2012 NFL Draft First Round Grades


Let’s take a look at who drafted who in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and whether it was a good pick.

Disclaimer: this is just instant reaction by a football writer.

1) Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Grade: A

No-brainer here for the Colts. I don’t know if he can be Peyton Manning, but he’ll come close.

2) Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Grade: A

The price was steep for this pick, but if RGIII is as good as they and I think he will be it’s absolutely worth it.

3) Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Grade: B+

Richardson is a special player, but they gave up picks to move up one spot, and for a running back. Still, this will pay dividends in a touch division like the AFC North.

4) Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Grade: A+

Easy pick for the Vikings as they get a franchise left tackle to protect Ponder. Not to mention, they pick up some more picks from the Browns in the trade down.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Grade: A-

They moved up for him, but they’ve needed a receiver for about a decade. They get another weapon for Gabbert and pair him with newly signed Laurent Robinson. Good move.

6) Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Grade: A-

It was an aggressive move that will pay off big as they get a shutdown corner. Their duo with him and Brandon Carr will completely revamp their constantly struggling secondary.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Grade: B+

A bit high for a safety, but Barron is an extremely good player that addresses the Bucs’ biggest need.

8) Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Grade: B

The Dolphins finally draft a QB in the first round. I think he’s going to be very good. Will he be a franchise QB, though? Time will tell.

9) Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Grade: A

The Panthers get one of the cleanest, and best, players in the draft. Drawing comparisons to Brian Urlacher, Kuechly is a good tackler with ridiculous coverage skills. Great pick.

10) Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Grade: C+

I think Gilmore is a good player, but I’m not infatuated with him like the Bills were. I actually thought Kirkpatrick would’ve been a better pick.

11) Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Grade: C-

This is a classic case of a boom-or-bust pick. His size is there, as are the combine numbers. The production wasn’t, and neither is the effort. I don’t see a reason in spending the 11th pick on anyone but a surefire prospect.

12) Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

Grade: A

Although they traded up, this will be well worth it. Jim Washburn is going to turn this guy into a monster as a DT in the wide-9.

13) Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Grade: B

Larry Fitzgerald finally gets an opposite receiver years after Anquan Boldin left him. If Kevin Kolb can’t put it together with his receiving core, then they made a HUGE financial mistake.

14) St. Louis Rams: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Grade: B+

Brockers is really raw, but this is a typical Jeff Fisher pick. He might develop into a great DT, and they also got more picks. They’re in great position going into the last two days.

5) Seattle Seahawks: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia

Grade: B-

I don’t mind this pick as much as everyone else has. The off-field concerns are obviously alarming, but he was a beast at West Virginia coming off the edge. He may be able to have an Aldon Smith-type impact for the Seahawks this year.

16) New York Jets: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Grade: C+

Another boom-or-bust pick that I believe has the potential to be one of the best defensive ends in the league. He’s going to be a weird fit for Rex Ryan’s defense, though, and I’m not sure if it will work out.

17) Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Grade: B+

They now have a logjam at cornerback, but it’s hard to pass on a talent like Kirkpatrick. This is a very good value pick.

18) San Diego Chargers: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

Grade: A+

A very good player falls into a very good situation. Ingram is a perfect fit in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense. He will shine in San Diego.

19) Chicago Bears: Shea McLellin, OLB, Boise State

Grade: C

He’s a good football player, but where will he play. The Bears want him to play Sam in their 4-3, while he seems to be better as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker. We’ll see how it works out.

20) Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Grade: A-

I wanted DeCastro badly, but in no way was I disappointed with the Titans realizing they have become a pass-first team and drafting an explosive home run hitter that may end up being the best receiver out of this draft.

21) New England Patriots: Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse

Grade: A

Bill Belichick will turn this kid loose in his 3-4 defense, as he will rack up double digit sacks. Maybe starting this year.

22) Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

Grade: D

They were bummed not to get Kendall Wright, so end up settling for a 28-year old rookie QB. I don’t even think he’s any better than Colt McCoy. They should have gotten another weapon to help McCoy come along. Just doesn’t make much sense.

23) Detroit Lions: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Grade: A+

Just a great value pick at a position of need for the Lions. There are concerns about his short arms, but it hasn’t stopped him from being an anchor on the offensive line, and I don’t think it will.

24) Pittsburgh Steelers: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

Grade: A+

Classic Steelers having a tailor-made player fall to their laps. A mean, hard-nosed football player of the Steeler variety, he will start from day one up until the next decade.

25) New England Patriots: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

Grade: B+

As we’ve come to expect, another good pick by the Patriots. Hightower is a hard hitting linebacker that can play inside, as well as rush the passer when needed.

26) Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

Grade: C+

This isn’t that much of a position of need for the Texans, although they did lose Mario Williams. Mercilus has the makings of a one year college wonder, and it’ll be interesting to see if his huge year was a fluke. He seems to lack some explosiveness.

27) Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

Grade: A-

The Bengals trade down, and still get the offensive line help that they needed in Zeitler, a nasty, tough guard.

28) Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Grade: C+

There’s been rumblings that Perry is a bit soft, and we’ll find out soon enough if it’s true given the relentlessness of the NFL.

29) Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Grade: B

In an incredibly pass heavy NFC North the Vikings needed help in their secondary. They got it in a somewhat under-the-radar safety.

30) San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois

Grade: C

One of the real surprise picks of the first round. Jenkins was very productive this last year, and has shown flashes of being a very good receiver. But can he consistently keep it up? Seemed like a 2nd rounder to me.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

Grade: B+

A tough runner with good pass catching ability, Martin is a good pick for the Buccaneers. They did trade up to get Martin, though.

32) New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

Grade: A-

The rich get richer. I think the Giants really nailed this pick, giving them a great 1-2 punch with Ahmad Bradshaw. Wilson has all the makings of a very good NFL running back.

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