Mel's Grades
Mel Kiper Jr. hands out his AFC draft grades.
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Monday, April 23

AFC report card: Seahawks fly highest

Here's how I graded each AFC team in the 2001 NFL draft:

Buffalo Bills: Nate Clements could start at corner opposite Antoine Winfield. I really like the pick of defensive end Aaron Schobel. Running back Travis Henry was drafted a little high, but he runs hard. Will he have enough of a burst? We'll have to find out. He caught the ball well and is very good in short-yardage situations. Defensive tackle Ron Edwards slumped his senior year; I don't think he should have been drafted as high as the third round. Jonas Jennings is a versatile lineman who can play guard or tackle, but I thought he was drafted too high as well. I thought linebacker Brandon Spoon was a little bit overrated. Tackle Marques Sullivan was a nice fifth-round pick. I like defensive back Jimmy Williams. Receiver Reggie Germany, where they got him, was a solid choice. I also like the selection of junior-college defensive tackle Tyrone Robertson in the seventh round. Grade: B

Koren Robinson
The Seattle Seahawks selected N.C. State WR Koren Robinson with the ninth pick in the first round.
Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne has the best hands and is the best route runner of all the receivers and gives the Colts another strong option opposite deep threat Marvin Harrison. Idrees Bashir was a player on the rise leading up to the draft. He is a solid cover guy who can play strong or free safety. Defensive back Cory Bird was a reach of about three rounds, so I'm critical of that pick. I like guard Ryan Diem as a fourth-round pick. Defensive backs Raymond Walls and Jason Doering and guard Rick DeMulling were all solid picks. Grade: B-

Miami Dolphins: I have no problems with the selections of cornerback Jamar Fletcher and receiver Chris Chambers in the first and second round respectively. Fletcher gives them a third quality cover man to go with Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain. Running back Travis Minor went higher than expected, but he could settle in as a backup to Lamar Smith. They like Morlon Greenwood for their system. He's not one of the biggest linebackers, but he's certainly fast and athletic and more of a finesse player. Tackles Shawn Draper and Brandon Winey could help out their offensive line. Quarterback Josh Heupel could settle in as a backup. Defensive end Otis Leverette is a major-college sleeper. Grade: B

New England Patriots: They needed to get more weapons for Drew Bledsoe, but instead they went for Richard Seymour at defensive tackle, another position where they needed help. Matt Light is a left tackle who can also move to guard. Brock Williams could be a nickel corner like Ray Mickens. I like Kenyatta Jones, another versatile guard-tackle type of lineman. I had no problem with them getting a pair of tight ends, Jabari Holloway and Arther Love. Love has some long-range potential. Safety Hakim Akbar was a steal in the fifth round. Leonard Myers has potential to contribute in the Patriots' secondary. Kicker Owen Pochman was overrated, but drafting him in the seventh round wasn't bad. T.J. Turner could be a backup at linebacker. Grade: B

New York Jets: Santana Moss was a solid first-round pick who gives them speed and big-play ability at receiver and on returns. Lamont Jordan can come in as a quality backup to Curtis Martin, and backup running backs are vital. Tackle Kareem McKenzie looked like a first-round pick going into the season. He didn't play as well as expected, but in the third round he was a nice choice. With his versatily, Jamie Henderson can play either cornerback or safety. Their late-round picks of defensive tackle James Reed and guard Tupe Peko were not spectacular, though. Grade: B

Baltimore Ravens: Todd Heap gives the Super Bowl champions gives them a second tight end to Shannon Sharpe that they really need. Brian Billick likes two-tight end sets. Gary Baxter will be their third corner and can really help out on special teams. Casey Rabach, who played center and some guard at Wisconsin, will be given an opportunity to start at guard. Edgerton Hartwell should settle in as the backup to Ray Lewis at linebacker. He also has the ability to play on the strong side. Chris Barnes can become the backup running back. Joe Maese is only a deep snapper; he really doesn't have a position. He was one of the top two or three deep snappers in the draft. Dwayne Missouri could be a backup at defensive end after they lost Keith Washington to free agency. Grade: B

Cincinnati Bengals: They needed an impact defensive end and got one in Justin Smith. I thought the Bengals stole receiver Chad Johnson in the second round. Tight end Sean Brewer was drafted a little early, but they feel he can stretch the middle of the field with his speed. Running back Rudi Johnson will be the backup to Corey Dillon. I don't think guard Victor Leyva or linebacker Riall Johnson did much for them as later-round picks. Grade: C+

Cleveland Browns: Defensive tackle Gerard Warren was one of the best players in the draft. Receiver Quincy Morgan was a bit of a gamble on greatness. He's a boom-or-bust type. I like the selection of running back James Jackson in the third round; he like his hard-running style. Defensive back Anthony Henry was an excellent fourth-round pick. Receiver Andre King, the next-to-last pick in the draft, was a great choice in the seventh round. He's an outstanding special-teams player and good receiver. Grade: B-

Jacksonville Jaguars: I question the selection of defensive tackle Marcus Stroud because guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Kenyatta Walker were still on the board. But they rebounded with tackle Maurice Williams in the second round. Eric Westmoreland is a weak-side linebacker and special-teams player. Defensive back James Boyd was a nice third-round pick. David Leaverton could end up as their punter next season. Guard Chad Ward, linebacker Anthony Denman and defensive Marlon McCree were not bad late-round picks. All three could contribute. Grade: B-

Pittsburgh Steelers: With Casey Hampton at nose tackle, the Steelers can move Kimo von Oelhoffen back outside to defensive end. I like the Kendrell Bell pick. He's a linebacker on the upswing with a lot of physical ability. Mathias Nkwenti can play guard or tackle. He's a strong kid who was a solid player at Temple and has potential. Chukky Okobi is a little short at 6-foot-1, but he can play center or guard and is a feisty player. Rodney Bailey showed flashes of pass-rush ability at Ohio State, but he wasn't very consistent. Receiver Chris Taylor has speed but needs to be more polished. Grade: B-

Tennessee Titans: Because they made a trade with the Rams to acquire Kevin Carter, the Titans didn't have a first-round pick. Defensive back Andre Dyson, the younger brother of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson, made a ton of big plays at Utah. He goes after interceptions and anticipates well in coverage. He gambles when he has to, has good hands and can take an interception the distance. Shad Meier had moved up to become the third-rated tight end. He fills a need for them as a player who accentuate what Frank Wycheck does at the other tight end. Receiver Justin McCareins doesn't play the level of his 40 time, but he was productive and had great workouts. I like Eddie Berlin as a backup receiver and return man. Dan Alexander could settle in as a backup to Eddie George. He is a straight-line runner who has breakaway speed, but he needs to improve his pass-receiving skills. Tackle Adam Haayer is a solid late-round pick. I can't argue with the selection of linebacker Keith Adams in the seventh round. Grade: B-

Denver Broncos: Cornerback Willie Middlebrooks made sense in the first round. Defensive end Paul Toviessi was a nice second-round pick who has some upside as a pass rusher. Reggie Hayward, even though he was a productive defensive end at Iowa State, was drafted a little too high in the third round. Center Ben Hamilton is ideal for their offensive line and their blocking scheme. Nick Harris should become their punter; they were 24th in the league in punting last year. He should be able to boom his punts in Denver. He did a great job as a pooch punter as well at Cal. Receiver Kevin Kasper was one of the steals of the draft in the sixth round. He is a Ricky Proehl type of player. Grade: B

Kansas City Chiefs: Defensive tackle Eric Downing was a major reach in the third round. I thought he would either be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent. Receiver Marvin "Snoop" Minnis was probably a stretch too. Defensive Monty Beisel, though, was a solid pick. Running back George Layne went a little earlier than I thought. I like the picks of tight end Billy Baber, running back Derrick Blaylock and guard Alex Sulfsted and then defensive back Shaunard Harts in the seventh round. Grade: C

Oakland Raiders: Derrick Gibson was the No. 2-rated safety and has great physical talent, but he needs to be more consistent. He is an upgrade on what they have at safety. I would have probably picked tight end Todd Heap as a big-time weapon for Rich Gannon, even though they traded for Roland Williams. But I can see why they drafted Gibson, to fill the need that cost them an opportunity to compete with Baltimore in the AFC championship game. I like quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. He's a Gannon type who could be the heir apparent. He is ideal for coach Jon Gruden with his mobility and winning approach. DeLawrence Grant went where he was projected as a pass-rushing defensive end. I thought both defensive back Raymond Perryman and defensive tackle Chris Cooper were major reaches. I can't argue with the selection of receiver Ken-Yon Rambo in the seventh round. At one point he looked like a second-round pick. Grade: C+

San Diego Chargers: I have no problem with the selection of running back LaDainian Tomlinson, after trading out of the No. 1 spot and moving down to No. 5. General manager John Butler hopes he can do for the Chargers as Thurman Thomas did for the Bills. I like Drew Brees going in the second round. He is competitive and has a Captain Comeback mentality. Playing in San Diego with better weather conditions could enhance his arm strength a bit. That was a question mark about him going into the draft. Tay Cody could be a backup defensive back. I thought linebacker Carlos Polk was overrated. Tackle Elliot Silvers is nothing special as a fifth-round pick. Zeke Moreno, who could be a backup linebacker, also has value as a deep snapper. Defensive back Robert Carswell played better as a junior than he did as a senior. Grade: C+

Seattle Seahawks: I had an A+ for the Seahawks after the first day. They did the best of any team, led by the selection of receiver Koren Robinson. He is a tremendously gifted, explosive football player who is only 20. Guard Steve Hutchinson was one of the top players in the draft. He can play hole guard or tackle. Ken Lucas will battle Ike Charlton for the starting cornerback job opposite Shawn Springs. Lucas, a former receiver, is a big corner who is progressing as a player. Heath Evans was the best fullback in the draft and is great for the West Coast offense. He can catch the football and is an underrated blocker. He is a hard-nosed, multidimensional player. Orlando Huff is a nice-looking linebacker who can either be a backup or maybe a starter in the future. Defensive back Curtis Fuller was a slight reach in the fourth round, but not by much. "Pork Chop" Womack could be a backup tackle. Receiver Alex Bannister needs some work. He must do a better job of maximizing his height. He should be a backup as he is transitioning into the NFL. Josh Booty has the arm but needs to make better decisions and get more experience. Who better to help a raw quarterback develop than Mike Holmgren. Harold Blackmon was beaten some in coverage last season, but he battled and hangs tough. He could be a backup or special-teams player. I like tackle Dennis Norman in the seventh round. He is light on his feet and needs to become better at driving defenders at the point of attack. Kris Kocurek could be a read-and-react, stay-at-home type of defensive tackle. Grade: B+

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