Here are the grades for the first round of the NFL Draft. The Raiders didn’t have a pick because, well, they are dumb.
Panthers: Cam Newton. Whether this turns out to be a good pick or not remains to be seen. But it was the right pick for the Panthers, who needed to make a splash this offseason. New head coach and now a new franchise QB. Newton has a huge ceiling, but there is also a huge chance he turns into JaMarcus Russell.
Grade – A. For now. Taking a risk on a QB at #1 means there is no margin for error with the rest of their picks.
Broncos: Von Miller. Don’t the Broncos already have a player like Miller in Elvis Dumerville? How could they not take Dareus, who would have immediately patched the holes in the middle of their front seven? Was the Bills front office involved in this process by osmosis? I want answers.
Grade – B-. Hard to bash them for taking the best LB prospect in years, but he isn’t a great fit for the Broncos system.
Bills: Marcel Dareus. The Bills got the player that they needed the most. They should send a basket of mini muffins to the Broncos for bricking and allowing them to draft Dareus. He will make an immediate impact, and allows them to build a defense around him the same way the Patriots’ was built around Vince Wilfork.
Grade – A++. Maybe the bad juju surrounding the Bills on draft day got lost and wandered over into the Broncos war room.
Bengals: AJ Green. This is a great pick on paper. The Bengals needed a number one WR and they got one of the best prospects at the position since Calvin Johnson. My only question is what good is a franchise WR if you don’t have a QB? Green is an exceptional athlete but the man can’t throw the ball to himself can he?
Grade – B.
Cardinals: Patrick Peterson. Much like Von Miller, it’s hard to argue with picking the best CB to come out of the draft in years. Unlike Miller going to the Broncos, I actually like this pick. Peterson can impact the game in so many ways. Whether on defense locking down WRs or in the return game, he will be a playmaker. The Cards have a lot of holes to fill, most notably at QB, but I think going with Peterson and solving the QB situation later was the right move.
Grade – A.
Falcons (From Browns): Julio Jones. HUH? The Falcons, who got beat down by the Packers in the playoffs last year because of their defense, traded up to take a WR. Don’t get me wrong I think Jones is a great player and will be a top NFL WR, but if the Falcons were going to trade up, shouldn’t it have been to take someone like Aldon Smith, Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, or JJ Watt. If you’re the Falcon you now have one of the scariest offenses in the league, but couldn’t we have said the same thing last year? Was a WR the piece that was missing and the reason they got bitch slapped by the Packers? Plus they gave up a ton to take Jones here, and they could have used those picks to improve their defense.
Grade – D.
49ers: Aldon Smith. I love Smith to the 49ers. I had thought they might take Robert Quinn here but Smith gives them a great athlete at DE and will immediately improve their defense against the pass with his ability to get after the QB.
Grade – A.
Titans: Jake Locker. The Titans needed a QB but taking Locker over Gabbert, who is more talented, or Ponder, who is more NFL ready, makes no sense to me. Like the Panthers, they now have no room for mistakes with the rest of their picks. A top ten pick should be ready to get on the field right away and Locker isn’t.
Grade – C-. Wonder what Chris Johnson thinks about this pick.
Cowboys: Tyron Smith. Not much to say here. Fills the Cowboys biggest need and they get the best player at the position. And there was much rejoicing throughout Dallas…Yaaaa.
Grade - A.
Jaguars (From Redskins): Blaine Gabbert. Jacksonville is probably one of the best places a rookie QB like Gabbert could have landed. He won’t be expected to save the team from day one like Newton in Carolina, and he will have time to learn the NFL game. I have to question the immediate impact of trading up to take a back up QB, but I think this ends up being a great move.
Grade – B+.
Texans: JJ Watt. With Wade Phillips and his 3-4 coming to town, you knew the Texans were going to bring in a quality DE with this pick. Watt is a beast and while not as athletic as Robert Quinn, he has a terrific motor and fits their new scheme perfectly.
Grade – A-. Have to wonder what scared them off about Robert Quinn, who most people had higher than Watt.
Vikings: Christian Ponder. I was a bit confused by this pick at first but the more I’ve thought about it the more I see the Vikings logic. Ponder, who has been compared to Chad Pennington (Is that a compliment?) is a smart NFL ready QB. He should be able to play well enough for them to compete next year. They couldn’t waste a year of Adrian Peterson by trying out different QBs. They needed a solution for when camp starts, if it starts, and I think that Ponder will be a decent short term answer.
Grade – B+
Lions: Nick Fairley. The best pick in the first round so far. The Lions have been steadily improving over the last few years and now feature a solid defense, led by last year’s first pick Ndamukong Suh. Adding Fairley to that front line is a great move for Detroit. They now have two special players, playing right next to each other, who will give opposing teams fits trying to scheme for them. I had the Lions taking an OT because I never expected someone like Fairley to fall this far. They should thank Atlanta for jumping up to take Jones. The Lions are like Albert Haynesworth with boobs when it comes to WRs. When they see a decent one, they have to grab it.
Grade – A++
Rams: Robert Quinn. I didn’t expect Quinn to fall this far but he is a great addition to the Rams defense. They now have two great young DE to pressure QBs. It is the same way that Spagnola built a championship defense with the Giants. Quinn is a gifted athlete who can also play LB, and I’m sure the Rams are thrilled he dropped to them here.
Grade – A-
Dolphins: Mike Pouncey. I’m a little surprised the Dolphins didn’t go after a QB or a RB here. Nonetheless Pouncey will be a great addition to their OL. He has the size and athletic ability to thrive in their system and was the best prospect at center in the draft. You can never have enough quality offensive lineman in the NFL so I agree with the pick. Just would have thought there were bigger holes to fill.
Grade – B.
Redskins (From Jags): Ryan Kerrigan. The Redskins had a chance to draft Blaine Gabbert, Robert Quinn, Nick Fairley, and JJ Watt. Instead they traded down and took a solid DE. Kerrigan has a great motor but I think he got hyped up last year and is over rated. It’s not that he isn’t a good football player; he just isn’t a special player. The Skins needed a special player so I’m confused as to why they traded down to take a DE when there were special talents at that position to be had at number ten.
Grade – C-
Patriots: Nate Solder. Great pick for the future. Probably the best place for a guy like Solder, who has unlimited potential but is a little raw when it comes to technique. The Pats have the veteran leadership on the OL to get the most out of Solder. The Patriots are ready to win right now so I would have liked them to address their pass rush, which is a more pressing need. Hopefully they grab Brooks Reid with their first of three picks in the second round.
Grade – B-.
Chargers: Corey Liuget. Great pick for a Chargers defense that was ranked number one last year. Liuget is big enough to play DT or NT, and athletic enough to play on the edge as well. Fills a need, but unless he has been brainwashed to kill Norv Turner, like Zoolander was with the Malaysian Prime Minister, I don’t expect the Chargers to get over the hump.
Grade - A
Giants: Prince Amukamara. There were too many players on the board here for the Giants to take a CB here. They have decent players at CB, and there were options later on if they really felt it was a need. I think they would have been better off bolstering their OL or grabbing a RB here. Amukamara has loads of talent but needs work to correct some technique issues.
Grade – C+
Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn. This is a good pick for the Bucs, who needed to improve their pass rush. I think they missed out on some more talented guys, such as Jordan and Wilkerson, but Clayborn has shown flashes of brilliance. If he returns to his 2009 form this would be a steal.
Grade – B+
Browns (From Chiefs): Phil Taylor. Taylor is a good pick because he fills a hole in the heart of the Browns defense. But why they would trade out of the sixth pick, where they could have grabbed Julio Jones, makes no sense to me. The only positive is it will allow Mike Holmgren to play with all sorts of picks this year, and he is great at building a team.
Grade – B.
Colts: Anthony Castonzo. The Colts needed to find a RT and Castonzo has played there in the past. Gives the Colts a great player on their OL, and helps ensure that Peyton Manning stays on his feet. I think they might have been eyeing DT Phil Taylor, which explains why the Browns traded up to take him.
Grade - B+
Eagles: Danny Watkins. The Eagles are built to win right now and so grabbing an OT who is ready to play makes a lot of sense. They need to find some help at safety but there wasn’t a first round talent in this year’s class. Watkins will help protect the QB and will be an asset to the run game. He is mature enough at 26 to handle the transition from college to the pros better than most rookies.
Grade – B+.
Saints: Cameron Jordan. Jordan is going to be a monster for the Saints. He needs to improve on his fundamentals but he has the raw athletic ability to wreak havoc on opposing QBs. I think he could have gone a lot higher, especially to a Patriots team that needed to improve its pass rush, so the Saints will be thrilled to have him.
Grade – A.
Seahawks: James Carpenter. Not a very exciting pick, but he fills a need for a Seahawks team that back doored its way into the playoffs last year. I expected Seattle to take Andy Dalton here with the way that the first round shook out but maybe they are planning on grabbing a QB later on. Either way they needed to improve their OL and Carpenter will help.
Grade – B-.
Chiefs (From Browns): Jonathan Baldwin. I love that the Chiefs went after a WR here. They needed to add another WR weapon besides Dwayne Bowe after their second leading receiver had 25 catches last year. My only question is why Baldwin? I think he is a good player and at 6’5” a huge target for Matt Cassell, but I had Leonard Hankerson as a better pick. I also think they could have gone with defense here and waited for Baldwin, who would have been available in the second round.
Grade – B-
Ravens: Jimmy Smith. Baltimore is a perfect fit for Smith because of the veteran leadership. The Ravens players will keep him inline and help correct the character issues that plagued him at Colorado. Their defense needed an upgrade at CB, and Smith has top tier talent. If he can stay on the field I think this is a fantastic pick for Baltimore.
Grade – A.
Saints (From Pats): Mark Ingram. The Saints said hello to Mark Ingram and basically said goodbye to Reggie Bush. They can’t official say it yet but Bush tweeted an adios to New Orleans. If the Saints can develop a solid running game with Ingram they would be scary on offense. This was the Patriots pick originally and since they would be just as scary with a quality RB, it makes no sense why they traded out here.
Grade – A+
Bears: Gabe Carimi. The Bears needed help on their OL and Carimi is a great addition. He was a beast for Wisconsin and should be able to start right away. He is a tough minded player and will help protect the delicate, reality star dating QB over there in the Windy City.
Grade – A-
Jets: Muhammed Wilkerson. Wilkerson can play DT and DE and is a good pick for a Jets team that needed help for its front seven. He is a big dynamic athlete and I think the Jets are thrilled he dropped here.
Grade – A.
Steelers: Cameron Heyward. Heyward has the size and talent to be a solid DE in the NFL, but he has been labeled as soft and that won’t fly in the Steel City. That aside, how could the Steelers not go after CBs Aaron Williams or Brandon Harris? They have major issues in their secondary and both could have started next year.
Grade – C+
Packers: Derrick Sherrod. Super Bowl champs get a solid piece to add to their offensive line. It is a smart pick for a team with very few holes. They have the luxury of adding good players that won’t need to play right away and Sherrod is definitely a first round talent.
Grade – A.
Check back this weekend for complete grades for every team.