An early word on 2012 NFL draft grades

April, 29, 2012
4/29/12
7:30
AM ET


Good morning. The 2012 NFL draft flew by, I thought, and now it's time to pass along tentative, highly qualified assessments on how teams fared.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen singled out the San Francisco 49ers for praise at the 1:50 mark of the video above. After noting that the 49ers kept together their defense in free agency, he pointed to an offensive emphasis on draft day to suggest San Francisco would become a more complete team. The 49ers used their first three picks for offense.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals, despite entering the 2012 NFL draft with less firepower than their NFC West rivals, tied the St. Louis Rams for the NFC West's highest initial grade from Mel Kiper Jr. Insider The Cardinals and Rams drew B-minuses, with Kiper calling Cardinals tackle Bobby Massie one of the better values in any round.

"What I'm asked to do here is grade how well teams hit their needs based on where I had the players valued," Kiper wrote. "That's it. I talk to teams, and they have players rated higher and lower than I do. I'm not claiming to be smarter than them about how they value a player, but if they get a guy in Round 2 whom I had tagged with a late-round grade, it matters here."

The Seattle Seahawks tied for the lowest grade among all 32 teams, a C-minus punctuated with this comment from Kiper: "The needs were met outside of wide receiver, but in terms of maximizing value, there are huge questions. Again, this is a grade of the draft process, not the players alone."

I'll follow up throughout the day with additional thoughts on each team's draft, including a team-by-team series featuring what I liked, question marks, key trends and veteran players put on alert.

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