Season 19 Draft: Defense Draft Grades

LightningDragon · March 22, 2024


By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)

Last season was the first where longtime users got together to represent NFL franchises and draft the best and brightest graduating Seniors from the CFSL. Once again, the games have been played, teams and players have been scouted, and the draft is upon us. 23 teams will draft 185 players over 8 rounds this season, looking for the next big addition to their squads.

Here are the ground rules. Each franchise does not take into account last season’s CFSL draft. The GMs are only trying to add CFSL graduates to current NFL rosters as of March 2024. The GMs may pick players they have relationships with or are the coaches of in the CFSL, but may not show favoritism towards said players. In addition, both for the general audience and my fellow GMs, I’ve produced once again an article breaking down the Offense Tiers and Defense Tiers for each position. Once again, the rules for those are similar, and are as follows:

Each position group is sorted the same way the league sorts position groups. That means they go as QB, HB, WR, TE/FB, DL, LB, CB, S, and K. For each group, we’ll grade each player in the position group by tiers. Specifically, we’ll look at them in how likely they are to be drafted and where. This is the table showing how each tier is graded:

Tier 11st Round Draft Grade
Tier 22nd-3rd Round Draft Grade
Tier 34th-6th Round Draft Grade
Tier 47th-8th Round Draft Grade

Keep in mind for these tiers that there are only 23 spots in each round (except for Round 8 which has 24 spots). Therefore, while it will not work out perfectly in this series, there should be only around 20 to 30 total Tier 1 players, at least in theory. Also, keep in mind that while there might be 10 awesome players in a position group, only so many NFL teams might need a Quarterback right now, for example. That does affect how many players are graded in Tier 1 especially. Finally, within the tiers, players are only listed in alphabetical order by last name. So without further ado:

Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

Tier 1: Brett Brazelton, Anthony Kuehler, Lane Thomas

Tier 2: TJ Gardner, Robert Green, Dru Hanna, Ray Seymour

Tier 3: Deon Bordeaux, Ava Cowden, Brian Davis, Anthony Dowell, Tabitha Duke, Bubba Hendricks, JasDionne Henry, Titus Law, Christian Madry, Straun McAllister, Caden Norris, Paul Painter, Fred VanSickle

Tier 4: Terrance Dierker Britt, Harry Coggins, Jeremiah Griffin, Thomas Harris, Robert King, Jason Mallory, Max Matthie

Last season, the defensive line was the group I said might be the most talented in the draft. With the changes in strategy over the past few seasons, this will not be the case this season. I would grade this as an average DL class by talent, but instead deep class by numbers.

At Tier 1 we have three guys who will float around somewhere outside the Top 10 but in the 1st Round with Brazelton, Kuehler, and Thomas. All three are game-changers at their position and great prospects, just not potential CFSL Hall of Famers like we had in the last class.

Behind those three, Gardner, Green, Hanna, and Seymour all could rise into the 1st Round as well. But with so many Tier 3 and Tier 4 prospects, I have a feeling teams will wait and grab guys later. Anthony Dowell, Tabitha Duke, and JasDionne Henry all strike me as potential late risers as well despite their grades.


Tier 1: Tee Boozer, Justin Brown, Candace Navarro, Kirby Sierra, Jameson Weinrich

Tier 2: Justin Ballard, Malachi Calloway, Axel Holgersen, Van Jackson, Tay Langston, Colt Lawrence, Milo Pinesaw, Jaydyn Riley, Cristiano Valentine, Leroy White

Tier 3: Brian Andrews, Destiny Buss, Isabella DeJesus, Garrett Evans, James Horton, Jon Lee

Tier 4: Donte Caelan, Emmit Crow, Brendan Fowler, Brody Mcclain

If wide receivers are the deepest position in the draft on offense, linebackers are the deepest position in this draft on defense. Both have five Tier 1 players and what a career these guys had. Sierra is likely the first pick of this group, and a good candidate for the first defensive player taken.

Tier 2 has multiple guys as well who could jump into Round 1. That includes names like Axel Holgersen, Cristiano Valentine, and Jaydyn Riley especially. Moving down the line, don’t count out multiple later-ranked guys as well. Isabella DeJesus, Destiny Buss, and Jon Lee are all players who’ve played well and could rise higher than their rating.

If I was a betting man, I might only have five 1st Round grades, but the over/under on how many LBs go Round 1 is set by myself at 7.5.


Tier 1: Braxton Griffin

Tier 2: Chris Bryant, Daemon Ike, Rick Koon, Jeff Johnson, Cole Matthews, Jett Pickens, Tyler Scally, Ky Williams

Tier 3: Alex Bernard, Moe Black, Captain Carter, Bradley Charles, Andrew Cook, Troy Crosier, Kelvin Diggs, Mekhi Vazquez

Tier 4: Scott Barnes, JD Callahan, Billy Jude, Antony Gray, Christian Mann, Jason Myers, Andrew Stevens

Don’t be fooled, this CB class is very strong as well this season. While only one guy got the Tier 1 designation, I’d expect up to maybe four or five Cornerbacks chosen in Round 1. Braxton Griffin ended his career fifth in interceptions all time. He is likely a very early-rounder, depending on team needs. Behind Griffin, we have a bunch of very good players with near-identical stats. Guys like Chris Bryant, Daemon Ike, Rick Koon, Cole Matthews, and Jett Pickens will all push for the 1st Round.

Notice I said nearly all of Tier 2 in the conversation. That’s because the class has so many similar player grades. I don’t know which of those guys makes Round 1, but I know a few will. Behind all of them, Tier 3 and Tier 4 might not have as many flashy playmakers, but there is some real value after a possible CB run early in the draft.


Tier 1: Manti Delano, Zaveon May, DJ Sutton

Tier 2: Blake Davis, Steven Lee, Apollo Richardson, Sammy Smith, Bryce Strawn, Chad Wendel

Tier 3: James Braxton, Drew Caleb, Mustafa Colakovic, Micah Jenkins, Brandon Parker, Jake Rice, Benny Trill

Tier 4: Zack Boyd, Buster Cox, Justice Hall, Drake Masters, Malcolm Moses, Lance White

If the previous few positions have a bunch of Tier 2 players who could jump into the 1st Round, obviously there has to be some pushback. There are only 23 spots in the 1st Round after all. In this sense, Safety could be a prime candidate for the players who might drop. Delano, May, and Sutton all are 1st-round talents. All are leaders in big stats and had excellent careers. But with so much talent around, I don’t know if any of the three will push into the 1st Round for sure.

Of course, maybe the GMs see it differently and select all three early, but no one in this class would jump out. However, those three will likely be the first three safeties taken. Behind them, Lee, Richardson, and Strawn are all guys who could surprise as well. I liked Jenkins and Colakovic later in the tiers as well. Put simply, Safety might not have as many surefire 1st Rounders, but there is a large amount of hidden gems later in the draft for the position group.


Tier 1: None

Tier 2: None

Tier 3: Jester Blewitt, Jonah Henry, Damani Marley

Tier 4: Panzer Brighton, Johnny Dixon, Boom Hauer, Mohamed Jones, Rocky Rodgers, Yohan Sebastian, Venny Trill, Frank White

In this draft format, every player will be chosen. As such, there is no longer an “Undrafted” grade. Against my better judgment, I settled on three kickers being projected above Tier 4. Even though kickers are not as needed, teams will tend to reach as we get later into drafts. If a team is looking for a rookie at kicker, Blewitt, Henry, and Marley all have had long careers with a track record of accurate kicking. It’s never one-for-one the transition from college to the NFL, but those would be the three to look at regarding a higher pick. As for the final pick of the draft? I’m guessing it will be a kicker as well.


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