clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Draft 2011 Grades: New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions Steal Show In Round 1

The New Orleans Saints made out like bandits on the first day of the 2011 NFL Draft, and the Detroit Lions got the best value. How did your team fare?

What an interesting, complex and surprisingly coherent affair Round 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft was. 31 of the NFL's 32 teams made selections last night, and nearly to a fault, there's a high degree of logic in the players picked and the trades made for each team. That doesn't often happen in the NFL Draft.

Here at, our draft grades will be an evolutionary process, starting with a preliminary grade after the first round and formulating from that point forward. Every team but the Oakland Raiders has done something to this point; we'll leave the poor Raiders alone for the time being as a result. Here are grades for the other 31 teams after day one. Remember: C is average.

Make sure you also take a look at our round two mock draft and updated team needs heading into the second round. 

Arizona Cardinals: B+

The Cardinals made CB Patrick Peterson - arguably the best prospect available this year - the No. 5 overall pick. They'll team him with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to form one of the league's elite young cornerback tandems.

Atlanta Falcons: B-
Atlanta traded up 21 spots, all the way to No. 6 overall, to select WR Julio Jones. It was a bold move that will make the Falcons' offense very difficult to defend. The price paid to move up (three picks this year, two next year, including a first-rounder) knocks this grade down just a touch.

Baltimore Ravens: B+
CB Jimmy Smith, in this draft class, is a Top 10 talent that fell because of very serious character concerns. Ray Lewis should make sure those concerns go away, and Smith fills Baltimore's biggest positional need.

Buffalo Bills: B+
It has been a while since the Bills made a sensible pick in the first round; DE Marcell Dareus addresses the league's worst run defense. That's big buck to pay a five-technique end, however.

Carolina Panthers: C+
QB Cam Newton is now the face of the Panthers franchise, but I fear that early pressure to play Newton before he's ready could really put a serious damper on his development. Very risky situation for player and team.

Chicago Bears: B-
This grade is a touch higher than I'd have given another team for taking OT Gabe Carimi simply because the Bears desperately needed to address their porous O-Line.

Cincinnati Bengals: A-
I firmly believe that the Bengals selected the best player in this year's draft in WR A.J. Green. The positional value is the only thing keeping this pick from being a full-blown A.

Cleveland Browns: C+
Two trades - one down, one up - netted the Browns an extra second-round pick and DT Phil Taylor. Dick Jauron now has two massive, run-stuffing tackles around which he'll build his 4-3 defense.

Dallas Cowboys: B
OT Tyron Smith had long been linked to the Cowboys, and Dallas delivered: they've now got a high-upside, super-athletic tackle to help keep Tony Romo upright.

Denver Broncos: B+
I'm a huge fan of OLB Von Miller, and clearly, so are the Denver Broncos. He adds an interesting dimension to Denver's 4-3 defense - where he's not a perfect fit - and will be a nice complement to Elvis Dumervil.

Detroit Lions: A
The Lions are one of two teams to get my top grade. Detroit is turning their franchise around because they're not filling holes, they're drafting football players. Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh could become a truly legendary DT combination.

Green Bay Packers: B-
OT Derek Sherrod certainly wasn't an exciting finish to Round 1, but he's an excellent and experienced prospect that fits Green Bay's offensive system very well.

Houston Texans: B+
Years from now, some teams are going to regret not having DE J.J. Watt on their football team. Houston needed a front-seven defender, and they got themselves a very good one.

Indianapolis Colts: B+
The Colts desperately needed to address their offensive line, and with OT Anthony Castonzo sitting there, Indy's card was turned in very quickly. He's an instant starter at tackle in front of Peyton Manning.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B+
In need of a long-term answer at quarterback, the Jaguars moved up - surrendering a second-round pick in the process - to go get Blaine Gabbert. They'll safely stash him behind David Garrard for a year or two.

Kansas City Chiefs: C
I like the fact that they filled a need with a top-notch talent in WR Jon Baldwin. It's no secret that the Chiefs wanted to move down after doing so once, and I'm not a fan of the value of this pick. This was a risk.

Miami Dolphins: C+
Rather than reach on a risky quarterback, the Dolphins stood pat and took a plug-and-play interior lineman. I'm not big on OG Mike Pouncey - I think he's pretty average - but he was a smart investment for Miami.

Minnesota Vikings: B-
I really like the way QB Christian Ponder fits into Minnesota's offensive system. He'll have help around him if he has to play immediately, but he could use a vet in front of him so he has time to develop. This was a slight reach, as well.

New England Patriots: A-
Yawn. Ho-hum. Let's just take the highest-upside lineman, OT Nate Solder, and then trade down for a third second-round pick and the Saints' first-round pick in 2012. Everyone outside of Boston hates you, Bill Belichick.

New Orleans Saints: A
Holy value, Batman. I had DE Cameron Jordan graded as a Top 10 pick; he's a perfect fit for Gregg Williams. Then they trade back up to get the guy they'd have taken had Jordan not fallen into their laps in RB Mark Ingram. Sure, they traded away a second-round pick and next year's first-rounder, but they've set themselves up to be Super Bowl favorites right alongside Green Bay this year.

New York Giants: B
Playing in a division with pass-happy teams in Philadelphia and Dallas, the Giants got great value and immediate impact by adding CB Prince Amukamara. Very nice pick.

New York Jets: B
I'm not as high on DT Muhammad Wilkerson as others (like Mel Kiper), but he's very talented - if raw - and Rex Ryan will find a way to mold him into the next Trevor Pryce.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-
With Jimmy Smith on the board, the Eagles went for one of my favorite prospects this year, OG Danny Watkins. In a weak year for O-Linemen, Watkins is a plug-and-play starter, and the Eagles desperately needed one.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B-
The Steelers aren't a team that drafts for need; they draft for depth and their system. DE Cameron Heyward addresses both, and was just about perfect value-wise. There are still glaring needs to fill, however.

St. Louis Rams: B+
DE Robert Quinn was an outstanding value pick with tremendous upside, and he also happens to be a perfect complement to Chris Long. The brain tumor scares me, but otherwise, this was a terrific pick.

San Diego Chargers: C+
There's no question that DT Corey Liuget is talented, but he's also a bit overhyped, in my opinion, and not a perfect fit for the 3-4. I'll be very interested to see how the Chargers plan to utilize him schematically.

San Francisco 49ers: B
Pre-draft, I had DE Aldon Smith as my top-rated defensive end. "Defensive end" is the operative term there; I think he'll struggle to stand up and play OLB. He's a good talent and character fit for Jim Harbaugh.

Seattle Seahawks: C
OT James Carpenter had been mentioned as a sleeper first-round candidate for weeks, and the Seahawks had a big need along the offensive line. Beyond that, it's just tough to get excited about this pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B
I'm a big fan of DE Adrian Clayborn and his fit, both in talent and on-field demeanor, with this young Bucs squad. I'd have been a bigger fan of Cameron Jordan here, and now the Bucs will face him twice a year.

Tennessee Titans: C+
QB Jake Locker was, surprisingly, the second quarterback off the board. He's a great talent with perfect character and intangibles, but if he's thrown to the wolves right away, he faces very long odds.

Washington Redskins: B-
DE Ryan Kerrigan, who will move to OLB in Jim Haslett's 3-4, is an interesting playing style complement to Brian Orakpo. There will be rough patches for Kerrigan, however, who is somewhat limited athletically.