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Re-grading the 2016 NFL draft: Stars, surprises and steals

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Kiper doesn't give Cowboys an 'A' for 2016 draft (1:04)

Mel Kiper Jr. offers some critiques of Dallas' 2016 draft class that included Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. (1:04)

It's time for my annual tradition of evaluating last year's draft, and my draft grades at the time. Yes, there has been only one season of football played by the Class of 2016 and each player has plenty of time to prove himself, but it's a good time for a progress report.

Remember: The updated grades are just a fun exercise in seeing how the draft class appears to be shaping up. It's a check to see how players are coming along. A few parameters:

  • I look at first-year impact from the rookie class based on relative value -- contributing to a winner is worth more than piling up reps for a bad team.

  • I included rookie undrafted free agents added after the draft. (That's part of the process, really.)

  • As with the rookie rankings, I try to ask whether players who contributed could do so for most teams. Again, relative value matters.

OK, let's see whether my draft night grades held up, starting with the AFC East.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Post-draft grade: B

At the time I wrote that this 2016 draft class was a "double-edged sword for Rex Ryan and brother Rob Ryan" because "it gives them some much-needed help on defense, and could also be the class the front office points to if the defense doesn't get better. It's 'Here you go, Rex. This better work.'"

It didn't work. But that wasn't all on Rex. For one, Reggie Ragland got hurt in camp and was out all year. And Shaq Lawson's shoulder, an issue everyone knew about at the time of the draft, became a problem, and he played just 225 snaps (with two sacks) after returning. The Bills' defense was safely in the bottom 10 by any metric, and, well, here's a new coach. The class gets better if Ragland steps up now that he's healthy and if Lawson comes up with sacks. Hopefully Adolphus Washington plays a bigger role and Cardale Jones is at least a reliable backup. But for now it dips, because it certainly couldn't save Rex.

New grade: C

Miami Dolphins

Post-draft grade: B+

Nobody could have suspected that Laremy Tunsil would be around when the Dolphins were picking, but thanks to the draft-night shenanigans, arguably the consensus best player on paper in the entire draft at the time was there for the taking at No. 13 overall. Credit Miami for making the pick, and I think they have to be pleased with the results so far, though with one big question mark that drags the grade down. Tunsil played guard, and often played it pretty well. He really needs to show he can be an NFL left tackle before we start calling this class a success story.