The embattled Roger Goodell--knee deep in the hoopla--announces the first round picks.

The NFL draft has come and gone, the the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall having long since focused their glare on other entertainment fare.  In the sports world, our attention has shifted to the NBA and NHL playoffs, with a wink and a nod to the just-underway MLB season and soccer matches of note.

Certainly there is no shortage of draft evaluations floating around, from the mighty Mel Kiper’s ruminations for ESPN to Pete Prisco giving his two cents over at CBSSports.com.  While that information–if you can afford it–is good and fine, this  Quick Fix Sports version gets down to brass tacks, foregoing the minutiae of the discussing the Browns’ sixth round pick’s mother’s maiden name.

Here are the simple, to-the-point, graded, and condensed evaluations of each team’s draft day fortunes, what it means, and what you can expect this coming season (which, if you’re counting, is a mere 124 days away).

Indianapolis Colts

  • Smart Picks: Andrew Luck (QB), Coby Fleener (TE)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Dwayne Allen (TE)
  • Analysis: The Colts did well to snag the sure-handed Fleener, Luck’s teammate at Stanford. A good tight end is invaluable in both today’s NFL and for a young, unproven QB. Not sure what they were thinking with taking Allen, however, as they just drafted that position and had other pressing needs. They addressed the defensive and offensive lines in the later rounds.
  • Grade: B-

Washington Redskins

  • Smart Picks: Robert Griffin, III (QB), Josh LeRibeus (OG), Adam Gettis (OG), Tom Compton (OT)
  • HUH?” Picks: Kirk Cousins (QB)
  • Anaylsis: Griffin, like his Indianapolis counterpart Luck, was a no-brainer, as the ‘Skins traded up to get him.  And judging by the majority of their subsequent picks, they take the act of protecting him seriously.  Coach Mike Shanahan inevitably went all “Shanahan,” however, curiously drafting Cousins in the fourth round.  The Michigan State product, while not  a slam dunk, was viewed by many as an eventual starter.  Will he be healthy competition for Griffin, bound for eventually holding a clipboard or will he be a distraction?
  • Grade: C+

Cleveland Browns

Was Richardson--a running back--selected too high?

  • Smart Picks: Trent Richardson (RB), Brandon Weeden (QB), Mitchell Schwartz (OT)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Travis Benjamin (WR)
  • Analysis: With Nick Toon (son of former Jets great Al Toon), Keshawn Martin, and Joe Adams still available, Benjamin was an odd choice.  He’s small, but fast, and has otherwise good measureables.  The thing is, speed and combine stats don’t always translate to Pro Bowl success.  So, put him on special teams to return kicks, right?  Ahem…they already have Josh Cribbs.  Interesting.  The Browns were skewered  in the press for the Richardson pick, but a solid running back is a good friend to a wobbly QB, be it Colt McCoy or Weeden.  The latter pick was scrutinized too, but what do the Browns have to lose by drafting him?  It’s not like McCoy is Tom Brady.
  • Grade: A-

Minnesota Vikings

  • Smart Picks: Matt Kalil (OT), Harrison Smith (S), Josh Robinson (CB), Rhett Elison (FB), Trevor Guyton (DE)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Robert Blanton (S)
  • Analysis: All apologies to Blanton, as it’s a stretch placing him as a questionable pick. The Vikings did well at the top of the draft, aptly addressing their needs in the secondary.  With the fifth round Blanton pick, there now seems to be a logjam at the position.  It’s more an indictment of the Vikes than of Blanton.  Guyton falling to them in the seventh was good news…Kalil and Elison will be great for the still-developing QB Christian Ponder and the rehabbing RB Adrian Peterson (ACL).
  • Grade: B+

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Smart Picks: Justin Blackmon (WR), Andre Branch (DE)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Bryan Anger (P)
  • Analysis: This punter had better be good.  Epic good, of the Ray Guy variety, considering how high he was drafted.  It’s almost as if, in the Jags’ war room on draft day, everyone looked at each other and said “You know what? We’re having a really good draft…Blackmon…Branch fell to us…let’s make a ‘what the hell!’ pick: Anger it is!!”  Still, with the otherwise stellar draft, new owner Shahid Khan looks to have a decent first year at the helm.  Get ready now for the “Wrath of Khan” puns, as the Jags are going to be better in a weak AFC South.
  • Grade: A-

Dallas Cowboys

In a sight that will be familiar in the NFL for years to come, Morris Claiborne, right, tackles Trent Richardson.

  • Smart Picks: Morris Claiborne (DB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: None
  • Analysis: This just may be the first time in NFL journalism history that so few column inches are used to write about the ‘Boys’ draft day.  Other than Claiborne, no sexy picks.  The good news?  No terrible picks, either.  Just a good, solid–if not interesting–draft for Dallas, as they adressed defensive needs.
  • Grade: B (as in boring)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Smart Picks: Mark Barron (S), Doug Martin (RB), Lavonte David (LB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: None
  • Analysis: The Buccaneers and new coach Greg Schiano took a page from the Cowboys’ book, and then one-upped them.  In the first two rounds, they managed to draft for need and best player available.  Two draft philosophies that rarely converge, as you have to do one or the other.  The remainder of the draft?  Backups of the positions that they’d already drafted (DB’s, RB’s, LB’s).  Smart.  Very smart.
  • Grade: A+

Miami Dolphins

  • Smart Picks: Ryan Tannehill (QB), Lamar Miller (RB), Jonathan Martin (OT)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Kheeston Randall (DT)
  • Analysis: Tannehill is a risk, but what other choice do the perenially QB-challenged Dolphins have?  They’re like the Browns in that sense.  Miller was a steal and Martin shores up an already solid offensive line, which bodes well for Tannehill as he’s thrown to the lions in his first year.  Randall is a project, which may seem fine, given that he was a seventh rounder, but you’d think the ‘Fins would take a risk on a linebacker or defensive back…any position that could be transferrable to special teams.  With DT’s, it’s boom or bust.
  • Grade: B-

Carolina Panthers

  • Smart Picks: Luke Kuechly (LB), Amini Silatolu (OG), Joe Adams (WR)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Frank Alexander (DE)
  • Analysis: Kuechly is the next Patrick Willis, while Silatolu is a mauler who can block well for both the pass and the run.  Silatolu  is a perfect fit, when the dynamic, mobile Cam Newton is your QB.  The Adams pick is smart, as the age-defying WR Steve Smith can’t keep doing what he’s doing forever…can he?  The Panthers defense, strong as is, picked Alexander over Jared Crick and Jonathan Massoquoi, among others.  They saw something they liked, apparently, and can afford to take risks.
  • Grade: A-

Buffalo Bills

  • Smart Picks: Stephon Gilmore (CB), Cordy Glen (OT), Ron Brooks (DB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: T.J. Graham (WR), no running backs
  • Analysis: There were plenty of higher rated wide receivers to choose from, when they selected Graham.  True, they need some balance for the mercurial Stevie Johnson, especially in coach Chan Gailey’s spread offense.  Perhaps his intangibles will negate the measurables?  You never know with Gailey…speaking of which: no running backs?  Really?  Fred Jackson is a workhorse, yes, but he’s getting up there in years, and showed just last season that he’s not bulletproof.  A little insurance here would have been nice for the fine folks in Orchard Park, NY.
  • Grade: C

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs hope Poe's impressive combine outing will be an every Sunday thing.

  • Smart Picks: Dontari Poe (DT), Jeff Allen (OG)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Devon Wylie (WR)
  • Analysis: Many scouts and journalists were skeptical of Poe’s combine numbers, considering that between the hash marks at lowly Memphis, he didn’t really wow anyone.  Then again, the Memphis coaches admitted to mis-using him a bit.  How else would you explain his outstanding combine numbers?  It’s not like he just didn’t try at Memphis.  Allen brings more stability for QB Matt Kassel.  The Wylie pick is GM Scott Pioli looking for the next Wes Welker, which is pretty darn risky.  Most likely, he’s the next Dante Hall on special teams.
  • Grade: C+

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Smart Picks: Fletcher Cox (DT), Mychal Kendricks (LB), Nick Foles (QB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Dennis Kelley (OT)
  • Analysis: Cox was a no-brainern, hand-delivered on a silver platter by the Seahawks no less (more on that later).  Kendricks continues the defensive tightening of the ship.  Foles is somewhat of a sleeper pick; insurance for the aging more injury-prone Michael Vick, and while not talked about, is a pretty darn good prospect.  Kelley wasn’t high on anyone’s board, wasn’t even a NFL combine attendee, and his measurables are average at best.  As mentioned: linemen project picks are risky, but with their otherwise great draft, perhaps the Eagles were feeling bold.
  • Grade: A-

Arizona Cardinals

  • Smart Picks: Michael Floyd (WR), Jamell Fleming (DB), Bobbie Massie (OT)
  • “HUH?” Picks: None
  • Analysis: Pretty boring, yet, efficient draft for the Cards.  They beefed up their offensive line, and they continue to get younger in the secondary, drafting Fleming to complement Patrick Peterson.  QB Ryan Lindley falls somewhere in the middle on the “HUH? to Smart” meter.  There’s not much doubt whether he’ll eventually be a solid NFL signal caller; it’s just that with ‘Zona’s murky QB situation, he may be called upon before he’s ready.
  • Grade: B

St. Louis Rams

  • Smart Picks: Michael Brockers (DT), Isaiah Pead (RB), Trumaine Johnson (CB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Janoris Jenkins (DB), Aaron Brown (OLB)
  • Analysis: Brockers adds to a defense that will be tested this season, as it’s a new scheme with a coordinator-by-committee approach, thanks to would-be DC Greg Williams’ indefinite suspension for his role in the New Orleans’ bounty scandal.  Pead’s selection is classic Jeff Fisher crafty.  Stephen Jackson isn’t getting any younger, and he’s got high mileage.  Johnson addresses a major void in the secondary, as does Jenkins, but the latter has the dreaded “character issues.” However, Fisher enjoys such challenges (see: Albert Haynesworth, Adam ‘Pac Man’ Jones), so this will be interesting.  Nothing against Brown, but the Rams are hurting for outer linebacker help, and why they waited until the next to last round to address this is anyone’s guess.
  • Grade: C

Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll and the 'Hawks hope that their gamble on Bruce Irvin will pay off.

  • Smart Picks: Bobby Wagner (ILB), Russell Wilson (QB), Robert Turbin (RB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Bruce Irvin (OLB/DE)
  • Analysis: Wagner is a standout amongst the seven defensive players the ‘Hawks selected in the draft.  He occupies a slot that’s remained in flux since the end of 2007, the last Pro Bowl season from the out-of-football-entirely Lofa Tatupu.  He has a lot of help in his quest to  “QB” the defense. Wilson led the second tier of quarterbacks in the draft, and could very well compete for the number two position in training camp.  Irvin is one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft, but several “yea, but’s” abound; at least too many to merit his high selection.  You can’t help but root for him, as he has a checkered past (some of it recent), but there’s a huge downside to this guy.
  • Grade: B+

New York Jets

  • Smart Picks: Stephen Hill (WR), Demario Davis (LB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Quinton Coples (DE)
  • Analysis: Hill and Davis both address key needs; Hill to augment the aging Plaxico Burress and the temperamental Santonio Holmes, and Davis to learn from (and eventually replace) Bart Scott.  Coples is the big question mark here, as he didn’t play a down for UNC during his senior year.  He has a lot of potential (like a ton of prospects every year), but to use your first round pick on him is risky, especially when your team is lacking picks in other rounds.  Head coach Rex Ryan–a defensive guru–perhaps placed a bit too much faith in his teaching skills with this pick.
  • Grade: C-

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Smart Picks: Dre Kirkpatrick (DB), Kevin Zeitler (OG), Devon Still (DT), Mohamed Sanu (WR), Brandon Thompson (DT), Orson Charles (TE)…all of them, actually
  • “HUH?” Picks: The fact that the perpetually bumbling owner Mike Brown has had two stellar drafts in a row deserves some sort of honorable mention; there’s your “HUH?” moment.
  • Analysis: This draft couldn’t have gone any better for the up-and-coming Bengals.  They amped up their defense, drafted O-line help to protect second year QB Andy Dalton…heck, even sixth round choice Dan Herron looks to be a special teams ace. if not a prominent backfield member.
  • Grade: A+

San Diego Chargers

  • Smart Picks: Melvin Ingram (DE), Kendall Reyes (DT), Ladarius Green (TE), David Molk (C)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Johnnie Troutman (OG)
  • Analysis: Defense was the order of the weekend for the Chargers, with a light peppering of offensive players.  For the most part, this was a decent draft for San Diego.  Their waiting until the fourth round to address the TE need, shows that they think Antonio Gates still has a year or two left.  We’ll see.  Troutman, while not a terrible prospect, is an odd selection given the amount of offensive guard (much less offensive line) talent there was on the board at the time.  After the concussion-induced retirement of Chris Dielman, you would think they would have selected better.  Molk was a steal (in the seventh round!) in an otherwise thin draft for centers.
  • Grade: B-

Chicago Bears

McClellin is a standout, but the rest of his draft class is ho-hum on defense.

 

  • Smart Picks: Shea McClellin (OLB), Alshon Jeffery (WR)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Brandon Hardin (S), Isaiah Fey (DB), Greg McCoy (DB)
  • Analysis: It’s almost as if the Bears went on autopilot in this draft.  “Hey, we’re the Bears, it MUST be all about ‘D,’ right?  …what’s that?  We actually have needs on offense?”  While McClellin is a solid pick, you have to wonder what’s up with all of the DB’s.  They did pick up tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth round,  they could have done better in earlier rounds. Jeffery has good hands, but he’s too much like receiver Brandon Marshall, ala the wrong fit.
  • Grade: D+

Tennessee Titans

  • Smart Picks: Kendall Wright (WR), Zach Brown (OLB), Cory Sensebaugh (DB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: No offensive line
  • Analysis: This had all the makings of a great Titans draft: solid defenders, Brown is a pursuer of the Keith Brooking mold, augmented by a big time playmaker or two (they were lucky to get Wright with the 20th pick).  There wasn’t much to find wrong with their lower picks, either.  No, Tennessee is guilty of a sin of omission, not commission.  Their offensive line, while not exactly in shambles, could use some beefing up, especially with a fragile Matt Hasselbeck and a green Jake Locker under center.
  • Grade: B-

New England Patriots

  • Smart Picks: Chandler Jones (DE), Dont’a Hightower (ILB), Alphonzo Denard (DB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Tavon Wilson (S)
  • Analysis: Head coach Bill Belichick predictably bolstered his ailing defensive corps, and Jones and Hightower should be great fits.  Wilson was drafted a bit too high, especially when there were so many other higher rated safeties on the board.  In typical New England fashion, however, the highly regarded Denard was still on the board in the seventh round waiting for them.  Their offense is still raring and ready to go from last season; how far they go in 2012, will hinge on how fast the young defense learns.
  • Grade: B

Detroit Lions

  • Smart Picks: Riley Rieff (OT), Dwight Bentley (DB), Ronnell Lewis (OLB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Ryan Broyles (WR)
  • Analysis: This draft for the Lions didn’t present any glaring needs; it was more an endeavor of reinforcement.  Rieff was a sensible pick, as we have all seen what QB Matthew Stafford can do when healthy; Detroit is wisely doing what they can in order to keep it that way.  Broyles kind of made sense.  On these pages, it was predicted that the Lions would opt for receiver help.  No, the position isn’t the issue; it’s who’s filling the position, especially when Rueben Randle was still available.  Broyles had issues with his speed–or lack thereof–before he suffered a knee injury.  Perhaps they’re counting on the fact that he’ll be the yin to all-world Calvin Johnson’s yang?
  • Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Steelers

Just a hunch, but we'd say that DeCastro fits the Steelers' smashmouth image.

  • Smart Picks: David DeCastro (OG), Mike Adams (OT), Alameda Ta’amu (DT)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Chris Rainey (RB)
  • Analysis: Nothing against Rainey–not since the days of Jerome Bettis have the Steelers had a ‘year-in/year-out’ RB, and the jury’s out as to whether or not Rashard Mendenhall is that guy.  A RB at some point in the draft made sense, but the more pressing need was the aging defense.  They picked up Ta’amu and LB Sean Spence, but will it be enough?  That’s a whole lotta future gambled on two unproven, middle round rookies.  Kudos on the offensive line selections, as Ben Roethlisberger–while still in his prime–isn’t getting any younger in the rugged AFC North.
  • Grade: B-

Houston Texans

  • Smart Picks: Whitney Mercilus (DE), Ben Jones (C), Brandon Brooks (OG)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Devier Posey (WR)
  • Analysis: Mercilus makes sense, as a playmaker in the front seven was needed in lieu of the departed Mario Williams.  Jones, like any other pure center this year, receives high marks from this author.  Brooks would be a good guard for any team, but he fits the Texans perfectly, thanks to his speed.  Houston runs a lot of rollouts and bootlegs, so a guard who can pull with the best of them–enter: Brooks–is perfect.  Posey should find a niche on the team, but it’s odd that he went ahead of Keyshawn Martin.  But hey, they got both of them, so no wondering “what could have been,” right?
  • Grade: B

Green Bay Packers

  • Smart Picks: Nick Perry (DE), Jerel Worthy (DT), Casey Hayward (DB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Andrew Datko (OT)
  • Analysis: Datko is OK, but why did the Pack wait so long to tend to their offensive line?  It’s not tattered beyond repair, but when Aaron Rogers is your QB, you stay proactive and groom the backups early.  GM Ted Thompson isn’t one to play the free agency market, so he must have faith in his aging line for one more season.  The defense got some much needed talent (a sore spot last year), and it’s a wonder that Worthy was still available in the second round.  Thompson has already sent champagne to the Seahawks (Irvin) and Jets (Coples), according to our sources.
  • Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers

His selection was criticized, but the 49ers hope the speedy James will leave NFC West defenders in his wake.

  • Smart Picks: AJ Jenkins (WR), LaMichael James (RB), Cam Johnson (DE)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Offseason acquisitions
  • Analysis: Jenkins is the Niners’ latest attempt to complement–or motivate?–WR Michael Crabtree.  He’s solid; nice pick.  Most experts scoffed when James was selected, but let’s not forget two things: incumbent RB Frank Gore is old, and offseason acquisition Brandon Jacobs is…eh…”inconsistent.”  He’ll spell Gore, but he’s not going to rush for 1,000 yards.  The young, speedy James makes sense and Cam Johnson was a helluva find in the seventh round.  The 49ers defense is a strongsuit, but when a quality player like Johnson is still around, when most other teams are picking punters and future AFL stars, you have to take him.  One other thing: Randy Moss.  If anyone can handle him, it’s the no-nonsense coach Jim Harbaugh.  Plus, they have the weapons to pick up the slack if he proves to be washed up.
  • Grade: B+

New York Giants

  • Smart Picks: David Wilson (RB), Rueben Randle (WR), Brandon Mosley (OT)
  • “HUH?” Picks: None
  • Analysis: The Super Bowl champs reloaded nicely, and it’s not like they had a lot of glaring needs to begin with.  In fact, it could be argued that they improved in some areas (see: Wilson replacing the “never know what you’re gonna get” Brandon Jacobs).  They did lose Mario Manningham to the 49ers, so if we wanted to pick nits, we could see some drop off with Randle taking over the spot, but QB Eli Manning–you can’t spell ‘Manningham’ without ‘Manning’–made him look better than he was.
  • Grade: A-

Baltimore Ravens

  • Smart Picks: Courtney Upshaw (DE), Keleche Osemele (OT), Christian Thompson (S), Tommy Streeter (WR)
  • “HUH?” Picks: Bernard Pierce (RB)
  • Analysis: GM Ozzie Newsome is to drafting, what Phil Jackson is to coaching: it’s as if he has some sort of cheat code and everything he does just…works.  This year was no different, for the most part.  Upshaw was a “must draft” sort of player to begin with, but with the Achilles injury to Terrell Suggs, he is now going to be asked to contribute immediately.  Osemele is a wise choice, given Bryant McKinnie’s age and weight issues.  The latter is good now, but for how much longer?  Streeter augments an already promising receiving corps, providing insurance if Torrey Smith ever flames out.  Pierce technically makes sense, given Ricky Williams’ retirement, but why was he picked so high?  Surely another decent RB would have been available later.  Otherwise, we can’t complain too much, what else is new with the Ravens draft.
  • Grade: A-

Denver Broncos

  • Smart Picks: Derek Wolfe (DT), Brock Osweiler (QB), Ronnie Hilman (RB)
  • “HUH?” Picks: No tight ends?
  • Analysis: Definitely a “business time” draft for John Elway & Co.  They addressed needs, and made few headlines, as the big news for them was obviously in free agency with the acquisition of Peyton Manning.  The strong defense got even more help, and Osweiler falling to them was the perfect fit, as he’s a great talent, but not quite ready now.  What better situation than to learn under one of the greatest?  Hilman isn’t ranked that high on most scouting reports, but he’s a great pass catcher and lightning quick, two things that Manning will certainly appreciate.  Plus, incumbent Willis McGahee is…ahem…of an ‘advanced age’ for a running back.  TE Jacob Tamme comes over with Peyton from the Colts, and while he was pretty good with Manning in ’10, the Broncos brass is putting too much faith that he’ll be “the guy,” as they didn’t so much as draft one tight end.
  • Grade: B+

Oakland Raiders

  • Smart picks: None, they didn’t have any…(we kid, we kid).  Tony Bergstrom (OG), Miles Burris (OLB)
  • “HUH?” picks: Chris Bilukidi (DT)
  • Analysis: The Raiders did the best with what they could, all things considered.  Their “HUH?” moment was most definitely the Carson Palmer trade that cost them much of their draft, and by extension led to a phenomenal Bengals draft.  Any draft that gives Mike Brown a shot at his second consecutive NFL Executive of the Year award, is a crazy one.  Now, in the sixth round, you’re obviously not going to be picking the creme de la creme, but the Bilukidi selection is perplexing.  Not to pile on the young man, but he’s so lightly regarded that he doesn’t even register on many draft websites.  He’s not at the bottom, no; he doesn’t register.  This is going to be interesting.
  • Grade: C-

 

QFS’ Best Draft Award: Cincinnati Bengals (A+)

QFS’ Worst Draft Award: Oakland Raiders (C-)

 

  • For more NFL musings, follow writer Dave Stanley on twitter: @mamakin73

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