How Did Your Team Make Out in the NFL Draft? Mr. T Assigns His Grades…

by 7 years ago

Arizona Cardinals: B
It’s nice to see a team not fall into the trend of drafting an unworthy quarterback in the first round despite their need for a future franchise signal caller. The Cardinals seem ready to sign Marc Bulger as a stop-gap and will look to find another QB at a later date. They drafted arguably the best player in the draft in Patrick Peterson, who provides the team with two great CBs. Ryan Williams will help them deal with Beanie Wells’s constant injuries and Tim Hightower’s lack of talent. Robert Housler provides the pass-catching tight-end they lack. Sam Acho was a nice find at the beginning of the fourth round for pass-rushing purposes. Quan Sturdivant in the sixth round has tremendous value.

Atlanta Falcons: B-
The Falcons made the biggest splash of the draft by trading numerous picks to move up and select Julio Jones. While that makes the Falcons' offense nice for a game of Madden or fantasy football, it doesn’t help a defense that gave up 48 points to the Packers in the playoffs. The pass rush and secondary weren’t addressed, but the linebacking core sees an improvement with Akeem Dent, who should be a physical force on early downs. Quizz Rodgers should find a purpose with his playmaking ability. Matt Bosher will be a name for fantasy kicking purposes as Matt Bryant’s 36 years old and a free agent.

Baltimore Ravens: B+
Unlike Atlanta, Baltimore actually addressed their needs in this draft. Their secondary was exposed plenty last year and Jimmy Smith, assuming he can stay away from Marlo Stanfield, Avon Barksdale, and the drugged-up streets of West Baltimore, will definitely help that. The Falcons also lacked a home-run presence at WR, so Torrey Smith should fit in nicely with Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, and newly drafted Tandon Doss. Jah Reid has great upside at offensive tackle, a position where Baltimore was hit with injury last year. Tyrod Taylor makes for an interesting selection to back up Joe Flacco and might find his way into some special offensive packages.

Buffalo Bills: B+
Like Arizona, Buffalo didn’t reach for a quarterback despite having a high pick. They realize Ryan Fitzpatrick can do enough for the time being and it was their defense that was hammered last year. That defense will be a lot better off with Marcel Dareus providing major talent and position flexibility on the defensive line. Aaron Williams didn’t have the best junior season in college, but he’s got the raw talent to grow into a solid cover corner. Kevin Sheppard should find an immediate home in the starting linebacking group. Defensive picks in three of the last five rounds show that was their focus over the weekend.

Carolina Panthers: C-
When you go 2-14, there’s obviously more issues than at QB. The Panthers had a unique opportunity to draft a high-end player at a need position and return right back to the top of the draft next season. Unfortunately they didn’t take Marcel Dareus, Patrick Peterson, or A.J.Green and instead took Cam Newton. All weekend we listened to people saying Newton has physical tools but needs a lot of work. How do you spend the #1 pick in the draft on someone who requires that much work? While I’m sure Mel Kiper thought Green should’ve been the pick so that his boy Jimmy Clausen could get another chance, Green could’ve looked good with Andrew Luck being a possibility in next year’s draft. The defense was helped with the selections of Terrell McClain, Sione Fua, and Brandon Hogan, but that doesn’t sugarcoat the mistake made with the first pick.

Chicago Bears: B-
The Bears might’ve been protected from themselves when their trade to move up with Baltimore in the first round didn’t pan out. Instead of getting the WR they coveted in Jonathan Baldwin, they ended up with Gabe Carimi to help an offensive line that looked like a sieve last year. Stephen Paea will serve as a nice replacement for Tommy Harris, who fits nicely into the Tampa-2 defense. I’m not sure why they selected Nathan Enderle in the 5th round when their were still needs at WR and S, but I guess they felt they saw enough of their mediocre backup QBs last year to realize they were in need of a possible upgrade.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
I’ve got a bet going with a friend of mine on who’s going to be better between A.J. Green and Julio Jones, so I can tell you I’ve got something behind my opinion that Green will end up being a great receiver. With Ochocinco and Carson Palmer asking out of town, the Bengals will give Green and Andy Dalton a chance to fill that void. Dalton was drafted appropriately in the second round, so the Bengals won’t feel as much pressure to make sure he’s successful. Dontay Moch could be a dynamic pass-rusher for years to come. Clint Boling was reasonably good value in the fourth round because of his skill set and ability to move across various positions on the offensive line.

Cleveland Browns: C+
I think Greg Little has the chance to be a good receiver, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Julio Jones will be an extremely dynamic one. The Browns needed to give Colt McCoy a major weapon, but instead took a mass of picks to give Jones to Atlanta. Somewhere young Colt is still crying. Don’t get me wrong, Phil Talyor and Jabaal Sheard will provide major assistance to the defensive line, but you only get to draft a top-10 receiver so often (although the Browns may end up having more chances than most). Jordan Cameron has the chance to provide Colt with a nice safety blanket at TE, while Owen Marecic will lead the Hillis mash unit for many years.{pagebreak} Dallas Cowboys: B
Sometimes the Cowboys' management can make a poor football decision by choosing talent over need. That wasn’t the case this year as they picked up an elite tackle prospect in Tyron Smith after watching Tony Romo get broken in half due to blocking issues last year. The later-round picks of David Arkin and Bill Nagy (Wisconsin linemen seem to stick) should help there as well. Dallas has been looking for product out of a young MLB for some time now and Bruce Carter has the ability to help there. Demarco Murray was incredibly productive when healthy and could push Marion Barber out the door. Dwyane Harris could be the next in the line of Cowboy receivers who come out of nowhere.

Denver Broncos: B+
The Broncos had one of the worst defenses in the league last year, so they drafted Von Miller to provide a playmaker on the outside of the 4-3, while third-round pick Nate Irving will help at ILB. Rahim Moore, one of the best safeties in the draft, was a strong second-round pick to ensure for the end of Brian Dawkins’ career and should combine well with fourth-round selection Quinton Carter. The offensive line got a boost with Orlando Franklin’s big frame. Seventh-round pick Jeremy Beal could surprise as a pass-rushing DE.

Detroit Lions: A
Everyone seems to love Detroit’s draft because of the major impact Nick Fairley will have playing next to Ndamukong Suh. The Lions struggled in the secondary last year, but a strong pass rush will help that out and the secondary is a situation that can be addressed in free agency. Titus Young will be speedy second fiddle to Megatron and should see plenty of open looks. Mikel Leshoure provides the thunder to Jahvid Best’s lightning.

Green Bay Packers: B
The Super Bowl champs didn’t need much help, so they didn’t have to get very flashy with their picks. They smartly filled needs on the offensive with Derek Sherrod (to replace the aging Chad Clifton), Randall Cobb (to protect against the departure of Jordy Nelson and James Jones to free agency), and Alex Green (to sure up a RB position that was in disarray for most of the year). The Packers love their TEs and D.J. Williams could become another pass-catching options. Green Bay has a knack of developing cornerbacks so fans can hope that continues with Davon House out of New Mexico State.

Houston Texans: A-
I was a little skeptical of the Texans when they passed on Prince Amukamara for J.J. Watt, but things ended up working out perfectly for them. Watt will team up with future sack champion Brooks Reed to wreak havoc in Wade Phillips’s 3-4 defense. The secondary was eventually helped out with Brandon Harris (a good athlete who needs work on his ball skills), Rashad Carmichael (has ball skills, but could be more athletic), and Shiloh Keo (chance to make the team as backup and special teamer). They certainly hit all their defensive needs.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
I’m not sure how much money Peyton Manning paid Giants GM Jerry Reese to pass on Anthony Castonzo, but it was a worthy investment for Manning to have his backside protected for the rest of his career (pause). The line continued to strengthen with Ben Ijalana in round two as he’ll fit right in on the other side from Castonzo. Lineman Drake Nevis has solid all-around skills and should help at a DT position that always seems undermanned. RB Delone Carter will help in short yardage as Joseph Addai nurses injuries on the sideline.

Jacksonville Jaguars: C+
Blaine Gabbert may or may not start right away, but the Jaguars have plenty of time to figure that out. Expectations won’t be too high in Jacksonville, so he should develop either way, but can one really trust a QB named Blaine with hair like that? Once again the Jaguars neglected the pass rush and took William Rackley to help an offensive line that actually performed reasonably well last year. There haven’t been many good receivers wearing the teal green in recent years, so Cecil Shorts could provide help with his tremendous hands. I really don’t think Chris Prosinski will help a secondary that really needed some assistance.

Kansas City Chiefs: C+
Scott Pioli has a track record of quality drafting, but the selection of under-achieving and problematic Jonathan Baldwin didn’t make sense in the first round. I know the Bears were going to grab him a couple picks later, but he never produced well enough in college to be a first-round pick. The rest of the draft fit better with Rodney Hudson helping the interior of the offensive line, Justin Houston fitting perfectly as an edge rusher in the 3-4, and Allen Bailey able to help anywhere on the defensive line. Ricky Stanzi was a QB that some were high on as a developmental prospect and could get a shot if Matt Cassel continues to look mediocre against real defenses.{pagebreak} Miami Dolphins: B-
The running game didn’t perform as well in Miami last year as it had in previous years, so the Dolphins used their first two selections to fix that. Mike Pouncey may have issues snapping out of the shotgun, but he should perform at either G or C for the next 10 years. Daniel Thomas is a physical presence who would’ve gained more attention at a different school since he was the only redeeming player on the KSU offense this year. Edmond Gates ran a 4.37 at the combine, so he’ll be able to stretch the field as Brandon Marshall gets the double coverage.

Minnesota Vikings: C
Minnesota provided one of the first-round shockers of the Draft with the selection of Christian Ponder at #12. It’s not that Ponder won’t turn out all right (there’s a chance if his elbow issues don’t return and he learns how to slide), but there was no reason to take him this high. While the rest of the draft was decent, this just casts such a negative cloud on the proceedings. Kyle Rudolph has a higher offensive grade than Visanthe Shiancoe, despite Shiancoe’s prominence in some areas, so he’ll provide a better safety blanket to whomever is playing QB. The Vikings finally addressed their line in the fourth round with Christian Ballard, a second-round talent with rumors of pot use. The best late-round picks were Brandon Burton, a system CB who could fit in well, and Ross Homan, a future special teams dynamo.

New England Patriots: C-
This is a harsh grade, but frankly it’s a statement that needs to be made. Tom Brady ain’t getting any younger and the Patriots refuse to start using these draft picks that they keep acc*mulating. What good does it do to keep devaluing this year’s picks for picks next year when you continue with the same process the next time around? At some point you need to start drafting talent and it can’t just be explained by Bellichick’s reluctance to draft young pass rushers because of the learning curve in his defensive system. There has to be some intelligence out there somewhere. Nate Soldier is very legit and Ras-I Dowling will be a playmaker in the secondary, but they didn’t help their front seven at all. Did they really need to draft two undersized running backs as possible third-down options when they had Danny Woodhead (admittedly shorter) already? Ryan Mallet was a luxury pick (everyone’s talking about his slow combine and Michigan recruiting as a comparison to Brady, but Brady didn’t make poor decisions in the fourth quarter like Mallet during his college career) that the team couldn’t afford because their pass rush is garbage. If Marcus Cannon recovers from chemotherapy, he will be heard from on the offensive line in future years.

New Orleans Saints: A
Along with the Lions the team with the best performance of the draft, the Saints shored up their defensive front with Cameron Jordan, who unexpectedly dropped about 10 spots, and Martez Wilson, a hybrid LB who fits well into Greg Williams’s aggressive defensive system. Mark Ingram should provide stability at RB despite his lack of home run ability. Louisville’s Johnny Patrick should help out a secondary who loves to give multiple looks and had injuries last year.

New York Giants: B-
The Giants under Jerry Reese have a reputation for drafting the best player available in the early rounds, but sentiment is mixed in New York with their selection of CB Prince Amukamara at #19 because the Giants passed on Anthony Castonzo, who could've been their LT for the next 10 years. Amukamara has been beaten deep in college (watch Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon abuse him in the video below), which is something he has in common with his new teammates in the secondary. While the Giants did need protection at DT with the possible departure of Barry Coefield, the selection of the undoubtedly talented Marvin Austin didn't address the glaring issues at linebacker that the Giants have had for some time now. (Although maybe they've given up after previous early round selections Clint Stintum and Gerris Wilkerson, the Giants haven’t drafted a LB in the first round since Carl Banks in 1984). Jerrel Jernigan should help in the return game and possible replace Steve Smith, but needs were passed over again. The line was finally addressed with James Brewer, who will need to develop, in the fourth round. Linebackers Greg Jones and Jacquain Williams will need to play above grade to make an impact.

New York Jets: B+
The Jets have spent high draft picks on offensive players in the Rex Ryan era, so this year's defensive additions should help a pass rush that's been very uneven in the last two seasons. Although he got his seasoning at Temple, Muhammad Wilkerson did get real seasoning on occasion against opponents like Penn State and his combine numbers were off the charts. Kenrick Ellis is another small-school wonder from Hampton, but he did start his career at South Carolina before being thrown off the team and should fit right into the NT spot with Kris Jenkins' recent injury history. The selection of Bilal Powell from Louisville was a curious one given the team's need for an OLB and a S, but maybe the Jets are ready to cut bait on Joe McKnight already. Jeremy Kerley has solid hands to add to the WRs and Greg McElroy is an supremely intelligent QB who should have plenty of years as a backup.

Oakland Raiders: C-
In typical fashion, the Raiders selected two of the fastest players in the draft, but it’s bad news when your mid-third-round speedster, Demarcus Van Dyke, is being referred to as a future solid backup cornerback. Chimdi Chekwa should at least prove to be a better value in the fourth round. Al Davis probably thought he was drafting in the 80s with the reach selection of Stefen Wisniewski to help the offensive line. Teaming with Wisniewski on the offensive line will be Joseph Barskdale, whose coaches at LSU wish showed the mean streak of long lost cousin Avon since he never lived up to his recruitment hype.

Philadelphia Eagles: B
Philadelphia decided to invest in Michael Vick as their quarterback going forward, so it makes sense that they help keep his fragile body intact by drafting Danny Watkins, a dominant interior blocker who has experience at multiple positions. Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett should help a run defense that struggled at times last year. Curtis Marsh will step in as your typical bump-and-run CB. David Akers’ days are numbered with the selection of Alex Henery, the best college kicker I’ve seen in recent memory (although college prowess didn’t help Mike Nugent’s career). It’ll be interesting to see where tiny Dion Lewis fits into their RB rotation.{pagebreak} Pittsburgh Steelers: B
With Aaron Smith’s injuries in recent years causing major damage to the Steelers’ defensive line, the first-round pick of Cam Heyward made perfect sense. Marcus Gilbert seems like a Max Starks clone (big OT from Florida), so the Steelers know what they’re dealing with there. The pick of Curtis Brown was a little disappointing because the Steelers could’ve used a little more speed in the secondary, but he and fourth-round selection Cortez Allen have the chance to being very productive in their scheme. Chris Carter could be a steal as a fifth-round pass rusher who can learn under the likes of James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley.

San Diego Chargers: B-
While the Chargers were probably looking at Muhammad Wilkerson with the 18th pick, they couldn’t pass up on Corey Liuget, who surprisingly dropped that far. Liuget will be an impact player on a Charger defensive line that has suffered in recent years. Marcus Gilchrist is a bit undersized, but has the ability to move around the secondary. Shareece Wright has upside if he can recover from a knee injury to help Gilchrist in the defensive backfield. Jonas Mouton was a reach at the end of the second round, despite the chance of finding a role on special teams. The biggest surprise was the drafting of Vincent Brown who doesn’t fit the mold of big Chargers WRs of years past.

San Francisco 49ers: B
Aldon Smith is used to playing with his hand on the ground, but the 49ers believe he’ll be an impactful 3-4 OLB. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I think they might’ve been able to trade down a few picks and still gotten him. The selection of Colin Kaepernick was puzzling because I didn’t think he fit the mold of what Jim Harbaugh was looking for in a West Coast QB. He’s got the measurables and could end up being productive with some work. Chris Culliver will provide speed in the secondary. Kendall Hunter is small, but has major ability and should provide nice insurance for oft-injured Frank Gore. Ronald Johnson never lived up to the hype at USC, but maybe San Francisco can turn him into a productive WR.

Seattle Seahawks: C-
Offensive line was a need for the Seahawks, so you can’t bang 'em for not addressing it, but you can bang 'em for how they addressed it. Popular opinion is that they reached for both James Carpenter and John Moffit with their first two picks and I don’t disagree considering they took Carpenter about 20 spots too early, when teams were obviously looking to trade into the end of the first round. The rest of their picks were pretty schwag with K.J. Wright being a LB headed for special teams and Kris Durham being a WR who couldn’t excel with A.J. Green getting double coverage on the other side.

St. Louis Rams: B+
Needs were filled in St. Louis as well as Spags’ bunch was happy to see Robert Quinn drop all the way to them in at #14. Lance Kendricks will become Sam Bradford’s best friend (remember Bradford loved using TE Jermaine Gresham at Oklahoma) and should be a fantasy producer for years. Bradford needed WRs as well and the Rams took George Salas and Austin Pettis (didn’t have the combine #s, but boy can this guy play) to show Cleveland what it’s like to actually help out your young stud QB.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
After fortifying the DT position with last year’s early picks, the Bucs bring in Des Adrian Claybourn and Da'Quan Bowers to create a possible dominant defensive line for years to come. Poor Bowers fell because of knee problems, so we’re all rooting for him to prove everyone wrong. Washington’s Mason Foster will have a shot to crack the linebacking core. TE Luke Stocker will provide a more physical presence to counter Kellen Winslow’s athleticism. Ahmad Black is a little small for a safety, but has the chance to prove his critics wrong.

Tennessee Titans: B-
With the biggest surprise of the first round, the Titans went out on a limb and drafted Jake Locker. He’s got great physical tools, but I don’t understand how you invest such a high pick on a QB who only completed 55% of his passes as a senior. Matt Ryan didn’t have any talent around him either, but at least he was closer to 60%. This would’ve made more sense toward the end of the first round. Akeem Ayers will fit in better to a 4-3 defense than some of the 3-4s he was projected to go to because he’s not that great of a pass rusher. Jurrell Casey, Colin McCarthy, and Karl Klug will have a chance to help out the front seven.

Washington Redskins: B
Washington seemed in prime position to select Blaine Gabbert, but instead traded down to make up for previous seasons where they haven't had many picks due to the reverse maneuver. Drafting Ryan Kerrigan will provide them bookend pass-rushers in tandem with Brian Orakpo to go with second-round pick DT Jarvis Jenkins to compete in a division where everyone else can generate pressure. To help Santana Moss before he gets old, the Skins also drafted WRs Leonard Hankerson, who has some real nice upside, and Niles Paul as more physical options. The problem going forward will be John Beck at QB this season (if they go through with it), but maybe they’re setting themselves up for the Andrew Luck lottery.


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