2012 NFL Draft Grades: Bengals, Colts, Rams Flourish

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on April 29 2012 6:39 PM
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands with number 1 overall pick Andrew Luck at the NFL Draft.
The Indianapolis Colts were among the NFL draft's big winners as the organization chose quarterback Andrew Luck with its No. overall pick. REUTERS

The 2012 NFL Draft is over, and it's now time to offer up some grades. What teams did well? What teams failed?

Read all about it with our 2012 NFL Draft Grades:

Arizona Cardinals

Star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald finally got a worthy sidekick when the Cardinals nabbed Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd with the No. 13 pick in the first round. Floyd should help limit the double teams on Fitzgerald and give quarterback Kevin Kolb a great No. 2 option. Arizona didn't have a second-round pick, but did a nice job taking Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming with pick No. 80 and Ole Miss offensive tackle Bobby Massie, who some had as a potential first-round pick, in the fourth round. Grade: B+

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons traded away this year's first-round draft pick when they acquired Julio Jones in last year's draft. They also traded a seventh-round draft pick to acquire former Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. Looking beyond those two moves, the Falcons did a nice job in landing Peter Konz with pick No. 55, but did little else positive during the three-day draft. Grade: C-

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens best pick in the draft was its first one when it nabbed Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw at pick No. 35. Upshaw helps provide depth to an aging linebacker corps - Ray Lewis isn't getting any younger - and could be the piece that gets them over the hump in 2012. Adding Temple running back Bernard Pierce to backup Ray Rice and Iowa State guard Kelechi Osemele to bolster a shaky offensive line were also nice moves for Baltimore. Grade: B

Buffalo Bills

The Bills did good work in drafting South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore to go with a revamped defense. Buffalo also got some great value in Georgia guard Cordy Glenn, who could have been a first-rounder, and Florida State guard Zebrie Sanders. Buffalo has gotten some criticism for taking wide receiver T.J. Graham in the third-round. Grade: A-

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers got the best linebacker in the draft in Boston College's Luke Kuechly. Scouts have raved about his game instincts and intelligence with some calling him another Brian Urlacher. The Panthers kept with bolstering the defense when they traded up to grab Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander. They also made sure to make things a little easier for their star quarterback Cam Newton when they took offensive lineman Amini Silatolu. Grade: B+

Chicago Bears

The Bears first two picks, Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffrey, both have some question marks around them. Boise State's McClellin flew under the radar and the Bears grabbed him a bit too early here, but the team loves his versatility. Jeffrey gives Jay Cutler another target, but wasn't the biggest need and doesn't have great speed. Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals did an amazing job in filling needs in this year's draft. They found great value at virtually every pick and landed two guaranteed Day 1 starters in Alabama defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick and Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler. They also got some great value in Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. The Bengals had the best draft out of any team this year. Grade: A+

Cleveland Browns

The Browns addressed some needs during this draft, but made some less than savory decisions. The Browns were fearful of losing Trent Richardson so they made the jump up a single spot, but gave up too much in the process. Landing your guy is at least understandable, though, which is more than you can say about drafting 28-year-old Brandon Weeden in the first-round. Weeden isn't a sure-fire talent and is a very risky proposition given his age. The Browns made some similarly risk picks in the later rounds, especially Travis Benjamin. Grade: C-

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys had some major issues on defense last year and did a great job in addressing them by trading up to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Claiborne should start right away for the Cowboys and give them some needed secondary talent to help shut down divisional quarterbacks such as the Eagles' Michael Vick and the Giants' Eli Manning. The Cowboys continued with defense when they took Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford and Wake Forest linebacker Kyle Wilber.  Grade: A-

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos made a move to win now in jettisoning Tim Tebow to bring on quarterback Peyton Manning, but seemed to forget about that when drafting. The Broncos didn't address a lot of the team's major needs and even took raw Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler in the second-round. Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan should help out on defense, but it's still not a great draft for the Broncos. Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

The Lions went with a best player available drafting strategy with some success. Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff was a great pick to help better an offensive line that has allowed star quarterback Matthew Stafford to take more than his fair share of shots. The big question mark came in the second-round with Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who doesn't fit a specific need and also is coming off a major ACL injury. It would have made more sense to add more defensive help with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler in the same division. Grade:C+

Green Bay Packers

The Packers used all eight of their draft picks on defense, including first-round draft pick USC defensive end Nick Perry. There are some question marks surrounding Perry, though the Packers have earned the benefit of the doubt given their stellar draft history. The best pick of the team's draft is likely Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. He should help shore up a defense that gave up the most yards last season. Grade: B

Houston Texans

The Texans needed to find a replacement for Mario Williams, who bolted for Buffalo, and believe they got it with Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus along with Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick should fit in great under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Grade: B-

Indianapolis Colts

Although it wasn't the most difficult choice, you still need to give the Colts credit for landing their quarterback of the future in Stanford's Andrew Luck. The expectations will be very high for Luck, who has the unseemly task of replacing Peyton Manning, but the Colts tried to help him out when they took Stanford tight end Coby Fleener in the second-round, who gives Luck a friendly target. The Colts also took Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen and Florida International T.Y. Hilton to give Luck some options to build with. Grade: A

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars draft was truly the tale of two completely different stories. They did a fantastic job in moving a spot up in order to draft Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who finally gives quarterback Blaine Gabbert a reliable target. But they also made the incredible bold, aka stupid, decision to take a punter in the third-round. Anger is by most accounts a good punter, but it's still a bad move by a team with much bigger needs. Grade: C

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs took a major gamble when they drafted Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe with the 11th pick. Poe dazzled at the Scouting Combine, but is still very raw and didn't always play to his potential in college. The organization continued the risky trend when it drafted Oklahoma offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, who has a lot of talent but was also suspended the entire 2009 season for a combination of behavior issues. Grade: C

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins draft hangs on Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who the team drafted at pick No. 8. NFL Draft experts are mixed on Tannehill's potential, though clearly the Dolphins think highly enough of him to take him in the Top 10. At the very least the Dolphins smartly bolstered their offensive line in taking Stanford offensive Jonathan Martin in the second round, who should have an opportunity to start right away. Grade: C+

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings might have pulled off the move of the draft in trading down a single spot in the first-round and getting good picks out of it. The Vikings still got the guy they wanted in USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, as well as the flexibility to trade back into the first-round to grab Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Both were huge needs for the Vikings and should have them better positioned to compete in the ultra-competitive NFC North. Grade: A-

New England Patriots

The Patriots are known for frequently trading down in order to stockpile picks, but New England finally eschwed that strategy to try to load up for another run or two at the Super Bowl. The Patriots had some major issues on defense last season and decided to fix that by trading up twice in the first-round to land Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Alabama linebacker Don't'a Hightower. Both should get a lot of playing time right off the bat and could be the final pieces the Patriots need to get another ring for quarterback Tom Brady. Grade: A

New Orleans Saints

The Saints were without a pick in the first two rounds due to trading for running back Mark Ingram last season and for the team's involvement in Bountygate. This didn't leave the team a lot of room for error, though they still leaned to risky rather than safe picks. Akiem Hicks is talented, but has some major character concerns. Grade: F

New York Giants

Giants general manager Jerry Reese is known as a draft-day maestro, but he did make some curious picks during this year's draft. The Giants fell in love with Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, but grabbing any running back in the first-round is often a losing decision. The best pick for the organization was probably LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle, who will have an opportunity to replace Mario Manningham in the lineup, though nabbing offensive tackle Brandon Mosley was also a good value pick. Grade: B

New York Jets

The Jets went for the ultimate boom-or-bust strategy with this year's draft. The Jets passed up a slew of talented defensive ends to take talented, yet occasionally apathetic North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. Rex Ryan reportedly fell in love with Coples after working him out, but he has a reputation for taking plays off and not caring about a team concept. The Jets continued that trend when they took Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill in the second-round. Hill is speedy with a 4.3 40 time, but only caught 49 passes in his college career in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense.  The Jets also didn't do much to address offensive line concerns. Grade: D

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders found themselves without a draft choice in the first or second round after trading for quarterback Carson Palmer last season. This made things difficult for Oakland, though it did do a nice job in taking Utah offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom in the third-round. Unfortunately the Raiders didn't do much to better a defense ranked 29th last season.

Grade: D-

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles love to load up on offensive and defensive line talent during the draft and did so again in 2012. The Eagles got fantastic value when it traded up to take Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox at No. 14. the Eagles continued their bolstering of the d-line when they took Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, who some gave a first-round draft, at pick No. 59. Both Cox and Curry should do a great job in giving Andy Reid some depth.

The Eagles did make a curious decision in taking Arizona quarterback Nick Foles in the third-round, but this was a good draft for the organization. Grade: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers did a fantastic job in bolstering their offensive line when they landed Stanford guard David DeCastro and Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams in the first two rounds. DeCastro has been compared to former Steelers guard Alan Faneca and could start from Day 1 for the team. Adams comes with some character concerns after testing positive for marijuana at the Scouting Combine, but is considered to be one of the most talented tackles in the draft. Adams is a bit of a risk for the Steelers, but clearly the organization has faith in coach Mike Tomlin to straighten out any potential issues. Massive Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu was also a great value pick in the fourth round. Grade: A

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers got the best value pick of the first-round when South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram dropped into their laps at pick No. 18. The Chargers are hoping Ingram plus Connecticut defensive end Kendall Reyes (Pick No. 80) will help shore up a defense that struggled mightily at times last season. Overall this was a very nice draft for San Diego. Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers opted for speed in this draft when they selected Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins and Oregon running back LaMichael James with the team's first two picks. Both are extremely speedy and offer that home-run potential, but have their share of flaws. Not much is really know about Jenkins plus the 49ers could have likely waited a round or two to draft him. The best potential pick of the draft could be Wake Forest guard Joe Looney, who is coming off a broken foot but could be a great addition to the offensive line.  Grade: C

Seattle Seahawks

Coach Pete Carroll did it again when he shocked the world in taking West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick. Scouts note that Irvin might be the best pure pass rusher in the draft, but Carroll likely could have gotten him in the second-round after Irvin was recently arrested on vandalism charges. The Seahawks did do a nice job in grabbing Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the third-round, who should be able to challenge Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. Grade: D

St. Louis Rams

The Rams went into the draft with the No. 2 pick but opted for extra draft picks for the team's rebuilding efforts when it twice moved down in the first-round before settling at No. 14 when they drafted LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who could be a perfect fit for new coach Jeff Fisher's system. The Rams also might have gotten the steal of the draft in cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who comes with some major baggage but is the most talented defensive back in the draft. Speedy Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead could develop into Steven Jackson's replacement.

Grade: A-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have a lot of positions to fill under new coach Greg Schiano and seemed to target quality guys during the draft. Alabama safety Mark Barron's stock was on the rise ahead of the draft, though Tampa Bay still reached to take him at No. 9. The team also made a bold decision to trade back into the first-round to take Boise State running back Doug Martin.  Grade: C-

Tennessee Titans

The Titans did good work in grabbing Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright at No. 20, but wide receiver isn't the biggest position of needs for the organization. Tennessee needs some help on the offensive line, but didn't address it during the draft.  Grade: C

Washington Redskins

The Redskins were on the path to a very successful draft when they made the curious decision to draft Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. It could have just been a value pick for the Redskins, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering they gave up three first-round draft picks to trade up and draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. That decision sullies what could have been one of the best Redskins drafts in decades. Grade: B

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