I’m one that feels NFL draft classes should be graded a few seasons after the players were drafted. It’s easy to get behind the hype of an amazing rookie season and it is equally easy to call a player a bust after a poor rookie campaign.
Not everyone thinks that way and ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. is one that issues grades after rookie seasons.
“I loved the O.J. Howard pick, and the big Alabama tight end had six touchdowns on 26 catches. He and Cameron Brate can be one of the NFL’s best tandems. I thought safety Justin Evans in Round 2 was a reach, but he had 65 tackles and three interceptions, flashing at times. Kendell Beckwithdropped to the third round because of a torn ACL late in his LSU career, and he showed his talent as a rookie, compiling 73 tackles, one forced fumble and one sack while playing middle linebacker. Chris Godwin had 34 catches for 525 yards and a touchdown.”
Kiper had higher hopes for this draft class immediately following the draft. He gave the Bucs draft an A- initially post-draft.
Tampa Bay’s first four selections played well. For rookies, they performed admirably when thrown into a starting role. Beckwith and Evans had perhaps the most question marks but did not disappoint. Although preseason was a struggle for Evans, he turned things around as the regular season went on.
Godwin was a bright spot and has a promising outlook. His game-winning touchdown catch against New Orleans to end the season on a high-note provided some excitement in the locker room heading into the offseason.