Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 comments 2011 NFL Draft Grades- NFC Edition

I have already done the AFC Draft grades and now I am giving out my 2011 NFC Draft grades. Like in the AFC, I am going division-by-division and giving out the grades on a scale of "0-10" with "0" being a terrible draft and a "10" being a great draft. Like my other grades, these are just for fun. Feel free to tell me if you hate my grade, I am not an expert, and am just guessing like everyone (and that is everyone, including those who get paid for an opinion) else is. I like to see teams fill needs and make themselves a better team, just not choose a player with a "name" player instead of filling a need or want of that team effectively.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys had a need on the offensive line and in the secondary coming into the draft. They addressed only one of those needs sufficiently in my opinion. Still, I like the Cowboys draft. The knock on Tyron Smith is he will either be a Pro Bowler or be a bust. That's just a cliche and I am not sure why there can't be in-between on him. Either way, the Cowboys had to upgrade their offensive line and they did so. The next two picks for the Cowboys were not for the secondary, which surprised me, but I still like the picks they made. Bruce Carter is a first round pick in terms of skills and DeMarco Murray is a running back I like for the Cowboys system. I've seen Dwayne Harris play a bit and he was a good pickup, but I wish the Cowboys had either gotten another cornerback or some depth at DT. I just wish the Cowboys would have addressed needs in the secondary earlier than the 5th round and I could grade them higher. Of course this doesn't mean in five years the Cowboys draft could be seen as great. That is the funny thing about drafts. A team could try to meet needs and have a terrible draft, while another team may ignore their immediate needs and have a terrific draft.

Grade: 7

New York Giants

Jerry Reese should get a lot of credit for this draft. Then again, I don't know how much credit I can give him for catching a bunch of falling players. Prince Amukamara was an absolute steal at #19. He is not that far below Patrick Peterson in terms of cover ability. Nebraska left him in single coverage on receivers a lot and he excels at getting position on the receiver. Marvin Austin is a first round player in talent and if he had played this year I have no doubt he would have been a Top 20 pick. While it is easy to criticize the Giants for not upgrading their offensive line a little bit more in the draft, stealing James Brewer late in the draft prevents me from doing that. I do wish they had taken an interior lineman, and for that I will knock them down a grade, but they got an effective third down back in the 7th round in Da'Rel Scott and I can see Greg Jones starting for the Giants in the near future. I don't know if he will be a good NFL player or not, but he deserved to go before he did. The Giants had needs to offensive line and at linebacker. They had to draft Amukamara and then had the fortune to fill (at least partially) both of their other needs at linebacker and offensive line later in the draft. While their needs aren't completely filled, they are a much better team defensively because of this draft.

Grade: 9

Philadelphia Eagles

(Getting ready to dodge items thrown at me) I mocked Danny Watkins to the Bears because I didn't think they would be bothered by his age. For the Eagles, it may be different. Andy Reid doesn't seem to like to re-sign guys who have reached the wrong end of 30. If Watkins signs a 4 year deal, he will be 31 at the end of his rookie contract. I still think the Eagles needed an interior lineman, so he wasn't a bad choice, it is just his shelf life is limited compared to other rookies. So it was a good pick for the Eagles and maybe his age issue is overrated. The Eagles probably should have gotten some more help at cornerback through the draft, but maybe they have a plan if there is free agency. I thought they may try to get a pass rusher as well, but they may be counting on Brandon Graham to bounce back from injury this year. I don't think the Eagles did a bad job, they got a couple of interior lineman in the hopes Howard Mudd can work with them and I like Dion Lewis in the 5th round as well. So the Eagles got better in this draft, but I am not sure if they got impact players, but they may have also not needed impact players. I'm sort of impartial on this draft. I do love me some Alex Henery though.

Grade: 5

Washington Redskins

The Redskins had four needs in my mind coming into this draft. A quarterback of some type, offensive line help, some defensive line help and a couple of wide receivers (including one that can start). They left the draft with...sort of upgrades at these positions. Ryan Kerrigan should be interesting to see in a 3-4 defense, though given Mike Shanahan's ability to draft defensive players towards the latter part of his career with the Broncos, I am going to say he will end up being a bust just to stick with Shanahan's history. My two major issues are they did not draft a quarterback, leaving the job to John Beck (maybe?) and he won't have a damn chance behind the offensive line that needed some upgrades. Mike Shanahan's lack of a plan at quarterback seems to be working. I love the Leonard Hankerson pick and Niles Paul has potential to be a 3rd/4th wideout or a return man. So receiver wise I think they did a good job, but who is going to throw them the ball? I generally don't question Shanahan on choosing running backs so the choices of Helu and Royster seem good on paper and was another need area for the Redskins. Still, they addressed their defensive line, but ignored the offensive line and the quarterback position.

Grade: 3

Chicago Bears

The Bears took the typical "Redskins" route this year and didn't have but 5 draft picks. I think they did a good job with them. They needed to upgrade the offensive and defensive line as well as potentially get a receiver and some defensive depth. It's hard to do that with 5 picks. They nailed the first two picks with Stephen Paea and Gabe Carimi, who are both exceptionally talented and fill the needs the Bears have. The Bears didn't have enough picks to justify getting depth on the defensive line. I'm assuming the Bears are looking to trade Caleb Hanie for more picks or possibly another player, so they drafted Nathan Enderle, which wasn't a terrible pick. I would have liked to see the Bears draft a wide receiver, but they had to fill other needs for players they may lose if free agency ever happens.

Grade: 7

Detroit Lions

I don't like the Lions draft. I know I am in the minority and I am not arguing they didn't draft talented players. In order to make themselves a better team in 2011 and beyond they needed to draft an offensive tackle, get some defensive end help and use some secondary help. Naturally, they chose to draft players at zero of those positions. It is great Nick Fairley dropped to Detroit, but does he make them a better team when they also need a defensive end or cornerback as well? Sure, if he ends up being a great player the Lions will have a pair of great defensive tackles, but they still need pass rushers from the edge. Titus Young was a great pick. I like Mikel Leshoure and he is a great value at this spot. The Lions now have a double-headed running back tandem, which is great. The problem is they have been skimming by with Jeff Backus at left tackle and they needed to upgrade this to protect their franchise quarterback. It's a novel concept I know. The Lions did draft a tackle in the 6th round, which pretty much ensures they will need one next year in the draft as well. I understand the drafting of Leshoure and Fairley based on perceived talent, but I don't get why the Lions would take players who are luxuries rather than fill needs on their roster. I am happy the Lions got talented players, but I don't know if they have improved as much as they could have in the draft. Does having a second quality running back make them a better team compared to drafting a defensive end or a left tackle would have? I don't think so.

Grade: 4

Green Bay Packers

Everyone LOVES the Packers draft. I just really like it. I can't help but think it is mainly because they just won the Super Bowl and are the "it" team right now and that is why people love their draft. I don't hate the draft, but I am not quite as excited as others. Granted, the Packers don't seem to have a ton of needs. I am so glad the Packers drafted a left tackle to protect Aaron Rodgers. It needed to be done and they have rightly upgraded the offensive line in the past two drafts. Randall Cobb is worth his pick merely as a kick returner, but I don't get the drafting of a running back in the 3rd round. Not sure that was a great need and I would have gone with upgrading the defense more. At some point, I think the Packers needed to upgrade the other side of the linebacking corps (away from Clay Matthews) and I really think they need more secondary help than others do. Sam Shields is not a starter in the NFL and Charles Woodson will decline at some point, so why not draft a cornerback since Woodson is getting up there in age. Maybe they think Davon House is the answer. I also like the Packers drafted a tight end. D.J. Williams can work well with Jermichael Finley in a double tight end set. I wish they had addressed an OLB a little earlier in the draft. Maybe I am just picking nits.

Grade: 8

Minnesota Vikings

I know there are those thrashing the Vikings for reaching for Christian Ponder at #12. They needed a quarterback and it appears they didn't just draft Ponder as lip service towards this need and actually thought he was the best pick for them. You don't take a second round prospect at #12 if you don't like the player. So while I don't like Christian Ponder, the Vikings could not have started the season with their current depth chart at quarterback (not sarcasm). Why would anyone want to give Tarvaris Jackson an actual shot to start? That would be crazy to do (sarcasm)! No point in re-signing him I guess. The Vikings also needed some help on the defensive line and at receiver. I like the pick of Kyle Rudolph, but I still would have liked to see the Vikings take a receiver a little higher. The Vikings had some injuries at receiver last year and they have to give Ponder receivers to throw to. The Vikings doubled up on the Christians in this draft. Christian Ballard dropped because of his positive drug test, so the Vikings stole him in the fourth round. After Brandon Burton, the rest of the draft is just them filling needs for depth and they took on some projects. I would have liked to see the receiving corp improved earlier, but much of this draft's grade in 5 years depends on how Christian Ponder does. Right now, I like it.

Grade: 8

Atlanta Falcons

I don't hate the Falcons trade up for Julio Jones. This is clearly a move by a team that thinks they are very close to a Super Bowl. The move will work out if the Falcons are close to a Super Bowl, but if they take a step back this year then they will obviously miss those draft picks. I think it was a bold move and I can't say I disliked it. It feels like it was a lot to give up for Julio Jones, but it did match the trade chart teams often uses. Fortune favors the bold doesn't it? (shoots self in the head for quoting Easterbrook) The Falcons needed to get another playmaker on defense and another wide receiver. They addressed the need for the wide receiver by trading up for Julio Jones. I'm just not sure the defense that got handled by the Packers couldn't have used more help than they received via the draft. Akeem Dent is a good player, but he isn't an impact player and neither is Cliff Matthews. I did like the drafting of Jacquizz Rodgers, though the idea he may replace Michael Turner one day is far fetched. The Falcons definitely seemed to get better offensively, but I can't help but have a feeling the other side of the ball was where they needed to get a little bit better.

Grade: 6

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers draft, like pretty much any team that drafts a quarterback number 1 overall, will depend on how that quarterback performs in the NFL. The Panthers needed help at quarterback, defensive tackle, cornerback and needed offensive line depth. They got their quarterback at #1 and they didn't HAVE to draft Cam Newton, but since their next pick was in the 3rd round and if they wanted a quarterback who could make an impact quickly, they had to draft a quarterback in that spot. I like the next two moves to get two defensive tackles since that position was a black hole all of last year. Brandon Hogan is a skilled cornerback with major character issues, not to mention he won't be available to run full speed until August due to a knee injury. So he has two major question marks that don't even deal with his actual ability to play. Carolina did not address their wide receiver issue until the 5th round and even then they took a slot receiver. Not a great showing on that end. So the Panthers will be better after this draft simply because they drafted two quality defensive tackles, but like most teams that draft a quarterback in the Top 10, the answer to the anemic offense won't be answered until that quarterback takes the field.

Grade: 5

New Orleans Saints

I am very torn on the Saints 2011 draft. It is a tale of two drafts. They needed to improve the pass rush, get another running back, and get some help at linebacker. Cameron Jordan falling to them is wonderful. The fact they needed a defensive end is even better. What great luck for the Saints to get a Top 15 prospect and pass rusher when they need one. Then we have the Mark Ingram trade. The Saints traded their 1st round pick in 2012 and their second round pick in 2011 to get in the #28 spot and get Ingram. Ingram reminds everyone of Emmitt Smith, but I am not sure he is an elite running back. I think Ingram can be a good running back, but I hate the idea of trading up and giving up a first round pick to get him when he isn't necessarily an elite running back. It's not like running backs are hard to find. The Saints should know this with undrafted Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on the roster. Other than that, getting Martez Wilson and Greg Romeus later in the draft, Romeus specifically, should be counted as robbery. They are two guys who have incredible talent but fell due to a bad Pro Day (Wilson) and injuries (Romeus). So it was a great draft overall for the Saints, but the trading up for Ingram leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Grade: 5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There were two defensive ends slated to go early in the draft and the Buccaneers took both of them. I'm not sure what to make of this. The Bucs needed defensive ends, secondary help, another running back, and probably a backup tight end. They managed to land most of these needs in the draft. Taking Clayborn was a risk worth taking, but after that the Bucs took another defensive end with question marks in Da'Quan Bowers. That's a big risk to fill a large need like defensive end with two players with question marks. Mostly, I am worried about Bowers. Of course if this works, then the Bucs look brilliant. They filled the DT position last year with the first two picks and then filled the DE position with the first two picks this year. It's a calculated risk to take two guys with health issues at the same position in the same draft. I would have liked for the Bucs to address the need in the secondary sooner, but after the first two picks they took guys like Ahmad Black and Luke Stocker who have the potential to provide quality depth to the Bucs secondary and tight end position. Overall, this is a really good draft for the Bucs and they continue to show they know what the hell they are doing in rebuilding their team. There's a chance they rebuilt their entire defensive line in two drafts. I think that's remarkable.

Grade: 8

Arizona Cardinals

How can I bash the team that picked the best player in the draft. Quite easily. The Cardinals need a quarterback, but not a rookie because obviously that would anger Assistant GM Larry Fitzgerald who is clearly looking out for himself and not the team, they need linebacker help and they need some assistance on the offensive line. Would it shock you if I told you they didn't draft but for one of these needs? Glad it won't. They didn't. I know rookie quarterbacks are annoying and all of that. Maybe the John Skelton or Max Hall is the guy. So if the Cardinals didn't like any of the quarterbacks, then I won't bash them, but if they were afraid Larry Fitzgerald would be angry if they drafted a quarterback then I will bash them. I have no issue with going the veteran route, but there isn't free agency currently because of the lockout so when is the veteran going to come in and develop some sort of chemistry with his receivers? You can't help but love the Patrick Peterson pick. Ryan Williams doesn't seem to fit a need at running back, especially when there is doubt about the talent among those who would actually block for him. I think the Cardinals should have drafted a lineman in the 2nd round, not a running back. It is amazing how well a running back can run when his line opens holes for him. Williams seems like a luxury pick when the Cardinals could use help among those who block for him.

What's funny is the Cardinals addressed the linebacker need very well, but didn't address it early. They stole Sam Acho and Quin Sturdivant and they will fit in well on the Cardinals defense. Still, I think the offensive line could have used an upgrade, or at least a draft pick should have been made for the line. I'm a big fan of having a great offensive line and THEN drafting a running back. I'm crazy like that. Big props for a few selections, major non-props for a few poor selections.

Grade: 4

San Francisco 49ers

This is the first draft of the Jim Harbaugh era. We will remember this draft as the first draft for the future Hall of Fame NFL head coach. Years from now, generations will look back and see this is where Harbaugh got his first group of players that eventually led to 19 Super Bowls won. It's a special draft. I am kidding 49ers fans, Harbaugh may end up being a great coach, let's just let him coach one season first before assuming he will be a great NFL head coach. The media apparently isn't ready to do this.

Here are the needs the 49ers currently have, which Harbaugh will eventually coach into Hall of Fame players. They need a quarterback, defensive line help, a backup running back, and (in my opinion) a cornerback. They did a good job of drafting to these needs. While I would have taken Robert Quinn way before Aldon Smith, it certainly fits the 49ers needs. Sure, I think they will regret not drafting Quinn, but who am I to question Trent Baalke? He may not have liked Quinn over Smith in the 3-4. The Kaepernick selection in the 2nd round was a good one and he's lucky to work with a coach that works well with quarterbacks in Jim Harbaugh (that wasn't sarcasm). I just hope everyone in San Francisco doesn't forget about Bill Walsh and Joe Montana/Steve Young TOO quickly (that was sarcasm). I would liked to have seen the 49ers draft a cornerback earlier than they did with Chris Culliver, but they only have so many picks, and it is made up for by drafting Kendall Hunter to fill in when Frank Gore gets injured this year. He should be a very effective second running back. Overall, I think the 49ers did a pretty good job of filling needs, I just wish they had picked different players at some spots in the draft. I am going to be interested to see if the Crabtree Curse holds down Jim Harbaugh in his first year or not.

Grade: 7

St. Louis Rams

I can't believe the Rams landed Robert Quinn. He is a Top 10 talent easily. That was a great stroke of luck for them. It is obvious the Rams wanted to give Sam Bradford some talent around him and they seem to have done that. I don't think Austin Pettis or Greg Salas are necessarily impact wide receivers, but they will be good enough to be an upgrade over what the Rams currently have. The Rams had a ton of injuries last year at the wide receiver position, so healthy bodies are going to be welcome by Bradford this year. Offensively, the Rams did a good job, but they didn't fill too many of their defensive needs in the draft other than in the 1st round with Robert Quinn. I thought the Rams could have used a linebacker a little bit earlier than the 7th round, but maybe they were so focused on helping out the offensive they weren't concerned about the linebacker group until later in the draft. Overall, a good job for the Rams, though their later picks need some help in my mind. They drafted three safeties later in the draft and it doesn't appear any of them have the potential to be impact players.

Grade: 6

Seattle Seahawks

It has become rather fashionable to bash the Seahawks draft. I hate to be the one to pile on. The Seahawks needed some offensive line help, defensive line help, a quarterback, and maybe some safety help. I have become rather annoyed at those who say the Seahawks needed a franchise quarterback. Yeah, every team needs one of those. If the Seahawks didn't like the quarterbacks that were available in the early rounds, I don't blame them for not taking one. Still, I am surprised they didn't take one later in the draft. I am not sure anyone liked the James Carpenter pick where he was drafted because there were better tackles on the board. My understanding from what ESPN said is that he was going to play guard for the Seahawks, not tackle. That may make more sense, but there were still better guard prospects available. There may have been better offensive linemen available at that spot, but at least they upgraded their offensive line. Moffitt was also a solid choice in the 3rd round. So they have upgraded their offensive line.

After that, it got weirder for me. I guess I am the only one who thought they should have upgraded the defensive line because they did not select a defensive tackle or defensive end until the 7th round. The Seahawks really addressed their needs in the secondary later in the draft, but I didn't get the Kris Durham or selecting K.J. Wright over a cornerback at that point in the draft. I also would have liked the Seahawks to have drafted a quarterback at some point, even for just depth on the roster. Still, they took care of their offensive line and addressed the secondary, so I can't pan the draft completely.

Grade: 3

So that's it. Feel free to rip me a new one.


rich said...


On the one hand I was absolutely shocked and excited to see Prince fall to them in the first round. In a sense, CB was a pressing concern because lets face it, Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas aren't exactly a fearsome duo.

Rolle, Prince and Phillips is a pretty formidable secondary that can cover up some of the lackluster LBs that they have.

The one thing that confuses me is with some of the players still around in the second round, why did they draft Austin? I get that he would have been a first round pick had he played this year, but the fact that he didn't play this year because he was kicked off the team is kind of iffy.

The other issue I had with the pick is that the Giants clearly had a need at OL, LB and RB. Why do you pass up OL and LB (both had decent players on the board at the time) to draft a guy who plays the deepest position on the team?

Even this wouldn't be a huge deal save for the fact that they just drafted a DT in the second round last year and barely played.

In the past two seasons, the Giants have used a first and two seconds on the DLine. Again, the deepest position on the team and they've spent three of their top picks on it.

I give Reese credit for landing a solid OL prospect, but considering what happened last year, the Giants don't really have a guy who can sit on the sidelines for 2 years and not play. The OLine is old and he'll likely have to play this year filling in for some injuries.

The rest of the draft? I'm not really sold on. Sure they got a decent LB, but they did the same exact thing last year when they landed Dillard from Neb. You're not going to improve your team substantially by drafting mediocre players to your biggest needs.

Basically, isolated from the past few years, I think the Giants had a solid draft, but when you consider last year, my opinion is one of confusion.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think the Giants could have gotten by with those two at cornerback, but Prince is a beast. He's a really good corner and that is the biggest fall of the draft in my opinion.

Austin received improper benefits and that's why he was kicked off the team. I think you will really like him. His attitude is a problem so I've heard, but I've seen him play enough to know the guy was a Top 15 pick if he had played this year. I like that pick.

I will agree with you on the LB part. I wouldn't have minded the Giants take OL, RB, LB at that spot, but Austin is such a talent. I think the Giants had a somewhat need at that spot, even though it was deep there have been injuries at DT over the years for Giants.

I do agree a/b LB and OL though. They should have addressed it and for the same reason I knocked the Lions down perhaps I should have done so with the Giants. The Giants do seem to have a need that has to be filled there now.

I like Greg Jones. He will be a guy who is solid and gets a lot of tackles. Not good enough to be a star but good enough to start. He's probably better than Dillard in my mind, though I do still love Dillard.

I hate you are confused, but as a whole I can see part of the confusion. Still, I really liked what they did.

rich said...


I'll agree that from a purely talent oriented view of the draft, the Giants were very successful. They managed to snag quite a few quality players and two impact types players. That's a pretty good draft.

However, just like I've been waiting for the Flyers to get a real goalie, I've been waiting for a real linebacker for the past decade. The Giants are doing the same thing that is crippling the Flyers though. They'll go after free agents, cast offs from other teams and mid to late round draft picks.

For the past several years, the Giants have gotten a stranglehold on mediocre LBs. Since 2007:

2007 - Fourth round pick on DeOssie
2008 - Fourth round pick on Kehl and a fifth round pick on Goff
2009 - Second round pick on Sintim
2010 - Fourth round pick on Dillard

Free agent pickups

Mitchell, Pierce, Boley and LaVar Arrington.

Five draft picks and four free agents and honestly the best I can say is that two were serviceable players (Mitchell and Pierce) who are no longer with the team.

When you bring in a washed up LaVar Arrington, you may want to take the time to draft and develop a LB.

I went all the way back to 2000 and the number of linebackers picked in the first round: 0. Not a single one.

However, they did draft three corners in the first round (Webster, Prince and Will Allen).

Even more shocking is the fact that the Giants have used only two picks in the first three rounds (Sintim and Wilkinson) on a LB.

Again, it's not that I don't think they got talented players, because I think they did, I just think they got talented players who can't contribute much to the team. Even if Austin is a very good player, what happens to Joseph (second round last year)? What happens to the massive deal given to Canty? I mean, either way, you've either used a second round pick or given a ton of money on a backup DT when you had a much more pressing issue that you could have filled.

Right now, the LB corps is: Dillard, Goff, Blackburn, Boley, Wilkinson and Sintim.

I know the draft was really weak at LBer and so getting a LBer in the second would have been a reach, but the Giants have this gut wrenching habit of drafting players in positions they don't need. At all.

Austin will be the fourth DT. Fourth. A second round pick for the backup to the backup DT when the OLine isn't aging well and the LBing corps is one of, if not the, worst in football.

Again, it's nothing against the guys that the Giants drafted, it's entirely about the lazy attitude the team has to addressing needs, especially at LBer.

Murray said...

The thing I don't get about Carolina is. Why not get more help in other areas and use this year to see if Clausen can be a QB why give up on the kid this quick

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, you clearly know more the team's draft than I do. You also make good points about the linebackers they have drafted over the past couple of years. I guess the philosophy is they can find quality LB's somewhere else and not necessarily early in the draft.

The Giants may still be holding out hope for Dillard or Sintim to be quality NFL LB's. Perhaps that is it? I must admit though, you make a persuasive argument the Giants should have addressed OL or LB earlier in the draft. I perhaps should have treated them the same way I did the Lions, which I like the players but didn't think they filled a need.

Murray, the issue I think is there were only a couple of players on the board at #1 that worth taking at that spot and filled a need. The biggest needs Carolina has is WR, DT, QB, and CB. They never were going to take Peterson #1 overall, they thought they could fill the DT need later in the draft, and they didn't trust Clausen to get the ball to Green. It may have also had something to do with the fact they thought Newton had enough potential talent to take a risk on him.

The problem is QB was the biggest need on the team last year, outside of DT so they felt like they had to address it.