Monday, May 02, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades and Recap


The dust has settled and the 2011 NFL Draft has come to a conclusion. Thanks to a NFL lockout a lot of teams were forced to look to the draft to complete their rosters rather than utilizing free agency. As a result we saw some teams reaching, and of course there was some drama at the podium. Now that we have all the results, it's time to hand out some draft grades.

Detroit Lions: A-:
Draft picks: DT Nick Fairley (first round), WR Titus Young (second round), RB Mikel Leshoure (second round), LB Doug Hogue (fifth round), OT Johnny Culbreath (seventh round).

The Lions nailed their first two draft picks, Fairley and Leshoure will be able to start by the time the season begins. Titus Young adds a reliable weapon that will help relieve some pressure off Calvin Johnson. The Lions were not perfect on all their picks, it would have been nice to see them pick up an offensive linemen to help protect Matt Stafford and keep him on the field rather than on the bench where he's been the past two seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+:
Draft picks: WR A.J. Green (first round), QB Andy Dalton (second round), DE Dontay Moch (third round), OL Clint Boling (fourth round), S Robert Sands (fifth round), WR Ryan Whalen (sixth round), CB Korey Lindsey (seventh round), RB Jay Finley (seventh round).

It's obvious the Bengals are going full steam ahead with the rebuilding process. Andy Dalton has the skill set to replace Carson Palmer should he be able to force a trade. A.J. Green can step in and replace Ocho Cinco right away and should pair up nicely with the emerging Jordan Shipley.

Cleveland Browns: B:
Draft picks: DT Phil Taylor (first round), DE Jabaal Sheard (second round), WR Greg Little (second round), TE Jordan Cameron (fourth round), FB Owen Marecic (fourth round), CB Buster Skrine (fifth round), RT Jason Pinkston (fifth round), DB Eric Hagg (seventh round).

The Browns did a great job of trading down and acquiring more draft picks. They did capitalized on those picks by finding guys with high value who will be able to contribute next season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B:
Draft picks: DL Cameron Heyward (first round), OT Marcus Gilbert (second round), CB Curtis Brown (third round), CB Cortez Allen (fourth round), OLB Chris Carter (fifth round), OL Keith Williams (sixth round), RB Baron Batch (seventh round).

Another typical draft for the Steelers. They drafted for value, nothing flashy but they managed to fill holes in their positions of need.

Indianapolis Colts: B+:
Draft picks: OT Anthony Castonzo (first round), G/OT Ben Ijalana (second round), DT Drake Nevis (third round), RB Delone Carter (fourth round), CB Chris Rucker (sixth round).

The Colts did not have a lot of picks but they made great use of what they had. Indianapolis struggled on the O-Line last year and both of their first two picks will improve the oft injured unit.

Green Bay Packers: A-:
Draft picks: OT Derek Sherrod (first round), WR Randall Cobb (second round), RB Alex Green (third round), CB Davon House (fourth round), TE D.J. Williams (fifth round), OL Caleb Schlauderaff (sixth round), LB D.J. Smith, (sixth round), LB Ricky Elmore (sixth round), TE Ryan Taylor (seventh round), DT Lawrence Guy (seventh round).

None of the Packers picks are flashy and most will not make an impact next year. However, that does not mean they will not become starters in the near future. At least three of the players drafted will be long term starters.

Baltimore Ravens: B:
Draft picks: CB Jimmy Smith (first round), WR Torrey Smith (second round), OT Jah Reid (third round), WR Tandon Doss (fourth round), CB Chykie Brown (fifth round), DE Pernell McPhee (fifth round), QB Tyrod Taylor (sixth round), RB Anthony Allen (seventh round).

One thing we know, don't let execs from the Ravens and the Bears in the same room, after what we saw transpire at the draft. Jimmy Smith is a great talent and under the leadership in Baltimore he should be able to avoid the off the field missteps that have plagued him in the past.

Buffalo Bills: B:
Analysis: For a change, the Bills actually drafted for value and don’t appear to have made any real reaches. In fact, the first five selections should contribute this season and a few of them might start.

For once the Bills actually had a solid draft. They managed to avoid reaching with any of their picks, and only took players who could make a real impact and help.

Denver Broncos: C+:
Draft picks: LB Von Miller (first round), S Rahim Moore (second round), OT Orlando Franklin (second round), LB Nate Irving (third round), S Quinton Carter (fourth round), TE Julius Thomas (fourth round), LB Mike Mohamed (sixth round), TE Virgil Green (seventh round), DL Jeremy Beal (seventh round).

Von Miller is a stud, and has freakish athletic ability. The big concern is can Miller adjust to playing in the 4-3 defense the Broncos will employ next season.

Chicago Bears: B:
Draft picks: OT Gabe Carimi (first round), DT Stephen Paea (second round), S Chris Conte (third round), QB Nathan Enderle (fifth round), LB J.T. Thomas (sixth round).

Anyone who saw the Bears O-Line last year knows they need all the help they can get. Gabe Carimi will be a starter come opening day.

New York Jets: B-:
Draft picks: DT Muhammad Wilkerson (first round), DT Kenrick Ellis (third round), RB Bilal Powell (fourth round), WR Jeremy Kerley (fifth round), QB Greg McElroy (seventh round), WR Scott McKnight (seventh round).

The Jets addressed their major concerns with defensive line depth. However, they failed to address their needs at receiver and they missed on drafting an elite pass rusher.

Houston Texans: A-:
Draft picks: DE J.J. Watt (first round), LB Brooks Reed (second round), CB Brandon Harris (second round), CB Rashad Carmichael (fourth round), S Shiloh Keo (fifth round), QB T.J. Yates (fifth round), OL Derek Newton (seventh round), LB Cheta Ozougwu (seventh round).

The Texans are in desperate need of upgrades on defense and they got them. Nearly every pick Houston made will be able to play significant minutes and improve the Texans defense.

St. Louis Rams: B:
Draft picks: DE Robert Quinn (first round), TE Lance Kendricks (second round), WR Austin Pettis (third round), WR Greg Salas (fourth round), DB Jermale Hines (fifth round), DB Mikail Baker (seventh round), LB Jabara Williams (seventh round), DB Jonathan Nelson (seventh round).

Another solid draft class from the Rams. They were close to being a playoff team last season, with a few additions on the defensive side of the ball, and a couple of weapons for Sam Bradford the Rams can make the jump back into the spotlight this season.

New Orleans Saints: B+:
Draft picks: DE Cameron Jordan (first round), RB Mark Ingram (first round), LB Martez Wilson (third round), CB Johnny Patrick (third round), DE Greg Romeus (seventh round), LB Nate Bussey (seventh round).

The Saints made great early picks with Jordan and Ingram. Ingram finally gives the Saints a credible option at running back which they have desperately needed.

Arizona Cardinals: B:
Draft picks: CB Patrick Peterson (first round), RB Ryan Williams (second round), TE Rob Housler (third round), LB Sam Acho (fourth round), FB Anthony Sherman (fifth round), LB Quan Sturdivant (sixth round), DT David Carter (sixth round), WR DeMarco Sampson (seventh round).

The Cardinals picked up the best player available in the draft in Patrick Peterson. The rest of the Cardinals picks were solid, however they missed out on picking up a quarterback which is the one position Arizona needs to address the most.

New York Giants: B-:
Draft picks: CB Prince Amukamara (first round), DT Marvin Austin (second round), WR Jerrel Jernigan (third round), OT James Brewer (fourth round), LB Greg Jones (sixth round), S Tyler Sash (sixth round), LB Jacquian Williams (sixth round), RB Da'Rel Scott (seventh round).

Many will complain that the Giants did not need another quarterback, but Prince Amukamara was too good of a talent to pass on.

Miami Dolphins: B:
Draft picks: C/G Mike Pouncey (first round), RB Daniel Thomas (second round), WR Edmond Gates (fourth round), TE Charles Clay (sixth round), DT Frank Kearse (seventh round), CB Jimmy Wilson (seventh round).

Once again the Dolphins went the safe route, and sure up their lines. Mike Pouncey will be a starter in no time. Kudos to the Miami front office for not falling into the Ryan Mallet trap.

Dallas Cowboys:C+:
Draft picks: OT Tyron Smith (first round), LB Bruce Carter (second round), RB DeMarco Murray (third round), OL David Arkin (fourth round), CB Josh Thomas (fifth round), WR Dwayne Harris (sixth round), FB Shaun Chapas (seventh round), C Bill Nagy (seventh round).

Finally the Cowboys picked up an offensive tackle to plug their aging line. Bruce Carter is a steal in the second round and he should recover from his ACL surgery without any problems. Murray is a good addition in the backfield and will push Felix Jones. Hurting the Cowboys draft was their inability to address their needs in the secondary.

Kansas City Chiefs: B+:
Draft picks: WR Jonathan Baldwin (first round), C Rodney Hudson (second round), LB Justin Houston (third round), DE Allen Bailey (third round), CB Jalil Brown (fourth round), QB Ricky Stanzi (fifth round), LB Gabe Miller (fifth round), DT Jerrell Powe (sixth round), FB Shane Bannon (seventh round).

The Chiefs first three picks will be starting by the end of this season. Justin Houston is a great pick up in the third round. He has first round talent, and that failed drug test should not be a lasting issue.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-:
Draft picks: G Danny Watkins (first round), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (second round), CB Curtis Marsh (third round), LB Casey Matthews (fourth round), K Alex Henery (fourth round), RB Dion Lewis (fifth round), OL Julian Vandervelde (fifth round), C Jason Kelce (sixth round), LB Brian Rolle (sixth round), LB Greg Lloyd (seventh round), FB Stanley Havili (seventh round).

The Eagles had a pretty good draft, but I'm going to ping them simply because they drafted a kicker in the fourth round.

New England Patriorts: C:
Draft picks: OT Nate Solder (first round), CB Ras-I Dowling (second round), RB Shane Vereen (second round), RB Stevan Ridley (third round), QB Ryan Mallett (third round), OL Marcus Cannon (fifth round), TE Lee Smith (fifth round), LB Markell Carter (sixth round), DB Malcolm Williams (seventh round).

It's not often the Patriots make poor decisions but they did in this year's draft. Nate Solder is a project who won't be able to play for a while. Ras-I Dowling hasn't played any significant minutes since his sophomore season of college, and Ryan Mallett simply makes no sense.

Oakland Raiders: B:
Draft picks: C Stefen Wisniewski (second round), CB Demarcus Van Dyke (third round), OL Joseph Barksdale (third round), CB Chimdi Chekwa (fourth round), RB Taiwan Jones (fourth round), WR Denarius Moore (fifth round), TE Richard Gordon (sixth round), WR David Ausberry (seventh round).

The Raiders had a safe draft, and they will be rewarded for it.

Washington Redskins: B-:
The Redskins selected 12 players in this year's draft, and they needed every pick. There are so many holes to fill it's difficult to say where the Skins should have begun the rebuilding process. Unfortunately for Washington fans the bulk of the picks were in the sixth and seventh round, and the chances those picks will develop is slim.

San Francisco 49'ers: C+:
Draft picks: DE Aldon Smith (first round), QB Colin Kaepernick (second round), CB Chris Culliver (third round), RB Kendall Hunter (fourth round), OL Daniel Kilgore (fifth round), WR Ronald Johnson (sixth round), S Colin Jones (sixth round), DL Bruce Miller (seventh round), OL Michael Person (seventh round), DB Curtis Holcomb (seventh round).

Aldon Smith is a good pick up but it will take him time to adjust and play in the 49'ers defensive scheme. I really like the pickup of Colin Kaepernick but he will also need time to develop.

Minnesota Vikings: C:
Draft picks: QB Christian Ponder (first round), TE Kyle Rudolph (second round), DL Christian Ballard (fourth round), CB Brandon Burton (fifth round), OT Demarcus Love (sixth round), DB Mistral Raymond (sixth round), C Brandon Fusco (sixth round), LB Ross Homan (sixth round), DL D'Aundre Reed (seventh round), WR Stephen Burton (seventh round).

I like the pick of Christian Ponder, but there is no question the Vikings reached too far in snagging the Florida State product. Minnesota also failed to address their glaring needs on the offensive line till far too late.

Tennessee Titans: C:
Draft picks: QB Jake Locker (first round), LB Akeem Ayers (second round), DT Jurrell Casey (third round), LB Colin McCarthy (fourth round), RB Jamie Harper (fourth round), DT Karl Klug (fifth round), OT Byron Stingily (sixth round), DT Zach Clayton (seventh round), DB Tommie Campbell (seventh round).

The Titans needed a quarterback and we aren't sure if they got their man with the first round pick of Jake Locker.

Carolina Panthers: C+:
Draft picks: QB Cam Newton (first round), DL Terrell McClain (third round), DT Sione Fua (third round), CB Brandon Hogan (fourth round), WR Kealoha Pilares (fifth round), LB Lawrence Wilson (sixth round), OL Zach Williams (sixth round), OT Lee Ziemba (seventh round).

Obviously Cam Newton is the biggest acquisition of the draft. He could be the best pick up, or he could be one of the worst bust ever.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B+:
Draft picks: QB Blaine Gabbert (first round), G/OT Will Rackley (third round), WR Cecil Shorts (fourth round), S Chris Prosinski (fourth round), DB Rod Issac (fifth round).

The Jags traded up in the first round and they won by snagging Blaine Gabbert. Will Rackley is also a great addition who will help a struggling offensive line.

Seattle Seahawks: D:
Draft picks: OT James Carpenter (first round), G John Moffitt (third round), LB K.J. Wright (fourth round), WR Kris Durham (fourth round), CB Richard Sherman (fifth round), FS Mark LeGree (fifth round), DB Byron Maxwell (sixth round), DL Lazarius Levingston (seventh round), LB Malcolm Smith (seventh round).

The Seahawks reached early and often, never a good draft day strategy.

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