1st Round Draft Grades - An Alternative Perspective

So I've read a number of different reviews of yesterday's first round and I thought I'd offer a perspective of my own. Overall, this was the most exciting first round I've seen in watching 15 years of the NFL Draft. The new rookie wage scale has made the old pick value scale obsolete and created a wild west atmosphere at every pick. Teams have no idea who's getting fleeced with every trade.

One thing we didn't see was the movement of established veterans for draft picks. Apparently teams were more interested in picking up young, low-priced talent over veterans whose ultimate price has yet to be determined. I'm not sure if that's a product of it being the first round or if teams already have had their fill of veteran talent in free agency.

Without any further ado, my thoughts on the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

No. 1: Colts select: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Grade: A+

Hard to get this wrong; if you have the worst record in the NFL, chances are your quarterbacking play isn't up to par. Operation “Suck for Luck” was a success.

No. 2: Redskins select: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor Grade: B+

Ultimately time will tell on this pick. Is he the next Michael Vick, an athletic quarterback who makes plays with both his arms and his feet? Or is he the next in a long line of college quarterbacks who exploded onto the scene for one year only to falter as a pro.

No. 3: Browns select: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Grade: C-

As a player, Richardson gets a B, maybe a B+. And if the Browns took him at #4, that's what I'd grade the pick. But in the words of Alanis Morrissette, it's a free ride when you've already paid. And to think, this wasn't even their worst decision of the night. Not even close.

No. 4: Vikings select: Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California Grade: A+

You get the player you wanted all along- a rock-steady prospect to protect Ponder's back side for the next decade- and you get the Browns to pay you for it. Smooth.

No. 5: Jaguars select: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State Grade: A-

Unlike some others on the board last night, I actually liked this pick. If you're going to draft a franchise QB, you need to give him some weapons. I'm not sold on Gabbert but he's doomed to failure if he's throwing the ball to their 2011 receiving corps again.

No. 6: Cowboys select: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU Grade: A

I freaking LOVED this pick, and it's classic Jerry Jones. Talented player on the board at a position of need? Go get him. Damn the price, full speed ahead. And in this case, all you lost was a #2. CB is not a position that falls and the “Honey Badger” was ready-made for Dallas.

No. 7: Buccaneers select: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama Grade: C

In addition to getting talent, you should also get value when you're picking in the top 10. Unless Barron turns out to be Sean Taylor V2.0, a safety isn't worth it at this spot. The teams directly behind you aren't likely to take him; move back.

No. 8: Dolphins select: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M Grade: B+

Is Tannehill the 8th (or even the 28th) best talent in the draft? Probably not. But the Dolphins have passed on talented quarterbacks for decades and the result is a Pirate-like string of futility. At some point, you need to try. Having his college coach as OC won't hurt either; his coaches know his strengths and weaknesses going in.

No. 9: Panthers select: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College Grade: C+

Will probably take some flack for this one- particularly from the Steeler fanbase that has been trained to draft BPA at all costs. But I just can't see this pick by this team. They have talented linebackers and a host of other needs- particularly on either side of the line. The player gets an A. The fit gets a D

No. 10: Bills select: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina Grade: D

See analysis for #7, but multiply. The Bills need to upgrade their defense without question. The signing of Mario Williams shows they understand that. But Gilmore's talent simply doesn't justify a top 10 pick.

No. 11: Chiefs select: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis Grade: B+

Analyzing this pick depends on what you're looking for from Poe. Do you want a blocker-consuming black hole in the middle of your line? Or are you looking for a DT who can get off the ball and make plays? With the DEs they have and Hali coming from the LB slot, they don't need a playmaker.

No. 12: Eagles select: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State Grade: D

They could've stayed put and gotten either Cox or Michael Brockers. Sure, he's a solid player. But is THAT much better?

No. 13: Cardinals select: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame Grade: C

I think Floyd has the potential to be a lot better than Blackmon. And reports indicate that Fitz was high on the Cardinals getting someone to take the DB pressure off him, which elevates the pick. But how effective can he be when Kolb and Skelton have zero time to get him the ball?

No. 14: Rams select: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU Grade: B

The Rams upgraded the back end of their defense during the offseason and the LB corps is acceptable. So getting more pressure on the line can only help. But after watching the Rams offense last season, they may have been better served not trading back to 14 and taking Floyd when they had the chance.

No. 15: Seahawks select: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia Grade: F

Huge reach. This smacks of the Pete Carroll “I know more than you” arrogance that has buried him so far in Seattle. I'm honestly surprised they didn't make a deal with the Steelers to move back to 24 (where Irvin likely would've still been available).

No. 16: Jets select: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina Grade: C+

Nothing particularly good or bad about this pick. His stock likely dropped with being off the field last year but he's shown tremendous potential and Rex Ryan likely has a plan.

No. 17: Bengals select: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama Grade: D

At first, I liked this pick. Kirkpatrick has clear 1st round talent and value at #17. But the fit is all wrong. Even if Hall's injury keeps him out for part of 2012 you still have a very talented secondary. Meanwhile, the AFC North is filled with stout pass rushers and the Bungle line didn't get it done in 2011. With multiple linemen still on the board, this pick just didn't fit.

No. 18: Chargers select: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina Grade: A

A great pick and a great value in the second half of round one. They've been searching for a complementary pass rusher since Shawn Merriman flamed out in glorious fashion. They got him.

No. 19: Bears select: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State Grade: C-

I'm not one to drink the Boise State Haterade but McClellin wasn't worth a first round pick. Sure, getting Peppers some help is a good idea. But that help could've been had in later rounds while Jay Cutler is begging for help from his hospital bed.

No. 20: Titans select: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor Grade: B

Did Wright make RG3 look good or did RG3 make Wright look good? Time will tell on that question. For now, he's a playmaker on a team that desperately needs one to stretch the defense.

No. 21: Patriots select: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse Grade: B+

For once, the Patriots chose to play their cards instead of endlessly trading back. The Patriots pass defense was their Achilles heel last year and getting some pressure on the front end will make a real defense.

No. 22: Browns select: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State Grade: F Minus

This is why Cleveland is Cleveland. A 28 year old rookie as your QB of the future? The jury is still out on Colt McCoy; he may not be the long term answer. But it's not even fair to ask the question given the weapons he's had.

No. 23: Lions select: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa Grade: A-

Rieff is a terrific T prospect who performed well at the collegiate level. He has the size and agility to handle most D-linemen and he'll get plenty of practice against their own defense every day.

No. 24: Steelers select: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford Grade: A freakin' +

Maybe my bias is showing here but I can't possibly see how the Steelers could've made out better in the first round. You get an unbelievable talent at a position of supreme need- and you don't trade up to get it as many in the fanbase (myself included) were begging. This is why they are the Steelers.

No. 25: Patriots select: Dont´a Hightower, ILB, Alabama Grade: C

Look at the number of linebackers Bellicheat has taken high in the past few years and tell me that this pick makes sense. If they played a true 3-4 defense I might understand this pick but their hybrid version cries out for help on the front end (which was addressed earlier) and the back end. Still, Hightower is a high-ceiling prospect who likely will find himself on the field by week 8.

No. 26: Texans select: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois Grade: B-

Mercilus isn't a bad player and with the departure of Mario Williams, his position had to be addressed at some point in the draft. But the line play was pretty good without Williams. Was Mercilus really the BPA on their board?

No. 27: Bengals select: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin Grade: A

Yes, the Bungles should've taken DeCastro when they had the chance instead of bumping back for more picks. But they did and they got a G prospect who fits the division he plays in and they got a bonus reward for doing so.

No. 28: Packers select: Nick Perry, DE, Southern California Grade: B+

Clearly the Packers had to go defense early and often in this draft. Perry isn't a steal by any means but he's shown he has the talent and Dom Capers has a history of making great pass rushers. The biggest negative? Watching draft coverage last night showed Perry's taste in women is... somewhat different.

No. 29: Vikings select: Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame Grade: B-

I don't think Smith was worth trading back into the round to get. But he addresses a position of need and the Vikings are playing with house money right now thanks to the largesse of Cleveland.

No. 30: 49ers select: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois Grade: D

For a minute, I thought I was in a parallel universe and it was that OTHER Bay area team picking. The only thing I can come up with is that SF is beginning the process of cutting ties with Michael Crabtree. You don't sign Moss and Manningham, then draft a WR with your #1 if you're happy with Crabtree.

No. 31: Buccaneers select: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State Grade: F

Definitely in the minority here, but I just can't fathom the need for a RB in Tampa Bay. Blount has been productive when healthy and when not, the ground game has done well with backups. They addressed their biggest needs in free agency; why burn draft picks to move up now? The only thing that bumps this up in my mind is if Blount's health isn't as advertised these days.

No. 32: Giants select: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech Grade: B

You'd have to ask Jerry Reese if this was a BPA pick or a “We just lost our 2nd best RB so we need to replace him” pick. That being said, they needed to address RB at some point in this draft and the defending champions proved the two-headed monster works for them. But is Wilson the right counterpoint for Bradshaw?

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