Grading the 2017 draft classes for every NFL team

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was having a Rookie of the Year season before tearing his ACL during practice in early November. Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars saw immediate returns on their 2017 draft classes, turning rookies into difference-makers and returning to the playoffs.

The jury is still out on the quarterback class, which included Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer.

Let's take a look at the each team's success or failure. Click the links after each team to view the full story.

Near perfection

Houston Texans

Regardless of who comes out of the Texans' draft class, this group is a massive success because of what rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson accomplished before his season-ending torn ACL. Read more.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars' draft class played a significant role in helping the team make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. All but one player made the team and contributed in some way, especially the top four picks. Read more.

Los Angeles Rams

Trading up to No. 1 overall in 2016 left the Rams without a first-round pick in 2017, but they made the most of it. They began by swapping the 37th overall pick for an additional third-round selection, and they ended with one of the best drafts since Les Snead became general manager in 2012. Read more.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints' class of 2017 -- led by cornerback Marshon Lattimore, running back Alvin Kamara, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and safety Marcus Williams -- was the biggest reason this team returned to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Read more.

Above average

Buffalo Bills

Whether credit for the Bills' draft should go to first-year coach Sean McDermott or former general manager Doug Whaley, who was fired after the draft and then praised for his work in it, the team should be pleased with the early returns from its six selections. Three of those players -- cornerback Tre'Davious White, offensive tackle Dion Dawkins and linebacker Matt Milano -- were starters at the end of the regular season. Read more.

Chicago Bears

Bears general manager Ryan Pace took an unorthodox approach to the 2017 NFL draft by selecting three of five players from below the FBS level. However, Chicago’s rookie class turned out to be one of the lone bright spots in John Fox’s final season. Read more.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns' rookie class might not have won a game, but players such as DE Myles Garrett, S Jabrill Peppers and TE David Njoku along with QB DeShone Kizer and DTs Caleb Brantley and Larry Ogunjobi did little to indicate they can't play in the league. As this group grows, it should improve. Read more.

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called Dalvin Cook, Pat Elflein and Ben Gedeon “some of our most important guys” when evaluating the success of this year’s draft class, which features players who could be holding down their positions for years to come. Read more.

New York Giants

With all that went wrong with the Giants this season, the rookie class was a bright spot. Their top two picks -- TE Evan Engram and DE Dalvin Tomlinson -- started most of the season and played relatively well. Read more.

New York Jets

The Jets' draft class produced two Day 1 starters and three backups this season. Two picks saw their seasons ruined by injuries, and another two were essentially redshirted, which means it'll be easier to get a better feel for the entire class in 2018. Read more.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers' rookie draft class includes two reliable starters -- linebacker T.J. Watt and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Read more.

San Francisco 49ers

No rookie class took more snaps in 2017 than that of the 49ers. Perhaps that was to be expected on a rebuilding team, but with so many of their rookies getting valuable repetitions, the Niners got a lot of production from a group that should contribute in the years to come. Read more.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers got strong performances out of their draft class, with three starters emerging in tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and strongside linebacker Kendell Beckwith. Wide receiver Chris Godwin also demonstrated in his two starts that he needs more opportunities in 2018, as nearly half of his 34 catches resulted in explosive plays (receiving plays of 16 or more yards). Read more.


Atlanta Falcons

Outside of first-round draft pick Takk McKinley, the Falcons' 2017 draft class didn't make much of an impact. While McKinley brought his speed and energy to the defensive line, players such as Duke Riley, Damontae Kazee and Eric Saubert didn't find their footing in limited playing time. Read more.

Carolina Panthers

Because of injuries and a roster that already was set at most positions before the draft, the Panthers won’t see the full value of their 2017 class until further down the road. Outside of first-round pick Christian McCaffrey, who had a solid and sometimes spectacular first season, it’s almost unfair to judge this class at all. Read more.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals selected 11 players in the draft. While Joe Mixon, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, Josh Malone, Ryan Glasgow and Jordan Evans saw significant snaps, Lawson was clearly the star of the show. Read more.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys' 2016 draft looks like one of its best with top performances by Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Maliek Collins. This season's draft class did not make as sizable a contribution but there is hope going forward. Read more.

Detroit Lions

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he didn’t regret passing on rookie standout running backs Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt in last year’s draft. It was a somewhat bold decision at the time because the Lions needed help in their running game. Read more.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts general manager Chris Ballard's first draft class was full of players who made a solid impression by showing that they can be contributors. Running back Marlon Mack showed enough flash throughout the season to be at least a rotational player, with the possibility of starting next season. Read more.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs had an uneven performance from their draft class. Running back Kareem Hunt, picked in the third round, was spectacular for much of the season and is a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. But the Chiefs' other draft picks, including first-round quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, did not see much playing time. Read more.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers still don’t know what they have in their two top picks -- receiver Mike Williams and offensive lineman Forrest Lamp -- who were both injured. However, the Chargers did get contributions from midround prospects including defensive back Desmond King and offensive lineman Dan Feeney. Read more.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins had their first losing season of the Adam Gase era. One of several reasons Miami wasn’t able to find consistency was due to its inability to get production out of a majority of its rookie class. Miami’s most NFL-ready rookie turned out to be fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux, a defensive tackle. Read more.

New England Patriots

The Patriots had four picks, although they received some significant contributions from undrafted players during the regular season. One reason for the limited number of draft selections was the trading of the last pick of the first round to the New Orleans Saints in the deal for receiver Brandin Cooks. So, in a sense, Cooks' presence needs to be accounted for when assessing the rookie class. Read more.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' rookie group is a great example of why it takes several years to evaluate a draft class. There is promise here as well as disappointment, but injuries to some key players -- most notably second-round corner Sidney Jones -- make it difficult to know whether this was a home run, a strikeout or somewhere in between. Read more.

Seattle Seahawks

If the Seahawks are going to rejoin the ranks of the NFL's elite teams, they're going to have to do it through the draft. Their 2017 class could be a good start, though there's uncertainty with top pick Malik McDowell's health. He didn't play after suffering what the team has described as a severe concussion during a summer ATV accident. Read more.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans were one of the most talked-about teams on draft day as they grabbed two exciting playmakers with their first-round picks. Fast-forward to January and cornerback Adoree' Jackson has proved himself as an effective starting cornerback/returner. The Titans' top pick, receiver Corey Davis, has been a symbol for most of the rest of the draft class -- a bit underwhelming and a season of untapped potential. Read more.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins might have found a defensive lineman as well as starters at safety and center, though health questions remain. They drafted some intriguing developmental players and others who simply didn’t provide impact. Read more.

Below average

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals got significant contributions from three of their draft picks: first-rounder Haason Reddick, second-rounder Budda Baker and fifth-rounder Will Holden. The Cardinals' other rookies were injured, cut or disappointments. Read more.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens didn't get much immediate return on this seven-member draft class outside of first-round pick Marlon Humphrey. It has prompted many to wonder why the Ravens chose Tyus Bowser over JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round and selected Chris Wormley and Tim Williams over Kareem Hunt in the third. Read more.

Denver Broncos

Injuries didn't help, as three of the Broncos' eight picks from the 2017 draft spent the season on injured reserve. They had just one draft pick who was a starter -- first-round pick left tackle Garett Bolles. Read more.

Green Bay Packers

Their first four draft picks were designed to help the struggling defense, but the Packers got their biggest rookie impact from two of the three running backs they selected on the final day. Read more.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders devolved from a 12-4 playoff-qualifying outfit to a six-win team that fired its coach and went on a Jon Gruden hunt. Sure, the Raiders bagged their Chucky, but the limited contributions from their rookie class also put it on notice for the return of Gruden. Read more.