Re-grading the 2010 NFL draft
While we tend to rush into doling out grades and instant reactions immediately after the conclusion of each NFL draft, to be able to accurately judge a draft class, you must give players roughly five-to-six years to show what they can do on the field.
With that in mind, we’re going to step back and take a look at the 2010 NFL draft, for which we’ve accumulated the 2010-2015 full season grades for each of the 255 players selected that year. The 2010 NFL draft was the last of its kind, and took place in an entirely different ecosystem before the new collective bargaining agreement was implemented, resulting in a rookie wage scale that effectively slashed rookie salaries to fractions of what they previously were. Any misuse of draft capital was especially costly to teams picking early in the draft, as these high picks would automatically become the highest-paid players at their position before even taking a single professional snap.
Like all drafts, the repercussions remain many years down the line.
(Editor’s note: The cumulative grade for each team was found by adding together the cumulative season grades of each player selected in the 2010 draft class for that team. Keep in mind that 0.0 is considered average.)
2010’s five highest-graded draft classes (by cumulative PFF grade)
1. New England Patriots (+331.2)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (+297.2)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (+177.6)
4. San Francisco 49ers (+164.8)
5. Seattle Seahawks (+158.1)
It’s telling that four of the above teams made this season’s playoffs, and the fifth was a consistent playoff contender with a Super Bowl appearance since this draft, largely in part to the strength and depth of their rosters built through the 2010 draft. This further drives home the point that the draft is one of the most important cogs in building a successful team in today’s NFL.
The highest-graded player during this time-frame (by cumulative grade), Geno Atkins, was a fourth-round pick. The second-highest, Rob Gronkowski, was a second-rounder with a spotty and concerning injury history. The fourth, Antonio Brown, was a sixth-rounder out of Central Michigan. It’s fair to say that judgement should be withheld in order to truly see the value of a draft class, but the significance of a good draft is more important than it has ever been in propelling teams to success in today’s NFL.
Now let’s dive into the draft grades for all 32 teams, presented in the 2010 draft order.
1. St. Louis Rams
Cumulative grade (11 picks): -35.8 during seasons with St. Louis
Best pick: TE Michael Hoomanawanui (round 5, pick 132, +8.4 cumulative grade)
The burly TE was St. Louis’ only positively-graded player from this draft class outside of Sam Bradford.
Worst pick: QB Sam Bradford (round 1, pick 1, +10.7 cumulative grade)
Bradford finished his tenure in St. Louis with only one truly above-average season, and failed to make a lasting impact during his five years with the franchise who drafted him No. 1 overall. He missed significant time in two of his first four seasons before missing 2014 entirely. He missed some time in Philadelphia this season, but did come on strong with three of his last four games grading out to +2.5 or better.
2. Detroit Lions
Cumulative grade (six picks): +71.7
Best pick: DT Ndamukong Suh (round 1, pick 2, +77 cumulative grade)
The three-time first-team All-Pro has clearly been one of the best players in the league since winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010. DE Willie Young (round 7, pick 213, +17.9 cumulative grade) also paid dividends for Detroit’s defensive line later in the draft.
Worst pick: RB Jahvid Best (round 1, pick 30, -9.4 cumulative grade)
The former track star was the Lions’ second first-round pick, and had some electric moments during his two seasons before being waived and retiring due to the effects of suffering multiple concussions.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cumulative grade (nine picks): +83.6
Best pick: DT Gerald McCoy (round 1, pick 3, +115.2 cumulative grade)
As the third-highest graded player in the entire draft (behind Rob Gronkowski and Geno Atkins), the third-overall pick was certainly a sound investment. McCoy was one of PFF’s top-two graded DT’s for three years straight (2012–2014).
Worst pick: DT Brian Price (round 2, pick 35, -24.4 cumulative grade)
The Buc’s second pick, also a DT, was not nearly as effective in his two years playing for Tampa Bay.
4. Washington Redskins
Cumulative grade (six picks): +28.7
Best pick: OT Trent Williams (round 1, pick 4, +70.4 cumulative grade)
“Silverback” has lived up to his nickname while showing steady improvement and evolving into one of the top players in the game at a premium position.
Worst pick: LB Perry Riley (round 4, pick 103, -34.5 cumulative grade)
While he has played a lot of snaps over the last few years, Riley has often been more part of the problem on Washington’s defense rather than a bright spot, notably struggling to defend the run.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Cumulative grade (seven picks): +127.2
Best pick: G Jon Asamoah (round 3, pick 68, +47.4 cumulative grade)
Asamoah was a consistent force with KC before leaving for Atlanta in free agency after four seasons. The Chiefs also drafted and received spurts of strong play from S Eric Berry (round 1, pick 5, +44.1 cumulative grade), TE Tony Moeaki (round 3, pick 93, +27.8 cumulative grade), and CB Javier Arenas (round 2, pick 50, +17.4 cumulative grade). Berry was back contributing as a top-level performer during KC’s 2015 playoff run, after amazingly overcoming a bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Worst pick: RB/WR Dexter McCluster (round 2, pick 36, +0.3 cumulative grade)
Probably the strongest “worst” pick in this article, given that the Chiefs first five picks all returned positive overall grades. McCluster did have three return-TDs in his four KC seasons, but never quite found a recurring role in their offense.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Cumulative grade (10 picks): +158.1
Best pick: S Kam Chancellor (round 5, pick 133, +52 cumulative grade)
Although S Earl Thomas (round 1, pick 14, +55.7 cumulative grade) is widely regarded as a once-in-a-generation talent, Chancellor has accumulated a similar grade through his first six seasons and was drafted four rounds later. The Seahawks also hit on OT Russell Okung (round 1, pick 6), WR Golden Tate (round 2, pick 60), and CB Walter Thurmond (round 4, pick 111) in this draft, helping to propel them to two Super Bowl appearances since.
Worst pick: DT E.J. Wilson (round 4, pick 127, -1.7 cumulative grade)
The fourth-rounder only played 33 snaps during his rookie season before never seeing the field again.
7. Cleveland Browns
Cumulative grade (seven picks): +67.6
Best pick: CB Joe Haden (round 1, pick 7, +47 cumulative grade)
Haden delivered positively-graded seasons every year since entering the league, and has earned two Pro Bowl nods along with one second-team All-Pro. Safety T.J. Ward (round 2, pick 38, +42.1 cumulative grade) also delivered over his four seasons in Cleveland before leaving in free agency for Denver.
Worst pick: RB Montario Hardesty (round 2, pick 59, -13.8 cumulative grade)
The second-rounder is another in what feels like a long line of Cleveland RB busts.
8. Oakland Raiders
Cumulative grade (nine picks): +75.1
Best pick: DE Lamarr Houston (round 2, pick 44, +47.3 cumulative grade)
The Texas product evolved into one of the league’s top 4-3 DE’s by the end of his four seasons in Oakland, specializing in his ability to stop the run (54 stops in 2013). He took a big payday from Chicago before suffering an unfortunate injury after celebrating a sack, turning him into a part-time player in 2015 as an OLB in Chicago’s 3-4 scheme.
Worst pick: LB Rolando McClain (round 1, pick 8, +17.2 cumulative grade)
The Raiders didn’t get much from their last few picks, save for a few WR Jacoby Ford (round 4, pick 108, -2.9 cumulative grade) highlights and a few disastrous long snaps from Travis Goethel (round 6, pick 190). When focused, McClain has played at a high level, but a malady of off-field issues caused him to be more of a distraction in Oakland than the long-term fixture he was expected to be.
9. Buffalo Bills
Cumulative grade (nine picks): -10.9
Best pick: RB C.J. Spiller (round 1, pick 9, +19.9 cumulative grade)
Besides LB Arthur Moats (round 6, pick 178, +3.4 cumulative grade), Spiller is the only positively-graded player from this draft for Buffalo, with his +21.0-graded 2012 season proving to be the outlier in an otherwise pedestrian five seasons.
Worst pick: DT Torell Troup (round 2, pick 41, -14.9 cumulative grade)
The man drafted a pick before hometown-hero Rob Gronkowski was recently featured in a moving article describing his plight since the day the Bills made this fateful pick. Standout special teamer WR Marcus Easley (round 4, pick 107) is the only player remaining from this draft class for Buffalo.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Cumulative grade (six picks): -94.3
Best pick: DL Austen Lane (round 5, pick 153, -5.1 cumulative grade)
Lane provided one positively-graded season (2012) at a cumulative score of +7.8 as a rotation defensive lineman. Not much else to say about this draft class.
Worst pick: DT Tyson Alualu (round 1, pick 10, -79.1 cumulative grade)
Sometimes the instantaneous reaction turns out to be the right one, as Alualu was widely regarded as a reach with the 10th-overall pick. Somehow, Alualu has survived on Jacksonville’s roster to this day, despite consistently posting well below-average grades.
11. San Francisco 49ers
Cumulative grade (eight picks): +164.8
Best pick: LB Navarro Bowman (round 3, pick 91, +77.7 cumulative grade)
G Mike Iupati (round 1, pick 17, +89.2 cumulative grade) graded higher over their first five full seasons with San Francisco, but Bowman was picked 74 picks later and was just as much a part of the 49ers’ smash-mouth identity during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure as Iupati was on the other side of the ball.
Worst pick: WR Kyle Williams (round 6, pick 206, -7.6 cumulative grade).
S Taylor Mays (round 2, pick 49, +0.1 cumulative grade) was picked much earlier and was gone after one season, but mutter “Kyle Williams” in any 49ers fan’s ear and they will turn pale quicker than a Giants fan hearing “Trey Junkin.”
12. San Diego Chargers
Cumulative grade (six picks): -14.8
Best pick: RB Ryan Mathews (round 1, pick 12, +7.1 cumulative grade)
Despite a highly-publicized, but injury-plagued career in San Diego, Mathews is the highest-graded player of the Chargers’ six picks.
Worst pick: RB Ryan Mathews (round 1, pick 12, +7.1 cumulative grade)
The only pick who truly deserves to hold down both spots on our list. The Chargers traded up from 28 to 12 to acquire Mathews. This is just a poor value play at a fungible position, and now looks similar to them trading up in the 2015 draft to acquire his replacement, RB Melvin Gordon. Chargers fans hope for a different result, but can’t be convinced after Gordon’s lackluster rookie season (-4.6 overall grade in 2015).
13. Philadelphia Eagles
Cumulative grade (13 picks): +27.1
Best pick: DE Brandon Graham (round 1, pick 13, +100.2 cumulative grade)
Long a PFF favorite, Graham has produced exceedingly well, despite being just a situational pass-rusher in Philadelphia. In 2012, he graded as PFF’s second ranked edge defender, despite playing less than half of Philadelphia’s snaps.
Worst pick: LB Jamar Chaney (round 7, pick 220, -31.6 cumulative grade)
The first of Philadelphia’s three seventh-round picks, Chaney graded significantly below-average while starting 24 games for Philadelphia from 2010-2012.
14. New York Giants
Cumulative grade (six picks): +94.7
Best pick: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (round 1, pick 15, +101.2 cumulative grade)
A true impact player before a tumultuous 2015 offseason, he was one of the driving forces behind the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory. He returned as a one-dimensional, but still effective, pass-rusher in 2015.
Worst pick: P Matt Dodge (round 7, pick 221, -7.7 cumulative grade)
The punter lasted one subpar season, highlighted by a red-faced Tom Coughlin demanding an explanation for one of the most inexcusable punts you will ever see.
15. Tennessee Titans
Cumulative grade (nine picks): +74.9
Best pick: CB Alterraun Verner (round 4, pick 104, +41 cumulative grade)
Verner posted four consecutive above-average seasons with Tennessee before securing a big payday with Tampa Bay.
Worst pick: LB Rennie Curran (round 3, pick 97, grade not available)
The third-rounder from Georgia never played a defensive snap in his lone season in the league. Fellow third-rounder WR Damian Williams (round 3, pick 77, -1.7 cumulative grade) also never developed into a consistent threat as hoped for out of USC.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Cumulative grade (10 picks): +177.6
Best pick: WR Antonio Brown (round 6, pick 195, +110.3 cumulative grade)
Since 2011, Brown has graded as a top 10 WR every year except once. He is currently PFF’s top ranked WR two seasons running. Brown highlights a very strong draft class for Pittsburgh, which also included C Maurkice Pouncey (round 1, pick 18, +25.4 cumulative grade), OLB Jason Worilds (round 2, pick 52, +31.4 cumulative grade), and WR Emmanuel Sanders (round 3, pick 82, +11.5 cumulative grade).
Worst pick: OLB Thaddeus Gibson (round 4, pick 116, grade not available)
The fourth-rounder was the team’s first miss, as he barely made it out of camp his first season.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Cumulative grade (seven picks): -29.5
Best pick: G Joe Hawley (round 4, picks 117, -4.8 cumulative grade)
Hawley provided 24 starts in the interior of the line over his five seasons in Atlanta. The Falcons didn’t get much production out of this draft elsewhere, outside of two solid seasons from LB Sean Weatherspoon (round 1, pick 19, -1.7 cumulative grade).
Worst pick: DT Corey Peters (round 3, pick 83, -30.8 cumulative grade)
Peters provided five seasons of slightly below-average play for the Falcons, before signing with the Cardinals and missing 2015 with a torn Achilles tendon.
18. Houston Texans
Cumulative grade (nine picks): -19.3
Best pick: CB Kareem Jackson (round 1, pick 20, +7.1 cumulative grade)
The 20th-overall selection has been a consistent starter during his six seasons in Houston, playing at least 638 snaps every season.
Worst pick: DT Earl Mitchell (round 3, pick 81, -10.2 cumulative grade)
Mitchell was mostly rotated in as a NT for Houston throughout his four seasons, but never established himself as an above-average run defender in the middle of the Texans’ defense. He had his best season in 2014 with the Miami Dolphins.
19. Cincinnati Bengals
Cumulative grade (nine picks): +297.2
Best pick: DT Geno Atkins (round 4, pick 120, +208.3 cumulative grade)
The Bengals hit on one of the biggest steals of the draft with Atkins, who has been a dominant player for Cincinnati when healthy. Most notable was his 2012 season, which saw him post a +79.2 cumulative grade, with green-graded (+1.0 or greater) games in every outing but one. He’s currently back at his perch as a top-five defensive interior player.
Worst pick: WR Jordan Shipley (round 3, pick 84, -2.2 cumulative grade)
The Texas product was marginally productive playing in the slot his rookie year. He then tore his ACL and MCL in 2011 and was subsequently cut by Cincinnati the next offseason.
20. Denver Broncos
Cumulative grade (nine picks): +89.3
Best pick: WR Demaryius Thomas (round 1, pick 22, +74 cumulative grade)
Thomas has been terrific, especially when paired with Peyton Manning at QB. He earned a top-10 PFF grade in each of the 2012-2014 seasons. Denver also got positive production from fellow early picks WR Eric Decker (round 3, pick 87), and G Zane Beadles (round 2, pick 45).
Worst pick: C J.D. Walton (-27.3)
Walton started every game at center during his first two seasons in the league. However, he was PFF’s lowest-ranked center in 2011 by a large margin.
21. Green Bay Packers
Cumulative grade (seven picks): -61.5
Best pick: S Morgan Burnett (round 3, pick 71, +26 cumulative grade)
Burnett has been a steady presence in Green Bay’s secondary with three top-20 ranked seasons during his first six in the NFL.
Worst pick: T Marshall Newhouse (round 5, pick 169, -44.7 cumulative grade)
Newhouse did not play in 2010 and was PFF’s lowest graded tackle during the 2011 season.
22. Dallas Cowboys
Cumulative grade (six picks): +113.6
Best pick: WR Dez Bryant (round 1, pick 24, +50.0 cumulative grade)
The Cowboys don’t regret trading up to select Bryant No. 24 overall in 2010, after Bryant’s stock slid due to NCAA violations while at Oklahoma State. He has fulfilled Jerry Jones’ vision of a physically imposing outside WR, and was PFF’s fourth-ranked WR in 2014. The Cowboys have also gotten a very nice return from LB Sean Lee (round 2, pick 55, +60.6 cumulative grade) when he has been healthy.
Worst pick: CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (round 4, pick 126, grade not available)
Outside of Bryant and Lee, the Cowboys got virtually nothing out of this draft class. They gave up their third-round pick to move up for Bryant, but their fourth-rounder, Owusu-Ansah, never took a defensive snap for Dallas.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Cumulative grade (seven picks): -7.0
Best pick: DT Dan Williams (round 1, pick 26, +33.7 overall grade)
Williams was, at times, an immovable object in the middle of Arizona’s defense, helping to keep offensive lineman off of LB Daryl Washington (round 2, pick 47, +34.0 cumulative grade), who was on pace to hold down this top spot before being suspended for part of 2013 and all of 2014.
Worst pick: QB John Skelton (round 5, pick 155, -25.6 cumulative grade)
Skelton started 17 games in his three seasons in Arizona. While much probably shouldn’t have been expected from the fifth-rounder out of Fordham, he failed to impress in his extended audition, grading as PFF’s second-worst QB in both 2011 and 2012.
24. New England Patriots
Cumulative grade (12 picks): +331.2
Best pick: TE Rob Gronkowski (round 2, pick 42, +167.4 cumulative grade)
Bill Belichick has always liked to hoard picks as to have more chances for payout at the draft lottery. With all this excess draft capital, he was able to trade up to take Gronkowski, who has a chance to go down as the best TE in NFL history. Gronk accumulated top-five PFF grades in each of his six seasons.
Worst pick: WR Taylor Price (round 3, pick 90, +0.2 cumulative grade)
One position group the Patriots have consistently missed the target on has been WR. However, New England’s next pick of TE Aaron Hernandez (round 4, pick 113, +22.4 cumulative grade) provided adequate supplemental production next to Gronkowski during his three years in the league.
25. Miami Dolphins
Cumulative grade (eight picks): +98.0
Best pick: S Reshad Jones (round 5, pick 163, +52.0 cumulative grade)
The former fifth-rounder has three top-five PFF seasons under his belt, specializing in effectively playing the run.
Worst pick: LB A.J. Edds (round 4, pick 119, grade not available)
The fourth-rounder never played for the Dolphins after tearing his ACL during his rookie training camp.
26. New York Jets
Cumulative grade (four picks): -10.5
Best pick: FB John Conner (round 5, pick 139, 0.0 cumulative grade)
At his best, Conner was a devastating run blocker whose bone-shaking hits you could feel through the television screen. While he has had two stints with the team, the Jets only really harnessed these benefits in 2011 (+6.8).
Worst pick: RB Joe McKnight (round 4, pick 112, -0.2 cumulative grade)
While CB Kyle Wilson (round 1, pick 29, -7.0 cumulative grade) and G Vlad Ducasse (round 2, pick 61, -3.6 cumulative grade) never developed into consistent starters, McKnight saw very little game action and was likely a main reason the Jets felt the need to cut RB Danny Woodhead in 2010.
27. Indianapolis Colts
Cumulative grade (eight picks): -86.4
Best pick: DE Jerry Hughes (round 1, pick 31, -10.5 cumulative grade)
Indianapolis did not have one positively-graded player from their 2010 draft class. Hughes developed into a one-dimensional pass rusher with the Colts before being traded to Buffalo and blossoming into an upper-echelon edge defender since.
Worst pick: LB Pat Angerer (round 2, pick 63, -33.2 cumulative grade)
Angerer consistently posted negative PFF grades, notably in run defense.
28. New Orleans Saints
Cumulative grade (five picks): +43.8
Best pick: TE Jimmy Graham (round 3, pick 95, +47.5 cumulative grade)
The former basketball player proved to be a great gamble by the Saints as a raw TE prospect, producing two top-10 seasons in New Orleans before being traded to Seattle.
Worst pick: T Charles Brown (round 2, pick 64, -15 cumulative grade)
The second-round tackle never developed into the blind side protector for Drew Brees that the Saints were searching for. Fortunately, they have since found just that person in LT Terron Armstead.
29. Minnesota Vikings
Cumulative grade (eight picks): +27.7
Best pick: DE Everson Griffen (round 4, pick 100, +62.4 cumulative grade)
Mostly a part-time player his first four seasons, he was consistently a PFF favorite and was begging for more playing time. He earned himself a new contract and a starting role beginning in 2014, and solidified himself as a top-10 edge defender.
Worst pick: CB Chris Cook (round 2, pick 34, -6.4 cumulative grade)
The Vikings’ first pick in the draft was never a bad player, but never made a hugely-positive impact during his four seasons in Minnesota, with several stints on the injury report mixed in.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Cumulative grade (seven picks): -35.2
Best pick: TE Dennis Pitta (round 4, pick 114, +17.1 cumulative grade)
Picked after fellow TE prospect Ed Dickson (round 3, pick 70), Pitta proved to be the more valuable cog in Baltimore’s march toward a Super Bowl XLVII championship before being marginalized by injuries in later seasons.
Worst pick: OLB Sergio Kindle (round 2, pick 43, -1.5 cumulative grade)
The highly-touted pass-rusher played 27 total snaps over the course of three seasons.
31. Carolina Panthers
Cumulative grade (10 picks): +41.0
Best pick: DE Greg Hardy (round 6, pick 175, +66.2 cumulative grade)
Hardy slid in the draft, primarily due to injury concerns, but his Panther career culminated in a 2013 season that saw him rank as the league’s sixth-highest-graded edge defender before being suspended for 15 of the 16 games in 2014, and then landing in Dallas.
Worst pick: QB Jimmy Clausen (round 2, pick 48, -11.7 cumulative grade)
Thrown into a tough situation from the get-go, Clausen never got another chance in Carolina after a pretty dismal rookie season, paving the way for Cam Newton.
32. Chicago Bears
Cumulative grade (five picks): -96.0
Best pick: S Major Wright (round 3, pick 75, -25.3 cumulative grade)
No positively-graded players in a very limited draft for Chicago, whose first pick was in round 3. Wright did have one positively-graded season, 2012 (+5.7).
Worst pick: T J’Marcus Webb (round 7, pick 218, -50.5 cumulative grade)
Webb was PFF’s lowest-graded tackle during his rookie season out of West Texas A&M. He did show some improvement during his next two years in Chicago, though.