With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, inevitably the immediate grades have come out. While they are a lot of fun to pick over, deep down we all know that it takes at least three years for a draft to develop. So with three years of game time experience lets look at the 2008 class. We'll take a look at each team's class individually, as a whole, and take a look at what they were saying immediately after the 2008 draft.
Round 1: 13(13) Jonathan Stewart RB Oregon Grade: A-
- Has had two 10 TD seasons, and one 1,100 yard season. Carolina was bad all over last year, but with DeAngelo Williams possibly a free agent, Stewart is in line for a lot of work in 2011.
Round 1: 19(19) Jeff Otah OT Pittsburgh Grade: B+
- Carolina traded picks 43, 109, and their 2009 1st rounder to move up and grab Otah. He has played well when healthy, but hasn't always been healthy.
Round 3: 4(67)
- A starter since being drafted at safety. Has his best season in '10 with 5 INTs.
Round 3: 11(74) Dan Connor ILB Penn State Grade: C+
- A core special team player, who did start his last eight games. Injuries have been a issue.
Round 5: 6(141)
- Another core special teamer, but doesn't offer much as a starting TE.
Round 6: 15(181) Nick Hayden DT Wisconsin Grade: C-
- A decent rotational tackle, but with multiple DTs drafted in 2011, may be fighting for a spot.
Round 7: 14(221) Hilee Taylor OLB North Carolina Grade: D
- Made a position change to DE, but has made no impact.
Round 7: 34(241)
- A 16 games starter in 2010, Nothing outstanding about his game, but great value in the final frame.
Round 7: 43(250) Mackenzy Bernadeau OG Bentley College Grade: C
- A 12 games starter in 2010. Like Schwartz, average but great value later.
0 Pro Bowlers, 4 Starters, and 5 Back-ups - 100% retention, but a lot of marginal players. Many of whom could be on the chopping block under the new regime.
Overall Draft Grade: C-
Here is what Mel Kiper had to say after the 2008 draft:
Carolina Panthers: GRADE: B
The future is now in Carolina, which gave up its first-round pick in 2009 to trade back into this year's first round and draft offensive tackle Jeff Otah. Jonathan Stewart is a workhorse running back and Dan Connor is a real nice pick in the third round. I like the Panthers' picks on Day 2, highlighted by Iowa CB Charles Godfrey, who I thought was the best player on the board heading into Day 2. Tight end Gary Barnidge, who they picked in the fifth round, catches everything thrown his way, although he is not much of a blocker. Hilee Taylor has a very good motor at OLB, Geoff Schwartz is an overachieving OL and G Mackenzy Bernadeau out of Bentley has a good chance to make the team. I didn't like seeing them give up a future first-round pick, and Stewart does have some durability concerns, but this was a good draft for the Panthers.
Here is what Pete Prisco had to say after the 2008 draft:
Best pick: Third-round pick Charles Godfrey played corner and safety at Iowa, but he might be better suited to play safety in the NFL. He has a lot of range for that position.
Questionable move: A lot of people will question trading their 2009 first-round pick and other choices to move back into the first round to take tackle Jeff Otah. I like it, but it will be questioned.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Gary Barnidge, a tight end from Louisville, is a nice receiving tight end who will help the Panthers passing game.
Overall grade: B-. As much as I like top pick Jonathan Stewart, don't the Panthers have far greater needs than a running back?