Without a doubt, the actual selections—from the first to the very last—are the most important part of the NFL Draft.
But nothing stirs up more interest and debate than draft-day deals. Whether it's a team moving into the top 10 or just a franchise that bundles a few late-round choices to move into the middle round, we all love a great draft-day trade.
After all, if it weren't for draft-day deals, Jerry Rice would have never wound up in San Francisco, Eli Manning in New York, or Tony Dorsett in Dallas.
Inevitably, there will be some controversial, exciting, and surprising trades Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Whenever one goes down, we'll have the details, the impact, and an overall grade for both teams.
Browns Give Up: 1st (4th overall), 4th, 5th, 7th round picks in 2012
Vikings Give Up: 1st (3rd overall) round pick in 2012
The Browns get some insurance for their presumed selection of Trent Richardson, but don't so easily dismiss what they had to give up as peanuts: The Browns clearly have several needs on offense and are thin in their secondary so that fifth and especially the fourth could have come in handy. Richardson will be a major help and could turn out to be a stud, but it's still a hefty price to move up one spot.
Browns Grade: C
The Vikings are the winners here. Fourth, fifth, and seventh round choices aren't exactly golden but for a team that also has a litany of needs on both sides of the ball, they will really come in handy. Sure they passed up the draft's best offensive lineman in Ryan Kalil, their presumed choice had they stayed at number three overall. But if Morris Claiborne was indeed atop their board, and probably should be considering how aging/bad their secondary is, they come out ahead.
Vikings Grade: A-
Jaguars Give Up: 1st (7th overall), 4th round pick in 2012
Buccaneers Give Up: 1st (5rd overall) round pick in 2012
Signing Laurent Robinson is fine, but he's far from a lock at becoming even a solid second receiving option: the Jaguars need a superstar wide receiver and now they'll get one in Justin Blackmon. That fourth round pick might have landed the Jags a fourth or fifth-tier wide out but it's worth the rolling of the dice to get Blackmon as another option for Blaine Gabbert. And in comparison to what the Browns had to give up to get the third overall pick, Jacksonville didn't overpay at all.
Jaguars Grade: A-
Tampa Bay may have wanted Trent Richardson but with him off the board their plans changed. Everyone just assumes that they would nab Morris Claiborne with the fifth overall pick but should they keep Aqib Talib (in conjunction with signing away Eric Wright from Detroit) they have a good pair at the corner position. Still, what's their play at number seven? They don't need another defensive end and with Blackmon gone they won't take a wide out. Who knows, maybe they'll still land Claiborne.
Buccaneers Grade: B-
Rams Give Up: 1st (6th overall) round pick in 2012
Cowboys Give Up: 1st (14rd overall), 2nd round pick in 2012
Trading out of the top six twice in the same draft is peculiar, but for the Rams its a great move. They have so many holes to fill that one or two or three or even four really good players aren't going to be enough to climb out of the depths of the NFC West, especially since they've squandered high picks before. Adding that second round pick to go along with what they took off of Washington a few weeks ago will be enormous in their search for an offensive line to protect Sam Bradford.
Rams Grade: A
The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr away from Kansas City and they have Mike Jenkins but clearly that secondary has issues....especially since Rob Ryan has an over-developed sense of when to blitz. So going after the top cornerback in the draft is a wise move and Jerry Jones has never been shy about making the big move. But they really gave up a lot to move up just eight spots in order to get a player who isn't necessarily light-years ahead of the second (Stephon Gillmore) and third (Dre Kirkpatrick) best corners in this draft, who they probably would have had a shot at. Great player, questionable trade.
Cowboys Grade: C
Eagles Give Up: 1st (15th overall), 4th, 6th round pick in 2012
Seahawks Give Up: 1st (11th overall) round pick in 2012
The Seahawks really could have used a top notch defensive end, but this late in the draft there are still going to be a few excellent prospects available to them at number 15. So moving down four spaces, where they might get Quinton Coples or Melvin Ingram will be a huge benefit. It's an above average move.
Seahawks Grade: B
The Dream Team was really missing a stout player in the middle of that Wide Nine defense and once they saw Fletcher Cox, a great 4-3 defensive tackle, survive past the Panthers they knew it would be easier to come up and grab him without overpaying. And they certainly didn't overpay: the Eagles are clearly going all-in this (and last) year and they probably don't care about the long-term value of a fourth and/or sixth rounder.
Eagles Grade: A
Patriots Give Up: 1st (27th overall), 3rd round pick in 2012
Bengals Give Up: 1st (21th overall) round pick in 2012
The Pats are famous for moving out of their picks and trading down to stockpile choices, but this year, with their needs (pass rusher) so obvious I really felt it was vital that they bundle a few of their picks and grab one excellent pass rusher instead of a few second-tier pass rushers. This isn't quite achieving that goal, but because there are still several great pass rushers on the board (and apparently it will be Chandler Jones) it's a wise selection.
Patriots Grade: B
In some ways, the Bengals were playing with house money by receiving this choice in exchange for Carson Palmer, especially since they are coming off such a huge and surprising playoff season. But there is a serious need for a 4-3 edge pass rusher or a wide receiver and at 21 they would have still had a chance at a (lower-end) top-tier player at either position: they most likely won't get Whitney Mercilus, Courtney Upshaw, Stephen Hill, or Rueben Randle at 27 and landing a very late third rounder out of the deal wasn't exactly a remarkable haul.
Bengals Grade: D
Patriots Give Up: 1st (27th overall), 4th round pick in 2012
Broncos Give Up: 1st (25th overall) round pick in 2012
The mantra of this year's draft: the Pats need front-seven help. They added a solid, not out-of-this-world, prospect in Chandler Jones and will continue to add to that defense in the later rounds. And if they only had to give up a fourth round pick it's not a bad decision. Had this been another team that spent a fourth round choice to move up four places late in the first round, it probably would be a mistake. But since New England has so many extra picks, and is still loaded in rounds two and three, the draft cupboard is far from bare. They still have two seconds. One side note: they do get knocked down a peg on this grade in case they only made this move because they were afraid the Ravens would take Hightower before them at 31.
Patriots Grade: B
Conventional wisdom out there had the Broncos spending their top choice on a defensive tackle like Jerel Worthy, but corner has also been a major need. Yet at this point, the top players at both position (especially corner) are gone. So moving down, when they still might be able to get Jerel Worthy with the pick they acquire from New England (or maybe they'll reach on Janoris Jenkins) is probably better then reaching for either of those players.
Broncos Grade: B
Vikings Give Up: 2nd, 4th round pick in 2012
Ravens Give Up: 1st (29th overall) round pick in 2012
The Vikings didn't exactly squander the capitol they achieved from Cleveland but with so many huge needs at so many key positions (especially wide receiver) it's a surprise and maybe a mistake to move up into the end of the first round. Harrison Smith is a fine addition and will make a contribution, but was he the type of player that they just had to have and couldn't live without? Besides they only moved up a few spots: Couldn't they have grabbed him at 35?
Vikings Grade: D
The Ravens needs are a bit hard to gauge here so moving down a few spaces and grabbing an extra fourth rounder will serve nicely. They'll still have a great shot at Peter Konz with the 35th pick; that's a big need with Matt Birk nearing the end and in the fourth round, they might be able to find some depth on a somewhat aging defense. In short, with Dont'a Hightower off the board the Ravens probably had a policy of seeking a deal.
Ravens Grade: B
Buccaneers Give Up: 2nd, 4th round pick in 2012
Broncos Give Up: 1st (31st overall), 4th round pick in 2012
Trent Richardson would have been an amazing addition to that Tampa Bay offense: a real smash and dash duo between LeGarrette Blount and Richardson. But they've landed a fine Plan B via Doug Martin. He's quick, bigger than he looks, and an impact in the passing game.
Buccaneers Grade: B
Far be it from me to question John Elway, but there are too many needs right now to keep trading out of the first round, something they've now done twice. Remember, they went all-in with Peyton Manning in the hopes that he could bring them a title this year or at the very latest next. So passing on Jerel Worthy or Janoris Jenkins or another impact defender who can add to a few holes in the defense. Worse yet, it will keep them from landing one of the last top-tier wide receivers, Rueben Randle or Stephen Hill, or a really interesting choice, Coby Fleener.
Broncos Grade: B
Maybe the second round isn't quite as interesting, momentous, or trade-heavy as the first: it's doesn't get the same solo-round, prime-time billing.
But there certainly are some appealing areas.
And based on the trade bonanza that took place last evening, there could be some more to come.
The most noteworthy deal that is being discussed is obviously the Browns moving Colt McCoy to lay the foundation for the Brandon Weeden Era. But that hasn't gone through yet: maybe it will at some point this evening. Could a return home to Texas be in his future?
The only other rumor out there that's being thrown around, and has since been rebuked, involves the Rams, who've collected a king's ransom in picks thanks to trading out of the second, then sixth spot. It doesn't appear that they'll make a move to open up the second round but with an hour-plus remaining, who knows.
Jets Give Up: 2nd (47rd overall), 5th, 7th round pick in 2012
Seahawks Give Up: 2nd (43rd overall) round pick in 2012
Here's the first trade that I think there is a clear-cut, no brainer winner. The Jets absolutely had to get another pass catcher and they did so by moving up to take Stephen Hill. Yes, Hill is raw and did next to nothing at Georgia Tech in terms of catch numbers but when they did throw the ball to him in Paul Johnson's offense he was incredible, averaging nearly 30 yards per catch. New York has to surround Mark Sanchez with more pass catchers because Santonio Holmes draws so much attention. Maybe Plaxico Burress and/or Braylon Edwards will be back and Jeremy Kerley is a nice player, but if Hill does what I think he's capable of (being that big bod downfield to make a few huge catches every so often) giving up two late round choices is negligible.
Jets Grade: A+
Teams who trade away a pick usually do so because they think the players on the board (for that particular position) aren't going to fit their needs. Not so the case with the Seahawks. They absolutely needed another wide receiver and preferably the big-play, explosive one that Hill could become. Sidney Rice has health issues and Doug Baldwin is ok but not a top-tier pass catcher. Matt Flynn could have really used Hill as another options. Here's yet another highly questionable decision by Pete Carroll and the regime in Seattle.
Seahawks Grade: F
Bears Give Up: 2nd (45th overall) 5th round pick in 2012
Rams Give Up: 2nd (50th overall) round pick in 2012
While I still think the Bears need to, at some point, commit and spend a first round draft choice on a wide receiver, this was a great Plan B. Jeffery has some concerns about being in shape and he too is far from NFL ready in terms of the finer points, but I think he's a fantastic prospect and was worthy of a late first round choice. Even if Brandon Marshall stays out of trouble and returns to top form in 2012, adding another pass catcher to draw coverage deep downfield will be great. As good as that defense is, they can't count on shutting down the Lions and Packers repeatedly. At some point they'll have to win a shoot out and pairing Marshall with Jeffery gives them that ammo: for a fifth rounder, it's not a bad move.
Bears Grade: B+
The Rams have so many picks that it is a bit surprising that they had any interest getting a two-for-one deal, but this trade isn't nearly as egregious as the Seahawks. Not only did they land a big and promising wide receiver by drafting Brian Quick to start the second round, but their corps of young pass catchers (Danario Alexaner, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, Lance Kendricks) is becoming pretty impressive. They certainly weren't going to take Jeffery here so whoever they were targeting at 45 will very likely still be available five places later.
Rams Grade: B
Packers Give Up: 2nd (59th overall) 4th round pick in 2012
Eagles Give Up: 2nd (51st overall) round pick in 2012
In terms of player selection you've got to like what the Packers are doing: they had a terrible pass defense last year and the bulk of the responsibility fell at the feet of the pass rush. Nick Perry should greatly improve that area in terms of sacks and pressuring the passer but another defensive lineman will be just as tremendous. They grabbed one with Jerel Worthy and it's a fine addition, but giving up that fourth round pick might be a bit much just to move up eight spots. As with many of these trades: fine player, questionable value.
Packers Grade: C
The Eagles certainly got their man in the middle by selecting Fletcher Cox in the first round so Worthy wasn't going to be their pick. And to be perfectly honest, after landing the draft's top defensive tackle, there aren't any glaring weaknesses. They do need some assistance along the offensive line but moving back eight spaces shouldn't hurt their chances of getting one of those second or third tier offensive lineman. And in case they miss on whoever they select there....they just added another fourth rounder and can double up.
Eagles Grade: B+
Buccaneers Give Up: 2nd (68th overall), 4th round pick in 2012
Texans Give Up: 2nd (58th overall) 7th round pick in 2012
Adding Lavonte David gives the Bucs yet another impressive young talent in Tampa Bay, where they are quietly building an impressive collection of players. That defense already has Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Gerald McCoy, Mason Foster, and Mark Barron. I would say that giving up a fourth round pick in order to get David is a bit much, but they've addressed so many needs in the last few months via free agency (Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright) and the draft (along with Barron and David they grabbed Doug Martin, a tremendous complementary back to LeGarrette Blount) that that fourth rounder might have become expendable.
Buccaneers Grade: B+
David wasn't really an option for Houston but that doesn't mean they should have given away this selection: they could have grabbed a much needed wide receiver or an offensive lineman. But since they added a fourth rounder out of this deal it's a savvy move for Rick Smith and Gary Kubiiak, The fourth round is a great place to go after one of those tackle/guard tweeners that they need and they'll still have a chance to grab a Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, or Chris Givens at the 68th pick. No way all three of them go within the next 10 spots.
Texans Grade: B+
Packers Give Up: 3rd (90th overall), 5th round pick in 2012
Patriots Give Up: 2nd (62nd overall) round pick in 2012
Again, you've got to love what the Packers are doing. Terrible pass defense in 2011? Address is it for 2012 and way beyond through the draft. Maybe it's a hefty price to pay, giving up a third and a fifth to grab a corner that wasn't exactly on everyone's radar. But think about it: now that they added an outside backer pass rusher in Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy who might be able to play 3-4 end, and a corner with SEC talent who will learn from Charles Woodson, what else do they really need? Certainly not another wide receiver. And at this stage of the draft, they probably won'f find that stud tackle that could offset Derek Sherrod's injury and Chad Clifton's retirement.
Packers Grade: B+
It wouldn't be the NFL Draft without the Patriots trading down. The results of those moves do come with some major question marks: how well have all those move-downs really worked out for New England? That's certainly to be determined on some of those 2011 moves. But because Bill Belichick already landed two of the key positions he was after (inside backer, defensive end/outside linebacker) that second round pick wasn't really critical.
Patriots Grade: B
Broncos Give Up: 3rd (87th overall) 4th round pick in 2012
Browns Give Up: 3rd (67th overall) round pick in 2012
I do think Denver needed a running back: Willis McGahee certainly has miles on him and Knowshon Moreno has had injury issues. But making this trade (which was substantially in that they had to give up a fourth rounder) is a questionable move. They really needed a wide receiver to pair with those youngsters (Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas) and fill out that four-receiver set for Peyton Manning. They still had a shot at Mohammed Sanu, Chris Givens, T.J. Graham, and DeVier Posey. They might not in 20 selections.
Broncos Grade: C-
Give the Browns credit: they haven't been shy about trading or making surprising choices. Here's another of both. Like Denver, they really have holes to fill in their wide receiving corps and they passed on so many of the top prospects (Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle, Kendall Wright, etc) if you consider trades and other selections. Now they too have passed on a crop of promising names, most notably Sanu, who I think is being grossly undervalued just because of his poor 40-time.
Browns Grade: D
Bills Give Up: 3rd (72nd overall), 7th round pick in 2012
Redskins Give Up: 3rd (69nd overall) round pick in 2012
Short and simple: I like what the Bills did here. Michael Floyd would have been a nice pickup for them at 10, but this is an excellent alternative move and they only had to give up a seventh rounder to do it. Graham is undersized but he does have excellent speed (4.42 at the comibne) so pairing him with Stevie Johnson makes for the right kind of balanced duo that will really help Ryan Fitzpatrick attack some very talented defenses in the Jets and Patriots.
Packers Grade: B+
Moving back three spaces in exchange for a seventh round pick? Not exactly earth shattering but considering how much they had to give up in order to get Robert Griffin III that seventh rounder isn't quite a throw-away. The Redskins weren't going to spend that pick on Graham anyway, considering they spent two last year on Niles Paul and Leonard Hankerson and signed Pierre Garcon so adding some more depth later on is a bonus.
Patriots Grade: B
Chargers Give Up: 3rd (73rd overall), 6th round pick in 2012
Dolphins Give Up: 3rd (78th overall) round pick in 2012
Love this move for the Chargers. They absolutely had to grab a strong safety after Steve Gregory left for New England. Clearly they missed out on Mark Barron and Harrison Smith but they chose to fill other needs. Taylor might not be regarded on that same upper-echelon plane as those two but he's very talented and comes from one of the two best college defensive programs in the nation. He'll be a quick study and with very good speed (4.58) for a safety will be a playmaker.
Chargers Grade: A-
You can't really fault the Dolphins for trading out of the 73rd spot...they just selected with the 72nd spot. Do they still have a ton of holes to fill? Absolutely. But they only move back five places and grab a sixth rounder in the process. And since they ended up grabbing Michael Egnew (who they very well could have been targeting at 73 anyway) it helps give Dolphins fans a minuscule boost in confidence in their team's front office.
Dolphins Grade: B
Ravens Give Up: 3rd (91st overall), 5th round pick in 2012
Falcons Give Up: 3rd (84th overall) round pick in 2012
If everything with Ray Rice is smoothed over and forgotten then the Ravens still will need another running back. Ricky Williams has retired and no matter how good a starting back is it's critical to have a replacement/complement/change-of-pace guy. Just ask the Vikings, who saw Adrian Peterson go down last year and will rely on Toby Gerhart a ton in 2012. So moving up to get the guy they perceived as the right fit and only giving up a fifth rounder to do so is solid. Bernard Pierce has a great frame (6'0", 220 pounds) and ran an outstanding 4.48 at the combine. He's a tremendous addition.
Ravens Grade: A-
I can't quite get a handle on what the Falcons are doing during this offseason and here's another case. A fifth rounder is a nice extra piece to have in their draft arsenal, but because they gave up their first rounder last year (the Julio Jones deal) they didn't get to land one of the presumed super-prospects. I like that they took Peter Konz in the second round, but there were some noteworthy needs at linebacker and on the edge of that offensive line (i.e. tackles). In between that 84th and 91st selections, there will probably be a third-tier tackle who comes off the board that the Falcons will miss out on.
Falcons Grade: C-
Colts Give Up: 3rd (97th overall), 5th round pick in 2012
49ers Give Up: 3rd (92nd overall) round pick in 2012
I like what the Colts did here, I don't love it. T.Y. Hilton is a ridiculously fast player and can provide a tremendous boost on special teams as well as at the wide receiver position. And it's a smart move to surround Andrew Luck with offensive skill players: first Coby Fleener, then Dwayne Allen, and now Hilton. But that team needed a ton of help up front of the defensive side of the ball. Making this move might have prevented them from grabbing a solid defensive tackle at the 97th spot.
Colts Grade: B
Looking at the long-term health of that roster, the 49ers are in very good shape, especially at the skill positions: if Alex Smith and Frank Gore don't last they have Colin Kaepernick, they have several young pass catchers, and several young promising lineman. But as good as that defense was in 2012, there are some aging veterans on that group, most notably Justin Smith, who is 32. Giving their late third rounder to Indy kept them from taking a nice defensive tackle prospect in Clemson's Brandon Thompson.
49ers Grade: B
Colts Give Up: 4th (103rd overall), 6th round pick in 2012, 6th round pick in 2013
49ers Give Up: 4th (97nd overall) round pick in 2012
Obviously we're starting to get into the lower-tier of picks here....I won't quite say "the dregs" but it's approaching that point. Still I can't help but criticize the Dolphins decision here. Forget about whether or not Lamar Miller is a good prospect: he is, but that's not the point. Neither is the fact that Miami already has Reggie Bush and (I believe) a star-in-the-making in Daniel Thomas at running back. But giving up a pair of sixth rounders to move up six places? That seems a bit much.
Dolphins Grade: D
While I'm happy to bash the Dolphins over this trade that doesn't mean San Francisco deserves oodles of praise. Two sixth rounders is nice to have in the bank, especially if they only had to give up six places on the board. But this 49ers team is ready to go all-in now. They were millimeters from the Super Bowl last year and I wonder if they could have gotten a more quality player, one that helps nudge them over the top, at 97 instead of 103.
49ers Grade: B
Panthers Give Up: 6th (180th overall), 3rd round pick in 2013
49ers Give Up: 4th (103rd overall) round pick in 2012
Adding another defensive end to help Charles Johnson and now Luke Kuechly will make a big different for the Panthers and Alexander has talent and size, coming from Oklahoma. And since some people think he might become a 3-4 outside backer he'll fill a need. But was he really that important that the Pathers gave up a future third round pick? That's a huge price to pay.
Panthers Grade: C-
The 49ers have made some surprising if not questionable moves in this draft (few expected A.J. Jenkins to be a first rounder or LaMichael James a second rounder) but grabbing this pick by way of the other trade with Miami does give them more options down the line. I didn't like the move they made with the Dolphins, moving back a few spots (when there was talent left on the board) for a measly sixth rounder, but they made up for it by getting a future third.
49ers Grade: B+
Steelers Give Up: 4th (119th overall), 6th round pick in 2012
Redskins Give Up: 4th (109th overall) round pick in 2012
I love this decision by the Steelers. By moving up 10 spaces (and there were certainly teams ahead of them who would have gone after Alameda Ta'amu) they grab a clear-cut 3-4 nose tackle with a fine resume. No, he wasn't as sexy a selection as Dontari Poe because he didn't blow everyone away at the combine. But he was a two year starter in the Pac-10 which is loaded with NFL talent on offense.
Steelers Grade: A
Again, the Redskins need all the additional picks they can get thanks to the deal that landed Robert Griffin III. (And on a side note, since they spent two of their now-limited choices on quarterbacks their need for more picks is even greater). So while adding a sixth rounder provides about 1/1000th of the excitement of the selection of RGIII, it gives Washington another chip to spend....or deal.
Redskins Grade: B+
49ers Give Up: 4th (125th overall), 6th round pick in 2012
Lions Give Up: 4th (117th overall) round pick in 2012
Man the 49ers and general manager Trent Baalke have been busy! Why, I'm not all that sure. Maybe Baalke is trying to make the Patriots West and himself Bill Belichick West. So while I applaud all those move to acquire more and more late round picks, sooner or later there is a point of diminishing returns: later rounds picks are probably 50/50 in even making the team let alone contributing. So spending some of that capitol is key to making all those deal mean something: moving up a handful of spaces in the fourth round , rather than spend a sixth rounder will be helpful and since they grabbed a need position in guard Joe Looney Baalke's right to spend that late round choice.
49ers Grade: B
Detroit's had something of a quiet draft and this only makes it even quieter, but you've got to like the fact that they moved back, acquired an additional sixth, and still landed a player (Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis) who fills depth and/or can become a future starter in the key spot of outside backer for Jim Schwartz's unit.
Lions Grade: B+
Lions Give Up: 7th (219th overall) round pick in 2012, TBD 2013 pick
Vikings Give Up: 5th (138 overall), 7th round pick in 2012
Ahhh, the first intra-divisional trade of the 2012 NFL Draft. I like that the Lions are being aggressive in the late stages of this draft: they do have a lack of depth in some places and I think their special teams could use a boost: these fifth, sixth, and seventh rounders will provide much help there. More importantly, they grabbed yet another outside linebacker (Tahir Whitehead) who can shore up that shaky pass defense and take advantage of all the attention their stacked front-four receives.
Lions Grade: B
I actually like what the Vikings did here. They may have given up their fifth this year but they essentially upgraded by grabbing a fourth next year. Make no mistake about it: this Vikings team is in full-rebuild mode and will need all those picks. And then there is the other half of the coin: the Vikings did receive some nice compensation for moving out of the third overall selection and still landed the player (Matt Kalil) everyone assumes they wanted the whole time. So you've got to give Rick Spielman and his staff some serious credit.
Vikings Grade: A-
Titans Give Up: 5th (155th overall), 7th round pick in 2012
Dolphins Give Up: 5th (145th overall) round pick in 2012
This is ultimately the type of deal that makes the most sense on draft day. Moving up a handful of spaces and only spending the bare minimum: i.e. a seventh round pick. So in the end, while the likelihood of this winding up as a momentous move is pretty slim, the Titans do add a talented player who has incredible size and can be a nice complement to emerging star Jared Cook.
Titans Grade: B+
I'm not terribly wild about what the Dolphins did here: they need help and depth and they already just spent a reasonably high choice on Lamar Miller, a position that really was not a pressing need. Sure they added a seventh rounder in the process, but how much value is that really worth when they are the worst team in a division loaded with talent?
Dolphins Grade: D
Raiders Give Up: 5th (148th overall), 7th round pick in 2012
Lions Give Up: 5th (158th overall) round pick in 2012
As busy as the 49ers have been the last two-plus days, the Lions are hot on their heels for that Patriots Jr. title. And in this particular case, I like both the pick and the decision to trade up. The seventh rounder they gave away is basically a throw-away, it's near the end of the draft. Furthermore, I like Chris Greenwood, the cornerback they took with the Raiders pick. That's clearly a need position for them and although they took Dwight Bentley in the third round, Greenwood is bigger, perhaps more physical, and you know he's going to come to camp with a chip on his shoulder given he's a Division III player.
Lions Grade: B+
Man, those Raiders. Even in a "new era" they still seem to make baffling or ultimately woeful draft day moves. And while this one isn't necessarily JaMarcus Russell, Robert Gallery, or Darrius Heyward-Bey, it still doesn't make sense. They've given away first round draft picks each of the previous two years and now they trade down to add a seventh rounder? They probably weren't going to land Art Shell or Dave Casper with that 148th overall choice, but it's still a move that should be a head scratcher.
Raiders Grade: D
Packers Give Up: 6th (197th overall), 7th, 7th round pick in 2012
Patriots Give Up: 5th (163rd overall) round pick in 2012
Ted Thompson must have Bill Belichick on speed dial. Three rounds after making an earlier deal with the Patriots to move up, the Packers do so again. And again they land a quality defensive back, something they need for both the present and future: Charles Woodson can't play forever and they will be using plenty of dime sets to defend the Lions and that revamped Bears receiving corps. And while you never want to say that a draft pick is worthless if a first rounder is gold, a second rounder is silver and a third rounder is bronze, seventh round picks are lead.
Packers Grade: A-
While the Lions and 49ers are making a play for that coveted "Trade King" status of the 2012 draft, the Patriots aren't quite so eager to give up that title. Not surprisingly Belichick has been involved in four of the 26 deals thus far. I'd say that they passed up a quality player by dropping down 34 spaces, but truth be told, this has been an excellent haul for Belichick's defense and they are so loaded with young players on defense that another one would have been too much. Still, another offensive lineman might have been worth this pick.
Patriots Grade: B+
Titans Give Up: 6th round pick in 2013
Vikings Give Up: 7th (211th overall) round pick in 2012
A Super Bowl-defining move here: like Herschel Walker for the Cowboys ransom or Tony Dorsett four Seattle Seahawks choices in 1977. Well probably not. It's already painfully difficult to determine how valuable a first overall pick will be let alone a 211th. Still, these kinds of deals do show that team's take every pick (not just the top 10 or first two rounds) very seriously. The Titans do have some excellent young prospects on their defensive line (Karl Klug, Jurrell Casey) but defensive end has been a key need all along and Scott Solomon could become a nice role player and rotator in the future. He's very light but has tremendous athleticism, posting a 124-inch broad jump at the combine. And if he can become a hybrid DE/OLB it's an even better move.
Packers Grade: B
Although I like the pick that the Titans made at 211, the Vikings get the better haul, landing a sixth rounder in 2013. Minnesota has had one of the better draft's thanks in part to Rick Spielman's wheeling and dealing. This was his fourth deal of the draft and each one of the them you could make the argument that the Vikings came out ahead, maybe not in terms of player's (Trent Richardson is a better prospect than Matt Kalil) but in terms of overall value.
Patriots Grade: B+