My Thoughts on All Things NFL Draft

First Round Grades

2012 NFL Draft First Round Analysis and Grades:

1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – The Colts cut ties with long-time star Peyton Manning this off-season because they were poised to get the best QB prospect in decades. No surprises here, everyone loves this pick. Grade: A+

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Trade details: Washington gives up #6, #39, 2013 1st round pick, 2014 first round pick – Washington hopes they finally found their franchise QB here. Like Luck, this pick was no surprise. I’m not as high on RGIII as most but I think he was worth being selected this high. That being said, I think Washington gave up WAY too much to get him. In my opinion, no unproven player is worth that price. If RGIII turns out to be a perennial All-Pro and leads them to a Super Bowl, most will forget the price they gave up and say it was justified but anything short of that and this could go down as one of the worst trades ever. Pick Grade: B+ Trade Grade: F

3. Cleveland Browns (from Minnesota) – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Trade details: Cleveland gives up #4, #118, #139, and #211. Cleveland apparently felt the pressure that someone might jump them to take Trent Richardson as they give up three day 3 picks to move up one spot. Cleveland had 13 picks in this draft so they could certainly afford to get rid of a few but I don’t think Minnesota would have been able to find another trade partner and they were likely sold on Kalil so I do think the trade was pointless. That being said, Trent Richardson was my number two prospect and the clear-cut best non-QB in this class. Richardson will step in and replace the departed Peyton Hillis as the bell-cow. His addition should help take pressure off the QB and WRs. Pick Grade: A Trade Grade: C

4. Minnesota Vikings (from Cleveland) – Matt Kalil, OT, USC – Minnesota manages to pick up three extra picks and only moved down one slot and still draft the player they wanted. That sounds like a big-time win for them. Kalil fills the biggest need, allowing them to have a true blindside protector for their young QB in Christian Ponder. Pick Grade: A Trade Grade: A+

5. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Tampa Bay) – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State – Trade details: Jacksonville gives #7 and #101. Jacksonville needed to get Blaine Gabbert some new toys to play with this off-season and after getting Laurent Robinson in free agency, they come back and get the top WR in the draft here. Only giving up a 4th round pick to move up these two slots, most importantly being jumping St. Louis, was a great deal for Jacksonville as well. Blackmon may not be on the level of a Calvin Johnson or even an A.J. Green, but I had a higher grade on him than Julio Jones and I think he’s great value here. Gabbert should have no excuse for failure next season. Pick Grade: A Trade Grade: A+

6. Dallas Cowboys (from Washington through St. Louis) – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – Trade Details: Dallas gives #14 and #45. Dallas desperately wanted to get some help for the secondary in this draft. Its very clear that Morris Claiborne and Mark Barron were the class of the draft in the secondary and they knew they wouldn’t be able to get either at 14 so they packaged their 2nd round pick to move up. After missing out on Blackmon, the Rams decided it was wise to simply move back instead of reaching on another player here. This is a great trade for both teams as Dallas only had to give up a second round pick to move up. Dallas comes away with the top CB in the draft and, while they still need a free safety, this really improves the secondary, giving them at least three quality, starting caliber CBs. Pick Grade: A+ Trade Grade: A+

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Jacksonville) – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama – I think Tampa got a little too cute here. After trading back with Jacksonville, they left themselves susceptible to not getting the player they wanted and Dallas swooped in and took advantage. On top of that, they only got a 4th round pick out of it. I’m all about getting more picks but a fourth round pick isn’t likely to be a starter and it wasn’t worth missing out on the top CB in this class for. Perhaps the Bucs felt they could convince someone to trade up ahead of Miami to take Tannehill but were rebuffed. Either way, the Bucs were left in no-man’s land where they had to either take a player that wasn’t at a position of need or reach. I like Barron and think he’s going to be a very good NFL player but I think his value lied in the mid-teens and he’s a reach here. That being said, he does fill a need and they could have done worse. Pick Grade: C+ Trade Grade: D

8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – Miami hasn’t taken a QB in the first round since Dan Marino in 1983. They’ve tried to replace Marino in every conceivable way, through trades, free agency, drafting in rounds 2-7 and nothing has worked out. They finally decided to take a QB in the first round and went with Tannehill. While some consider this a reach, I was pretty high on Tannehill and I like this fit. Being reunited with his college coach as well as learning under Joe Philbin, Tannehill has the tools to be developed and I like his chances here. Grade: B

9. Carolina Panthers – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College – This was one of the first true surprises in this draft. Carolina desperately needed defensive help but I thought they were pretty set at linebacker and felt they had enough there to let Dan Connor walk. Kuechly was the best defensive player available though. I love Kuechly and think he’ll be a great player for them. While it is surprising they didn’t go with someone like Fletcher Cox, Kuechly would instantly upgrade any linebacking corps. Grade: B+

10. Buffalo Bills – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – After signing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency, the Bills addressed their biggest need. In my opinion, offensive tackle became the top need after allowing Bell to exit in free agency. Buffalo decided to go elsewhere though, taking a cornerback to pair with last year’s second round pick, Aaron Williams. I felt that Gilmore was a reach here. While he’s got a lot of talent and upside, I think his technique and footwork are sloppy. The Bills are a nice fit for him though as he won’t be forced into a starting role day one as they have a few other players that can be competent starters while Gilmore is developed. Grade: B-

11. Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – Based on the rumors, the Chiefs seemed enamored with Ryan Tannehill and Luke Kuechly but weren’t willing to part with picks needed to move up and take either. As such, they missed out on both but Dontari Poe is a nice consolation prize. Nose tackle is arguably the top need the Chiefs had and Poe is a mammoth of a man. Poe had a freakish combine that had him shoot up boards and while its surprising he was the top DL taken, he was a solid value and filled a need. Grade: B

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Seattle) – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – Trade details: Eagles give picks #15, #114, and #172. The Eagles moved up three spots to get the player that most believed they were targeting. Cox was the top DT on many people’s boards and he should provide an added pass rushing element to the middle of the Eagles defense. The Eagles struggled mightily to stop the run last year though and I’m not sure that they wouldn’t have been better off with someone like Michael Brockers, who is a much better run stuffer. I did have Cox rated significantly higher than Brockers though so at the end of the day, I can’t argue the value here. Grade: B+

13. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – Arizona apparently promised Larry Fitzgerald that they would draft him Michael Floyd should he be on the board. Wide receiver was down on the list of needs for Arizona and I think this pick was a mistake. Despite bringing back Levi Brown, the Cardinals’ biggest need was far and away at tackle and there is a significant drop in talent from the first five tackles to the rest of the class. Arizona had a chance to grab the consensus number two tackle here in Riley Reiff and I think they missed big-time in grabbing Floyd, who I don’t feel is a very good compliment to Fitz. How will the QBs have time to throw jump balls to these two guys when the line in front of them won’t be able to block long enough for them to get downfield? Grade: C

14. St. Louis Rams (from Dallas) – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU – The Rams really missed out in the first round. First, they move from 2 to 6, thinking they could still get Blackmon there and the Jaguars leapfrog them. Then, they move from 6 to 14, likely thinking they could get Michael Floyd here, and the Cardinals take him one pick ahead of them. The trade haul they got from Washington is historically great and they will reap the benefits from that trade for a few years. The deal with the Cowboys was less so but they really just wanted to move down after missing on Blackmon. With the two WRs off the board, the Rams probably looked to trade down again but after failing to find a partner, they decided to address their top defensive need. Personally, I’m not a Brockers fan and think this is a reach but the Rams have zero starting caliber DTs on the roster and Brockers will be able to play under DL guru Jeff Fisher now. I think this is a good fit for Brockers. Pick Grade: B- Trade Grades: Washington – A, Cowboys – C

15. Seattle Seahawks (from Philadelphia) – Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia – Seattle knew that the player they were targeting would be available later so they picked up an extra 4th and 6th to move down a few spots. Not a bad move. Unfortunately, they followed that up by once again managing to surprise everyone in the first round by making, in my opinion, the worst pick I’ve ever seen. I thought Irvin was closer to undraftable than the first round. Irvin is a one-trick pony that’s afraid of contact, has consistently struggled to stay out of trouble off the field, and is undersized. His one trick happens to be that he can rush the passer but all he has is a speed rush and you don’t take one-down players in the first round. Irvin is a true boom or bust that I think would have been worth the risk in the 4th round but any earlier than that, I thought would be a mistake. Pick Grade: F Trade Grade: B+

16. New York Jets – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina – The Jets had to be pretty excited when they got on the board and the only pass rusher gone was Bruce Irvin. I was surprised with the choice they made though. Coples will likely play the 5 tech for the Jets. While I like his fit there, I question whether he will want to play it. In addition, I felt the Jets had a bigger need at stand-up outside linebacker than defensive end but rumors have it that the choice was between Coples and Melvin Ingram in the minds of the Jets’ brass and to me that’s a no-brainer as Coples is MUCH higher on my board. At the end of the day, I think the Jets did well bringing in Coples and Rex Ryan will use him right. Grade: B+

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – The Bengals lost Jonathan Joseph in free agency last year and tried to bandage it with Nate Clements last year. Clements played okay but he’s up in age and they needed to find a more long-term replacement. They signed Terrence Newman and Jason Allen in free agency and brought back Adam Jones so I’m a little surprised they still went corner here but there are no safeties worth this pick. Many feel he may be better suited moving to safety at the next level so its possible that they may decide to have open competition at CB and whoever doesn’t cut it may be asked to transition to safety. Grade: B-

18. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina – The Chargers wanted to get some defensive help here, with safety topping their list of wants but with Barron long gone, they decided to take a pass rusher instead. They signed Jarret Johnson in free agency but Johnson doesn’t provide pass rush. Larry English hasn’t panned out and the top three players in sacks last year are entering the contract years. Ingram can be moved all around as a rookie and be primarily used to spell Johnson in passing situations and then prepare to take over a starting job next season. I thought Ingram was a reach here and there are a few other players I would have taken over him but this was a much more reasonable spot than the top 10 many were making him out to be. Grade: B

19. Chicago Bears – Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State – After trading for Brandon Marshall, the Bears entered the draft with two major needs, offensive line and defensive end. While there are a few good offensive linemen on the board here, the Bears decided that, with three pass rushers in the previous four picks, they needed to take one now before they all went as offensive line is a deeper position than defensive end. The Bears selected Shea McClellin here. I felt McClellin would be best suited to play stand-up OLB but the Bears’ defense is also a great fit for him. I was much higher on McClellin than most and had him as my second favorite pass rusher so I’m a fan of this pick although it was a slight reach. McClellin should step in and start opposite Julius Peppers from day one. Grade: A-

20. Tennessee Titans – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – This is one pick that I didn’t see coming. I had considered wide receiver to the Titans early on but they seemed to really love pass rushing defensive ends. Wright is a great complement to Kenny Britt, if he can stay healthy, and gives Jake Locker a true deep threat to throw to. This is one of the under-the-radar picks in the first round that I really liked. Grade: A+

21. New England Patriots (from Cincinnati) – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – Trade details: New England gives up pick #27 and #93. That being said, the value was good on both sides. New England must have really loved Chandler Jones as Belichick doesn’t part with day two picks lightly. New England’s biggest need was undoubtedly at pass rusher and Jones absolutely fits the Belichick mold but I feel that he’s a couple years away from being a major contributor. Jones is still very raw as a player while he has as much natural athletic ability and upside as anyone else in this class, I feel he the Patriots needed someone that was ready to make an immediate impact, something I don’t see from Jones. Pick Grade: C+ Trade Grade: B

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State – Cleveland was apparently targeting Kendall Wright with this pick but with him off the board, they decided to pull the trigger on the next best QB in this class. If Weeden weren’t 28 years old, he would have been a top ten pick in my opinion and I have no issues with Cleveland taking him here. While the Browns like Colt McCoy, he was never going to be anything more than a league average QB and in order for that, he would need above average weapons around him, something he did not have in Cleveland. Weeden will be able to make more of the little talent they have and should present an upgrade. Grade: A-

23. Detroit Lions – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – Detroit’s biggest needs lied along the OL and at CB. Detroit sat tight and had their choice of the best center, guard, and second best tackle awaiting them. Reiff will push former first round pick Gosder Cherilus and former franchise player Jeff Backus for playing time as the Lions look to upgrade their protection so they can continue to keep budding star Matthew Stafford upright. Reiff was an absolute steal at this point in my opinion. Grade: A+

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford – It seems every year the Steelers stand pat and just gobble up a great player when one falls to them. This year is no different as David DeCastro, the best guard in the draft and a top ten player on my board falls right into their laps. DeCastro should step in and take over one of the OG positions and never look back. He will remind Steelers fans of Alan Faneca. Grade: A+

25. New England Patriots (from Denver) – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama – Trade details: New England sends picks 31 and 126. After first trading up for Chandler Jones, the Patriots come back and trade up for Dont’a Hightower. The Patriots didn’t have to give up much to move up and I’d say they made another solid deal. The pick itself is a little confusing to me however. The Patriots are running the hybrid defense and I think Hightower is a solid fit but they already have Mayo and Spikes in place at ILB. Hightower is versatile and has lined up at DE, OLB, and ILB at Alabama so Belichick will probably do something similar with him. I’m sure they will be creative and use Hightower all over the field but I’m just not sure there weren’t other, more important needs to be addressed here instead of a jack-of-all-trades type of player. Grade: C+

26. Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois – With the loss of Mario Williams, it was pretty well known that Houston was planning to look to grab at least a depth pass rusher. That being said, it was a bit surprising they took one this high as Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin were both very good starters last year. Mercilus was my top-ranked pass rusher though so I think Houston was a bit surprised he was still on the board, which caused them to reconsider their initial thoughts. While I don’t love Mercilus as a stand-up backer, he’s a GREAT fit with the Texans and Wade Phillips will use him well. Grade: A

27. Cincinnati Bengals (from New Orleans through New England) – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin – Bengals’ starting OG Bobbie Williams is a free agent that is up in age so many felt they would look to grab David DeCastro with one of their first round picks. After trading back, DeCastro wasn’t on the board so they took the next best guard in the draft, grabbing Kevin Zeitler. Zeitler is a technically sound guard with good size and ability. He should be able to step in day one and be the type of OG that you can plug in and forget about the position for a decade. Grade: A

28. Green Bay Packers – Nick Perry, OLB, USC – The Packers had to use this pick on defense after how much they got torn to pieces all season and in the playoffs. One major need area was at OLB opposite Clay Matthews. I was a little surprised by this pick, I expected them to go with Courtney Upshaw here, as I’ve always felt Perry was better suited to play defensive end. I think the value is alright but I really don’t like Perry’s ability to make the transition to OLB as he’s a stiff athlete that doesn’t look very good in space. If he’s used solely as a pass rusher, I think they could be okay but they needed a full-time starter. Grade: C

29. Minnesota Vikings (from Baltimore) – Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame – Trade details: Minnesota sends picks #35 and #98. Minnesota needed a safety in a bad way and after Mark Barron, most believe Harrison Smith is the only other safety in this class that will be able to step in an start immediately. Minnesota didn’t want to risk missing out on Smith, giving up their fourth round pick to move up and ensure they got him. Smith was a steady riser on boards and is a bit of a tweener FS/SS that will line up at either, big and physical enough to support the run, but fluid and fast enough to drop into coverage. Pick Grade: B Trade Grade: B

30. San Francisco 49ers – A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois – I knew the 49ers wanted a WR but I was surprised with the one they took. Don’t get me wrong, A.J. Jenkins is a nice player but he’s the kind of receiver you can typically get in the 3rd-5th rounds. Jenkins has no real defining quality, decent size, decent speed, good hands, solid route runner, but nothing that jumps out at you as elite and doesn’t really have any upside. What you see is what you get with Jenkins and to me, he’s no better than a number two receiver. I think there are multiple other guys on the board with number one WR potential but maybe the 9ers think Crabtree will step up his game and they only needed a complimentary player. Either way, I think Jenkins is a big-time reach here and I think comparable players will be had in the middle rounds. Grade: D

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from New England through Denver) – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State – Trade details: Tampa sends picks #36 and #101 for picks #31 and #126. Tampa Bay decided they needed to leapfrog the Giants so they could get the number two RB on their board, missing out on Richardson in the first round. The trade was fair, neither team lost any picks, so I think this worked out well for the Bucs. Personally, I had David Wilson a notch above Doug Martin but I think both players are going to be very good running backs and with how little Tampa gave up, I have no issues with this move. Solid player, solid value, solid trade. Pick Grade: B Trade Grade: B

32. New York Giants – David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech – After cutting Brandon Jacobs, it was pretty clear the Giants were going to target a RB in this class to help take the load off Bradshaw. I thought they would go with a bigger back like Bernard Pierce in round two but after missing out on Martin by one pick, it seems the Giants felt an urgency to pull the trigger on Wilson here. I think the value is okay but with how much RBs are devalued, plus already having Bradshaw, I think the Giants would have been better served addressing a bigger need like offensive line or tight end here. Grade: B-


2 responses

  1. Pingback: Weeden pick could lead to McCoy being dealt | Top Popular News Today

  2. Pingback: Cleveland Browns Take Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in NFL Draft: Fan Take | Top Popular News Today

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