2012 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for Every Pick in Round 1
The first round of the 2012 NFL draft has come and gone, and with it came many surprises and some really nice picks.
Offensive linemen fell in the first round, while defensive backs, receivers and running backs all went higher than expected.
The true shockers were the selections of Bruce Irvin by the Seattle Seahawks and Brandon Weeden by the Cleveland Browns. Just because they were shocking, though, doesn't necessarily mean they were poor selections.
Read on for grades for every pick in the first round of the draft.
Indianapolis Colts—Andrew Luck
No surprises here, as the Colts select their franchise quarterback.
Andrew Luck is the real deal, and this is a great selection for Indianapolis. The Colts are starting a new era, and it's in good hands with Luck at the helm.
Congratulations to the Colts for winning the Luck sweepstakes.
Finally, they get their prize.
Washington Redskins—Robert Griffin III
Another pick, another franchise quarterback goes off the board. This was telegraphed for weeks, but it's still nice to see it happen in reality.
The Redskins gave up a lot for Robert Griffin III, but he is completely worth it. He is a No. 1 talent, and the Redskins are instantly competitive with their new franchise quarterback.
Griffin actually has a chance to have more immediate success than Andrew Luck, as he has a better offense around him and a more offense-oriented coach.
Cleveland Browns—Trent Richardson
Despite a third quarterback-needy team in a row making a selection, the Browns went with running back Trent Richardson.
As a prospect, Richardson is the real deal. He has the perfect blend of size, speed, strength and technique. He is an all-around prospect who will make a big impact immediately.
Despite Richardson's top talent, this is just not a good pick.
The Browns traded a lot to move up to select Richardson, but more importantly, no running back is worth a top-three selection.
Their shelf life is too short, and running backs have lost value in this passing-oriented NFL.
Minnesota Vikings—Matt Kalil
What a great move by the Minnesota Vikings, picking up some extra picks and still selecting their guy.
Matt Kalil will step in and make QB Christian Ponder much better in his second year. After investing so much energy in Ponder, protecting him becomes paramount, and the pick of Kalil does just that.
All in all, Kalil is a top talent in this draft who fills a major need for the Vikings, and they still managed to pick up a few extra picks in the process. Great move.
Jacksonville Jaguars—Justin Blackmon
Nice move by the Jacksonville Jaguars. They desperately needed a talented receiver, and Justin Blackmon is a legitimate top-10 talent.
While they traded a fourth-round pick to move up to select Blackmon, making this pick to help Blaine Gabbert is worth it.
Blackmon is a major playmaker with confidence and great talent. He looks like a potential top receiver in the NFL, and he is well worth the trade up.
Jacksonville loses some points, though, because Blackmon is a boom-or-bust prospect, so this is a risky pick.
Dallas Cowboys—Morris Claiborne
A stunning trade here, but it's a brilliant one for the Cowboys.
Morris Claiborne should have been a top-five pick, but for whatever reason, he fell to the sixth selection, where Dallas wasted no time in scooping him up.
For a minimal investment, Dallas traded up and selected a potential lockdown cornerback. A team can never have too many good corners, so this is a great trade and a great pick for Dallas.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Mark Barron
After three good picks in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers show here why they are usually among the worst teams in the NFL.
Mark Barron is a fine prospect, and he should make a solid contribution immediately and grow into a nice player.
There is just no positional value with this selection, as no safety is really worth a top-10 pick.
Barron might end up being a good player, but he will not have enough of an impact to improve the Bucs significantly.
Miami Dolphins—Ryan Tannehill
Unsurprisingly, Ryan Tannehill goes off the board in the top 10. While he generated a great deal of speculation, he ended up going to the team that makes the most sense.
The Dolphins desperately need a quarterback, and they got their man in Tannehill.
Unfortunately, Tannehill has the biggest bust potential out of the top eight picks, so this is a major risk. If the Dolphins ask him to play immediately, it could cripple his development.
Still, this pick can't be graded too harshly, because Tannehill rejoins his college coach Mike Sherman, Miami's offensive coordinator.
Nobody knows Tannehill better than Sherman, so if Sherman believes in him, it bodes well for his chances.
Carolina Panthers—Luke Kuechly
With Luke Kuechly, the Carolina Panthers selected a safe, solid prospect who might not become a superstar, but he should be a solid football player for many years.
This is a really dull, ho-hum pick, but the main problem with it is the lack of positional value.
With needs along the offensive and defensive lines, for the Panthers to take a linebacker is surprising and disappointing.
While Kuechly is a nice prospect, no middle linebacker is worth a top-10 pick, so this grade can't be very high.
Buffalo Bills—Stephon Gilmore
Wow, this is a surprising pick—but not necessarily a bad one.
Stephon Gilmore has been a fast riser in this year's draft, and he rose all the way to the top 10.
Gilmore has solid potential as a cover corner, and the Bills don't necessarily have a great cornerback, so from a pure needs perspective, this makes some sense.
This is a solid pick, but there were better prospects on the board, so the grade is just average.
Kansas City Chiefs—Dontari Poe
This is the biggest pick in the draft, at least in terms of pure size.
Dontari Poe is a monster of a man, with elite size, strength and athleticism. His production was just average, though, and so was his tape.
If the Chiefs can light a fire under him, this will be a great pick, especially considering the void the Chiefs have at nose tackle.
Philadelphia Eagles—Fletcher Cox
The Eagles stay true to form here, selecting yet another interior defensive lineman.
Fletcher Cox was a fast riser, and a lot of teams liked his skill set, but this is somewhat of a reach, and the Eagles had other needs to address.
While Cox will be a good fit in Philadelphia, there were better prospects on the board, and the Eagles have perpetually ignored other needs while building their defensive line.
Arizona Cardinals—Michael Floyd
The Cardinals now have a very nice duo of Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and their size and jump-ball ability should cause major matchup problems.
Also, the Cardinals are now giving QB Kevin Kolb no excuses. With these receivers, Kolb will either be forced to succeed or move on from Arizona.
This is a solid value, and Floyd should contribute right away. Good pick.
St. Louis Rams—Michael Brockers
The Rams just missed out on two top receivers, so they have to settle for a defensive tackle here in Michael Brockers.
In terms of need and draft value, this isn't a bad pick. But despite his reputation, Brockers is an overrated prospect. He is a one-year wonder who lacks great strength and effort.
This pick can't be too harshly graded because of the value, but Brockers' status as a one-year wonder hurts this overall grade.
Seattle Seahawks—Bruce Irvin
This was a major reach by the Seattle Seahawks.
Bruce Irvin could have fallen to the fourth round, but they took him in the middle of the first round in what was by far the round's most shocking pick.
Irvin had nice production in college, but he is a completely one-dimensional player. Further, Irvin would have been a much better fit in the 3-4, so he will struggle in run defense in the Seahawks' 4-3 scheme.
The Seahawks could have waited until the second round to make this pick if they thought so highly of Irvin, and there are major concerns about him as a prospect.
New York Jets—Quinton Coples
Quinton Coples' slide stops here, as Rex Ryan probably thinks he can stoke a fire in Coples to turn him into a ferocious pass-rusher.
Unfortunately, this is an arrogant pick by the Jets.
While Coples possesses elite talent, he has a questionable attitude that will only make the Jets' locker room problems worse.
If Coples gives his best effort, this is a great pick. But this is not the ideal locker room for him to go into.
Cincinnati Bengals—Dre Kirkpatrick
After losing Johnathan Joseph, the Bengals occasionally struggled in pass coverage, so they remedied that issue here with a great pick.
Dre Kirkpatrick has elite length and athleticism, and he has great coverage ability. He has the ability to match up with the speed that AFC North receivers bring to the table.
The Bengals defense was already solid, but with Kirkpatrick, it could become a top unit in 2012.
San Diego Chargers—Melvin Ingram
In terms of pure value, this is possibly the best pick in the first round.
No one would have blinked if Melvin Ingram was a top-eight selection, so getting him at No. 18 is a great value for San Diego.
As a prospect, Ingram grades out as a bit of a tweener, but he should be a solid pass-rusher for the Chargers.
He fits what they try to do on defense, so he should make a solid contribution on that defense, but he might not be an every-down player.
Chicago Bears—Shea McClellin
This is one of the more surprising picks thus far in the draft, both in terms of Shea McClellin's draft value and his fit on the Bears.
McClellin probably would have fit better in a 3-4 defense, and he still might play some linebacker for the Bears, but he will predominantly rush the passer.
All in all, McClellin is a great prospect, but he just doesn't seem to be a great fit for Chicago.
That brings this grade down, especially when the Bears could have upgraded their offensive line with one of the offensive tackles that have tumbled down the draft.
Tennessee Titans—Kendall Wright
The ESPN analysts seemed surprised with this pick, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright should make a nice trio, and they will help make Jake Locker's transition into the starting role much easier.
All in all, this is a really nice selection that helps improve the Titans offense significantly.
New England Patriots—Chandler Jones
It's hard to doubt the Patriots, but that's precisely what I'm doing here, as they selected in the first round a prospect who's never had more than five sacks in a season.
While the Patriots are looking to upgrade their pass rush, they are banking on Chandler Jones' pure talent turning into production, and that has yet to happen at this point in his career.
If the Patriots turn Jones into an elite pass-rusher, that's a testament to the elite coaching that they possess, and not the value of this selection.
Cleveland Browns—Brandon Weeden
The Browns learned the hard way that arm strength matters when they selected the cerebral, but noodle-armed QB Colt McCoy.
They used that knowledge on this pick, as Brandon Weeden has among the strongest arms in the draft. That, combined with his intelligence and accuracy, makes him one of the best quarterbacks available.
His age was supposed to keep him out of the first round, but as the cliche goes, age really is just a number. While his age keeps this from being a perfect pick, it's still a great move.
Detroit Lions—Riley Reiff
Good teams are good because the poor teams drafting at the top make poor selections, allowing top prospects like Riley Reiff to slide.
There was a time not long ago that the Detroit Lions were one of those poor teams making poor selections, but no longer.
Now, they are capitalizing on the mistake of 22 other teams, and they get a potential top-10 pick at 23rd overall.
Reiff finally gives the Lions the talented left tackle to protect QB Matt Stafford's blind side, or at worst, a right tackle to significantly upgrade that offensive line.
Pittsburgh Steelers—David DeCastro
Like the Detroit Lions, the Pittsburgh Steelers snagged a falling talent who could have been a top-10 selection.
David DeCastro has all the talent to become one of the best guards in the NFL, and he should really help solidify the interior of the Steelers offensive line.
Ben Roethlisberger has to love this pick, as he had to scramble too often for comfort in 2011. DeCastro should make a major impact in patching up this issue.
New England Patriots—Dont'a Hightower
Another Patriots pick, another defensive player.
The Patriots are clearly focused on upgrading their front seven, and the selection of Dont'a Hightower should at the very least improve their run defense.
The knock on Hightower is his coverage, and he really does struggle to defend against the pass. If the Patriots use him as a pass-rusher in passing situations, though, that would alleviate that concern.
All in all, Hightower could definitely be productive for the Patriots as a run-stuffer and a pass-rusher, so this is a solid, if unspectacular pick.
Houston Texans—Whitney Mercilus
The Texans seem to be accumulating pass-rushers.
With Whitney Mercilus, Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, the Texans are stacked with pass-rushers, so their defense should be excellent in 2012.
The only thing keeping this pick from being perfect is Mercilus' status as a one-year wonder, but he is an immense talent who should be a major contributor.
Cincinnati Bengals—Kevin Zeitler
With their second first-round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected another solid player with low risk.
Kevin Zeitler has excellent run-blocking ability, and he should be up to the task of dealing with the immense defensive linemen in the AFC North.
The Bengals seem to be drafting with their AFC North competition in mind, which isn't a bad idea. But there were a few better prospects on the board that keep this from being a perfect pick.
Green Bay Packers—Nick Perry
After finding one elite pass-rusher from USC, the Green Bay Packers went back to the well in selecting Nick Perry.
Perry is truly an elite athlete, and he was a solid pass-rusher at USC. The Packers needed a defensive upgrade, and Perry offers just that.
The Packers should be thrilled to add an explosive pass-rusher like Perry, who will upgrade the defense and learn from one of the best in Clay Matthews.
Minnesota Vikings—Harrison Smith
Harrison Smith was the only safety left with immediate starting potential, so the Minnesota Vikings moved up to select him and build on a solid draft.
They didn't give up much to move up, and they picked a solid, if unspectacular player who will upgrade the secondary and make the Vikings a better team.
While there were better players available, the Vikings saw a need and filled it with a decent value.
This is a decent pick overall.
San Francisco 49ers—A.J. Jenkins
In a bit of a surprise, the San Francisco 49ers selected a projected second- or third-round pick in the first round—but he fills a major need, and he has major talent.
The 49ers made a nice move here, as A.J. Jenkins has the speed and hands to make a major impact. He pops on tape, showing impressive playmaking ability and good explosion out of his cuts.
All in all, while this may be considered a bit of a reach in terms of draft value, the 49ers should be thrilled with their new acquisition.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Doug Martin
Trading up for the 31st pick in the NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Doug Martin, who gives the Bucs solid talent at every position on the offensive line.
Martin is a bit of a reach at this point, but he has the talent to justify a first-round selection.
While running backs should generally be avoided in the first round, Martin could be well worth the selection, as the Bucs really needed an upgrade from the lethargic LeGarette Blount.
New York Giants—David Wilson
David Wilson caps a surprising, if short, run on running backs at the end of the first round.
His speed and high character should pay dividends for the New York Giants, who needed a running back to push the oft-injured Ahmad Bradshaw.
Wilson is a solid talent who should contribute early in his career, and while running backs don't offer great positional value, Wilson is a nice pick.