Saturday, December 10, 2011
NFL 2011 Draft Grades For Every Team
Arizona's draft started out strong when they selected Patrick Peterson in the first round. Not only is he playing cornerback well, Peterson has tied Hall of Famer Jack Christiansen for the most punt return touchdowns by a rookie. He is 97 yards away from the rookie record Louis Lipps set in 1984 for most punt return yards ever in a single season.
Ryan Williams is a halfback drafted in the second round who has spent the season on injured reserve. Tight end Robert Housler was the Cardinals third round pick, but he has yet to catch a pass because veterans Todd Heap and Jeff King has kept him on the bench.
Sam Acho, the fourth round pick, has done well transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker. He has given the team five sacks, two forced fumbles, and 26 tackles as a reserve.
Anthony Sherman is a fullback Arizona took in the fifth round. He is starting and has six receptions in a role that has him blocking for halfback Beanie Wells.
The oft-injured Wells is having the best year of his career and is approaching his first 1,000-yard year. Wells nine scores not only match his career total, he is also 274 yards away from matching the totals he ran for his previous two years. Sherman's addition has obviously helped him.
Defensive lineman David Carter and linebacker Quan Sturvidant were picked in the sixth round. While Sturdivant has spent this season on the practice squad, Carter has pitched in a sack as a bench player. Wide receiver Demarco Sampson, their last pick, has caught three balls this year.
Losing the promising Williams hurt the team. Sherman and Acho have done well for the team, and the entire draft class did make the active roster with the exception of Williams and Sturdivant.
Peterson has a very strong case for being named Defensive Rookie of the Year, and his record setting work on special teams has given the Big Red two of their five victories so far. His work has helped an average draft look better.
Grade : B
Atlanta felt they were on the cusp of Super Bowl glory, so they got aggressive in the 2011 NFL Draft by trading to move up and select wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones, a talented player who some perceived as fragile, has already missed three games this year because of injury. Yet he has caught 34 passes for 556 yards.
Akeem Dent, a linebacker, was selected in the third round. He has basically played special teams. Fifth-round pick Jacquizz Rodgers, a halfback, has been seldom used as a reserve behind Michael Turner.
Punter Matt Bosher has been average at best since being picked in the sixth round. The Falcons had two picks in the seventh round to finish up their draft.
While guard Andrew Jackson has spent the year on the practice squad, defensive end Cliff Matthews made the team and has yet to contribute anything. Other than Jones and Bosher, this rookie class may not have an impact of the franchise for a few years.
Atlanta gambled in hopes of retaining their NFC South title, but they are now struggling to get a playoff spot. The team has been inconsistent, which pretty much sums up their 2011 draft.
Grade : D
One of the biggest reasons the Ravens are always so good is because of the work general manager Ozzie Newsome puts in. Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end, knows the game and obviously does his homework.
Jimmy Smith was the Ravens first round selection. The cornerback was brought up slowly initially, but has shown promise despite missing four games due to injury. He has intercepted two passes in limited duty as an extra defensive back.
Baltimore lucked into wide receiver Torry Smith in the second round, a player some thought might sneak into the first round. Smith, a local hero from the University of Maryland, fought through a tough preseason to rebound as the Ravens top deep threat.
With veteran Lee Evans hurt most of the year, Smith has stepped up to catch 32 passes and five scores at a 20.2 yards per catch average. His ability to stretch the seam of the defense has given the Ravens the offensive balance they thought Evans would have provided.
Jah Reid is an offensive tackle Baltimore drafted in the third round. He has spent this year as a reserve on a team full of veterans on the offensive line.
Tandon Doss is a wide receiver the Ravens took in the next round. He showed promise in preseason, but has not seen much action this year. He made headlines by foiling a crime earlier this year.
Baltimore had two picks in the fifth round. Chykie Brown, a cornerback, has rarely played. Yet defensive end Pernell McPhee has been an excellent find. He has grabbed six sacks, second most on the team, and 20 tackles as a reserve on one of the best defenses in the league.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was drafted in the sixth round and has spent the year on the bench behind Joe Flacco, who has yet to miss a game in his career. Halfback Anthony Allen was the last draft choice, and he has three carries in the four games he has played.
This draft class, with the exception of McPhee and the Smith's, has spent this year learning from a group of veterans who know how to win. Their true impact will be seen more clearly down the road, because most have an upside that projects well.
Newsome just did what he has always done. He has set up this team to continue winning down the road.
Grade : B
Many look at the Bills recent drafts and see many failures with their top picks. The team needed to stop this bad trait by having an excellent 2011 draft.
The Bills flew out of the gates this season, but reality has recently set in on the young team and had their Cinderella season strike midnight as they are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Part of this early success was due to a solid draft where almost all made the active roster.
Marcell Dareus, a defensive tackle selected in the first round, leads the team with 3.5 sacks despite having to play nose tackle after Pro Bowler Kyle Williams went on the injured reserve early in the season. Buffalo has 13 players on this list, including four starters on defense.
Buffalo's second round choice was cornerback Aaron Williams, who has played just six games because of injuries. He has shown promise and he may contribute more with Pro Bowler Terrance McGee on injured reserve.
Kelvin Sheppard is a linebacker drafted in the third round who is now starting after veteran Shawn Merriman went on the injured reserve after six games. The rookie has 36 tackles and safety so far.
Da'Norris Searcy was drafted in the fourth round, and the strong safety has even started three games. He has an interception and 38 tackles so far. Chris Hairston was the Bills second pick in the fourth round, and he has spent this year on the bench.
Fifth-round pick Johnny White has just 11 carries this year, but the halfback may end up getting more work after starter Fred Jackson went on injured reserve a few weeks ago. Linebacker Chris White is now on the injured reserve after the sixth-round selection had played special teams for seven weeks.
Buffalo had two picks in the seventh round. Cornerback Justin Rogers has spent this season contributing on special teams.
The Bills final pick was defensive lineman Michael Jasper, an interesting project who weighed over 450 pounds in college. He has spent the year on the practice squad and trimmed down to 375.
The rebuilding of the Bills may take awhile, but having a solid draft finally will help. Dareus doesn't appear as if he will follow recent wasted top picks like Aaron Maybin, J.P. Losman, John McCargo and Mike Williams. Other recent top picks like Lee Evans, Willis McGahee, Donte Whitner and Marshawn Lynch have joined Maybin to contribute for other teams.
But Buffalo hopes he isn't mediocre like recent first round selections C.J. Spiller and Leodis McKelvin. Time will tell, but the Bills did show unexpected marked improvement despite only getting real production from Dareus in the years draft class.
Grade : C-
Ron Rivera needed a sound draft in his first year as the head coach. Being a defensive expert, he leaned heavily on that side of the ball but first started by getting his franchise quarterback.
Cam Newton has carried this team day one, even though the roster has crumbled around him. The Panthers have 14 players currently on the injured reserve, which in includes their best defensive player and best offensive lineman.
Newton has not only tossed the ball 413 times already, he has run the ball 100 times. Newton's 13 rushing touchdowns is the most ever by a quarterback in NFL history.
He is just 19 rushing attempts and 51 yards from leading Carolina in this category despite the fact the team spent millions to retain the services of DeAngelo Williams before the season began. Jonathan Stewart has been more effective than Williams despite coming off the bench.
After tabbing Newton with the top pick of the draft, Rivera grabbed two defensive tackles in the following rounds. While Terrell McClain played well at times, Sione Fua gave next to nothing. Both tackles went on the injured reserve after 12 games this year.
Brandon Hogan is a cornerback Carolina took in the fourth round, but he has yet to record a statistic because he spent most of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list until recently. Wide receiver Kealoha Pilares was taken in the fifth round, but has yet to catch a pass. He has returned 15 kickoffs, and he took one return for a team record 101 yard score.
The Panthers sixth-round pick, Lawrence Wilson, did not work out. After spending much of the season on the practice squad, Wilson was arrested with possession of narcotics and had his contract terminated.
Carolina grabbed two offensive linemen with their last two selections. Guard Zach Williams is on injured reserve, while tackle Lee Ziemba has spent the year as a rarely used reserve.
With a team trying to rebuild, it has been difficult through all of the injuries. Carolina is the eighth best scoring team in the NFL, but the defense is ranked 29th in points allowed. This has helped the team to a 4-8 record so far.
Besides Newton, the only rookies that have played well are McClain and Pilares. Newton will probably win the offensive Rookie of the Year award, thus saving this year from being a failure, but the overall draft has been a disappointment for the most part.
Grade : C
When you go the the NFC Championship Game, as the Bears did last year, you pick near the end of the draft and hope a good player falls to you. The Bears top pick, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, was put on injured reserve after appearing in just two games.
Chicago selected defensive tackle Stephen Paea in the second round, but the rookie has been buried on the bench. He still contributed a sack and a safety in the six games he has appeared in.
Chris Conte is a safety Chicago took in the third round. He has started seven games and chipped in 26 tackles and a interception.
The Bears used their fifth round selection on quarterback Nathan Enderle, who has spent the year on the bench. Chicago's last pick, linebacker James Thomas, has spent the year on injured reserve.
Conte is the only player of Chicago's five picks that has contributed much of anything. Men like Carimi, Paea, Enderle and Thomas may help out in the future, but this year has been a wash out for this draft class.
Grade : D -
When you get rid of your top wide receiver and your franchise quarterback refuses to play with your team, things appear bleak at best. Yet the Bengals turned this situation into a positive through their draft.
They drafted wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round, then quarterback Andy Dalton in the next round. Both players have done so well that they have been mentioned as possible candidates for Rookie of the Year.
Green has grabbed 50 passes for 832 yards and seven touchdowns. He has been nothing short of spectacular despite battling nagging injuries and having another rookie toss him the ball.
Dalton often plays unlike a rookie, though he has had a few expected bumps on the road to successes. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, which has helped Cincinnati stay very much alive in the playoff hunt this year.
Dontay Moch, a linebacker picked in the third round, broke his foot in the first preseason game and has spent this year on the bench. Clint Boling, the fourth round selection, has started three games.
The Bengals next two picks, free safety Robert Sands and wide receiver Ryan Whalen, have contributed nothing this year. Their last selections, cornerback Koren Lindsey and halfback Jay Finley, did not make the team.
Though they haven't gotten much after their first two picks, the selections of Green and Dalton have set this franchise up for years. The duo is already exciting and should get even better down the road.
Grade : A -
Everyone in Cleveland knew the rebuilding job Mike Holmgren is undertaking will take time, but there is already positive signs. Despite hiring offensive expert Pat Shurmur as head coach, the offense has been anemic. But the defense is ranked eighth in points allowed so far.
Mammoth defensive tackle Phil Taylor was drafted in the first round and has started right away. He already has 48 tackles and four sacks.
Jabaal Sheard was drafted in the second round and the defensive end lines up next to Taylor. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks and has 43 tackles.
Wide receiver Greg Little was a third round pick some viewed as a sleeper who could be Rookie of the Year. That hasn't happened with Cleveland's offensive woes, but he has led the team with 50 receptions.
Tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns fourth round selection, has only contributed one catch. Fullback Owen Marecic, the fifth round pick, has mainly spent his time blocking for a wide range of halfbacks in the Browns banged up backfield.
Cleveland had two picks in the fifth round. Buster Skrine, a speedy cornerback, hasn't done much. Yet guard Jason Pinkston beat out veterans Artis Hicks and John Greco for a starting job.
Strong safety Eric Hagg, their last pick, has played in just six games as a third-string player. It was a draft where every player Cleveland selected made the active roster.
Holmgren has to be happy with this draft class. Taylor and Sheard could be a lethal combo for a long time. Little, Marecic and Pinkston are already starters on offense.
Getting five starters out of eight picks is an excellent job for any year. Cleveland may be struggling this year, but the "Dawg Pound" has to like the progress they are witnessing.
Grade : A
After years of concentrating on positions other than the offensive line in the draft, Dallas smartly began to bolster the trenches in this draft. They took 20 year old Tyron Smith in the first round, and the offensive tackle has been very good most of the season.
Bruce Carter is a linebacker taken in the second round. He has not done much this year, making Cowboys fans wonder if he will be a bust like Bobby Carpenter was as the teams first round pick in 2006.
DeMarco Murray has been quite a find as a third round selection. After a slow start, he eventually earned a starting job and has run for 872 yards so far.
Offensive tackle David Arkin, the fourth round selection, has spent this year on the bench. Josh Thomas, a cornerback taken in the fifth round, did not make the team and has now played six games with the Carolina Panthers.
Dwayne Harris, a wide receiver taken in the sixth round, has spent this season on the practice squad. Shaun Chapas, a fullback taken the next round, has spent most of this year on special teams but did start a game.
Center/ guard Bill Nagy was their last pick. He started in one of the four games he played before an injury ended his season.
Dallas had a hit or miss draft. Smith and Murray have been big, but they really haven't gotten a lot from the rest of their draft class. How guys like Carter and Arkin pan out down the road will give a truer grade, but the miss on Thomas drops the overall grade this year.
Grade : C +
When you are a head coach known for defensive expertise, it is safe to assume the first draft will lean heavily in that direction if rebuilding is the plan. John Fox took six defenders in the Broncos nine picks.
The very first pick, who happened to be the second player chosen overall, was linebacker Von Miller. He is mostly known for his pass rushing abilities, as his team-leading 10.5 sacks show, but he has become more well-rounded as the season has progressed. He is third on the team with 58 tackles.
Denver had two picks in the second round. The first was free safety Rahim Moore, a guy some thought may get picked in the first round. He has started five games and picked off a pass.
Orlando Franklin surprisingly slipped into the Broncos laps. He is their starting right tackle, an important position because quarterback Tim Tebow is left-handed.
The third round pick was Nate Irving, a middle linebacker buried in the depth chart. Joe Mays, a four-year veteran, has been a pleasant surprise at the position this season
Quinton Carter was drafted in the fourth round, but he has now risen to be the starter at free safety. He has 37 tackles and might move over to strong safety next year if 16-year veteran Brian Dawkins retires at the end of the year.
Julius Thomas was Denver's second pick in the fourth round. The tight end has just one catch so far. Mike Mohamed was a linebacker drafted in the sixth round, but has played in just two games.
The Broncos had two picks in the seventh round. Tight end Virgil Green has caught two passes while defensive end Jeremy Beal was the last pick and he has spent the season on the practice squad.
The pick of Miller alone makes this a successful draft. He is considered a favorite of mane to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year.
While Franklin is already a vital part of the offense, Moore and Carter have split starts at free safety. So it appears Denver will be set in the middle of their secondary for quite awhile. Their young tight ends have also pitched in.
In a year where rebuilding was supposed to have brought mediocrity, Denver sits on top of the AFC West because of their defense. While Fox may still be still developing his team, the results from the 2011 draft class have been mostly excellent thus far.
Grade : A
The young Lions rebuilding continues this year, and the was hoping for the same positive results they got last year. It hasn't worked out that way.
Though Detroit already had a pretty good group of defensive lineman, they took Nick Fairley in the first round. Many thought the defensive tackle might go as high as the second overall pick, so Detroit felt lucky he fell to them. Fairley has given them next to nothing so far.
Wide receiver Titus Young was the first of two picks the Lions had in the second round. He has given the team 31 receptions so far. Halfback Mikel LeShoure was lost for the year in training camp, which was a crushing blow to the team.
Fifth round pick Doug Hogue has not played much because he is buried deep on the depth chart at linebacker. Offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath, their last pick, has spent the year on injured reserve.
With just one draft pick contributing, this draft class has been disappointing for Detroit.
Grade : D -
Green Bay Packers
When your the defending champion returning most of their roster, there is only hope a few players from the draft. Especially this Packers team that won it all despite a major amount of injuries all of last year.
Offensive tackle Derek Sherrod was the first round pick of Green Bay. He has spent most of the year on the bench.
Randall Cobb is a wide receiver who is the Packers kick return specialist. Not only has he scored a touchdown off both a punt and kickoff return, he has grabbed 17 passes and scored once again.
Alex Green is a halfback drafted in the third round, but he hasn't seen much action. Davin House, drafted in the following round, is a cornerback who has also not seen much action.
The Packers drafted two tight ends and both made the team, giving them five on the roster. D.J. Williams has caught one pass, while Ryan Taylor has made his bones as a blocker.
Green Bay had three draft picks in the sixth round. Guard Caleb Schlaunderaff was soon traded to the New York Jets, where he has appeared in four games.
Linebacker D.J. Smith started a game but has mostly played special teams. Defensive end Ricky Elmore did not make the team, while defensive end Lawrence Guy, their last selection, has spent the season on injured reserve.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has a excellent draft for a defending champion picking last most of the time. While many are just seldom used reserves right now, it is yet another example of why the Packers are undefeated thus far.
Grade : B -
With the team on the verge of their first playoff appearance ever, the success of their 2011 draft is a big reason why. It also may have saved head coach Gary Kubiak his job.
Defensive end J.J. Watt is a mammoth player who has quietly put a season together worthy of Rookie of the Year honors. He has 4.5 sacks and third on the team in tackles. Houston currently has allowed the second fewest points and yards in the NFL.
Houston had two picks in the second round. Brooks Reed is an outside linebacker forced into action early after Pro Bowler Mario Williams was put on injured reserve after five games. Reed has six sacks and 35 tackles so far.
Cornerback Brandon Harris has played just four games so far, while fourth round pick Rashad Carmichael, another cornerback, has spent the year on injured reserve.
The Texans then had a pair of picks in the fifth round. Strong safety Shiloh Keo has spent the year on the bench, while quarterback T.J. Yates was recently thrust into the starting lineup after injuries shelved Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart for the year.
Houston also had a couple of picks in the seventh round. While Derek Newton has spent the year backing up left tackle Duane Brown, linebacker Cheta Ozougwu, Mr. Irrelevant of 2011, did not make the team.
Watt was the only player expected to start, but Reed and Yates have also played well when called upon. Newly hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was given some ammo this year, as the team used six of their eight picks on defenders.
Even if the Texans have an early exit in the playoffs this year, which could happen with many key players amongst the 12 players on injured reserve, this draft class has set up the franchise nicely for several years ahead.
Grade : A -
When a team is without a victory yet, there is a struggle to find a silver lining. Many Colts fans are looking ahead to next year, with the expected return of Peyton Manning and drafting of Andrew Luck. Manning had led Indianapolis to the playoffs in 12 of the previous 13 seasons.
Anthony Castonzo was drafted in the first round and now starts at left tackle. He is one of three rookies starting, though the other two are undrafted players.
They drafted guard Ben Ijalana in the second round, but he ended up on injured reserve after four games. Defensive tackle Drake Nevis, their third round pick, was put on the injured reserve after five games.
Delone Carter is a halfback who was drafted in the fourth round. He has played often and piled up 347 yards and a pair of touchdowns so far. Chris Rucker is a cornerback who was the Colts last pick and has played sparingly.
It was not the best draft ever for the Colts, considering only two players have contributed much. The class has been bereft by injury, and Castonzo has missed four games himself. It seems everyone associated with the Colts cannot wait until next year.
Grade : D
It has been a difficult year for the Jaguars. They basically got a new quarterback, new head coach, and a new owners as the season has progressed.
Blaine Gabbert was the Jags first round pick. The quarterback was thrust into the lineup before he was ready and has struggled all season.
William Rackley was drafted in the second round and starts at left guard. Cecil Shorts is a wide receiver drafted in the following round. He has caught just two passes so far, but Shorts has also fielded 12 punts.
Jacksonville used their last two picks on a pair of safeties. Free safety Chris Prosinski has spent most of the year on the bench, while strong safety Rod Isaac went on the injured reserve after three games.
The Jaguars have 20 players on injured reserve, which undoubtedly has helped them struggle. With a new regime set to make their mark next season, the team is hoping for a more productive draft class in 2012.
Grade : C -
Kansas City Chiefs
This season has been difficult for the Chiefs. While they have just seven players on injured reserve, four players were expected to carry the team to a repeat as AFC West champions.
Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin was drafted in the first round, but the rookie has had a disappointing year with just 14 receptions. Center/ Guard Rodney Hudson was drafted in the second round and has spent the season on the bench.
The Chiefs had a pair of picks in the third round, so they concentrated on defense. Linebacker Justin Houston is staring now and has three sacks and 36 tackles. Defensive end Allen Bailey hasn't contributed much.
Jalil Brown is a cornerback drafted in the fourth round who has spent his season on special teams. The team had two picks in the fifth round in quarterback Ricky Stanzi and linebacker Gabe Miller. Stanzi has stayed on the bench while Miller is on injured reserve.
Jerrell Powe, a nose tackle selected in the sixth round, has played in one game. Fullback Shane Bannon, the Chiefs last pick, is on the practice squad.
Besides Houston, Kansas City has gotten next to nothing from this draft class. With the way the season has been with the team, the Chiefs could have used more help from the rookies.
Grade : D
After a very tough start to their 2011 season, the Dolphins have player better recently. Part of that reason is that their rookies have stepped up their game.
Mike Pouncey was drafted in the first round and has started all year at center. Halfback Daniel Thomas, their second round pick, has run for 504 yards despite being banged up several games.
Clyde Gates, a wide receiver taken in the fourth round, has only two catches. But he has returned 26 kickoffs at a healthy 25 yards per return average.
Fullback Charles Clay is known for being a good blocker, but the rookie fullback has also caught 13 passes thus far. The sixth round pick has started eight games.
Miami had a pair of picks in the seventh round, but cut defensive tackle Frank Kearse. Kearse later played two games with the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Jimmy Wilson, their final pick, has an interception in limited playing time.
The powerhouse blocking of Pouncey and Clay should help Thomas a lot in his career. Gates is a speedy player who some feel has a future as a deep threat on offense.
It was a solid draft by a team who needs a decent quarterback to give their offense versatility because the defense is stout. Whether Miami has a new head coach or not in 2012, many pundits expect them to draft that franchise quarterback.
Grade : B
Most Vikings fans knew this would be a tough season with rebuilding in mind. They just didn't expect only two victories so far.
A few were surprised when they tabbed quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round, especially after having just signing veteran Donovan McNabb. Not only did McNabb get benched then cut, the rookie has played very well in his place.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph was grabbed in the second round. He has shown some promise with 18 catches and a pair of scores.
A few were suprised to see defensive tackle Christian Ballard fall to the Vikings on the fourth round. Yet the rookie has spent much of the year on the bench.
After drafting cornerback Brandon Butler in the fifth round, a player who has contributed little, the Vikings then had four selections in the sixth round and two more in the seventh.
Tackle DeMarcus Love and center Brandon Fusco have spent the year on the bench. Linebacker Russ Homan was cut in training camp but later joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad for a few days.
Free safety Mistral Raymond is now starting at free safety. He was just given the job after veteran Husain Abdullah went on injured reserve. Wide receiver Stephen Burton has caught a pair of passes so far, while defensive end D'Aundre Reed has sat on the bench.
Ponder has made the draft successful, while Rudolph has also helped. The rest of the picks are projects, which symbolizes where the franchise is right now. It will take a few years to see how good the draft class really is.
Grade : C +
New England Patriots
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves to work a draft, and this strategy has led to one of the most successful runs in recent NFL history. He attacked the 2011 like always.
Left tackle Nate Solder was drafted in the first round and has spent this year on the bench being mentored by veteran Matt Light. Then the Patriots had two picks in the second, third, and fifth rounds.
Ras-I Dowling is a cornerback who was put on injured reserve after two games. New England then drafted two halfbacks.
While Shane Vereen has just 15 carries, Stevan Ridley has 48. The team has a deep backfield, but touches are even fewer because Belichick prefers future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady passing the ball.
They did draft quarterback Ryan Mallett, but few will be shocked to see him starting for another team in a few years. Tackle/ guard Marcus Cannon joins Solder on the bench to learn.
Lee Smith was a curious selection, considering the Patriots have two young studs at tight end. He was cut by New England, but has joined the Buffalo Bills and caught three passes. Defensive end Markell Carter and cornerback Malcolm Williams have spent the year on the Patriots practice squad.
The Patriots have to feel good they have a pair of blockers and runners for when their veterans retire. Dowling is considered a top talent, but he has had trouble staying healthy the past few years.
The team is a real interesting mix of veterans and kids, but that is the plan of the genius Belichick. Instead of standing pat with veterans who have gotten him a lot of wind, he keeps upgrading the roster with young players so that the team will stay relevant for many years ahead.
Grade : C
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are beginning to look like the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago, not the team that floundered early in the playoffs last season. A big reason is that quarterback Drew Brees might be having an even better year than when he led the team to their title.
They had two draft picks in the first, third and seventh rounds. Five of those picks were used to bolster the defense, which struggled in 2010.
Their first pick was defensive end Cameron Jordan, who has started every game and has 25 tackles. Halfback Mark Ingram was selected next, and he seems like a lot of former Heisman winners who were average at best in the NFL.
Linebacker Martez Wilson and cornerback Johnny Patrick have spent the year on the bench. Linebacker Nate Bussey is on the practice squad, while defensive end Greg Romeus is on the injured reserve.
Jordan and Ingram aren't exactly setting the league on fire, but they are relied on already. Ingram splits carries with a plethora of excellent running backs, while Jordan has somewhat filled the void left by the departure of Charles Grant at the end of the 2009 season.
The other four players may have futures, but the lack of production from this group drops an already mediocre grade lower. But the way Brees is going, it hasn't mattered that the rookies aren't great.
Grade : C -
New York Giants
The way injuries have absolutely destroyed the Giants defense this year, it has been been tough that a few kids had to grow up fast this year. Those who were able to play, that is.
Their top pick was cornerback Prince Amukamara, who broke his foot in training camp. The Giants kept him on the roster, and he has recently returned to play the last three games and already has an interception.
New York used their second round pick on defensive tackle Melvin Austin, but he got hurt in training camp and is on the injured reserve. Wide Receiver Jerrel Jernigan, the third round selection, has just one kickoff return so far.
Offensive tackle James Brewer, the fourth round selection, has stayed on the bench this year. Then the Jints had four picks in the sixth round.
Linebacker Greg Jones has started five games and has 26 tackles. Strong safety Tyler Sash has spent most of the year on special teams along with halfback Da'Rel Scott. Linebacker Jacquian Williams has been a nice find and he is sixth on the team with 50 tackles.
Williams has saved this class from a failing grade, but it could rise before the season ends because Amukamara is back. It will hopefully be a healthy season for these kids in 2012 so they can show their abilities better.
Grade : C -
New York Jets
The Jets have been a big disappointment in 2011. Yet the draft class hasn't been a big part of that reason.
Muhammad Wilkerson was the Jets first pick. The defensive end started right away and he has 29 tackles and a safety. Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, their third round pick, has just played four games so far.
Halfback Bilal Powell was drafted in the fourth round and has just seven rushing attempts so far. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is now the third receiver on the team and has 18 catches. Kerley has also returned 18 punts.
The Jets had two picks in the seventh round. Quarterback Greg McElroy is on injured reserve, while wide receiver Scotty McKnight is on the practice squad.
Wilkerson has obviously had the biggest impact in this draft class, but Kerley was a nice find. His progress allowed the Jets to trade veteran Derrick Mason. The rest of the group has yet to help much, which drops the overall grade.
Grade : C -
Every member of this Raiders draft got that last taste of true greatness. They are the last players to be drafted by the legendary Al Davis, who would pass away early in the 2011 season.
He went old school, despite having no pick in the first round. Davis drafted Stefen Wisniewski long long after he got Raiders great Steve Wisniewski to rejoin the franchise by coaching the offensive line. Now the uncle is teaching his nephew how to play guard like he did, where the versatile youngster has started every game this year.
Oakland has two picks in the third and fourth rounds. Cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke has started four games and has an interception, while guard Joseph Barksdale has spent the year on the bench.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa is on the injured reserve while halfback Taiwan Jones has 17 carries and eight kickoff returns. Wide receiver Denarius Moore has been quite a find and has 24 catches and four touchdowns despite battling nagging injuries. Tight ends Richard Gordon and David Ausberry both have just one catch each.
Wisniewski has been steady and solid all year, and Moore really helped when the team was transitioning between starting quarterbacks. Most of the rest of the draft class has helped at some point, so it wasn't a draft will besmirch the genius of the great Davis.
Grade : C
No team has failed to meet expectations in the 2011 more than the Eagles. The draft class is not a big part of how their year has gone so far.
Guard Danny Watkins is a 27 year old rookie guard who has started eight games as the Eagles first round selection. He seems to get better each game, though he has had his struggles.
Free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett is a local hero who has started one game, but mostly has spent his time on special teams. Cornerback Curtis Marsh has hardly played this season.
The Eagles had a pair of picks from the fourth round on. Casey Matthews, a member of the most famous football family today, started at the beginning of the year before getting benched. Kicker Alex Henery has missed just three field goal attempts all season.
Dion Lewis is a halfback who has mainly contributed as a kick returner, while guard Julian Vandervelde has played in just one game. Yet the Eagles hit pay dirt in the sixth round.
Brian Rolle is a linebacker who is fourth on the team with 40 tackles. He also returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown. Center Jason Kelce has started every game this season.
Greg Lloyd is a linebacker whose father was a Pittsburgh Steelers legend. He has spent the year on the bench. Fullback Stanley Havill has spent the season on the practice squad.
Philadelphia seems to have found a good foundation at the inside of their offensive line with Watkins and Kelce. Of their three linebackers drafted, only Rolle has made a significant contribution. Henery is probably the best rookie on the team and has been as solid as any kicker in the league.
While the big-money superstars have come up short this year, this draft class has played well enough to get Eagles fans excited about the future.
Grade : A
The biggest reason the Steelers seemingly sit near the top of the NFL the past 40 years is because they build their teams through excellent drafts. The 2011 season seems no different.
Pittsburgh drafted defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first round. He has spent much of the year on the bench learning from the excellent veteran starters.
Marcus Gilbert is an offensive tackle who was selected in the second round. He, like much of the Steelers offensive linemen this year, has battled nagging injuries. Yet he has started in all 11 games he has played in.
Pittsburgh drafted a pair of cornerbacks in the next two rounds. Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen have mostly helped on special teams thus far.
Keith Williams is a guard that Pittsburgh drafted in the sixth round. He was cut, but later picked up by the Buffalo Bills and has played five games for them. Halfback Baron Batch was the Steelers last pick and he has spent the season on injured reserve.
Just another typical draft by Pittsburgh. They got a blocker who starts along with three defensive players who will contribute more as their careers go on.
Grade : C +
Saint Louis Rams
It has been an excruciating season for the Rams. A favorite by may to win the NFC West, before the season started, they are one of the worst teams in the league right now.
Robert Quinn is a linebacker who was their first round pick. He is used on pass rushing downs and has five sacks so far.
Saint Louis wanted to get quarterback Sam Bradford more weapons to throw to. Tight end Lance Kendricks has 19 catches, but a ton of drops too. Wide receivers Austin Pettis, who doubles as the primary punt returner, and Greg Salas, who is now on the injured reserve, have combined for 49 receptions so far.
The Rams used their final four picks on defensive players that are no longer with the team.All were cut in preseason, but three are still in the league.
Safety Jermale Hines played five games with the Carolina Panthers and is now with the Indianapolis Colts. Cornerback Mikail Barber was waived after being injured in preseason.Linebacker Jabara Williams is with the Chicago Bears, while safety Jonathan Nelson is on the Panthers practice squad.
Quinn, Kendricks, Pettis and Salas have made contributions, so the draft wasn't a total failure for the Rams. The play of the oft-injured Bradford certainly didn't help them.
Grade : C
San Diego Chargers
This draft class should be known as the last one head coach Norv Turner presided over. The inept Turner appears to have finally run out of chances.
Defensive tackle Corey Liuget is the Bolts top pick. While he has started in nine of the 11 games he has played in, Liuget has just 13 tackles this season. San Diego had two picks in the second, third and sixth rounds.
Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist has started three games while getting an interception and returning a fumble 40 yards. Linebacker Jonas Mouton is on injured reserve.
Wide receiver Vincent Brown is the best rookie San Diego drafted this season. The athletic Brown has 16 catches and a pair of scores. Cornerback Shareece Wright has spent this year on the bench, while halfback Jordan Todman is on the practice squad.
Offensive tackle Stephen Schilling has a pair of starts in the five games he has appeared in. Linebacker Andrew Gachkar has been playing special teams.
The Chargers wanted more from their top draft picks than occasional contributions. The contributions of the promising Brown saves this group from being called a complete failure.
Grade : D
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have been one the great stories of 2011. Not only are they 10-2 right now, they also had an excellent draft under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Linebacker Aldon Smith was San Francisco's first round pick. While the former collegiate defensive end has been primarily used as a pass rush specialist, he has come through with 9.5 quarterback sacks and a safety.
The promising Colin Kaepernick has spent this year learning how to be an NFL quarterback under Harbaugh, yet the second round pick has gotten to throw five passes so far. Cornerback Chris Culliver has an interception and 25 tackles as a dime back.
Halfback Kendall Hunter has been quite a nice pick in the fourth round. As the primary backup behind Frank Gore, he has churned out 302 rushing yards. Guard Daniel Kilgore has spent the season on the bench.
The 49ers had two picks in both the sixth and seventh rounds. Wide receiver Ronald Johnson did not make the team and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. Free safety Colin Jones ha played little.
Bruce Miller was a defensive lineman in college, but San Francisco moved him to fullback. He has now started six games and even has a touchdown off of seven receptions. Guard Michael Person has spent the season on the bench, while cornerback Curtis Holmcomb is on injured reserve.
Smith has really helped the 49ers have the top rated defense all season, while Hunter and the surprising Miller are making significant contributions to the offensive backfield. Culliver has also had provided much needed help.
San Francisco has already won the weak AFC West. A reason why is this rookie class, one that should have the team winning beyond this season.
Grade : B
The Seahawks 2011 season has been tough. It has been just as tough on their rookies.
Seattle used their first and third round draft picks on tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt. Both landed on the injured reserve list after nine games, and Moffitt is also serving a suspension for use of performance enhancing drug use.
Linebacker K.J. Wright was the first of two draft picks Seattle had in the fourth round. He currently starts and has 38 tackles with a quarterback sack. Wide Receiver Kris Durham had three receptions before ending up on the injured reserve.
Free safety Mark Legree did not make the team. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston have contributed little, but linebacker Malcolm Smith does have a sack and forced fumble.
Seattle is a young team that has 11 rookies on the roster and three more on the injured reserve. While Carpenter, Moffitt and Wright earned stating jobs, their best rookie is undrafted wide receiver Doug Baldwin and his team-leading 38 receptions.
The Seahawks can only hope Carpenter and Moffitt will not follow in Russel Okung's footsteps. Okung, the sixth player chosen overall on 2010, is a left tackle who has already missed 10 games due to injuries. If their young linemen can stay healthy, the franchise will be a threat down the road.
Grade : C +
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The young Bucs took a few steps back this season. Youth can be attributed to their regression, but it was not expected to be as severe as it has been.
Five defenders were amongst their eight selections. Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers were their first two picks. Clayborn has 27 tackles and 5.5 sacks, while Bowers has chipped in 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Middle linebacker Mason Foster is third on the team with 57 tackles. He also has a pair of sacks and has demonstrated good leadership.
Two tight ends were drafted by Tampa Bay. Luke Stocker has given them eight receptions, but Daniel Hardy did not make the team and is now a member of the Saints practice squad.
Strong safety Ahmad Black is now on the Bucs practice squad while halfback Allen Bradford is a member of the Seahawks practice squad. Cornerback Anthony Gaitor has suited up for five games on special teams.
Clayborn and Bowers are part of a young and talented Buccaneers defensive line that has yet to fulfill expectations. Foster looks like he will grow in the position, but the rest of the draft did not go well. Much like the Buccaneers 2011 season.
Grade : C +
The Titans have had a pretty good year under first year head coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard. They are very much in the playoff chase.
Quarterback Jake Locker was their first round draft pick. Though he has spent most of the year on the bench, Locker has tossed 21 passes and two touchdowns.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers, their second round pick, is sixth on the team in tackles with 51 tackles and he has two sacks. Third round pick Jurrell Casey, a defensive tackle, leads all Titans defensive linemen with 40 tackles.
Linebacker Colin McCarthy has only played nine games, but he is right behind Ayers on the team with 40 tackles. Halfback Jamie Harper has just seven carries all season.
Defensive tackle Karl Klug is the Titans fifth round pick and his four sacks leads the team. Offensive tackle Byron Stingily has sat on the bench this season, as has defensive tackle Zach Clayton for the most part. Cornerback Tommie Campbell, Tennessee's last pick, has contributed on special teams.
The Titans grabbed four defenders who have had immediate impact. Their future franchise quarterback has benefited from learning from sage veteran Matt Hasselbeck. This good fortune has helped the team stay afloat most of the season.
Grade : A
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has the unenviable task of trying to clean up the tremendous mess Vinny Cerrato left the team in. The son of the Redskins Hall of Fame George Allen, he has already made tremendous strides.
Where his dad may have traded all of their draft picks to acquire veterans, the younger Allen went a different direction by wheeling and dealing on draft day and getting the team 12 draft selections.
Ryan Kerrigan was their first round pick. He is making the transition from collegiate defensive end, but Kerrigan leads Washington with 6.5 sacks and is third on the team with 56 tackles. He also intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.
The Redskins second pick was defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. He was showing tremendous ability before suffering a season-ending injury during a preseason game. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson gave Washington 13 receptions before ending up on the injured reserve list.
Roy Helu has been a gem for the Redskins this season. He is now starting and the fourth round pick has 456 rushing yards and 42 receptions. He was the first of three Nebraska Cornhuskers that Allen drafted consecutively.
Safety Dejon Gomes and wide receiver Niles Paul have spent most of the season on special teams. Halfback Evan Royster and cornerback Brandyn Thompson have spent much of the season on the practice squad, while wide receiver Aldrick Robinson has spent all of his year there.
Guard Maurice Hurt started the year on the practice squad, but he is now starting after a rash of injuries hit the team. Markus White, a linebacker who played defensive end in college, has spent the year on the bench, while nose tackle Chris Neild has a couple of sacks backing up starter Barry Cofield.
Washington lost seven starters to injury or suspension this year, which has doomed their 2011 dreams. Kerrigan and Helu were very nice surprises, but the rest of the draft class looks like developmental projects that will not show their true worth until they travel further down the NFL road.
Grade : C
Yoooo! Dis iz 7thStone! Yo! Lets make dis fast cuz I got to go ho ho ho. Dats rite, da Guidacelli triplets is coming over so I iz eating viagra like dey is tic tacs. Capeesh?
Last weak I went 10-5, so I iz now 114-72 overall.
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
Yo? You kiddin, rite?
Ravens 31 Colts 14
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
If Atlanta loses hear, dere seasun is over.
Falcons 27 Panthers 24
Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals
YO! DIS iz gunna be a CLASH of too grate defenses. Plus both teems can run da ball and have rookie quarterbacks starting. I'm gambling hear, cuz da Bengals know a loss kills playoff dreems prolly.
Bengals 23 Texans 21
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
Da Lions stop losing hear.
Lions 31 Vikings 28
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
No one outside of Florida cares and not two many inside da Sunshine States does either.
Buccaneers 23 Jaguars 17
Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins
A battle of two teams going nowhere. The difference is that the Dolphins players try to play like professionals who know they are lucky to earn a paycheck, rather than think it is owed to them.
Dolphins 24 Eagles 20
Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets
Da difference hear is dat da Jets is fighting for dere playoff lives.
Jets 27 Chiefs 14
New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans
Can anyone stop Drew Brees?
Saints 28 Titans 20
New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins
Sorry Cuzin 3rd
Patriots 42 Redskins 20
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Just cuz da Niners won da NFC West, it dont meen dey is rollin over til playoffs.
49ers 27 Cardinals 17
Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos
It ain't if anyone can stop Teblow, it is dat Bears beat up offense can score aganst dat improvin Broncos defense. NO
Broncos 16 Bears 7
Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers
Da Raiders are just erratic eniff two hand da Pack there furst loss.
Packers 34 Raiders 24
Buffalo Bills @ San Diego Chargers
Too teems we wont sea in da playoffs.
Chargers 34 Bills 28
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Game of the Week
Simple. If da Giants lose = dere playoff dreems are pretty much dun. If dey win = dey is den tied for furst place in da NFL East wif da Cowboys. I tink both teems stink and prefer the Bengals vs. Texans game, but dere are more steaks involved hear.
Cowboys 21 Giants 20
Saint Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Hasn't Monday Night Footballs sucked King Kong balls most dis yeer? May be the worst MNF seasun EVER. Only a football junkie will watch dese too suck ass teems. Guys like me.
Seahawks 27 Rams 16
OK. See ya! As dey say in Ol' Mexico= A.M.F.