Grading the NFL Draft in the days and weeks immediately following it is a fool’s errand. But perhaps there is something more foolish: attempting to grade NFL teams’ classes of undrafted free agent rookies.
That’s exactly what Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport did last week, however, and in large part this is an exercise in name recognition and examining a team’s recent history. Still, Davenport breaks down the classes for each of the league’s 32 teams to assign letter grades.
The good news for Green Bay Packers fans is that Ted Thompson and his crew received an A grade for their class, a grade matched by only one other franchise.
Davenport praises the Packers’ signings of several defensive backs, calling out a few names in particular. He also applauded the additions of interior offensive linemen like Geoff Gray and Adam Pankey.
However, it’s clear that there is one over-arching concept that is primarily responsible for these grades: recent success in that phase of player acquisition. Here’s a quote from Davenport discussing the Packers:
There isn't a team in the NFL who has made a bigger dent in rookie free agency the past decade than the Pack.
That reputation alone gets them halfway home.
Although the Packers were one of seven teams in the A range, only other team — the New England Patriots — received a full A grade, as the other five were assigned A-minuses. As Davenport notes, Bill Belichick signed three of the players listed in Mel Kiper’s top 25 undrafted prospects list, which gives New England some clout behind that grade. But again, like with the analysis of the Packers’ class, the rationale for New England goes back in large part to the organization rather than the players: “It's reached the point that we just assume whoever the Patriots bring on board will work out, because things always work out for the Patriots.”
With that in mind, take this grade with a brick of salt. But don’t forget that there is truth here, in that the Packers typically retain a few undrafted rookies on the 53-man roster each year and that those players often go on to make significant contributions in their first NFL seasons.
But maybe it’s best to leave the grading for a few years down the road.