How has the draft affected the current season? Mel Kiper takes a look.
Let's get this out of the way right now: These aren't grades, mandates, final conclusions or a line in the sand. We're halfway through NFL season, so let's call it a progress report. I was asked to pick out a handful of teams that have been successful in finding early value by implementing their draft picks from April into their personnel mix. I was also asked to pick out a handful of teams that simply haven't found much value yet.
From the top of the draft (St. Louis and Detroit) to teams that picked later and did a lot of their best work in the middle rounds -- such as Oakland or New England -- there are good stories. But a quick caveat: It goes without saying that teams who drafted earlier had an edge because they got a higher-rated player in many cases and simply had more holes to fill. Sam Bradford is starting, but consider the alternatives. (He didn't beat out Tom Brady ...). Secondly, because you haven't gotten much from the draft early doesn't mean you didn't have a good draft. An example is Pittsburgh, which did well grabbing the fantastic Maurkice Pouncey and added depth elsewhere, but if your roster was already deep it's hard to see early dividends.