Published April 30, 2012
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – A recap and analysis of how the NFC teams fared in the 2012 NFL Draft:
1 - Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State (5-11, 188); 3 - Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State (6-4, 275); 4 - Kyle Wilber, OLB, Wake Forest (6-4, 249); 4 - Matt Johnson, S, Eastern Washington (6-1, 211); 5 - Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech (6-0, 201); 6 - James Hanna, TE (6-4, 252); 7 - Caleb McSurdy, ILB, Montana (6-1, 245)
Top Picks Analysis: The Cowboys made one of this draft's boldest moves by shipping their No. 14 overall pick and second-rounder to St. Louis to garner Claiborne, widely regarded as this year's premier cover cornerback. The 2011 Thorpe Award honoree boasts the arm length to efficiently jam receivers at the line of scrimmage as well as the fluidity to mirror opponents down the field, and should instantly upgrade a secondary that was a big sore spot last season. Dallas didn't stop there in its quest to bolster the defense, spending its next three selections on that side of the ball. Crawford isn't much of a pass rusher at this stage, but has the functional strength to contribute as a rotational end in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme, while Wilber is a quality athlete with the movement skills to possibly take over for Anthony Spencer if the latter departs as a free agent after this season.
Best Value Pick: Hanna is a tremendous athlete who delivered the fastest 40 time of any tight end at the combine and could earn his keep as a move player that can stretch the field once he learns to be more precise in his routes.
Questionable Calls: The Cowboys entered the draft without a reliable No. 3 wide receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but waited until the fifth round to add to the position with the heady but athletically limited Coale. Considering the injury histories of Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray, bringing another running back to the mix would have made some sense.
Summary: The Cowboys got a potential Pro Bowler in Claiborne, but the rest of the defensive newcomers look more like capable role players rather than high- level starters and not a whole lot was added to the equation on offense. A decent overall crop, but nothing more.
FINAL GRADE: B-
1 - David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech (5-10, 206); 2 - Rueben Randle, WR, Louisiana State (6-3, 210); 3 - Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech (5-10, 178); 4 - Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati (6-4, 264); 4 - Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn (6-6, 314); 6 - Matt McCants, OT, Alabama-Birmingham (6-6, 308); 7 - Markus Kuhn, DT, North Carolina State (6-5, 299)
Top Picks Analysis: After losing complementary running back Brandon Jacobs and No. 3 receiver Mario Manningham from last year's Super Bowl-winning unit, the Giants quickly found their intended replacements in the first two rounds. Wilson, a track standout who offers one of the best blends of speed and power among this draft's running back crop, is ticketed for a timeshare with the notoriously brittle Ahmad Bradshaw and may be used on kick returns as well, an area in which New York often struggled in 2011. Randle was a late first-round candidate who surprisingly slipped to the last pick of the second, possibly due to a lack of elite speed and explosiveness, but he's an inviting target with a large catch radius that could fill Manningham's duties as an outside threat in multi-receiver looks. The Giants again turned to Virginia Tech with their next pick by nabbing Wilson's teammate Hosley, an undersized slot corner with good awareness in zone coverage who also experienced a slight stock slip after reportedly failing a drug test at the combine.
Best Value Pick: Randle had been considered a potential top 25 pick in some circles, so staying patient and getting him at No. 63 overall was a nice call by general manager Jerry Reese.
Questionable Calls: The Giants had a need for a tight end that can get on the field immediately after having two players at the position sustain ACL tears at the Super Bowl, but Robinson is a major project with only 29 career catches to his credit in college. A contract dispute with the ever-disgruntled Osi Umenyiora that could be looming made defensive end more of a priority that Reese disregarded.
Summary: Reese did his best to try to ensure the Giants won't skip a beat in defense of their title by plucking two young offensive pieces with upside in Wilson and Randle as well as an interesting right tackle candidate in fourth- rounder Mosley. New York's best-available player approach should pay some dividends once again.
FINAL GRADE: B+
1 - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State (6-4, 298); 2 - Mychal Kendricks, LB, California (5-11, 239); 2 - Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall (6-3, 266); 3 - Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (6-5, 243); 4 - Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia (5-10, 182); 5 - Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue (6-8, 321); 6 - Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa (6-3, 216); 6 - Brandon Washington, OG, Miami-Florida (6-3, 320); 7 - Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State (6-0, 223)
Top Pick Analysis: The Eagles were focused on infusing some quality young pieces on defense and orchestrated two notable trades on the first two days to accomplish that goal. The first involved moving up three spots in the opening round to seize their most coveted prospect in Cox, whose lateral quickness and exceptionally long arms make the fast-rising early entrant an excellent fit as a pass-rushing interior force in the team's Wide Nine alignment. Philadelphia later dealt down in the second round and came away with another pressure- creator in Curry, an energetic and persistent performer who joins a roster that's well-stocked at defensive end, and received an extra fourth-rounder that was used on Boykin. The Eagles also continued their makeover at linebacker with the addition of Kendricks, a short but well-built athlete who displayed great speed and explosion at the combine. Although he's best suited for the middle, the 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year will likely start out his career competing for a starting role on the strong side. Foles was a bit of surprise in the late third following an uninspiring performance at the Senior Bowl, but sports a strong arm and valued size despite below-average mobility and sometimes spotty accuracy.
Best Value Pick: A deep cornerback pool and durability questions caused the undersized Boykin to fall to the late fourth round, but he's an outstanding athlete with the cover skills and feistiness to be a viable long-term solution out of the slot. His ability as a return man also should aid a team that struggled in that area a year ago.
Questionable Calls: Kendricks was a worthy pick, but his short stature may not be ideal to playing as a SAM linebacker that often has to cover much taller tight ends. Foles had been sliding down draft boards and may have been still available on the third day, while the Eagles didn't bring in an understudy to heavily worked running back LeSean McCoy until taking the underachieving Brown near the end of the event.
Summary: Though Foles was probably a reach and there are some questions about how some of the newcomers will slot in, the Eagles hit a home run with Cox and succeeded in bringing in players that can impact the defense.
FINAL GRADE: B
1 - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (6-2, 223); 3 - Josh LeRibeus, OG, Southern Methodist (6-3, 312); 4 - Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State (6-3, 214); 4 - Keenan Robinson, ILB, Texas (6-3, 242); 5 - Adam Gettis, OG, Iowa (6-2, 293); 6 - Alfred Morris, RB, Florida Atlantic (5-10, 219); 6 - Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota (6-5, 314); 7 - Richard Crawford, CB, Southern Methodist (5-10, 189); 7 - Jordan Bernstine, DB, Iowa (5-10, 211)
Top Picks Analysis: After neglecting to bring in a quarterback for three straight drafts and paying the price for it with three consecutive seasons of double-digit losses, the Redskins added two before the fourth round reached its halfway point. The choice of 2011 Heisman Trophy recipient Griffin, a superb playmaker and charismatic leader with a rare combination of track-star speed and elite arm strength, at the No. 2 overall slot was entirely anticipated, but taking Cousins early in the third day qualified as quite a shock. It's still a sound decision, though, as the former Spartan is an accurate short-area passer who played in a pro-style offense in college and was expected to be drafted considerably higher. In between came the selection of LeRibeus, a high-effort player with very good strength who may also be able to handle center.
Best Value Pick: Cousins had a second-round grade on some teams' boards and should develop into at least a capable backup, so getting him in the fourth was a reasonable investment. Compton has excellent size and is pretty light on his feet, making him a worthwhile late-round flyer as a developmental right tackle.
Questionable Calls: Cousins may have been the best available player at Washington's No. 102 overall pick, but taking a quarterback it doesn't intend to start that high could be viewed as a luxury for a still-rebuilding team. LeRibeus may have been a slight reach in the early third round, as he isn't a premium athlete and sat out all of 2010 due to academics.
Summary: Though the Redskins have caught some heat for the Cousins pick and there isn't a sure starter out of the ranks other than Griffin, Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen still got their franchise quarterback while accomplishing secondary goals of adding depth at the offensive line and linebacker. Griffin alone gives this class an above-average grade.
FINAL GRADE: B
Top Picks Analysis: The Bears got a player with outstanding versatility and intangibles with their No. 19 overall choice of McClellin, a three-year starter at Boise State who saw time at both defensive end and outside linebacker as a collegian. The team plans to use him at the former, where his ability to explode off the edge could provide a needed pass-rushing complement opposite All-Pro Julius Peppers, though he'll need to improve his strength and anchor to be effective against the run. Chicago traded up five spots in the second round to nab the mercurial Jeffery, a physically-gifted big target with outstanding hands but who lacks separation skills and had trouble maintaining a proper playing weight during his tenure in Steve Spurrier's offense. Hardin is a question mark as well due to durability, having missed his entire senior season at Oregon State with a shoulder fracture, but the former cornerback can really run and plays with a ferocious intensity.
Best Value Pick: Rodriguez is kind of a poor man's Aaron Hernandez, a fullback-tight end tweener who can create mismatches when lined up on linebackers as a receiver and is also a decent blocker. If used creatively, he could bring an extra dimension to a passing game that got little production from the tight end position last season.
Questionable Calls: Not adding anything to an offensive line that's permitted 105 sacks over the past two years is a risky proposition, even with 2011 first-rounder Gabe Carimi coming back at right tackle following a rookie season wasted by injury. Hardin was a strange pick by a team that's now drafted a safety in the third round three consecutive years.
Summary: There isn't a selection here that comes without some concern, as McClellin may not have the bulk to hold up as an every-down end, Jeffery is an unrefined route runner with commitment issues and Hardin has a history of health problems. All have the talent to pan out and become impact players, but it's as yet unclear whether the Bears got significantly better through this draft.
Final Grade: C+
1 - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa (6-6, 313); 2 - Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (5-10, 192); 3 - Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana Lafayette (5-10, 182); 4 - Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma (6-1, 253); 5 - Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Temple (6-1, 233); 5 - Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion (6-1, 193); 6 - Jonte Green, CB, New Mexico State (5-11, 191); 7 - Travis Lewis, ILB, Oklahoma (6-1, 246)
Top Pick Analysis: With pressing needs at offensive tackle and cornerback, the Lions took steps to fill those weak spots with the early picks of Reiff and Bentley. The former is regarded as one of the most technically sound offensive linemen of this year's class, and the Lions hope Reiff can become the eventual replacement for 35-year-old Jeff Backus on the left side. His immediate future, however, may be to put disappointing onetime first-rounder Gosder Cherilus on notice on the right. Bentley was lightly regarded at the start of the draft process, but boosted his stock with strong showings at the combine and Senior Bowl and could quickly earn a prominent role in Detroit's suspect secondary as a slot corner asked to mirror smaller, quicker receivers. The selection of Broyles, the career leader in receptions at the FBS level, was more of a surprise, as the prolific ex-Sooner tore his ACL in November and may not be ready for the start of the season and the Lions appear well set at wide receiver. If healthy, he's an excellent route runner with soft hands and the toughness to man the slot and may be able to push highly-paid vet Nate Burleson off the roster.
Best Value Pick: The Lions got a potential fourth-round steal with another Oklahoma player, as Ronnell Lewis is a high-energy hard-hitter with the strength and quick burst off the edge to be an impact pass rusher. Though undersized for a 4-3 end and incredibly raw, academic problems in college were a big reason why he lasted until the late fourth round.
Questionable Calls: Taking the brittle Broyles over a cornerback capable of manning one of the outside spots is a decision that could come back to bite Mayhew, as Bentley may be too small to develop beyond a dependable nickel back. Not adding a running back showed great faith in the health of concussion-prone Jahvid Best and 2011 second-round pick Mikel Leshoure, but that position still remains tenuous.
Summary: Not as impressive as Mayhew's first two hauls which produced the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Best, Nick Fairley and Titus Young. There are concerns about Reiff being athletic enough to handle the left side and Broyles has serious durability flags, and the late rounds were mostly devoted to small- school wild cards. If the first two picks turn out to be hits and Ronnell Lewis makes the grade, this will be another strong cast. But there are questions.
FINAL GRADE: C+
1 - Nick Perry, OLB, Southern California (6-3, 271); 2 - Jerel Worthy, DL, Michigan State (6-2, 308); 2 - Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt (5-11, 192); 4 - Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa (6-1, 291); 4 - Jerron McMillian, S, Maine (5-11, 203); 5 - Terrell Manning, ILB, North Carolina State (6-2, 237); 7 - Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State (6-6, 315); 7 - B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee-Chattanooga (6-3, 233)
Top Picks Analysis: Improving a defense that was the Packers' obvious weak link last season was clearly the primary priority of Ted Thompson, as evidenced by the fact that the esteemed general manager's first six picks came on that side of the ball. The needs were so great that Thompson actually stepped out of character and traded up twice in the second round for Worthy and Hayward following the selection of Perry, a powerful and athletic specimen who'll be asked to rush the passer as an outside linebacker opposite All-Pro Clay Matthews after working almost exclusively as a 4-3 end at USC. It's a role the 22-year-old is physically able to perform, as he's possesses rare explosion off the edge, but concerns about his playing temperament were what kept him on the board until the late first round. Worthy also comes with an inconsistent reputation and must make a system conversion as well, with the talented college tackle likely ticketed as a five-technique end in Dom Capers' scheme, but has the requisite strength and wide body for the switch. Hayward is a quick and intelligent corner who may not be ideally suited for Capers' press coverage scheme, as he lacks strength and has just average speed and acceleration. He could possibly be groomed as a safety, where the Packers are thin after Nick Collins' recent release.
Best Value Pick: Datko was once a prized prospect who's been dogged by persistent shoulder problems throughout his career, with those medical red flags causing his stock to plummet. If healthy, he has the footwork and technique to become a solid zone-blocking left tackle with added strength.
Questionable Calls: The choice of Daniels in the fourth-round was a bit of a head-scratcher for a 3-4 team like the Packers, as he's not stout enough to play the nose and too short for a two-gap end. Not taking a quarterback before snaring the fiery but accuracy-challenged Coleman was showing an awful lot of faith that former practice-squad member Graham Harrell can take over the No. 2 role previously held by Matt Flynn.
Summary: A real mixed bag here. Perry and Worthy both have big-time ability but erratic motors, Hayward isn't an elite prospect and Daniels doesn't have a true position. The later rounds did yield a few intriguing candidates in Datko, Manning and McMillian, but this doesn't have the look of one of Thompson's best drafts.
FINAL GRADE: C+
1 - Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California (6-7, 306); 1 - Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame (6-2, 213); 3 - Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida (5-10, 199); 4 - Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas (5-10, 196); 4 - Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern California (6-5, 251); 4 - Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas (6-3, 219); 5 - Robert Blanton, DB, Notre Dame (6-1, 208); 6 - Blair Walsh, K, Georgia (5-9, 187); 7 - Audie Cole, OLB, North Carolina State (6-4, 246); 7 - Trevor Guyton, DT, California (6-3, 285)
Top Pick Analysis: General manager Rick Spielman was extensively active on the first day, moving down one spot from No. 3 to No. 4 and acquiring later picks used on Wright and Blanton and also trading up into the tail end of the first round to land Smith. The Vikings still got their man after swapping positions with Cleveland in the top five, as Kalil is a nimble and flexible tackle with top-notch pass-protection skills who will be immediately installed as second- year quarterback Christian Ponder's primary bodyguard on the left side. Smith fills a major need as well at one of the safety posts, with the heady former college linebacker owning the speed to cover tight ends down the seam and the size to be an asset in run support. Minnesota's retooling in the secondary continued with the selection of Robinson, a solid tackler who was clocked in a scorching 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine but is a bit undersized and underdeveloped.
Best Value Pick: Players with Robinson's speed are often hard to find in the third round, and the junior entry's ball skills and improving awareness make him a promising prospect with a potential starter's profile.
Questionable Calls: Spielman did manage to plug most of Minnesota's roster holes with young talent, but may have been able to extract a little more than the fourth, fifth and seventh-round picks he received from the panicky Browns to trade up. Though Walsh has a huge leg and incumbent kicker Ryan Longwell slipped greatly in 2011, the Georgia product is coming off an extremely erratic senior season.
Summary: Spielman made the right call by tabbing Kalil over LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with Minnesota's first pick, and reeling in a couple of future draft choices in exchange for moving down twice on the third day were pretty shrewd moves as well. The first three selections all look like either immediate or future starters, while players like Wright and Ellison could end up being useful role players. Overall, a job well done.
FINAL GRADE: B+
2 - Peter Konz, OG, Wisconsin (6-5, 314); 3 - Lamar Holmes, OT, Southern Mississippi (6-5, 323); 5 - Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin (6-0, 239); 5 - Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy (6-2, 264); 6 - Charles Mitchell, S, Mississippi State (5-11, 202); 7 - Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina (6-4, 302)
Top Picks Analysis: The Falcons had relinquished their first and fourth-round picks as part of last year's blockbuster trade-up for wide receiver Julio Jones, but were able to earmark both second-day choices towards fortifying the offensive line. Konz was a three-year starter at center for a prolific rushing attack at Wisconsin who gets high marks for both his smarts and toughness, but will likely spend his rookie season as Atlanta's starting right guard. He's a solid run blocker with good size and anticipation, but isn't overly strong and carries some medical concerns after missing each of the last three seasons with various injuries. Holmes is a developmental tackle with extremely long arms who put himself on the draft radar with an impressive combine showing, but won't be ready to contribute right away. General manager Thomas Dimitroff went back to Wisconsin in the fifth round to grab Ewing, a traditional lead- blocking fullback with special-teams experience who may make veteran Ovie Mughelli expendable.
Best Value Pick: Massaquoi is a promising pass rusher who racked up 19 1/2 sacks over his two seasons at a Troy program that previously produced NFL standouts DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora. Dimitroff's best decision of the week, however, was making the trade with Philadelphia for four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel at the minimal cost of a seventh-round pick.
Questionable Calls: With Tony Gonzalez probably hanging it up after this season, a tight end with pass-catching skills that can take over afterward would have been a boon. The same goes for a running back that can eventually replace the wearing-down Michael Turner. Although the team is high on diminutive second-year pro Jacquizz Rodgers, he's not built to be a every-down player.
Summary: Dimitroff was a bit short-handed due to the Jones trade, so it would have been tough to come up with a class that would make a substantial impact immediately. Konz should help if he can stay healthy, but that's just one of a few ifs that this particular haul presents.
FINAL GRADE: C
1 - Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College (6-3, 242); 2 - Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State (6-4, 311); 4 - Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma (6-4, 270); 4 - Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas (5-11, 179); 5 - Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina (6-0, 197); 6 - Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin (6-3, 213); 7 - D.J. Campbell, DB, California (6-0, 201)
Top Picks Analysis: The injuries that ravaged Carolina's linebacker corps in 2011 prompted the team to snare the consensus best prospect at the position in the incredibly instinctive Kuechly with the ninth overall selection. The reigning Butkus Award winner is advanced enough to step right into the middle and push three-time Pro Bowl honoree Jon Beason to the weak side, turning what had been a huge liability last season into a strength. Silatolu, who originally signed with Nevada but failed to qualify academically, isn't nearly as polished. However, the Division II standout has the power, athleticism and nasty streak to become a quality starter at left guard with added seasoning. The Panthers gave up their 2013 third-round choice to land Alexander, a long- armed pass-rushing specialist with solid size and who gives high effort.
Best Value Pick: Norman carries significant risk due to his age (turns 25 in December), competition level and questions about his makeup, but he's got the prototype size and next-level ability to be a worthwhile gamble in the fifth round.
Questionable Calls: The Panthers' two greatest holes heading into the draft were at defensive tackle and cornerback, but they didn't do anything to address the first area and Norman is a quintessential boom-or-bust pick.
Summary: After taking one of the draft's safest players in Kuechly, the remainder of Carolina's crop is long on both potential and uncertainty. If unproven newcomers such as Silatolu and Norman reach their high ceilings, this has the makings of being a special group.
FINAL GRADE: B
3 - Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina (6-5, 318); 4 - Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin (6-2, 215); 5 - Corey White, S, Samford (6-0, 206); 6 - Andrew Tiller, OG, Syracuse (6-4, 324); 7 - Marcel Jones, OT, Nebraska (6-6, 320)
Top Picks Analysis: The Saints were forced to be bystanders while the majority of the top-tier talent came off the board, as last season's trade-up for running back Mark Ingram and the penalty for being caught organizing a well- publicized bounty program on defense left the defending NFC South champs without a pick in the first two rounds. When New Orleans finally entered the fray, it chose an intriguing yet risky prospect in Hicks near the end of the second day. He's a former coveted recruit by LSU who wound up playing in Canada after being declared ineligible by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits, and offers a tantalizing combination of size and strength that will need to be molded due to his inexperience. Toon, the son of former NFL receiver Al Toon, is more of a finished product who has a chance to crack the Saints' deep arsenal of pass-catchers, provided he can overcome a propensity for injuries and a lack of top-end speed and separation skills. Fifth-round choice White was a cornerback at the FCS level but is expected to shift to safety in the pros. Athletic and physical in run support, he may have a chance to carve out a role on defense if veteran Roman Harper is hit with a league suspension for his participation in the bounty scandal.
Best Value Pick: Toon's durability issues prevented him from being taken higher, but he's one of this draft's more polished receivers and is capable of working from either the slot or outside.
Questionable Calls: Toon may have been more of a luxury pick for a team that's already stacked at wide receiver and was in need of a pass-rushing defensive end and more bodies at cornerback. Though Hicks could be a player worth gambling on, his rawness makes it likely that the Saints probably won't have a rookie that can make a significant impact out of the first three rounds.
Summary: The Saints aren't going to get much out of this class this season, and it remains to be seen whether unproven prospects like Hicks and White can develop into something down the road. General manager Mickey Loomis could have done worse considering the circumstances, but this isn't an overly special group.
FINAL GRADE: C-
1 - Mark Barron, S, Alabama (6-1, 213); 1 - Doug Martin, RB, Boise State (5-9, 223); 2 - Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska (6-1, 233); 5 - Najee Goode, ILB, West Virginia (6-0, 244); 6 - Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia (5-10, 197); 7 - Michael Smith, RB, Utah State (5-9, 207); 7 - Drake Dunsmore, FB, Northwestern (6-2, 241)
Top Picks Analysis: General manager Mark Dominik was wheeling and dealing early and often, with the Buccaneers engineering three trades in the opening two rounds to land a trio of good players on the team's radar. Dominik's first order of business was to improve a secondary that was abysmal during last season's four-win disaster, and accomplished that mission by moving down two spots to the No. 7 pick and taking Barron, far and away this draft's best safety. The two-time BCS national champion is both a thumper against the run and an instinctual playmaker with the ball in the air, and his leadership and ability to diagnose the game are obvious pluses as well. Tampa Bay traded up to snare two other possible immediate starters in Martin, a compact and powerful inside runner with good receiving skills and awareness in pass protection who will be given every opportunity to supplant the one-dimensional LeGarrette Blount as the club's top ball-carrier, and the smallish but speedy David. The Florida native is the prototypical Tampa 2 linebacker, possessing the range and quickness to be effective in coverage while able to tackle well in space. He'll be limited strictly to the weak side, however, because of his modest size.
Best Value Pick: Smith, a backup to Seattle fourth-round choice Robert Turbin at Utah State, has sub-4.4 speed and is a capable receiver who could surprise as a third-down specialist and threaten Blount, who isn't a favorite of the new coaching staff, for playing time.
Questionable Calls: Though it's hard to argue with any of the first three picks or Goode, who lends some needed depth at linebacker, a cornerback that could be groomed as a future replacement for the troublesome and likely outgoing Aqib Talib would have been useful.
Summary: Dominik's maneuvering resulted in three potential rookie starters who all have been lauded for their professional approaches to football, and the remainder of the lot all stand a good chance of making the roster and chipping in as role players. The Buccaneers needed a strong draft to build off their big splash in free agency and generate some more buzz, and they got one.
FINAL GRADE: A-
1 - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame (6-3, 220); 3 - Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma (5-11, 206); 4 - Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi (6-6, 316); 5 - Senio Kelemete, OG, Washington (6-4, 307); 6 - Justin Bethel, DB, Presbyterian (6-0, 200); 6 - Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State (6-4, 229); 7 - Nate Potter, OT, Boise State (6-6, 303)
Top Picks Analysis: Though the Cardinals entered the draft with a very shaky situation at offensive tackle, they couldn't resist taking arguably this year's top wide receiver prospect in Floyd with their initial pick. Though the talented Notre Dame product comes with some off-field baggage and was nicked up at times during his college career, his size, competitive nature and excellent after-the-catch ability should help eliminate the constant double coverage Larry Fitzgerald routinely saw last season. Arizona did address the offensive line by astutely grabbing the sliding Massie in the middle of the fourth round, giving the team a powerful run blocker with the agility and long arms to possibly handle the left side as a pro. The first defensive addition came in the form of Fleming, an intriguing size/speed prospect with a few character concerns but who also possesses a starter's repertoire.
Best Value Pick: Massie had the talent to warrant a late-round selection but fell mainly because his on-field play didn't match his skill set. Potter, an accomplished pass protector who lacks the strength to hold his ground against power players, was a nice get in the seventh round and could stick as a swing reserve.
Questionable Calls: The Cardinals also eschewed the opportunity to take an impact pass rusher a slightly greater need than a No. 2 wide receiver, with its pick of Floyd and didn't bolster that area later in the draft. All of the first three choices bring potential red flags due to either maturity or inconsistency issues.
Summary: For a team that didn't have a second-round pick, the Cardinals did quite well in this draft. Floyd can be a difference-maker playing alongside Fitzgerald, while Fleming, Massie and fifth-round gem Kelemete could all wind up as starters down the road.
FINAL GRADE: B+
1 - Michael Brockers, DT, Louisiana State (6-6, 322); 2 - Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State (6-4, 220); 2 - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama (5-10, 193); 2 - Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati (5-10, 197); 3 - Trumaine Johnson, DB, Montana (6-2, 204); 4 - Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest (5-11, 198); 5 - Rokevious Watkins, OG, South Carolina (6-4, 338); 6 - Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western (6-0, 187); 7 - Aaron Brown, OLB, Hawaii (6-0, 237); 7 - Daryl Richardson, RB, Abilene Christian (5-10, 192)
Top Picks Analysis: The Rams ended the regular season with the second overall pick but began their selection process slotted 14th following a pair of trades, the last of which produced the promising Brockers. The draft-eligible sophomore is the definition of untapped potential, possessing the powerful build and mammoth wingspan to morph into a difference-making defensive tackle that can clog both running and passing lanes. St. Louis' moves wound up netting two additional second-rounders that were spent on the controversial Jenkins and Pead, a lean speed back with excellent agility and good hands who gives the team a needed complement to bell-cow Steven Jackson. The Rams started the round by nabbing a big target for Sam Bradford in Quick, a former prep star in basketball who's still raw as a route-runner but has plenty of potential as a possession-type No. 2 receiver, and continued with the small- school approach later on by adding Jenkins and Johnson in the hopes of solidifying a shaky secondary. Jenkins does have major college experience as a three-year starter at Florida before being dismissed from the program for a laundry list of off-field transgressions, making him the most high risk/high reward player of this class. He also may the most complete corner to come out this year, as his speed, ball skills and awareness are all top notch. Johnson's height and average speed could lead to a move to safety after playing cornerback at Montana, and the Rams do have a need for a playmaking center fielder with the range to roam the back end.
Best Value Pick: Jenkins, provided he can stay out of trouble and have a professional approach. In terms of talent, he's a surefire first-rounder and NFL starter, but his character red flags caused teams to steer clear until the Rams came calling with the 39th overall pick obtained from Washington in the eventual Robert Griffin trade.
Questionable Calls: The Rams don't have much beyond tackling machine James Laurinaitis at middle linebacker, but didn't add to the position until taking a fringe prospect in Brown in the final round. A starting-caliber left guard also remains on the wish list, though fifth-rounder Watkins may be able to be that guy in time.
Summary: The tandem of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead showed they aren't afraid to take some gambles in their first draft together in St. Louis, as the Rams were both active on the trade front and didn't shy from bringing in players with either character or production issues. If newcomers like Brockers, Jenkins and Johnson pay off, the new regime will be well on its way towards turning the franchise's fortunes around.
FINAL GRADE: B-
1 - A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois (6-0, 190); 2 - LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (5-8, 194); 4 - Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest (6-3, 309); 5 - Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame (6-2, 245); 6 - Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State (5-10, 195); 6- Jason Slowey, C, Western Oregon (6-3, 303); 7 - Cam Johnson, OLB, Virginia (6-4, 268)
Top Picks Analysis: The offseason additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham didn't stop the 49ers from further tinkering with their receiving corps, as the 2011 NFC West champions used the No. 30 overall pick on the rapidly ascending Jenkins. Though he went higher than expected, the slightly built wideout is a cognizant player with very good speed and the quickness to be effective in the slot, and wouldn't have been available with the team's late second-round choice. That selection was spent on James, another smallish prospect who can really run and create big plays in the open field. The two- time All American doesn't have the bulk to handle a every-down role at the pro level, but gives a backfield that's more power-based a dangerous change-of- pace alternative. A series of position shuffling in the third and fourth rounds ultimately ended with the choice of Looney, a competitive and agile player whose strength is in pass protection. He'll get a chance to compete for a vacancy at right guard.
Best Value Pick: Johnson is a physically gifted edge rusher whose on-field production at Virginia never matched his athletic prowess because of poor instincts and a hot-and-cold motor. If he can be coached up and motivated, the Niners could get some mileage out of their modest investment as a situational player.
Questionable Calls: San Francisco entered the draft woefully thin on the defensive line and remain so after opting not to address those positions over the three days. The 49ers passed on guard prospects such as Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu and Georgia's Cordy Glenn in the first round in favor of Jenkins, and Looney's ceiling isn't nearly as high as those two.
Summary: The 49ers went with talent over need in this draft, and although Jenkins and James will likely start out as supporting players, both do bring a playmaking element that was noticeably absent from the offense last season as well as a possible rookie starter in Looney. San Francisco did neglect some positions that could have used some fine-tuning, but it did come out a more diverse team.
FINAL GRADE: B-
1 - Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia (6-3, 245); 2 - Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State (6-0, 235); 3 - Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (5-11, 204); 4 - Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State (5-10, 222); 4 - Jaye Howard, DT, Florida (6-3, 285); 5 - Korey Toomer, OLB, Idaho (6-2, 234); 6 - Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State (6-0, 184); 6 - Winston Guy, S, Kentucky (6-1, 218); 7 - J.R. Sweezy, DE, North Carolina State (6-5, 298); 7 - Greg Scruggs, DL, Louisville (6-3, 284)
Top Picks Analysis: The Seahawks pulled off what was viewed as the biggest shocker of the opening round by taking the enigmatic Irvin with the 15th overall pick after trading down with Philadelphia. The move was mostly panned as a serious reach, but the junior college transfer is a premium athlete with as much natural pass-rushing ability as anyone in this year's class and had been rocketing into first-day territory. He still carries considerable risk, however, having come from a very troubled upbringing and lacking the bulk to be anything more than a situational one-trick pony, but it's hard to find players with 4,45 speed on a 245-pound frame. Wagner can also fly in addition to being a solid tackler capable of playing inside or out, but will need to improve his awareness before nailing down a starter's role. Seattle made another interesting selection by tabbing Wilson, a terrific leader and scrambler who's hampered by size limitations, in the third round to enter a camp competition with free-agent signee Matt Flynn and holdover Tarvaris Jackson under center.
Best Value Pick: The powerfully-built Turbin is one of this draft's better inside runners and has shown some ability as a receiver as well, though he was plagued by injuries during his time at Utah State. With the Seahawks seeking a physical running back to help ease the burden on workhorse Marshawn Lynch, he could fit the bill.
Questionable Calls: Every player the Seahawks chose can be categorized as a major roll of the dice. Irvin is undersized and carries character red flags, Wagner is more potential than production, Wilson may not be big enough to succeed at the NFL level and Turbin is a medical risk.
Summary: Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider's stressing of speed and athleticism was obvious when looking over this list. There are too many gambles to give a high grade, but Irvin's ceiling as a double-digit sack artist and Wilson's multi-dimensional game make this a class worth betting on.
FINAL GRADE: B-