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AFC Draft Grades

Nate Bouda April 30, 2012 NFL Draft Rumors, NFLTR Features No Comments

AFC

 Baltimore Ravens

35. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
60. Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
84. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
98. Gino Gradkowski, C, Delaware
130. Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
169. Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly
198. Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami (FL)
236. Deangelo Tyson, DE, Georgia

Best Value: Courtney Upshaw

The Ravens balanced value and need well, managing to capitalize on players they didn’t expect to be available, while addressing key areas.  Courtney Upshaw was drafted to step in for the new Charger Jarrett Johnson, not Ray Lewis, so the is the potential that the Ravens have even upgraded at this position for the future, as Upshaw is more of a passrush threat, though may be less consistent against the run.  They also addressed the line, which was a clear area of need, with early round picks.  In the late rounds, they went back to value, drafting perhaps the boom or bust Asa Jackson, and WR Tommy Streeter, who had dropped significantly.  Backup RB was a need after the retirement of Ricky Williams, but probably less of a need that WR, so perhaps they’d have done well to go WR earlier and leave RB for a later round, especially considering the Bernard Pierce was a bit of a reach.  Also, Kelechi Osemele will likely play guard in the NFL, and the need was really at OT, an area they didn’t address.

Grade: B

 Buffalo Bills

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
41. Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
69. T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State
105. Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State
124. Ron Brooks, CB, LSU
144. Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
147. Tank Carder, LB, TCU
178. Mark Asper, OG, Oregon
251. John Potter, K, Western Michigan

Best Value: Cordy Glenn

Pre-draft, prognosticators were discussing how high the top OTs in the draft would go, especially considering the relatively shallow nature of the position in the draft and the desert dry nature of the position in the free agent market.  The Bills grabbed their guy in the first round and had to have been shocked to see Glenn still available in the second.  Glenn will likely start from day one at LT, which is great value.  Perhaps still drunk on their luck from pick 41, the Bills came back and reached for WR Graham, who flies, but drops passes far too often.  The Bills also quietly strengthened later in the draft, where they found great value in LBs Bradham and Carder.  Sanders is a great value pick, and Asper shows a ton of promise, especially for a late round acquisition, so while the Bills may not have had the flashiest draft around, they had a consistent and deep one.

Grade: B

 Cincinnati Bengals

17. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
27. Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
53. Devon Still, DT, Penn State
83. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
93. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
116. Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
156. Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
166. Marvin Jones, WR, California
167. George Iloka, S, Boise State
191. Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State

Best Value: George Iloka

Who’d have expected the Bengals to put on a drafting clinic?  Especially considering the results from last years draft (A.J. Green and Andy Dalton didn’t fare too poorly in their rookie seasons), the Bengals are getting dangerous fast.  Kirkpatrick and Zeitler are two very solid first round picks, and the Bengals were just getting started.  Still presents great value and anchors an already fierce defense.  Sanu could have easily gone a round earlier, which is something that can be said about every single pick for the Bengals that followed.  WR Jones is a quiet later round pick who is very consistent and S Iloka may not have been worthy of some of the 2nd round projections he garnered, but is undoubtedly a steal at pick 167, especially considering the relatively shallow nature of the position.  This is how you draft, depth, width, value, need, potential… it’s the type of draft you want to just high-five everyone in the war room.

Grade: A

 Cleveland Browns

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
22. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
37. Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
87. John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati
100. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami (FL)
120. James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada
160. Ryan Miller, OG, Colorado
205. Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
245. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
247. Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama

Best Value: James-Michael Johnson

Let those who’d like to criticize moving up a spot to get Trent Richardson.  We’ll never know if the Vikings would have actually selected Richardson, but the Browns needed him and had the firepower to guarantee it.  In the future, the evaluations of this draft will center around Weeden, who was either a steal or a bust, considering there was significant value available at areas of need when the Browns opted to reach a bit for the 28-year old QB.  If they have even half a Kurt Warner on their hands, this was a solid move, as Colt McCoy just wasn’t cutting it.  OT Schwartz will start a RT, which is a great, and much needed, addition.  In the later rounds, Browns scooped up a few defensive prospects who had fallen down boards in Johnson and Winn.  Both additions can start and start early.  CB Wade was lost in this years deep CB draft, but is certainly worth the late-round call, and wasn’t really expected to drop outside the 5th round.

Grade: B+

 Denver Broncos

36. Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
57. Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
67. Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
101. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
108. Philip Blake, OG, Baylor
137. Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee
188. Danny Travathan, LB, Kentucky

Best Value: Ronnie Hillman

The Broncos backed out of the first round, usually a sign that a team is ready to capitalize on the value available and let dropping players fall to them.  Having set the stage perfectly and surrounded by value, they chose to reach for Wolfe.  It’s hard to criticize a team for getting the guy they love, but I’ll do it anyhow: the Broncos were strengthened by the addition of Manning, but are hardly a team without needs.  I’d have liked to see them use their extra picks on the high value they too-often passed up.  That said, Hillman is a nightmare for defenses and they could have found their long-term quarterback at a time where he can learn from the best.  Both lines improved with the addition of Blake and Jackson, who could both start soon.

Grade: B-

 Houston Texans

26. Whitney Mercilus, LB, Illinois
68. DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State
76. Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH)
99. Ben Jones, C, Georgia
121. Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State
126. Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
161. Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M
195. Nick Mondek, OT, Purdue

Best Value: Jared Crick

Mercilus was a solid pick and should bolster the pass-rush of the Texans.  His bust potential is admittedly higher than average, but the Texans can afford the risk.  The Texans have also been devastated by injury, particularly at the WR position, and they picked up insurance in the form of Posey and Martin, two solid picks.  DT Crick would have gone higher if not for injury concerns, and if he can stay heatlhy, he was an absolute steal.  C Jones will provide great depth, and could even be the long-term replacement for the aging Chris Myers.

Grade: B

 Indianapolis Colts

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
34. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
64. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
92. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International
136. Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
170. Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State
206. LaVon Brazil, WR, Ohio
208. Justin Anderson, OT, Georgia
214. Tim Fugger, DE, Vanderbilt
253. Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois

Best Value: Andrew Luck

The Colts acquired their strong grade at the close of week 17 of the 2011 season.  The only way the Colts could have blown this draft is by moving away from Luck.  To enjoy one of the best QBs of the modern era and transition to one of the most promising QBs of the modern era?  Well, the Browns, Dolphins, Seahawks, and Jaguars are green with envy.  The Colts followed up by providing Luck with a number of weapons, but may have forgotten to protect him.  Allen was a great pick, but a second TE is a bit of a luxury, and the Colts were hardly in a luxury position.  Anderson was a nice late round choice and could start his rookie year.  Fans would have enjoyed a bit of defensive love (only two of the ten picks addressed that side of the ball), but fans will look forward to a young, developing high-powered offense.

Grade: A-

 Jacksonville Jaguars

5. Justin Blackmon,WR, Oklahoma State
38. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
70. Bryan Anger, P, California
142. Brandon Marshall, LB, Nevada
176. Mike Harris, CB, Florida State
228. Jeris Pendleton, DT, Ashland

Best Value: Brandon Marshall

Let’s get the punter business out of the way.  He’s good, he’s a great pick, he has the potential to be a top-5 punter for the next 15 years, but not this high and not with this team.  The Jags may have more offensive needs than any other team in the draft and their defense is good.  Why not address the offense in round three?  Why not address that one fairly key position that they’re not all that settled at?  Blackmon was a great move, but they need a way to get him the ball.  Branch adds to a strong defense that could be top of the league in a few years.  Marshall could start in his rookie year, the toughest test for him will be making the team.

Grade: C

 Kansas City Chiefs

11. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
44. Jeff Allen, OG, Illinois
74. Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma
107. Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
146. DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama
182. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
218. Jerome Long, DE, San Diego State
238. Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

Best Value: Cyrus Gray

Dontari Poe was a beast at the combine, but was anything but impressive on tape.  The Cheifs had a big need at DT, but Poe is going to be slow in developing and has significant bust potential.  The offensive line picks also hint of “right position, wrong guy”.  After an underwhelming first few rounds, the Chiefs found good value in later rounds with CB Menzie and RB Gray, who could quickly make Peyton Hillis an expendable piece.  There was a lot available that could have really pushed the Cheifs ahead in a wide open AFC west; considering what was available, they really should have done better.

Grade: C-

 Miami Dolphins

8. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
42. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
72. Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami (FL)
78. Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
97. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
155. Josh Kaddu, LB, Oregon
183. B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
215. Kheeston Randall, DT, Texas
227. Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada

Best Value: Jonathan Martin

Tannehill is boom or bust and everyone knows it, but if there’s one position to take a risk at, it’s QB.  Tannehill is a reach at pick 8, but there’s really not much of an option, as there are a number of other teams with QB needs, which would have made trading back an all-too-risky move.  Long before it was clear that the Dolphins were going with the QB, Martin was discussed as a potential choice at #8.  It was a true steal then when they grabbed their guy and still got the Stanford tackle in the second round.  He’s a plug and play tackle and Tannehill will now enjoy a solid front.  Late in the draft, the Dolphins found great value in Randall, who had been projected as a 3rd-4th round pick.  This is a deep collection of players, and it has the potential to be an incredibly strong class, but perhaps more than with any other team this draft, it will be hard to evaluate for a few years.

Grade: B

 New England Patriots

21. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
25. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
48. Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois
90. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
197. Nate Ebner, S, Ohio State
224. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
235. Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

Best Value: Alfonzo Dennard

The Patriots came out blazing, as they broke with tradition and traded up not once, but twice.  Chandler Jones has the potential to be the best pass rusher in the draft and the true success of their draft will likely rest with him.  Hightower is another strong defender, and the Patriots had the ammunition to go get him without leaving other needs unaddressed.  The pick of Tavon Wilson was poor.  I know it’s tough to criticize Bill Belichick, but this was a guy who was projected 7th round or undrafted.  If he was their guy, that was the time to trade down and get a few extra picks.  There was significant value available at the time, and by passing it all up and failing to trade, the Patriots made one of the biggest reaches of the draft.  The late pickup of Alfonzo Dennard was a far more agreeable move, as they can release him at the first sign of future trouble, but have 2nd round talent if he can keep his nose clean.

Grade: B-

 New York Jets

16. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
43. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
77. Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State
187. Josh Bush, S, Wake Forest
202. Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor
203. Robert T. Griffin, OG, Baylor
242. Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina
244. Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan

Best Value: Stephen Hill

The Jets nearly made up for the first round pick with their second, but then quickly trailed off for the remainder of the draft.  Coples doesn’t fit the Jets defense, is coming off a poor year, and wasn’t the best available at the position.  Even if they had pegged him as their top choice approaching the draft, he certainly wasn’t the top option when they found themselves on the clock.  Hill blazes, and despite his bust potential and the lack of relevant scouting available, he is well worth the risk at pick 43.  The rest of the draft was forgettable (with the exceptions of bruising RB Ganaway and strong value pick Allen) and the Jets showed a frustrating refusal to capitalize on the value they often found themselves facing.  This draft is far too risky, especially for a team that just paid Mark Sanchez top dollar and brought in Tim Tebow.  They could be drafting early next year.

Grade: C+

 Oakland Raiders

95. Tony Bergstrom, OG, Utah
129. Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
158. Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
168. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
189. Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State
230. Nathan Stupar, LB, Penn State

Best Value: Juron Criner

The Raiders didn’t have much to work with and with it they did very little.  They actually faced strong value by the time pick #95 rolled around, especially at positions of need.  G Bergstrom was a decent pick, and he will start, but they may have faced a few more preferable options, like taking players that representing higher value.  Crawford and Criner were nice picks, but Burris, Bilukidi, and Stupar are all players who were far less than best available.  With this grade you’ve got to take into account that a first, second, and third round pick had been spent on Carson Palmer and Terrell Pryor.  Massive missteps that were hardly remedied this weekend.

Grade: D

 Pittsburgh Steelers

24: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
56: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
86. Sean Spence, LB, Miami (FL)
109. Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
159. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
231. Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado
240. David Paulsen, TE, Oregon
246. Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
248. Kelvin Beachum, OG, SMU

Best Value: David DeCastro

There were few, if any mocks that had DeCastro falling to the Steelers in the first round.  When the stars aligned and he was there at #24, the team did well to pounce on the opportunity.  DeCastro will start for ages and will partner with Maurkice Pouncey as a possibly the best young C/G combination in a very short time.  In the second round, they too a bit of a gamble with Adams, but they are a team that can afford it, so there’s not much to take issue with there.  Spence and Ta’amu were strong defensive pickups, but later rounds may be filled with a number of picks that won’t make the team.  Perhaps they missed a bit of a chance to package some picks and take another future starter, but there’s not much else you can fault them for.

Grade: B+

 San Diego Chargers

18. Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina
49. Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
73. Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
110. Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
149. Johnnie Troutman, OG, Penn State
226. David Molk, C, Michigan
250. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State

Best Value: Melvin Ingram

A.J. Smith’s job was made pleasantly easy when the top player available at a top need fell into his lap.  In years past, Smith might have over-thought things and made a reach instead of settling for the clear value, but with pressure on his job, he made the right choice and went with Ingram.  Round 2 was a carbon copy, when Reyes fell to pick #49.  The defense got two of it’s strongest players in the first two rounds of this draft.  Green is a likely replacement for Antonio Gates, which is even more important given his injury history, and Molk could very likely be the answer at C after the retirement of Nick Hardwick.  The one glaring issue with this draft class is the absence of an OT.  It’s a huge need for the Chargers and addressing it in any significant way would have made this draft grade a solid A.

Grade: A-

 Tennessee Titans

20. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
52. Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
82. Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
115. Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson
145. Taylor Thompson, TE, SMU
190. Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
211. Scott Solomon, DE, Rice

Best Value: Markelle Martin

Wright was a solid pick in the first round, even if he might not have been the best player of need available.  Martin will also be a strong DT who will cause trouble for offenses.  Brown in the second is a head-scratcher, as there was plenty available and Brown is someone who has consistently underperformed.  There is a time to draft for potential and take a bit of a risk, but this player in this situation probably wasn’t it.  Martin provides great value late in the draft, as he could have easily gone far earlier in the day.  Sensabaugh, Thompson, and Solomon are forgettable picks at a time when the Titans couldn’t afford to make them.

Grade: C+

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