Evan Silva

NFL Draft Grades

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NFC Draft Grades

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The rush to sign undrafted free agents began late Saturday and will continue over the next few days. We're still waiting to see if former No. 1 overall high school recruit Ryan Perrilloux will get picked up. It's not looking good for him so far.

UPDATE: Perrilloux has signed a free agent contract with the Vikings.

While we keep tabs on the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year's NFL prospects, here are draft grades for the NFC.

Try not to take them too seriously.

Cardinals: The Cardinals picked up a pair of immediate starters in the first two rounds, selecting projected top-15 pick Dan Williams at No. 26 overall and athletic inside linebacker Daryl Washington with the 47th selection. Both were value picks. Third-rounder Andre Roberts will remove some burden from new starting wideout Steve Breaston on punt returns.

Fourth- and fifth-round picks O'Brien Schofield (torn ACL, meniscus) and John Skelton won't contribute this season, but both offer high upside and starting-caliber ability down the road. Jorrick Calvin, a small-school corner with return value, and injury-prone Stanford TE Jim Dray will compete for roster spots.

The Cardinals improved over draft weekend, though trading Bryant McFadden to the Steelers only enhances the team's weakness at cornerback and they are still needy at offensive tackle. GM Rod Graves will need to get creative to fill the holes.

Draft Grade: B

Falcons: The Falcons reached for Sean Weatherspoon and pedestrian defensive tackle Corey Peters with their first two selections. Weatherspoon is a safe bet to be a long-term starter, but non-rush linebackers are rarely worth top-20 overall picks. Peters lacks difference-making ability.

Late third-rounder Mike Johnson is probably a future starter at offensive guard, while versatile guard/center Joe Hawley should be a valuable swing-type reserve. Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks was a value pick in round five. Converted quarterback Kerry Meier lacks ideal speed. Sixth-round pick Shann Schillinger of Montana wore an undrafted free agent grade and will only contribute on special teams.

GM Thomas Dimitroff deserves the benefit of the doubt because he's been quite successful in building up Atlanta's roster to this point, but there isn't much to get excited about here. We're not sure the team significantly improved during the draft.

Draft Grade: C-

Panthers: The Panthers made up for lacking a first-round pick by ending Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen's free fall at No. 48 overall. Clausen is likely the team's quarterback of the future. Third-round receiver Brandon LaFell projects as a high-scoring, chain-moving pro and will help immediately opposite Steve Smith.

Carolina took something of a nose dive from there. Trading a 2011 second-round pick to move up for Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards was a completely ill-advised move by GM Marty Hurney. Edwards was a projected seventh-round pick to undrafted free agent. Eric Norwood and Greg Hardy were effective college pass rushers, but Norwood is an odd fit in Carolina's 4-3 defense and Hardy is a boom-or-bust prospect. Sixth-round wideout David Gettis is practice squad material, while fellow late-rounders Jordan Pugh, R.J. Stanford, and Robert McClain are project-type defensive backs. Tony Pike was a good value at No. 204 overall.

The Clausen, LaFell, and Hardy picks addressed needs and upgraded the Panthers' overall talent, but the trade up and future sacrifice for Edwards crushes the team's grade.

Draft Grade: C-

Bears: The Bears patiently waited two and a half rounds to make their first selection, and used it on an immediate impact player in Florida's Major Wright. He can play both safety positions and, at worst, help on special teams. Local favorite Corey Wootton of Northwestern was an incredible value in the fourth round.

Kansas State cornerback Joshua Moore, Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour, and West Texas A&M offensive lineman J'Marcus Webb, however, lack NFL-caliber talent. The Bears were handicapped from the get-go in the draft, but they could've used their later-round picks more wisely.

LeFevour just doesn't have the arm strength to push the ball downfield, which is a huge detriment to his chances in a vertical scheme like Mike Martz's. The Wright and Wootton picks were very good, but there isn't a single surefire starter in this haul.

Draft Grade: C

Cowboys: The Cowboys made an aggressive, high-upside move to trade up for Dez Bryant on Thursday night, securing a top-ten talent who will upgrade the team's punt return unit immediately and probably beat out Roy Williams to start at split end. Second-round pick Sean Lee is Keith Brooking's eventual successor at inside linebacker.

Fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah certainly does not lack the potential or talent to cure Dallas' woes at free safety. He runs 4.33 at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, and was a dominant small-school defensive back with plus value as a return specialist. Sixth-rounder Sam Young is a right tackle only, which won't help his bid to make the final roster. Jamar Wall, a cornerback from Texas Tech, was a poor cover man in the Big 12. Seventh-round DE Sean Lissemore from William & Mary is a developmental project.

The Cowboys' draft was highly impressive at the top, if unspectacular at the bottom. Still, there's no doubt that they landed elite talents and are a much better team now than they were last Wednesday.

Draft Grade: B+

Lions: GM Martin Mayhew delivered the draft's consensus top overall player in No. 2 pick Ndamukong Suh to Detroit, and stayed hot throughout the weekend. No. 30 overall pick Jahvid Best did require a trade up, but adds dynamite play-making ability to a Lions offense that is suddenly dangerous on paper.

Amari Spievey was a steal at the top of round three, and probably will start day one across from Chris Houston. Spievey was one of the nation's most physical cornerbacks at Iowa last year. Fourth-rounder Jason Fox projects as an immediate upgrade at swing tackle, and may begin pushing for Gosder Cherilus' starting job on the right side sooner than later. Productive North Carolina State defensive end Willie Young lacks ideal quick-twitch burst, which is why he was available in round seven. Mr. Irrelevant Tim Toone is a burner from Weber State.

The Lions didn't have a single pick in rounds five or six, but came away with at least three instant impact players. They're no longer the heavy favorites to repeat as the NFC North's bottom dwellers.

Draft Grade: A

Packers: Sitting tight at the No. 23 overall pick, GM Ted Thompson intercepted surprise first-day faller Bryan Bulaga in round one. Though Bulaga's short arms and lack of elite upside ultimately hurt his stock, he was an incredible value and is ready-made for Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme after playing in a similar system under Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.

Second-round pick Mike Neal, a defensive tackle at Purdue, will have to learn to two-gap in Green Bay's 3-4 defense. He was a bit of a reach at No. 56 overall. Third-round safety Morgan Burnett is a ballhawk in the back end and was worth trading up for, particularly with division rival Chicago up one pick later and ready to pounce on the gifted free safety. Andrew Quarless is a rock-solid tight end, fellow fifth-rounder Marshall Newhouse is highly athletic, sixth-round pick James Starks was an explosive all-purpose tailback in Buffalo's spread offense, and seventh-rounder C.J. Wilson has five-technique size.

Thompson never fails to impress on draft day. If not for the relative reach on Neal, this class would flirt with an A grade.

Draft Grade: B

Vikings: We usually love GM Rick Spielman's drafts, but this one left a lot to be desired. The Vikings got burned by gambling that Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson would still be available at No. 34 when they traded out of the 30th spot. Robinson went 32nd overall to New Orleans, forcing Spielman to reach for injury-prone Virginia defensive back Chris Cook at No. 34. 51st overall pick Toby Gerhart is valuable insurance behind Adrian Peterson, but doesn't fill Minnesota's need at third-down back.

In terms of value, surprise fourth-rounder Everson Griffen was the gem of Spielman's class. Wake Forest guard Chris DeGeare does fit the Vikings' power-blocking system, but fellow fifth-rounder Nate Triplett and seventh-round linebacker Ryan D'Imperio will be special teamers at best. In between those two picks, Spielman drafted a quarterback-turned-wideout in UAB's Joe Webb and blocking tight end Mickey Shuler.

This draft class didn't deliver many play-makers. Brett Favre had better come back.

Draft Grade: D+

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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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