Knee-jerk reactions to your team's first- and second-round picks are never good, especially when there's clear depth and talent to be added each year in the bottom half of the NFL draft.
Appropriate reaction after seven rounds is much more satisfying.
As teams leave New York and Radio City Music Hall on Sunday morning full of hope for the new season upon the completion of the 2013 NFL draft, there's a clear buzz around those who did it better than the rest of the league, and those who didn't.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday were three of the busiest days in the NFL that we will see all season—and that includes both the 2013 regular campaign and accompanying playoff slate. There's just an aura and life to the draft that is unlike anything else in the sport, maybe because short- and long-term fortunes can be gained and lost each year.
With some time to reflect on all 32 teams' draft classes, here's a look at some notable picks, grades and a few standout teams to talk about heading into the dark NFL winter that is the next couple of months.
*For complete 2013 NFL draft results, click here.
2013 NFL Draft Team Grades
|Team||1st Pick||Best Day 3 Pick (Round)||Grade|
|Arizona Cardinals||OG Jonathan Cooper||WR Ryan Swope (6)||B+|
|Atlanta Falcons||CB Desmond Trufant||TE Levine Toilolo (4)||B-|
|Baltimore Ravens||S Matt Elam||FB Kyle Juszczyk (4)||A|
|Buffalo Bills||QB E.J. Manuel||S Duke Williams (4)||C|
|Carolina Panthers||DT Star Lotulelei||RB Kenjon Barner (6)||C+|
|Chicago Bears||OG Kyle Long||LB Cornelius Washington (6)||C|
|Cincinnati Bengals||TE Tyler Eifert||OT Reid Fragel (7)||B|
|Cleveland Browns||LB Barkevious Mingo||S Jamoris Slaughter (6)||C|
|Dallas Cowboys||C Travis Frederick||RB Joseph Randle (6)||C+|
|Denver Broncos||DT Sylvester Williams||DE Quanterus Smith (5)||C+|
|Detroit Lions||DE Ziggy Ansah||WR Corey Fuller (6)||B-|
|Green Bay Packers||DE Datone Jones||RB Johnathan Franklin (4)||B+|
|Houston Texans||WR DeAndre Hopkins||DE Travardo Williams (4)||B|
|Indianapolis Colts||DE Bjoern Werner||C Khaled Holmes (4)||C+|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||OT Luke Joeckel||WR Denard Robinson (5)||A-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||OT Eric Fisher||LB Nico Johnson (4)||B|
|Miami Dolphins||DE Dion Jordan||LB Jelani Jenkins (4)||B+|
|Minnesota Vikings||DT Sharrif Floyd||LB Gerald Hodges (4)||A|
|New England Patriots||LB Jamie Collins||LB Steve Beauharnais (7)||C|
|New Orleans Saints||S Kenny Vaccaro||WR Kenny Stills (5)||C+|
|New York Giants||OG Justin Pugh||QB Ryan Nassib (4)||C|
|New York Jets||CB Dee Milliner||OL Oday Aboushi (5)||B-|
|Oakland Raiders||CB D.J. Hayden||TE Nick Casa (6)||B|
|Philadelphia Eagles||OT Lane Johnson||CB Jordan Poyer (6)||A-|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||LB Jarvis Jones||S Shamarko Thomas (4)||B+|
|St. Louis Rams||WR Tavon Austin||OL Barrett Jones (4)||A-|
|San Diego Chargers||OT D.J. Fluker||QB Brad Sorensen (7)||B|
|San Francisco 49ers||S Eric Reid||DT Quentin Dial (5)||B|
|Seattle Seahawks||RB Christine Michael||DT Jesse Williams (5)||B-|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||CB Johnthan Banks||DE William Gholston (4)||C+|
|Tennessee Titans||OG Chance Warmack||C Brian Schwenke (4)||A-|
|Washington Redskins||CB David Amerson||S Bacarri Rambo (6)||D|
Notable High Grades
Baltimore Ravens: A
As disappointing as it was to be a Ravens fan and have to worry about replacing so many players when all you wanted to do was celebrate a Super Bowl, this draft cements the brilliance of Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the Baltimore staff.
The Ravens got three long-term starters with their first three picks, including second-rounder Arthur Brown, who should slide right into one of the inside-linebacker spots in Dean Pees' 3-4 defense. Picking up a 3-4 nose tackle in Brandon Williams in the third round is also a huge steal based on value and creating a rotation along that defensive line.
While you would have liked to see the Ravens fill the wide-receiver hole earlier than in the seventh round, picking up three potential long-term starters with your first three picks and adding depth at offensive tackle in later rounds makes for a great draft in Baltimore.
St. Louis Rams: A-
The Rams did everything they wanted to in this draft and more, picking up teammates Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to create every Big 12 supporter's fantasy—Sam Bradford throwing to two talented slot receivers in a pass-first attack.
St. Louis traded up to get Austin, a move that makes a lot of sense considering his clear rise leading up to Day 1 and all the buzz surrounding his name. The Rams then traded back to the bottom of the first round to reclaim some of that value and took athletic linebacker Alec Ogletree, a nice move if you consider the point of selection.
Everything about this draft screams that the Rams are ready to take a step forward in the NFC West. Adding Jake Long to the offensive line this offseason was big; picking up Barrett Jones in the fourth round to add depth to all five positions was bigger.
T.J. McDonald could be a starter at safety soon, too, and the Rams added Vanderbilt standout Zac Stacy to the mix behind Daryl Richardson to help replace Steven Jackson's production out of the backfield.
There were no significant reaches on any day for management, and it added at least three starters out of this mix—maybe more.
Notable Low Grades
Buffalo Bills: C
Buffalo's decision to draft E.J. Manuel above the rest of this quarterback class is the boom-or-bust move that will define the Doug Marrone era.
As a rookie head coach, he wants to implement an up-tempo, West Coast offense, and he feels that Manuel, the 16th overall selection, is the guy to do that. It was nice that the Bills traded back to get him, but you have a feeling he was going to be the pick at the top of the first round either way.
Elsewhere, adding Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin to use in passing situations was nice, but it's hard to escape the fact that Manuel will shoulder a heavy burden as a top-half first-round pick. It's not as if QBs were growing off trees in this draft, but Buffalo had the assets to draft Manuel later than this, and all signs point to this being a huge reach in a pivotal draft.
I love the Duke Williams pick, as long as the young man can stay out of trouble and on the field. He has great ball skills, and Chris Ault has quietly produced some of the better NFL talent the past few years. As for Kiko Alonso, the second-round pick, taking him over Arthur Brown and in a spot where top safties were to be had feels like an overreaction to Kevin Minter and Manti Te'o coming off the board right before the selection.
You don't see a lot of value with any of Buffalo's picks, making this draft class shoulder a load that includes expectations that fall right in line, or are already higher, than its draft grade. That usually spells trouble.
Dallas Cowboys: C+
It looked like another stinker in Big D until Day 3.
The Cowboys made Travis Frederick and Gavin Escobar (C and TE, respectively) their top two picks in the 2013 draft, a troubling move if you look at both the value assigned to Frederick (second to third round) by top scouts and Jason Witten still occupying the starting tight-end job.
If Dallas wanted a TE that badly, taking either Eifert at No. 18 or Zach Ertz at No. 31 would have made more sense to me, because there's little doubt Frederick would have been around at No. 47 when Dallas came back to the clock again.
Terrance Williams is a great, local pick for Dallas who will thrive under Tony Romo's guidance, while J.J. Wilcox was an under-the-radar move that provides some depth behind unproven safeties Barry Church and Matt Johnson.
The pick of the day, and a salvaging one, at that, came in the fifth round, in which Joseph Randle of Oklahoma State was selected. There was huge value in that spot, and Dallas found a running back capable of handling both third-down duties and a full-time backup role, should starter DeMarco Murray miss any more time due to injury in 2013.
DeVonte Holloman provides another athletic body capable of making some plays on special teams and subbing in specific down packages, but he's another red-flag candidate after a DUI back in 2011 (h/t The Post and Courier).
Although the young man has already pledged to stay trouble free in Dallas (h/t ESPN Dallas), it's a concerning move when you factor in the Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff legal troubles of the same nature in 2012.
Dallas' Day 1 reaches cost it an overall good grade, but there was clear value at the bottom that brought this draft back into a solid, yet unspectacular, range.
Most Interesting Draft Class
Green Bay Packers: B+
The Packers turned two positions of need (DE, RB) into positions of strength by the end of this draft.
In the first round, taking Datone Jones to slide into the 3-4 DE spot was a huge coup for Ted Thompson, and getting the guy that many projected to the team (RB Eddie Lacy) at the bottom of the second round felt like a first-round pick for Green Bay.
Green Bay then turned Josh Boyd and Johnathan Franklin into backups for both positions, and overall you have to love the depth the Packers picked up in two areas that plagued them with injuries during the 2012 season.
On the flip side, missing out on a safety was troubling, and the Packers waited until the later rounds to add some depth to the wideout corps. The depth they did add was promising, though, as Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey are two big, physical guys who could develop into starters under Aaron Rodgers' magic right arm.
It's hard to peg this class.
The added depth is great, but the lack of depth in the secondary is clearly a concern heading into the season. Overall, the Packers got better in the backfield and on the defensive line, but we'll have to see if it's enough to keep pace with the rest of the NFC North.
Follow Ethan Grant on Twitter: Follow @DowntownEG