Anyone who follows football and watches the NFL draft likely enjoys reading the NFL draft grade articles that come out immediately after the draft finishes. Even though we all know the grades mean nothing, we still devour the information because it's always fun to hear good things about our favorite teams.
Smart people have said for years that you can't properly grade an NFL draft for at least five years, because by then most players have had an opportunity to grow into their roles. Players who are still struggling at that point are unlikely to ever become a key contributor elsewhere.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at the 2012 NFL Draft and give teams grades.
Arizona Cardinals - D+
Draft Class: WR Michael Floyd (1), CB Jamell Fleming (3), OT Bobby Massie (4), OG Senio Kelemete (5), CB Justin Bethel (6), QB Ryan Lindley (6) and OT Nate Potter (7)
For about a season and a half, Michael Floyd looked like the next great Cardinals receiver. Injuries, poor play and a DUI saw his Cardinals career come to an end late last season, and after a brief stint with New England, he remains a free agent. Justin Bethel was a good pick in the sixth round, but hasn't been anything more than average to this point.
Every other pick provided very little to Arizona, which is why their draft grade is so poor.
Atlanta Falcons - F
Draft Class: C Peter Konz (2), OT Lamar Holmes (3), FB Bradie Ewing (5), OLB Jonathan Massaquoi (5), SS Charles Mitchell (6), DT Travian Robertson (7)
With their first and fourth round picks traded as part of the deal that landed them Julio Jones the previous season, the Falcons didn't have a lot of opportunities early in the draft. Despite that, the team should have been able to find at least some contributions. Outside of fifth rounder Jonathan Massaquoi, they were all busts.
An F might be too kind.
Baltimore Ravens - B-
Draft Class: OLB Courtney Upshaw (1), OG Kelechi Osemele (2), HB Bernard Pierce (3), OG Gino Gradkowski( (4), CB Christian Thomspon (4), CB Asa Jackson (5), WR Tommy Streeter (6), DE Deangelo Tyson (7)
Upshaw never lived up to his draft status, showing flashes but playing too inconsistently to be a consistent starter. He's now a situational pass rusher for the Atlanta Falcons. Osemele developed into one of the game's best guards, and signed a massive free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders. Pierce had a few productive games, but never became more than a role player. Gradkowski started all 16 games at center in his second season, but that was mostly out of necessity and the Ravens traded him a year and a half later. Jackson developed into a decent defensive back, while the team got nothing from the rest of their class.
Buffalo Bills - A-
Draft Class: CB Stephon Gilmore (1), OT Cordy Glenn (2), WR TJ Graham (3), LB Nigel Bradham (4), CB Ron Brooks (4), OT Zebrie Sanders (5), LB Tank Carder (5), OG Mark Asper (6), K John Potter (7)
Gilmore quickly emerged as one of the league's best press corners, although the Bills didn't always use him correctly hurting his overall production. He should emerge as one of the league's top corners in New England this coming season after signing a massive free agent contract with them. Cordy Glenn received $65 million over 5 years to be the Bills franchise left tackle, so he was a great second round pick. Nigel Bradham was a solid player before bolting for Philadelphia.
However, getting little or no production from every other draft pick is what bumped them down to an A-minus. Had the team had a few more drafts like this one over the years they'd be contending again.
Carolina Panthers - A
Draft Class: MLB Luke Kuechly (1), OG Amini Silatolu (2), DE Frank Alexander (4), WR Joe Adams (4), CB Josh Norman (5), P Brad Nortman (6), CB DJ Campbell (7)
Kuechly has become arguably the league's best defender, while Josh Norman developed into a true shut down corner before he left for Washington. Nortman has been a very underrated punter since being drafted.
While the rest of the draft left a lot to be desired, any draft with Kuechly and Josh Norman deserves a very high grade.
Chicago Bears - C-
Draft Class: OLB Shea McClellin (1), WR Alshon Jeffery (2), S Brandon Hardin (3), TE Evan Rodriguez (4), S Isaiah Frey (6), CB Greg McCoy (7)
While Alshon Jeffery was a steal in the second round, even with his injury issues, the rest of the draft class provided little help. McClellin proved to be a massive bust, suited mostly for a situational role at best. Poor draft classes year after year have really hurt Chicago, which is likely why so many Bears fans were mad about the Mitch Trubisky trade. Maybe they got it right for once.
Cincinnati Bengals - A
Draft Class: CB Dre Kirkpatrick (1), OG Kevin Zeitler (1), DT Devon Still (2), WR Mohamed Sanu (3), DT Brandon Thompson (3), TE Orson Charles (4), CB Shaun Prater (5), WR Marvin Jones (5), S George Iloka (5), HB Dan Herron (6)
The Bengals had the luxury of 10 draft picks, thanks in part to the Carson Palmer to Oakland trade, and they did a great job for the most part. Kirkpatrick has developed into a solid starter at corner, while Zeitler was arguably the best guard in football over the last few years before signing with the Browns this off-season. Sanu and Jones were solid receivers for the Bengals before signing lucrative free agent deals elsewhere and both having solid seasons this past year. Iloka has quietly been one of the most underrated safeties in football over the last five years and the Bengals rewarded him handsomely last off-season.
The team received little or no production from Devon Still, Brandon Thompson, Orson Charles, Shaun Prater and Dan Herron, but to land 5 very good starters in one draft is a huge win.
Cleveland Browns - F
Draft Class: HB Trent Richardson (1), QB Brandon Weeden (1), OT Mitchell Schwartz (2), DT John Hughes (3), WR Travis Benjamin (4), LB James-Michael Johnson (4), OG Ryan Miller (5), LB Emmanuel Acho (6), DT Billy Wynn (6), CB Trevin Wade (7), FB Brad Smelley (7)
Schwartz would emerge as a very good right tackle, before leaving in free agency. Travis Benjamin showed flashes of potential, before he signed a free agent contract with the Chargers and enjoyed a breakout season. Emmanuel Acho was injured and eventually traded for Dion Lewis, who did nothing for Cleveland but starred for the New England Patriots all season long.
Richardson is among the biggest busts in NFL history, while Brandon Weeden was far too old to be a first round pick. Even the players that were good draft picks will play their best football elsewhere as they all have left the organization.
Dallas Cowboys - C-
Draft Class: CB Morris Claiborne (1), DE Tyrone Crawford (3), LB Kyle Wilber (4), CB Matt Johnson (4), WR Danny Coale (5), TE James Hanna (6), LB Caleb McSurdy (7)
Claiborne never became the kind of shut down corner most expected, and he was a liability most of his career when he wasn't injured. He had a decent final season in Dallas before signing with the New York Jets. Wilber and Hanna have been decent role players and Tyrone Crawford got a $45 million extension, so he was a good draft pick.
The rest of the class provided nothing, but Claiborne's disappointing development was the biggest problem.
Denver Broncos - A
Draft Class: DE Derek Wolfe (2), QB Brock Osweiler (2), HB Ronnie Hillman (3), CB Omar Bolden (4), C Philip Blake (4), DE Malik Jackson (5), LB Danny Trevathan (6)
Wolfe, Jackson and Trevathan were all huge parts of a Super Bowl winning defense and all remain very good NFL players. Jackson signed for $90 million in free agency. Hillman was a productive change of pace back for a couple of seasons, while Brock Osweiler had a decent 4-game stretch before bolting for Houston in free agency (and then being given away with a second round pick)
Bolden and Blake did very little, but nobody has a perfect draft. This was pretty darn close.
Detroit Lions - C+
Draft Class: OT Riley Reiff (1), WR Ryan Broyles (2), CB Dwight Bentley (3), DE Ronnell Lewis (4), LB Tahir Whitehead (5), CB Chris Greenwood (5), CB Jonte Green (6), LB Travis Lewis (7)
Riley Reiff recently signed for nearly $60 million with the Minnesota Vikings, but most believe he was highly overpaid. He's been about average since entering the league, which is valuable for an offensive tackle. Tahir Whitehead finished last season with 132 tackles and has developed into a very solid linebacker and was a steal in round 5.
The rest of the draft provided very little production.
Green Bay Packers - B+
Draft Class: OLB Nick Perry (1), DT Jerel Worthy (2), CB Casey Hayward (2), DT Mike Daniels (4), S Jerron McMillan (4), LB Terrell Manning (5), OT Andrew Datko (7), QB BJ Coleman (7)
Perry had a breakout 2016 season, compiling 11 sacks. He had just 12.5 career sacks prior to this season, but has become a key member of the Packers defense. Casey Hayward and Mike Daniels have been very good players as well, consistently playing near a pro-bowl level.
The rest of the draft class was poor, but getting three solid starters in any draft is always an added bonus for a team with Aaron Rodgers, because your team is always a Super Bowl contender as long as he's healthy.
Houston Texans - A-
Draft Class: OLB Whitney Mercilus (1), WR DeVier Posey (3), OG Brandon Brooks (3), C Ben Jones (4), WR Keshawn Martin (4), DE Jared Crick (4), K Randy Bullock (5), OT Nick Mondek (6)
Mercilus and Brooks emerged as some of the best players at their respective positions, while Ben Jones, Crick and Randy Bullock all became solid starters as well. Keshawn Martin remains a productive special teams player, which makes this a very solid draft from top to bottom, even if some players have signed elsewhere by now.
Indianapolis Colts - A-
Draft Class: QB Andrew Luck (1), TE Coby Fleener (2), TE Dwayne Allen (3), WR TY Hilton (3), DT Josh Chapman (5), HB Vick Ballard (5), WR LaVon Brazil (6), OT Justin Anderson (7), DE Tim Fugger (7), QB Chandler Harnish (7)
Luck was a no-brainer choice at #1, so they get no credit for that. Taking tight ends with the first pick of the second AND third rounds was foolish, but both Fleener and Allen had their moments. Hilton has emerged as an elite receiver. Chapman and Ballard had good rookie debuts before burning out.
All in all it was a solid draft, but they could have made better use of their second or third round pick.
Jacksonville Jaguars - F
Draft Class: WR Justin Blackmon (1), DE Andre Branch (2), P Bryan Anger (3), LB Brandon Marshall (5), CB Mike Harris (6), DT Jeris Pendleton (7)
The best draft pick the team made was Brandon Marshall in the fifth round, but they cut him prior to the 2013 season and he's become a key contributor to a very good Denver Broncos defense. Blackmon played well when he played, but he eventually failed enough drug tests to end his career. Drafting a punter in the third round should be illegal, just to protect stupid teams from doing stupid things.
Kansas City Chiefs - B-
Draft Class: DT Dontari Poe (1), OG Jeff Allen (2), OT Donald Stephenson (3), WR Devon Wylie (4), CB DeQuan Menzie (5), HB Cyrus Gray (6), DT Jerome Long (7), WR Junior Hemingway (7)
Poe and Allen both were paid about $7 million per year in free agency to sign with other teams, meaning their value around the league was quite high. Stephenson had a solid rookie season before falling off, and he's currently competing along the Denver Broncos offensive line.
Outside of Poe and Allen, there wasn't much production at all, but those two became good starters which helped the Chiefs a lot over the last few seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers - C
Draft Class: OLB Melvin Ingram (1), DE Kendall Reyes (2), S Brandon Taylor (3), TE Ladarius Green (4), OG Johnnie Troutman (5), C David Molk (7), HB Edwin Baker (7)
Melvin Ingram has become a pro-bowl caliber player and was a very good first round pick, but the rest of their draft class was quite poor. Reyes had a solid rookie season before declining sharply, while Taylor, Troutman, Molk and Baker are all out of the NFL.
Ladarius Green remains a great athlete, but he never lived up to his potential in San Diego and has since signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's nothing more than an average player, but that's a good 4th round draft pick.
Los Angeles Rams - B+
Draft Class: DT Michael Brockers (1), WR Brian Quick (2), CB Janoris Jenkins (2), HB Isaiah Pead (2), CB Trumaine Johnson (3), WR Chris Givens (4), OG Rokevious Watkins (5), K Greg Zuerlein (6), LB Aaron Brown (7), HB Daryl Richardson (7)
The Rams were able to get early production out of several of their draft picks. Brockers, Quick, Jenkins, Johnson, Givens, and Zuerlein all had key roles early in their careers and showed flashes of brilliance that suggested a Rams turnaround wasn't far off.
Unfortunately, nobody became a superstar and some of the role players were replaced within a few seasons. Brockers, Jenkins, Johnson and Zuerlein all remain solid contributors, although Jenkins signed for a ton of money with the New York Giants prior to last season.
Miami Dolphins - B+
Draft Class: QB Ryan Tannehill (1), OT Jonathan Martin (2), DE Olivier Vernon (3), TE Michael Egnew (3), HB Lamar Miller (4), LB Josh Kaddu (5), WR BJ Cunningham (6), DT Kheeston Randall (7), WR Rishard Matthews (7)
Tannehill, Miller and Matthews have all developed into solid starters, and Vernon is a pro-bowl caliber defensive end. Unfortunately, Miller and Matthews play elsewhere now, making those late round steals less valuable.
If Tannehill can build upon his 2016 season, this grade could still improve.
Minnesota Vikings - B
Draft Class: OT Matt Kalil (1), S Harrison Smith (1), CB Josh Robinson (3), WR Jarius Wright (4), TE Rhett Ellison (4), WR Greg Childs (4), S Robert Blanton (5), K Blair Walsh (6), LB Audie Cole (7), LB Trevor Guyton (7)
Matt Kalil had a great rookie season, watching Adrian Peterson rush for over 2,000 yards. However, his play would decline each season thereafter, and the team chose to move on from him this off-season. He did sign for over $50 million with the Carolina Panthers, though, so someone was a fan. Harrison Smith is the best all-around safety in football and was one of the best Vikings draft picks of all-time. Wright, Ellison, Blanton and Cole have been solid role players, while Blair Walsh had an up and down time in Minnesota.
While Kalil didn't quite live up to expectations as a top-5 tackle, Smith's development covers a lot of the missed draft picks because of the level he's played at basically since day one.
New England Patriots - A-
Draft Class: OLB Chandler Jones (1), ILB Dont'a Hightower (1), S Tavon Wilson (2), DE Jake Baquette (3), S Nate Ebner (6), CB Alfonzo Dennard (7), WR Jeremy Ebert (7)
Drafting both Jones and Hightower in the first round was a home run, as those two players would go on to lead an elite Patriots defense during their time together. Chandler Jones was eventually traded to the Arizona Cardinals, while Hightower recently resigned with the Patriots. Ebner has been a solid special teams player, and Dennard had a decent rookie season when his production was needed.
New Orleans Saints - F
Draft Class: DE Akiem Hicks (3), WR Nick Toon (4), CB Corey White (5), OG Andrew Tiller (6), OT Marcel Jones (7)
Hicks is no longer with the Saints, having been traded to New England and then signing with Chicago, but he's become a solid rotation player along the defensive line. The other four draft picks never became much of anything, and all are currently still free agents despite teams rosters expanding to 90 in the off-season.
New York Giants - F
Draft Class: HB David Wilson (1), WR Reuben Randle (2), CB Jayron Hosley (3), TE Adrien Robinson (4), OG Brandon Mosley (4), OT Matt McCants (6), DT Markus Kuhn (7)
David Wilson had a major fumbling problem, while every other draft pick outside of Reuben Randle is out of the league at the moment. Randle was a solid second round selection, but his production was about average before he left in free agency. Eli Manning gets blamed when the team struggles, but poor drafts like this one are much more harmful.
New York Jets - F
Draft Class: DE Quinton Coples (1), WR Stephen Hill (2), LB Demario Davis (3), CB Josh Bush (6), HB Terrance Ganaway (6), OG Robert Griffin (6), S Antonio Allen (7), WR Jordan White (7)
Demario Davis was the only draft pick who developed into a solid contributor. Coples, Hill and Allen all showed potential early in their careers but haven't improved at all since then.
Oakland Raiders - F
Draft Class: OG Tony Bergstrom (3), LB Miles Burris (4), DE Jack Crawford (5), WR Juron Criner (5), DE Christo Bilukidi (6), LB Nathan Stupar (7)
The Raiders were hurt by their lack of draft picks, and without a selection in the first two rounds the team was unable to find any quality talent. Each of their draft picks was either a solid special teams player for a few years or complete busts, and most have had difficulty landing a second NFL contract.
Philadelphia Eagles - B-
Draft Class: DT Fletcher Cox (1), LB Mychal Kendricks (2), DE Vinny Curry (2), QB Nick Foles (3), CB Brandon Boykin (4), OT Dennis Kelly (5), WR Marvin McNutt (6), OG Brandon Washington (6), HB Bryce Brown (7)
At one point, this draft class looked like it'd be the building block of a great young team. Cox, Kendricks, Curry, Foles, Boykin and Bryce Brown all showed flashes of greatness, but unfortunately only Cox has developed into a truly elite player, while Curry is a very productive player as well. Kendricks is a backup at this point, Foles had one good season, and Boykin was a solid corner for a few years but remains a free agent at this juncture.
Pittsburgh Steelers - A-
Draft Class: OG David DeCastro (1), OT Mike Adams (2), LB Sean Spence (3), DT Alameda Ta'amu (4), HB Chris Rainey (5), WR Tony Clemens (7), TE David Paulson (7), CB Terrence Frederick (7), OT Kelvin Beachum (7)
Both DeCastro and Beachum, the Steelers first and last picks, developed into quality starters at tackle and guard. DeCastro remains one of the league's better guards today. Spence has been a solid contributor as well.
The remainder of the class has been a disappointment, but the value in finding two very good offensive lineman can't be overstated.
San Francisco 49ers - F
Draft Class: WR AJ Jenkins (1), HB LaMichael James (2), OG Joe Looney (4), OLB Darius Fleming (5), CB Trent Robinson (6), C Jason Slowey (6), OLB Cam Johnson (7)
With a draft as poor as this one, it's easy to understand how a team that was competing for Super Bowls seemed to decline overnight. When you're unable to bring in any kind of help through the draft, it's impossible to compete. Whether Trent Baalke simply drafted the wrong players or Jim Harbaugh was so spiteful of who Baalke drafted he didn't play them, the fact is the draft class was horrible.
Seattle Seahawks - A+
Draft Class: OLB Bruce Irvin (1), MLB Bobby Wagner (2), QB Russell Wilson (3), HB Robert Turbin (4), DE Jaye Howard (4), LB Korey Toomer (5), CB Jeremy Lane (6), S Winston Guy (6), OG JR Sweezy (7), DE Greg Scrugs (7)
Irvin was deemed a massive reach on draft night, but he was a solid contributor at times although he didn't live up to a first round pick. Bobby Wagner is among the best linebackers in football, Wilson is an elite starting quarterback and Jeremy Lane has become a solid contributor at corner. Howard would develop into a solid defensive lineman elsewhere after Seattle gave up on him after one season. Sweezy was drafted as a defensive end and immediately moved to the offensive line, where he's emerged as a very good starting caliber lineman, signing for $32.5 million with the Tampa Bay Bucs last off-season.
This draft was a big stepping stone for the Seahawks dominance over the last few seasons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - B-
Draft Class: S Mark Barron (1), HB Doug Martin (1), LB LaVonte David (2), LB Najee Goode (5), S Keith Tandy (6), HB Michael Smith (6), TE Drake Dunsmore (7)
Both Tandy and Martin have emerged as solid starters, while LaVonte David is one of the league's best linebackers. Mark Barron has developed into a good outside linebacker elsewhere, but provided very little while with Tampa Bay. Najee Goode was a solid backup, just not for Tampa Bay who lost him to Philadelphia.
Had they been able to convert Barron to linebacker themselves, this would have been a much higher grade. Nonetheless, it was a decent effort, thanks in large part to LaVonte David.
Tennessee Titans - C-
Draft Class: WR Kendall Wright (1), LB Zach Brown (2), DT Mike Martin (3), S Coty Sensabaugh (4), TE Taylor Thompson (5), S Markelle Martin (6), DE Scott Solomon (7)
Wright showed flashes of potential every season, but never emerged as the pass catching target the Titans expected. Brown has developed into a pro-bowl caliber linebacker, but he did it while playing for the Buffalo Bills and has since signed with the Washington Redskins. The rest of the class has been nothing more than roster fillers since being drafted.
Washington Redskins - B
Draft Class: QB Robert Griffin III (1), OG Josh Leribeus (3), QB Kirk Cousins (4), LB Keenan Robinson (4), OG Adam Gettis (5), HB Alfred Morris (6), OT Tom Compton (6), CB Richard Crawford (7), CB Jordan Bernstine (7)
After his rookie season, RGIII looked like the next great franchise quarterback. Knee injuries, declining play and his inability to listen to his coaches turned him into a massive bust over the next few years, however. Kirk Cousins has since emerged as the team's franchise quarterback, and was a steal in the fourth round. Alfred Morris was the most underrated running back in the NFL throughout his rookie contract, as he consistently ran for over 1,500 yards.
Finding a franchise quarterback and a starting running back in rounds 4 and 6 is wonderful, but every other pick was a bust and the RGIII trade was especially costly.
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