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Adam Caplan of Fox Sports


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There’s nothing like handing out draft grades before these players have played even one down, but everyone wants instant results. Yeah, I get it.

Understand this, though; having the draft before free agency will leave a lot of unanswered questions and still-unfilled needs.


Caplan: Grading every team

Caplan: Draft's best and worst

Pick-by-pick draft tracker

Analysis of Day 3 picks

Video: Biggest surprises from Day 2

Photos from the NFL draft

Had free agency started well before the draft, you would have seen most teams take a completely different approach.

On to the grades:


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).

Analysis: The Ravens addressed their needs at cornerback and wide receiver, as expected. But Jimmy Smith’s off-the-field history makes his selection a very risky one.

Buffalo Bills: B+

Draft picks: DT Marcel Dareus (first round), CB Aaron Williams (second round), LB Kelvin Sheppard (third round), S Da’Norris Searcy (fourth round), OT Chris Hairston (fourth round), RB Johnny White (fifth round), LB Chris White (sixth round), CB Justin Rogers (seventh round), DT Michael Jasper (seventh round).

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.

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).

Analysis: The Bengals did a decent job of drafting for value and were able to fill some needs. At least two of the selections should challenge for a starting job this season.

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).


Arizona Cardinals:

Cards got talent if not need-fillers

Atlanta Falcons:

Owner defends trade for Jones

Carolina Panthers:

Panthers draft for winning attitudes

Cincinnati Bengals |

Cleveland Browns:

Day 2 rehash in AFC North

Dallas Cowboys:

Questionable 2nd-round pick

Detroit Lions:

Lions draft playmaking WR |

Taking big risks

Green Bay Packers:

Green joins crowded backfield

Houston Texans:

Increase Watt-age to sagging defense |

Top pick has eyes set on Manning

Miami Dolphins:

Pounce on the safe pick

Minnesota Vikings:

Ponder knows he must impress

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Found their defensive cornerstone?

Analysis: The first three draftees should challenge for a starting job this season, so the Browns got nice value. Hagg is well-respected by the scouting community and could start down the road.

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).

Analysis: While Miller is a great player, he would be better off at defensive end rather than outside linebacker. Most personnel evaluators believe he would be a better fit for a 3-4 defense than Denver’s 4-3.

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).

Analysis: Texans general manager Rick Smith finally started to address the Texans' woeful defense and he did so with the first five selections. The first two draftees should see plenty of time as rookies and the next two could start down the line. Yates could be veteran quarterback Matt Schaub’s eventual replacement in a few years.

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).

Analysis: While the Colts had only five selections, they made the most out of the first four. Those players all should contribute right away and the first two should start as rookies.

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).

Analysis: The Jaguars wound up having only five picks, but the first three should make contributions in a backup role this season. And Gabbert, Rackley and Shorts could start in 2012 and beyond.

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).

Analysis: The first three players have a good chance to start this season. And Bailey and Brown should contribute in backup roles. Bannon, if he makes the team, could challenge for the starting fullback role.

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).

Analysis: The Dolphins got at least one starter out of this draft in Pouncey. Thomas and Gates should make contributions this season.

New England Patriots: D


Recap the best moments from Radio City Music Hall | NFL draft photos

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).

Analysis: Sure, Solder will fill a need, but the Patriots failed to address their poor pass rush at all during the draft. Did they really need another cornerback? All the cornerbacks in the world won’t help unless the pass rush up front is getting to the quarterback.

New York Jets: C+

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).

Analysis: The Jets addressed their defensive line depth, but missed out on addressing the receiver position high enough. It was also surprising that they didn’t add a pass rusher.

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).

Analysis: The Raiders, as expected, added speed on both sides of the ball. You had to expect that. But they failed to add a badly needed developmental quarterback.

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).

Analysis: The Steelers did a nice job of drafting for value, which is usually the case with this team. The first three draftees have a chance to start as rookies.

San Diego Chargers: B

Draft picks: DT Corey Liuget (first round), CB Marcus Gilchrist (second round), LB Jonas Mouton (second round), WR Vincent Brown (third round), CB Shareece Wright (third round), RB Jordan Todman (sixth round), OL Steven Schilling (sixth round), LB Andrew Gachkar (seventh round).

Analysis: The Chargers addressed their defensive line depth with Liuget, but failed to add a pass rusher. Mouton had just two sacks last season at Michigan.

Tennessee Titans: B-

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).

Analysis: The Titans clearly felt they had to have a quarterback with high character, so they chose Locker. However, they did so way too early. His accuracy problems should have driven him further down in the draft. Ayers should contribute right away.


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).

Analysis: The Cardinals did a great job of drafting for value, which isn’t something they have always done. The first four draftees all could start as rookies.

Atlanta Falcons: A-

Draft picks: WR Julio Jones (first round), LB Akeem Dent (third round), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (fifth round), K/P Matt Bosher (sixth round), OL Andrew Jackson (seventh round), DL Cliff Matthews (seventh round).

Analysis: The Falcons were super aggressive and were able to fill a huge void at receiver after trading up for Jones. And Dent and Rodgers should contribute quite a bit as rookies.

Carolina Panthers: B-

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).

Analysis: Newton has a long way to go before he’s ready to play, but a strong running game will help him. The Panthers failed to add badly needed pass rushers and speed at wide receiver.

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).

Analysis: The first three players should challenge for a starting job. In fact, it would be a small upset if they didn’t line up with the first team in the fall.

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).

Analysis: The Cowboys might have gotten a steal with Carter in the second round. He’s still coming back from ACL surgery, but should help the team more in his second season. They failed to address their weaknesses at safety and cornerback.

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).

Analysis: The Lions made good use of their top-three selections. Fairley and Leshoure could start as rookies and Young gives them the badly needed speed they have been looking for at wide receiver.

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).

Analysis: General manager Ted Thompson is the best at what he does because he always drafts for value. He got at least three future starters out of this draft despite drafting in back of every round.

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).

Analysis: The Vikings failed to address their weak offensive line until the sixth round, which was a big mistake. They will have to look toward free agency to improve in that area on offense.

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).

Analysis: Jordan should prove to be a steal where they wound up getting him in the first round. The Saints also did a nice job of drafting for value.

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).

Analysis: While fans complained that the Giants didn’t need another cornerback, Amukamara was a great value where they got him. And Austin and Jernigan should contribute right away.

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).

Analysis: The Eagles were able to secure at least three future starters with their first three selections. However, selecting a kicker in the fourth round is a bit questionable.

San Francisco 49ers: 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).

Analysis: Smith, according to personnel sources, is a questionable fit for a 3-4 defense. It may take him awhile to make the transition to outside linebacker. Kaepernick may wind up being the best player out of their draft class, but down the road.

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).

Analysis: No team reached for players as badly as the Seahawks. While they selected a few good players early on, Seattle picked them before many personnel evaluators felt they should have gone off the board.

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).

Analysis: The Rams appear to have put together another solid draft class. General manager Billy Devaney does a really nice job of drafting for value.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+

Draft picks: DE Adrian Clayborn (first round), DE Da'Quan Bowers (second round), LB Mason Foster (third round), TE Luke Stocker (fourth round), S Ahmad Black (fifth round), RB Allen Bradford (sixth round), DB Anthony Gaitor (seventh round), TE Daniel Hardy (seventh round).

Analysis: The Buccaneers addressed their weakness at defensive end, but both Clayborn and Bowers have medical issues. Both players are good values at the point where they were selected, but they also have a lot to prove. Black could be a steal in the fifth round.

Washington Redskins: B

Draft picks: DE Ryan Kerrigan (first round), DT Jarvis Jenkins (second round), WR Leonard Hankerson (third round), RB Roy Helu (fourth round), S Dejon Gomes (fifth round),WR Niles Paul (fifth round), RB Evan Royster (sixth round), WR Aldrick Robinson (sixth round), DB Brandyn Thompson (seventh round), OL Maurice Hurt (seventh round), DE Markus White (seventh round), DT Chris Neild (seventh round).

Analysis: The Redskins added a lot of selections as the draft progressed, and they made the most out of them by addressing several needs. The big issue, however, is whether Kerrigan can make an impact on defense by playing standing up at outside linebacker.

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This guy is ridiculous. He's obviously hating on specific teams, despite great drafts.

Seriously, the Buccaneers and the Broncos got a C+ and the Patriots got a D?

They had good drafts and they are definitely not worthy of being at the bottom of the list in terms of draft grades.

I personally think the Bucs and the Saints had 2 of the best drafts this year and the Broncos had a really good one also. I think the Giants deserve to be very high and the Patriots should be middle of the road, there is no reason why they deserve a D.

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This guy is ridiculous. He's obviously hating on specific teams, despite great drafts.

Seriously, the Buccaneers and the Broncos got a C+ and the Patriots got a D?

They had good drafts and they are definitely not worthy of being at the bottom of the list in terms of draft grades.

I personally think the Bucs and the Saints had 2 of the best drafts this year and the Broncos had a really good one also. I think the Giants deserve to be very high and the Patriots should be middle of the road, there is no reason why they deserve a D.

agreed. agenda. Cleveland needs an A

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Anybody notice that we didn't address our DE issue while the Vikings didn't address their need for OL help? Is there a possible sign and trade already in the works for Edwards and Clabo?

I would actually be ok with that. It is easier to replace RTs than anything.

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finally a tv mouth with a brain

I'll have to disagree. It is not wise to give the Patriots a draft grade of a D. That's just nonsense. They've proved the so-called "draft experts" wrong time after time. The Packers are getting some love because they just own the Super Bowl. In the past Ted Thompson did very similar things to what he just did in this draft and was largely criticized. The good teams draft value. An NFL roster has 53 players on it. You can never have enough good football players. I just can't think of a time where a team gave up as much as the Falcons did and had success.

If you look at Green Bay. They have the deepest roster in the NFL and really didn't have any true needs. You would think if any team was willing to move up and make a splashy pick it would be them. Instead they stood pat at their picks and took value and traded down and picked up a bunch of players late in the draft. No draft pick is ever a sure thing. The experienced GMs know that its better to have the numbers on your side. The more players you draft the better your chances of hitting on them. The wise teams stockpile picks and draft value. I don't like the Julio Jones move at all. I really think they could have got him a few spots later. I don't think you guys realize how much more they are going to have to pay the guy since they took him at #6 vs #9 or #10. We are talking millions of dollars.

The Falcons still can't stop the really good offenses in the NFL. This move doesn't really make them that much better of a team. It's a nice theory but in the end I don't think it will work out. Explosive plays happen through play design and execution. The Green Bay Packers don't have a bunch of track stars on their team. They draft value guys in the later rounds. You don't need really high picks at WR to be an explosive offense. If you aks me they were better off trading up and getting a good pass rusher or DB. They could have moved up for a guy like JJ Watt, Robert Quinn, or Amukamara and gave up a lot less than they did.

Anybody that thinks that the Falcons are a WR away from the Super Bowl should watch the game played on January 15, 2011 again. To date, the Falcons haven't done anything of any significance to prevent a beat down like that from happening again. It won't be solved by signing some free agent. Nobody lets difference makers like that leave their team unless they are simply asking for much more than they are worth. That team that put up 48 points against Atlanta also got more explosive on offense but has a significantly better defense than the Falcons. That was the highest point total allowed in the playoffs by a road team in 70 years. The Falcons are not one player away from a Super Bowl. Definitely not an offensive player anyway.

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Anybody notice that we didn't address our DE issue while the Vikings didn't address their need for OL help? Is there a possible sign and trade already in the works for Edwards and Clabo?

I would actually be ok with that. It is easier to replace RTs than anything.

You rarely ever see trades like that in the NFL. You never see an NFL team trade a starting player for another starting player. You see role players traded for other role players but starting players are usually traded for draft picks.

I don't really see how trading Clabo for Edwards makes the Falcons a better team. You want to trade a Pro Bowl Tackle for an averaging DE? A good offense also needs a good offensive line. Not just talent at the skills position. I think Ray Edwards is highly overrated. He played on a DL that time after time fielded 2-3 Pro Bowl players. A couple of years ago, Allen and both Williams all made the Pro Bowl. Kevin Williams and Jared Allen draw a lot of protection slided their way. That leaves Edwards with very good matchups.

What truly got the Falcons fried in the playoffs was a total lack of interior pass rush. If your rush only comes from the edge its actually very easy to protect. The Tackles just make sure they don't get beat to the inside and if they get beat wide they just push them past the QB and the QB steps up if there is no interior pressure. The Falcons don't have an interior rusher that can collapse the pocket. Aikman said that during the game, the reason why Rodgers was killing the Falcons was because there was no inside pressure at all. The interior of the pocket was clean the entire game. Whenver the Falcons brought pressure it was off the edges and Rodgers stepped up and moved out of the pocket and made plays. Then they went with a 3 man rush and the Secondary got burned. Those were the two ways that Rodgers picked the Falcons apart. They need more interior pass rush and improved secondary play. I don't know what the obsession with DEs is all about. That wasn't the problem against Green Bay.

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