My Thoughts on the NFL Draft:
First, here is the list of the best first round picks:
NFL Best to Worst 2012 Draft
1) 4. VIKINGS- OT Matt Kalil- A+
2) 24. Steelers- OG David DeCastro- A+
3) 18. Chargers- DE Melvin Ingram- A+
4) 23. Lions- OT Riley Reiff- A
5) 1. Colts- QB Andrew Luck- A
6) 5. JAGUARS- WR Justin Blackmon- A
7) 12. EAGLES- DT Fletcher Cox- A
8) 17. BENGALS- CB Dre Kirkpatrick- A-
9) 13. Cardinals- WR Michael Floyd- A-
10) 2. REDSKINS- QB Robert Griffen III- A-
11)6. COWBOYS- CB Morris Claibourne- A-
12) 28. Packers- DE Nick Perry- B+
13) 8. Miami- QB Ryan Tannehill- B+
14) 25. PATRIOTS- ILB Don’t’a Hightower- B+
15) 9. Panthers- LB Luke Kuechley- B+
16) 3. BROWNS- RB Trent Richardson- B+
17) 29. Vikings- FS Harrison Smith- B
18) 10. Bills- CB Stephon Gilmore- B
19) 31. BUCCANEERS- RB Doug Martin- B
20) 21. PATRIOTS- DE Chandler Jones- B
21) 16. Jets- DE/DT Quinton Copels- B
22) 7. BUCCANEERS- SS Mark Barron- B-
23) 27. BENGALS- OG Keith Zeitler- C+
24) 11. Chiefs- DT Dontari Poe- C+
25) 15. SEAHAWKS- DE Bruce Irvin- C+
26) 19. Bears- DE Shea McClellin- C
27) 32. Giants- RB David Wilson- C
28) 30. 49ers- WR A.J. Jenkins- C
29) 26. Texans- DE Whitney Mercilus- C
30) 14. Rams- DT Michael Brockers- C-
31) 20. Titans- WR Kendall Wright- C-
32) 22. Browns- QB Brandon Weeden- D
Here is the explanations to all of them:
NFL Draft Grades: Average Grade
1. Colts- QB Andrew Luck- A
There was no other choice here. Luck is a franchise QB that has the potential to be the next Peyton Manning. It will be interesting to see how the colts help him with later picks.
2. REDSKINS- QB Robert Griffin III- A-
The Redskins gave up a lot for young griff. Time will tell how Griff will play in the NFL but from the info that we have now, this boom or bust player looks like a great pick.
3. BROWNS- RB Trent Richardson- B-
The Browns had no other choice. If they wanted to draft Richardson, they had to trade up for fear of another team making a deal with the Vikings. However, I don’t think RB was their biggest need and I think this is a deep class of running backs. I also think Richardson was playing behind a great offensive line at Alabama- so I gave the pick a B.
4. VIKINGS- OT Matt Kalil- A+
Kalil is the best player in the draft. The fact that the Vikings could get him and extra picks makes this the best pick in the draft. Ponder now won’t have to worry about being blindsided and will have time to throw downfield. Peterson can maybe avoid some of the injuries that have plagued him as well.
5. JAGUARS- WR Justin Blackmon- A
Wow, the Jaguars scored on this pick! They traded up for a huge need and a great player and only gave up a 4th round pick! My philosophy is that you need either 3 solid starters or 2 great players from the draft and with high 2nd and 3rd round picks, they may get both. Blackmon is an explosive player and will help Blaine Gabbert grow in the NFL.
6. COWBOYS- CB Morris Claiborne- A-
Jerry Jones is notorious for trading up for a player that he loves. He did it again here with Claiborne. Claiborne has the potential to be the next Darelle Revis. The question, and the reason why this is not an A+ is where he fits in the cowboys needs. The cowboys had 3 solid corners, and having 4 is great BUT they may have had bigger needs. And they gave up a second round pick meaning that they are going to have to draft smart in the late rounds. This is not a bad pick but, it may not have been the best idea.
7. BUCCANEERS- SS Mark Barron- B-
Barron is a solid player that is arguably a top 10 pick. The problem with this pick is that they took a big risk and it ended up not working out. The Buccaneers had their guy, Claiborne, at #5 and figured they could trade down and get an extra 4th to get him. Instead, they got screwed over by the Cowboys and are left with a great player, but not Morris Claibourne.
8. Dolphins- QB Ryan Tannehill- B+
The Dolphins flunked on several QBs this offseason so they had to draft Tannehill. There are a lot of question marks around Tannehill, no doubt. But in a system with Reggie Bush, Jake Long and a pretty solid defense, Tannehill pleases the fans and the Dolphins seem like a good fit.
9. Panthers- ILB Luke Kuechley- B+
The Panthers drafted the best player available on their board. Kuecheley is a great linebacker and can replace Dan Connor. The issue I have with this pick is whether it filled their biggest need especially with Fletcher Cox still on the board. If he ends up being a pro bowler, then this won’t matter. But they do need still need a defensive tackle.
10. Bills- CB Stephon Gilmore- B
Gilmore was jumping off of draft boards 24 hours before the draft. Gilmore, once projected a late 1st, got into the top 10. I think that it is well deserved: he is a great player and can really help the Bills. But he was not the best choice (maybe not even at his own position) for the Bills. If he ends up being an all pro, then we can laugh at me. But my guess is that the Bills passed up some players that were better.
11. Chiefs- DT Dontari Poe- C+
Poe can be the best defensive tackle in the NFL for about 10 teams and would be a bust for 20. For him, it’s about motivation: and players love working for Crennel. Think about it like this: he can dominate for about 15-18 plays a game, stopping teams from running and pressing the QB. How do you not want to work with this guy? He is a great project player and he is on the right team to do it with. If they draft conservative the rest of the draft, it makes this pick worth it. That being said, the risk is huge, almost bigger than the reward. It will be interesting to see how this move works out.
12. EAGLES- DT Fletcher Cox- A
The Eagles scored with Fletcher Cox. They were patient, didn’t give up too much, and then traded up to get the best all around defensive lineman in the draft. The Eagles had a huge need at getting after the QB so this move makes complete sense.
13. Cardinals- WR Michael Floyd- A-
Michael Floyd is pretty much a carbon copy of Anquan Boldin. He is tall, aggressive and can catch anything thrown his direction. My main concern with him is whether he can get YAC but that is the least of the Cardinals concerns. Their goal was to take pressure off of Kolb and Fitzgerald: Floyd gives them both.
14. RAMS- DT Michael Brockers- C-
I really hate this pick. With Riley Reiff and Kendall Wright still on the board the Rams choose Brockers? Brockers is a good player, not a great player. Plus, the Rams d-line was not the problem last year: it was the offensive line that couldn’t block and their wide receivers. This is a terrible move.
15. SEAHAWKS- DE/OLB Bruce Irvin- C+
Ummm who? I actually had no idea who this guy was going into the draft. After some intense research over the past 12 hours, I have come to determine that this was not as bad of a pick as I originally thought it was. Irvin is a sack specialist, something the Seahawks need. He is the most athletic defensive end in the draft. The issues with him are off the field troubles, something Carroll can deal with. He is also labeled as an “athlete playing football” which I mean isn’t a bad thing: you want all football players to be athletic. Its just that he needs time to grow, something that he can do in Seattle. But, this was a huge risk especially with Melvin Ingram on the board. Not as bad of a pick as some people think, but not a great pick.
16. Jets- DE/DT Quinton Copels- B
Jets fans have wanted a better pass rush and they certainly got it here. Copels is explosive and without a doubt is a good fit for the Jets. But watching the Jets last season, they lacked offensive explosion and really needed a guy like Stephen Hill or Kendall Wright. This isn’t a bad pick, just not what they needed in round one.
17. BENGALS- CB Dre Kirkpatrick- A-
One of the few mock draft picks that was right, Kirkpatrick is a star, physical cornerback that can replace Johnathan Joesph. Kirkpatrick does have some off the field issues, but the Bengals are never scared of that. As well, Kirkpatrick’s issues are small and happened a while ago.
18. Chargers- DE Melvin Ingram- A+
How did Ingram fall this far? Every year, there is one great player that falls and the Chargers landed the best defensive end in this draft without having to trade! Ingram is a perfect fit in the Chargers 3-4 and can help bolster a defense that was lacking sacks.
19. Bears- DE Shea McClellin- C
McClellin was considered by most to be a high 2nd round pick so this isn’t that much of a reach. He is probably a pretty safe pick that will be a “good” starter in the league. He could excel in the NFL, but it’s unlikely.
20. Titans- WR Kendall Wright- C-
This was just the wrong pick. Wright is just like Nate Washington, who is not young but can still play. Meanwhile, their defense is in shambles: they lost Cortland Finnegan, their defensive line is weak and their linebacking corps is injury prone. Their offense was fine and while adding a talented playmaker is nice, it was the wrong move.
21. PATRIOTS- DE Chandler Jones- B
I like the Patriots trading up for a major need at defensive end after losing Mark Anderson. Jones was as well climbing up draft boards this week so the Patriots had to trade up for him if they wanted him. I don’t like Chandler Jones, but I respect the move by the great Bill Bellicheck.
22. BROWNS- QB Brandon Weeden- D
Weeden is 28 years old and has accuracy is poor. But Weeden will do one of two things for the Browns. He is either a shirt term solution to their QB needs or he put pressure on Colt McCoy to play better. Either way, this is a mediocre pick and probably could have been better spent elsewhere.
23. Lions- OT Riley Reiff- A
Reiff is a steal at #23. The Lions are in desperate need for an offensive tackle and scored here. Reiff is one of the best players in the draft and is the best-run blocker in the draft. The fact that the Lions did not have to trade up makes this better. I have no doubt that other teams will be regretting passing up Reiff when he becomes a pro bowler.
24. Steelers- OG David DeCastro- A+
DeCastro is the best interior offensive lineman in the draft. The Steelers have needed upgrades to their offensive line and got it here. DeCastro is strong and is part of the reason why Luck was so good last year. DeCastro can be the best guard in the game and the fact that the Steelers did not have to trade up makes this pick awesome.
25. PATRIOTS- ILB Don’t’a Hightower- B+
I like this trade much better than the other one that the Patriots did. The Patriots were also in need for an ILB and Hightower is a great role player for the Patriots. He can line up with Jerod Mayo and help bolster the Patriots front 7.
26. Texans- DE Whitney Mercilus- C
I get it- The Texans lost Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans and want to replace him ASAP. The problem is that they already did with Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. This draft needed to focus on the back half of the defense and the offense. Plus, Mercilus is really overrated. Overall, I just don’t see Mercilus having the impact that other players available here could have had.
27. BENGALS- OG Keith Zeitler- C+
Mehh- the Bengals went safe here and drafted Zeitler who can be a productive guard for the Bengals. Not only did the Bengals have bigger needs (WR, RB, DE) but Cordy Glenn is a much better player that Zeitler. Maybe the Bengals see something here, but I think they didn’t want to take a big risk so they won’t get a big reward.
28. Packers- DE Nick Perry- B+
Nick Perry has had a roller coaster type of draft and ended up falling a bit more than aIthough he would. Perry is an awesome fit in the Packers’ defensive scheme as he can line up as a 3-4 OLB who can play defensive end as a flex. The reason for the A- was that they probably had a bigger need at cornerback and safety after releasing Nick Collins.
29. VIKINGS- FS Harrison Smith- B+
Smith is the second best safety in a weak safety class. Smith is a huge drop off from Barron as he struggles with man to man coverage. But the Vikings did have big holes in the backfield and Smith is certainly an improvement.
30. 49ers- WR A.J. Jenkins- C
I have no issue with the 49ers taking a wide receiver. The issue is whether Jenkins was the right receiver to pick and he wasn’t. He is not Stephen Hill nor Mohammad Sanu. Jenkins is way too much of a reach here and is too raw to make any immediate impact on the team. Right position: wrong player.
31. BUCCANEERS- RB Doug Martin- B-
Martin is the second best running back in a pretty good class. The Buccaneers were in need for a complement with Blount. Martin is a nice fit in the offense and while not the biggest need, this is certainly not a bad pick and could end up working out really well.
32. Giants- RB David Wilson- C
Wilson is a soley need based pick. The Giants had access to a lot of good players such as Jonathan Martin or Stephen Hill. Instead, they draft a highly injury prone, average running back. I do not approve.
Next, here all the summaries (so far) of each teams draft:
Note: Only the first three rounds of any draft are relevant/easy to predict.
Team by Team NFL Draft Review
Indianapolis Colts- A
1. QB Andrew Luck- Stanford- A
34. TE Colby Fleener- Stanford- A
64. TE Dwayne Allen- Clemson- A-
92. WR TY Hilton- Florida International- B
The Colts went all offense in this draft. Luck is the franchise while Fleener and Allen can be 2 big targets for Luck to throw to (think of the Patriots.) They also added TY Hilton who is a speedster and can catch some of the deeper throws Luck makes. With the exception of a run game, the Colts may be back on track without Manning because of this draft.
Washington Redskins- B
2. QB Robert Griffen III, Baylor- A-
71. OG Josh Leribeus- SMU- C+
The Redskins mortgaged their future on RG3 and my prediction has been that it wont work out. Remember, this team had no talent last year and that is not going to change anytime soon. They went out and got some overrated wide outs and kept injury prone running backs. I feel bad for RG3 as he will be the classic example of the guy who just doesn’t work out for a team because it is put on his shoulders. Leribeus is a solid backup but is not athletic or strong enough to start in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns- C
3. RB Trent Richardson- Alabama- B+
22. QB Brandon Weeden- Oklahoma State- D
37. OT Mitchell Schwartz – California- B
87. DT John Hughes- Cincinnati- C-
The Browns had four chances to improve their team and missed on all of them. Richardson was drafted way too high given that running backs don’t last that long, but its not a bad pick overall as the Browns running game will improve. Weeden is way too old and not that good. Most draft “experts” will say that Weeden’s maturity is a huge advantage. But just because he is older, doesn’t mean he is more experienced. He just went to college late. Plus, Weeden had Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant to throw to, I mean Ryan Leaf would do well in that offense. Schwartz is okay but he was still an early Day 3 prospect picked over Jonathan Martin. He is too stiff and will get spun around by the Ravens and Steelers twice a year. And Hughes is a terrible pick. He’s an okay player, a good rotation guy at best. But the defensive line was really good last year and this could have been better spent on a wide receiver.
Minnesota Vikings- A-
4. OT Matt Kalil- USC- A+
29. FS Harrison Smith- Notre Dame- B
66. CB Josh Robinson- Central Florida- B+
Kalil is the best pick in the draft so that alone is pretty solid. He should be an all pro and maybe even the next Jake Long or Joe Thomas. The Vikings then turned to their next big need, the secondary. These two picks of Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson were not impressive especially considering they traded up for them. Harrison Smith is an upgrade at safety although he is going to have trouble defending against Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall. Robinson is a nickel guy but that’s about it. In terms of a draft, the Vikings were pretty good, but not great.
Jacksonville Jaguars- B+
5. WR Justin Blackmon- Oklahoma State- A
38. DE Andre Branch- Clemson- B+
70. P Bryan Anger- California- B-
My draft philosophy is reflected here as the Jaguars drafted three starters for an improving team. Obviously Blackmon is a huge upgrade from the Jags other wide outs and will help Blaine Gabbert adjust in the NFL. He could be the next great wide out. Next up they got an eventual starter in Andre Branch. In a deep class of defensive ends, he wasn’t ranked very high. But, he is definitely worth a 2nd round pick and fills a minor need at defensive end. I actually don’t mind the Anger pick. Every team punts the ball and the difference between having to drive 80 yards and 60 yards is worth drafting a punter high. The team had other needs, which is why the low grade. But overall, they got three starters.
Dallas Cowboys- B
6. CB Morris Claibourne- LSU- A-
81. DE Tyrone Crawford- Boise State- B-
Regardless of how the “draft” went, the cowboys locked up a great player in Claibourne. The Cowboys gave up a lot for him and in terms of a draft, it was not worth it as they only had 1 more relevant pick. But if they win a Superbowl with a great secondary, this wont matter that much. Crawford is a need filler but not a great player.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- A-
7. SS Mark Barron- Alabama- B-
31. RB Doug Martin- Boise State- B
58. LB Lavonte David- Nebraska- A
While each pick individually wasn’t that great, the collective draft was pretty good. Barron gets a low grade because the Buccaneers could have had Claibourne. But Barron fills a big need at safety and is a great player. Doug Martin as well is a guy who I think the Bucs reached for but the player himself is pretty good. He will be a great complement to Blount. Lavonte David is both an excellent player and an excellent pick. He will be a starter for the Buccaneers. So, the Bucs got three starters, and for that I will reward them. It’s just that they probably could have found three better starters if they would have stayed with their picks.
Miami Dolphins- A-
8. QB Ryan Tannehill- Texas A&M- B+
42. OT Jonathan Martin- Stanford- A+
72. DE Oliver Vernon- Miami- B
78. TE Michael Egnew- Missouri- B-
97. RB Lamar Miller- Miami- A
The Miami Dolphins had a great draft. Ryan Tannehill is not a great quarterback but he is a fan pleaser and can grow into his role. He will get massive help with Jonathan Martin who I thought was a top 10 prospect. Martin is a huge help in the run game with Reggie Bush (and Lamar Miller get there.) Oliver Vernon fills a need at defensive end but he was not the best player available at his position, hence the B. Egnew is the same story: right position but wrong player. Also, a weapon for Tannehill should have come earlier. I normally don’t include 4th round picks, but Lamar Miller is a great pick. Miller is a nice break for Reggie Bush, who is injury prone. Overall, this is a great draft.
Carolina Panthers- B+
9. LB Luke Kuechley- Boston College- B+
40. OT Amini Silatolu- Midwestern State- B
104. WR Joe Adams- Arkansas- A-
The Panthers had a quality draft. Luke Kuechley is a great linebacker that can become the next Patrick Willis. This is a B+ because it didn’t fill the teams needs at all. The Panthers best position is their linebackers particularly their inside line backers, but it is not a bad pick. In the second round, the team drafted Amini Silatolu. This could have been an “A” based on the evaluation of the player and the need. The problem was that there were several good players still available at his position or at other positions which were bigger needs. Normally, I don’t include 4th round picks but Joe Adams could play a big role in the future since he is a speedster like Steve Smith, who is nearing the end of his time in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills- B-
10. CB Stephon Gilmore- South Carolina- B
41. OT Cordy Glenn- Georgia- A-
69. WR T.J. Graham- N.C. State- D
The Bills had an interesting draft. They reached in the first round to draft Stephon Gilmore who may have been the second best corner in the draft, but was not the best pick that the Bills could have had. Cordy Glenn is a much better pick as he does fill a need and can start for the team right away. My only problem with this pick was that Jonathan Martin was still available, and Glenn is more of a guard than a tackle. WR T.J. Graham fills a need but is a massive reach here. Graham was a projected 5th rounder by most people and the Bills did not need to take a big risk like Graham with such a good class of receivers.
Kansas City Chiefs- B-
11. NT Dontari Poe- Memphis- C+
44. OG Jeff Allen- Illinois- B-
74. OT Donald Stephenson- B
The Chiefs had a very similar draft to the Bills. They reached in the first round with Poe, who is a boom or bust player that will probably be only a rotation guy. Next, they drafted Allen and Stephenson who are two okay players that may both be 1 round reaches (Allen is a round 3 prospect, Stephenson is a round 4 prospect.) And, they didn’t fill the major needs of linebacker and safety. Offensive line was a minor need.
Philadelphia Eagles- A
12. DT Fletcher Cox- Mississippi State- A
46. ILB Michael Kendricks- California- C
59. DE Vinny Curry- Marshall- A+
88. QB Nick Foles- Arizona- B
123. CB Brandon Boykin- Georgia- A
Defense, Defense, Defense! The Eagles could score a lot of points last year but they couldn’t get a defense. This problem was given a great fix last year when the Eagles drafted this year. First they traded up for DT Fletcher Cox, who could be the best defensive lineman in this draft. He has the size and athletic ability to get to the quarterback, which, besides Trent Cole, the Eagles were lacking. Next the Eagles drafted Micahel Kendricks who is a great player: but the poor grade had more to do with the fact that the Eagles have a pretty good group of linebackers and didn’t need to spend an early pick on it. That being said, Kendricks could be a starter in this league if DeMeco Ryans doesn’t work out. Next the Eagles stole Vinny Curry who was a projected late first round pick. Curry wont be a hall of famer, but he can be a solid player in the NFL. Nick Foles is not a bad pick and gives the Eagles good QB depth. I normally don’t include 4th round picks but Brandon Boykin was a projected second round pick that the Eagles stole as well. If the projections are right, the Eagles are poised to have a great draft. But only time will tell.
Arizona Cardinals- A-
13. WR Michael Floyd- Notre Dame- A-
80. CB Jamell Fleming- Oklahoma- B+
112. OT Bobby Massie- Mississippi- A
Michael Floyd adds the much needed second wide receiver spot next to the great Larry Fitzgerald. Floyd, like an Anquan Boldin, will also help Kolb with the passing game and can help the run game get more consistent as he is a good run blocker. Jamell Fleming is a solid corner and fills a need at the slot corner spot. He is one of those guys who will probably be just average in the NFL, but he can play pretty well in zone. I don’t normally include 4th round picks but Bobby Massie was incredible as a tackle for Missisippi and could have gone in round 2. He can at least be depth and can maybe even start in the upcoming years.
St. Louis Rams- C+
14. DT Michael Brockers- LSU- C-
32. WR Brian Quizk- Appalchian State- B-
39. CB Janoris Jenkins- North Alabama- A-
50. RB Isaiah Pead- Cincinnati- C
65. CB Trumane Johnson- Montana- A
I think that the Rams blew it. They had 4 picks in the top 50 and were not able to make their team any better. Brockers is a good player and will probably start but defensive line was not even close to a need. The Rams could not move the ball offensively last year and Sam Bradford could not stay on his feet. Brian Quick helps that in theory, but in practice he is way down the line of receivers (Stven Hill, Mohammad Sanu) that were available in the draft. Janoris Jenkins was one of the lone bright spots in this draft. And that is saying something for a guy that has major character issues. Isaiah Pead is another awful pick: running back is a need (not as much as oline) but Pead is a big reach with LaMichael James and Lamar Miller left on the board. Trumane Johnson is a great pick as he adds great corner depth and is in a good range to be drafted.
Seattle Seahawks- C
15. DE/OLB Bruce Irvin- West Virginia- C+
47. ILB Bobby Wagner- Utah State- B
75. QB Russell Wilson- Wisconsin- C
I did not like the Seahawks draft. First, Bruce Irvin is the biggest reach in the draft. The Seahawks could have had Melvin Ingram or Chandler Jones. Instead, they tried to be clever and draft the troubled, low motor sack specialist in Bruce Irvin. What they should have done is drafted Ingram in round 1 and then Irvin in round 2 as he would have still been available. Bobby Wagner is a fine player but he doesn’t really fill a need as the Seahawks have a pretty good linebacker corps. At best, he is a rotation guy for the them. I don’t understand why the Seahawks hate Matt Flynn. Russell Wilson is a big and unnecessary reach for the Seahawks. He may not be better than Tavaris Jackson.
New York Jets- A-
16. DE/DT Quinton Copels- North Carolina- B
43. WR Steven Hill- Georgia- A
77. LB DeMario Davis- Arkansas State- A-
242. FS Antonio Allen- South Carolina- A
This draft would have been a little higher if they spent more on offense. Quinton Copels is a good player and can fit next to Mohammed Wilkerson. However, he doesn’t fill a big need and he is a risk due to work ethic. They stole Steven Hill out of the second round. He can be a big impact player for them and fills a big need at wide receiver. DeMario Davis is as well a great pick. The Jets have been looking to add an outside linebacker to replace Bart Scott and DeMario Davis could be that guy. He was a pretty underrated player at Arkansas State and is a good fit in the Jets system. And I normally don’t include picks after the 3rd round, but Antonio Allen is a good free safety that can replace Jim Leonard. He is a steal in the seventh round.