Although there was plenty of drama in the NHL and NBA playoffs this weekend, every football fan enjoyed three days of NFL Draft. While games are still many months away, it’s nice to get a football fix in the middle of the spring. Most teams drafted well, but draft grades aren’t just as easy as deciphering who got the specific best players in the draft.
You can’t reward a team because they had a high pick and got a good player. Drafting Andrew Luck doesn’t make Indianapolis’ draft better than all other teams just because he’s the best player in the draft. Drafting the best players available in draft spot available is what makes a draft successful. Drafting Luck won’t shadow drafting a bunch of busts after that.
Arizona Cardinals: B
The Cardinals’ real questions center on the quarterback situation, but that’s not something that would be solved at the draft. They promised to get Larry Fitzgerald a companion at WR, so they selected Michael Floyd in the first round. Floyd is similar to Fitzgerald in his physical abilities, so the duo has a potential to haunt NFL secondaries for years to come if Floyd stays out of off-field trouble. After that, the Cardinals went about filling their needs. The selection of Bobby Massie in the second round could be one of the steals of the draft as most people didn’t expect him to be available after the second round.
Atlanta Falcons: C+
The selection of Julio Jones last year robbed the Falcons of their first round pick in this year’s draft. Peter Konz, the draft’s best center, and Lamar Holmes will help a line that struggled to run the ball in the playoffs against the New York Giants. Former Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing should help his new teammate Konz in that regard as well. It’s just hard to get excited about a draft without a first and fourth round pick.
Baltimore Ravens: B+
The Ravens moved down to the second round, but still got the OLB they craved in Courtney Upshaw. With the history Baltimore has with selecting defensive players, you’d foresee a solid future for Upshaw. Baltimore has had plenty of injuries on their offensive line in recent years, so it was no surprise to see them draft two guards to fill the team’s top need. With Ricky Williams’ retirement, Bernard Pierce should have the chance to see carries behind Ray Rice.
Buffalo Bills: B
Defense wasn’t something we saw much in Buffalo last year, so it’s no surprise they went after a shutdown corner in the first round. Gilmore is a major playmaker, so Buffalo hopes he shuts down one half of the field. They filled other needs with a second corner, a couple LBs, and three offensive linemen to help the rest of the team. One of the tackles they selected, Cordy Glenn, was a first round talent so they did quite nicely to grab him in the second. The one shocker was the selection of T.J. Graham, who was ranked pretty low amongst the receivers. Graham runs a fast 40, but they should’ve gone after Mohamed Sanu and T.Y. Hilton, two receivers drafted later in the third round.
Carolina Panthers: B
Things are already looking up in Carolina with another year of growth for Cam Newton, but the Panthers did well to focus on the other side of the ball with their draft. Luke Kuechly is a name you’ll hear for years to come with his consistent linebacker play. Amini Silatolu may’ve gone to a small school, Midwestern State, but he’s a big boy with the skills to protect Newton for many years at guard. The most fun selection was Joe Adams, who’s got major big-play ability.
Chicago Bears: C-
If Jay Cutler is going to lead the Bears to the Super Bowl, he’s going to need the Bears to improve two things: the offensive line and the receivers. Chicago’s selection of Alshon Jeffrey in the second round takes care of the receiver part, although you hope he doesn’t show up to training camp looking like this. The Bears, however, passed on the offensive line situation which is remarkable given the injury issues Cutler has had in recent years. DT Shea McClellin fills a need, but there were many offensive linemen on the board for Chicago at the time. The selection of Brandon Hardin in the third round was also about three-to-four rounds higher than he should’ve gone.