1st Round Report Card: Picks 1-16


Now that I have officially flushed the 1st round of my mock draft down the toilet, we can get down to business. After watching one of the most unpredictible, exciting NFL Draft’s we have seen in over a decade, it is now time to sort through it all.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

This pick may have been the only one of the night that everyone expected. Without a doubt, it will also be the hardest to grade. From ownership down, the Panthers organization did their homework on this kid and felt confident in making him the face of their franchise. There is no denying his body of work, as all he has done throughout his career is win. He has immense raw ability, the only question will be whether or not he will be able to adjust to the pro game.

Grade: B

2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB/DE, Texas A&M

It’s hard to argue with this pick because of the immense dual threat that Miller presents as a phenominal athlete that can cover in space, and a relentless pass rushing machine. At 6’3″ 240lbs, Miller is a bit undersized to be an every down DE so he will more than likely be the “Sam” linebacker in the 4-3 and then switch to DE in obvious passing situations. John Fox will have to get creative in how he uses him, as they must come up with creative blitz packages to showcase his immense pass rushing ability. It will be exciting, and once it is all said and done, he may actually be more dangerous coming out of a 4-3 because it will be less predictible where he will be coming from and what gap he will be shooting through. Denver fans, it is time to get excited.

Grade: A

3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama

There is nothing flashy about this pick, but it sures up a significant need on the Bills defensive front. The Bills most certainly would have loved to have Von Miller, but once he came off the board, this became the logical selection. Dareus will never light up the stat categories, but he will do the little things that allow everyone else on the defense to do their jobs more effectively.

Grade: A-

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

This pick was a no brainer. With Terrell Owens already gone and Ochocinco next one out the door, the Bengals had to get themselves a legitimate threat at the WR position. Green will make an immediate impact the moment he steps on the field. The question now becomes, what do the Bengals do at quarterback? With Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Mallett all still on the board, and the 3rd pick in the 2nd round, it looks like the Bengals will be able to address that need. If they do, they may end up with one of the best overall grades in this draft.

Grade: A

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Anytime you select the best football player in the draft it is a good pick regardless of need. Rodgers-Cromartie, Rhodes, Wilson, Toler, and now Peterson…The Cardinals arguably have the best secondary in the NFL now, which gives them a significant upperhand in a weak division. The most impressive thing about Peterson is that everytime he touches the ball whether via interception, or return, he can take it to the house. That adds a whole new dynamic to the Cardinals football team moving forward.

Grade: A+

6. Atlanta Falcons (via Cleveland): Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

Gutsy move by the Falcons, but there is no question that the Falcons organization believes that they are only 1 or 2 players away from being a championship team. With the addition of Jones, the Falcons now have a legitimate threat opposite Roddy White in the passing game to go along with veteran TE Tony Gonzalez, a bruising rushing attack headed by RB Michael Turner, and one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the game in Matt Ryan. Despite giving up a lot in the trade, the Falcons still have plenty of picks left to address there needs on the defensive line, and fill out the rest of their roster.

Grade: A-

7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri

With Blaine Gabbert, Robert Quinn, Prince Amukamara and Ryan Kerrigan still on the board, this pick was somewhat puzzling. Smith projects very similar to Manny Lawson who has failed to live up to his draft slot. At #7 overall, this may have been a bit of a reach, especially if the 49ers are unable to land a QB in the 2nd round.

Grade: C+

8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

This pick was a bit of a shocker as well, as many had expected them to select Gabbert but the Titans obviously had Locker higher on their board. While Locker’s potential is off the charts, he is going to need time to develop. The problem here is that veteran QB Kerry Collins is pushing 40 years old and at the #8th pick overall, Locker will be paid a rather substantial amount of money which will put pressure on the organization for him to start as soon as possible. If this pick doesn’t work out, it could set the franchise back significantly, and after already experiencing a setback with Vince Young, that would be extremely tough to endure.

Grade: B

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Over the past 20 years, the Dallas Cowboys have been known to go for the blockbuster pick in the first round. This time, the Cowboys addressed a significant need that has been ignored for way to long in selecting the best offensive tackle in this draft. Smith will be able to start from day one, and sure up a significant weakness that will now allow Dallas to showcase their offensive might in a way that they were prohibited from doing last season. The pick lacked the typical Cowboy glitz, but it was indeed the right one.

Grade: B+

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Washington): Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

In one of the more surprising moves of the night, in a night that was filled with surprises, the Jaguars traded up to grab arguably the best QB in this draft at pick #10. Gutsy move by the organization, and the right move. Gabbert will have plenty of time to develop into a great QB on a talented team that appears headed in the right direction.

Grade: A

11. Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin

While I think J.J. Watt is going to end up being one of the best defensive linemen in this draft, this was a rather peculiar pick considering that they have a stockpile of defensive lineman including two 1st round picks (Okoye and Williams). Considering the several voids the Texans have in their secondary, the Texans must address these needs in the later rounds and/or free agency or Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith may be looking for other sources of employment at the end of the season.

Grade: B-

12. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida St.

This pick was a classic example of right pick, wrong spot. Ponder is going to be the perfect fit at QB in the Vikings west coast offense, but the Vikings could have done more to try to trade back from their pick at #12 overall which was considerably high to take Ponder. Now, because he is a top 15 pick, Ponder is going to command a higher salary and put the Vikings in a situation where they are almost obligated to commit to him for the long term which could be a major risk due to his ellaborate injury history.

Grade: B-

13. Detriot Lions: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

The Detriot Lions are starting to make some noise in the NFL as they have methodically assembled a team that is filled with superstar caliber players at multiple positions. With the addition of Fairley, they now have a defensive line that is without a doubt in the discussion among the best defensive lines in football.

Grade: A

14. St. Louis Rams: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

Quinn is the quintissential Steve Spagnuolo defensive end, and a steal at pick #14. Lining up opposite Chris Long, the Rams have established an explosive pass rushing threat that will take a lot of pressure off their secondary and leave opposing quarterbacks on their back.

Grade: A

15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, G, Florida

The Dolphins without a doubt make the right pick here. In Pouncey, the Dolphins have a versitile lineman that will round out an already strong offensive line. Much better than the alternative which would have been to reach for a QB or RB in this spot.

Grade: B+

16. Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB/DE, Purdue

Washington was able to trade back and accumulate more picks which is what they need more than anything, and still landed one of the best rush linebackers/defensive ends in this draft. Opposite All-Pro Brian Orakpo, the Redskins will create matchup nightmares for opposing offenses. The only question will be if Kerrigan can make the adjustment to stand-up OLB which I believe he can.

Grade: A-