- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
As I said on the night I handed out my draft grades for 2013, I'm aware you can't grade a draft on performance just as it ends. The draft grades I hand out then are all about deciding which teams added the most overall talent based on my player ratings, how well the teams maneuvered for that talent and whether they hit those needs.
But I'm not afraid to audit myself, as I do every year. So what am I looking at here?
A few parameters:
• I look at first-year impact from the rookie class based on available reps.
• I included rookie undrafted free agents added after the draft.
• I considered how much the rookie class helped the team win games.
On the undrafted free agents: I consider it fair to consider those guys because, really, that's a part of the draft in many ways. The draft is short to better allocate rookies, so, how well teams add players after Mr. Irrelevant is claimed matters. And I certainly scout and rate far more players than will be drafted.
With that in mind, let's see whether my draft-night grades held up.
Post-draft grade: B
Summary: I summarized the Jets' draft in April by writing: "I wanted the Jets to get a safety, but I still think they deserve a pretty good grade for hitting a few big needs. Now, they need to be patient with Smith." A season later, I'd say they still need a safety, but get a slight bump because they hit a huge home run with Richardson, who didn't just play like a good rookie, but like a Pro Bowl-caliber 3-4 defensive end, and is arguably already one of the best run-stoppers in the NFL.
But the grade can't climb much because of two things: One, Milliner struggled mightily, and some of the technical issues I said he'd have to clean up were even bigger than I thought. There's no doubting his talent, and I won't take back that I had him the highest-graded cornerback in the draft, but there's work to be done. (It does help his cause that there wasn't a great rookie cornerback to be found this season. Really. It's a tough transition.) Two, my comment on them needing to be patient with Smith still stands, but you have to wonder just how patient. He had some good moments in 2013, but look at the overall profile, and you're not talking about a player who starts for almost any other team. I said Winters would start and he did, and Bohanon is also a good player. Good draft, but the grade only inches up thanks to Richardson and value added late as we wait on Milliner and Smith.
New grade: B+