I was going to grade some of Mel Kiper's newer draft grades but decided against it because I am not an ESPN Insider and that is where they seem to have hidden anything related to Mel Kiper and his draft grades. Naturally, ESPN wants you to pay for the least interesting content. Mel Kiper's grades are a fucking joke. I have no problem with him guessing how good players will be, but in the 2001 draft grades he gives nearly every team either a "B" or a "C" with some variation of that grade for each team. Why even grade the draft? EVERY team did average or above average? How is this even possible? I hear Kiper does this nearly every single year, give the teams nearly all the same grade. No wonder ESPN brought in Todd McShay. It's useless to provide grades if you are just going to mail them in.
Regardless, here are the 2001 NFC grades.
Arizona Cardinals: They drafted Kyle Vanden Bosch, a real hustler. I would have taken Aaron Schobel instead.
Michael Stone isn't a bad player; he could move inside, but he should play corner, something they desperately need. I like Adrian Wilson as a pure safety. He has a lot of potential. Bill Gramatica should become their kicker. I thought they reached for Marcus Bell, and overall, their second-day choices didn't impress me.
Not bad for Kiper. He starts off pretty well. Though he sort of misses on the Leonard Davis pick, he gets the Adrian Wilson pick right and taking Schobel over Vanden Bosch was probably a good idea. Notice he gave the Cardinals a "B-" and get used to seeing that. It's a trend.
Dallas Cowboys: I have major problems with the Cowboys' draft and was critical of them on both days of the draft. I thought quarterback Quincy Carter, whom they took in the second round, was at best a fifth-round pick.
This wasn't a good draft for the Cowboys. Kiper was critical of them and shockingly gave them a "D-" grade. It's one of the few times (and really the only) he actually takes a stand against a team's picks in these draft grades. So Kiper is starting off really well. It doesn't continue.
New York Giants: I like aggressive teams that make a move when they see a player who may not be available at their pick. The Giants made a good move to draft Will Allen, a solid corner. He didn't play as well as a senior, but he has all the physical skills and is a bright player. He could be a No. 2 cornerback opposite Jason Sehorn. Cornerback William Peterson was outstanding early in his career at Michigan before transferring to Western Illinois. He has ideal size and a lot of upside. Ultimately, I wouldn't be shocked if he turned out to be a better cornerback than Allen.
I'm not entirely sure that happened. Allen was two inches and four pounds lighter than William Peterson. The whole "ideal size" thing sort of throws me for a loop.
I really like the selection of quarterback Jesse Palmer.
Me too. He turned out to be a great college football analyst and if this was the 2001 Analyst Draft and not the 2001 NFL Draft I wouldn't be mocking Mel Kiper for liking Jesse Palmer. In fairness, I bet Kiper just liked Palmer because he awarded Kiper a rose and seems to really care for him. No crying in the limo for Mel!
(waiting...anyone get it?)
Philadelphia Eagles: I like the Freddie Mitchell pick in the first round.
That makes one of you.
The Eagles need weapons for Donovan McNabb. Mitchell is a big-play receiver with a positive approach and a lot of confidence.
It's funny how time makes a difference. Mitchell is now seen as the opposite of a big-play receiver with an overblown ego and a false confidence in his ability to perform at the NFL level.
Defensive end Derrick Burgess went early than I thought, but he has some pass-rush ability. I really like the selection of running back Correll Buckhalter in the fourth round. They needed a backup and some insurance behind Duce Staley, who is coming off a foot injury. Buckhalter is an excellent, underrated back who runs downhill, has breakaway speed and good size.
Burgess turned out to be the a good pick for the Eagles and Buckhalter could never stay healthy.
And I know Reid likes quarterback A.J. Feeley. Even though he backed up Joey Harrington at Oregon, Feeley could become like Brad Johnson, an overlooked quarterback who backed up Casey Weldon at Florida State.
Mel Kiper KNOWS Andy Reid likes A.J. Feeley. Apparently the fact Reid drafted Feeley shouldn't have been enough of an indication to the average fan. That average fan needs written confirmation that Andy Reid indeed likes the player he chose to draft. Fortunately, Kiper gives us the confirmation that, indeed, Reid does like the player he drafted. Feeley does have one accomplishment though...
I would say a "B" is a bit high for this draft. Of course, I also think Mel Kiper may just throw the grades in a hat and pick one out.
Washington Redskins: Receiver Rod Gardner was an outstanding pick and is a big-time talent.
Oh how wrong Mel Kiper was about this. The only way he could have been more wrong is if he claimed Rod Gardner could walk on water.
He makes their draft because they needed a top-quality receiver. He dropped into their laps at No. 15.
How funny he refers to an underachieving and crappy wide receiver as "dropping" into the team's lap. I know Mel Kiper wasn't going for comedy, but this works for me.
Fred Smoot was a first-round possibility for a number of teams, but he needs to get in the weight room and improve his strength. He only did one bench-press rep and is 178 pounds. If he stays focused, the Redskins got the best cover cornerback in the draft.
It doesn't matter if Smoot only did one bench-press, he still turned out to be a good cornerback in the NFL. Plus, you don't need a lot of strength to hold a double-headed sex toy.
They liked quarterback Sage Rosenfels, but I would have opted for Jesse Palmer.
Well naturally, Palmer is the better television analyst. Who would want a quarterback that was still in the NFL ten years later? What's with Kiper's infatuation with Jesse Palmer?
Let's see...a "B-" for a good cover corner and a backup quarterback? That doesn't seem very accurate to me.
Chicago Bears: After Andre Carter -- the player they targeted -- was off the board, they audibilized to receiver David Terrell, who could be a weapon for whomever the Bears have at quarterback,
The only way David Terrell could be a weapon is if he is actually carrying a weapon.
The best player from this draft was either Mike Gandy or Anthony Thomas. That's why this isn't even close to a "B-" draft.
Detroit Lions: Tackle Jeff Backus was a nice first-round choice.
He has filled the role of the tackle who isn't good enough to be a quality starter but isn't bad enough to be replaced (though I am sure Lions fans would argue with this) for almost 10 years now.
We will have to see how defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, with his injury, responds this season. He is more of a pick for the future.
As opposed to those second-round draft picks that are specifically for the April/May spring NFL camps? The future started pretty early for Rogers, because he had 81 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 4 pass deflections his rookie season.
You'll never guess the grade Kiper gave the Lions...
Green Bay Packers: The Packers really wanted a receiver, but they needed a pass rusher like defensive end Jamal Reynolds. And he is a natural pass rusher.
Jamal Reynolds was a natural pass rusher. Naturally fit for the college game and not the NFL.
I like the pick of guard Bill Ferrario because he's a battler.
So he was useful in case the Packers got into any Gladiator-type battles with their opponent.
Tight end David Martin was a receiver who put on weight. He caught the football well in workouts before the draft.
It's always good to hear an ex-wide receiver caught the ball well in workouts. This is a note to all receivers/tight ends in future drafts. Catch the football well and Mel Kiper will like you.
Guess the grade...come on. It's a draft where Robert Ferguson was the best pick. Was it an "A," possibly a "D?"
Minnesota Vikings: I know they had to replace Robert Smith, and Michael Bennett has speed and is a game-breaker, but I thought defense took precedence over running back, especially when you know they could have taken running backs later in the draft.
Willie Howard, however, made sense at defensive end. He can play tackle or end.
He also looks good in injured reserve. Howard played in 8 games in his career and racked up 10 tackles.
Defensive back Eric Kelly didn't play as well as a senior as he did as a junior. I thought he should have gone later than the third round. I also thought defensive tackle Shawn Worthen and receiver Cedric James were reaches. Linebacker Patrick Chukwurah and defensive back Carey Scott have a chance to be contributors, but the Vikings still didn't get enough defensive help.
So knowing Mel Kiper didn't like the Vikings early picks and thought a couple of late picks were reaches, what would a natural grade be? "D" or something worse? Nope.
So it's an average draft when a team doesn't draft early for a need they have, reach for 2-3 players, and the later picks are the ones who can be "contributors?" What would a "D" or "F" draft be? If a team starts drafting players at the bottom of their draft board at each position first or starts the draft by taking players projected to be undrafted free agents?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tackle Kenyatta Walker fell into their laps after Jacksonville took Marcus Stroud. Walker has a chance to be their left tackle of the future, something they need.
Or he could be a right tackle who struggles against top-end pass rushers, thereby becoming a penalty machine, and he never got to play much left tackle.
Guard Russ Hochstein was a reach.
Naturally, along with Dwight Smith, Hochstein became one of the best picks in this draft for the Buccaneers.
Running back Jameel Cook didn't excite me as a sixth-round pick. The other picks weren't too interesting.
Because sixth-rounds picks should immediately cause excitement? After all of this lukewarm sentiment to the Bucs' picks...here's the grade.
Atlanta Falcons: Michael Vick has enormous potential.
Which is something obviously a team would look for when taking the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. It's probably best to take a player with enormous potential at that spot and not hope a player with enormous potential lands to you later in the draft.
They took tight end Alge Crumpler. They drafted a quality center in Robert Garza, who I thought was a steal in the fourth round. Matt Stewart, in addition to being a reserve linebacker, should be their deep snapper. I like Vinny Sutherland; he is a Tim Dwight type as a return man, with good speed at receiver. As a late-round pick, tackle Kynan Forney has a chance to make the team. Corey Hall brings some versatility at either corner or safety. Quentin McCord was a nice seventh-round pick at receiver.
So the only picks Mel Kiper didn't like were Randy Garner and Ronald Flemons. Naturally, a draft like this one should get a high "B" or an "A-" in some form. Unfortunately, Mel Kiper is against giving an "A" in any fashion because it may make him look bad if he is wrong.
Except from Kiper's description, and in reality, this was probably a high "B" draft instead of a "B-," which is only one small grade off what he gave to the Bucs when he was pretty "blah" about their draft. I guess drafting two players who are among the best at their position in 2-3 years isn't all that impressive.
Carolina Panthers: I like the Dan Morgan selection in the first round. He can play outside linebacker with Lester Townes in the middle. Morgan gives their defense an attitude. I really like defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. His stock was rising, and he can be an outstanding pick. Steve Smith is a versatile receiver who can also help in the return game.
All very true. Dan Morgan also did a bang-up job of being on Injured Reserve every year. No other linebacker could top his ability to be injured at all times.
Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, a fourth-round pick, could be the heir apparent at quarterback to Jeff Lewis and be starting pretty quickly, considering how Lewis has struggled.
By "heir-apparent" Kiper means "another shitty quarterback that starts for the Panthers." Anytime the argument for best franchise quarterback is between Steve Beuerlein and Jake Delhomme there isn't much further to go other than up.
What a shock! Is Mel Kiper aware there are other letters in the alphabet other than "B" and "C?"
New Orleans Saints: They drafted running back Deuce McAllister, who has been one of my favorites all year. His selection is a wakeup call to Ricky Williams.
"Stop being a great running back, Ricky. Wake up!"
Other than that, it was a pretty bad draft for the Saints. McAllister is really the only guy who stuck. The grade?
Remember, Kiper gets paid for giving these grades.
St. Louis Rams: Defensive tackle Damione Lewis, because he is a penetrator with quickness, is a nice pick. With his toughness, safety Adam Archuleta will be ideal paired with Kim Herring. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was a bit of a reach, but he came out as a junior and has some upside. He's worth the risk as a third first-round pick.
This was when the Rams had a great offense but needed defensive help. They didn't really pick up that much help with three 1st round draft picks.
Kiper doesn't even really give his opinion on the rest of the players. The Rams got some contributors out of this draft but having 4 picks in the first 42 picks of the draft and not coming out with a single difference-making player is pathetic.
Naturally, it is a "B+." In the year 2010, this draft is actually a "D" in my mind because this draft could have propelled the Rams into the future if they had drafted better. Imagine if they had drafted these four guys (which they could have) with the 4 picks they had in the first 42 picks of the draft while still respecting their defensive needs (which means guys like Reggie Wayne would not have been looked at):
#12- Marcus Stroud
#20- Casey Hampton
#29- Adam Archuleta/Adrian Wilson
#42- Kendrell Bell
So it was a pretty disappointing draft.
San Francisco 49ers: I like the aggressive move they made, trading up to get defensive end Andre Carter. They know they needed to get ahead of Chicago to the No. 7 pick, and they did. Carter is an excellent, solid football player. Linebacker Jamie Winborn is a tackling machine. He will work well in their system. The 49ers needed a running back, and Kevan Barlow is a big back who can bounce plays outside, run up the gut, or catch balls as well.
This is another team that didn't have a bad draft but also didn't blow anyone away with their choices. The players they drafted did pretty well, so I can't really knock them, but they also didn't stick with the 49ers for a long period of time.
Eric Johnson has decent hands and was a productive pass-catching tight end at Yale.
Not to mention, years later he would go on to donate his life and time to Jessica Simpson. He should be honored for having to put up with her.
Guess the grade, Mel gave...
If only there was another letter in the alphabet.
Buffalo Bills: Nate Clements could start at corner opposite Antoine Winfield.
Which is always the hope when a cornerback is drafted in the 1st round.
I really like the pick of defensive end Aaron Schobel. Running back Travis Henry was drafted a little high, but he runs hard.
From the amount of children Travis Henry has with various women it appears he does a lot of other things hard as well.
Will he have enough of a burst? We'll have to find out.
I would say there is absolutely nothing wrong with Travis Henry's burst. In fact, I think sometimes he should have not relied on his burst or just played it safe by protecting the football more.
Defensive tackle Ron Edwards slumped his senior year; I don't think he should have been drafted as high as the third round. Jonas Jennings is a versatile lineman who can play guard or tackle, but I thought he was drafted too high as well. I thought linebacker Brandon Spoon was a little bit overrated.
For most draft analysts a team reaching too high for two 3rd round picks and a 4th round pick would cause their grade to fall...not Mel Kiper.
The interesting part is Kiper probably wasn't too far off because while Jennings wasn't great, he probably should have gone where he did. Still, if parts of the draft were reaches I don't see how the Bills got a "B."
Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne has the best hands and is the best route runner of all the receivers and gives the Colts another strong option opposite deep threat Marvin Harrison. Idrees Bashir was a player on the rise leading up to the draft.
I like guard Ryan Diem as a fourth-round pick. Defensive backs Raymond Walls and Jason Doering and guard Rick DeMulling were all solid picks.
Naturally, because Kiper liked nearly all of the Colts picks (and for good reason), he gives them a lower grade than he gave the Bills.
The Colts had a pretty good draft in getting DeMulling, Diem, and Wayne...so not only should they have gotten a higher grade at the time, they would get a higher grade right now as well.
As far as the Dolphins go, Kiper had absolutely nothing of interest to say about them.
Fletcher gives them a third quality cover man to go with Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. Running back Travis Minor went higher than expected, but he could settle in as a backup to Lamar Smith. They like Morlon Greenwood for their system.
So Kiper just gives them the default "B" grade. It's an absolute embarrassment really that Kiper doesn't have anything to offer in terms of grades. Why even grade if you aren't going to do more than put the same grade for every team. This Dolphins draft was more of a "C-" as it stands anyway.
New England Patriots: They needed to get more weapons for Drew Bledsoe, but instead they went for Richard Seymour at defensive tackle, another position where they needed help.
Which was a really good move by the way. It doesn't seem like Bledsoe needed too much more help since Tom Brady managed to take this team to the Super Bowl.
Matt Light is a left tackle who can also move to guard.
Or he could be the left tackle for many years. You know, either way it goes.
I had no problem with them getting a pair of tight ends, Jabari Holloway and Arther Love. Love has some long-range potential. Safety Hakim Akbar was a steal in the fifth round.
Love and Holloway didn't do too much special and Akbar got injured in a car accident and never realized his potential.
(Kiper hits copy and paste)
New York Jets: Santana Moss was a solid first-round pick who gives them speed and big-play ability at receiver and on returns. Lamont Jordan can come in as a quality backup to Curtis Martin, and backup running backs are vital.
You heard it hear first, backup running backs are vital. Some teams never even had a backup running back on the roster before Mel Kiper made this history-changing statement.
Tackle Kareem McKenzie looked like a first-round pick going into the season. He didn't play as well as expected, but in the third round he was a nice choice. With his versatily, Jamie Henderson can play either cornerback or safety.
Good calls by Kiper on these two players.
The grade? (Kiper hits and copy and paste again)
Grade: B (That's three "B's" in a row. Only one of them was deserved.)
Baltimore Ravens: Todd Heap gives the Super Bowl champions gives them a second tight end to Shannon Sharpe that they really need. Brian Billick likes two-tight end sets. Gary Baxter will be their third corner and can really help out on special teams. Casey Rabach, who played center and some guard at Wisconsin, will be given an opportunity to start at guard. Edgerton Hartwell should settle in as the backup to Ray Lewis at linebacker.
The Ravens pretty much nailed their first 4 picks. Based solely on those, I would give this draft an "A" grade or somewhat close.
Joe Maese is only a deep snapper; he really doesn't have a position. He was one of the top two or three deep snappers in the draft.
I'm not even sure what this means nor do I know how to evaluate this statement.
Fuck it, let's make it four in a row.
I would give this draft an "A-" personally.
Cincinnati Bengals: They needed an impact defensive end and got one in Justin Smith.
Again, another player who isn't bad enough to be a bust, but not good enough really to justify his draft position.
I thought the Bengals stole receiver Chad Johnson in the second round.
Great call by Kiper. He nailed this one.
I don't think guard Victor Leyva or linebacker Riall Johnson did much for them as later-round picks.
No mention of T.J. Houshmandzedah?
Naturally, Mel Kiper hands a "C+" out to a team that deserves a much higher grade. Justin Smith, Chad Johnson, Housh, and Rudi Johnson. That's not a "C+" draft in any way.
Cleveland Browns: Defensive tackle Gerard Warren was one of the best players in the draft.
I think he meant to say Warren was one of the "bust" players in the draft. This is why it is stupid to call anyone a draft "expert." If an "expert" can't even get the projection of one of the top picks in the draft correct then how can he be an expert? Aren't those the guys who are supposed to be easier to grade because their talent is obvious? Of course there's also the whole thing where the "experts" can't predict the future work habits of a player, but still...don't call yourself an "expert" if you work in a field where it is nearly impossible to be an expert.
I like the selection of running back James Jackson in the third round; he like his hard-running style. Defensive back Anthony Henry was an excellent fourth-round pick.
Both were okay players, but this draft is one of the many reasons the Browns struggled during the early 2000's.
(Mel Kiper reaches in a hat and pulls out a grade)
Of course, what else would it be?
Jacksonville Jaguars: I question the selection of defensive tackle Marcus Stroud because guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Kenyatta Walker were still on the board.
I question this comment in retrospect because Kenyatta Walker turned out to not be a great player and Marcus Stroud teamed with John Henderson to make a pretty good DT tandem for a while in Jacksonville.
But they rebounded with tackle Maurice Williams in the second round.
That was a good pick. Good call by Kiper.
Then Kiper lists other players the Jaguars and says they could contribute. Let's get to the good part.
I'm pretty sure 11 out of the last 12 grades have been some form of a "B." That's expert analysis right there.
Pittsburgh Steelers: With Casey Hampton at nose tackle, the Steelers can move Kimo von Oelhoffen back outside to defensive end. I like the Kendrell Bell pick. He's a linebacker on the upswing with a lot of physical ability.
Both of these were good picks by the Steelers.
Then Mel rambles about the rest of the players really saying nothing and gives his grade...
Like always. Should ESPN have to pay a guy who gives a grade of "B" to every team's draft? I say they should not.
Tennessee Titans: Because they made a trade with the Rams to acquire Kevin Carter, the Titans didn't have a first-round pick. Defensive back Andre Dyson, the younger brother of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson, made a ton of big plays at Utah. He goes after interceptions and anticipates well in coverage.
But he doesn't have ideal size! He's only 5'10" and 179 pounds. He's going to be terrible like Will Allen was going to be.
I'm not kidding. That's the real grade...again.
Denver Broncos: Cornerback Willie Middlebrooks made sense in the first round.
It made sense because Mike Shanahan was drafting Middlebrooks and Shanahan generally sucks at drafting defensive players. This choice was no exception. So it makes sense Mike Shanahan screwed up this pick.
Receiver Kevin Kasper was one of the steals of the draft in the sixth round. He is a Ricky Proehl type of player.
If Ricky Proehl wasn't a good player and only caught 24 passes in his career.
(dies of shock at this grade) This was a terrible draft for the Broncos. At least they got Ben Hamilton out of it.
Speaking of terrible drafts...
Kansas City Chiefs: Defensive tackle Eric Downing was a major reach in the third round. I thought he would either be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent. Receiver Marvin "Snoop" Minnis was probably a stretch too.
The Chiefs didn't have a 1st or 2nd round pick and Kiper thinks the Chiefs reached on their two 3rd round picks, yet they get a "C" grade. I ask again, what would it take to get an "F" from Mel Kiper? Would the Chiefs have had to refuse to draft any players? Only Monty Beisel and Derrick Blaylock did anything from this draft, so the Chiefs may as well have traded the rest of their picks away.
How about another terrible draft? Ok...
Oakland Raiders: Derrick Gibson was the No. 2-rated safety and has great physical talent, but he needs to be more consistent. He is an upgrade on what they have at safety. I would have probably picked tight end Todd Heap as a big-time weapon for Rich Gannon, even though they traded for Roland Williams. But I can see why they drafted Gibson, to fill the need that cost them an opportunity to compete with Baltimore in the AFC championship game.
The Raiders then proceeded to draft 19 other safeties trying to fill this same need that Derrick Gibson never filled. Best player in this draft for the Raiders? Maybe Marquis Tuiasosopo. That's not good.
San Diego Chargers: I have no problem with the selection of running back LaDainian Tomlinson, after trading out of the No. 1 spot and moving down to No. 5. General manager John Butler hopes he can do for the Chargers as Thurman Thomas did for the Bills. I like Drew Brees going in the second round. He is competitive and has a Captain Comeback mentality.
That's nearly an "A" draft just for those two picks.
Tay Cody could be a backup defensive back. I thought linebacker Carlos Polk was overrated. Tackle Elliot Silvers is nothing special as a fifth-round pick. Zeke Moreno, who could be a backup linebacker, also has value as a deep snapper. Defensive back Robert Carswell played better as a junior than he did as a senior.
So the lesson is the Chargers can fill two big needs on their team with their two highest picks and get a "C+" from Mel, while a team like the Jaguars pick one player that Mel thinks is a good pick and he believes can start for and they get a "B-."
Seattle Seahawks: I had an A+ for the Seahawks after the first day. They did the best of any team, led by the selection of receiver Koren Robinson. He is a tremendously gifted, explosive football player who is only 20.
Robinson was a bust. He also had a high-pitched voice and liked dolphins a lot...whatever that really means. I would guess that should have been a concern to the Seahawks.
Guard Steve Hutchinson was one of the top players in the draft. He can play hole guard or tackle. Ken Lucas will battle Ike Charlton for the starting cornerback job opposite Shawn Springs. Lucas, a former receiver, is a big corner who is progressing as a player. Heath Evans was the best fullback in the draft and is great for the West Coast offense. He can catch the football and is an underrated blocker.
3 great picks. I'm a little confused. Mel liked the Seahawks first four picks and was going to give them an "A+" for these picks, which also happen to be the most crucial and expensive picks, but he lowered their grade based on the second day players the Seahawks selected? Did Mel get scared and realize he only gives out "B's?"
Orlando Huff is a nice-looking linebacker who can either be a backup or maybe a starter in the future. Defensive back Curtis Fuller was a slight reach in the fourth round, but not by much. "Pork Chop" Womack could be a backup tackle.
It also seems Mel likes the three 4th round picks the Seahawks had. In fact, it seems Mel likes nearly every pick the Seahawks made, yet he gave them a...
Does Mel Kiper not believe in giving out A's at all? He said the Seahawks had gotten an "A+" from him after the first day and doesn't say why he didn't end up giving them that grade. So he gives yet another team some variation of a "B."
That is 23 times Mel gave some form of the grade "B" to NFL teams in his 2001 draft grades. I give Mel an "F" in grading the 2001 NFL Draft.