NFL Draft Grades 2012: First Round Grades for Each Pick

The Browns traded up in the draft to make sure they got Trent Richardson.
The Browns traded up in the draft to make sure they got Trent Richardson. Reuters

The first round of this year's NFL Draft was as eventful as any one in recent memory.

There were three trades within the first half hour, and a few more throughout the night. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went one and two as expected, but the rest of the draft was full of surprises.

Some teams got steals late in the first round, while others reached and selected players that weren't expected to go on the first day.

Here are our grades for every first round pick of this year's NFL Draft:

1.       Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)

A+      Luck is the closest thing you'll find to a sure thing. The Colts have their quarterback for the next 15 years.

2.       Robert Griffin (Washington Redskins)

A        There are some concerns as to how well RG3's game will translate to the pros, but the Redskins probably have their first franchise quarterback in over 25 years.

3.       Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns)

B        The Browns are desperate for playmakers on offense, so this was a logical pick. However, it may be a reach to grab a running back so early in the draft.

4.       Matt Kalil (Minnesota Vikings)

A The Vikings got the best offensive lineman in the draft, a year after allowing 49 sacks. This was the only logical decision for Minnesota.

5.       Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville Jaguars)

A+      The Jaguars traded up two slots to get the wide receiver, and they'll be glad they did. Jacksonville instantly upgrades the worst receiving corps in the league a year ago.

6.       Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys)

A+      Claiborne is the best cornerback in this draft class, and will help the Cowboys improve on their biggest weakness. He is well worth the second round pick Dallas gave up to move to number six overall.

7.       Mark Barron (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

A-      Barron will help a Buccaneers secondary that was awful against the pass in 2011. He is solid against both the pass and the run.

8.       Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)

C       Tannehill certainly fills a need for Miami at quarterback, but was a reach at number eight overall. He didn't have much success winning games last year, and will need time to develop.

9.       Luke Kuechly (Carolina Panthers)

A       With a young stud at quarterback, the Panthers immediately improve their defense by landing the best linebacker in the draft.

10.   Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills)

B      The Bills addressed their defensive front in the offseason, so taking a cornerback here makes sense. There are some questions about Gilmore, but his size and speed make this a good pick.

11.   Dontari Poe (Kansas City Chiefs)

C-    Poe was selected mostly on his performance at the combine. He has a lot of speed for a defensive tackle of his size, but didn't show much on the field last year.

12.   Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia Eagles)

B+    Cox should improve Philly's defensive line, with the ability to play tackle or end.

13.   Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals)

B      Floyd isn't an explosive receiver, but the Cardinals don't need him to be one. He should be able to have success opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

14.   Michael Brockers (St. Louis Rams)

B+    The Rams were able to accumulate picks by trading down, and Brockers is a solid pick in the middle of the first round. The defensive tackle should improve a dreadful run defense from a year ago.

15.   Bruce Irvin (Seattle Seahawks)

D      This was perhaps the biggest shocker of the draft. Irvin has potential, but there were better linebackers still on the board. St. Louis could've gotten him in the second round.

16.   Quinton Coples (New York Jets)

C-    The Jets needed a defensive end, but there were better ones on the board. There are questions about Coples' work ethic, and that's something this Jets team certainly doesn't need.

17.   Dre Kirkpatrick (Cincinnati Bengals)

B      Kirkpatrick fills the need the Bengals have at cornerback, and is very athletic. He may never turn into a superstar, but it's a solid pick at 17.

18.   Melvin Ingram (San Diego Chargers)

A      This wasn't the Chargers biggest need, but they got the best player available. Ingram is one of the best pass rushers in the draft, and is a steal at 18 overall.

19.   Shea McClellin (Chicago Bears)

B+    McClellin gives the Bears another good pass rusher to go along with Julius Peppers.

20.   Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans)

B      Wright has to improve catching the ball, but he gives Jake Locker another solid option to throw to.

21.   Chandler Jones (New England Patriots)

A      Jones will help the Patriots pass rush, and might end up being the best defensive end in his draft class.

22.   Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns)

F       It's hard to defend drafting a 28-year old quarterback in the first round. Weeden isn't seen as a franchise guy, and the Browns wasted a first round pick on him.

23.   Riley Reiff (Detroit Lions)

A      Reiff was projected by many to go a lot higher than this. Detroit got great value by getting the offensive tackle towards the end of the first round.

24.   David DeCastro (Pittsburgh Steelers)

B      DeCastro is a solid player, and fills a need for Pittsburgh on the offensive line. Guards can often be found later in the draft, but DeCastro should be able to contribute to the Steelers right away.

25.   Dont'a Hightower (New England Patriots)

B+    Hightower is one of the best linebackers in the draft, and New England should be much improved on defense with their first two picks.

26.   Whitney Mercilus (Houston Texans)

B      Decent pick for Houston. Mercilus fills the need at defensive end left by Mario Williams.

27.   Kevin Zeitler (Cincinnati Bengals)

C      This is a bit of a reach for a guard who isn't a great pass protector. Cincinnati could have gone with the best player available here, and filled their need later on in the draft.

28.   Nick Perry (Green Bay Packers)

B+    Perry has the talent to be a great pass rusher, but didn't always produce in college. If anyone should take a chance on a kid with talent who hasn't always produced, it's the team that won 15 games in 2011.

29.   Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings)

B      Good pick for Minnesota. They need a safety and addressed two needs in the first round.

30.   A.J. Jenkins (San Francisco 49ers)

C     The 49ers could use a receiver, but there were better ones available. He's very fast, but San Francisco need someone who can catch the ball, not just outrun defensive backs.

31.   Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

B      The Buccaneers need a running back, and got the second best one in the draft.

32.   David Wilson (New York Giants)

B+    The Giants are one of the few teams that can simply draft based on need in the first round. New York needed a running back to replace Brandon Jacobs, and they got one.

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