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2012 NFL Draft Grades


Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (21) was the first pick of a bountiful draft for the Bengals.
Tami Chappell/Reuters

The 2012 NFL Draft is in the books after one long and eventful weekend. There's nothing left to do now but sit back and break down what each team did -- and did not do -- with their time on the clock.

The very unscientific formula behind these draft grades puts more weight on picks the higher they were made, as should be the case. So, a team could not save or ruin its draft with its late-round selections, but one guy in the first round or two could be a game-changer.

And with that, this year's grades:

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald badly needed some help at wide receiver, and the Cardinals hope that Michael Floyd will provide it. Not having a second-round pick hurt the final product, but CB Jamell Fleming (No. 80 overall) is a decent fit and Bobby Massie was a steal at 112. Adding offensive linemen Senio Kelemte and Nate Potter late ought to help a shaky unit. Grade: B

Atlanta Falcons: Without a first-round pick because of the move up for Julio Jones last year, the Falcons struck gold when Peter Konz fell to them at 55. It was mostly downhill from there, a slide started by the reach for OT Lamar Holmes, a major project, at 94. Troy DE Jonathan Massaquoi (164) might bump this group up down the line. Grade: C

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens traded down and still landed DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw (35), who may develop into the next feared defender in Baltimore. Guard Kelechi Osemele (60) and running back Bernard Pierce (84) filled needs well, making the Ravens' reaches in Round 5 (Gino Gradkowski and Christian Thompson) more tolerable. Grade: B

Buffalo Bills: For the first five rounds, the Bills turned in a relatively strong draft, with the lone head-scratcher being WR T.J. Graham (69). Staying put and nabbing CB Stephon Gilmore at No. 10 could pay off big time, as could jumping on G/T Cordy Glenn at 41. Grade: B-plus

Carolina Panthers: I'm a big fan of Carolina's draft work, beginning with Luke Kuechly at No. 9. Versatile offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (40) ought to carve out a nice role, too, and it's hard to argue with any of Carolina's other picks. Getting WR Joe Adams (103) and CB Josh Norman (143) in the mid-rounds can't be overlooked. Grade: A-minus

Chicago Bears: Can Shea McClellin develop into the pass-rusher Chicago needs? Will Alshon Jefferey stay in shape? Is Brandon Hardin healthy? The Bears took some risks early and nabbed a couple of borderline prospects late. Grade: C

Cincinnati Bengals: If you didn't buy the Bengals' rise last season, this should push you over the top. Cincinnati landed potential starters with each of its first nine picks, led by CB Dre Kirkpatrick (17) and G Kevin Zeitler (27), who should be in the lineup from Day One. Grade: A-plus

Cleveland Browns: I don't mind Cleveland going all-in to get Trent Richardson at No. 3. Heck, I don't even really mind reaching for QB Brandon Weeden at 22. I'm not sure what happened after that, though, as the Browns took OT Mitchell Schwartz when they needed a receiver, then tanked picks on DT John Hughes (87) and WR Travis Benjamin (100). Grade: C-plus

Dallas Cowboys: Dallas fans seem to be of the belief that the move for CB Morris Claiborne (6) made everything else icing on the cake. That may be true -- leaping up for Claiborne was a sensational move -- and it could have to be, since Dallas didn't land another immediate-impact guy. DE Tyrone Crawford (81) will have a chance to play as a pass-rusher. Grade: B

Denver Broncos: Help us, Peyton Manning, you're our only hope. This doesn't feel like a draft that will put Denver over the top. DT Derek Wolfe fills a need, but Jerel Worthy or Devon Still would have been safer picks, and the Brock Osweiler selection at 57 makes absolutely no sense. Grade: D

Detroit Lions: The Lions are unapologetic about their "best player available" strategy, even when it brings them Ryan Broyles, a receiver coming off a knee injury, at 54. It can't be oversold, though, how badly Detroit needed that Riley Reiff pick in the first round. CB Dwight Bentley (85) should help, and Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis (223) might be one of the steals of the draft. Grade: B

Green Bay Packers: The Packers had eight picks and used them all on defense. I love the picks of Worthy and CB Casey Heyward (62) in Round 2, though I'm not sold that Nick Perry (29) will fit Green Bay's scheme that well. But this is a franchise that deserves the benefit of the doubt. Grade: B-plus

Houston Texans: There was the good -- Whitney Mercilus gives Houston another excellent pass-rusher after Mario Williams' departure -- and the very good -- G Brandon Brooks (76) and DE/DT Jared Crick (126) could both be huge for the Texans. There was also a complete meltdown at wide receiver with red flag-heavy DeVier Posey (68) and inconsistent Keshawn Martin (121). Grade: C-plus

Indianapolis Colts: I would like to have seen an earlier WR pick, but getting the electric T.Y. Hilton (92) and a pair of tight ends (Coby Fleener at 34 and Dwayne Allen at 64) gives Andrew Luck some nice weapons -- and provides the Colts a nice offensive base. Don't sleep on RB Vick Ballard (170). Grade: A-minus

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Jacksonville Jaguars: Things seemed to be going so well -- the Jags moved up to get Blaine Gabbert a star wide receiver in Justin Blackmon (6) and Jacksonville pounced on DE Andre Branch (38) -- and then, BAM!, punter. OLB Brandon Marshall was a gigantic reach at 142. Grade: C-plus

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs actually did some great work late, nabbing RB Cyrus Gray (182) and sure-handed WR Junior Hemingway (238). If only their early work had been as sturdy. DT Dontari Poe (11) might be a great one, but anyone who watched him on tape saw a lethargic competitor. If at least one of two O-line picks, Jeff Allen (44) and Donald Stephenson (74), doesn't make it, this draft might turn out to be a disaster. Grade: C

Miami Dolphins: This all depends on how much you believe in Ryan Tannehill. I'm on the fence, and especially suspect of his value at No. 8. Jonathan Martin has work to do to start at right tackle, but he was a bargain at 42. The wild card here is TE Michael Egnew (78), who will have to play a key role, since Miami more or less neglected the receiver spot. Grade: B-minus

Minnesota Vikings: You can dock Minnesota if you think Claiborne should have been the pick at 4 over OT Matt Kalil. I think the Vikings did the right thing, and their subsequent pickups of S Harrison Smith (29), CB Josh Robinson (66) and WR Jarius Wright (118) just add to that belief. Grade: A

New England Patriots: This must be what it's like on the floor of the Stock Exchange. New England started with four picks (two first, two seconds), traded up twice in the first, then traded down enough to add four picks after Round 2. The results? A mixed bag, with DE Chandler Jones (21) and LB Dont'a Hightower (25) possible moments of brilliance, and S Tavon Wilson (48) potentially a total flub. Grade: B-minus

New Orleans Saints: It's hard to do much without a pick in Round 1 or 2 ... and the Saints didn't do much. The keys will be DT Akiem Hicks' (89) transition from Canadian college ball to the NFL and WR Nick Toon's (122) ability to stay healthy. No one after that is a sure-bet to make the roster. Grade: D-plus

New York Giants: Honestly, their worst pick might have been their first one: RB David Wilson (32) has playmaking ability, but he might struggle to make an impact in his rookie season. It was gem after gem from then out: WR Rueben Randle (63), CB Jayron Hosley (94) and OT Brandon Mosley (131) standing out. Grade: B-plus

New York Jets: DE Quinton Coples is a colossal roll of the dice at 16 overall, and the Jets decided to address their issues at offensive tackle by completely ignoring that position. WR Stephen Hill (43) will help that underwhelming unit, as might sleeper Jordan White (244). But there was more bad than good here. Grade: D-plus

Oakland Raiders: Like the Saints, Oakland didn't have a pick until the third round. The Raiders didn't do too poorly given that challenge, landing a needed offensive lineman in Tony Bergstrom (95) and finding underrated WR Juron Criner at 168. It was a safer draft than New Orleans had in similar circumstances, but there are no stars here. Grade: C

Philadelphia Eagles: I'm very unconvinced that QB Nick Foles will ever be an NFL starter, so using a third-rounder (88) on him stings. Aside from that, this was gold. Philadelphia robbed the league by trading up for DT Fletcher Cox at 12, then added solid pieces in LB Mychal Kendricks (46), DE Vinny Curry (59), CB Brandon Boykin (123), WR Marvin McNutt (194) and G/T Brandon Washington (200). Grade: A-minus

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not sure how the Steelers did it, but G David DeCastro (24), T Mike Adams (56) and NT Alameda Ta'amu (109) all fell into their lap, and all fit the Pittsburgh scheme (even if Adams brings some character concerns). The Sean Spence pick at 86 was the only question mark, because Spence doesn't appear to be a great fit for the Steelers' 3-4. Grade: A-minus

San Diego Chargers: I'm not sure how DE/OLB Melvin Ingram fell to 18, but the Chargers will reap the benefits for years. DT Kendall Reyes (49) and S Brandon Taylor (73) are perfect puzzle pieces at positions of need, too, so it's hard to knock San Diego even for the odd pick of G Johnny Troutman (149). Grade: A

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers made WR A.J. Jenkins a shocking pick at 30, then grabbed LaMichael James at 61 -- James has home-run potential, but the 49ers already have a crowded backfield with similar players. OL Joe Looney's an injury concern, and LB Darius Fleming has a long way to go to be a productive NFL player. Grade: D

Seattle Seahawks: Oh right, this is how Ingram made it to San Diego -- the Seahawks went bonkers and picked Bruce Irvin at 15. Could he develop into a solid pass-rusher? Sure, but this was a spit take-inducing selection. LB Bobby Wagner (47) and RB Robert Turbin (106), both from Utah State, will help, and QB Russell Wilson (74) has a bright future, even if Seattle didn't really need him. Everything else was ... very ... blah. Grade: C

St. Louis Rams: DT Michael Brockers (14), if he develops well, will fit in nicely with Jeff Fisher's defense. St. Louis also swung for the fences with CB Janoris Jenkins (39), RB Isaiah Pead (50) and DB Trumaine Johnson (65). A top-flight WR would have been nice, but Brian Quick (33) or Chris Givens (96) could get there. Grade: B-plus

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron (7) fills a huge need at safety, but you can understand those questioning why Tampa Bay didn't just stay put and take Claiborne. Running back Doug Martin (31) and LB Lavonte David (58) will help immediately, and CB Keith Tandy (174) was a bit of a steal at a position that the Bucs need help. Grade: A-minus

Tennessee Titans: This is a weird one for me, because I like just about everyone Tennessee took, especially WR Kendall Wright (20) and DT Mike Martin (82). The whole picture doesn't come together, however, and I think it's because the Titans needed offensive line and pass-rush help ... and got neither. Grade: C

Washington Redskins: 

Grade: B-minus