Grading the 2012 NFL Draft – AFC North and AFC EastPosted: April 29, 2012
First a little introduction on why the grades will happen. The grades are based on a combination of need, BPA, and who the teams passed on. Also, the lowest grade in the 6th round is a D and in the 7th round it is a C. Most picks from round 5 and beyond will be in the C range unless a pick is very good.
Round 1 Pick 24 – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford – Grade: A+ – The Steelers scored perhaps the biggest steal of the draft at 24. David DeCastro, who was a top 8 talent in the draft, somehow fell to the Steelers without having to trade up. DeCastro had a 96% blocking efficiency and gave up just one sack in 3 years at Stanford.
Round 2 Pick 56 – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State – Grade: A – Adams is a character concern but he was the 2nd most talented LT in this draft in my opinion and easily a first rounder on talent alone. He apparently requested a meeting with the Steelers after he got removed from their board, and clearly, he impressed them.
Round 3 Pick 86 – Sean Spence, LB, Miami – Grade: B – Spence is a great football player with great instincts. He will likely play some OLB and some WILB for the Steelers and can also play special teams. There were some better players available at other positions but this was Spence’s predicted range and it fills a need.
Round 4 Pick 109 – Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington – Grade: A – This was another great pick for the Steelers. Ta’amu was the 2nd best NT in the draft and the Steelers had a massive need at NT. They gave up their 4th and 6th rounders to move up and make sure they got the player they wanted.
Round 5 Pick 159 – Chris Rainey, RB/WR/KR, Florida – Grade: B – Rainey will hopefully do the same thing for Todd Haley that Jamal Charles did. 20 touches a game of pure explosiveness. This was the predicted range for Rainey and it fills a need.
Round 7 Pick 231 – Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado – Grade: C – Clemons is big (6’2″ 215) and fast (4.36 40). This gives the Steelers another weapon for Big Ben and insurance incase Wallace does holdout.
Round 7 Pick 240 – David Paulson, TE, Oregon – Grade: C+ – Paulson is a good pass catcher with great hands. He rarely drops anything and this fits his range.
Round 7 Pick 246 – Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M – Grade: C- – Frederick is a nickel corner that will likely be a camp body. They should have taken Chase Minnifield here.
Round 7 Pick 248 – Kelvin Beachum, OG, SMU – Grade: C – Beachum is an awesome pass blocker but has not shown much as a run blocker because of the system he came from.
Team Grade: A – The Steelers once again had themselves another impressive draft. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin sat back at 24 and let their board play out. When they got on the clock, they simply looked at their board and took the BPA. They did the same things in round 2 and three and decided to make a move up for a NT they coveted in Alameda Ta’amu. This draft could position the Steelers nicely for the next decade on the offensive line.
Round 1 Pick 17 – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – Grade: B+ – This pick fills a need and fits the draft range of Kirkpatrick.
Round 1 Pick 27 – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin – Grade: B+ – This pick gets downgraded because they could have had DeCastro at 21. Still, Zeitler is a great player and fits the draft range.
Round 2 Pick 53 – Devon Still, DT, Penn State – Grade: A – Still was very under-rated and landing him here gives them a force on the interior DL.
Round 3 Pick 83 – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers – Grade: A – Sanu is the best route runner in the class and has great hands. He won’t blow the top off a defense but he should be a consistent weapon for the Bengals.
Round 3 Pick 93 – Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson – Grade: A+ – The Bengals add another force to their DL. Thompson should have been a 2nd round pick so landing him here is a steal.
Round 4 Pick 116 – Orson Charles, TE, Georgia – Grade: A – Charles is an athletic, big bodied TE. He is a great guy to pair with Gresham because of his blocking abilities.
Round 5 Pick 156 – Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa – Grade: B – Prater is a good corner prospect and this fits his range.
Round 5 Pick 166 – Marvin Jones, WR, California – Grade: A – Jones is a fast WR with a big body. He has good hands and is a good route runner. He was projected as a 3rd round pick.
Round 5 Pick 167 – George Iloka, FS, Boise State – Grade: B+ – Iloka has stiff hips but is good at everything else. Others like him much more than me and would probably give this an A.
Round 6 Pick 191 – Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State – Grade: C+ – Herron fits the range and gives the Bengals another RB to compete in the backfield.
Team Grade: A+ – The Bengals had themselves one hell of a draft. They upgraded every area of need and added a bunch of steals. Adding Thompson and Still to that defensive line is downright scary and they improved greatly at WR with the selections of Sanu and Jones to pair with A.J. Green. This draft class could make the Bengals a force to be reckoned with in the brutal AFC North for a long time.
Round 2 Pick 35 – Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama – Grade: A – Upshaw gives the Ravens a versatile player with great talent. He does not have a true position but he was a top 25 talent in this draft.
Round 2 Pick 60 – Kelechi Osemele, OG/OT, Iowa State – Grade: B+ – Osemele fits the range and fills a need. I am not very high on him but others are.
Round 3 Pick 84 – Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple – Grade: B – Pierce does not fill a need but he fits the draft range. He will give the Ravens a nice complement to Ray Rice.
Round 4 Pick 98 – Gino Gradkowsi, OG/C, Delaware – Grade: C+ – Gradkowski fills a need and this is a decent spot for him to go but there were better centers available (Ben Jones).
Round 4 Pick 130 – Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State – Grade: D+ – This is the only pick they had that I don’t really like. Thompson is a good athlete but he is very raw. They could have had Markelle Martin or George Iloka here.
Round 5 Pick 169 – Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly – Grade: B- – Jackson is a good corner prospect that will add depth to the Ravens talented secondary. This fits his draft range as well.
Round 6 Pick 198 – Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami – Grade: A – This was my favorite pick of the Ravens draft. Streeter was a 4th to 5th round guy but he has great upside.
Round 7 Pick 236 – Deangelo Tyson, DE, Georgia – Grade: C – This is a pick that will give them depth at DE.
Team Grade: B – The Ravens had themselves a pretty typical draft. They got a steal in Courtney Upshaw and then stayed true to their board the rest of the way. They filled needs well but I just don’t feel they got great value in rounds 4 and 5 which keeps this from being a higher grade. Streeter has the potential to be a major steal in round 6.
Round 1 Pick 3 – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Grade: A- – This was the pick the Browns had to make. They lost Peyton Hillis and had to get a #1 RB on their roster. The only reason the pick is not an A is because they gave up so much to get him.
Round 1 Pick 22 – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State – Grade: C- – While I like Weeden as a quarterback, I simply can’t give anyone a good grade when they draft a 28 year old in round one. If Weeden turns out to be a good starter for 5 to 7 years, this is a good pick but I think they could have done better here.
Round 2 Pick 37 – Mitchell Schwarts, OT, California – Grade: C – There were so many talented options left on the board at RT and WR that this was just a total shock. If they were going to go with a RT, why not Jonathan Martin or Cordy Glenn? How about Alshon Jeffery or Stephen Hill at WR? I just don’t like this pick at all.
Round 3 Pick 87 – John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati – Grade: F – This was their worst pick hands down. Hughes was a 7th round guy and there were some better DTs available. DT is not even a need. Why not take Mohamed Sanu here to help the WR position?
Round 4 Pick 100 – Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami – Grade: D – Well they took a WR but it was not a good one. Benjamin was not a top 200 prospect and was a borderline draftable guy. If you were going to go with a fast, Miami WR, Tommy Streeter would have been the better choice.
Round 4 Pick 120 – James Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada – Grade: A- – This is a pick I really like. JMJ is a great LB with phenomenal instincts and he can really upgrade the ILB spot for the Browns. He presents solid value here as well.
Round 5 Pick 160 – Ryan Miller, OG/OT, Colorado – Grade: B – This is a solid pick that will provide depth at guard and tackle.
Round 6 Pick 204 – Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas – Grade: B – Another solid pick to give the Browns more depth at LB and special teams.
Round 6 Pick 205 – Billy Winn, DT, Boise State – Grade: A – Winn is a better player than John Hughes and was thought of as a 3rd round prospect. He can probably become a starter down the line.
Round 7 Pick 245 – Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona – Grade: A – Wade was an early Day 3 prospect so landing him here is a steal. He has starting potential so this is a great pick.
Round 7 Pick 247 – Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama – Grade: C – Smelley is a versatile guy (can play FB as well) and could make the roster because of his blocking.
Team Grade: C- – The Browns started off well selecting Trent Richardson and had some good late round picks in Wade and Winn but outside of that, they did not do very well. They panicked and took Weeden in the 1st round and then made some truly head scratching moves in rounds 2 through 4. Schwarts over Martin and Glenn? Hughes over Thompson and Worthy? Benjamin over Streeter and McNutt? Just some truly head-scratching moves.
Round 1 Pick 8 – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – Grade: B – This was the pick they had to make. Tannehill is raw but he has huge upside. He is a boom/bust type guy and needs a year or two of development. Luckily for the Dolphins, they can let the solid but not spectacular Matt Moore start for a year or two while Tannehill learns how to be an NFL QB.
Round 2 Pick 42 – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford – Grade: A – This is a steal. Martin’s concerns were over-blown and he should have been a top 20 pick. Jake Long and Martin are a pair of dominant bookend tackles for years to come.
Round 3 Pick 72 – Oliver Vernon, DE, Miami – Grade: C – This is a slight reach but gives the Dolphins a much needed pass rusher. Vernon has a lot of potential but needs to be coached up.
Round 3 Pick 78 – Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri – Grade: B- – This is a slight reach but is a solid pick. Egnew has great hands and is a good blocker.
Round 4 Pick 97 – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami – Grade: A+ – This pick does not fill a need but is an absolute steal. I had Miller rated as the 41st overall prospect so this is just a crime. Him and Reggie Bush in the same backfield is a scary thought.
Round 5 Pick 155 – Josh Kaddu, OLB, Oregon – Grade: B- – Kaddu is a good pass rusher and fits the draft range. This pick along with Vernon earlier makes their pass rush much scarier.
Round 6 Pick 183 – B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State – Grade: B- – Cunningham does nothing great but nothing bad. He is a good route runner, has good hands, and has good speed.
Round 7 Pick 215 – Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas – Grade: B- – Randall has loads of potential but needs some coaching up. This could be a steal when we look back at this in five years.
Round 7 Pick 227 – Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada – Grade: B- – Matthews is a big upside guy that could become a huge steal.
Team Grade: B – The Dolphins did what they had to do in this draft in taking Tannehill. They needed to take a potential franchise QB and they did that. They then got him a phenomenal RT in Jonathan Martin. They gave him some quality weapons in Egnew, Miller, Cunningham, and Matthews and added a few pass rushers as well. Solid draft.
Round 1 Pick 10 – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – Grade: B – Gilmore has tons of potential and great athleticism but he had a bad year at South Carolina last year. If he reaches his potential, he will be a star. If not, he will be a huge bust.
Round 2 Pick 41 – Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia – Grade: A – Glenn is a great RT prospect with some LT potential. He was a projected first round pick so this is a big steal.
Round 3 Pick 69 – T.J. Graham, WR, N.C. State – Grade: F – what? Why did they not take Sanu? Graham is a good returner and is very fast but he could have been had in round 6 or 7.
Round 4 Pick 105 – Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State – Grade: B – Bradham is a good athlete that could become a starter at OLB. This fits his draft range and fills a need.
Round 4 Pick 124 – Ron Brooks, CB, LSU – Grade: B – Brooks is a great slot corner with some upside. He is an awesome tackler and fits the range.
Round 5 Pick 144 – Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State – Grade: A – Sanders is a LT prospect with upside. He needs some work on his strength but he has tons of potential.
Round 5 Pick 147 – Tank Carder, ILB, TCU – Grade: B – Carder is another solid ILB with great instincts. He could eventually be a starter at ILB and will be a good special teams guy.
Round 6 Pick 178 – Mark Asper, OG, Oregon – Grade: C – I have never heard of Asper but he is big and strong so he could maybe be a solid backup.
Round 7 Pick 251 – John Potter, K, Western Michigan – Grade: C- – Potter will compete with Rian Lindell for the kicker job.
Team Grade: B+ – The Bills were one pick away from having an A draft. Had they taken Mohamed Sanu in round 3 instead of Graham, they would have received an A. However, they still had a fantastic draft and their future looks bright.
New York Jets
Round 1 Pick 16 – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina – Grade: C – Quinton Coples is massive and athletic and with good coaching he could be a great player. However, he has an inconsistent motor and is a boom/bust type of player.
Round 2 Pick 43 – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech – Grade: A – This was the Jets best pick of the draft. I never loved Hill as a first round guy but getting him in the middle of the second is great value. He gives the Jets a homerun threat for Tim Tebow to throw to.
Round 3 Pick 77 – Demario Davis, OLB, Arkansas State – Grade: C – This is a slight reach but has some upside. Davis is athletic and is a great pass rusher but needs to improve the other parts of his game.
Round 6 Pick 187 – John Bush, S, Wake Forest – Grade: C – Bush was viewed as a borderline draftable guy so this is not a great pick. However, he is a great tackler and is an in-the-box safety which is what the Jets need.
Round 6 Pick 202 – Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor – Grade: C+ – Ganaway is a mean runner with good power and speed. He has some upside and could turn out to be a steal.
Round 6 Pick 203 – Robert T. Griffin, OG, Baylor – Grade: C+ – Griffin is massive and is a mauler. He will be a solid backup with starting potential.
Round 7 Pick 242 – Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina – Grade: A- – This is a huge steal. Allen was ranked No. 101 when averaging the 5 major big boards so getting him at 242 is an epic steal. He has starting potential and could be a huge contributor on special teams.
Round 7 Pick 244 – Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan – Grade: B – This is another solid pick. All White did at WMU is produce. He is not fast but he runs great routes and has great hands.
Team Grade: B – The Jets draft was a good but not great draft. They did not make any awful picks but they only had two that would qualify as steals. They filled their needs and stayed true to their board.
New England Patriots
Round 1 Pick 21 – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – Grade: B+ – Jones is a guy with great athleticism and a great motor but he is raw. He has massive upside but will need to be coached up.
Round 1 Pick 25 – Donta Hightower, ILB, Alabama – Grade: B+ – Hightower is a great player that fits the scheme and the draft range. He, combined with Brandon Spikes and Jerrod Mayo give the Pats one of the best trio’s of linebackers in the league.
Round 2 Pick 48 – Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois – Grade: F – I don’t hate Tavon Wilson as a player but he was a 5th round prospect by most. Why did they take him here with so much talent left on the board? Just a truly head scratching pick.
Round 3 Pick 90 – Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas – Grade: C+ – I like Bequette as a pass rusher for the Pats and he fits the range. He won’t be a spectacular guy but he could give 5 to 7 sacks a season for the Pats.
Round 6 Pick 197 – Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State – Grade: D – This is the lowest grade you can get in round 6. Ebner is a rugby player who can’t do much on the football field.
Round 7 Pick 224 – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska – Grade: A- – This is a high upside pick. Dennard is a 2nd round talent However, he beat the crap out of a cop and is facing up to 5 years in prison. If he ever makes it to the field and reaches his potential, this will be a huge steal.
Round 7 Pick 235 – Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern – Grade: C – Ebert is a decent WR with some upside.
Team Grade: C – I liked but did not love the first two picks for the Pats but after that it was a really bad draft. Tavon Wilson was a 5th to 6th round guy. Bequette fit the range but he is not spectacular at any one thing. Ebner is a rugby player that might not even play football. Dennard has huge upside but might go to prison for a few years. I thought the Pats could have done a lot better with this draft then they did.