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2016 rookie grades: Packers, Rams, Jets get limited production

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  • By Bucky Brooks and Conor Orr NFL.com
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When Bucky Brooks and Conor Orr graded the 2016 rookie classes of all 32 NFL teams, 10 received "C" marks or worse for a lack of production. Here's what Brooks and Orr had to say about the groups that struggled, with the teams listed in alphabetical order:

Arizona Cardinals

» Round 1: (No. 29 overall) Robert Nkemdiche, DL, 5 games/0 starts.
» Round 3: (92) Brandon Williams, CB, 13 games/3 starts.
» Round 4: (128) Evan Boehm, C, 16 games/1 start.
» Round 5: (167) Marqui Christian, S, 0 games; (170) Cole Toner, OL, 2 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (205) Harlan Miller, CB, 2 games/2 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Hakeem Valles, TE, 11 games/1 start.

Brooks: It's hard for any team to earn a passing grade when it fails to get a significant contribution from any member of its rookie class. Robert Nkemdiche essentially used the year as a redshirt season, barely getting on the field despite his first-round draft status. He was a huge disappointment for a team that desperately needed an interior defender to alleviate some of the pressure on Calais Campbell. Brandon Williams was thrust into action before he was ready and struggled mightily on the corner opposite Patrick Peterson. He made strides near the end of the season, so it is possible he could become a factor in the secondary in 2017. Evan Boehm has shown developmental potential in limited action. GRADE: D

Buffalo Bills

» Round 1: (No. 19 overall) Shaq Lawson, DE, 10 games/1 start.
» Round 2: (41) Reggie Ragland, ILB, 0 games.
» Round 3: (80) Adolphus Washington, DT, 15 games/11 starts.
» Round 4: (139) Cardale Jones, QB, 1 game/0 starts.
» Round 5: (156) Jonathan Williams, RB, 11 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (192) Kolby Listenbee, WR, 0 games; (218) Kevon Seymour, CB, 15 games/3 starts.

Orr: In many ways, the 2016 draft followed the Rex Ryan playbook closely: defense, defense, defense and a raw, athletic quarterback who entertained Ryan in the lead up to the draft (but one the Bills will never spend the time or effort to develop). In the nicest of possible ways, the Bills could earn a grade of incomplete for their 2016 picks because first-round pick Shaq Lawson made it fewer than 300 snaps with a lingering shoulder issue (he finished with two sacks in 10 games), while second-round pick Reggie Ragland partially tore his ACL and missed the entire season. One can argue the Bills got decent production out of Adolphus Washington (2.5 sacks as a third-rounder), but the disruptive factor was low for someone of his size (6-foot-4, 295 pounds). Sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour was a contributor. However, this was a painfully inefficient draft for a team that could have been a few players away from disrupting the division. GRADE: D

Cincinnati Bengals

» Round 1: (No. 24 overall) William Jackson III, CB, 0 games.
» Round 2: (55) Tyler Boyd, WR, 16 games/2 starts.
» Round 3: (87) Nick Vigil, LB, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 4: (122) Andrew Billings, NT, 0 games.
» Round 5: (161) Christian Westerman, OG, 0 games.
» Round 6: (199) Cody Core, WR, 8 games/4 starts.
» Round 7: (245) Clayton Fejedelem, S, 16 games/0 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Alex Erickson, WR, 16 games/0 starts.

Orr: First-round pick William Jackson had to go under the knife during training camp and, because of a long line of injured players, did not get selected to return off injured reserve. That, I feel, leaves this draft grade as incomplete. The team could very well lose Dre Kirkpatrick this offseason, giving Jackson a chance to show off his skills. Tyler Boyd had a good rookie season with 54 catches for 603 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the class fell largely silent. This was a veteran-laden Bengals team that was stocked with good players from previous Marvin Lewis drafts, so it's hard to knock him too much when we won't know the full extent of their talent for years to come. GRADE: C-

Cleveland Browns

» Round 1: (No. 15 overall) Corey Coleman, WR, 10 games/10 starts.
» Round 2: (32) Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 3: (65) Carl Nassib, DE, 14 games/3 starts; (76) Shon Coleman, OT, 7 games/0 starts; (93) Cody Kessler, QB, 9 games/8 starts.
» Round 4: (99) Joe Schobert, OLB, 16 games/4 starts; (114) Ricardo Louis, WR, 16 games/3 starts; (129) Derrick Kindred, S, 12 games/5 starts; (138) Seth DeValve, TE, 12 games/2 starts.
» Round 5: (154) Jordan Payton, WR, 4 games/0 starts; (168) Spencer Drango, OG, 16 games/9 starts; (172) Rashard Higgins, WR, 16 games/0 starts; (173) Trey Caldwell, DB, 1 game/0 starts.
» Round 7: (250) Scooby Wright III, LB, 0 games.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Dominique Alexander, LB, 14 games/0 starts; Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, 14 games/6 starts; Tyrone Holmes, DE, 11 games/0 starts; Tracy Howard, S, 15 games/3 starts; Danny Vitale, FB, 9 games/3 starts.

Orr: The next five years for this franchise will be determined by its ability (or inability) to secure a foundation in 2016 and 2017. After one year of one draft class, the results were largely mixed. The Browns focused on intelligence and production in the draft this past year, securing hungry players who could come in with a chip on their shoulder and contribute right away. Some, like first-round pick Corey Coleman, second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah, third-round pick Carl Nassib and fourth-round pick Derrick Kindred, simply had to, given the lack of talent on the roster when new head coach Hue Jackson arrived. How did they fare? Coleman missed six games but finished with 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns, which projects to 53 catches for 660 yards and seven touchdowns over 16 games. This is not bad for a team that started a clearly still-declining Robert Griffin and a rookie in Cody Kessler this season. Ogbah led the team in sacks (5.5), Nassib finished tied for third in sacks (2.5) and Kindred, who may have shown up more pro ready than any of his rookie counterparts, added 32 solo tackles and five passes defensed. While this is all OK to not bad news for rookies operating on a threadbare team that provided no help, the Browns did select three other receivers and a wideout/tight end hybrid other than Coleman. And only one, Ricardo Lewis, saw significant snaps. GRADE: C

Green Bay Packers

» Round 1: (No. 27 overall) Kenny Clark, DL, 19 games/2 starts.
» Round 2: (48) Jason Spriggs, OT, 19 games/2 starts.
» Round 3: (88) Kyler Fackrell, OLB, 16 games/0 starts.
» Round 4: (131) Blake Martinez, MLB, 16 games/10 starts; (137) Dean Lowry, DE, 18 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (163) Trevor Davis, WR, 13 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (200) Kyle Murphy, OT, 3 games/0 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Geronimo Allison, WR, 13 games/3 starts; Kentrell Brice, S, 19 games/1 start; Marwin Evans, S, 19 games/0 starts; Josh Hawkins, CB, 14 games/0 starts; Joe Kerridge, FB, 9 games/0 starts.

Brooks: The Packers' rookie class failed to make a significant impact on the roster despite the presence of several promising players. Kenny Clark played as part of the rotation but failed to deliver many splash plays from his defensive end position. The same can be said for Kyler Fackrell after he only mustered two sacks and a forced fumble in limited action. Dean Lowry flashed a little bit as a rotational pass rusher on the way to notching a pair of sacks near the end of the season. Offensively, Jason Spriggs showed promise as a key reserve capable of playing tackle or guard in the starting lineup. Geronimo Allison climbed the ladder from practice squad member to key contributor in the playoffs. GRADE: C+

Houston Texans

» Round 1: (No. 21 overall) Will Fuller, WR, 16 games/15 starts.
» Round 2: (50) Nick Martin, OG, 0 games.
» Round 3: (85) Braxton Miller, WR, 10 games/6 starts.
» Round 4: (119) Tyler Ervin, RB, 14 games/0 starts.
» Round 5: (159) K.J. Dillon, S, 5 games/0 starts; (166) D.J. Reader, NT, 18 games/9 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Stephen Anderson, TE, 15 games/0 starts, Joel Heath, DE, 14 games/6 starts.

Orr: On paper and before a down of football was played, the Texans had my favorite draft of any team. Combining home-run threat Will Fuller with versatile Braxton Miller and stalwart interior lineman Nick Martin seemed like the recipe for a foundational draft that could lift Houston to another division title. They made it there anyway, but without a season's worth of productive play from any of their core selections. I wrote about Fuller's boom-or-bust proposition earlier this year and, for a few weeks, he was certainly booming. Fuller caught just half of his 92 targets, while Miller was only healthy for 10 games this year. Houston did find some value in the later rounds. While D.J. Reader's scouting report spoke for itself (at 321 pounds, he threw a 94 mph fastball), he played formidably up front and was only about 100 snaps behind Vince Wilfork. Had Martin not missed the season with ankle surgery, this grade would have been significantly higher. GRADE: C+

Indianapolis Colts

» Round 1: (No. 18 overall) Ryan Kelly, C, 16 games/16 starts.
» Round 2: (57) T.J. Green, S, 15 games/4 starts.
» Round 3: (82) Le'Raven Clark, OT, 8 games/3 starts.
» Round 4: (116) Hassan Ridgeway, DL, 16 games/5 starts; (125) Antonio Morrison, ILB 16 games/4 starts.
» Round 5: (155) Joe Haeg, OT, 15 games/14 starts.
» Round 7: (239) Trevor Bates, LB, 0 games; (248) Austin Blythe, C/OG, 8 games/1 start.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Matthias Farley, DB, 16 games/0 starts; Josh Ferguson, RB, 16 games/0 starts; Chester Rogers, WR, 14 games/2 starts.

Orr: This was general manager Ryan Grigson's final draft and he started out with a bang. Center Ryan Kelly should be a 10-year starter for this organization; Andrew Luck's version of Jeff Saturday. From there, the 2016 draft depended on your ability to be optimistic. Fifth-round pick Joe Haeg had to play a lot of football in Year 1 and did so at a solid level. The former North Dakota State standout was on the field for almost 1,000 snaps (behind only Anthony Castonzo and Kelly among O-linemen). Third-round pick Le'Raven Clark did not come on until the end of the season and seems more like a long-term project for this coaching staff -- something Luck obviously doesn't need happening live in front of him right now. The Colts always seemed like a team where the ideas of the general manager did not mesh with the philosophy of the coaching staff, which makes a draft like this incredibly hard to grade. Still, there are teams that whiffed altogether on the first-round pick, and Indianapolis did not do so. Grade: C

Los Angeles Rams

» Round 1: (No. 1 overall) Jared Goff, QB, 7 games/7 starts.
» Round 4: (110) Tyler Higbee, TE, 16 games/7 starts; (117) Pharoh Cooper, WR, 10 games/3 starts.
» Round 6:(177) Temarrick Hemingway, TE, 8 games/0 starts; (190) Josh Forrest, MLB, 10 games/4 starts; (206) Mike Thomas, WR, 15 games/0 starts.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Michael Jordan, CB, 5 games/2 starts; Cory Littleton, OLB, 16 games/1 start.

Brooks: The Rams mortgaged the farm to nab their QB1 of the future. Although Jared Goff started the season on the bench, he eventually cracked the starting lineup and showed promise as a passer. Sure, he didn't light up the scoreboard, but his arm talent certainly pops off the screen when I watch the tape. He should be a solid player in a new scheme better suited to his talents. Pharoh Cooper and Tyler Higbee didn't play up to expectations as complementary pass catchers. Neither player provided the offense with much of an impact, despite the opportunity on a team lacking established weapons on the outside. GRADE: C-

New York Jets

» Round 1: (No. 20 overall) Darron Lee, OLB, 13 games/9 starts.
» Round 2: (51) Christian Hackenberg, QB, 0 games.
» Round 3: (83) Jordan Jenkins, OLB, 14 games/11 starts.
» Round 4: (118) Juston Burris, CB, 16 games/1 start.
» Round 5: (158) Brandon Shell, OT, 8 games/3 starts.
» Round 7: (235) Lac Edwards, P, 16 games/0 starts; (241) Charone Peake, WR, 15 games/1 start.
» Notable undrafted free agents: Robby Anderson, WR, 16 games/8 starts; Jalin Marshall, WR, 10 games/1 start.

2017 NFL DRAFT

Orr: If the Jets are unable to get a replacement-level season out of second-round pick Christian Hackenberg, their 2016 draft will go down as an unmitigated disaster. To have the team stand idly by while the rest of the quarterback-needy organizations made power moves to secure their starters of the future was worrisome, but general manager Mike Maccagnan received the benefit of the doubt, having come from a Texans organization led by former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien -- a person who theoretically knew Hackenberg quite well. Darron Lee, like Jets mainstay David Harris, suffered from a less-productive defensive line in 2016 -- but he still struggled, especially when asked to cover, according to coverage grades provided by Pro Football Focus. He is certainly a high-upside player and did most of his best work against the run, but the Jets will need to see a massive leap forward in 2017. Jordan Jenkins might have been the best value in this draft group. With their third-round pick, the Jets found a capable edge rusher who found himself on the field for more than 500 snaps in his rookie season. Seventh-round pick Lac Edwards was not great, with one of the lowest yards-per-punt averages in the NFL. The Jets are claiming he is a work in progress -- but perhaps not the kind one would spend a draft pick on? GRADE: C-

Washington Redskins

» Round 1: (No. 22 overall) Josh Doctson, WR, 2 games/0 starts.
» Round 2: (53) Su'a Cravens, LB/S, 11 games/3 starts.
» Round 3: (84) Kendall Fuller, CB, 13 games/6 starts.
» Round 5: (152) Matthew Ioannidis, DT, 10 games/0 starts.
» Round 6: (187) Nate Sudfeld, QB, 0 games.
» Round 7: (232) Steven Daniels, ILB, 0 games; (242) Keith Marshall, RB, 0 games.
» Notable undrafted FAs: Maurice Harris, WR, 10 games/0 starts; Rob Kelley, RB, 15 games/9 starts.

Brooks: Injuries prevented some of the Redskins' draftees from making immediate contributions as rookies. Josh Doctson missed most of the season with a nagging Achilles injury. Su'a Cravens showed tremendous promise as a Swiss Army Knife-like safety/linebacker, but his season was prematurely cut short by a partially torn biceps. With Keith Marshall also sidelined with an elbow injury, the Redskins saw most of their rookie draft class standing in sweats. To be fair, the team did get solid contributions from Kendall Fuller and undrafted RB Rob Kelley. In particular, the unsung runner gave the 'Skins a rugged RB1 to lean on in critical moments. Kelley not only led the team in rushing (704), but he gave the offense an identity with his hard-hitting style. GRADE: C

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