Best and worst 2016 draft picks made by each NFL team
It’s said that you have to wait at least three years before evaluating a draft class, but where is the fun in that? Using PFF’s pre-draft rankings and Chase Stuart’s Draft Value Chart, our analytics director Nathan Jahnke recorded the value of every 2016 draft pick for this Washington Post article on the teams that did the best and worst at acquiring value per pick.
We then used that same value information to determine the best and worst pick made by each team in 2016, which is what you’ll find below.
Here are the best and worst picks for all 32 NFL teams:
Best: Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana (Rd. 6, No. 205)
Miller flashed at times down during Senior Bowl practices, doing enough to warrant his sixth-round selection. But the fact that he is appearing in this “best” spot gives you an idea of what we generally thought of Arizona’s draft — first-rounder Robert Nkemdiche, a relative reach based on where he was picked, was the only Cardinals draft pick to even appear in our top 250 prospects list.
Worst: Brandon Williams, CB, Texas A&M (Rd. 3, No. 92)
A freakishly athletic former running back with one year of unimpressive college work at cornerback is fine for a late-round flier, but we can’t get on board with taking him in the third round.
Best: Devin Fuller, WR, UCLA (Rd. 7, No. 238)
Obviously we were not fans of the Falcons draft. Fuller had barely a draftable grade on our board and still presented their best value. Second-round linebacker Deion Jones was a huge reach, but not as bad as the player listed below.
Worst: Keanu Neal, S, Florida (Rd. 1, No. 17)
Neal plays a coverage position and we never saw anything special from him in that aspect. His 16 missed tackles were sixth most among safeties in the draft class, suggesting he might not be the safest bet as a run defender, either.
Best: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech (Rd. 4, No. 134)
Dixon could very well be the replacement for Ray Rice the Ravens have been searching for. We had a second-round grade on him and Dixon’s +8.1 receiving grade last year was tops in the draft class, with his elusive rating ranking second.
Worst: Chris Moore, WR, Cincinnati (Rd. 4, No. 107)
In a fairly weak receiver class we didn’t see Moore being worthy of his fourth-round draft status. His big-play ability was far too erratic in college to see it translating well to the pros.
Best: Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State (Rd. 3, No. 80)
Washington won’t check a lot of athletic boxes, but he was quietly the seventh highest graded interior defender in college football last year, and particularly disruptive as a pass-rusher. The Bills need help in that area. First-round DE Shaq Lawson and second-round LB Reggie Ragland also represented good value picks.
Worst: Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State (Rd. 4, No. 139)
He may have never lost a game he started in college, but there was still a reason why Jones got benched last year at Ohio State. Even in his mythical run to the National Championship the year prior, Jones only had a +0.7 passing grade.
Best: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech (Rd. 1, No. 30)
We can’t argue with the Panthers getting a player at the end of the first round that we had right on the borderline of being a first-round grade. Butler improved mightily as a pass rusher his senior year and has the tools to push the pocket from the nose tackle position.
Worst: Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma (Rd. 5, No. 141)
One of the most egregious risk-takers in the entire draft class at the cornerback position, Sanchez allowed 553 yards in only 11 games last season.
Best: Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan (Rd. 7, No. 230)
Braverman was the second-most productive slot receiver in all of college football last year, trailing only Sterling Shepard. Slot production has less to do with straight line speed and more to do with route running and quickness which Braverman has in spades.
Worst: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia (Rd. 1, No. 9)
This is how good the Bears draft was. We didn’t even dislike the Floyd selection, it’s just that he was slightly lower on our board than his 9th overall draft slot.
Best: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (Rd. 4, No. 122)
How he fell all the way to the fourth round, I have no idea. Even if he can’t rush the passer, his upside as a run stuffer warranted an earlier selection. The Bengals landed a lot of good values in this draft.
Worst: Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State (Rd. 3, No. 87)
Another player that we liked, but not enough to justify the third round selection. We can’t argue with the pick though as Vigil’s athletic upside and top 30 coverage grade among all linebackers in the FBS last year are intriguing.
Best: Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State (Rd. 5, No. 172)
Higgins’ production the last two seasons has been obscene. In 2014 he trailed only Tyler Lockett and Amari Cooper in our grading. There are athleticism concerns, but Higgins already knows how to run routes like a veteran wideout. He was one of several values Cleveland landed, including at wide receiver.
Ricardo Louis, WR, Auburn (Rd. 4, No. 114 overall)
Louis didn’t make our final draft board of the top 250 prospects, which is why he represents the worst value in an otherwise impressive draft haul from Cleveland. That was in part based on him not grading particularly well in Auburn’s run-heavy offense, but Louis actually ranked fourth in the class in yards per route run average (3.51), meaning he offers some upside in the pros if he receives a larger workload.
Best: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (Rd. 2, No. 34)
Obviously we can’t account for his injury diagnosis, but if Smith is truly able to return in year two fully healthy, the Cowboys nabbed the second-highest linebacker on our board all the way in the second round.
Worst: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Rd. 1, No. 4)
Passing over Jalen Ramsey — who also plays a desperate position of need — in favor of a running back isn’t something we can endorse. There’s no doubt Elliott will be successful in Dallas, but so would a handful of other backs in this class.
Best: Will Parks, S, Arizona (Rd. 6, No. 219)
One of the players featured in the ‘My Guys’ podcast by fellow analyst Bobby Slowik, Parks was our highest-graded cornerback when he played in the slot back in 2014.
Worst: Adam Gotsis, DT, Georgia Tech (Rd. 2, No. 63)
Gotsis’ improvement from junior to senior year is very encouraging, but solely his play on the field last season wouldn’t warrant his selection. After an ACL injury last season it’s no sure thing he’ll continue the upward trajectory he was on.
Best: Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State (Rd. 6, No. 202)
An undersized, attacking defensive tackle, Zettel is one of the few late-round selections who can offer something as a pass rusher. If he can fill out his frame, Zettel could be a starter in the league.
Worst: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (Rd. 1, No. 16)
Another player we’ve been lower on throughout the draft process, Decker simply wasn’t a great pass protector in college with just slightly above-average grades the past two seasons.
Green Bay Packers
Best: Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford (Rd. 6, No. 200)
Murphy combined with Josh Garnett to be the most crushing double team duo in college football last year. He has some issues in pass protection with speed-to-power, but if he can add some core strength Murphy has the feet to be a starting tackle.
Worst: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA (Rd. 1, No. 27)
We don’t hate the selection by any means, we simply saw Clark as more of a mid-second round value. His game against Arizona was one of the highest graded we saw all season, but he too often disappeared against better competition.
Best: Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame (Rd. 2, No. 50)
There wasn’t much of a difference between Martin and Ryan Kelly, who went No. 18 overall to the Colts, in our book. He has the talent to step in right away and be an upgrade from Ben Jones.
Worst: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (Rd. 1, No. 21)
Fuller went to about as ideal a situation as he could have hoped for, but he’s still a one-trick pony who was drafted ahead of a much more complete receiver in Josh Doctson. The Texans will need to maximize Fuller’s deep-threat ability to get appropriate value from this selection.
Best: Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas (Rd. 4, No. 116)
Ridgeway only played 463 snaps last season, but on them he was among the most efficient players in the country. His win rate in the run game was among the top five for interior defenders.
Worst: T.J. Green, DB Clemson (Rd. 2, No. 57)
Green has all the athletic traits, however they’ve yet to translate into coverage ability where he had the seventh lowest grade of any safety in the FBS last year.
Best: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Rd. 2, No. 36)
If Jack can stay healthy, the Jaguars got the steal of the draft. He was the No. 5 player on our board and a potential superstar defender in the pros. His coverage grade was No. 1 among college linebackers in 2014.
Worst: Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland (Rd. 3, No. 69)
Ngakoue was the 21st highest graded edge rusher in the nation last year, but he completely sold out to do it, finishing with the 19th-worst run defense grade among edge defenders last year.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State (Rd. 2, No. 37)
My favorite pick in the draft, Jones has athletic upside with production to match. No interior defender had a higher pass-rushing grade against Power-5 competition last year, and the Chiefs moved back into the second round to land him. Excellent value.
Worst: KeiVarae Russell, DB, Notre Dame (Rd. 3, No. 74)
Notre Dame’s blitz-heavy scheme hung Russell out to dry sometimes, but he still gave up 583 yards last year in 11 games.
Los Angeles Rams
Best: Mike Thomas, WR, Southern Mississippi (Rd. 6, No. 206)
No receiver in college football made more spectacular catches in traffic than Thomas. The only question mark is whether he can separate in the pros, but in the seventh round, he was a steal.
Worst: Josh Forrest, LB, Kentucky (Rd. 6, No. 190)
The Rams were another team with a very solid draft. We barely differed in our evaluation of Forrest compared to his draft slot, yet he still measured out as the “worst” value here. That’s a good thing for L.A.
Best: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi (Rd. 1, No. 13)
This is another obvious one. Setting aside any off-field concerns, Tunsil warranted a much higher selection based on talent alone. He was one of the six best prospects in this draft after dominating as a run blocker and not allowing a sack in pass protection.
Worst: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor (Rd. 2, No. 38)
He’s definitely a project, and one we were a tad bit lower on than his second-round draft slot. He was far too boom-or-bust last year for our liking, although if he cleans that up he’ll be worth the selection.
Best: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (Rd. 2, No. 54)
Alexander was the best press-man cornerback for our money in the class. With the value placed on the cornerback position in the NFL, nabbing Alexander in the second round was among the best picks in the draft.
Worst: Willie Beavers, OL, Western Michigan (Rd. 4, No. 121)
This is another player we were wildly different on than seemingly the rest of the NFL. Beavers had the lowest grade of any left tackle in the FBS last year.
New England Patriots
Best: Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State (Rd. 7, No. 225)
Lucien has some of the best ball skills in the class and a large catch radius. He is another player who fell due to question marks about being able to separate, but what he did out of the slot for the Sun Devils was very impressive.
Worst: Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State (Rd. 3, No. 91)
Brissett was wildly inaccurate last year, with just the 53rd-best accuracy percentage nationally. He is a developmental project, and was taken ahead of many other more productive college passers.
New Orleans Saints
Best: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (Rd. 2, No. 47)
Thomas was a guy we saw as a first-round value and he fills a glaring need in New Orleans. He broke 13 tackles on 56 catches last year. He was a great second-round pickup for New Orleans.
Worst: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State (Rd. 2, No. 61)
This is only a minor quibble here on our part, as we were fans of most of the Saints selections. We had a third-round grade on Bell.
New York Giants
Best: Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina (Rd. 6, No. 184)
Adams is likely the most complete tight end in this class with a legitimate ability to set the edge as a run blocker. He wasn’t featured much as a receiver at South Carolina, but showed us enough at Senior Bowl practices to think he’ll contribute there in the NFL — and his 10 forced missed tackles on just 28 catches speaks to his ability with the ball in his hands.
Worst: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Rd. 1, No. 10)
We like Apple a lot, it’s just that they passed up on three corners we thought were better, and now the Giants have three cornerbacks with very little experience in the slot. There were better players to be had at No. 10 overall.
New York Jets
Best: Charone Peake, WR, Clemson (Rd. 7, No. 241)
Truthfully we weren’t even that high on Peake, but the Jets draft didn’t feature too many players high on our board.
Worst: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (Rd. 2, No. 51)
Our undraftable grade on Hackenberg is no secret. First-rounder Darron Lee was a runner-up here.
Best: Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State (Rd. 3, No. 75)
He might be a pass-rusher only, but he was the second highest graded edge player in that aspect in college football last year. The Raiders are now absolutely loaded with edge talent.
Worst: Jihad Ward, DT, Illinois (Rd. 2, No. 44)
He was unproductive last year and is a below-average athlete. Ward’s 30 stops last year were 83rd-most among defensive linemen in the FBS.
Best: Isaac Seumalo, G, Oregon State (Rd. 3, No. 79)
Seumalo is a close second in this class to Cody Whitehair for the title of smoothest-moving guard. He won’t overpower you, but Seumalo has amazing feet and the sixth-highest grade of any guard in the FBS last year.
Worst: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OL, TCU (Rd. 5, No. 164)
We didn’t see much from Vaitai that made us think he’d be drafted. His athletic traits, though, are intriguing for a late round pick.
Best: Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston (Rd. 7, No. 229)
Ayers’ 2.70 yards per route run from the slot last year was seventh-best in college football. Ayers has the ability to soften the blow of losing Martavis Bryant for a year due to suspension.
Worst: Artie Burns, CB, Miami (FL) (Rd. 1, No. 25)
It was inevitable that the Steelers were going to reach for an athletic corner. Burns has all the athletic traits teams like to see at the position, yet only graded out around average a year ago. He wasn’t anywhere close to the first round on the PFF board, yet that’s where the Steelers took him.
San Diego Chargers
Best: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Rd. 1, No. 3)
The No. 1 player on our big board and the highest-graded edge player each of the last two seasons. I don’t care where you play him, Bosa will produce.
Worst: Drew Kaser, P, Texas A&M (Rd. 6, No. 179)
We’re not going to rag on the Chargers for drafting a punter in the sixth round. They knocked this draft out of the park, in our eyes, which is why Kaser has to be the choice here.
San Francisco 49ers
Best: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Rd. 1, No. 7)
Buckner was one of the few players in the class we viewed as a sure thing. Buckner was easily the highest-graded interior lineman in football last season, and did equally well against both the run and the pass.
Worst: Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State (Rd. 3, No. 68)
We had a fourth-round grade on Redmond and he went in the third. There wasn’t much to complain about San Francisco’s 2016 draft from a value standpoint.
Best: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (Rd. 2, No. 49)
Reed was easily the top run-stuffing nose tackle in this class. Reed led the nation in run-stop percentage as a senior and was a great value for Seattle in the second round.
Worst: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (Rd. 1, No. 31)
He had a negative pass-blocking grade last year as a right tackle at Texas A&M. Ifedi is terribly raw, and even switching to guard, I’m not sure he’ll contribute for a few seasons. This was a pick based on potential, not on production.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Rd. 2, No. 39)
There are obvious off-field reasons why Spence would get pushed down draft boards, but he lit up the competition at the Senior Bowl and offers significant pass-rushing potential. He was a great value in the second round and filled a need on the edge for Tampa Bay.
Worst: Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State (Rd. 2, No. 59)
Not much to say here. The Bucs drafted a kicker in the second round. A kicker who was just 50 percent from 40-plus yards a year ago. And they traded up to do it.
Best: Kalan Reed, CB, Southern Miss (Rd. 7, No. 253)
Reed, Mr. Irrelevant, had a late second-round grade on our draft board. It is curious that he lasted all the way til the end of the seventh considering his athletic upside (4.49-second 40-yard dash, 41.5-inch vertical jump), but the Titans could reap the benefits.
Worst: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (Rd. 2, No. 45)
Henry offers little else outside of his downhill running ability — which is unfortunately something that can also be said about starter DeMarco Murray. Using a second-round pick on a backup running back seems superfluous, regardless of how effective Henry is as a power back.
Best: Steven Daniels, LB, Boston College (Rd. 7, No. 232)
The Redskins have been missing a legitimate run presence in the linebacker corps ever since London Fletcher started to lose a step. Daniels was the highest-graded linebacker in the FBS last year, making him a steal in the seventh round.
Worst: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (Rd. 3, No. 84)
Washington was another team with a solid draft. We didn’t differ greatly on our valuation of Fuller based on where the Redskins chose him. He has good ball skills, but struggled mightily with quicker receivers.