1. Tennessee Titans: A+
Maybe my favorite draft class in recent memory. The Titans, knowing they already had a quarterback of the future in their back pocket, leveraged the first overall pick for a haul of others, and then worked back into the top 10 to get a right tackle that they believe can be a starter for the next decade in Jack Conklin. Kevin Dodd dominated the national championship game and had a huge 2015. I like him in the second round, love Austin Johnson in Tennessee’s 3-4 base, and thought both Derrick Henry and Kevin Byard fit what Tennessee is building and can make a difference right away. GM Jon Robinson looks like a draft mastermind, and with the haul they got from Los Angeles paying off the next two years, the best could still be yet to come.
2. Los Angeles Rams: A
The Rams wanted a franchise quarterback to start the organization’s re-invigoration in Los Angeles and did whatever was needed to go get him. They were sitting at the 15 spot in this year’s draft, wanted Jared Goff, knew they’d need to give a lot up to get him, and then just went for it. I love that. Five years from now, the football gods will tell us if they went for the right quarterback or not, or if they gave up too much, but in the present, how do you not appreciate a team laying it on the table and just saying, “Let’s go for it”? I don’t know how you can rant and rave and praise the selection of backup cornerbacks and guards in the second and third round — guys the Rams couldn’t take because of trading picks — until we see what Jared Goff becomes. GM Les Snead has built a wonderful young team in Los Angeles, minus one position. The quarterback. So, they just put their franchise and many of their legacies on the right arm of the kid they wanted. In a league where everyone’s trying to get better and emerge from the dreaded world of 7-9 and 8-8, the Rams took a big swing to someday get to 10-6 or 12-4. For that alone, it’s an A.
Best value pick: None
3. Buffalo Bills: A
The Bills didn’t resemble a Rex Ryan team on defense last year, and if you’re going to employ Rex (and brother Rob), you might as well give the defense some thumpers up front. Shaq Lawson — if his shoulder checks out — can be the top pass rusher in this class, while Reggie Ragland is the perfect inside linebacker for a Ryan brother defense. I liked the selection of big boy Adolphus Washington up front, and can already envision Cardale Jones getting on the field at some point in 2016. I liked the value and the needs fulfilled with the first four picks in this draft, and think Kolby Listenbee, a late-round flyer, could be a decent threat in the deep game.
Best value pick: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama, 41st overall
4. Philadelphia Eagles: A
Similar to how I feel about the Rams, I love the Eagles going up and making the moves necessary to get their guy at No. 2. You can’t win in this league without a quarterback, and if the Eagles view Carson Wentz as that kind of quarterback, they weren’t getting him at 13 or 8. As Sam Bradford doesn’t show up to voluntary minicamp and sends messages through his agent, Carson Wentz now comes to Philadelphia, ready to compete and be the best player he can be. I also loved Chase Daniel welcoming him with open arms. It’s as if Bradford is being told, “Hey bud, we’re good here. Are you in or are you out?” And with a quarterbacks room that’ll include Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, and John DeFilippo, it’s hard not to feel good about a young, whip-smart quarterback’s chances for success. I liked the aggressiveness of GM Howie Roseman here, but also liked some of the Day 3 picks, including Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jalen Mills, and local product Wendell Smallwood.
Best value pick: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU, 164th overall
5. Arizona Cardinals: A
I’d feel less comfortable with other teams taking Robert Nkemdiche in the first round, but the Cardinals are a different beast. There’s an infrastructure in place, and the people in the building — from owner Michael Bidwill to GM Steve Keim to head coach Bruce Arians — are strong enough to handle any potential off-field pitfalls the young man may come across. Tyrann Mathieu is the blueprint. Now Nkemdiche — whom I had listed as my No. 1 prospect in this draft before the college season started — just needs to execute. I’m including Chandler Jones — traded to Arizona in a package that included the Cardinals’ second-round pick — as a part of this draft class and think he’ll be an absolute superstar next season. I also think Evan Boehm, a stout center/guard out of Missouri, can contribute right away.
Best value pick: Evan Boehm, C/G, Missouri, 128th overall
6. Cincinnati Bengals: A
Value, value, value. Hats off to Duke Tobin, Marvin Lewis, and the rest of the Bengals’ decision makers on this one. Cincinnati stayed true to its board and with seemingly every pick and took guys who produced in the college game. The first-round selection of William Jackson III was not one for need, and it stung their division-rival Steelers, who had the pick right after. Tyler Boyd could be a good complement to A.J. Green; he isn’t a burner, but is a tough, smart route runner. Andrew Billings was a disruptive force who I saw as a second-round pick. Cincinnati got him in the fourth, and offensive guard Christian Westerman is a big body who could have gone on Day 2. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander will get the very most of him.
Best value pick: Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State, 161st overall
7. Seattle Seahawks: A-
The rich got richer this weekend. Seattle traded back in the first round and still got an offensive tackle they coveted in Germain Ifedi at 31st overall, got big man Jarran Reed — a top-20 talent — in the second round, and two talented offensive players who can make real impacts next year in Nick Vannett and C.J. Prosise in the third round. I see Prosise as a Reggie Bush/Percy Harvin clone. He played wide receiver in college, moved to running back, and did it all in the special teams game. I also like the value they got in Tyvis Powell, an undrafted free agent, who is a tall, rangy safety that left Ohio State early. Perfect fit for the Legion Of Boom.
Best value pick: C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame, 90th overall
8. San Francisco 49ers: A-
I loved the 49ers’ draft, despite a complete lack of flash and/or sizzle. San Francisco needed to get tough and big up front on both sides of the ball and address their defensive backfield. They did that with DeForest Buckner, my top-rated defensive player; Joshua Garnett, arguably the best run-blocking guard in this class; and they got Ronald Blair, a big bull out of Appalachian State — in the fifth round. They also hit that cornerback need with three guys loaded with potential in Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson, and Prince Charles Iworah. I would have liked to have seen them take Connor Cook in the third round, but they waited and got Jeff Driskel in the sixth. A few years back, the young man was the highest-rated high school quarterback in the country. Maybe Chip Kelly can help him fulfill that potential.
Best value pick: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon, seventh overall
9. Denver Broncos: A-
Round by round, Denver nailed its picks. If everyone was as hot as it sounds for Paxton Lynch late in the first round, Denver did what it had to do to land its guy. Again, I have the ultimate respect for the teams that make moves to get quarterbacks. I do not believe you can win without one. I also am a big fan of Adam Gotsis, the big Australian defensive tackle, and can see him learning from Derek Wolfe. Justin Simmons and Devontae Booker will have roles in 2016, and Connor McGovern is one of those weight-room freaks who can set the tone if given the chance to polish his skills. This draft will depend on Lynch and his development. I have high hopes.
Best value pick: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah, 136th overall
10. Indianapolis Colts: A-
The Colts’ offensive line was at least somewhat at fault for the shellacking Andrew Luck took last year. After that, Matt Hasselbeck got clobbered, too. To his credit, Ryan Grigson addressed the offensive line and then some over the weekend. I loved the Ryan Kelly pick, making he and Andrew Luck the only quarterback/center combo that has two masters degrees. I also am high on big boy Le’Raven Clark out of Texas Tech and Joe Haeg, the road paver out of North Dakota State. That’s three for three on the offensive line, and for that, I tip my cap.
Best value pick: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech, 82nd overall