Evan Silva

NFL Draft Grades

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Draft 2012: NFC Grades

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 2012 NFL draft concluded Saturday evening. Rotoworld blurbed every single selection, picks one (Andrew Luck) through 253 (Chandler Harnish).

After a grueling three days of “work,” we'll put the finishing touches on our intensive draft coverage with post-draft grades.

But let us be clear: We don't believe in assessing draft hauls immediately after the three-day affair. This is for your pleasure. If you're reading this intro, you're interested. And we want to appeal to you. Don't take these grades too seriously. We'll know a lot more about the 2012 draft around 2015.

Chris Wesseling has graded the AFC. Here's our breakdown of the NFC:

Arizona Cardinals

13. Michael Floyd, receiver, Notre Dame.
80. Jamell Fleming, cornerback, Oklahoma.
112. Bobby Massie, tackle, Ole Miss.
151. Senio Kelemete, tackle, Washington.
177. Justin Bethel, cornerback, Presbyterian.
185. Ryan Lindley, quarterback, San Diego State.
221. Nate Potter, tackle, Boise State.

Overview: The Cardinals rarely stray from their board on draft day, and they stayed the course this year. Comfortable with Floyd's off-field history, Arizona went with value at No. 13 rather than reach for a greater need such as offensive line. It's an honorable approach. Fleming is a natural press corner and Ray Horton system fit. Russ Grimm will work to develop Massie's immense potential. Though drafted later, Kelemete may make more of an early impact. Bethel is an immediate special teams core guy. Lindley is a scheme fit as a vertical power thrower. Potter is a practice squad candidate. Overall, this was a strong haul for a team without a second-round pick following last year's Kevin Kolb trade. It is value laden with at least four year-one contributors.

Grade: B

Atlanta Falcons

55. Peter Konz, guard/center, Wisconsin.
91. Lamar Holmes, tackle, Southern Miss.
157. Bradie Ewing, fullback, Wisconsin.
164. Jonathan Massaquoi, defensive end, Troy.
192. Charles Mitchell, safety, Mississippi State.
249. Travian Robertson, defensive tackle, South Carolina.

Overview: Atlanta entered the draft shorthanded after last offseason's Julio Jones deal. Admitted needs drafter Thomas Dimitroff devoted his first two picks to an offensive line in need of big upgrades, and replaced overpriced lead blocker Ovie Mughelli with the underrated Ewing. Massaquoi has nickel-rusher potential. Mitchell is a special teams prospect, and Robertson likely won't make the roster. The Falcons set themselves up for a low grade because they were low on premium picks, and emerged with just one premium player (Konz). It was an underwhelming draft.

Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

9. Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College.
40. Amini Silatolu, guard, Midwestern State.
103. Frank Alexander, defensive end, Oklahoma.
104. Joe Adams, receiver, Arkansas.
143. Josh Norman, cornerback, Coastal Carolina.
207. Brad Nortman, punter, Wisconsin.
216. D.J. Campbell, safety, California.

Overview: It must be noted that GM Marty Hurney coughed up a 2013 third-rounder and the 180th pick to move up for Alexander. The trade hinted at desperation after Carolina went three rounds without supplementing a defensive line that is unimpressive aside from Charles Johnson. The Panthers didn't draft a single defensive tackle. Kuechly was a rock-solid pick and Silatolu can be a difference-making run blocker. Adams and Norman were value picks where they went. But Hurney needed more than he got from this draft, and his hand is diminished for next offseason.

Grade: C

Chicago Bears

19. Shea McClellin, defensive end, Boise State.
45. Alshon Jeffery, receiver, South Carolina.
79. Brandon Hardin, defensive back, Oregon State.
111. Evan Rodriguez, tight end, Temple.
184. Isaiah Frey, cornerback, Nevada.
220. Greg McCoy, cornerback, TCU.

Overview: The Bears made an aggressive move up for Jeffery without conceding much (pick 150), and otherwise used their picks where slotted. While Jeffery's on-field potential can be debated, he adds a new element to a receiver corps that can now be among the most potent in football. McClellin will be a disruptive "Joker" if Chicago's staff uses him right, and Hardin is an intriguing talent in the back end at 6-foot-3, 217 with 4.44 wheels. Rodriguez has some Aaron Hernandez to his game. Only time will tell, but this looks like rookie GM Phil Emery's first win.

Grade: B+

Dallas Cowboys

6. Morris Claiborne, cornerback, LSU.
81. Tyrone Crawford, defensive end, Boise State.
113. Kyle Wilber, linebacker, Wake Forest.
135. Matt Johnson, safety, Eastern Washington.
152. Danny Coale, receiver, Virginia Tech.
186. James Hanna, tight end, Oklahoma.
222. Caleb McSurdy, linebacker, Montana.

Overview: Dallas' front office is unwilling to meet injury-prone, contract-year CB Mike Jenkins' financial demands, so it went to work on Thursday night. The Cowboys shipped off picks 14 and 45 to secure Claiborne, who will cover X receivers and perhaps even stalk opposing No. 1s in the Darrelle Revis "shadow" role. Dallas was otherwise quiet on the trade front, but picked up an athletic pass rusher in Wilber to go with one of this draft's more underrated defensive-line pocket pushers in Crawford. Coale was a fifth-round value and will compete right away in the slot, while Hanna is a height-weight-speed guy. McSurdy and Johnson were dominant small schoolers. The Cowboys came away with one surefire blue chip talent, and as many as four or five more 2012 role players. Even after giving up the second-rounder, this has the look of a solid draft.

Grade: B

Detroit Lions

23. Riley Reiff, tackle, Iowa.
54. Ryan Broyles, receiver, Oklahoma.
85. Dwight Bentley, cornerback, Louisiana-Lafayette.
125. Ronnell Lewis, defensive end, Oklahoma.
138. Tahir Whitehead, linebacker, Temple.
148. Chris Greenwood, cornerback, Albion.
196. Jonte Green, cornerback, New Mexico State.
223. Travis Lewis, linebacker, Oklahoma.

Overview: The Lions tried to acquire a top-ten cornerback on Thursday, but instead of panicking when those attempts fell through, GM Martin Mayhew stuck to his board and let left tackle of the future Reiff fall into his lap. Mayhew jumped up for high-ceiling corner Greenwood without surrendering much (pick 230), although he sent a 2013 fourth-round pick Minnesota's way in a trade for Whitehead. The players Mayhew came away with are largely impressive. Broyles will be a significant slot-receiver upgrade on Nate Burleson when his knee gets right, and Bentley can be a clamp-down nickel back. Lewis and Whitehead are impact pass rushers. Greenwood has drawn Antonio Cromartie comparisons from small-school NFL scouts. The Lions may still explore the veteran trade market for defensive back help, but this draft tangibly improved the roster.

Grade: B+

Green Bay Packers

28. Nick Perry, linebacker, USC.
51. Jerel Worthy, defensive end, Michigan State.
62. Casey Hayward, cornerback, Vanderbilt.
132. Mike Daniels, defensive tackle, Iowa.
133. Jerron McMillian, safety, Maine.
163. Terrell Manning, linebacker, N.C. State.
241. Andrew Datko, tackle, Florida State.
243. B.J. Coleman, quarterback, UT-Chattanooga.

Overview: Giants GM Jerry Reese and Packers GM Ted Thompson are the NFL's best drafters. For the latter, this group furthers that notion. Perry was a match of value and need, and sending away the 123rd pick to secure Worthy made sense for a team still trying to replace Cullen Jenkins. Worthy can be the answer. Thompson's second trade up netted Manning, an instinctive, playmaking inside 'backer. Hayward possesses pro-ready ball skills and technique, and Datko was one of the draft's better value picks as a first- or second-round player on the field whose stock sank due only to non-knee medical concerns. Daniels and McMillian are role-playing roster fillers, and Coleman is a talent upgrade on Graham Harrell. It would be difficult to take issue with any one of Thompson's picks. He was only slightly outclassed by Reese in this draft (see below).

Grade: A-

Minnesota Vikings

4. Matt Kalil, tackle, USC.
29. Harrison Smith, safety, Notre Dame.
66. Josh Robinson, cornerback, UCF.
118. Jarius Wright, receiver, Arkansas.
128. Rhett Ellison, fullback, USC.
134. Greg Childs, receiver, Arkansas.
139. Robert Blanton, cornerback, Notre Dame.
175. Blair White, kicker, Georgia.
210. Audie Cole, linebacker, N.C. State.
219. Trevor Guyton, defensive tackle, California.

Overview: Minnesota acquired fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-round picks "for free" when it moved down one spot in Thursday's Trent Richardson trade. The Vikings then sent Nos. 35 and 98 to Baltimore to draft Smith with the 29th pick. GM Rick Spielman picked up 2013 fourth- and sixth-rounders in deals later on. While accumulating selections is always a plus, and the Vikings made the right call on Kalil over Claiborne, a majority of the other players acquired have too many question marks for comfort. Smith is really an in-the-box safety, and those are rarely worth first-round draft picks. Childs may never be right after a 2010 patella tendon tear. Wright, Robinson, and Kalil were the class of this haul. Beyond Kalil and perhaps Smith, however, the Vikings didn't get a single surefire year-one difference maker. Spielman could have used his picks better.

Grade: C+

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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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