Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu.
It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the weekend.
But waiting is no fun. As such, let's take a look at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2017 draft.
The aggression that helped Atlanta win the NFC championship showed up on draft day with the club moving up to land explosive UCLA edge rusher Takk McKinley at No. 26 overall. McKinley, who is coming off shoulder surgery, has the initial burst, incredibly long arms (34 3/4 inches) and high-revving motor to offer quite the complementary threat opposite 2016 sack king Vic Beasley once healthy. At 6-2, 250 pounds, McKinley has similar size as Beasley (6-3, 246), but drafting players with a similar frame and game clearly did not bother general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who also selected LSU linebacker Duke Riley, whose range and build are much like that of his former and now current teammate Deion Jones. The Falcons returned to the west coast with Oregon State guard Sean Harlow (who may earn early playing time at right guard). Of Atlanta's late picks, playmaking cornerback Damontae Kazee (San Diego State) and downhill back Brian Hill (Wyoming) could surprise.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman promised an evolution in his club's offense in 2017 and based on the consecutive selections of Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel -- two of the more exciting playmakers in the entire draft -- he lived up to the pledge. In an era of specialists at running back, McCaffrey is a true four-down back, capable of breaking off big plays as an interior rusher, sprinter off-tackle, receiver out of the backfield and in the slot and in the return game. Samuel, while not as quite as natural running behind blockers or as powerful, has similar raw athleticism as a true make-'em-miss wild card. Those two when combined with the size and power of Cam Newton and incumbent starting running back Jonathan Stewart instantly make a methodical and predictable Carolina offense infinitely more dynamic. Helping the cause will be Taylor Moton, a powerfully-built earth-mover capable of pushing for starting time early in his career. The Panthers replaced traded defensive end Kony Ealy with a similarly gifted edge rusher in Daeshon Hall and added a possible nickelback in Corn Elder in the fifth round.
Frankly, after finishing a disappointing 7-9 in 2016, the Saints needed a massive overhaul on the defensive side of the ball. Fortunately for New Orleans fans, the 2017 draft provided that with sticky cover corner Marshon Lattimore coming in the first round, an underrated ballhawking center fielder in Marcus Williams in the second and two instinctive, hard-charging front seven defenders in Alex Anzalone and Trey Hendrickson in the third. Hendrickson was a standout throughout his career at Florida Atlantic and was one of the big winners at the East-West Shrine Game, earning Defensive MVP honors during the game. Durability concerns dogged Lattimore during his career, but he possesses the fluid change of direction and easy acceleration of a Pro Bowler. Williams' range and sticky hands should provide the perfect complement. The selections of Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramczyk and Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara were relative surprises given the Saints' depth at these two positions, but each was among the top talents on the board when selected, as was the talented but troubled defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad at Miami.
With Atlanta simply outscoring everyone else in the NFC a year ago, Tampa Bay joined the playmaking revolution, adding tight end O.J. Howard and wideout Chris Godwin to a talented pass-catching corps that already included the freakish Mike Evans and flashy free agent DeSean Jackson. Tight end was not necessarily a huge position of need for the Bucs given the play of solid youngster Cameron Brate, but Howard is a clear upgrade athletically and was an absolute steal at No. 19 overall. The Bucs also added difference-makers on the defensive side of the ball, focusing up the middle. Safety Justin Evans is pound for pound one of this draft's heaviest hitters, and LSU's Kendell Beckwith is a classic glass-eating run-plugger at middle linebacker. Stevie Tu'ikolovatu has to keep his weight under control but he is built like a Coke machine and is just as hard to move. Running back Jeremy McNichols provides depth should one of his Boise State predecessors, Doug Martin, struggle in his return from suspension.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for , a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.>www.NFLDraftScout.com