Grading The NFL Draft

1 – Carolina Panthers – Cameron Newton – QB – Auburn

The Carolina Panther Selected Cam Newton First Overall Last Thursday, As They Felt The Huge Risk Will Pay Off With Huge Rewards. Our Experts Do Not Agree.

After all the speculation the Panthers finally pulled the trigger on Cam Newton. Being a big Cam Newton fan, I think that if he truly has his head in the right state of mind, he’s going to be a big time asset for this Carolina team. They are going to let him ease presumably in, by running the football with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart a lot, and allow him to complete high percentage passes. The problem is that Cam Newton was far from the most talented player available on the board, and that’s why my grade doesn’t reflect a true number one overall quarterback talent grade.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B+

2 – Denver Broncos – Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M 

This is the pick that baffled me early on. The Broncos are making the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3, and desperately wanted some new personnel. They select the best pure pass rusher in the Draft, who has played out of a 3-4 defense at Texas A&M and want to slide him in to a system he is unfamiliar with. I love the player in Von Miller, but this pick made little sense to me, as Von doesn’t play that well in space and his coverage skills are not yet that polished to be play OLB in the 4-3.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  C+

3 – Buffalo Bills – Marcel Dareus – DL – Alabama

Buffalo Played It Safe In The First Round By Adding The Solid Defensive Tackle.

The first no-brainer pick of the day went to the Buffalo Bills. They must have been dancing up in town in their war room when the athletic freak out of Alabama fell right into their laps. Dareus is going to excel in the 3-4 defense, and he’s going to be very versatile for the Bills against the run and the pass early on. He’s great value sliding down to pick three, and while the Bills must have thought Von Miller all the way, they can’t complain with how this ended up happening.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

4 – Cincinnati Bengals – AJ Green – WR – Georgia

The new regime in Cincinnati is beginning. This picked marked that completely. A.J Green is perhaps one of the best wide-outs to declare in the past ten years, and with an aging group with some youth sprinkled in, the Bengals added one hell of a piece. This pick won’t necessarily change the franchise over night, but it is going to put a pillar in place big time. I love this pick. 

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

5 – Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU

The Cardinals must have been salivating at the chance to get Patrick Peterson at five. My highest ranked player was a great value pick, and while it doesn’t fit a dire need, it was a case of the best player available scenario. Patrick Peterson is going to play alongside Cromartie and will shut people down, but he’ll also be humungous in the return game for the Cardinals early on.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A+

6 – Atlanta Falcons – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama

Some Say Jones Is A Physical Specimen. I For One Don't See It.

There was talk swirling around the draft landscape the Falcons would make a move like this. But damn, this was easily the first mistake in the draft. The Falcons gave up a landslide of picks and took a wide-out, that definitely adds another piece for Matt Ryan, but wasn’t a huge area of concern. Julio is going to fair well in the NFL with Matt Ryan chucking the rock to him, but the value the Falcons gave up clearly outweighed the gain of Julio. I completely despised this move for the Falcons.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  D-
7 – San Francisco 49ers – Aldon Smith – OLB – Missouri

Another mistake in my eyes by the 49ers on a smaller scale. They had a clear need of a pass rusher, and they got their guy. I just don’t feel this was the best choice, with a Robert Quinn left on the board. Aldon is very raw, and he will take two-three years to reach start creating production in my eyes. He would have benefited staying one more season at Missouri, but San Francisco thinks they’ll develop him now.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

8 – Tennessee Titans – Jake Locker – QB – Washington

The Titans have been huge supporters of Jake Locker since last season when he was expected to leave Washington. They made the first real splash of the night by acquiring Locker and feel they have their franchise guy, hopefully washing the days of Vince Young away. I felt this was a monster reach, and while this guy has leadership and all the personal characteristics you would want, you really can’t fix accuracy at the NFL level.   With Gabbert on the board, this pick even makes less sense that the Titans would reach on Locker.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  C+

9 – Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith – OT – USC

It had been said that Dallas had Smith and Watt on their radar, and they ended up getting the one on the offensive side of the ball. Tyron Smith has left tackle ability, and he’s going to be a superstar in the NFL.  He is very fluent in his pass blocking, and he will get stronger and more physical at the next level. The Cowboys love to play offensive linemen at a few positions along the line, and he has the scheme diversity to do so.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

10 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert – QB – Missouri

No One For Seen The Jags Trading Up To Grab Gabbert.

After years of despair with Leftwich and Garrard under center, the Jaguars finally feel they got their piece. Gabbert has always raised a lot of question marks in my eyes, about his regressing stats as a senior, and his lack of productivity throughout his career throwing the ball around 500 times in one season. However, I give credit to the Jaguars going out and getting their guy for the future. You have to applaud Gene Smith on this one.

 KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

11 – Houston Texans – JJ Watt – DE – Wisconsin 

The Texans are making the shift from the 4-3 defense, to the 3-4 defense and the end position was clearly one in need. J.J Watt is not going to be a flashy player, but he brings a boatload of character and one hell of a motor to the table. He’s going to be a force in the running game, and he’s going to free up the edge pressure for the Texans. I thought that Watt may slide a tad bit further, but his stock was so high it didn’t surprise me.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

12 – Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder – QB – Florida State

Wow, the Vikings made the move for Christian Ponder. I believe I was one of the few people who actually even considered this move possible. While Vikings nation is completely stunned and unhappy, I’ll tell you some things that will cheer you up. I believe he is the most pro ready of the QB bunch, doesn’t mean he has the highest ceiling, but still is ready. He’s a nice fit in a west coast offense that the Vikings notoriously run, but I still think the Vikings will bring a vet in. This pick for Ponder was made too early in my eyes.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B-
13 – Detroit Lions – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn 

Fairley Fell Into A Scary Situation With Suh.

The consensus number one overall selection from about a month ago, slid all the way to the Detroit Lions. I absolutely love what the Lions did here, and the attitude and ruthless defensive aura they are creating with this pick. Fairley has been a head-case, but he’s jumping into a spot besides Ndamukong Suh. These guys are going to be an interior offensive line’s nightmare for many years to come. The Detroit Lions are making some serious moves, and are quietly almost reaching playoff caliber level with moves like this. Excellent value for Fairley here.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A+

14 – St Louis Rams – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina

One of the absolute best value picks in the first round. Robert Quinn is being left in his true position at 4-3 end, and the Rams are pairing him with Chris Long on the opposite side. I love this pick as I’ve had Robert Quinn as my number one defensive end for months, even ahead of Bowers before the medical issues. This is a scary pass rush coming from both sides now for the Rams, and it appears to be that way for many years to come.  While Quinn develops more pass rushing moves to add to his arsenal, he’s going to be come even a better player for the Rams.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A+
15 – Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey – OG – Florida 

Mike Pouncey Was Drafted One Year Later Than His Brother Maurkice (Steelers) To The Miami Dolphins.

This is a good move for the Dolphins, but it isn’t an exceptional one. They needed offensive line help that’s for sure, and at fifteen they kind of missed out on the premier talent that went ahead of them and were seemingly forced into this selection. Pouncey is going to be a solid offensive guard for this team for a nice amount of years, but this isn’t going to be immediate impact. The Dolphins did definitely make the right move for going with Pouncey instead of reaching on a quarterback on the back end of this pick in my opinion.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

16 – Washington Redskins – Ryan Kerrigan – OLB – Purdue 

The Washington Redskins made moves all day that shocked me, personally.  Not only did they pass on their potential signal caller of the future at ten, with Blaine Gabbert, but they slid down and drafted Kerrigan. Kerrigan has had serious trouble playing in space at the 3-4 OLB position, and while he does have wicked ability to get after the quarterback, he is not a great fit for their scheme entirely. Orakpo and Kerrigan should be causing havoc for offenses, but this wasn’t the best move for the ‘Skins at this high of a selection.

17 – New England Patriots – Nate Solder – OT – Colorado

All day we heard about how the Patriots were going to be making huge moves, and strides for their organization. Truth is, I am not a fan of this selection one bit.  The Patriots get a big, tall, raw offensive tackle in Solder, who has had many public issues about trying to keep weight on, and having no success. He’s a very raw talent as I said earlier, and as good as the Patriots are at developing talent, this offensive tackle was not the best one on the board, and he should have not been the selection here.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  C

18 – San Diego Chargers – Cory Liuget – DE – Illinois 

I have loved Liuget’s game since the beginning when I saw Illinois play, as he is a pure disrupter inside and is so stout against the run. The Chargers are going to slide him over to 3-4 end, and while he’ll be good there, he would have made more sense at UT for a 4-3 team. The Chargers do need help against the run, and they got it here, with some pretty solid value to say the least. Liuget is going to struggle early on learning the new position but he’ll be a good one for San Diego.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B+

19 – New York Giants – Prince Amakumara – CB – Nebraska

The Stalwart Corner Fell Far In The Draft And Became A Steal For The Giants At 19th Overall.

The slide for Prince finally ended at the Giants.  As the buzz has been going on, and on, about how great of pick it was, I see really two sides on that. The Giants got one damn good corner, who can play the pass and the run well, but I believe they got caught up in the big player hype. They have already three talented corners on the roster in New York, and this wasn’t as glaring as need as people think. Prince and Webster should be a darn good duo on the perimeter now, but the lack of need makes this pick less special.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

20 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers -Adrian Clayborn – DE – Iowa

Adrian Clayborn has really seemingly falling off the face of the Earth, and his stock took some hit through this process. He has many ways he can get after the quarterback, and that is exactly what Tampa Bay wanted. He’s going to have to show he can keep his motor running through the entire game, but saying that, I really liked this pick a lot for the Bucs. They had no pressure applied and let gun slingers just rip their secondary apart last season. Clayborn should add immediate help to this team on that aspect.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B+

21 – Cleveland Browns – Phil Taylor – DT – Baylor

This pick was a shock for the positional value, as the Browns are not running a 4-3 defense, but the value is there. Phil Taylor appears to be your classic NT type of player, and while this isn’t the best fit he is going to be nice in the Browns system. In a division such as the AFC North, the Browns are tired of being bullied around, and this pick shows that. Phil Taylor will help in the running game as soon as he takes the field for the Browns.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

22 – Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Costanzo – OT – Boston College

Bill Polian appears to be finally getting back on track with his first round selections. This pick has excellent value for the Colts, as they get one of the most ready and pure left tackles in this Draft. While Castonzo has struggled big time with speed rushers, the Colts must feel good getting a guy with his caliber this late. The Colts get big time lucky on this selection.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

23 – Philadelphia Eagles – Danny Watkins – OG – Baylor

The Canadian Became The Feel Good Story Of This Years Draft.

This was a pretty darn solid Andy Reid pick to say the least. Michael Vick had trouble a lot last season, and at times had to run completely for his life, not by choice. With two free agents at offensive guard on the team, plug in Danny Watkins now. He’s a brawler and will add excellent interior help for the Eagles who desperately needed it. The big drawback on Watkins is his age, at 27, he doesn’t have nearly the same amount of life at the guard position as you may want.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

24 – New Orleans Saints – Cam Jordan – DE – California

The New Orleans Saints did exceptionally well on this selection. Cameron Jordan is one of the most scheme diverse ends in this draft, and he’s going to add major help to Will Smith on the other side. He will be an unsung hero type of player, and while his sack numbers won’t be “wow” numbers, he’ll be very solid against the run and productive. He was valued as a 9-17 type of pick, and picking him up at this range in the draft has to be classified as a steal for the Saints.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

25 – Seattle Seahawks – James Carpenter – OT – Alabama

Absolutely disgusting… One of the worst picks in this entire draft based on value. I can’t honestly say I am surprised with Pete Carrol running the show in Seattle. Carptenter was a late second round type of value pick, and with Carimi on the board, and even Sherrod this pick made little sense. They clearly have ambitions to take and slide in Carpenter at offensive guard, but the value and remaining players on the board give this pick one heck of a low grade. The lowest in the first round, actually, on my sheet.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  D-

26 – Kansas City Cheifs – Jon Baldwin – WR – Pittsburgh

Baldwin has been widely regarded as a diva, and a princess, but a guy who can go and play some good football. He’s just that. Pioli and his crew get a guy who can stretch the field, and add another target on this team for Matt Cassell. I don’t think that this kind of wide-out fits the bill entirely well with Bowe on the roster, and a guy like Titus Young in the second would have made more sense, regardless, they got another playmaker on an offense that needs it.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B

27 – Baltimore Ravens – Jimmy Smith – CB – Colorado

Arguably the best pure cover corner in the draft besides LSU’s Patrick Peterson, is the stud from Colorado Jimmy Smith. As much as I am scared by his off field incidents, this guy is a pure talent, and will have good mentors in Raven land. His lack of ability to play the run and tackle well is a concern in the AFC North, but regardless, he’s going to be a nice corner teamed up with Webb for Baltimore.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B+

28 – New Orleans Saints – Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama

With A Suit Like That How Do The Saints Not Draft The Former Heisman Trophy Winner.

This is the one pick that everyone has been chatting about, and has been high on, and I think people miss the big picture. Mark Ingram and the name appeal is great, and this will be a good pick, but the Saints gave big time value. A first next season, and a second round selection this year, to move up? I think that players like LeShoure and Ryan Williams provided just as good value in the second round and this move really shocked me. Ingram will be a darn good back for the Saints, but not as good as people will tell you it appears.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  C

29 – Chicago Bears – Gabe Carimi – OT -Wisconsin

This one heck of a pick for the Chicago Bears. Carimi is going to be a mammoth on the line for the Chicago Bears, and he adds great help to a team that really needs offensive line help. Cutler, as much as he was under the microscope, lacked really good amounts of time to chuck the rock. This pick should fix that, and adds some really toughness and attitude to the line for the Bears.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

30 – New York Jets- Muhammad Wilkerson – DE – Temple 

The classic case of small school riser was Wilkerson out of Temple this off-season. He had been very productive and stout for the Temple Owls, and the Jets will look to plug him in at 3-4 end. This move was made by Rex Ryan as a clear indication they want to pass rush much more efficiently this season. This pick makes a lot of sense for the Jets, and the value at which they got Muhammad was great.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

31 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Cam Heyward – DE – Ohio State 

Lineage Pays Off Again As The Son Of Former NFL Star Graig "Iron Head" Heyward Is Picked 31st Overall.

The defensive rich Steelers… Well, they get even richer. Heyward is a nasty defensive player who is going to be very key for the Steelers after Aaron Smith decides to depart. He has been questioned for his production only being one year at Ohio State, but this pick made total sense for the Steelers. We also know how LeBeau can develop stud players, and I don’t see this being different.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  A

32 – Green Bay Packers – Derek Sherrod – OT – Mississippi State 

The third best tackle in the draft fell right into the laps of the Super Bowl champs, Green Bay Packers. Sherrod is finesse type of tackle, who is going to have great chances to learn in the Green Bay system. While the Packers must have hoped for a 3-4 end to fall, they got a really nice player in their system, and a guy who is going to be ready to start when they eventually call on him in the system.

KRISTIAN’S GRADE  –  B+

Written by Kritian Dignazio for Athete’s Angle.
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