That’s the time it takes to fully grade an NFL draft. Yet here I am two days after the conclusion of the 2022 draft handing out grades that will infuriate fan bases and even some teams.
We live in a want-it-now society, so that’s why we do it. But at least I go back and re-grade the draft and myself three years late. That’s accountability.
This year’s highest draft grade goes to the Baltimore Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta. He killed it. Aside from not picking a receiver after trading Marquise Brown to the Cardinals — they must really like James Proche — DeCosta hit on pick after pick in my book.
It started with two in the first round, taking Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and then following it by taking Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum. I didn’t love Hamilton’s tape as much as many, but he’s a good player who will dominate near the line of scrimmage.
The Ravens followed that by selecting a bunch of talented players who will push for time and add to the depth. That leads to them getting the only A+ grade from me this year. Yes, I probably would have taken a shot on at least one receiver with one of my six fourth-round picks, but they opted otherwise. Despite that, the Ravens owned the weekend.
So they get the only perfect grade this year. Check back in three years to see see if that holds up.
Now for the rest of the grades:
Arizona Cardinals: C-
Best Pick: Third-round edge rusher Myjai Sanders is a long, athletic pass rusher, but he needs to gain weight. That will happen and he will turn out to be a nice rotational player.
Worst Pick: I didn’t like trading their first-round pick to land Marquis Brown. I know they needed receiver help, but they could have waited to get one later in the draft. They had other pressing needs, like pass rush and offensive line.
The Skinny: They opted to trade their first-round pick for Brown, which I didn’t like. Taking edge rusher Cam Thomas and Sandra both in the second addresses a major need. Keep an eye on sixth-round guard Lecitus Smith. He has talent.
Best Pick: Third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder will end up as their long-term starter. They waited to take a quarterback, and they landed a good one. Ridder has all the tools to be a quality NFL starter.
Worst Pick: Linebacker Troy Andersen is a good player, but he went a little higher than I would have taken him. He’s developing as a linebacker, but could be a solid starter in time.
The Skinny: They took Drake London with their first pick, which will pay off, and wisely waited to take a quarterback in Ridder. He will be a good one and eventually be their guy.
Baltimore Ravens: A+
Best Pick: Taking center Tyler Linderbaum with their second first-round pick, acquired in a trade, was a smart move. He will anchor their line for a long time.
Worst Pick: Fourth-round tackle Daniel Faalele is a massive man, but does he have the foot speed to hold up in the NFL? It’s hard to argue with what they’ve done drafting offensive linemen, though.
The Skinny: Even though I didn’t love their first pick of safety Kyle Hamilton, they killed the rest of the draft. Their first four picks all were mentioned as possible first-round picks. They added a bunch of talented players on day three, including tight end Charlie Kolar. Eric DeCosta nailed this draft.
Best Pick: First-round corner Kaiir Elam fills a need and will end up being an outstanding cover player. He has the length and talent to be a lock-down man player.
The Skinny: This team doesn’t have a lot of holes, but they filled a big one with Elam. Cook was a bit of a surprise, but I did like fifth-round receiver Khalil Shakir. This is the team to beat in the AFC.
Best Pick: It was their first-round pick, tackle Ikem Ekwonu. He is a nasty mauler who fills a major need. He does need to improve his pass protection, but he will be a long-time starter.
The Skinny: Ekwonu makes this draft, but the rest of it was so-so in large part because they didn’t have a lot of picks. Corral is a risky pick. Sixth-round offensive lineman Cade Mays is a good player who will play in the league for a while.
Best Pick: Second-round corner Kyler Gordon will be an above-average starter and maybe a lot more. I think he has the tools to play inside or outside and he’s a willing tackler.
Worst Pick: Third-round receiver/return man Velus Jones can fly, but he is 25, which has to be a concern. He’s not a polished receiver, but speed is attractive.
The Skinny: They didn’t have a first-round pick after trading it to get quarterback Justin Fields last year. They picked defensive backs with their first two picks, which they need, but why not an offensive lineman at some point before round five when they took Braxton Jones? I do like Gordon, but they better hope Jones can play.
Best Pick: First-round safety Daxton Hill might not seem like a guy being taken at a position of need, but contracts are in play at safety for Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell. Hill has the range to play in the deep middle.
Worst Pick: Second-round corner Cam Taylor-Britt went a little higher than I had him ranked. He has talent, but he needs to be more consistent. He does fill a need.
The Skinny: This team has really improved in the offseason and can again push for the Super Bowl. They needed help in the secondary, and they landed it with three picks there. Third-round defensive tackle Zach Carter is a player to watch.
Best Pick: Fourth-round defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey is a good player who many thought would go earlier than he did. The talent is there to be an upfield player in their defense.
Worst Pick: I love Jerome Ford as a running back. But do the Browns need him? It’s just a strange pick with the backfield so crowded.
The Skinny: They didn’t pick until the third round because of they traded their first to land Deshaun Watson, so it wasn’t a great haul. Landing Winfrey was a nice pick and second-round corner Martin Emerson is a long player with coverage skills.
Best Pick: Second-round pass rusher Sam Williams is an impressive edge rusher. Were it not for character concerns, he would have been a higher pick. He fits a major need.
Worst Pick: Fourth-round tight end Jake Ferguson probably went a little high for his skill set. They do have a need there, so it makes sense to take a chance, but there were better options.
The Skinny: I like what the Cowboys did. I was higher on first-round pick Tyler Smith, the offensive lineman from Tulsa, than most. He will be a good player, likely at guard to start. I also liked Williams and third-round receiver Jalen Tolbert.
Best Pick: Fourth-round corner Damarri Mathis is a fast cover player who can come in and compete right away. He can fly, which corners will need in the AFC West.
Worst Pick: I know they needed a tight end, but I didn’t love the pick of Greg Dulcich in the third. He’s a one-dimensional player since he isn’t a great blocker.
The Skinny: They traded away their first to get quarterback Russell Wilson, which makes this draft. He changes the dynamic of this team. Second-round edge Nik Bonitto is an explosive player who will liven up the defense.
Best Pick: I loved the bold move to trade up to land Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. He is a guy who can change the game with one big play. Even if he won’t be ready for a while, it’s a smart move.
Worst Pick: I didn’t love the pick of fifth-round tight end James Mitchell. They had too many other needs to fill and he is coming off a torn ACL.
The Skinny: They had an outstanding draft. Landing Aidan Hutchinson with the second pick gives them big-time edge player, and I love Williams. Second-round edge Josh Paschal gives them another player to pair with Hutchinson.
Best Pick: First-round linebacker Quay Walker is a playmaker who will really add speed to their defense. I know fans probably wanted a receiver, but Walker is a heck of a player who pay off in a big way.
Worst Pick: I didn’t like the trade up for receiver Christian Watson. I know they need help, but I think there were better options.
The Skinny: They hit big with their first two picks in Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt. Most wanted at least one receiver there, but they held true to their board. They traded up to get Watson, but I think there were better options. I love fourth-round tackle Zach Tom.
Best Pick: The pick of safety Jalen Pitre in the second round will pay off in a big way. He will be a star. He’s a lot like Tyrann Mathieu. Think Honey Badger 2.0.
Worst Pick: Trading up to take receiver John Metchie in the second round was aggressive for a player coming off an ACL injury, who isn’t as explosive as teammate Jameson Williams.
The Skinny: I liked a lot of what they did. First-round corner Derek Stingley Jr. will be a shut-down player, while offensive lineman Kenyon Green is a nasty mauler who will help up front. I love Pitre and fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce.
Worst Pick: It’s not having a first-round pick. They traded it away for Carson Wentz. Ouch.
The Skinny: The Colts landed good players in Pierce and tight end Jelani Woods, but is third-round pick Bernhard Raimann ready to start at left tackle? He better be. Losing the first-round pick was a bad move.
Best Pick: Trading up to get Devin Lloyd in the first round was a smart move. He will give new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell a linebacker he can use like Tampa Bay used Devin White when Caldwell was there.
Worst Pick: Why would they take linebacker Chad Muma in the third round with so many other needs? You can only play two linebackers at a time with so much nickel and dime packages. Weird pick.
The Skinny: Taking edge player Travon Walker with the first overall pick is a risk, but he’s a good player. Can he be a great one? Landing center Luke Fortner in round three was a good move, but why take Muma when you didn’t need him, unless Lloyd will be more of an edge on passing downs.
Best Pick: First-round pass rusher George Karlaftis will end up being a major steal in this draft. The Chiefs need help rushing the passer, especially in their division, which is why it fills a need as well.
Worst Pick: Third-round linebacker Leo Chenal doesn’t seem to be a player that fits with what they want to do. He doesn’t run like their current linebackers.
The Skinny: First-round corner Trent McDuffie will be an immediate starter and Karlaftis will push for a job right away. Second-round receiver Skyy Moore and second-round safety Bryan Cook were good picks.
Best Pick: Fourth-round defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. is a power player with a big body who moves better than expected. He will help their run defense in a big way.
Worst Pick: Fourth-round defensive end Matthew Butler is a solid player, but he went a little higher than I expected. Why not a corner?
The Skinny: They didn’t pick until the third round because of trades, one of them to land receiver Davante Adams. He’s worth it. The draft brought some quality players I liked, such as Farrell Jr. and sixth-round guard Thayer Munford.
Best Pick: First-round offensive lineman Zion Johnson will add a nice inside presence to their offense. He can play up and down the line, which is key. He’s a good player.
Worst Pick: Do they really need third-round safety J.T. Woods? They have Derwin James and Nasir Adderley. It seemed like a luxury pick.
The Skinny: Getting Johnson to help up front was big. He will be a longtime starter. The rest of the draft was just OK for me. I do like sixth-round offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer.
Best Pick: Corner Decobie Durant is a smallish corner who can cover. They lost Darius Williams, a smaller corner, so this is a player who can push to take over in getting some time as maybe the nickel corner.
The Skinny: The Rams didn’t pick until the third round because they traded away their picks to land veteran players, including quarterback Matt Stafford. With that philosophy, they have to hit on the later picks. So far they have. This draft includes some interesting players who can follow suit.
Best Pick: They waited to take a player until the third round because of trades, but they nailed their first pick taking linebacker Channing Tindall. He is a playmaker who will be better in the NFL than he was at Georgia.
Worst Pick: I didn’t like the choice of receiver Erik Ezukanma from Texas Tech. Isn’t this a team with a lot of receivers already? Why not another position?
The Skinny: They didn’t pick until the third round because of trades, including to get Tyreek Hill. He was worth getting, so that helps this grade. And I love Tindall.
The Skinny: New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah moved up and down the board, but in the end was it really good maneuvering? They took Lewis Cine in the first round, a player I like, but I didn’t love the rest of their draft, other than Asamoah.
Best Pick: Second-round receiver Tyquan Thornton will be a star. He can flat out fly — and he’s much more than just a track guy.
Worst Pick: The pick of Tennessee-Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange in the first round was a bit of a reach. But he fits what Bill Belichick likes in his linemen, which means a high-motor guy.
The Skinny: Belichick walks to his own beat when it comes to drafting. Sometimes he wins — like when he got Tom Brady — but there have also been a fair share of losses. Strange seemed like a reach, but I love Thornton and third-round corner Marcus Jones. I didn’t understand taking Bailey Zappe in the fourth.
Best Pick: Offensive tackle Trevor Penning, the second of their two first-round picks, will be a plug-and-play at left tackle. They needed to fill that spot and they landed an aggressive player to do so.
The Skinny: They moved up in the first round to land receiver Chris Olave, a good player with speed that was needed. Penning will be a good player, and keep an eye on fifth-round linebacker D’Marco Jackson. He can run.
Best Pick: Landing offensive tackle Evan Neal in the first round will pay off in a big way. He is the best offensive lineman in this draft. In five years, he will be among the best in football.
Worst Pick: Third-round offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu has some talent, but he probably went a round too high. I get they need line help
The Skinny: Landing Kayvon Thibodeaux, the best pure edge rusher in this class, and then Neal makes this a good class. But they also added a good receiver in Wan’Dale Robinson and a bunch of other players who will compete for spots.
Best Pick: Loved the move to back into the first round to land pass rusher Jermaine Johnson. He was their third pick in the first round, but he will pay off big time for Robert Saleh.
Worst Pick: They waited a long time to take a tackle, and when they did take Max Mitchell in the fourth round, he’s a project. Maybe they are thinking more down the line with him.
The Skinny: Joe Douglas had two picks in the top 7 and nailed them, getting corner Sauce Gardner and receiver Garrett Wilson. Then adding Johnson and Breece Hall, the best back in this class, makes it a heck of a group.
Best Pick: It’s first-round defensive tackle Jordan Davis. He is a good run player, but he will be much more. He’s a massive man who can anchor in for the run, but will improve as a pass rusher.
Worst Pick: Third-round linebacker Nakobe Dean was rumored to be a first-round pick, but he had some injury questions and he isn’t big. That’s why he dropped to the third.
The Skinny: General manager Howie Roseman had a good weekend. He traded to get receiver receiver A.J. Brown and then took Davis in the first. Second-round center Cam Jurgens will take over as the starter when Jason Kelce retires. Counting Brown, it’s a good haul.
Best Pick: It was their first pick, quarterback Kenny Pickett. He was the best quarterback in this draft, and that will play true. He will be pushing for the job early this coming season.
Worst Pick: I didn’t love taking receiver George Pickens in the second round. He’s a big-bodied receiver, but he isn’t a burner. He also missed time with an ACL injury last year.
The Skinny: Getting Pickett will make this draft. There was talk they considered trading up, yet they still landed him. I like fourth-round receiver Calvin Austin, and we know the Steelers have had success with receivers getting taken in this area.
Best Pick: Fourth-round receiver Danny Gray can fly. The 49ers are adding a player that needs refinement, but can add that speed dimension to the offense.
Worst Pick: Taking running back Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round was a little odd. They have backs. I know they love to run the ball, but there were other needs.
The Skinny: They didn’t have a first-round pick after trading to get Trey Lance last year. But they landed some solid players the rest of the way. Second-round edge rusher Drake Jackson had some talking first round before the draft. Lance better be good.
Best Pick: Fourth-round pick Coby Bryant is a tough, feisty corner who will step in and compete right away. Playing opposite Sauce Gardner, he held up with a lot of action coming his way.
Worst Pick: Taking running back Ken Walker in the third round makes no sense. Walker is a good player, but they had so many other needs. When will this team get away from the importance of running backs?
The Skinny: They picked two offensive tackles, including first-round pick Charles Cross, which they had to do. But taking a running back early is weird as they need to transition from a run-heavy offense. Second-round pass rusher Boye Mafe has talent, but he is raw.
Best Pick: Taking guard/tackle Luke Goedeke in the second round is an outstanding pick. He is a tough guy who is a former tight end, showing his athletic ability. He will be a long-time starter.
Worst Pick: I didn’t like the pick of running back Rachaad White in the third round. I think they had better options and more pressing needs.
The Skinny: They traded out of the first round to get extra picks, but still landed a solid group. Goedeke will compete at left guard and fellow second-round pick Logan Hall could be a starter at defensive tackle. Fourth-round tight end Cade Otton was a good pick.
Best Pick: It wasn’t a major need, especially after the last few drafts, but I like the pick of corner Roger McCreary in the second round. Yes, he has short arms, but he was a good cover player in a good league.
Worst Pick: Trading A.J. Brown for economic reasons is one move that will be scrutinized, which will put a lot of pressure on first-round pick Treylon Burks to replace him. Burks is a big receiver, but he doesn’t run that well.
The Skinny: They ended up picking a lot of good players, which Jon Robinson usually does. The positions are a little strange in that they took a bunch of corners in recent years and added some more.
Best Pick: The pick of quarterback Sam Howell in the fifth round will pay off in a big way. Carson Wentz is their guy for now, but Howell has the talent to become the starter.
Worst Pick: I know they want to get tougher running the football, but I wouldn’t have taken a back in the third round. Alabama running back Brian Robinson is a good player, but I would have went elsewhere with the pick. That’s nitpicking since I like the player.
The Skinny: The move to trade down and still land receiver Jahan Dotson was smart drafting. They needed a receiver who can help Wentz. Dotson will liven up the passing game. They added some other nice players, but Howell is the icing. Keep an eye on fifth-round tight end Cole Turner. It was a good draft.