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Green Zone League Articles

GZL Top 5 Draft Grades
By Tyler Richardson
Special to gzl-football.com

1.1 - WR JaVonte Nix - A+
Let's start with some comparable athletes who have come out in years past. The last one to enter the draft with 95 SPD and 70 STR while standing at least 6'4" tall? No one, ever. The only receivers ever close to this talented as a rookie were Aaron Drogan, Devin Funchess, Dorial Green-Beckham. and Mike Evans. While all four are taller (6'7", then 6'5" across the board respectively), none had Nix's top end speed, only Drogan can match or best his strength (82), Green-Beckham had the best agility of the bunch at 90 (compraed to Nix's 95), and certainly none of them were nearly as polished. While both Drogan and Funchess entered the draft as above average route runners, both had extremely poor hands. Green-Beckham struggled on both levels. Evans was perhaps the closest at 62 AWR and 75 CTH, but still does not come close to 65 AWR and 84 CTH. Nix truly is the real deal. With the potential to feasibly reach 98 SPD, 98 AGI, 94 ACC at 6'4", he just might be the best to ever declare for the draft, with the only real debate being between him and Drogan, which is more of an apples to oranges debate given their different skill-sets despite playing the same position. I was tempted to only give this an A due to the other elite talent on the board, but in the end it's a clear cut A+ no matter which you spin it. The Seahawks identified the immense talent of Nix, realized he fits perfectly into their plans for building their team of the future, and made the move (early) to get the top pick. That's how it's done, folks. It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks develop him over the years, but either way he is going to be a headache for defensive coordinators for a long, long time.

1.2 - HB Leonard Fournette - B+
Like Nix, Fournette is one of the best to ever come out at his position, at least for a speed/power combination back. He compares very favorably to some former top 5 picks in Ezekiel Elliott (1.1), Jeremy Hill (1.2), and Todd Gurley (1.5). While I think I would still prefer a back like Derrick Henry (1.4) to Fournette, it still remains that he's very talented and it's hard to find a rookie back that has been unquestionably better than him coming out. I think my main problem with this pick is the amount the Dolphins traded up to get this pick. They traded the 11th pick (where the talented Dalvin Cook was taken), a pair of second round picks in the top half of the round, and an already very talented back in Latavius Murray. Is Fournette worth all of that? I tend to say no, but others might disagree. I also question whether they needed the second pick to get him, given the very talented defensive ends in this class. In the end it's still a very strong pick, earning a B+, but I have a hard time giving it an A.

1.3 - WR Cortland Sutton - D
This pick has already been talked about enough where it's kind of like beating a dead horse at this point, but I'm going to rehash my argument anyways since these are my draft grades. First let's start with similar wide receivers to come out. Jaelen Strong, Keenan Allen, Kevin White, and Alfonso Alvarez are all WRs with came out with arguably better attributes than Sutton. None went top five, only White and Alvarez went top ten, and the other two went 1.17 and 1.23. The most comparable player to Sutton in terms of a similar skill set and draft position is Josh Gordon. Gordon went 1.2, but came out with +7 STR, + 6 AWR, +1 AGI, +4 ACC, +3 CTH, and +10 lbs. That's quite a difference, in both terms of current talent and future talent. While Sutton could max out at 96 SPD, 94 AGI, and 93 ACC, Gordon had the potential to max out at 96 SPD, 95 AGI, 96 ACC. Gordon was also most likely a pretty big reach himself, as he was taken before Aaron Drogan, Jadeveon Clowney, Ricky Austin, Demarius Stonweall, and Mike Evans. But let's start talking about this class. When Sutton was taken there were still two elite defensive ends on the board, one that no one is quite sure how good they can be because his potential skill set is largely unprecedented. Furthermore, there were two other very similar WRs on the board, one who many talent evaluators considered to be superior. One of them went 1.9, and the other was available when the Lions would have been on the clock at their original pick before trading up. GM Tom Riddell himself is on record saying that he did not see much difference between the three overall. Some may see this grade as harsh, but I think it accurately reflects the amount of value the Lions ended up getting out of the third pick of the draft. Not only will it affect their club from a talent/assets standpoint, but also from a salary cap perspective, given that they will now be overpaying Sutton for the duration of his rookie deal. This pick earns a D and not an F because the Lions showed up for their pick and didn't take a P or a K.

1.4 - DE JaBar Powers - A
Alongside Nix and Fournette, Powers and Garrett rounded out the top four prospects that head and shoulders on a different level than the rest of the prospects in the draft. The fact that the Colts picked one of those four with the fourth pick in the draft is enough for a very good grade alone. While Powers is just about as good as it gets, he is not quite there. Amos Houston, Purify Bolden, Jadeveon Clowney, and Amos Houston were all better coming out. He's also only slightly better than Shaq Lawson and Owa Odighizuwa who went 1.10 and 1.12, respectively. He is still an extremely talented end who was one of the best in the class, but this is not a home run pick an A+ would warrant given that I feel Garrett is the unique talent that he is not. It's something that is up for debate as to who is the better between the two, so some might not see it as a fair slight, but hey, these are my draft grades. Nonetheless Powers will be dominating force for the Colts for many seasons to come.

1.5 - DE Myles Garrett - A+
Even better than the previous pick, the Redskins were able to get a top four player with the fifth pick. While that was really through none of their own doing, they were still sitting there ready to pounce on the best talent when it fell to them. And honestly, the fact that the Redskins were willing to make this pick despite already having a very competent LE gets more props from me. Back to Garrett, his 85 SPD, 84 STR, 79 AGI, and 85 ACC coming out is simply unprecedented in the GZL. If you type those numbers into the Fit the System tool, exactly one name comes up - Myles Garrett. That's what you want to see in a top 5 pick. The most comparable player to come out in recent years is Joey Bosa, who was a steal at 1.11 despite being -3 SPD, -2 STR, -4 AGI, and -1 ACC. Garrett has the potential to ultimately reach 88 SPD, 87 STR, and 88 ACC. The only historical player who comes close to those numbers off the top of my head is Mario Williams (84 SPD, 85 STR, 87 AGI, 89 ACC), who had two 15 sack seasons as well as an 18 sack season. And get this - Williams, despite starting to regress after the 2015 season, has remained an an active GZL roster every season to this day. With the right amount of work put in Garrett has the chance to be the best DE to ever come out, and at 1.5, that is the definition of an A+.
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