First Round Grades and Updated Team Needs

With the first round of the draft completed, here are my initial grades for each of the first 32 picks. In addition, I’ve included the updated team needs for each team. This should provide a good indication of where the teams are likely to go in next couple of days.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck QB, Stanford

GRADE: A

You can’t give anything less than an A to Indy. Taking the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning to replace Peyton Manning.

Remaining Needs: WR, G/C, NT, CB, TE, LB

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III QB, Baylor

GRADE: A

The Redskins deserve an A for recognizing that there are only two franchise QBs in this draft and going after the last one.

Remaining Needs: RT, CB, S, ILB, G/C

3. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson RB, Alabama

GRADE: B+

This would have been an A if they hadn’t traded up. Giving up 4th, 5th, and 7th round picks to move up one spot is just bad business. Even if a team was trying to jump them for Richardson, they lost too much to justify it. That said, Richardson is a great fit and should be productive for the Browns.

Remaining Needs: WR, RT, QB, DB

4. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil OT, USC

GRADE: A

Minnesota has to be applauded for their poker face in getting Cleveland to trade up. They still get their man along with 3 extra picks.

Remaining Needs: CB, WR, S, LB

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State

GRADE: A-

Jacksonville did a great job in jumping St. Louis to get Blackmon. They had to get Blaine Gabbert reliable weapons and Blackmon is the most reliable of the bunch this year.

Remaining Needs: DE, OT, CB

6. Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne CB, LSU

GRADE: B+

Like Cleveland, Dallas was probably hasty in trading up to get Claiborne. It’s a great player and a great fit for their team, but giving up their second round pick is a lot.

Remaining Needs: G/C, S, OLB, WR

7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron S, Alabama

GRADE: B-

After missing out on Richardson, the Bucs made the prudent move in trading back with Jacksonville. They were certainly hoping Claiborne would still be here, but they had to take Barron instead. Barron will likely be a productive player in this league, but I don’t believe he is worth a top 10 pick, which is why I couldn’t go any higher than a B- for this pick.

Remaining Needs: RB, CB, LB, DL, TE, RT

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill QB, Texas Q&M

GRADE: B

Miami was in a pretty terrible position being pressured by their fans to reach for a QB. I don’t think Tannehill will be a franchise QB, especially if he is thrust into the starting lineup too soon like Blaine Gabbert last year. They did address their biggest need though, which bumps their grade up a bit.

Remaining Needs: WR, RT, DE, S

9. Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly ILB, Boston College

GRADE: B+

Kuechly is arguably the best player available, so you can’t fault Carolina for taking him. I would’ve taken Fletcher Cox if it were me, addressing a bigger need with a comparably rated prospect.

Remaining Needs: DT, CB, WR, OL

10. Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore CB, South Carolina

GRADE: B

With Riley Reiff and Michael Floyd available, I don’t really support taking Gilmore. Either offensive player would have been a better pick in my opinion. Still, Gilmore fits a need and was rising steadily in the last week so it makes sense.

Remaining Needs: OT, WR, DE, LB

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe NT, Memphis

GRADE: B-

Poe is too raw to be taken in the top 15, so I can’t give them more than a B-. Still, they addressed one of their biggest needs with a player with great potential.

Remaining Needs: T/G, CB, ILB, QB

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox DT, Mississippi State

GRADE: B+

I don’t know if Cox is that much better than Brockers that he deserves trading up for, but if the Eagles thought he was a special player – which he very well could be – I can’t argue with it.

Remaining Needs: LT, CB, QB, LB, S

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame

GRADE: B+

I would’ve taken Riley Reiff instead of Floyd, because the Cards’ offensive line is atrocious. WR is their #2 need though and Floyd will be a great complement to Larry Fitzgerald.

Remaining Needs: OT, OLB, OG, CB

14. St. Louis Rams: Michael Brockers DT, LSU

GRADE: B+

The Rams did a great job trading back after missing out on Justin Blackmon. They now have 3 picks in the top of the second round, which brings their grade up. Brockers should be a good addition to their DL, and should help bring some consistency to their defense overall.

Remaining Needs: WR, OT, OLB, RB, OG

15. Seattle Seahawks: Bruce Irvin DE, West Virginia

GRADE: D-

Irvin really has no place in the first round. The only reason they didn’t receive an F is that they traded back rather than taking him at 12.

Remaining Needs: LB, OL, WR, CB

16. New York Jets: Quinton Coples DE, UNC

GRADE: A-

Coples presents great value at 16, and if he can fulfill his potential he will be a phenomenal pick. However, there’s a reason he dropped and that’s because he doesn’t show the work ethic it takes to be a productive NFL player.

Remaining Needs: OLB, RT, ILB, WR, RB

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama

GRADE: B

I’m not sure why the Bengals didn’t take DeCastro here, but Kirkpatrick is a decent fallback option. He has the elite size you look for in a CB and should be a good starter in a year or two.

Remaining Needs: OG, WR, DL, RB

18. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Ingram OLB, South Carolina

GRADE: A

Ingram falling to 18 might have been the surprise of the draft, and the Chargers got great value here. He probably won’t be asked to start right away and could have an Aldon Smith-type impact for San Diego

Remaining Needs: T/G, OLB, SS, DL, WR

19. Chicago Bears: Shea McClellin DE, Boise State

GRADE: B-

McClellin was a later riser in the draft process, and I don’t think he was worthy of a top 20 pick. He does fill a need for the Bears, but I would’ve taken Nick Perry or Chandler Jones first.

Remaining Needs: CB, T/G, LB, S, WR

20. Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright WR, Baylor

GRADE: B+

Wright could turn out to be a good complement across Kenny Britt. It’s not a sexy pick but quite solid and could pay big dividends for Jake Locker.

Remaining Needs: DE, G/C, CB, DT

21. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones DE, Syracuse

GRADE: B+

Jones is good value here and should be a productive player for New England, but I’m not sure he was worth trading up for. Therefore, I can’t give them an A.

Remaining Needs: CB, S, OLB, WR, DT

22. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden QB, Oklahoma State

GRADE: C+

The Browns understandably had to take a QB with this pick, but the value simply wasn’t there. Weeden isn’t a first round talent.

Remaining Needs: WR, RT, DB

23. Detroit Lions: Riley Reiff OT, Iowa

GRADE: A

Reiff was another unexpected drop and the Lions couldn’t be happier. Reiff should be a dominant RT and can develop into a good LT with the right coaching. Great value at a big need.

Remaining Needs: CB, OC, RB, LB

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: David DeCastro G, Stanford

GRADE: A

No one expected DeCastro to fall this far, and the Steelers address their biggest need with one of the best players at his position in years. If everyone can stay healthy, Pittsburgh’s line just went from a weakness to a strength.

Remaining Needs: NT, ILB, RB, S, OT

25. New England Patriots: Dont’a Hightower LB, Alabama

GRADE: A-

Hightower is great value here and is a great addition to their LB core. He and Jerod Mayo might form one of the best LB tandems in the league.

Remaining Needs: CB, S, WR, DT

26. Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus OLB, Illinois

GRADE: B

Mercilus is decent value and fills a decent need as a possible replacement for Mario Williams. He should be a productive pass rusher in the NFL.

Remaining Needs: WR, MLB, OT, NT,

27. Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Zeitler G, Wisconsin

GRADE: C+

Zeitler fills Cincinnati’s biggest need, but with Cordy Glenn still on the board I don’t understand the pick. He belongs in the second round while Glenn deserved to go higher than this.

Remaining Needs: WR, DL, RB

28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry OLB, USC

GRADE: B

Green Bay needed to get a pass rusher to complement Clay Matthews and Perry is the best one available. Not a great pick, but solid and deserves a B.

Remaining Needs: DE, G/C, DB, RB

29. Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Smith S, Notre Dame

GRADE: B-

Trading back into the first round for Smith was a mistake because I think the Vikes could have gotten him with their early second round pick.

30. San Francisco 49ers: AJ Jenkins WR, Illinois

GRADE: D

Another pretty big reach at the end of the first round, Jenkins has no business being picked this high, especially with Stephen Hill still on the board.

Remaining Needs: OG, WR, DE, CB, S

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin RB, Boise State

GRADE: B

With LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin, the Bucs can lean on the run game with Lightning and Thunder type tandem. Martin is great in the passing game and can carry the load as a runner.

Remaining Needs: CB, LB, DL, TE, RT

32. New York Giants: David Wilson RB, Virginia Tech

GRADE: C+

I have to believe the Giants reached for Wilson because they just missed out on Doug Martin. Still, a reach is a reach.

Remaining Needs: OLB, OT, ILB, WR



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