in as starters this year. They are first-round tight end T.J. Hockenson and fourth-round corner Amani Oruwariye. The rest of the draft produced little help. Second-round linebacker Jahlani Tavai started 16 games his first two seasons, but was traded to the Patriots last year.

How I did: I said they got great value with Oruwariye, and they have. I didn’t like the pick of defensive lineman Austin Bryant in the fourth, but did like Hockenson. I also wondered if it was a need pick with them badly searching for edge-rush help with Brian Burns, Montez Sweat and others on the board. 

New Grade: C

Green Bay Packers

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: Their first three picks were outstanding. They got a rising edge player in Rashan Gary in the first, followed by safety Darnell Savage and offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins in the second. All three have shown the ability to be Pro Bowl players. Jenkins got hurt last year, but was impressive his first two seasons. Third-round tight end Jace Sternberger was released after the 2020 season. 

How I did: I whiffed on much of their draft. I liked Sternberger, who clearly didn’t work out. I also questioned the pick of Gary, who took big steps last season. I liked the pick of Savage and said Jenkins was one of my favorite lineman in the draft. 

New Grade: B+

Houston Texans

2019 Grade: C-

The Skinny: They had seven picks, but just one — first-round offensive tackle Tytus Howard — is a lock to start this year. Second-round corner Lonnie Johnson was traded to the Chiefs this year after playing both corner and safety for the Texans. Second-round round guard Max Scharping has started and will compete this year for a job.

How I did: I thought third-round tight end Kahale Warring had a chance to be special, but he didn’t work out. I questioned taking Howard, and he’s been just OK. I liked the pick of Johnson, but he’s now gone. 

New Grade: D

Indianapolis Colts 

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: The Colts had 10 picks in the draft, and three should be starters this year. They are second-round receiver Parris Campbell, third-round linebacker Bobby Okereke and fourth-round safety Khari Willis, although he will be pushed by rookie Nick Cross. Second-round corner Rock Ya-Sin, who did start for the Colts, was traded to the Raiders to acquire Yannick Ngakoue

How I did: I liked the pick of Campbell, saying he could be a force in their offense with his speed. But he’s battled injuries in his career, which makes this a big year for him. I didn’t like the pick of pass-rusher Ben Banogu in the second, saying it would take time for him. It has. I did like the pick of Ya-Sin. 

New Grade: C-

Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: First-round pick Josh Allen looked like a future star rusher in his first season, but he’s tailed off in the next two. He has to pick it up this season. Second-round tackle Jawaan Taylor also looked like a long-term starter as a rookie, but he’s regressed in a big way the past two seasons. He could lose his job. The rest of the draft produced little, aside from some magical moments from sixth-round quarterback Gardner Minshew

How I did: I liked the pick of Allen, who has been a good player but not quite what they expected. I also like the pick of Taylor, but he’s been a below-average starter. I didn’t like the pick of third-round linebacker Quincy Williams, and he is now with the Jets

New Grade: D

Kansas City Chiefs

2019 Grade: C+

The Skinny: The Chiefs traded their first-round pick to land pass-rusher Frank Clark, who played well in his first two seasons but tailed off last season. They had six picks after the first and five are still with the team, while three will be starters this coming season. They are receiver Mecole Hardman and safety Juan Thornhill, both second-round picks, and fifth-round corner Rashad Fenton. That’s great value. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Thornhill in the second round, but said there were better options on the board when they picked Hardman in the second. I said third-round defensive tackle Khalen Saunders can be a steal, but he’s been mostly a backup with five starts in his career. 

New Grade: B

Las Vegas Raiders

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: This was supposed to be a draft that landed the Raiders a haul to build around for the next decade. They had three first-round picks. Not one of the three received a fifth-year option from the team this year, which means all could be gone. They took pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell fourth overall, which hasn’t worked out at all. He’s been mostly a backup. The other two first-round picks were running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram, solid players but not much more. The two best picks of the draft were fourth-round pass-rusher Maxx Crosby and fifth-round receiver Hunter Renfrow. Second-round corner Trayvon Mullen is also a starter and fourth-round tight end Foster Moreau is a good second tight end. 

How I did: Surprisingly, I liked the pick of Jacobs, but he has just been solid not special. I hated the pick of Ferrell, saying he went too high. I liked fourth-round corner Isaiah Johnson, but he played just 15 games — no starts — and is now with the Steelers

New Grade: B-

Los Angeles Chargers 

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They landed starters with their first two picks in first-round defensive lineman Jerry Tillery and safety Nasir Adderley. Both have been decent, but not special. Fourth-round linebacker Drue Tranquill has been the best value as a starter. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Tillery, which hasn’t worked out like I thought. I questioned the pick of third-round tackle Trey Pipkins, and he has been a sometimes starter. I liked the pick of Adderley, but also liked seventh-round defensive tackle Cortez Broughton, but that’s a miss. 

New Grade: C-

Los Angeles Rams

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: They traded out of the first round — they are allergic to it — and added extra picks. Their first pick came in the second round when they drafted safety Taylor Rapp. He has become a sometimes starter who will compete with 2019 seventh-round pick Nick Scott this season. Both started at times a year ago. They also landed starting corner David Long in the third, starting defensive tackle Greg Gaines in the fourth and starting guard David Edwards in the fifth. That’s great drafting. Backup running back Darrell Henderson came in the third. 

How I did: I liked third-round tackle Bobby Evans, but he’s just a backup, although he has started. I really liked Gaines, saying he would be a steal. He is. I questioned taking Henderson where they took him, even though I liked him as a player. 

New Grade: A

Miami Dolphins

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: They had six picks, and two will be sure starters in 2022. They are first-round defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and fifth-round linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Third-round offensive lineman Michael Dieter has started at guard and center and is the likely starter at center this year. Seventh-round running back Myles Gaskin has proven to be a steal. 

How I did: I loved the pick of Wilkins, who is a good player. I thought Van Ginkel was taken too high, but he has proven that wrong. I liked that they traded a second to get Josh Rosen. Oops. 

New Grade: C+

Minnesota Vikings

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: The Vikings had 12 picks, with two projected as starters in 2022. They are their two first-round picks that year, tight end Irv Smith Jr., and center Garrett Bradbury. Smith is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire season. Sixth-round defensive tackle Armon Watts has a chance to start as well. The rest of the group are either gone or also backups, including running back Alexander Mattison, the backup to Dalvin Cook

How I did: I liked the pick of fourth-round guard Dru Samia, saying he could be a starter right away, but he started just four games and was let go last season. I thought they picked Mattison a round too high. I did like the pick of Smith. 

New Grade: B

New England Patriots 

2019 Grade: A+

The Skinny: The Patriots had 10 picks in this draft. Of those 10, only two are projected starters. One is third-round running back Damien Harris and the other is punter Jake Bailey. That’s it. First-round receiver N’Keal Harry and second-round corner Joejuan Williams have been major disappointments. Third-round tackle Yodny Cajuste is a backup, while third-round edge player Chase Winovich was traded to the Browns for Mack Wilson

How I did: I bombed as badly as the Patriots did. I liked Williams a ton, but he’s been mostly a backup with just one start. I didn’t like the pick of Harry, saying he didn’t run well enough. So I got that right. I liked Winovich, saying he’s a vintage Patriots pick, and he played well early in his career. I really liked their draft a lot. Like Bill Belichick, I whiffed on this draft. 

New Grade: F

New Orleans Saints

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: The Saints had five picks, but didn’t have a first-round pick after trading it to land edge Marcus Davenport the year before. Davenport has been decent, but not yet worth the price they paid. They took starting center Erik McCoy in the second and nickel corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth. Seventh-round linebacker Kaden Elliss is a backup. 

How I did: I liked the move to get McCoy, and thought he would be a good center. I also liked the pick of Gardner-Johnson, who has become a valuable part of their defense. 

New Grade: B-

New York Giants

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: The Giants had 10 picks in the draft, with only three as projected starters in 2022. They are first-round quarterback Daniel Jones, first-round defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and fourth-round safety Julian Love. They got little else from this draft with a major miss on first-round corner Deandre Baker. Fifth-round receiver Darius Slayton has worked out. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Jones, although I did say he went a little higher than I would have taken him. I also liked the pick of Lawrence, saying he could be a force. He has been good, but not a force. I questioned the pick of third-round rusher Oshane Ximines, which played true since he’s been mostly a backup. 

New Grade: C

New York Jets 

2019 Grade: B+

The Skinny: They took defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick. He’s been a good player, but probably not what they expected. They missed big on second-round edge Jachai Polite. The other four picks didn’t produce a starter for the upcoming season, although third-round tackle Chuma Edoga has started. 

How I did: I loved the pick of Williams, saying he would be dominant for a long time. I questioned taking Polite, and he is out of the league. I liked the Edoga pick, and he’s been a decent player for them. 

New Grade: D

Philadelphia Eagles 

2019 Grade: B-

The Skinny: They had five picks, but three in the top 57, and only one is a starter. That is second-round running back Miles Sanders. First-round tackle Andre Dillard is a backup after flopping as a starter, while second-round receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is now moving to tight end, which speaks volumes about the pick. 

How I did: I nailed this one. I liked Sanders, but did not like the pick of Arcega-Whiteside in the second round. I said it was a draft for the future, but that hasn’t played out that way. 

New Grade: D

Pittsburgh Steelers

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: Of their nine picks in the draft, two are projected starters next season. First-round linebacker Devin Bush hasn’t played like expected, so this will be a proving season for him. Second-round receiver Diontae Johnson was the best pick. They didn’t get much else out of this draft and missed so far on third-round corner Justin Layne.  

How I did: I totally blew this evaluation. I liked the pick of Layne in the third and questioned taking Johnson in the same round, but did say the Steelers usually hit those types of receivers. They were right. I liked the move to go up and get Bush, but it hasn’t worked out so far since they declined his fifth-year option. 

New Grade: C-

San Francisco 49ers

2019 Grade: C

The Skinny: They killed it with their first two picks, taking defensive end Nick Bosa with the second overall pick and receiver Deebo Samuel in the second round. Both are stars. They also added playmaking linebacker Dre Greenlaw in the fifth round. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky came in the fourth. They missed on third-round receiver Jalen Hurd.

How I did: I praised the selection of Bosa, but who didn’t? I questioned the pick of Wishnowsky in the fourth. I said there were better options than taking Samuel and Hurd, so one out of two was correct with that thinking.

New Grade: A

Seattle Seahawks

2019 Grade: B

The Skinny: They had 11 picks in this draft. Of those 11, the only sure starter is second-round receiver DK Metcalf, who has been a really good receiver for them. Third-round linebacker Cody Barton could also start. But that’s it. They have some backups, including first-round defensive end L.J. Collier and second-round safety Marquise Blair. But Collier hasn’t come close to living up to expectations. 

How I did: I liked the pick of fourth-round receiver Gary Jennings, but that didn’t work out since he is gone. I thought they drafted Blair too high, which they did since he isn’t a starter. 

New Grade: D

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2019 Grade: C+

The Skinny: They took linebacker Devin White in the first round and he has proven to be a big part of their defense, although his play dropped off some last season. They had seven other picks in the draft and five are still with the team. They got starting corners Sean Murphy-Bunting (nickel) and Jamel Dean in the second and third rounds. Backup safety Mike Edwards (third), backup edge Anthony Nelson (fourth) and backup receiver Scotty Miller (fifth) came in this draft.  

How I did: I loved the pick of White, who has played well, but was a bit of a disappointment last season. I liked the pick of Murphy-Bunting, and questioned taking kicker Matt Gay. He isn’t with Tampa Bay anymore, but he has become a good kicker for the Rams. 

New Grade: B+

Tennessee Titans

2019 Grade: C

The Skinny: They had six picks and four will start this season, with one other — second-round receiver A.J. Brown being traded to the Eagles this year for a first-round pick. That pick was used on his replacement, Treylon Burks. The Titans used their first-round pick in 2019 on defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and then took starting guard Nate Davis in the third and starting safety Amani Hooker in the fourth. Simmons is a star. The best value came in sixth-round linebacker David Long, an above-average starter. 

How I did: I loved the pick of Simmons, saying he could become a force, which he has. I liked the pick of Brown, who played well for them before getting traded. I questioned the pick of Davis, who is their starting right guard. Oops. I said to keep an eye on Long, and he is a big part of their defense. 

New Grade: A

Washington Commanders

2019 Grade: A

The Skinny: They had 10 picks in the draft, with three penciled in as starters next season. They are first-round edge Montez Sweat, second-round receiver Terry McLaurin and fifth-round linebacker Cole Holcomb. The big miss in this draft came picking late quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick. The rest of the draft didn’t add much other than the three starters. 

How I did: I liked the pick of Haskins in the first round. That didn’t work out for Washington. I didn’t like the pick of fourth-round runner Bryce Love, and that has played out. I did like the pick of Sweat, saying he could be a “steal.”

New Grade: B-

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