It's generally the accepted practice to wait three to five years before rendering final judgment from a particular draft class. We'll obviously grade a draft that completed (like last week), but that's something that can't be helped. We (as in any air-breathing carbon-based unit that loves football) will grade virtually everything, including an NFL draft less than 24 hours after its conclusion.
But then sometimes we stroll down memory lane, regrading previous drafts and how it affects the team. John Harris with The Sideline View reexamines the 2008 NFL draft, giving the Cincinnati Bengals a "C-" after an original grade of "C+".
Very little to get excited about in the ‘Nati in this 2008 draft. First rounder Keith Rivers just got moved for a fifth rounder. Jerome Simpson (2nd) is known for one heck of a broad jump at the combine and a flip over an Arizona Cardinals defender. At least Simpson was a contributor, as was Andre Caldwell who caught 124 balls in 4 years. The rest? (Blowing raspberries, loudly). Stunk.
True. The Cincinnati Bengals draft that year wasn't great, if not incredibly yawn-inducing. However it wasn't that bad, was it? Despite not being the game-changing play-maker we had hoped, Keith Rivers (when he played more than 15 games in a season), made his fair share of tackles. Not much of it memorable, but they're there. Yet, due to the over-flow of talented players at the position, he was dumped for a fifth-round selection that turned into safety George Iloka.
Jerome Simpson was virtually nonexistent until the final three games in 2010, Andre Caldwell kept disappearing in the passing game. Jason Shirley was given every chance to make the team (including a shift to offensive guard) while Matt Sherry, Angelo Craig and Mario Urrutia are out of the NFL or unsigned free agents. On the other hand that was the year the team selected defensive tackle Pat Sims, as well as backup offensive tackle Anthony Collins, both of whom are key role players.
In retrospect, a C-to-C-minus is fair. Maybe a "D+"? But what's to differentiate the grades, when the model we've used for most of our lives goes "Most Awesomest Ever", "Pretty Badass", "Solid", "Whateva'", "My Life Sucks". Maybe it wasn't entirely the players fault (aka, the Bengals always signing veteran receivers over Simpson and Caldwell receiving more playing time to develop), but it was what it was. Whateva.