Iowa Left Tackle Riley Reiff was projected to be a top 10 pick. Reiff fell to the Detroit Lions at 23 overall. Reiff was hands down the best value pick in round 1. Pittsburgh got a good consolation prize with David DeCastro. Reiff filled a greater position of need and value with offensive tackles being more coveted in the league now.
AFC North Day 1 Draft Grades
Baltimore Ravens A Grade The Baltimore Ravens had the luxury of trading down because they got 11 starters on both sides of the ball. Baltimore gained extra picks and Minnesota passed on some quality wide receivers for Harrison Smith who is the poor mans Tom Zbikowski. Decisions like this are why Ozzie Newsome is one of the leagues best GM’s.
Cincinnati Bengals C Grade The Bengals went out and signed a bunch of scrub cornerbacks in free agency like Terrence Newman and Pacman Jones to compete with Nate Clements in 2012. Cincinnati used their two first round picks on a cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and Wisconsin interior offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler.
Cleveland Browns B Grade It was completely unnecessary for Cleveland to move up 1 spot Trent Richardson. I had Cleveland taking Weeden 22 in my final mock draft. Cleveland landed the best running back and the 3rd quarterback in this draft class that can make an immediate impact.
Weeden won games against Luck, RGIII, and Tannehill in college like Steve Marriuchi pointed out. Cleveland did not get a right tackle to run block for Cleveland and there is no #1 receiver for Cleveland to throw to. I was not a huge Weeden fan at first. I thought he was a 5th round talent. Weeden really earned his stripes by producing in college, producing in the senior bowl, throwing at the combine, dominating
Cleveland landed 2 blue chip talents who will become long term starters. Moving up one spot giving up a ton of day 3 picks for Trent Richardson was completely unnecessary. Taking Weeden over both
The Browns instantly become the 3rd best team in the AFC North with these 2 picks. If Cleveland can find a right tackle and wide receiver on day 2 the Browns could become the 2nd best team in the AFC North ahead of Baltimore.
Cleveland really needs a primary flanker wide receiver and a right tackle. Why do I get the feeling that the Browns will be looking at Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion when the 2014 NFL draft rolls around if Cleveland fails to address these dire needs on day 2 of the 2012 NFL Draft?
Pittsburgh Steelers A Grade David DeCastro should have gone 18th to San Diego. DeCastro should have gone 20th to Tennessee. The Steelers wait for DeCastro to fall to their lap and take a blue chip run blocker. DeCastro is ready to run block, pass block, zone block, and cut block.
DeCastro played center in high school and right guard at Stanford. DeCastro has not played left guard and that position is tougher to play. There may be a rookie transition where DeCastro has to learn how to pass block at left guard before blossoming in 2013.
Pittsburgh will have a sick run blocking unit if everyone stays healthy. Issac Redman is a huge fantasy football sleeper for next fall to keep an eye on.
AFC South Day 1 Draft Grades
Houston Texans B Grade The Texans had a solid draft. The Texans added a pass rusher who led the nation in sacks with Whiney Mercilus for depth behind Connor Barwin and Brooks Reid.
Indianapolis Colts A+ Grade The Colts got the best quarterback in the last 15 years with Andrew Luck. The other two so called once in a generation game changing quarterbacks coming out of college were John Elway and Peyton Manning. The Colts have an art for getting bad at the right time. The Colts are also guaranteed to draft one of his teammates Jonathan Martin or Coby Fleener at 34. Today was a moral victory for the Colts. The Colts can take one of Luck’s teammates to boost Luck’s confidence in round 2 while looking for other options in round 3.
Jacksonville Jaguars D Grade Justin Blackmon is the next Braylon Edwards. Among Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, and Justin Blackmon the player with the best chance of busting is Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is a low end #2 target like Edwards getting the unwarranted hype of a Calvin Johnson type of target because of his mind boggling production where he posted video game numbers thanks to the likes of all pro quarterback Brandon Weeden.
He will not amount to anything in Jacksonville. I had Gabbert as a bust last year. The Jaguars were digging their own grave when they took Gabbert. Now the Jaguars have landed in the pitfall after digging a gorge of a grave that appears unescapable.
Tennessee Titans C Grade Tennessee reached for a wide receiver with Baylor’s Kendall Wright. This need was completely unacceptable when you had far greater needs to address at center along with adding defensive players for depth.
AFC East Day 1 Draft Grades
Buffalo Bills A+ Grade I think Stephon Gilmore is a great cornerback. South Carolina was 2nd out of 120 college football teams in pass defense behind Alabama. Alabama was stacked with NFL talent. The Bills have Gilmore, Aaron Williams the 2011 Texas corner, Terrence McGee, and Leodis McKelvin.
Buffalo has a defense that is even better than the second tier defense that got 4 interceptions against Tom Brady and Tim Tebow. Can you imagine what the Bills can do in 2012 with this defense?
Miami Dolphins C Grade The Dolphins had far greater needs than quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is a product of his supporting cast. Luke Joekel and Jake Matthews are great offensive tackles that bought Tannehill way too much time. Tannehill had playmakers like Jeff Fuller, Ryan Swope, and Nehemiah Hicks bail him out in critical situations.
Texas A&M also had a 2 back tandem with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. Miami does not provide Tannehill with a supporting cast even if Tannehill has a basic grasp of Miami’s offense. Someone in South Beach is about to receive the David Carr virus. That someone is named Ryan Tannehill.
New England Patriots A- Grade Chandler Jones is a 3rd round talent that only registered 4.5 sacks at Syracuse. Dont’a Hightower is a talent at middle linebacker. Hightower does not fill a need. I’m sort of disgusted that Patriots fans are so stoked about these picks. I wanted to give New England a C grade because I thought this was a really average draft that ignored need.
Dont’a Hightower is an A grade prospect from an overall talent standpoint. Hightower is a C grade prospect from a need standpoint for New England. That averages out to a B grade.
I’m currently reading a book about the Patriots history of drafting and I realize New England has gotten a vast majority of their picks right due to an extensive scouting system that they use to rank players.
New England gets a A- out of generosity for their prestigious track record for obtaining premium value over previous years. The other reason I decided to be generous with the A- pick is because Belichick traded up for 2 players the Patriots desired instead of trading down for second tier talent in round 2.
The other reason I’m trying to reserve judgement about Chandler Jones is because back in 2010, I thought Jason Pierre Paul would flop while Derrick Morgan and Brandon Graham would become pro bowlers. Look how that turned out? Belichick has an art for obtaining pro bowl talent which is why I’m trying to reserve judgement.
New York Jets A+ Grade The Jets got Quinton Coples at 16. Coples can be used as a 4-3 defensive end, 4-3 defensive tackle, 3-4 defensive end, or 3-4 outside linebacker. Coples provides amazing value for the Jets at 16. Everyone is being subjective about this pick saying Coples is the next Vernon Gholston. I love Coples as a draft prospect. Worst case scenario your getting Julius Peppers like production in terms of pass rushing and run stuffing. Best case scenario your a player that can develop into the next Lawrence Taylor. The Jets got a steal by obtaining the definitive best pass rusher at 16.
AFC West Day 1 Draft Grades
Denver Broncos F Grade Denver opted to trade down twice in round 1. Denver missed out on Devon Still and Mohammed Sanu in round 1. Denver really has to step up on day 2 to impress me.
Kansas City Chiefs A Grade Dontari Poe was a great value pick at 11. Poe can help shore up the Chiefs nose tackle issue in their 3-4 scheme.
Oakland Raiders F Grade Oakland basically helped the Bengals secure Dre Kirkpatrick thanks to their trade with Cincinnati. The Bengals needed a cornerback with poor free agent signings.
San Diego Chargers C- Grade I’m still sort of confused on why San Diego took Melvin Ingram. He’s a good value pick. San Diego has just had a really poor track record for drafting over the years.
NFC North Day 1 Draft Grades
Chicago Bears A Grade The Chicago Bears got a quality pass rusher with Shea McClellin. Chicago will have one of the best pass rushing units on defense with McClellin joining Julius Peppers, Chicago has faith in their inept pass blocking unit which could be their undoing in an NFC North division that has 2 more blue chip left tackles for the Chicago Bears to encounter twice a year.
Detroit Lions A++ Grade The Detroit Lions got Riley Reiff a top ten talent at 23 overall. That’s why the Lions got two + signs next to this grade. Lions fans deserve a value pick like this at a premium position like left tackle after enduring the 7 year rapture known as Matt Millen’s Madness as Detroit’s general manager.
Reiff will be a pro bowler in Detroit. Thanks to drafting Reiff Detroit will either attend to some unfinished playoff business in New Orleans by capturing the Lombardi Trophy or end up hoisting the trophy in New York City for Super Bowl 48 one year after Megatron graces the Madden 13 Cover in Time Square should the Lions fail go the distance this season.
Every year there is that pick where a team gets better value with a certain player. Rashard Mendenhall to Pittsburgh in 2008 was considered premium value at the time. Bryan Bulaga to Green Bay in 2010 and Prince Amukamara to the New York Giants in 2011 were all considered the first round steals of the draft. There is no remote debate that Riley Reiff is that pick in this draft for the Detroit Lions.
Detroit got a top ten player that fills a huge need by obtaining that player at 23. What a steal by Detroit. Detroit ends up getting the premium steal here.
Green Bay Packers A+ Grade Green Bay gets a pass rusher in round 1 by obtaining Nick Perry. Marshall Newhouse showed a lot of promise replacing the injured Chad Clifton at left tackle in 2011. Its scary to imagine what Green Bay can do with 2011 first round pick Derrick Sherrod at full health too.
Adding Perry, a USC pass rusher next to Clay Matthews another USC pass rusher makes Green Bay dangerous. Green Bay should be one of the favorites for Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans. Favre won his first Super Bowl in New Orleans. Favre missed out on a 2nd championship with Minnesota because of an NFC Championship loss to New Orleans. The following season Green Bay wins the Lombardi Trophy.
Minnesota Vikings A Grade I loved the Matt Kalil pick. Thanks to Kalil, the Vikings have a team that can take will avoid last place in the NFC North. Anything less than competing with Detroit for 2nd place in the NFC North should be an indication that Ponder may not be your long term quarterback in Minnesota.
Minnesota had big needs at cornerback and wide receiver. Ignoring those needs and trading up for a backup safety at best like Harrison Smith showed volumes of being irresponsible. Its almost like Spielman wants to have his cake and eat it by drafting Kalil to avoid a Millen grade and then drafting a 2nd round talent to give Vikings fans false hope.
NFC South Day 1 Draft Grades
Atlanta Falcons ? Grade The Falcons traded this pick to Cleveland when selecting Julio Jones. Brandon Weeden’s career in Cleveland could ultimately determine this pick.
Carolina Panthers A Grade Carolina had greater needs to address. The Panthers are obtaining a blue chip talent with Luke Kuechly though. Kuechly was 2nd in the nation in tackles as a freshman. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Kuechly ended up going 9th.
New Orleans Saints TBA Grade The Saints traded their 2012 first rounder to New England. They lost their 2nd round pick to bounty gate.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers F Grade Mark Barron was a huge reach at 7. This class was really weak at safety. I had Mark Barron listed as a 2nd round prospect because he could not play during the Senior Bowl week due to injuries at one point. Due to the demand for safeties and tight ends, Barron kept getting pushed up boards. Barron has Adrian Wilson’s talent and Troy Polamalu’s upside. The main question is will Barron maximize his potential. You also have to take into account. Doug Martin reminds me of his predecessor Ian Johnson. I don’t understand the move to trade up for Doug Martin when Rutgers wide receiver Mohammed Sanu was on the board.
Doug Martin’s biggest question mark is his ball carrier vision. Martin runs like Maurice Jones Drew. I’m also fascinated by the karma aspect of Doug Martin. LeGarrette Blount got suspended at Oregon for punching a Boise State player in the face. Now a Boise State rusher could take Blount’s job.
NFC East Day 1 Draft Grades
Dallas Cowboys A+ Grade Dallas landed a #1 field cornerback that can cover. I see Brandon Carr as more of a #2 cornerback despite his tremendous talent. With Claiborne and Carr, Dallas has a cornerback tandem that will instantly improve their defense. Dallas has a chance to make some noise this season in the NFC East.
New York Giants A- Grade I thought Brandon Tate was better than Hakeem Nicks as a North Carolina wide receiver in 2009. I thought George Selvie was better than Jason Pierre Paul coming out of South Florida. Giants GM Jerry Reese went against the grain twice. On both occasions Reese, made me look like an idiot for doubting him.
Like the New England Patriots, the Giants are likely to get an A- grade by default at the bare minimum simply based on who they draft regardless of who they select. David Wilson did well in the interviews at the Combine. Wilson has extremely high character. Reese must have loved this quality about Wilson so opted to take a flyer on Wilson here.
You cannot blame Jerry Reese for making this move. Ahmad Bradshaw is injury prone and there could be some other options on the board.
Philadelphia Eagles C Grade Fletcher Cox was a pass rusher at Mississippi State. Fletcher Cox is a 4-3 defensive tackle with Marcel Dareus’s production and Nick Fairley’s potential. Fletcher Cox is very coachable and has a great work ethic. Maybe I’m wrong about this pick. I think the Eagles were premature when trading up for Fletcher Cox.
Washington Redskins A+ Grade Robert Griffin III is capable of winning a Super Bowl with the right supporting cast. Robert Griffin III has to encounter a very brutal schedule. The Redskins face a lot of tough defenses in 2012 that have great pass rushing and secondary.
Robert Griffin III may be in for a rough rookie campaign. Will he overcome a coaching change should the team team go 3-13? Will Robert Griffin III’s encounter’s with multiple defenses that have personnel to contain Washington’s offense deplete his confidence?
Worst case scenario this is a 3-13 team Redskins team that opts to fire Shanahan. Best case scenario this is a 8-8 team that shows great promise by getting off to a 6-0 due to easy opponents and weak defenses. Washington gets 6 suspect pass defenses with New Orleans, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Minnesota in the first 6 weeks of the 2012 NFL season. As Washington’s season unfolds you could see RGIII struggling down the stretch due to NFC East teams having the 2 pass rushers and cornerbacks to frustrate Griffin.
NFC West Day 1 Draft Grades
Arizona Cardinals A Draft Grade While the Cardinals miss out on a left tackle, they get the best wide receiver in this draft down the road with Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. Floyd has the size, hands, route running, jumping, and the uncanny ability to catch in traffic. Floyd made a one handed catch while being triple covered. Pairing Floyd up with Fitzgerald gives the Cardinals a deadly wide receiver tandem.
San Francisco 49ers F Grade The 49ers drafted AJ Jenkins a 5th round talent. Mohammed Sanu out of Rutgers was the most complete receiver outside of Floyd.
Seattle Seahawks F Grade I mocked Bruce Irvin to the Jets in my final mock draft. A few high profile draft experts thought Irvin could go undrafted because of his off the field concerns.
St. Louis Rams D Grade The Rams failed to add any offense to support Sam Bradford. The Rams get Michael Brockers and can sit him out for a year or two to develop him. St. Louis added free agents at defensive tackle. Developing Brockers as a 4-3 starter may work out for the Rams.