Sports
by Mr. T on April 30, 2012

 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.{pagebreak}

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
For the second year in a row, Cincinnati killed the draft.  Finding a new partner for Nate Clements in the secondary was a primary concern for Cincinnati, so they picked up Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.  He was the last of the elite corners remaining.  They traded up to grab Kevin Zeitler, but protecting young QB Andy Dalton is obviously a priority. Mohamed Sanu and Orson Charles were productive receivers in college and should help Dalton and A.J. Green in the passing offense.

Cleveland Browns: B-
Offense has been something the Browns have lacked for years, so it’s no surprise they went after offensive players with their two picks of the first round. Unfortunately, they got absolutely jobbed by Minnesota in trading up one spot to take Trent Richardson. I don’t care how good a RB is, there’s no reason to trade up one pick for him. There’s also evidence that having a great RB doesn’t necessarily do anything for you. I really like the pick of Brandon Weeden because he would’ve been a top 5 pick had he been 22-years-old instead of 29. How many teams are playing the QB they drafted 10 years from now anyway? As long as he’s productive for the next 6-8 years, you get your money’s worth.  The pick of Mitchell Schwartz over Mike Adams, Bobby Massie, and Jonathan Martin is something that may get critiqued for years to come. Travis Benjamin will be a return man we’ll see be seeing on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for years to come.
 

Dallas Cowboys: B-

It seems like Dallas’ secondary has had problems for years now.  The addition of Brandon Carr and the release of Terrence Newman was the first step and the drafting of Morris Claiborne in the first round was the second. They would’ve been better off with a general to lead the secondary and that general was Mark Barron, who was still on the board. Either way, you can’t completely fault the Cowboys logic for improving a secondary that consistently got torched. The Cowboys continued to improve their defense as five of their seven picks focused on the side of the ball that needed the most help.

Denver Broncos: C+ 

The Broncos made a couple trades to move out of the first round and help fill their needs.  The glitzy second round pick was the selection of Brock Osweiler, who Peyton Manning will groom to be his replacement. Osweiler needs a lot of work, but did put together a rather impressive junior season at Arizona State.  I’m just not sure it was the right decision given the other needs on the offensive line and in the secondary. DT Derek Wolfe was a bit of a reach early in the second round, but the biggest reach was RB Ronnie Hillman. He’s short and fast, but ranked well behind other players still on the board.

Detroit Lions: B-
Defense was the primary concern for the Lions last year and they didn’t use their first two picks to improve their standing in that area. I don’t have much beef with OT Riley Reiff as the team’s first pick because protecting Matthew Stafford should be the team’s top priority. I’m not sure I understand the pick of Ryan Broyles with the second pick given the team’s defensive issues. Wide receivers are easy to come by through free agency and the Lions would’ve been better off helping their front seven. At least they did well drafting Dwight Bentley out of small Louisiana-Lafayette, who was a steal at the end of the third round.

Green Bay Packers: A-
It was pretty evident last year that the Packers’ offense needed no help. They did a really nice job of improving the front seven by drafting pass-rusher Nick Perry, who will perform nicely on the other side of Clay Matthews, and Jerel Worthy, a steal at #51.  Casey Heyward was also good value in the third round, going about 20 spots after where he was projected.

Houston Texans: B-
Even though the Texans defense didn’t appear to miss Mario Williams too much last year when he was out due to injury, they were smart to replace him with first round selection Whitney Mercilus.  As we saw with the Giants in reason years, a good pass rush goes a long way. They spent the rest of the draft filling needs at WR and offensive line.  The selection of DeVier Posey, however, was the most surprising given that he was projected to go much later.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
The Colts made the obvious choice with Andrew Luck and hope he delivers on all counts.  The selection of Coby Fleener at the beginning of the second round was a great pick. It gives Luck a great security blanket, plus someone he’s very familiar with. The selection of Dwayne Allen at the beginning of the third round was done to create two TE sets like Luck played with in college. The only reason Stanford did that in college was because their WRs were garbage. They should be more worried about getting him good receivers than completely formatting their offense to what he was used to in college. Their draft in general focused on offense despite the fact their defense isn’t up to snuff either. Luck is the biggest present here, but it would’ve been nicer had they spent more than two of their ten picks on defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars: C
This was a typically bad Jaguars’ draft. Justin Blackmon isn’t a sure thing receiver like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, or Andre Johnson, but the Jaguars decided to trade up for him. While the Jaguars do need a WR, there were plenty to go after in free agency if they wanted to improve the position. Given the demand for top picks, they probably would’ve been better dropping down a few spots and taking Michael Floyd. They’re bad enough where they need loads of help and the Rams’ draft agenda of trading down and amassing picks would’ve been good for them.  They correctly addressed the pass rush with Andre Branch in the second round, but they went after punter Bryan Anger in the third round. No punter is worth a third round pick. They Giants just won a Super Bowl with a punter they picked up off free agency after he was cast aside by his former team.

Kansas City Chiefs: C+
Dontari Poe killed it in the combine, but his production at Memphis makes you wonder how solid of a pro he’s going to be.  After striking out with Glenn Dorsey in 2008, the Chiefs are just desperate to find a DT. With the way Matt Cassel got pummeled in recent years, you have to support the selections of Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson on the offensive line. WR Devon Wyle was drafted because he runs a sub 4.4 40-yard dash, so he might be a factor in the return game.

Miami Dolphins: C-
Outside of the first pick, I thought the Dolphins had a really good pick. The problem, however, is that their first pick was the most important to the team’s future. Is Ryan Tannehill a sure thing at QB? The answer is no. You don’t take a QB who is more about upside with a top 10 pick. The Dolphins would’ve been better off finding supporting talent and tanking for Matt Barkley in next year’s draft. Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson also look to have brighter futures coming out of next year’s draft. It seems completely like an ownership decision and that’s a problem. The rest of the draft was spot on. Jonathan Martin will bookend the offensive line with Jake Long to help protect whoever plays QB going forward. Michael Egnew was a solid TE in college and can be in the pros too. Lamar Miller has an injury history, but first round talent. Even sixth rounder B.J. Cunningham has the ability to be a serviceable NFL WR for years to come.

Minnesota Vikings: A-
The best thing the Vikings did was convincing Cleveland they needed to trade up one pick for Trent Richardson.  After that, they got the player they would’ve taken at #3 anyway in OT Matt Kalil. Their secondary was rather porous last year, so they picked up two players that should help them right away. Don’t be surprised to see safety Harrison Smith starting for them in September and Josh Robinson’s sub 4.4 speed will make him a factor at CB.  Jarius Wright and Greg Childs both caught passes at Arkansas amidst many other receiving options, so their upside to be better is definitely there.

New England Patriots: A
Finally after years of screwing up the draft, the Patriots went after things the right way. They traded up and took players they not only wanted, but needed. Chandler Jones has the potential to make Jets’ fans feel like crap for years to come.  Not only did the Jets pass on Jones, but he went to their main rival. Jones has the physical ability to be a pass rushing force for a long time.  Then they secured the second best ILB in the draft by trading up to get Don’t’a Hightower.  The Patriots will take criticism for reaching on Tavon Wilson at pick #46, but you have to figure they did a lot of defensive scouting before this draft to realize he was the man.

New Orleans Saints: C
Bountygate robbed the Saints of their second round pick and they lost their first rounder is last year’s trade for Mark Ingram, which hasn’t exactly worked out so far.  The pick of Akiem Hicks (not to be confused with Hakeem Nicks) has some question marks coming out of a smaller school, but he originally was supposed to go to LSU. Nick Toon, former NFL great Al Toon’s son, has the potential to surprise some people given that he didn’t play in a college offense that allowed him to put up strong numbers. Drafting Corey White in the fifth round was a major reach despite the team’s need for a safety.{pagebreak}

New York Giants: B
Welcome to another typical Giants’ draft.  The selection of RB David Wilson was surprising to many, including myself.  It’s possible the Giants wanted Doug Martin from Boise State who went one pick before.  Rueben Randle was a steal at the end of the second round and should end up being a fine replacement for Mario Manningham.  They’ll hope Jayron Hosley continues the effective legacy of Virginia Tech corners. The Giants have done a great job developing tight ends (see: Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard), so they’ll hope to do the same with Adrien Robinson, who runs a sub 4.6 40. Brandon Mosley hasn’t been playing line for that long, so they hope to develop him into a capable OT.

New York Jets: C+
It seems that the Jets disappoint their fans every year and this year was no different. The three most glaring holes for this team were the offensive line, the pass rush, and the safety position. They didn’t address any of those aspects in the draft.  The selection of Coples might seem to help the pass rush, but it won’t help it that much if he’s playing end in the 3-4. They needed a speed rushing OLB.  The offensive line wasn’t addressed other than a sixth round pick and they took two very marginal safeties. Stephen Hill has potential to be a good NFL receiver, but he’ll need to develop after playing in an option offense. Demario Davis could start in the future, but it will likely be at ILB and not OLB. Not improving the offensive line after their play, which helped produce a pathetic running game, is completely baffling.

Oakland Raiders: C-
Things in Oakland didn’t get started until round three because it lost its first rounder in the Carson Palmer trade and its second round pick in a last year’s draft deal with New England.  In typical Raiders fashion, they reached on two of their first four picks.  OG Tony Bergstrom seems very average at best. Miles Burris put up some of the stronger metrics for all LBs at the combine, so it’s no surprise the Raiders went with him in round four.

Philadelphia Eagles: A
Like the Patriots, the Eagles realized they needed to focus on their defense. They traded up to steal Fletcher Cox, who should center their defensive line for many years. Mychal Kendricks is a little short, but has the ability to play all three downs at MLB. Vinny Curry’s drop to the end of the second round was surprising, so the Eagles made out to nab someone with his pass rush skills. I also liked their late round picks with longer term potential. Nick Foles has questionable decision making, but Andy Reid usually does well in schooling QBs. Brandon Boykin has some injury history, but can be a future playmaker in their secondary. Marvin McNutt was very productive in his senior year at Iowa, so the WR could help out Philadelphia’s often injured receiving core. RB Bryce Brown once was a highly touted prospect, but has a bit of a troubled pass. If he can get that sorted out in Philadelphia, he could be a nice player.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
Fans have been clamoring for the Steelers to draft offensive line help for the last couple years. They finally stepped up to the plate by selecting two future starters in OG David DeCastro and OT Mike Adams. DeCastro was clearly the best guard in the draft and Adams, who was projected to be a late first round pick, fell to the Steelers at #56. The next two picks of OLB Sean Spence and DT Alameda Ta’amu aren’t glamor picks, but should provide depth for the front seven.  Chris Rainey could be a nice game-breaker out of the backfield with his 4.45 speed.

San Diego Chargers: B-
The Chargers weren’t expecting Melvin Ingram to drop to them at #18, so they were happy to grab him to be their newest pass-rusher. The knock on Ingram is that his arm length is shorter than 32 inches, but he was vastly productive in his final two years at South Carolina. Will the Jets regret passing on Ingram? Kendall Reyes was the best DT on the board when San Diego made their second round pick and the same applies to S Brandon Taylor in the third round. The most surprising thing about the Chargers draft was that they didn’t draft offensive linemen until the fifth and seventh rounds. Their line was brutalized by injuries last year and the retirement of Kris Dielman seemed to mandate improvement.

San Francisco 49ers: C+
The offseason on the Bay was rather busy as the 49ers locked in their defensive free agents and went after Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. With a strong defense and offensive line, it seems like the only areas of improvement were the offensive skill positions. The selection of A.J. Jenkins at the of the first round was a little surprising with all the other receivers on the board. Jenkins is a speedy player, but the 49ers seem to be missing a bigger, possession receiver. The drafting of LaMichael James creates a log-jam in the backfield as he’ll compete against Kendall Hunter for the role of speedy, undersized back-up. Joe Looney could start in future years and should prove good third round value.

Seattle Seahawks: D
The Seahawks draft was truly puzzling. Seattle needed to improve their LBs, but they gambled on their first two selections. No one expected Bobby Irvin to be a first round pick. It’s possible Seattle wasn’t enamored with Shea McClellin to be their OLB, but that doesn’t mean they needed to reach with Irvin. OLB Bobby Wagner was another reach in the second round. Had the Seahawks done things right, they could’ve taken drafted one of the available DEs in the first round and taken Irvin and Wagner in the following rounds. I’m a big Russell Wilson fan, but the guy isn’t six feet tall and his NFL future isn’t exactly bright.

St. Louis Rams: A-
It’s hard to argue with how the Rams played this draft.  They traded down twice to accumulate picks because they had so many holes to fill.  Grabbing Michael Brockers to anchor their defensive line was a great call given their defensive woes last year.  They also picked up two quality CBs with Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. If Jenkins can get past his off field problems, he can be an elite CB in this league. The selections of Brian Quick and Chris Givens should improve a weak receiving core. Quick was the small school stud that teams were drooling over before the draft. Isaiah Pead has a lot of LeShon McCoy in him and should help spell Steven Jackson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A
I’m declaring the Buccaneers the winner of this draft in a very tight race. They completely lucked out when Dallas traded up and didn’t draft mark Barron.  He’ll administrate their defense for the next 10 years. LaGarette Blount proved to not be a sure thing last year, so the Rams did well to pick up Doug Martin by trading up to the back of the first round. Martin will be a three down back in a similar mold to what Ray Rice was for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Lavonte David fall to the end of the second round gave the Buccaneers a steal. He’s very highly regarded amongst college football writers. After those three picks, everything else was gravy.

Tennessee Titans: D
Tennessee’s draft was quite puzzling. Kendall Wright was dropping in most people’s opinions after his reports surfaced that he had 16% body fat. No WR should ever reach that #.  WR also wasn’t a position of need for the Titans, who really should’ve focused on adding high-end players in the secondary and on the offensive line. Zach Brown was a reach in the second round and while Mike Martin should provide a nice boost on the defensive line, the first three picks didn’t address any true needs.

Washington Redskins: C
Just when you thought the Redskins wouldn’t find a way to screw up their draft, they managed to do so. Trading up for Robert Griffin III was a good move, but they gave up way too much for him. We’ve known about that for weeks though, so that’s not where things get amusing. Drafting Kirk Cousins, someone you’re grooming to be your backup QB, in the fourth round is a luxury move you can’t afford when your team has so many needs. Besides, wouldn’t you want a veteran QB around to help tutor RG3? The Redskins also didn’t seem to need an OG as much as an OT, but they drafted two of them. The third round pick of Josh LeRibeus would seem to be a bit of a reach.