Chris Wesseling

NFL Draft Grades

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Draft 2012: AFC Grades

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Evan Silva has graded the NFC. Here's our breakdown of the AFC:


Baltimore Ravens


35. Courtney Upshaw, outside linebacker, Alabama
60. Kelechi Osemele, guard, Iowa State
84. Bernard Pierce, running back, Temple
98. Gino Gradkowski, center, Delaware
130. Christian Thompson, free safety, South Carolina State
169. Asa Jackson, cornerback, Cal Poly
198. Tommy Streeter, wide receiver, Miami (FL)
236. Deangelo Tyson, defensive end, Georgia

Overview: Viewed as a player without a position by many teams, Upshaw was a value pick atop the second round. The Ravens will find a home for him just as they did for Terrell Suggs. Osemele will get a chance to fill the hole left by Ben Grubbs’ exit. With Ricky Williams retired, Pierce will get a shot to be Ray Rice’s caddy. The concern is that he had quite a bit of wear and tear at Temple. Gradkowski has a shot to succeed Matt Birk down the line while Streeter is an intriguing flier at receiver.

Grade: B+

Buffalo Bills

10. Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina
41. Cordy Glenn, tackle, Georgia
69. T.J. Graham, wide receiver, North Carolina State
105. Nigel Bradham, linebacker, Florida State
124. Ron Brooks, cornerback, LSU
144. Zebrie Sanders, tackle, Florida State
147. Tank Carder, linebacker, TCU
178. Mark Asper, guard, Oregon
251. John Potter, kicker, Western Michigan

Overview: With the Gilmore selection, the Bills are now loaded at cornerback in a pass-heavy league. GM Buddy Nix made good on his promise to pick up O-Line depth, but Glenn is the only likely starter in the group. The question is whether he can hack it on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s blind side. Although Graham is an absolute blazer, his immediate impact will be felt on special teams more than offense. Brooks and Bradham should help in nickel packages.

Grade: B

Cincinnati Bengals

17. Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Alabama
27. Kevin Zeitler, guard, Wisconsin
53. Devon Still, defensive tackle, Penn State
83. Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver, Rutgers
93. Brandon Thompson, defensive tackle, Clemson
116. Orson Charles, tight end, Georgia
156. Shaun Prater, cornerback, Iowa
166. Marvin Jones, wide receiver, California
167. George Iloka, safety, Boise State
191. Dan Herron, running back, Ohio State

Overview: Cincinnati’s draft is chock full of contributors, with the top eight potentially seeing significant playing time. Although the Bengals missed out on true playmakers early on, they were able to go best player available at every spot while simultaneously filling their roster needs. Jay Gruden’s offense was in the market for a receiver, and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Jones ends up with a more successful career than Sanu. Iloka is another project safety, which DC Mike Zimmer favors.

Grade: A

Cleveland Browns

3. Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama
22. Brandon Weeden, quarterback, Oklahoma State
37. Mitchell Schwartz, tackle, California
87. John Hughes, defensive tackle, Cincinnati
100. Travis Benjamin, wide receiver, Miami (FL)
120. James-Michael Johnson, linebacker, Nevada
160. Ryan Miller, guard, Colorado
205. Billy Winn, defensive tackle, Boise State
245. Trevin Wade, cornerback, Arizona
247. Brad Smelley, tight end, Alabama

Overview: The big-play starved offense landed three immediate starters, including the draft’s top tailback, a Day One quarterback, and a replacement for Tony Pashos at right tackle. The glaring vacancy remains go-to receiver, however. Johnson is potentially an immediate contributor at linebacker, which helps make up for the Hughes reach in the third round. GM Tom Heckert’s late-round picks were less than inspired.

Grade: B

Denver Broncos

36. Derek Wolfe, defensive tackle, Cincinnati
57. Brock Osweiler, quarterback, Arizona State
67. Ronnie Hillman, running back, San Diego State
101. Omar Bolden, cornerback, Arizona State
108. Philip Blake, guard, Baylor
137. Malik Jackson, defensive tackle, Tennessee
188. Danny Travathan, linebacker, Kentucky

Overview: John Elway’s club traded down, and it shows. The Broncos may not have landed a single starter in this draft.  Wolfe fills a need up front, but he’s far from guaranteed to outproduce fifth-rounder Jackson. The second round is awfully early for a project quarterback of Osweiler’s caliber.  The jump-cut happy Hillman is a change-of-pace back who can’t take over as Peyton Manning’s passing-down specialist because protection issues. The late-round picks are solid, especially potential starter Bolden.

Grade: C

Houston Texans

26. Whitney Mercilus, linebacker, Illinois
68. DeVier Posey, wide receiver, Ohio State
76. Brandon Brooks, guard, Miami (OH)
99. Ben Jones, center, Georgia
121. Keshawn Martin, wide receiver, Michigan State
126. Jared Crick, defensive tackle, Nebraska
161. Randy Bullock, kicker, Texas A&M
195. Nick Mondek, tackle, Purdue

Overview: Although Mercilus needs refinement, he should see plenty of playing time as Mario Williams’ replacement in a three-man edge-rushing rotation. Posey is smooth, but may not have a better career than fourth-rounder Martin. Jones and the freakishly athletic Brooks add much-needed depth up front to help offset Houston’s veteran losses in free agency. Crick is a great value for the middle rounds. Bullock will be the favorite to replace the departed Neil Rackers.

Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts

1. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford
34. Coby Fleener, tight end, Stanford
64. Dwayne Allen, tight end, Clemson
92. T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver, Florida International
136. Josh Chapman, nose tackle, Alabama
170. Vick Ballard, running back, Mississippi State
206. LaVon Brazil, wide receiver, Ohio
208. Justin Anderson, tackle, Georgia
214. Tim Fugger, defensive end, Vanderbilt
253. Chandler Harnish, quarterback, Northern Illinois

Overview: The Colts walked away with a franchise builder as the best player in the draft. They didn’t stop there, though. Luck will be reunited with college teammate Fleener while also taking on Allen as the top two tight ends in the draft. Hilton should contribute immediately as an explosive returner and has dangerous slot potential down the line. Nose tackle of the future Chapman played through an ACL injury as one of the NCAA’s premier run defenders in 2011. Mr. Irrelevant Harnish has a legit shot to nail down the long-term backup job to Luck.

Grade: A+

Jacksonville Jaguars

5. Justin Blackmon, wide receiver, Oklahoma State
38. Andre Branch, defensive end, Clemson
70. Bryan Anger, punter, California
142. Brandon Marshall, linebacker, Nevada
176. Mike Harris, cornerback, Florida State
228. Jeris Pendleton, nose tackle, Ashland

Overview: Credit GM Gene Smith with following his strong convictions, but his seat is growing hotter by the year as he continues to step far out on a flimsy limb. Blackmon isn’t quite the elite talent of top-10 receivers in years past, but he does fill a need. Branch is more of a pure pass rusher than an all-around defensive end. This draft’s true failure is the reach for a punter in the third round. Even if Anger serves as a field-position weapon, that’s simply too early for a specialist. The late-round picks do little to inspire confidence.

Grade: D


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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