While we can assign more accurate grades once these draft classes have been given three seasons to perform for their collective teams, we can still assess the selections that were made. First, in terms of how effectively each team addressed their most glaring deficiencies. Along with how successful they were at accumulating depth, and by how effectively the new additions are expected to perform, based upon the offensive or defensive system that they will now participate in. With that, here are the grades for the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers
Pilfering Melvin Ingram with the 18th pick, provides sufficient reason to award A.J. Smith and his staff a very high mark, after he was projected as a top 12 selection on many draft boards. Not only will the Chargers’ defense improve because of his exceptional ability, but Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor will also contribute to that unit immediately, through both their athleticism and leadership skills. The massive Johnnie Troutman is an intriguing pick, who will cement this even further as a successful draft if he can maintain his focus. David Molk also has the potential to supplement the O-line. I would have preferred a more aggressive approach to addressing the RB position, as opposed to waiting until round seven, although Edwin Baker might compete for a backup role. Still, that alone prohibits San Diego from collecting an A.
Draft Grade A-
Kansas City Chiefs
Dontari Poe might eventually become an excellent performer, and justify Scott Pioli’s decision to select him with the 11th pick. However, we already do know that his production at Memphis was questionable, and that the competition he encountered was hardly formidable. All of which makes Pioli’s choice to snare him so quickly difficult to defend at this point. Even when you factor in his widely discussed exhibition at the combine. Romeo Crennel could help Poe maximize his abilities, and DT was definitely a position of need. But drafting Michael Brockers would have served that purpose too. Jeff Allen is a commendable second round selection, and could eventually be joined on the Chiefs’ offensive line by Donald Stephenson, although he has attained question marks regarding his level of commitment. If either Devon Wylie or Julian Hemmingway can contribute at WR, the team’s grade will elevate.
Draft Grade C+
It is difficult to assign a grade here, since the additions of Carson Palmer, Aaron Curry, Terrelle Pryor, Joe Barksdale and Taiwan Jones during 2011 left the Raiders with a grand total of five picks, before Reggie McKenzie traded down to secure a sixth on day three of the process. Still, I was initially surprised that McKenzie did not address any of the team’s glaring needs on defense (OLB, ILB, DE, DT, and CB), when the team’s first opportunity occurred. But Tony Bergstrom has an excellent chance to start immediately at guard, and should thrive in the team’s newly instituted zone blocking schemes. Plus, he will further cement Oakland’s young, talented O-line as the team’s principal strength. Miles Burris was one of the most intriguing players heading into the draft, and should be a contributor on defense, based upon his non-stop motor alone. Juron Criner should also stick as a possession receiver.
Draft Grade C
After being impressed with John Elway’s aggressive approach toward improving the roster throughout the offseason, the decision to trade out of round one was surprising, even with the understanding that he was unable to secure the player(s) that he originally desired. I can’t ignore the fact that Denver began the process with the 25th overall selection, and ended up with Derek Wolfe at #36. While he is aggressive, there are concerns regarding his ability to hold up in a 4-3 front, and other options were available. Burning the 57th pick on Brock Osweiler simply does not make sense, given the recent commitment to Peyton Manning, and the more immediate needs that could have been addressed at this slot. I’ve seen some Bronco fans passionately defend this move, by stating that a quality backup is necessary if Manning suffers an injury. But if that does come to pass, Osweiler will not be a suitable replacement this season, and Denver will still have an enormous problem. Third rounder Ronnie Hillman could emerge within the mix at RB. But although the team will be better this season, it will not occur because of its draft selections.
Draft Grade C-