News & Analysis

Draft History: Grades and stats for every first- and second-round pick since 2015 AFC West edition

By Ben Cooper
Feb 19, 2019

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Dec 30, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) reacts after a play against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft will be here before we know it but before then, the NFL’s free agency period will open up, and teams will be looking to bolster their lineups with new signees while also looking to keep on board players who have shined bright since their arrival with their franchise. One big thing for the 2019 free agency period is that, for the first time, a rookie class that we had at least a college year of data from, have all now either finished their rookie contract or those select first rounders have had their final year exercised to stay with their team.

With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at some grades and PFF advanced statistics and data for every team’s first- and second-round pick since that 2015 season. While some of these players are no longer with their respective team, the players listed below were all drafted by the team mentioned and the grades and stats represented are just from their time with their drafted team.

Today’s series takes a look at the AFC West.

DENVER BRONCOS

2015:

Shane Ray, Edge defender

Round 1, Pick 23

Career-high overall grade: 70.8 (2016)

Ray saw decreased snaps in 2018 — and likely for a good reason. After showing out in 2016 with 45 quarterback pressures, including 10 sacks, he had an injury-riddled 2017 and hasn’t quite looked the same since. Last season, he managed just 10 pressures on 138 pass-rushing snaps for a career-worst 4.0 pass-rushing productivity rating.

Ty Sambrailo, Tackle

Round 2, Pick 59

Career-high overall grade: 67.0 (2018)

Having just completed his second season with the Atlanta Falcons after the Broncos traded him in 2015, Sambrailo has been a valuable depth option on the offensive line. And after earning abysmal pass-blocking grades of 40.5 in 2017 and 24.2 in 2016, Sambrailo was effective on limited snaps in 2018 — he didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit on 164 pass-blocking snaps.

2016:

Paxton Lynch, Quarterback

Round 1, Pick 26

Career-high overall grade: 49.7 (2016)

Where to begin, where to begin. Lynch simply hasn’t lived up the expectations most teams have for a first-round quarterback, which may also be why he is now with the Seattle Seahawks after two rough years in Denver. His 65.8 adjusted completion percentage in 2016 was worse than all but one starting quarterback from that year (Lynch played in only three games), and he hasn’t shown any significant development since then.

Adam Gotsis, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 63

Career-high overall grade: 69.5 (2018)

A career-best 2018 season for Gotsis should have the Broncos thrilled. His 9.3 run-stop percentage in the regular season ranked 21st among interior defensive linemen, and he notched 16 quarterback pressures and 25 stops — both higher than his marks from a season ago, where he even played more snaps.

2017:

Garrett Bolles, Tackle

Round 1, Pick 20

Career-high overall grade: 72.9 (2017)

Bolles saw his pass-blocking grade improve from 70.5 in 2017 to 72.1 in 2018, but his run-blocking grade dipped. Even so, he allowed just 29 pressures on 669 pass-blocking snaps after surrendering 51 pressures on 692 such snaps a year ago.

DeMarcus Walker, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 51

Career-high overall grade: 85.0 (2018)

Without accounting for snap totals, Walker was dominant in the run game in 2018. He realistically played only five snaps in run defense, but he did notch two stops. So while he saw only 21 snaps on the season, he was productive with his time on the field — which could earn him an increased role in 2019.

2018:

Bradley Chubb,  Edge defender

Round 1, Pick 5

Career-high overall grade: 68.1

Welcome to the future subject of AFC West quarterbacks’ nightmares. Chubb’s 57 quarterback pressures were the most by a rookie edge defender and ranked 21st among all edge defenders. Missed tackles hurt his overall grade, but that’s fixable. His pass-rushing talent is plain frightening for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks.

Courtland Sutton, Wide receiver

Round 2, Pick 40

Career-high overall grade: 63.8

When the Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas midseason, it was a sign that Sutton was ready to take on a bigger role. But it was a bit of a shaky rookie season for the Southern Methodist product, as didn’t eclipse 100 yards in a game all season and had a 53.2 catch rate (100th out of 108 qualifying receivers) due in part to nine drops. There were some positives to build on, though, and he obviously has plenty of time to do it.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

2015:

Marcus Peters, Cornerback

Round 1, Pick 18

Career-high overall grade: 81.3 (2017)

In his first season with the Rams, Peters wasn’t able to live up to his strong play a year ago. He allowed a career-worst 109.7 passer rating in coverage and 68.5 percent catch rate. In 2017, though, he was stellar — he gave up just a 60.9 passer rating in coverage and a 57 percent catch rate. He’ll hope to return to that form as the Rams go for another Super Bowl run in 2019.

Mitch Morse, Center

Round 2, Pick 49

Career-high overall grade: 74.6 (2016)

Morse has been a machine for the Chiefs in recent years. He hasn’t given up a sack since his rookie season, and in 2018, on 534 pass-blocking snaps, he allowed just five pressures. That resulted in a 99.5 pass-blocking efficiency, second among all centers in the regular season. Mitch Morse has become quite the stalwart on the Chiefs’ line.

2016:

Chris Jones, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 37

Career-high overall grade: 91.0 (2018)

What a year it was for Chris Jones. After posting an 89.7 grade in 2017, it seemed nearly impossible that he would get even better. But he did — and by a lot. Jones’ 79 quarterback pressures ranked third among interior defensive linemen. Jones had 81 pressures combined in his first two seasons, so that should tell you all you need to know about how dominant he was.

2017:

Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback

Round 1, Pick 10

Career-high overall grade: 92.9 (2018)

Judging from 2018 alone, Mahomes is far and away the best draft pick on this list. The second-year quarterback collected some big-time hardware at the end of the season for his efforts, which included the best passer rating in a clean pocket (134.2) and tied for the most deep passing touchdowns (15).

Tanoh Kpassagnon, Edge defender

Round 2, Pick 59

Career-high overall grade: 70.2 (2018)

Kpassagnon has played less than 200 snaps in each of his first two seasons. This year, he was able to make his mark in the run game, where he earned a solid 75.6 grade. He provides decent depth for the Chiefs but has otherwise been expectedly quiet on limited snaps.

2018:

Breeland Speaks, Edge defender

Round 2, Pick 46

Career-high overall grade: 57.8

Speaks was thrown into the fire immediately, playing an impressive 522 snaps in his rookie season. He racked up 23 quarterback pressures and 14 stops. While those are relatively low totals for his snap count total, Speaks has a bright future ahead of him as he continues to acclimate.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

2015:

Melvin Gordon III, Running back

Round 1, Pick 15

Career-high overall grade: 83.2 (2018)

There isn’t much Melvin Gordon can’t do. He showed off his elusiveness in 2018 (41 missed tackles forced on rushing attempts) and broke off 15 runs of 15 or more yards (tied for seventh). Not only that, but he’s also improved his overall grade every year since he was drafted — a difficult feat that bodes well for 2019.

Denzel Perryman, Linebacker

Round 2, Pick 48

Career-high overall grade: 75.6 (2015)

In a league where good cover linebackers are hard to come by, Perryman has shined. He’s lowered his passer rating when targeted each year since 2015, and in 2018, his 87.3 mark ranked 13th among off-ball linebackers.

2016:

Joey Bosa, Edge defender

Round 1, Pick 3

Career-high overall grade: 88.8 (2017)

Bosa has been the guy the Chargers hoped they were getting when they used the third overall pick on him three seasons ago. And with an 86.6 overall grade in 2016 and an 88.8 grade in 2017, Bosa has maybe even exceeded expectations. Last season was a down year for the edge defender, but he was still able to notch 37 quarterback pressures in his limited time on the field.

Hunter Henry, Tight end

Round 2, Pick 35

Career-high overall grade: 87.2 (2017)

A dream start to Henry’s career was momentarily derailed in 2018 by a preseason injury. After posting 80-plus grades in each of his first two seasons, though, Henry should be ready to factor in a dynamic offense in 2019. In 2017, he ranked third among tight ends in yards per route run (2.05) and dropped just three of his targets.

2017:

Mike Williams, Wide receiver

Round 1, Pick 7

Career-high overall grade: 80.5 (2018)

Following a truly rough rookie split, Williams shined in 2018. After a horrible 47.8% catch rate and an inexplicable 8.6 yards per catch average in 2017, Williams upped those totals to a 61.7% catch rate and a 15.5 yards per catch average. He broke out in his sophomore campaign and has a lot to look forward to next season.

Forrest Lamp, Guard

Round 2, Pick 38

Career-high overall grade: 54.2 (2018)

Lamp has played just 17 snaps in his two-year career, having yet to allow a quarterback pressure. Injuries stopped him from getting the playing time he deserves, but he’ll likely see an increased role sooner rather than later.

2018:

Derwin James, Safety

Round 1, Pick 17

Career-high overall grade: 88.3

Meet the star of the AFC West 2018 draft class. James was the seventh-highest graded safety in 2018; he earned the third-highest coverage grade (89.7), the second-most quarterback pressures (19) and the second-most stops (40) among players at the position. He’ll be wreaking havoc in this division for a long time.

Uchenna Nwosu, Edge defender

Round 2, Pick 48

Career-high overall grade: 70.9

Nwosu fit in extremely well on a crowded Chargers defensive line. He often earned game grades of 70-plus and frequently notched a pressure on the 10-30 snaps he usually received in a contest. That efficient play puts him in line for more playing time ahead.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

2015:

Amari Cooper, Wide receiver

Round 1, Pick 4

Career-high overall grade: 76.7 (2016, 2018)

2018 overall grade with Oakland: 64.9. 2018 overall grade with Dallas: 79.9. That says a lot about Cooper’s 2018 season, where he flourished as he has often done in his four seasons. Drops have been an issue, with 18 in his rookie season and 10 in 2017, but Cooper has often shown up big, including 10 receptions on 13 targets, nine first downs, 217 yards, and three touchdowns in Week 14 against the Eagles.

Mario Edwards, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 35

Career-high overall grade: 74.8 (2015)

Edwards had regressed in each of his years following his rookie campaign in Oakland, prompting the Raiders to let him go. The Giants picked him up, and he subsequently earned his first 70-plus overall grade since his rookie season. He didn’t have much production — 11 pressures and four run stops — but he was consistent. 

2016:

Karl Joseph, Safety

Round 1, Pick 14

Career-high overall grade: 74.5 (2018)

After missing 13 tackles a season ago, Joseph missed just four in 2018 — part of the reason why he earned the best overall grade of his career. He also saw only nine targets in coverage, a stark difference from the 37 he saw in 2017.

Jihad Ward, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 44

Career-high overall grade: 75.7 (2018)

Shaky 2016 and 2017 seasons had Ward in desperate need of a breakout 2018 campaign, and he did just that. With a new team, the Colts, Ward earned his best pass-rushing grade (69.9), his best run-defense grade (69.8) but played just 144 snaps.

2017:

Gareon Conley, Cornerback

Round 1, Pick 24

Career-high overall grade: 72.8 (2017)

Conley did well in coverage in 2018, allowing a 72.8 passer rating when targeted, which ranked 14th among qualifying cornerbacks. He also allowed only 54% of his targets to be completed, the 19th best mark among corners.

Obi Melifonwu, Safety

Round 2, Pick 56

Career-high overall grade: 56.7 (2018)

The Raiders surprisingly gave up on Melifonwu after an injury-riddled year. He was lucky enough to win a Super Bowl this year with the Patriots but played only 20 snaps all season.

2018:

Kolton Miller, Tackle

Round 1, Pick 15

Career-high overall grade: 48.2

When you spend a first-round pick on an offensive lineman, you expect him to contribute right away. Miller, though, had a disastrous rookie campaign. His overall grade ranked 81st among 85 tackles, and he gave up four more sacks than the next closest tackle. There’s plenty of time for Miller to put this season behind him — and he better do so quickly.

P.J. Hall, Interior defensive lineman

Round 2, Pick 57

Career-high overall grade: 65.9

Hall earned a respectable 512 snaps in his rookie year, and he did well when on the field. He notched 15 quarterback pressures and 12 stops en route to a 65.9 overall grade — 11th among rookie interior defensive linemen.

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