Grading the NFL Draft graders
First, let's point out that with the exception of NFL scouts and GMs, no one dislikes these day-after draft report cards more than the writers who have to do them. We all agree that to really judge a prospect or a draft class, you've got to wait about three years. But it's an easy way to package a lot of material, and fans eat them up. So fair is fair, and if the experts are going to grade each team's draft, shouldn't they also be graded?
I feel like reading Kiper Jr. and watching him on TV are two different experiences. On screen, he’s like Billy Mays after a case of Red Bull; on paper, it feels like he’s analyzing stock listings for a financial newsletter. Come on, Mel, give us some literary flourishes. Challenge yourself. Tell us that Hakeem Nicks is gonna blow up like Kirstie Alley eyeing the dessert tray. Tell us Darrius Heyward-Bey has the worst hands you’ve seen since Captain Hook.
Anyway, his grades were mostly on point, though he did seem too low on the Eagles (B-) and Broncos (C) and too high on the Chargers (C+), Redskins (C+) and Saints (C).
Kiper gave the Ravens a B, saying: “First-round selection Michael Oher gives this team great flexibility on the offensive line because he can play right or left tackle for the Ravens. Second-round pick Paul Kruger has the ability to play immediately in this league and may push for ample playing time. Also, Lardarius Webb is a little light at around 180 pounds, but with the help of an experienced safety to support him, he can definitely play cornerback in this league. I love the fifth-round selection of inside linebacker Jason Phillips. He's going to fit in very well with this talented group of linebackers.”
Brown is a sharp tack when it comes to the NFL, but he was docked serious points for misspelling “quarterback” and relying a bit too heavily on short sentences. He also gave two teams worse grades than the Oakland Raiders -- the Chargers and Steelers both got slapped with Fs, while the Raiders took home a D- -- which is unacceptable. I’m not sure where that poor Pittsburgh grade comes from, but I doubt many Ravens fans will complain.
He gave the Ravens a C-. While Brown liked the Oher pick, he pointed out that, “Paul Kruger will not make anyone forget Bart Scott, and GM Ozzie Newsome will need late-round hits to make this draft sizzle.
Technically, King didn’t do a report card complete with letter grades. We'd be inclined to slap King with an "Incomplete," but he chose to withhold grades yet subject us to the following:
Changing planes at DFW Sunday, I used the men's room near one of the American gates. I walked into one of the toilet stalls with the automatic flushers.
WHOOOOOSH. I closed the door to the stall and sat down.
Three more times I heard the same WHOOOOOSH as I sat there and minded my own business.
Of course, no flush when I get up and leave the stall. Gotta love technology.
OK, maybe I’m being too harsh. King actually did provide some insta-analysis on each team. Here’s part of what he said about Baltimore: "How do you not love Michael Oher at 23, even with part of the organization frothing at the mouth over the prospect of sitting at Baltimore's original pick in the round and taking Rey Maualuga? ... Ravens have the highest-motor DT in football, Kelly Gregg. Now they just might have a DE to rival Jared Allen for motor -- Utah's Paul Kruger, a first-round prospect on one draft board I know of."
Fox Sports: Incomplete
This year Fox gave us surprises, winners and losers. But no grades. C’mon, Fox, get in the game!
Cole gets bonus points for using my favorite adjective in football stories -- “sexy” – plus he worked in references to both “upside” and “downside,” important staples of NFL draft coverage. Cole also pulls no punches when it comes to the Raiders, who he nailed with an F, but he was too high on the Chargers (B) and too low on Broncos (D).
Cole gave the Ravens an A, the highest grade of our graders. He said: “The Ravens are one of the best teams at finding falling talent in the first round and did just that this year. Oher is a lot closer to the likes of Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith and Jason Smith than his status as the No. 23 overall pick indicates. Oher will likely push Jared Gaither to right tackle or take over at right tackle to give the Ravens an excellent young tackle combination. Kruger is an interesting player who seems destined to be an outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system and could replace departed Bart Scott. Kruger was miscast as a defensive end in college but should make a nice transition in the NFL. Meanwhile, it’s going to be interesting to see how long the 178-pound Webb lasts with his physical style.”
Robinson exhibited a classic case of West Coast bias by refusing to grade the Ravens. Forget the fact that he was only grading NFC teams, it’s a cop-out move and makes it difficult to take his report card seriously.
Also, the worst grade Robinson handed down was a C-. We like Robinson -- he has plenty of upside -- but it wouldn’t kill him to inch out on the limb a bit.
Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair, ESPN2 (link unavailable): A-
As usual, Kiper’s coiffure comes off looking a lot better than the rest of the analyst’s being. It survived the two days of draft coverage and looked like it’d just gotten of bed and was ready to start the day.
Kiper’s hair, according to sources, gave the Ravens C+. Apparently, it nearly burst into a ball of split ends when the Ravens opted not to select USC linebacker Rey Maualuga in the first round.
Goose loses points for being a bit too high on Texas teams; the Cowboys received a C and the Texans an A+ (OK, let’s not quibble about Dallas, but how do you receive a C when you could’ve just as easily spent all day Saturday watching a marathon of “The Andy Griffith Show.”) Houston, in fact, was the highest grade Gosselin handed out. Plus a few other oddball grades: Packers a C, Jets a D and Patriots a C.
Goose gives the Ravens a B, saying, “Pencil in Oher as a future Pro Bowler. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Peter Boulware, Chris McAllister -- GM Ozzie Newsome doesn't miss often in the first round. He added a pass rusher in the second and a kick returner in the third.”
We give Prisco this grade because his draft was a little too safe. Twenty-seven of his grades were in the B/C range. I like the report card formatting -- relying on categories -- but space constraints did Prisco few favors. Here’s his San Fran take: “I'm just not enamored with what they did.” I need a bit more meat on my knee-jerk report cards, Pete.
Prisco gave the Ravens a B. He liked Kruger in the second round, not so sure about trading up for Oher but he definitely liked Cedric Peerman in the sixth.
Kiper photo: Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun