2012 NFL Draft Grades: 10 Grades Other Experts Are Wrong About
This time of year, almost all of us who follow the draft spend time after the draft’s conclusion grading each team’s selections. Some may call it a fickle exercise to grade drafts before the players ever step on an NFL field, but it has become a common practice among draft experts.
Many well-known draft analysts have published their own full set of grades, and among all of them, there are certainly grades that I do not agree with. For this slideshow, I have focused on five of the most well-known analysts to publish sets of grades: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., National Football Post, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke and Bleacher Report’s own Matt Miller.
I have a great deal of respect for all of these draft analysts, but we can all certainly have disagreements of opinion. I highlighted two grades in which I thought each expert really went wrong.
Mel Kiper Jr.
Too High: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, A
Some loved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft, including Kiper Jr., but I did not.
The Buccaneers traded down from No. 5 to No. 7 overall to select Alabama strong safety Mark Barron, but he was still a reach at that point. Trading back up into Round 1 to select Boise State running back Doug Martin was also a very questionable move, when they could have stayed put at No. 36 overall and still gotten a quality running back.
The Buccaneers only made one great pick in this draft, and that was trading back up into Round 2 to select Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, who filled their biggest need and was a steal at No. 58 overall. One great pick certainly does not earn the Buccaneers an A.
Too Low: St. Louis Rams, B-
Kiper Jr. gave the Rams a C+ on filling needs, even though they addressed nearly all of their major needs, and they had many of them. He also questioned whether they received adequate return value for their No. 2 overall pick, even though they ended up with five extra picks over a three-year span as a result of two trades down.
The Rams got as much value as any team in the draft, and added numerous players who could become quality starters. The Rams deserve a much better grade than B-.
National Football Post
Too High: Seattle Seahawks, B+
I respect the National Football Post for going against the grain. While most draft experts ripped the Seahawks over any other team, NFP went out on a limb and gave the Seahawks a good grade for their draft.
That said, I am with the majority on this one. While NFP may not be completely off-base in saying that Bruce Irvin "could mature into the draft’s top pass-rusher," he was a huge reach as a top-15 selection, and his lack of ability to play the run will restrict him to being a situational pass-rusher only.
The Seahawks made a few quality selections in their draft, but reaching on Irvin in Round 1 and unnecessarily reaching on Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in Round 3, really kill their draft grade.
Too Low: Buffalo Bills, C
Quietly, the Buffalo Bills had one of the best quality drafts of the year. The Bills had a solid first-round choice in South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, got a terrific Round 2 steal who is a perfect fit in Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and added many quality players on Day 3, including Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham and TCU linebacker Tank Carder.
NFP seemed to grade the Bills down for Cordy Glenn not necessarily being able to play left tackle, even though they said he "has the ability to mature into a Pro Bowl-caliber player."
A Pro Bowl-caliber guard or right tackle is still well worth a Round 2 pick, and the Bills had a solid draft throughout, which should at least have them cracking into the B-range.
Too High: Indianapolis Colts, A
The love for the Indianapolis Colts draft is one of the most mainstream grades I have seen that I disagree with. It is easy to call the Colts big winners in the draft if one focuses solely on the selection of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but the rest of their draft was subpar.
Yes, the Colts added some talented playmakers around Luck, but they failed to address their needs on defense. The Colts also overkilled at the tight end position by selecting players at the position in both Rounds 2 and 3, even though they had many more needs to address.
The Colts should become significantly better because of the 2012 draft, but they do not deserve an A grade.
Too Low: Detroit Lions, C+
Prisco seems to have graded the Lions down mostly because of their Round 2 selection of Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles. While Broyles is coming off of a torn ACL and did not fill a pressing need, he is a high-quality player who could end up being a very good addition to the Lions offense.
Meanwhile, the Lions got a perfect fit to upgrade their offensive line with their Round 1 selection of Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.
Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight Bentley was a quality selection to fill a need in Round 3, and the Lions got great value on Day 3 in two Oklahoma linebackers who share a surname—Ronnell Lewis in Round 4 and Travis Lewis in Round 7.
Too High: Carolina Panthers, A-
The Panthers selection of Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 overall should end up as one of the best selections of the entire draft, but the rest of the Panthers draft did not warrant an A-range.
Burke gave the Panthers praise on selecting Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu at No. 40 overall, but Silatolu is a project who was a reach as an early Round 2 selection, and did not fill one of the Panthers’ major needs on defense.
Burke also gave praise to their Panthers on their selection of wide receiver Joe Adams and cornerback Josh Norman—both were solid selections, but neither stands out as a tremendous pick.
Additionally, Burke did not acknowledge the Panthers’ head-scratching decision to trade their 2013 third-round selection to trade up for Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander. While Alexander is a quality player, he was not worth giving up a higher pick in next year’s draft to acquire.
Too Low: New York Jets, D+
The Jets did not have one of the strongest drafts in this year’s class, but their draft class is not among the four worst this year. According to Burke’s grades, it was.
A pass-rusher such as South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram would have been a better choice in Round 1 than North Carolina 5-technique defensive end Quinton Coples, but Coples was still a solid choice and should be a big upgrade on their defensive line.
Additionally, the Jets made a great move to trade up in Round 2 and add a big receiving weapon in Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, who was a steal at that point.
While the Jets did have some questionable selections, they drafted two potential sleeper gems in Round 7 in South Carolina strong safety Antonio Allen and Western Michigan wide receiver Jordan White. The Jets grade was too harsh.
Too High: New England Patriots, A
Many draft analysts were salivating over the Patriots draft after Round 1, sentiments that I never shared. However, while most backed off from giving them high grades after poor drafting on Days 2 and 3, Miller gave them an A.
The Patriots got two defensive difference-makers in Round 1, but trading up to No. 21 overall for Syracuse hybrid pass-rusher Chandler Jones, who was already a reach as a first-round draft selection, was a very questionable move. This is especially true since more talented pass-rushers—including USC’s Nick Perry and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw—still would have been available at their original pick of No. 27 overall.
Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower was a quality selection, but drafting Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson—my No. 381 overall prospect in the draft class—in Round 2, made absolutely no sense.
Arkansas hybrid pass-rusher Jake Bequette was also a reach in Day 3, and the Patriots’ trade down from the No. 62 overall pick, receiving only the No. 90 and No. 163 overall selections in return, was a horrible reduction of value.
Honorable mentions here were the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans, both of which should also have been graded lower than A.
Too Low: None
If I could pick any of these experts to be my professor, Miller would definitely be my choice. He gave out 14 grades in the A-range.
Miller was too generous in the grades he gave out. As a result, there were few teams who graded poorly, and I would argue that all of them deserved their low grades.
Thanks for reading!
My own draft grades are being released for each team one by one, one day at a time. Today's full draft review and grading is of the Cleveland Browns.
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