After an exciting draft, here are my grades for each pick in the first round.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton QB, Auburn. Grade: D
Panthers start off the draft by taking
Jamarcus Russel Cam Newton. The only reason this isn't an F is because of the immense potential Newton has. I think he'll be a huge bust though, because he's probably the most inaccurate QB ever to be drafted #1 overall. Add his smug, entitled personality and you have a bust.
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M. Grade: B+
Don't know why they wouldn't take Dareus, having finished 31st against the run in 2010. Miller is still a good pick though, and pairing him with Elvis Dumervil could be extremely dangerous.
3. Buffalo Bills: Marcel Dareus DT, Alabama. Grade: A
Buffalo would probably rather have had Miller because their need for an OLB is bigger than DE. Still, Dareus can play anywhere on the D-Line and is in my opinion the best player in this draft.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green WR, Georgia. Grade: B+
Taking a WR in the top 5 is risky because the position isn't very important. Green is a great player though, and isn't the diva receiver that Carson Palmer is used to working with. I think Gabbert, Peterson, and maybe Fairley would've been better fits though for the Bengals though.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson CB, LSU. Grade: A
Arizona stays true to its board and takes the best player available. Paired with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Peterson might create the best CB tandem in the league.
6. Atlanta Falcons (via Cleveland): Julio Jones WR, Alabama. Grade: D
The Falcons gave up an insanely large amount to move up for Jones, who like Green doesn't play an important position. Also, unless he turns into Randy Moss, they'll be paying a ton of money for a #2 receiver behind Roddy White.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith OLB, Missouri. Grade: A-
Good pick at a position of need for San Francisco, but I would've taken Quinn myself. Smith is probably safer though considering Quinn didn't play in 2010.
8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker QB, Washington. Grade: B
Not sure why they opted for Locker over Gabbert, but they clearly like his potential. Locker is mobile and has a good arm, but my sit behind Kerry Collins (assuming he is resigned) for a while before taking over.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith OT, USC. Grade: A
Many draft experts, myself included, predicted the Cowboys taking Smith and we were proved right in a crazy draft. He can play right tackle at first but hopefully will take Doug Free's spot on the left in time.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Washington): Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri. Grade: B+
Jacksonville seems to be done with the David Garrard era, trading up for Gabbert at 10. Still, he could use some time behind Garrard and will have a great run game to protect him with Maurice Jones Drew.
11. Houston Texans: JJ Watt DE, Wisconsin. Grade: A-
Would've liked to see them take an OLB like Quinn here with Mario Williams playing DE. Still Watt is a great fit to play opposite Williams and they can target a rush linebacker or safety in the later rounds.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder QB, Florida State. Grade: D+
Vikings tried really hard to trade this pick, but couldn't find a partner and had to majorly reach for Ponder. He could prove to be worth it though, because he is a good fit for the West Coast offense and was only rated so low because of his injury history.
13. Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley DT, Auburn. Grade: B
I see the logic, I really do. Fairly and Suh could be a really scary team. But if you're not going to take Amukamara and you're going to take a D-Lineman, why not take Quinn or Bowers at DE? Kyle Vanden Bosch is getting old and so far as I know they don't have much behind him at DE.
14. St. Louis Rams: Robert Quinn DE, UNC. Grade: B
Honestly, I would've loved to see the Lions take Quinn and the Rams take Fairley. I would've given both teams As if that had happened. Still, Spagnuolo loves DEs and Quinn could make a great team with Chris Long.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey G, Florida. Grade: B+
Ingram should've been the pick, I don't care if runningbacks are losing value. Mike Pouncey is good but he's not Maurkice. He'll be a good Center, but he'd be an All-Pro Guard.
16. Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan OLB, Purdue. Grade: A
Great trade for Washington, and an even better pick in Kerrigan. He'll play opposite Brian Orakpo and wreak havoc on NFC East QBs.
17. New England Patriots (via Oakland): Nate Solder OT, Colorado. Grade: B+
Solder is a good pick but I would've taken Castonzo instead. He'll need some refining and conditioning before he's ready to protect Brady's blindside.
18. San Diego Chargers: Corey Liuget DT, Illinois. Grade: C
Liuget doesn't seem like a good fit in a 3-4 at all, so I'm confused why the Chargers took him. I'm not sure if he can play DE and would have to put on almost 20 pounds to play NT.
19. New York Giants: Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska. Grade: A
Amukamara is incredible value here at 19 and improves the Giants' secondary which could use a serious upgrade.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa. Grade: B
Clayborn might be a great pick, but I'm surprised they took him over Bowers. If Clayborn is worth the injury risk, how is Bowers, who could've been the #1 overall pick, not?
21. Cleveland Browns (via Kansas City): Phil Taylor NT, Baylor. Grade: C+
Taylor is a better fit for a 3-4 and has some health concerns. Also, Cleveland actually does have some decent DTs but has virtually no one who can rush the passer. Jordan and Bowers both rate higher than Taylor and fit a more pressing need.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College. Grade: A-
Castonzo is probably the most NFL ready left tackle this year, and is a good fit to protect Manning's blindside.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins G, Baylor. Grade: C
Watkins has a lot of talent but probably isn't worth a first round pick since he's already 26 years old. Carimi would've been a much more valuable and safer pick in my opinion.
24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan DE, California. Grade: A
Great pick for the Saints, who get a versatile and dynamic player in Jordan. He's also an incredible value at 24.
25. Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter G, Alabama. Grade: F
Carpenter has no business being in the first round. I targeted him for the Steelers in the second round. With Carimi and Sherrod still on the board, this is seriously dumbfounding.
26. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh. Grade: B
Baldwin is a good pick and fills a big need for the Chiefs, but the value isn't really there.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado. Grade: B-
Smith has some character concerns and seems like a bust to me, but he is good value at the end of the first. Still, I don't see CB as a big need for Baltimore, certainly not ahead of OLB, OT, DE, or even WR.
28. New Orleans Saints (via New England): Mark Ingram RB, Alabama. Grade: A
New Orleans traded back into the first round and got Ingram, which could be the biggest steal of the draft. He'll bring back the strong run game that Brees fed off of in 2009.
29. Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin. Grade: A
Carimi should've gone much higher, ahead of Carpenter and Watkins, but fell into the Bears' lap. They get a mauler in the run game who will open things up for Matt Forte and just about anything is an upgrade for the Bears' pass protection.
30. New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson DE, Temple. Grade: A-
Wilkerson is a good player who could've gone much higher and fills a need for the Jets. I probably would've taken Akeem Ayers though, because he's great in coverage and can become a great pass rusher in time.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward DE, Ohio State. Grade: B+
Not too surprised with the Steelers pick, they play it safe and take DE like they did in 2009 with Ziggy Hood. I'm bummed they couldn't trade up to get Carimi, who I think would've been a great pick.
32. Green Bay Packers: Derek Sherrod OT, Mississippi State
Another solid pick for Green Bay, who needs a future left tackle for when Chad Clifton retires. Sherrod could be a great LT with some time before he is thrown into action.