Evan Silva

NFL Draft Grades

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Draft 2013: NFC Draft Grades

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The 2013 NFL draft concluded Saturday evening. Rotoworld blurbed every single selection, picks one (Eric Fisher) through 254 (Justice Cunningham).

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

But let's be clear: We don't believe in assessing draft hauls immediately after the three-day event. 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 this draft around 2016.

I'll break down the AFC on Sunday. Here are the NFC Draft Grades:

Arizona Cardinals

7. Jonathan Cooper, guard, North Carolina.
45. Kevin Minter, inside linebacker, LSU.
69. Tyrann Mathieu, free safety, LSU.
103. Alex Okafor, outside linebacker, Texas.
116. Earl Watford, guard/center, James Madison.
140. Stepfan Taylor, running back, Stanford.
174. Ryan Swope, receiver, Texas A&M.
187. Andre Ellington, running back, Clemson.
219. D.C. Jefferson, tight end, Rutgers.

Overview: Rookie GM Steve Keim's first-ever draft looks solid on paper. In Cooper, Minter, Mathieu, and Okafor, Keim secured as many as four immediate starters for a roster that needed them. Sixth-rounder Ellington is a better back than fifth-rounder Taylor and will add juice to Bruce Arians' offense should injury-prone Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams break down again. I would like to have seen the Cardinals add a developmental quarterback like Tennessee's Tyler Bray, although Arians may believe he already has one in Ryan Lindley. A lingering concern in Arizona is offensive tackle play. The Cards attacked guard instead -- and in Cooper got an outstanding player -- but Levi Brown is still a worrisome proposition on Carson Palmer's blindside.

Grade: C+

Atlanta Falcons

22. Desmond Trufant, cornerback, Washington.
60. Robert Alford, cornerback, SE Louisiana.
127. Malliciah Goodman, defensive end, Clemson.
133. Levine Toilolo, tight end, Stanford.
153. Stansly Maponga, defensive end, TCU.
243. Kemal Ishmael, safety, Central Florida.
244. Zeke Motta, strong safety, Notre Dame.
249. Sean Renfree, quarterback, Duke.

Overview: The Falcons may receive universally mediocre draft "grades," but there is a method to GM Thomas Dimitroff's madness. Beyond day-one starter Trufant and 2014 hopeful Alford, Dimitroff targeted players for specific on-field roles. Goodman is a classic 4-3 strong-side end with vine-line arms and powerful performance on tape. He's an edge container. Toilolo isn't Tony Gonzalez's heir apparent; he's an in-line tight end who'll push for snaps as a rookie if he blocks well in practice. Maponga is an edge-rushing specialist. Ishmael and Motta should both be immediate core special teamers. Renfree could develop into Matt Ryan's long-term backup and a future trade chip if his arm gets stronger while riding the bench. Ultimately, Dimitroff wasn't trying to load up on stars in this draft. He added role players to upgrade the bottom third of his roster.

Grade: C+

Carolina Panthers

14. Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle, Utah.
44. Kawann Short, defensive tackle, Purdue.
108. Edmund Kugbila, guard, Valdosta State.
148. A.J. Klein, linebacker, Iowa State.
182. Kenjon Barner, running back, Oregon.

Overview: Rookie GM Dave Gettleman entered his first draft with five picks and emerged with five players. He clearly prioritized upgrading in the trenches and delivered by securing the draft's premier defensive tackle in Lotulelei. Short's motor ran alarmingly hot and cold in the Big Ten, but he can be an impact interior pass rusher working in waves with Lotulelei, Dwan Edwards, and Sione Fua. Klein is solid insurance should Jon Beason's numerous surgical recoveries experience a setback. I think it's fair to wonder if the Barner pick foreshadows a DeAngelo Williams transaction. At the very least, it's a confirmation 2013 will be Williams' final season in Carolina. While he continues to build one of the NFL's most underrated defensive front sevens, Gettleman displayed a surprising amount of faith in his shaky receiver and secondary corps.

Grade: C

Chicago Bears

20. Kyle Long, guard, Oregon.
50. Jon Bostic, inside linebacker, Florida.
117. Khaseem Greene, outside linebacker, Rutgers.
163. Jordan Mills, tackle/guard, Louisiana Tech.
188. Cornelius Washington, defensive end, Georgia.
236. Marquess Wilson, receiver, Washington State.

Overview: I expected GM Phil Emery to stay true to his board on the draft's first day. I'm not sure he did with the Long pick -- it seemed like need-based reach on an inexperienced, boom-or-bust lineman -- but Emery went value searching on days two and three. Bostic is an athletic thumper who'll give D.J. Williams a run for his money at inside 'backer, replacing Brian Urlacher. Greene's pre-draft measurables disappointed, but he is fast to the football and NFL-ready after earning back-to-back Big East Defensive POY awards in Rutgers' pro-style system. Washington is an explosive edge pass rusher with starting-caliber tools. He was robbery toward the back end of the third day. If Wilson's head is on straight, he's capable of earning an immediate spot in Chicago's three-receiver package with Brandon Marshall in the slot and Alshon Jeffery outside.

Grade: B-

Dallas Cowboys

31. Travis Frederick, guard/center, Wisconsin.
47. Gavin Escobar, tight end, San Diego State.
74. Terrance Williams, receiver, Baylor.
80. J.J. Wilcox, safety, Georgia Southern.
114. B.W. Webb, defensive back, William & Mary.
151. Joseph Randle, running back, Oklahoma State.
185. DeVonte Holloman, linebacker, South Carolina.

Overview: Owner/GM Jerry Jones' draft strategy seemed very needs- rather than value-based, spurning better players in favor of theoretical hole-fillers. The Cowboys were needy on the interior offensive line, but I'd be willing to wager they could've gotten Frederick with the 47th pick. Escobar can create passing-game mismatches, but offers zero as a blocker and isn't necessarily an upgrade on incumbent No. 2 tight end James Hanna. Williams and Holloman were probably the only two true value picks in this group. Randle is a stiff, straight-linish runner with an awfully long way to go in pass protection. I watched tape on him before the draft and found him to be a whiffer in blitz pickup and thoroughly lacking in elusiveness. It would be difficult to say with any confidence that Dallas' lineup improved with this draft. And they entered it with a mediocre roster.

Grade: D

Detroit Lions

5. Ezekiel Ansah, defensive end, BYU.
36. Darius Slay, cornerback, Mississippi State.
65. Larry Warford, guard, Kentucky.
132. Devin Taylor, defensive end, South Carolina.
165. Sam Martin, punter, Appalachian State.
171. Corey Fuller, receiver, Virginia Tech.
199. Theo Riddick, running back, Notre Dame.
211. Michael Williams, tight end, Alabama.
245. Brandon Hepburn, linebacker, Florida A&M.

Overview: Left tackle seemed to be GM Martin Mayhew's biggest need entering the draft, but his selections indicate he feels otherwise. Mayhew must have a lot of faith in 2012 first-rounder Riley Reiff. He bypassed Menelik Watson for Slay. Rather than Terron Armstead, Mayhew selected Warford to add a mauling presence at right guard. I still found this to be a value-heavy draft. Ansah, Slay, and Warford are Week 1 starters. Taylor, Fuller, Williams, and even versatile Riddick could make year-one impacts. Ansah has been knocked as a possible bust by some observers, but the Lions' coaching staff has special insight after coaching him in Mobile. I thought Mayhew stayed true to his board and -- aside from perhaps the punter -- drafted the best available at each pick.

Grade: B-

Green Bay Packers

26. Datone Jones, defensive end, UCLA.
61. Eddie Lacy, running back, Alabama.
109. David Bakhtiari, guard/tackle, Colorado.
122. J.C. Tretter, guard/center, Cornell.
125. Johnathan Franklin, running back, UCLA.
159. Micah Hyde, defensive back, Iowa.
167. Josh Boyd, defensive lineman, Mississippi State.
193. Nate Palmer, outside linebacker, Illinois State.
216. Charles Johnson, receiver, Grand Valley State.
224. Kevin Dorsey, receiver, Maryland.
232. Sam Barrington, linebacker, South Florida.

Overview: GM Ted Thompson annually dominates on draft day; it's where he butters his bread. The Packers are not a free-agency team. Jones is a relentless, potentially special inside rusher who finally gives Green Bay a legitimate replacement for Cullen Jenkins. Lacy and Franklin can form a Thunder & Lightning backfield with the former as a light-footed wrecking ball and latter in the big-play, change-up role. Both rookies can pick up the blitz and play on all three downs. Bakhtiari is a heady, athletic mover and fit for the Packers' zone scheme. Hyde, Palmer, and Barrington are core special teams guys. Johnson abused his competition at small-school Grand Valley State and has Julio Jones-like measurables. The value on Lacy, Franklin, and Johnson was sensational. Chalk up another draft-weekend "win" for arguably the top GM in the sport.

Grade: B+

Minnesota Vikings

23. Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle, Florida.
25. Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State.
29. Cordarrelle Patterson, receiver, Tennessee.
120. Gerald Hodges, linebacker, Penn State.
155. Jeff Locke, punter, UCLA.
196. Jeff Baca, guard/center, UCLA.
213. Michael Mauti, linebacker, Penn State.
214. Travis Bond, guard, North Carolina.
229. Everett Dawkins, defensive tackle, Florida State.

Overview: Keep in mind GM Rick Spielman dumped game-changing slot receiver and return specialist Percy Harvin for the 25th and 214th picks, in addition to a 2014 third-rounder. That deal must be factored into Minnesota's grade. Spielman acknowledged the big loss and responded by targeting big-play ability from his hat trick of first-rounders. Floyd is a penetrating three-technique tackle ideally suited for Leslie Frazier's 4-3 scheme. The Vikings paired Rhodes (6-foot-2, 210) with Chris Cook (6-foot-2, 212) to form one of the NFL's biggest, longest corner duos as they attempt to slow Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery in the NFC North. The Patterson pick at the very least offsets Harvin's special teams value because Cordarrelle offers similar game-breaking return skills and arguably just as much receiving upside. Patterson is a freak. I liked athletic mover Baca as a late-round value.

Grade: B-

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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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