The 2011 NFL Draft has come and gone and many fans are still left wondering if their teams did any good. With owners locking players out and no CBA there was no free agent period prior to the Draft. It is almost impossible for the average fan to determine which players are coming back and who is a free agent. That being said, it was hard to grade any team too harshly. Some teams may have free agency plans that will cover their other needs. We just don’t know and only time can tell. All I can grade on is what these teams needed, what they got and the value of those picks.
Arizona – C+
I thought they should have grabbed Gabbert but the pick of Peterson wasn’t bad. He is the best player in the draft and gives the Cards two shutdown CBs. They took the tiny RB from VT in Round 2 when I thought they should have taken an O-Lineman. They did manager to get a TE and LB in the draft although I’m not sure if they’re gonna play much next year. Overall a good draft but not addressing OL or a QB in a QB heavy draft denies them the higher grade.
Atlanta – C-
I thought hard about giving them a D grade but I can’t as they will get some production out of the guys they got. WR Julio Jones is a good WR but he does drop easy balls way too often. Not to mention they had to give up 5 picks just for him. I didn’t agree with that move at all. He isn’t Randy Moss and even if he was I would still say 5 is too many to give up. RB Rodgers from Oregon State is a decent move but they moved up to get him too. He is a 3rd down back at best and his size is a real concern. They also had needs significant needs at TE and CB that they didn’t address.
Ravens score big. They need a CB and get Jimmy Smith. He isn’t Patrick Peterson but he is good and should start. WR Torrey Smith is also a great pick. Could end up being the best WR of this class. They also got WR Tandon Doss later on. He’ll be a nice Red Zone target for sure. They added a bit on OL and DL and also added QB Tyrod Taylor who I think will develop into a solid back up QB in the NFL.
Buffalo – B
The Bills had a good draft almost on accident when DT Marcel Dareus and CB Aaron Williams fall into their laps. Luckily they didn’t pass on either of them. They add more DB and LB depth later in the draft. They did miss out on a QB but I don’t think there was a good fit for them after the 2nd Round.
Carolina – B
The Panthers add a franchise QB in Cam Newton. He is a boom or bust pick for sure and now they have to figure out what to do with Jimmy Clausen who should still develop into a solid pro QB. They do manage to hit all areas of need on defense and OL. They also add some guys who can help on special teams.
Chicago – B
They were so lucky in this draft. They botched a move up in Round 1 of the Draft and still landed OL Gabe Carimi who will start at RT or LG. With the pick they almost dealt in Round 1 they deal it in Round 2 to get DT Stephen Paea. DB Conte will contribute on defense and special teams as will LB James Thomas. QB Enderle could develop nicely on the bench if the Bears are smart enough to hold on to him. They did need a tall, physical WR and didn’t come away with one.
Cincinnati – B+
The Bengals are rebuilding on the fly and are off to a very good start. Ocho and T.O. are out the door so they take stud WR A.J. Green. Carson Palmer demands a trade or he’ll retire. The Bengals answer was to take QB Andy Dalton. The added much needed depth on their lines with the selection of Moch and Boling. They also get a late round steal in FS Sands. This was one of the Bengals better drafts in a long time.
Cleveland – C+
The Browns had quite a few needs so it was hard for them to mess up. With the change in coaching staffs they needed to address a very thin defensive front and they did so by taking DT Phil Taylor and DE Jabaal Sheard. Not sure they will be upper echelon linemen, but they are an improvement. WR Greg Little was also a good pick. He’ll get plenty of playing time. They failed to address some other areas of need like LB and S. With 8 picks you should be able to cover your needs.
Dallas – C +
The Cowboys O-Line was aging and needed a jolt of youth. That is exactly what they got with the selection of Tyron Smith. He is a 1st Rounder in size and potential only. Fans had better be patient with him. LB Bruce Carter is probably their best pick. He should make an impact on defense and special teams immediately. I am not to sure about the DeMarco Murray pick. They are stocked at RB already. Perhaps a couple of the veteran have worn out their welcome. Stay tuned. They needed D-Line help and didn’t get it.
Denver – B+
It was tough to get this draft wrong since they had so many holes and a new defensive scheme. LB Von Miller is a spectacular pick. He should be great for many years to come. However, I thought the more immediate need was on the D-Line. S Rahim Moore brings youth and speed to an aging defensive backfield. Good pick. OL Orlando Franklin was a good selection and adds depth to their line. Nate Irving and Quinton Carter were very good mid-round picks and add athletes to what was a poor defense. They also got a much needed TE in the draft. Lack of a starting D-Lineman keeps this from being an A draft.
Detroit – B+
Wow, wow, wow! When they took DT Nick Fairley that was all I could say. I thought they might take a CB or an O-Lineman. Instead they take a dominant DT to go with their current dominant DT Suh. They are going to beat people up. WR Titus Young should be a nice second option and RB Mikel Leshoure and nice second option in the backfield. They failed to add needed DB or O-Line help and that is all that keeps them from an A grade.
Green Bay – B
The Pack win the Superbowl and then have a very good draft to follow. Almost doesn’t seem fair. OT Derrek Sherrod is going to add much needed depth to the O-Line and develop into a full-time starter on the right side. The WR corps is getting up there so they take WR Randall Cobb. He is very fast and has above average hands. He may displace one of the older veteran receivers. DB Davon House and TE D.J. William were excellent mid-round picks. Both should get plent of playing time. Huge steal could be the 7th Round pick of DT Lawrence Guy. Many projected him a 4th or 5th Round pick and he slipped. He could develop into a very solid reserve. They needed a RB and took Hawaii’s Alex Green. They had better hope their rookie playoff phenom is the future because Alex is nothing more than a 3rd Down back.
Houston – B
The Texans addressed their biggest need and that was their defensive front 7. With the change in philosophy they needed linemen and linebackers to fit the system and they got that with the selection of DE J.J. Watt and LB Brooks Reed. They will start right away. They’ve also had tons of issues in the defensive backfield and addressed that taking Harris, Carmichael and Keo with the next three picks. I also liked the addition of QB Yates to develop behind Matt Schaub. The only miss was not taking a big, bad nose tackle.
Indianpolis – B
This was the “we don’t want you to leave us via free agency Peyton Manning” draft. How do you do that? Well, you start by drafting stud O-Linemen, Costanzo and Ijalana, with the first two picks. Adding DT Drake Nevis in the 3rd was solid. They did fail to add WR depth but overall, not too bad.
Jacksonville – C+
QB David Garrard is getting old and their isn’t much behind him. Having Mizzou stud Blaine Gabbert fall into their laps was a blessing. Blaine will sit for a season or two behind David until he transitions into the pro game. Good pick. OL Will Rackley and WR Cecil Shorts are quality mid-round finds. They should both contribute next season. Jacksonville left a lot of areas unaddressed at the conclusion of this draft but they only had 5 picks.
Kansas City – B+
The Chiefs did very well this draft. They addressed just about every area of need. They reached just a little bit with WR Jon Baldwin in the 1st Round but he should be a decent player. OL Rodney Hudson was a very good pick. He can play guard or center. LB Justin Houston in the 3rd Round. Bonafide steal in this draft. Should contribute immediately. QB Ricky Stanzi was another good pick. 5th Rounder will develop nicely behind Matt Cassell. Finally, DT Jerrell Powe was a great find in the 6th Round and has a great shot at making the team.
Miami – C
QB was a glaring need for this team and they didn’t address it. Henne could develop into an OK QB but not the kind you build around. They did however get OL Mike Pouncey. He will be a starter from Day 1 and help the run game immensely. They waited until the next round to get a RB and took Daniel Thomas from K.State. He is a between the tackles pounder that will replace the departing Rickey Williams. Not much speed to get outside however. WR wasn’t a pressing need but they got Edmund Gates who could develop into a decent #2 receiver.
Minnesota – C
Why on earth do you select QB Christian Ponder with the #12 pick. He was anywhere between 25-40 on most boards. They could have easily moved down 5 to 10 spots, picked up a couple of extra picks and still taken him. TE Kyle Rudolph was a good pick in the next round but it wasn’t a pressing need. I thought their mid-round picks of DE Christian Ballard, DB Brandon Burton and OL DeMarcus Love were pretty good. They could contribute next season.
New England – C+
The Pats usually get an A or B+ rating from me but not this year. They solidified their O-Line by taking Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. CB Ras I Dowling was also a good pick and should contribute right away. Taking QB Ryan Mallett was a low risk-high reward kind of pick. He is certainly a guy that could develop into the heir apparent to Tom Brady. However this team needed youth and speed at WR and a stud DE and didn’t get them with all the picks they had.
New Orleans – B+
The Saints certainly got better after this draft. They needed to infuse some youth and talent in their defensive front 7 and did that with the selection of DE Cameron Jordan and LB Martez Wilson. They will contribute right away and for a long time for this team. The pick of RB Mark Ingram was brilliant. They Saints are full of underachieving or injury prone backs. They needed a durable, hard running guy who can carry the ball 20 to 25 times. Ingram will start right away and one or two of their current group will be looking for work elsewhere.
New York (G) – B+
The Giants had needs and filled them all in this draft. Having CB Prince Amurakara fall to 19 certainly helps. He will contribute immediately. DT Marvin Austin could go either way. He may do well as the system fits his attributes but will a year off of football put him behind everyone else. The Giants love those speedy, little WRs and took another one in Jerrell Jernigan. He will be a slot WR and special teams contributor. OL James Brewer will add much needed depth on the O-Line and finding LG Greg Jones in the 6th Round was a steal. He will contribute in the LB rotation and special teams. S Tyler Sash will also have a great chance and making the team.
New York (J) – C
Did the J-E-T-S get some good players? Yes. Did they address their needs? Not necessarily. They took DT Muhammed Wilkerson with the 1st pick and then Kenrick Ellis with the 2nd. Perhaps they will use Wilkerson as a DE in their scheme otherwise the pick didn’t make too much sense. I wouldn’t call taking WR Jeremy Kerley from TCU “addressing” your WR needs. The pick of RB Bilal Green didn’t make too much sense either. They have Green and LT. They failed to address S, O-Line and LB.
Oakland – C
The Raiders are slowly turning things around but this very mediocre draft isn’t going to help them get to the next level. I figured they would take C Stefan Wieskniewski with the 1st pick. They guy was made to be a Raider and he should contribute right away. CB DeMarcus VanDyke with the 81st overall pick was a bit of a mystery. Davis loves combine guys and that is all this guy is. His production at the college level was very pedestrian. OL Joseph Barksdale was a good mid-round pick. He should make the team and start at RT down the road. DB Chimdi Chekwa and RB Taiwan Jones should make the team. They did need a QB to develop and failed to get one.
Philadelphia – B
The Eagles did well and addressed a lot of areas of concern. G Danny Watkins is an earth mover and a solid pick. He should start right away. The Eagles defensive backfield was a bit of a mess and they may have fixed it with the picks of Jaiquawn Jarrett and Curtis Marsh. LB Casey Matthews is a bit undersized but they said that about Dat Ngyuen and Zach Thomas. This kid can play. A 4th Rounder on kicker Alex Henery means David Akers will be looking for a new employer.
Pittsburgh – C+
Defensive backfield may have been a greater need the Steelers couldn’t pass up on DT Cam Heyward to shore up the D-Line. OL Marcus Gilbert may end up being a RT but is an excellent pass protector, which Big Ben needs badly. They take DBs Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen. Both are decent enough to make a squad but I don’t see significant contributions from either one. DL Chris Carter will play LB in the Steelers scheme. He could develop into a starter but will be a reserve and special teamer for now.
San Diego – B+
The Chargers went into this draft aggressively and came out with most of their needs met. They surprised everyone by taking DT Corey Liguet. He is and excellent DT and may have the athletic ability to play DE in their scheme. Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright will shore up their defensive backfield. WR Vincent Brown could be a mid-round steal. He is a very polished player and will contribute right away. RB Jordan Todman from UConn is a younger clone of Darren Sproles. He should fit in just fine.
San Francisco – C
The 49ers make everyone scratch their heads when they take DE Aldon Smith with the 7th overall pick. Gabbert was still there. Prince Amurakara was still there. Aldon is good and will contribute but it just seemed that he was picked 5 to 8 spots higher than he should have gone and there were other more significant needs and players to fill those needs at that pick. They do get their QB in Colin Kaepernick. He has great intangibles but he is a project and isn’t ready to start. They will need a bridge QB. They find a nice RB in the 4th Round in Kendall Hunter. He is a bruiser like Gore and will take some of the pressure off of him. They needed another LB and S and didn’t get one.
Seattle – D
The Seahawks are my only “under C” grade of the draft. Not sure what they were doing here. They shore up the O-Line with Carpenter and Moffitt which is a good thing but Carpenter wasn’t a 1st Round pick and Moffitt wasn’t a 2nd Round pick. They certainly could have maneuvered around, picked up extra picks and still got their guys. None of the other players are really worth mentioning and they failed to draft an heir apparent to QB Matt Hasselbeck.
St. Louis – B
The Rams did a very nice job of addressing their needs. They took DE Robert Quinn in the the 1st Round. He is a beast and will contribute right away. They needed an athletic TE that can stretch the middle of the field and got one in Lance Kendricks. They also needed more weapons for QB Bradford and got WRs Pettis and Salas. Pettis will be a solid 3rd WR and Salas is a speedy, homerun hitter. They did miss out on a getting a RB to develop behind Steven Jackson.
Tampa Bay – B+
The Bucs did a very nice job. They took care of any issues on the D-Line by taking DE/LB Adrian Clayborn and DE DaQuan Bowers. If Bowers can stay healthy, he and Clayborn will wreak havoc on that side of the ball for a long time. LB Mason Foster is a quick, athletic player who should contribute right away. TE Luke Stocker should give them another weapon on offense. S Ahmad Black slipped to their pick and Round 5 and should contribute on passing downs and special teams.
Tennessee – C
QB Jake Locker at #8? All week people were wondering if he would go in the 1st Round. Instead he went in the 1st Round before Blaine Gabbert. Wow! Locker could develop into a serviceable QB but if he starts right away it is going to be a rough baptism for him. They did redeem themselves by taking LB Ayers, DT Jurrell Casey and LB Colin McCarthy to shore up their defensive front 7. I look for Ayers to surprise a lot of people and be a candidate for defensive rookie of the year.
Washington – B
QB was at the very top of there to-do list and didn’t come away with one. Perhaps Shanahan has his eye on the free agent. The Redskins next biggest need was that poor defensive line and they came away with two potential starters in Kerrigan and Jenkins. Kerrigan is a great edge rusher and Jenkins is a force in the middle that will demand double teams. WR Leonard Hankerson was a great value pick and should be a target for whatever guy ends up QBing this team. WR Nile Paul from Nebraska was another great value pick in Round 5. This big, physical WR should make the team.