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2017 Draft Grades (1-10)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

Now that the dust has settled on the draft, it’s time to give grades to each pick in the first round. This was perhaps the most mocked draft in league history, so there were few surprises. Still, every team sees value in different ways and each brought their unique scouting methods to the process. Below are my grades for the beginning of the first round, based on my own assessments. You'll note that I gave a lot of A+ grades, in part because of the deep class and in part because of the fine skills of the GMs.

1.1 – CB Richard Sherman, Chargers. Richard Sherman may end up being one of the all-time greats. There are fast Corners in the league and there are tall CBs in the league, but none measure up to Sherman’s potential. Kudos to the Chargers for moving up to the first pick and getting this future All-Star. GRADE: A+

1.2 – WR Josh Gordon, 49ers. This draft was loaded at the WR position and there were 3 or 4 that were projected to go in the Top 10. Many were more enamored with Sammy Watkins and his speed, but Gordon has elite size and comes in with 93 SPD. Not only does Gordon have the best hands of all the rookies, he’s a handful to bring down for tacklers (67 BTK). GRADE: A+

1.3 - WR Aaron Drogan, Jets. Drogan is a raw prospect but one that makes most every owner salivate. Take away his 6’7” frame and he’s a 4th rounder. But of course you can’t, and most likely opposing defenses won’t be able to as well. Though Drogan has only average agility and acceleration, and poor hands, his strength approaches that of an offensive lineman. He has the potential to be a game changer. GRADE: A

1.4 – DE Jadaveon Clowney, Bears. It’s a testament to the strength of this draft class that Clowney slips all the way down to 1.4. In the company of studs like Sherman and Gordon, Clowney isn’t as sexy as he should be. But when you look at his skill set – 87 SPD, 88 AGI, 89 ACC – you get a sense of his potential. Clowney will be hounding NFC North QBs for years to come. GRADE: A+

1.5 – MLB Ricky Austin, Saints. The Saints were very cagey as to where they were gonna go with this pick, but the team had a lot of needs and Austin is incredibly versatile. MLB Mack got much of the predraft attention, but Austin is arguably better. Austin makes a great middle linebacker, an outstanding outside backer, and even an intriguing DE if played out of position. GRADE: A

1.6 – CB Demarius Stonewall, Redskins. Stonewall is a player that is similar in many ways to WR Drogan. He has elite size, raw potential and lots of upside. Stonewall’s draft stock has skyrocketed as GMs have had more and more time to absorb his potential. At 6’4” Stonewall will likely live up to his name. His other attributes are fairly mundane, but once progressed, he is destined to be the foundation of the Redskin defense. GRADE: A

1.7 – QB Bo Callahan, Falcons. Atlanta lucks out with Bo Callahan falling to them at 7th overall. In most years, a QB with 74 AWR, 94 THP and 86 THA would be first off the board. Callahan’s numbers are in line with the top picks in the previous two first picks in the draft, Jonathan Higgins and Kendall Irving. Atlanta still has Matt Ryan who still has some tread left on the tire. But when a talent like Callahan falls to you, you have to take him. GRADE: A+

1.8 – DT Aaron Donald, Seahawks. There was much speculation as to where the defending champs would go. One school of thought had the Seahawks going offensive line. With so few holes, Seattle had the option of going in many directions – offensive linemen Robinson and Price, receiver Watkins, linebacker Mack – and gotten a stud. Donald is a good pickup here as he is so athletic and versatile. Picking him here may be a little reach, but one should never bet against GM St. Marie. GRADE: A

1.9 – WR Mike Evans, Bears. It’s hard to argue with the drafting of a 6’5” WR who possesses 92 SPD. Mike Evans will pair nicely with last year’s number one pick, Billy Crockett. Some may have had Sammy Watkins higher, but with such talented players it comes down to personal preference. The Bears lack elite offensive lineman and Robinson or Price might have been better picks. But the Bears are coming off a divisional title and shouldn’t be second-guessed. GRADE: B+

1.10 – WR Sammy Watkins, Vikings. Most mock drafts had the Vikings going offense with the 10th pick in the draft. GM Cepparulo must have felt like it was Christmas with Watkins falling into his lap as Watkins was frequently projected to go in the Top 5. Watkins is the prototypical receiver – he’s got size at 6’1” and is a burner with 95 SPD. Watkins’ skills are across the board elite and be a true deep threat for QB Colt McCoy. GRADE: A+
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