I know it's somewhat futile to assign draft grades to teams, when not one of their selected players has played a down. But, I enjoy this sort of thing...so, if you're interested, read on: I.) NFC WEST: 1.) Arizona Cardinals: The Cards were extremely fortunate to have Tennessee NT Dan Williams fall to them at #26. Most felt Williams was a top 12 pick. Second round pick, OLB Daryl Washington, is a tackling machine, who will be counted on to replace Karlos Dansby. In the third round, the Cards grabbed WR Andre Roberts, to help fill the huge vacancy left by Anquan Boldin. OLB O'Brien Schofield might have been a late first round pick, had he not suffered a serious knee injury during Senior Bowl practices: GRADE: A-; 2.) San Francisco 49ers: Strongly addressed their greatest weakness...OL, by selecting huge OT Anthony Davis, and even larger OG, Mike Iupati. Though Iupati has some issues while pass-blocking with holding, Mike Singletary wants to run the ball...and should be able to do so, now. Got to wonder about mid-second rounder, Taylor Mays. Not a good sign when you're first act as an NFL player is to call out your college coach. Third rounder, OLB Navarro Bowman, was a questionable selection. He's relatively short for a 3-4 OLB, and has had some off field issues. The 9ers might have been better served drafting a CB instead. Power RB Anthony Dixon was also added to pound the ball. 49ers are going to play smash mouth football. Their draft projects the attitude of their head coach: GRADE: B; 3.) Seattle Seahawks: Choose wisely with their two first rounders...taking OT Russell Okung at #6, and following with S Earl Thomas. The 'Hawks added WR Golden Tate at #60, and CB Walter Thurmond at #11. From there, selected a mediocre group of primarily DEs and TEs. Loved their first two picks. Not as enamored with Golden Tate as are others. Thought Thurmond was an excellent choice at the point he was taken. 'Hawks filled two of their greatest needs. But, they reached for Tate. The 'Hawks would have been better served had they chosen to trade down at #60: GRADE: B+ St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford may have durability issues, coming off a serious shoulder injury, and having to play behind five Nick Kaczur clones. Is he really worth dealing with Tom Condon, paying $50mil. in guaranteed money, and passing up a relatively safe pick, like Suh? The Rams wisely went OT in round two, selecting Rodger Saffold of Indiana. Reached for CB Jerome Murphy in round three...then chose the thin but explosive WR, Mardy Gilyard, with the first pick in round four. Their remaining picks were a hodge-podge of DE and TE prospects. After watching the Patriots and Eagles wheel and deal, you would have thought that the Rams could have traded down and gotten more value for their picks. But, with the exception of Murphy, they did a solid job: GRADE: B; II.) NFC NORTH: 1.) Chicago Bears: Gave away all of their high picks in that foolish Jay Cutler trade. At #75, they landed S Major Wright, one of the few Florida players that escaped the Patriots. At #109, they followed up with DE Corey Wooten of nearby Northwestern. At #141, they added CB Joshua Moore of Kansas, and at #181 selected sleeper QB Dan Lefevour . Despite having so few picks, I really liked what the Bears did. All four of their aforementioned picks should make their team...and Wright, Wooten, and Moore should contribute. GRADE: C; 2.) Detroit Lions: Though the Lions were lauded for landing Suh at #2, they really needed an LT like Russell Okung, to protect their huge investment in QB Matthew Stafford. Though Suh is a moose inside, I'm not sure he'll be much of a factor getting to the QB. I don't understand why the Lions traded up to snare RB Jahvid Best. Best had concussion problems in college....and, they could have probably still gotten him at #34. Trading up and selecting OT Rodger Saffold would have made far more sense. Selected CB Amari Spievie at #66, and huge OT Jason Fox of Miami, who is coming off a college season ending knee injury. Not a bad job, especially as Lions' drafts generally go. GRADE: B- 3.) Green Bay Packers: Their main objective was to find a body guard for QB Aaron Rodgers. They found one when OT Brian Bulaga slipped down to them. They added Purdue DT Mike Neal at #56, who they hope they can convert into a 3-4 DE. At #71, they moved to bolster their secondary with safety Morgan Burnett of Georgia Tech. OG Marshall Newhouse and 6'2", 215lb. Buffalo State RB James Starks are intriguing prospects. But, after getting shreaded by Kurt Warner in the play-offs, and having a pair of 33-plus starting CBs, I was surprised that the Pack didn't use their 56th pick on a corner: GRADE: C+; 4.) Minnesota Vikings: CB was the one real position of need for the Vikings. So, they reached for CB Chris Cook at #34. Cook was the best of the "second tier" of CBs, behind Haden, McCourtey, Wilson, Jackson, and Robinson. At #51, the snagged RB Toby Gerhart of Stanford, to replace the departed Chester Taylor. At #100, they scored great value by selecting potential pass-rusher Everson Griffen of USC. OG Chris DeGeare and ILB Nathan Triplett were added to enhance depth. Though Cook was the best CB available at the time of selection, DT Brian Price, RB Dexter McCluster, or a trade-down would have presented greater value. Loved the Griffen pick at #100: GRADE: C+; III.) NFC SOUTH: 1.) Atlanta Falcons: Needing to upgrade their LB play, the Falcons were thrilled that LB Sean Weatherspoon was available to them at #19. Weatherspoon was one of the most underrated players available. But, after that, not too much to get excited about. Like the Patriots, they needed pass-rushers...but failed to solve that need. GRADE: C-; 2.) Carolina Panthers: Should have followed suit and passed on Jimmy Clausen with their top pick, #48 overall. WR Brandon LaFell of LSU, taken at #79, is a big target, but seems overrated. The Panthers traded their 2nd round pick in 2011 for the 89th overall pick...which they surprisingly used on Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards. Also added short DE/OLB Eric Norwood, DE Greg Hardy, and QB Tony Pike of Cincinnati. The Panthers continue to ruin their chances of seriously competing by trading away their high draft choices. They traded away their #1s in 09-10, and now, traded their second rounder to the Pats in 2011. These disastrous trades, along with equally disastrous picks like Armanti Edwards and LaFell, will end up costing John Fox his job: GRADE: D-; 3.) New Orleans Saints: Even the best teams have weaknesses. For the Saints, it's DE opposite Will Smith, DT next to Sedric Ellis, and LB depth. So, it was a bit surprising when the Saints selected CB Patrick Robinson at #32. But, when you consider that the drop-off at CB after Robinson was huge, they're selection was more understandable. Still, DT Brian Price and LB Daryl Washington would have looked good in Saints' uniforms. OT Charles Brown was a great value at #64, but Miami TE Jimmy Graham at #95 was a reach. DE Everson Griffen or LB Ricky Sapp could have filled greater needs. Saints also snared BC center Mike Tenant at #158: GRADE: C; 4.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs aggressively addressed their interior DL by adding DTs Gerald McCoy, and Brian Price. With the 39th overall pick, they selected tall, physical WR Arrelious Benn, and tabbed tall CB/FS Myron Lewis at #67. Next, at #101, they took a flier on troubled Syracuse WR, Mike Williams. Punter Brent Bowden at #172. Lots of holes to fill for Tampa. For the most part, they took the best players available, at their many need positions. GRADE: B+; IV.) NFC EAST: 1.) Dallas Cowboys: Moved up to select life-challenged WR Dez Bryant. It's only fitting that the Cowboys selected and will now try to guide young Dez. After all, somehow meetings, with ex-Cowboy great Deion Sanders, which Dez subsequently lied to the NCAA about, was what got him suspended for the 2009 college season. Maybe, under the tutorage of Sanders and Michael Irvin, he'll flourish...or at least have fun at the numerous Dallas "gentleman's clubs". Penn State LB Shawn Lee was a bit of a reach, taken at #55...due to health concerns (knee). Nonetheless, his selection likely spells the end of 1st round bust Bobby Carpenter in Big D. CB/FS Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a small college developmental prospect, with outstanding physical tools...and was a great selection at #126. It is hoped the Notre Dame OT Sam Young will begin to play up to his size, and replace OT Marc Columbo: GRADE: B-; 2.) New York Giants: The Giants have had good luck with DE types Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Justin Tuck. They hope that the freakishly athletic Jason Pierre-Paul will be added to that list. The Giants followed up with NT Linval Joseph at #46, LSU safety Chad Jones at #76, reached for ILB Phillip Dillard at #115, and tabbed Arkansas C/OG Mitch Putrus at #147. GRADE: C; 3.) Philadelphia Eagles: Led the league with 13 selections. Still it's not the number of picks that count. It's what you do with them. The Eagles got off to a flying start by trading up for pass-rusher/disruptor Brandon Graham. Next, they addressed a huge need at FS by tabbing South Florida's Nate Allen. The trade-ups left them without a pick til #86, when they wisely selected pass-rusher potential DE, Daniel Te'o Washington. Other picks of note were Clemson OLB Ricky Sapp at #134, and LSU RB Charles Scott, at #200. But, Philly did little to address needs at CB and on the OL: GRADE: B; 4.) Washington Redskins: The absolute top priority for the 'Skins was to select a LT. So, rather than take perhaps the best player in the entire draft, safety Eric Berry, they chose OT Trent Williams of Oklahoma. The 'Skins didn't pick again to # 103, when they selected LSU ILB Perry Riley. The rest of their meager collection of picks didn't amount to much: GRADE: C- V.) AFC WEST: 1.) Denver Broncos: Of all drafts to evaluate, this was the toughest. The Broncos used the 22nd overall pick on WR Demaryius Thomas, and then shocked the football world by trading the 43rd, 70th, and 114th to the Baltimore Ravens for the 25th overall pick, which they used to nab Florida QB, Tim Tebow. This trade served to solidify the Ravens as a SB threat, as well as returned Josh McDaniels back to the hot seat...where he was a year ago after trading QB Jay Cutler. You have to wonder about whether ol' Josh has been drinking out of the same spring as Al Davis since his trip to the Rockies. The questionable selection of a very raw WR at #22, this dumb Tebow trade, and the ridiculous trade of the Broncos' #1 in 2010 (which turned out to be the 14th overall pick) to obtain pint-sized CB, Alphonso Smith, may cripple the Denver franchise for years to come. Other McDaniels' picks included OG Zane Beadels at #45, Baylor center JD Walton at #80, WR Eric Decker at #87, and CB Perrish Cox at #137, appear solid. But my God...those first two...: GRADE: C-; 2.) Kansas City Chiefs: May have gotten the best player available in safety Eric Berry. But, the price for taking Berry was passing on one of the elite OTs...which would have served to strengthen and solidify the weak Chiefs' OL. Scott Pioli surprised by selecting diminutive RB/WR/KR Dexter McCluster at pick #36. Pioli reached for pint-sized Alabama CB/KR Javier Arenas, selected OG Jon Asomoah at #68, and Iowa TE Tony Moeaki at #93. McCluskey is another Darren Sproles, only more explosive. If healthy, Moeaki can provide Cassel with a reliable target over the middle. The Chiefs should be deadly on kick returns. But, they still have major problems on the left side of their OL: GRADE: B; 3.) Oakland Raiders: MLB Rolando McClain could be the second coming of Ray Lewis. Next, at #44, the Raiders bolster the interior of their DL with Texas DT Lamarr Houston. At #69 and 106, the Raiders fortified their OL by adding OTs Jared Veldheer, and workout warrior Bruce Campbell. At #108, they added fleet Clemson WR/KR Jacoby Ford, and at #138 chose Auburn CB, Walter McFadden. Best Raiders' draft in years: GRADE: A; 4.) San Diego Chargers: The Chargers sacrified their 40th overall pick to move up 16 spots in the first round...to select Fresno State RB Ryan Matthews. Matthews appears to be the perfect replacement for the whiny LT, who has taken his tears East. With their 79th overall pick, the Bolts chose Washington ILB Donald Butler. They followed tha selection up with SS Daryl Stuckey at #110, and much needed NT, Cam Thomas, at #146. The Chargers drafted like the Jets have in recent years...choosing quality over quantity. If Matthews is the real deal, and Thomas can plug up the middle of their DL, than the Chargers had a fine draft: GRADE: B- VI: AFC NORTH: 1.) Baltimore Ravens: Tim Tebow deal (see Denver Broncos above) may have served to solidify the Ravens as a legitimate SB contender. In that deal, they surrendered their 25th overall pick, in exchange for the 43rd, 70th, and 114th overall selections. They used those picks to get OLB Sergio Kindle at #43, and a pair of TEs, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, respectively. On defense, they added huge Alabama NT Terrence Cody at #57, and Syracuse DT/DE Arthur Jones at #157. Try to run against the Ravens now with Cody, Naga, and Ray Lewis patrolling the middle. If Kindle and Jones are healthy, the Ravens "D" will be as fierce as ever: GRADE: A 2.) Cincinnati Bengals: Got some additional weapons for QB Carson Palmer in TE Jermaine Gresham at #21, and WR Jordan Shipley at #84. Top picks on "D" are DE Carlos Dunlap at #54, Georgia DT Geno Atkins at #120, and CB Brandon Ghee at #96. Good, solid draft by the Bengals: GRADE: B+; 3.) Cleveland Browns: Browns had to be disappointed when safety Eric Berry didn't fall to them. But, Rather than trade down or add a pass-rusher, they chose CB Joe Haden. Don't get me wrong, Haden is a great prospect...but not at pick #7. The rest of the Browns' draft was nondescript...including the choice of QB Colt McCoy at #85. Horrible draft by Mike Holgren: GRADE: D; 4.) Pittsburgh Steelers: The Pittsburgh "D" isn't what it once was. Their pass defense in particular was awful last season. Nontheless, the steelers choose to fortify their OL by selecting C/G Maurkice Pouncey with their 18th overall pick. The Steelers further addressed their pass-rush depth by taking DE/OLBs Jason Worilds, and Thaddeus Gibson of Ohio State. WR/KR Emmanuel Sanders was taken at #82...to help fill the Santonio Holmes void, and RB prospect Jonathan Dwyer, a short-yardage slammer: GRADE: B-; VII. AFC SOUTH: 1.) Houston Texans: The main Houston needs were at RB and CB. With RBs Ryan Matthews and CJ Spiller gone, the Texans chose Alabama CB, Kareem Jackson. Then, they addressed their RB needs at #58 with Auburn's Ben Tate. The Texans added DT Earl Mitchell at #81, two TEs, Garrett Graham and Dorin Dickerson of Pitt., and diminutive WR/KR Trindon Holliday of LSU...who should fun to watch (anyone remember Nolan Smith of the KC Chiefs?). Both Devin McCourtey and Kyle Wilson are better prospects than Jackson. Tate was a bit of a reach at #58 GRADE: C; 2.) Indianapolis Colts: Has Bill Polian found another pain in the butt edge rusher in Jerry Hughes? The Colts didn't lose the SB because of poor OL play. They lost because they couldn't get to Drew Brees. I love this pick for Indy. Hughes is an ideal fit in their defense. Iowa ILB Pat Angerer at #63 fits the profile for an Indy LB...not too big or tall, but fast. The six-foot Angerer ran a 4.67 40. Kavell Connor is another short ILB, with 4.6 speed. At #94, the Colts chose USC CB Kevin Thomas who, though somewhat soft in run support, has all the physical tools (6'0", 4.44 40 speed) to be a solid NFL CB. Not much help on the OL. GRADE: B-; 3.) Jacksonville Jaguars: The Indianapolis Colts once caught lightening in a bottle...as they shocked the football world by taking a relatively small DE out of Syracuse named Dwight Freeney. But, Freeney had just set an NCAA record for sacks. The Jags top choice and 10th overall pick, Tyson Alualu, has no such distinction. He is, supposedly, the "perfect" 3-4 DE, who can both play the run and rush the passer. At 6'2", 293, and running a 4.88 40, he does appear to have the physical tools. The Jags also added DT D'Anthony Smith, and DEs Larry Hart and Austen Lane in later rounds. Their mission? Get to Peyton Manning: GRADE: D 4.) Tennessee Titans: Ever in pursuit of Peyton, the Titans select DE Derrick Morgan as their latest anti-Indy missile. They add USC WR Damian Williams at #77, OLB Rennie Curran of Georgia at #97, CB Alteraun Verner of UCLA at #104, FS Robert Johnson of Utah at #148, and SS Myron Rolle of FSU. An excellent assortment of talent to satisfy needs: GRADE: B+ VIII.) AFC EAST: 1.) Buffalo Bills: For the past two years, the Bills have needed a LT. Planning to move to a 3-4 defense, the Bills look for an anchor in the middle. So...what do the Bills do with their 9th overall pick? Select a RB, of course! CJ Spiller is a game-breaking runner. Paired with Fred Jackson, they may be the best 1-2 RB punch in the Division. It's only a matter of time before Marshawn Lynch gets his walking papers: http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/01/08/917050/marshawn-lynch-accused-of-stealing.html
. Next, at #41, the Bills reached for NT Torell Troupe...though higher rated NTs Terrence Cody, Linval Joseph, and Cam Thomas all were available. At #72, they selected a good 3-4 DE prospect in Arkansas State's Alex Carrington. WR Marcus Easley and OT Ed Wang were taken in the later rounds: GRADE: C-; 2.) Miami Dolphins: Passed on top pass-rush prospects Jason Pierre-Paul and Derrick Morgan in round one. They instead agreed to drop down 16 spots, in exchange for the 40th overall pick. The 'Fins selected wisely by tabbing DE/DT Jared Odrick of Penn State. Odrick was voted the Big 10 defensive player of the year. Next, got the pass-rusher they wanted with Koa Misi at #40. Thereafter, they added OG John Jerry at #73, Iowa ILB AJ Edds at #119, and Georgia safety Reshad Jones at #163. Good job of grocery shopping by Mr. Bill GRADE: B 3.) New England Patriots: The last time a Patriots' team had so many needs was in the 2001 draft. The Pats sorely needed pass-rushers, help at TE, WR, RB, OL, DL, and LB. So, naturally, they used their first round selection on a CB, Devin McCourtey. That said, an analysis of players available to them at where they selected show that the only pass-rushers available were OLB Sergio Kindle and his damaged knee, or OLB Jerry Hughes. Wildcard WR Dez Bryant was available. But signing Dez to huge money might have had a detrimental effect on the attitude of Randy Moss...along with the baggage Dez carries. There were only a pair of good CBs remaining...after which there was a rather large drop-off. As a result, McCourtey got the call. The Pats were surely disappointed when Miami chose pass-rusher OLB/DE Koa Misi at #40. With Misi gone, there wasn't much left. So, the Pats addressed the TE spot instead by selecting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They finally addressed their pass-rusher need by selecting OLB/DE Jermaine Cunningham at #53. At pick #62, the Pats reached for the slow Brandon Spikes. Let's hope Spikes is the second coming of Ted Johnson (minus all those concussions...poor guy). WR Taylor Price is as raw as they come. One has to wonder whether the Pats would have been better off selecting OLB/DE Everson Griffen, or WR/KR Mardy Guilyard, with the Price pick. Some nice later round picks, such as DE/DT Brandon Deaderick. Finally, got to factor into the Pats' grade that, in addition to the players they selected, that they also earned a 2nd round pick in 2011 from Carolina: GRADE: B; 4.) New York Jets: As has been their wont in recent years, the Jets target certain players...and go for quality, not quantity. With the 29th overall pick, they selected ball-hawking CB Kyle Wilson of Boise State. Next, they moved up to #61, where they select OT/OG Vladimir Ducasse of UMass. At #112, they selected USC RB Joe McKnight. McKnight is a slippery, quick all-purpose RB, who will replace Leon Washington. With their 139th pick, they selected tough FB John Connor, who should be their blocking back for the next 6-8 years. A great haul with just four picks: GRADE: A- THOUGHTS ON THE PATS...OR ANY OTHER TEAM?
Posted by TexasPat3
Although I generally agree with your analysis, the fun part of the NFL draft, for me, is the potential for guys coming out of nowhere and not only making their teams but becoming well-known (if not superstar players) players down the road timewise. My favorite longshot picks from this draft are:
1/ Mike Kafka QB - IMHO, it's Andy Reid's veiled warning to Kevin Kolb that if he doesn't perform - his replacement will be ready and waiting. Kafka, I believe would make a heck of a leader for the Eagles' offense.
2/ Eric Decker WR - This is the guy that IMHO, the Patriots should have taken instead of Aaron Hernandez. Not that AH is a bad choice, it's just that Decker has the potential of being a taller version of Wes Welker.