Mel Kiper is known for his pre-draft analysis, and as we head closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s a good time to look back at last year’s draft class. Over at ESPN.com, he has published his draft re-grades for the 2017 NFL Draft class (Insider required).
The New Orleans Saints are the only team with an “A” re-grade.
Post-draft grade: B
Where do we start with the class that had both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year? It was sensational, one of the best rookie groups since I’ve been covering the draft. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore locked down one side of the field and had five interceptions. Ryan Ramczyk started every game, making a flawless switch from left tackle to right tackle once Terron Armstead came back healthy. Safety Marcus Williams is going to be remembered for the touchdown he gave up in the divisional-round loss to the Vikings, but he’s a really good player. He had four interceptions and 71 tackles.
Then there’s running back Alvin Kamara, a pick I questioned last year. Here’s what I wrote: “A big question mark here was the value given up to draft Kamara. Even if you question any possibilities beyond 2017 for Mark Ingram or Adrian Peterson, trading a second-rounder to move up and take my No. 88 overall player is iffy.”
OK, so the Saints traded a 2018 second-round pick to move into the third round in 2017 -- and got one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. Kamara led all rookies in receptions (81) and yards after the catch (696), and averaged 6.0 yards per carry. He had 14 total touchdowns. I got this one wrong. Absolutely.
New Orleans also got meaningful snaps from Alex Anzalone, who started the first four games before hurting his shoulder and being placed on injured reserve, and defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who had two sacks.
Again, this is a fantastic class. Enjoy this A, Saints.
New grade: A
The Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only teams to get a post-draft grade of A at the time (an A- for what it’s worth), but have since been downgraded by Kiper to a B+ and B respectively, leaving the Saints firmly ahead of the pack.
Speaking of the Buccaneers, across the NFC South, the Buccaneers are left with the aforementioned B, and the Atlanta Falcons keep their B- while the Carolina Panthers keep their C+.
Let’s hope the Saints find similar success in the 2018 NFL Draft.