Chris Wesseling

NFL Draft Grades

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Draft 2012: AFC Grades

Saturday, April 28, 2012



Kansas City Chiefs

11. Dontari Poe, nose tackle, Memphis
44. Jeff Allen, guard, Illinois
74. Donald Stephenson, tackle, Oklahoma
107. Devon Wylie, wide receiver, Fresno State
146. DeQuan Menzie, cornerback, Alabama
182. Cyrus Gray, running back, Texas A&M
218. Jerome Long, defensive end, San Diego State
238. Junior Hemingway, wide receiver, Michigan

Overview: GM Scott Pioli grabbed loads of potential up front on both sides of the ball. Poe is the first-round’s quintessential boom-or-bust pick, but there’s Pro Bowl potential at a position of need if he hits. While Allen may have the most immediate impact on the offensive line, the more athletic Stephenson’s ceiling is higher at tackle. The Chiefs grabbed Wylie and Gray over skill-position players with better speed.

Grade: B-

Miami Dolphins

8. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M
42. Jonathan Martin, tackle, Stanford
72. Olivier Vernon, defensive end, Miami (FL)
78. Michael Egnew, tight end, Missouri
97. Lamar Miller, running back, Miami (FL)
155. Josh Kaddu, linebacker, Oregon
183. B.J. Cunningham, wide receiver, Michigan State
215. Kheeston Randall, defensive tackle, Texas
227. Rishard Matthews, wide receiver, Nevada

Overview: Tannehill was the right pick for a franchise desperately in need of a potential franchise signal-caller. Martin fills a need but will struggle on the right side due to his lack of strength. Miller doesn’t play on third downs or in the red zone, but he’s explosive between the 20s. Vernon is one the mid-round’s most intriguing pass rushers. New coach Joe Philbin believes he can get by with a committee approach at wide receiver. While Cunningham and Matthews have late-round steal potential, the Dolphins still lack a Jordy Nelson, much less a Greg Jennings. Egnew was overdrafted.

Grade: B

New England Patriots

21. Chandler Jones, defensive end, Syracuse
25. Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, Alabama
48. Tavon Wilson, safety, Illinois
90. Jake Bequette, defensive end, Arkansas
197. Nate Ebner, safety, Ohio State
224. Alfonzo Dennard, cornerback, Nebraska
235. Jeremy Ebert, wide receiver, Northwestern

Overview: The Patriots finally made an aggressive move to trade up for much-needed front-seven help, and it paid off with two instant contributors. Jones was a top-10 player on the draft board of NFL Network’s Mike Mayock; Hightower is already penciled in as an immediate starter on a Super Bowl contender. Those moves were counterbalanced by the head-scratching selections of a pair of virtual unknowns in the middle rounds. Who are we to doubt Bill Belichick's scouting?

Grade: B+

New York Jets

16. Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina
43. Stephen Hill, wide receiver, Georgia Tech
77. Demario Davis, linebacker, Arkansas State
187. Josh Bush, safety, Wake Forest
202. Terrance Ganaway, running back, Baylor
203. Robert T. Griffin, guard, Baylor
242. Antonio Allen, safety, South Carolina
244. Jordan White, wide receiver, Western Michigan

Overview: There are more questions than answers with GM Mike Tanenbaum’s draft haul. A gifted pass rusher filling a position of need, Coples figures to thrive under coach Rex Ryan because he will be forced to engage on every snap. Hill and Davis offer intriguing tools as potential rookie starters, but they are both raw talents. The late-round picks are all slow relative to their positions.

Grade: B-

Oakland Raiders

95. Tony Bergstrom, guard, Utah
129. Miles Burris, linebacker, San Diego State
158. Jack Crawford, defensive end, Penn State
168. Juron Criner, wide receiver, Arizona
189. Christo Bilukidi, defensive end, Georgia State
230. Nathan Stupar, linebacker, Penn State

Overview: New GM Reggie McKenzie was handicapped by a lack of early picks, thanks to trades made by Al Davis and Hue Jackson last season. Bergstrom could eventually take over for Cooper Carlisle on the interior. Crawford and Criner are slow for their positions, but capable of contributing in limited roles. Bilukidi was a truck-stumper who had even the heartiest of draftniks googling all corners of the internet for scouting reports.

Grade: D

Pittsburgh Steelers

24: David DeCastro, guard, Stanford
56: Mike Adams, tackle, Ohio State
86. Sean Spence, linebacker, Miami (FL)
109. Alameda Ta’amu, defensive tackle, Washington
159. Chris Rainey, running back, Florida
231. Toney Clemons, wide receiver, Colorado
240. David Paulsen, tight end, Oregon
246. Terrence Frederick, cornerback, Texas A&M
248. Kelvin Beachum, guard, SMU

Overview: The Steelers master the first round every year, and this draft was no different. The draft’s premier guard fell right in GM Kevin Colbert’s lap, filling a position of desperate need. Adams was viewed as a first-round talent before testing positive for marijuana, but he will have to toughen up to nail down right tackle. Spence has a shot to paper over the weak inside linebacker spot. Ta’amu is massive penetrator while Rainey adds dangerous speed in a gadget-play capacity. Frederick is a potential late-round gem as a slot corner.

Grade: A

San Diego Chargers

18. Melvin Ingram, linebacker, South Carolina
49. Kendall Reyes, defensive tackle, Connecticut
73. Brandon Taylor, safety, LSU
110. Ladarius Green, tight end, Louisiana-Lafayette
149. Johnnie Troutman, guard, Penn State
226. David Molk, center, Michigan
250. Edwin Baker, running back, Michigan State

Overview: Ingram was viewed by man as a top-10 talent and perhaps the draft’s most dangerous pass rusher. GM A.J. Smith was on the lookout for an edge rusher, and a smart coordinator will use Ingram from all angles. Reyes is consistent five technique while Taylor is an in-the-box thumper to complement Eric Weddle. Green is an intriguing Joker as Antonio Gates enters the twilight of his career. The opinionated Molk will end up starting games in San Diego.

Grade: B+

Tennessee Titans

20. Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Baylor
52. Zach Brown, linebacker, North Carolina
82. Mike Martin, defensive tackle, Michigan
115. Coty Sensabaugh, cornerback, Clemson
145. Taylor Thompson, tight end, SMU
190. Markelle Martin, safety, Oklahoma State
211. Scott Solomon, defensive end, Rice

Overview: Wright adds a dangerous speed element to an up-and-coming offense now overflowing with playmakers. Brown is an elite natural talent, but it will be up to the coaching staff to instill in him a much-needed toughness.  Martin is a stout three-technique with nose tackle experience and a wrestling background. Sensabaugh was one of the favorite sleepers of NFL Network’s Mike Mayock while Thompson is a converted defensive end with intriguing measurables. The Titans would have earned a higher grade had they addressed the major need on the interior of the offensive line.

Grade: C+



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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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