History Warns That NFL Draft Grades Won’t Be Known For Years

Jon Gruden hasn’t been getting a lot of love for his first draft as a $100 million head coach, but don’t be disheartened. One of the most dynamic drafts of the past 10 years was initially met with strong skepticism.

The 2011 Seahawks draft changed the course of the franchise with the selections of James Carpenter, John Moffitt, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, and Doug Baldwin.

Yes, Baldwin was an unrestricted free agent that was added after the final round, but would experts have been doing cartwheels over the Seahawks’ draft if he had been taken in the seventh round? No. So he counts.

ESPN headlined the many awful draft grades given to Seattle in the days following the 2011 draft. Mel Kiper wasn’t happy Seattle passed on the quarterback he liked and stamped the Seahawks with a D+ for their draft efforts.

But Kiper wasn’t alone. Have a look at a few other opinions that floated around in April of 2011.


[The Seahawks] had what I thought was a very solid 2010 draft so that’s why this class is a little surprising. If each of Seattle’s first two picks – offensive tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt – were taken a round later each, this would be a great draft.

The Seahawks didn’t take a lot of high potential players in this draft. Instead, they went with low-risk, low-impact players. It’s not a bad strategy, but the picks didn’t have value.

Fox Sports:

OT James Carpenter (first round), G John Moffitt (third round), LB K.J. Wright (fourth round), WR Kris Durham (fourth round), CB Richard Sherman (fifth round), FS Mark LeGree (fifth round), DB Byron Maxwell (sixth round), DL Lazarius Levingston (seventh round), LB Malcolm Smith (seventh round). No team reached for players as badly as the Seahawks.

While they selected a few good players early on, Seattle picked them before many personnel evaluators felt they should have gone off the board.

Bleacher Report:

The Seattle Seahawks’ first round pick of James Carpenter was the most baffling of the draft. Carpenter was a late-second round to early-third round prospect and Derek Sherrod was still available.

There is nothing you can say to convince me that was a good pick. Then with their next pick they ignored needs at quarterback and defensive tackle again to select Wisconsin offensive guard John Moffitt. Moffitt was their best pick of the draft, which says a lot when you consider it wasn’t a good pick to begin with. Horrible, horrible draft for the Seahawks.

So take heart, Raider fans. The true grade of the 2018 Raiders draft won’t be known for years. Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie seemed to go after players with high ceilings – and if two or three reach the mark, who knows what they’ll be saying in a few years.

For fun, maybe bookmark this synopsis and see how it looks down the road:

“Jon Gruden’s first draft back as an NFL coach was strange. It began by trading down from No. 10 to 15 to take UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller. He’s a solid prospect, but he needs a lot of work. Hopefully it can happen in a hurry because Donald Penn just turned 35. Miller is just an unrefined athlete who needs to be coached up. The Raiders opened the third round by taking North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker. He’s an obviously talented player, but raw as well.”

Can line coach Tom Cable do in Oakland what he struggled to do in Seattle the past few seasons?

Edge rusher Arden Key was another puzzling choice. He’s a situational pass rusher who needs to get much stronger in the NFL. He has some off-field issues, which caused him to fall to 87th overall. The Raiders also used a pick on Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson, who may not play this season due to injury.

The best choices Oakland made were on the defensive line. In the second round they picked up disruptive Sam Houston State tackle P.J. Hall. Then in the fifth round they stopped the free fall of Maurice Hurst. The Raiders are suddenly disruptive up the middle.”

twitter: @raidersbeat


4 thoughts on “History Warns That NFL Draft Grades Won’t Be Known For Years

  1. Take a peek at the Raiders’ 2011 draft class…..LOL What a trainwreck! Or is it still too early to grade them?

  2. Never , and I mean never , base your knowledge of a player on the talking heads mistakenly called ” experts “. The only reason they have jobs is because the NFL draft has become more of a spectacle than it should be and therefore ” requires” coverage . Besides the talking heads , we now also have beat writers who somehow have turned into analysts because they can dig up stats on a player . Sometimes they’re right about a player or a draft but if you swing an electric racquet at a swarm of bees , you’re going to kill a few of them . I much prefer to trust the people who really evaluate players and the only ones that matter . The people who DRAFT these players . I also prefer not to grade a draft until that crop of players has been in the league for at least 2 years although 3 is the optimum to really know .

  3. I think they did a great job filling needs. Like Al Davis I don’t care about character it’s football not a church. You get football players who hit, catch and have a nasty demeanor. RNFL

  4. Considering Mckenzie’s draft history people have EVERY reason to be skeptical. he’s had ONE good draft thus far which is the only reason he is still employed.

    2013 Draft Aka the Hayden experiment. Not a single player left from that draft on the roster. Grade: F

    2014 aka “saved McKenzie’s *** draft” . Mack, Carr, Gabe Jackson, and Justin Ellis. Grade AAA+.

    2015 Aka Cooper and nothing else draft. Mario Edwards and Feliciano are still on the roster but not contributing in any significant way.
    Grade: C

    2016 in order: Karl Joseph (not yet lived up to draft slot, 14th overall. Jihad Ward (they were widely criticized for reaching on him) was just traded for a bag of peanuts. Shilique Calhoun (nada, he was released and resigned), Connor Cook (3rd stringer), Deandre, Corey James and Vidal Alexander are serviceable backups. KJ can’t cover TE’s so a move to FS might greatly benefit him.
    Grade: C+

    2017: incomplete. Will depend on how Conley and Obi play this year.

    Also keep in mind that we were widely criticized for what we got in return for trading back from 10 to 15 this year and the same in 2013 when we traded back and “still got our guy” in Hayden.

    So yes, based on RESULTS McKenzie and now Gruden deserve a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, as always I am hopelessly optimistic! RNFL!

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