After talking about speculation regarding the draft for weeks, TV and radio commentators often wrap up their draft coverage by griping about why grades are a foolish endeavor to feed our need for instant gratification.
They are correct when they say you can't truly grade a draft for three years, but they rarely follow it up by grading the 2006 draft (hint: anybody can tell you how a team did three years later).
Enough of my babbling. After writing mock drafts, profiles, articles and rankings for the last six months, I just want to do grades because I want to know how well I did three years from now (hint: I was wrong about the 2008 Falcons draft. Really wrong) plus it's fun so here goes in grade order:
(Click on the team name for pick-by-pick analysis of the entire team and access to each players profile.)
Philadelphia Eagles - Tremendous draft for Andy Reid and company. First, they filled their biggest need (LT) trading the 28th overall pick (and change) for LT Jason Peters. They followed it up on draft day, by getting Andy Reid to drink from the skill position kool-aid by adding the No. 2 wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin and the draft's best Brian Westbrook clone in LeSean McCoy. TE Cornelius Ingram could also be a great fifth-round value.
Cincinnati Bengals - A potentially franchise altering draft for the Bengals. As usual the Bengals stood pat but managed to avoid the reaches of previous drafts. Andre Smith is a gamble at No. 6 but he has talent and fills the team's top need. MLB Rey Maualuga is a defensive difference maker in Round Two.
Michael Johnson would have been a huge gamble in Round One but is top pass rushing talent well worth the risk in Round Three. TE Chase Coffman, C Jonathan Luigs and P Kevin Huber will all be given the opportunity to contribute early as well.
This grade gets an asterisk because for all its talent it remains a bit on the high risk/high reward side.
Seattle Seahawks - Added two top talents in LB Aaron Curry and C Max Unger plus they gained a 2010 1st round pick in the process. Also made three nice value picks in round 7 in DE/LB Nick Reed, S Courtney Greene and TE Cameron Morrah.
Chicago Bears - The Bears ranked among the winners of the draft after trading for QB Jay Cutler but also managed to add good value on draft day despite not having a first round pick. Third rounders DT Jarron Gilbert and WR Juaquin Iglesias filled needs while fourth round CB/S DJ Moore was one of the best value picks in the entire draft.
Indianapolis Colts - No team builds its team through the draft better than Indianapolis and its 2009 class is no different. Joseph Addai's struggles showed they need another running back and Donald Brown is a tremendous fit for their offense.
They were in desperate need for help at defensive tackle and added two possible starters in Fili Moala and Terrence Taylor. Like Donald Brown, WR Austin Collie is a great scheme fit.
Atlanta Falcons - They filled top offensive need when they traded a 2010 2nd rounder TE Tony Gonzalez allowing them to fill needs at DT and S with the early selections of DT Peria Jerry and S William Moore. Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury is a high upside 4th rounder but cornerbacks Christopher Owens and Williams Middleton were questionable selections.
Baltimore Ravens - Year in and year out, Ozzie Newsome and his staff do an excellent job of reading the draft. This year they traded up for OT Michael Oher and fill a need along the offensive line.
DE Paul Kruger is one of the best all-around (and most underrated) defensive ends in the draft and should be a nice pass rushing complement to Terrell Suggs. CB Lardarius Webb, ILB Jason Phillips and RB Cedric Peerman were all nice selections as well. The only thing missing was a wide receiver.
Cleveland Browns - Failed to find a taker for WR Braylon Edwards but showed creativity in trading out of the No. 5 spot and trading down two more times in round one to add picks. C Alex Mack was a surprise but follows the blueprint Mangini used in New York. WR Brian Robiskie has the skills to contribute quickly as a possession receiver.
WR Mohommed Massaquoi and DE David Veikune were questionable second rounders. Their sixth rounders (Don Carey, Coye Francies and James Davis were nice values. Don't underestimate the value of the players they acquired in traded as DE Kenyon Coleman and S Abram Elam fill needs while Brett Ratliff could be a dark horse candidate in the QB derby.
Green Bay Packers - Getting NT BJ Raji at No. 9 was a gift for a Packers team making a transition to a 3-4 defense. OLB Clay Matthews is more solid than spectacular outside but his effort and coverage skills will earn him a starting job. TJ Lang and Jamon Meredith are good day two prospects for a team in need of replacing its tackles in the near future.
Houston Texans - Filled needs early with LB Brian Cushing, DE Connor Barwin and C Antoine Caldwell. Also, added nice value late including safeties Glover Quin and Troy Nolan plus TEs Anthony Hill and James Casey.
Minnesota Vikings - Pushed aside character to select WR/KR Percy Harvin whose addition to the offense should open things up a little for RB Adrian Peterson and take pressure off their questionable quarterbacks.
Right tackle Phil Loadholt fills a major need as did the selection of cover corner Asher Allen. Fifth rounder Jasper Brinkley could a fifth-round steal if his knee is healthy and he keeps his weight in check.
New York Giants - While WR Hakeem Nicks is compared to Anquan Boldin, the Giants would have been better off with the real thing (or Braylon Edwards). Overall the Giants added a lot of receiving talent in Nicks, Ramses Barden and Travis Beckum.
Each of whom is a tall red zone target. OT William Beatty could be their left tackle of the future and RB Andre Brown should challenge for Derrick Ward's carries. OLB Clint Sintim is not a good fit for a 4-3 (just like fellow Virginia linebackers Darryl Blackstock and Ahmad Brooks weren't).
Tennessee Titans - Added the best route runner in the draft with Kenny Britt who combined with third round TE Jared Cook should enhance the passing game and red zone efficiency. DT Sen Derrick Marks adds depth and penetration ability to their Haynesworth-less defensive line.
CB Ryan Mouton, LB Gerald McRath, G/T Troy Kropog and RB Javon Ringer were solid selections as well.
New England Patriots - While everyone praises the Patriots for how well they have traded down and accumulated picks during the past three drafts, they fail to mention how poorly the Pats have done outside of round one the past two years.
Adding two 2010 second-round picks was nice but considering they had five day one picks entering the draft I expected more. The Patriots did add some nice developmental players in NT Ron Brace, S Patrick Chung, CB/PR Darius Butler, and OLB Tyrone McKenzie.
OT Sebastian Vollmer was a surprise second rounder but he was the sleeper lineman in the draft and has left tackle potential. WR/KR Brandon Tate is a nice talent but is further proof that the Patriots don't value character anymore than other teams. The failure to land a 3-4 rush linebacker was a surprise in a draft deep at the position.
New York Jets - Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets are the anti-Patriots. While the Patriots accumulate picks, the Jets can't give them away fast enough. Joking aside, the Jets got their top target in Mark Sanchez in a creative package that did not include a 2010 draft pick.
Trading up to get Shonn Greene was a solid move considering Thomas Jones' age and contract situation. That said they only had three picks giving them just 11 selections in three years and they did not add any talent to a wide receiver position in need of a deep threat. Ultimately Mark Sanchez will make or break this draft.
St. Louis Rams - Did well in Rounds One and Two, filling their needs for a LT and MLB with top talents Jason Smith and James Laurinaitis, but their day two selections were nothing special.
Arizona Cardinals - RB Beanie Wells fills the team's need for a power back to provide balance to the offense in round one. Second rounder OLB Cody Brown could fill their pass rusher need down the road. S Rashad Johnson was a solid pickup in round three.
G Trevor Canfield could also be a nice late round pick. After years of loving the Cardinals drafts on paper, this one looks more solid than special.
Jacksonville Jaguars - They did an excellent job of filling their needs at offensive tackle with Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Also took the anti-Matt Jones route by selecting two undersized but true wide receivers in Mike Thomas and Jarrett Dillard in the middle rounds.
Trading a 2010 second rounder for CB Derek Cox feels like a reach and DT Terrence Knighton is not likely the answer inside.
Miami Dolphins - Did a great job upgrading their top need by drafting big, physical corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. QB Pat White is a perfect fit for the wildcat who could some day press Chad Henne for the starting job.
Patrick Turner was a major reach in round three as were several of their day two selections. I do like the pick of Brian Hartline (although a round early), he is fundamentally sound like teammate Brian Robiskie and has the look of a quality special teamer.
Detroit Lions - Added the best QB, TE and S in the draft in Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew and Louis Delmas but struggled to get tough in the trenches on day two. How a team allowing the second most sacks in the league (52) can fail to add an offensive lineman to protect their $41 million investments until round seven is beyond me.
Kansas City Chiefs - Scott Pioli deserves credit for acquiring Matt Casell for his second rounder and getting a 2010 second-round pick for Tony Gonzalez but had a pedestrian draft weekend with the Chiefs. Failing to trade down made him reach for DE Tyson Jackson at No. 3.
Jackson is a good prospect but drafting a 3-4 DE in the top five is the same as taking a guard or center in the top five. DE Alex Magee was a surprise in round three which emphasized the team's need to get tougher up front.
The rest of day two was highlighted by the hope of small schoolers WR Quinton Lawrence and RB Javarris Williams and the boom/bust selection of CB Donald Washington.
New Orleans Saints - The Saints traded away most of this draft last year for Jonathan Vilma and Jeremy Shockey last year but managed to add the top secondary player in the draft in Malcolm Jenkins. The fourth round Demon Deacon duo of Chip Vaughn and Stanley Arnoux adds needed depth to the defense.
San Diego Chargers - Passing on Rey Maualuga and the running backs in round one was a bit of a surprise but some considered DE/OLB Larry English the best pass rusher in the draft. Considering Shawne Merriman is coming off of a serious knee injury and is a year away from free agency the Chargers figured it best to get another pass rusher now.
In the later rounds they added an intriguing nose tackle prospect in Vaughn Martin out of Canada and two solid offensive linemen in Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Greene. Gartrell Johnson is a poor man's Michael Turner. Failing to add an offensive tackle or middle linebacker was a surprise.
San Francisco 49ers - The wide receiver needy 49ers were thrilled to get Michael Crabtree in round one. Also received a 2010 1st round pick in exchange for their second rounder which will pay dividends in the long run but hindered their ability to fill immediate needs. RB Glen Coffee was a bit of a reach in round three but filled a need. Best values of day two with LB Scott McKillop and DT Ricky Jean-Francois.
Washington Redskins - Almost received an A for managing to get through the draft without trading any 2010 picks but common sense prevailed. Having pass rushing DE Brian Orakpo drop to them in round one was a pleasant surprise. Aside from CB Kevin Barnes the rest of day two felt ordinary at best.
Buffalo Bills - If you give team's credit for their trade additions you have to penalize them for their trade subtractions. The loss of Jason Peters hurt the offensive line and despite the selections of C Eric Wood and G Andy Levitre, the tackle position remains a problem.
DE Aaron Maybin is a good pass rusher but is a risky pick at 11th overall due to his lack of size and experience.
CB Jairus Byrd was a surprise second round selection who will likely be converted to safety. On the plus side, TE Shawn Nelson's combination of receiving and willing blocking was a tremendous value in round four.
Carolina Panthers - Traded a 2010 first rounder for the second consecutive year but did manage to acquire undersized pass rusher Everette Brown with the pick. Developmental CB/S Sherrod Martin was not nearly as good a value later in the round. Corvey Irvin is a rotational DT at best.
Added nice value with the late round picks FB Tony Fiametta, G Duke Robinson and CB Captain Munnerlyn. If you add 2008 1st rounder T Jeff Otah to the mix the grade would be as much as a letter better.
Denver Broncos - The pick of Knowshon Moreno was a smart move considering his playmaking ability and the team's shaky quarterback situation. DE Robert Ayers was a solid front seven selection for the defense.
Unfortunately, he was the only front seven selection. Added much needed depth to the secondary with CB Alphonso Smith, S Darcel McBath and S David Bruton.
Made two questionable trades however, giving up a 2010 first rounder for the undersized Smith (with MLB Rey Maualuga on the board no less) and trading up to make Richard Quinn the second tight end drafted (a truly baffling selection).
Pittsburgh Steelers - DT Evander Hood was an odd scheme fit in round one as he is more of a penetrating DT than a blocker occupying 3-4 DE. G Kraig Urbik is a tough Steelers type lineman. WR Mike Wallace was a third round surprise whom they hope can be a deep threat and returner.
CBs Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett were solid values who will compete for time. Don't be surprised if C AQ Shipley or RB/FB Frank Summers find a way to contribute. There's potential but aside from Urbik there is not much certain help.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Hopefully got their franchise QB in Josh Freeman but despite his talent he is a risky pick and they need to fight the urge to play him right away. Attempted to add talent at DT and DE with Roy Miller and Kyle Moore but both are projects. WR Sammie Stroughter could be a nice seventh-round find as a slot receiver and kick returner.
Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys accumulated picks like crazy but did very little with them. They are bound to hit on a few guys due to the quantity but the overall talent of their selections is not overwhelming. Their best picks were likely LB Jason Williams, OLB Victor Butler and S Michael Hamlin.
DE/OLB Michael Bennett is an nice pass rushing talent but he is not a good 3-4 OLB candidate. They would have been better off using their multitude of picks and trading up in round two rather than trading out of the first day altogether.
When you add in the trade of their first and third round picks for WR Roy Williams when Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards could not even command a first-round pick the draft looks even worse.
Oakland Raiders - Al Davis had a need for speed and as a result the Raiders draft turned into a "Danger Zone". Darrius Heyward-Bey was the best combination of size and speed at the wide receiver position in the draft and despite inconsistent hands and a lack of production Al Davis needed to have him at seventh overall.
If it was not for the fact of Heyward-Bey having tremendous upside to go with his risk the Raiders grade would have been an F.
S Michael Mitchell created a collective "huh?" from draftniks across the globe in round two. He may also have started the wild run of must have sleeper picks across the league in round three.
He gave new meaning to last year's William Hayes pick. Round three also included a reach for DE Matt Shaughnessy (who is surprisingly not fast). WR Louis Murphy and DE Stryker Sulak were solid day two values. Ironically Sulak was the fastest DE on the board when he was selected in round six.
Chris Maier is senior editor for NFLDraft101.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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