Everybody has their draft grades out and rather then spend a whole post telling you I loved the Panthers draft (I'm biased of course) I instead find myself wondering why no one else outside of Carolina seems to see it. I'm going to start with Bucky Brooks from NFL.com who essentialy have the Panthers a 2 out of 4 'Honorable Mention':
Linebacker Luke Kuechly and tackle Amini Silatolu are solid selections, but defensive end Frank Alexander and cornerback Josh Norman are worth keeping an eye on. Both are hard-working playmakers with the potential to blossom into difference-makers.
So Brooks seems to like the players the Panthers drafted and doesn't offer anything negative to base his low ranking. I'm not sure what to make of that. Of course everyone says the Bucs 'nailed it' when I fact they over paid for SS Mark Barron. If he becomes a PBer then maybe its a justified pick but I'm not sold on that. Brooks actually lost some street cred with me for his #1 team on the list. When will these stop sucking at the teet of Billichek?
New England Patriots
Coach Bill Belichick departed from his customary strategy of trading out of the first round to add two critical pieces to his defense. Defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower are impact players, and their insertion into the starting lineup will immediately reverse the Patriots' defensive fortunes. Belichick continued to address his woeful defense with the additions of safety Tavon Wilson, defensive end Jake Bequette and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard in later rounds. Dennard in particular could be a hidden gem if he regains his focus on and off the field.
So he reverses the strategy they heaped praise on him for in the past and they...heap more praise on him. It's not a bad draft by any means but why not mention what they gave up in picks to draft those guys? It should certainly be considered when grading any teams draft.
As a NFL Draft Grader I give Bucky Brooks a 'C'.
I'll look at some other 'Graders' including Mel Kiper ... after the jump...
Kiper breaks down his grading based on 'need' and 'value', first grading each separately and then giving a combined grade. Here' s what grades he gave the Panthers if you are not an ESPN Insider:
Summary: Given all the health problems in their linebacking corps over the last couple years, and an inability to defend the run, Luke Kuechly at No. 9 was no surprise. That's where I had him projected, and I obviously love what he can do -- he's among my top 10 players in the draft, which is saying something for an inside linebacker. I'm pretty shocked they didn't get a single defensive tackle. That was a glaring weakness in 2011, not at all helped by injuries. Frank Alexander has some ability as a pass-rusher, and I can see Josh Norman developing into a starter. As much as I like Kuechly, they drop a little because they didn't hit the top need. Hopefully their young defensive tackles continue to develop.
No surprise? Kiper only predicted Kuechly to the Panthers with his final mock draft, number 5.0 I might mention. Though I predicted the Panthers would take DT Fletcher Cox I didn't think DT was our biggest need. Honestly I thought CB was our biggest need in addition to OLB. I just know the Panthers wanted pass rushers and thought DL was the way they would go.
As far a 'C' grade based on 'need' I was thinking this was one of the most need-based drafts the Panthers have had in recent memory. I have hard time thinking BPA perfectly matched need after the Kuechly pick, which I think was a total BPA pick. OG is a huge need for the Panthers and so I might buy Amini Siratolu was a BPA=Need pick. But then they trade up to get Alexander in the 4th round by mortgaging a 2013 3rd rounder seemed like a desperate move to grab one of the last remaining mid-tier pass rushers on the board. If I was going to put a minus on our grade it would be because of that trade instead of simply failing to land a DT.
PR Joe Adams was an obvious need pick, having been devoid of excitement during punt returns for many seasons. As much as I love CB Josh Norman and thought he was value in the 5th round you know they were not going to leave this draft without a CB. Throw in the most obvious need pick in the punter Brad Nortman in the 6th and I at least give this draft a B+ for addressing need.
An an NFL Draft Grader I have to give Mel Kiper a 'D'.
Our third Grader is Pete Priscoe from CBSSports.com Pete gives the Panthers a solid grade:
Best pick: Fourth-round receiver Joe Adams is a nice player. He has the look of a good slot receiver.
Questionable move: It's quibbling, but taking Amini Silatolu in the second round over some bigger-school lineman is a risk. I like the kid, though, so I am nitpicking.
Third-day gem: Fifth-round corner Josh Norman comes from small-school Coastal Carolina. He impressed during the season, but didn't have a great Senior Bowl week. Some scouts think it was too big for him. But he has the ability if he can adjust.
Analysis: General manager Marty Hurney had a heck of a draft. It started with linebacker Luke Kuechly in the first round and it continued all the way through it. I love Adams and Norman on the final day.
I was thinking Adams was drafted right around where he was expected to go. Same with Silatolu. Also, I was thinking Josh Norman looked great Senior Bowl week, had 6 INTs during practice and really wowed the coaches. Though he's particularly fast Norman has nice size and better yet, knows how to play the ball int he air.
Even though the grade may be a little lower than I would give Priscoe gives some high praise to Hurney. I have to agree. He goes on to give the Bucs a 'B' which I think is about right. He gives the Falcons a 'C' sighting that they essentially made one good pick in C Peter Konz and the draft result is tied to Julio Jones.
Priscoe finishes by giving the Saints and F. That you Pete for using the entire grading scale. So many graders are scared to grade on the curve, meaning that comparatively somebody had to fail. When the Saints did finally make a pick they seemed to reach for a guy that played in Canada.
Looking at who Piscoe gave A's too he was impressed with only three teams: Steelers, Colts & Bengals. I have to admit the three did do pretty good.
As an NFL Draft Grader I give Pete Priscoe a B.
I'll keep my eye out for another others to evaluate and see if I can find a A out there somewhere.