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Ira Kaufman's NFL Draft grades

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:37 AM

NFC South

BUCS: Tampa Bay maneuvered smartly in the early rounds, but failing to land CB Morris Claiborne could prove to be a missed opportunity. S Mark Barron brings physicality and leadership while weakside LB Lavonte David has rare instincts. RB Doug Martin's versatility should give new OC Mike Sullivan more flexibility. GRADE: B-plus.

ATLANTA: Because of last year's move up to grab WR Julio Jones, the Falcons had to wait until pick No. 55 to turn in a card. Peter Konz was generally considered the top center prospect in the draft and will start sooner rather than later. T Lamar Holmes has the massive frame to excel, but he's a bit of a project. GRADE: D.

CAROLINA: The Panthers were delighted to find Luke Kuechly still on the board at No. 9 and this tackling machine will likely be shifted to outside linebacker next to Jon Beason, giving Carolina a pair of athletic run-stuffers who also can cover. Nasty G Amini Silatolu could start as a rookie, but Carolina didn't land a top-rated defensive tackle. GRADE: B.

NEW ORLEANS: The Saints were spectators through the first two rounds and when the 89th pick arrived, they reached for DT Akiem Hicks, who has been playing in Canada. Hicks has some intriguing physical skills, along with some character issues. WR Nick Toon is the son of former Jets Pro Bowl receiver Al Toon. GRADE: D.

NFC East

DALLAS: The Cowboys made a bold move up in the opening round to grab CB Morris Claiborne at No. 6, vaulting one spot ahead of Tampa Bay. Claiborne has the ball skills Dallas craves desperately in a secondary that couldn't make key stops in crunch time. DE Tyrone Crawford has some potential but needs to be coached up. GRADE: B-minus.

NY GIANTS: As usual, GM Jerry Reese went in with a thoughtful game plan and came away with some potential starters. RB David Wilson adds game-breaking speed to the NFL's least productive ground game while lanky WR Rueben Randle has the ball skills to provide Eli Manning with another big target in the red zone. GRADE: B-minus.

PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles love to stockpile defensive linemen and Fletcher Cox has a chance to develop into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle. LB Mychal Kendricks lacks ideal height, but never stops hustling and Philly fans will love his motor. DE Vinny Curry registered 40 tackles for loss and 23 sacks in his final two years at Marshall. GRADE: B.

WASHINGTON: For the most part, this will be considered a one-man draft for the Redskins, who paid a heavy price to move up for QB Robert Griffin with the No. 2 pick. If Griffin transfers his rare skills to the pro level immediately, like Carolina's Cam Newton, Washington fans will be turning out in force at FedEx Field. GRADE: B.

NFC North

CHICAGO: Desperate for another pass rusher across from Julius Peppers, the Bears grabbed DE Shea McClellin, an intense undersized scrapper. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will teach this tireless worker new techniques. Alshon Jeffery, who has pro size, is the latest receiver to intrigue Chicago fans coming out of the draft. GRADE: C.

DETROIT: The Lions surprisingly held off on secondary help until the third round, when they selected 5-foot-10 Dwight Bentley, who impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl. T Riley Reiff will eventually replace Jeff Backus as Matt Stafford's blind-side protector. Detroit coaches believe Ryan Broyles will develop into a stellar slot receiver. GRADE: C.

GREEN BAY: After yielding the most yards in the league, Green Bay predictably zeroed in on defensive help. Nick Perry is a talented pass rusher off the edge and Jerel Worthy has surprising quickness for his 6-3, 305-pound frame. With Charles Woodson turning 36 this fall, the Packers believe in CB Casey Hayward's upside. GRADE: B.

MINNESOTA: By trading down one slot in the first round and still getting their man, the Vikes enjoyed a dynamic draft. Matt Kalil could be a 10-year mainstay at left tackle and versatile Harrison Smith was the top-rated safety in the draft behind Mark Barron. UCF corner Josh Robinson can also contribute as a kickoff returner. GRADE: A-minus.

NFC West

ARIZONA: The Cardinals heard the pleas from Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald for another weapon and Arizona fans hope speedy WR Michael Floyd lures some coverage away with his big-play ability. The lack of a second-round pick hurt and the Cards may have reached a bit for CB Jamell Fleming, an indifferent tackler. GRADE: C-minus.

ST. LOUIS: New head coach Jeff Fisher stockpiled additional choices and the Rams plucked five players within the first 65 picks. DT Michael Brockers is a load to move and St. Louis was willing to overlook character issues surrounding talented CB Janoris Jenkins. WR Brian Quick offers classic boom/bust potential. GRADE: B.

SAN FRANCISCO: After falling just short of the Super Bowl, the 49ers gambled a bit early in the draft by selecting A.J. Jenkins, a fluid receiver with suspect hands and a small frame. If Jenkins is willing to learn, he'll give QB Alex Smith another downfield option. Ultra-quick RB LaMichael James likely will be a third-down specialist. GRADE: C.

SEATTLE: The Seahawks didn't address their lack of speed on offense, but exciting QB Russell Wilson could contribute in special packages. DE Bruce Irvin is considered a reach by some draft analysts at No. 15, but he's got a quick first step. RB Robert Turbin has been plagued by injuries, but he's been productive when healthy. GRADE: D.

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AFC East

BUFFALO: The Bills continued an impressive offseason makeover. Instead of trading up for LT Matt Kalil, Buffalo remained at No. 10 and gladly scooped up Stephon Gilmore, considered the second-best cornerback prospect behind Morris Claiborne. Cordy Glenn is a hard worker who can be plugged in anywhere on the offensive line. GRADE: A-minus.

MIAMI: The Dolphins weren't going to be denied in their pursuit of a young quarterback to build around. Ryan Tannehill may be athletic and charismatic, but he won't succeed in the NFL unless he makes better decisions. T Jonathan Martin is better suited for the right side and 6-foot-4 TE Michael Egnew has no inclination to block. GRADE: C-minus.

NEW ENGLAND: The Pats fell just short of a championship, but Bill Belichick knows his defense needs a lot of work. Rangy DE Chandler Jones is eager to learn and LB Dont'a Hightower provides a physical presence that's been sorely missing for years. Second-round DB Tavon Wilson wasn't even invited to the combine. GRADE: B-minus.

NY JETS: Coach Rex Ryan craved a pass rusher and the Jets gambled a bit by choosing DE Quinton Coples, a skilled pass rusher who doesn't always play hard. Unless Coples raises his intensity, he'll struggle at the pro level. WR Stephen Hill is an unpolished burner who could help QB Mark Sanchez stretch the field a bit. GRADE: F.

AFC North

BALTIMORE: The Ravens traditionally draft well, but Baltimore had only one of the first 59 picks. Aggressive LB Courtney Upshaw, surprisingly available in the second round, fits Baltimore's defensive profile – fast and mean. The Ravens like the running style of Bernard Pierce, a 215-pound thumper who scored 27 touchdowns last year. GRADE: B.

CINCINNATI: The Bengals have the look of a team on the rise. Coach Marvin Lewis can't wait to work with CB Dre Kirkpatrick, while G Kevin Zeitler adds a physical presence up front. Bucs coach Greg Schiano raves about former Rutgers standout WR Mohamed Sanu, who represents good value for Cincinnati in the third round. GRADE: A.

CLEVELAND: Once the Browns were convinced a team (Tampa Bay?) was about to trade up for Alabama RB Trent Richardson, they made their move. Richardson figures to get plenty of touches and Cleveland wasn't finished tinkering with the 29th-ranked offense, drafting 28-year-old QB Brandon Weeden and anointing him No. 1. GRADE: B-plus.

PITTSBURGH: Few teams enter the draft as prepared as the Steelers, who were delighted to find G David DeCastro still available late in the opening round. He will be given every opportunity to start as a rookie and Pittsburgh remained focused in the trenches by adding 6-foot-7 T Mike Adams, who needs better technique. GRADE: B.

AFC South

HOUSTON: After losing Mario Williams in free agency, the Texans were on the prowl for another edge rusher. LB Whitney Mercilus emerged last season as a speedy terror for Illinois and Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can't wait to work with him. Slender WR Devier Posey appears to be a reach in the third round. GRADE: C.

INDIANAPOLIS: If Andrew Luck is as good as advertised, the Colts landed their next franchise quarterback, a worthy successor to Peyton Manning. To ease Luck's transition in the pros, Indy drafted his old Stanford teammate, TE Coby Fleener, as the Colts begin putting the pieces around the new face of a rebuilding franchise. GRADE: A-minus.

JACKSONVILLE: A new administration was intent on energizing a drab attack, so the Jags moved up two spots and grabbed Justin Blackmon before St. Louis could land the prolific receiver who set records at Oklahoma State. Some injury and character issues surround DE/LB Andre Branch, a standout athlete with average instincts. GRADE: B.

TITANS: Despite pressing needs along the offensive line, the Titans locked in on WR Kendall Wright with the 20th pick. Wright needs more precision in his routes, but is dynamic with the ball in his hands. LB Zach Brown may be faster than Wright, but his work habits are questionable. DT Mike Martin is a 307-yard plugger. GRADE: C-minus.

AFC West

DENVER: The Broncos didn't waste much time drafting Peyton Manning's successor, selecting Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler in Round 2. DT Derek Wolfe, who posted 21.5 tackles for loss in 2011, appeals to head coach John Fox because of his leadership traits and willingness to learn. RB Ronnie Hillman is a bit of a project. GRADE: D.

CHIEFS: In their eternal pursuit of a dependable run-stuffer, the Chiefs have turned to 335-pound NT Dontari Poe, who is difficult to budge but doesn't offer much thump on the pass rush. By using their second and third picks on Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson, the Chiefs hope to upgrade at the offensive tackle position. GRADE: C-minus.

RAIDERS: The NFL's 29th-ranked defense uncovered little help in the draft as new GM Reggie McKenzie found himself with only one pick through the first three rounds. G Tony Bergstrom, a three-year starter at Utah, lacks outstanding athleticism, but is passionate and coachable. LB Miles Burris relies on strength and a relentless motor. GRADE: F.

CHARGERS: San Diego's pursuit of a dynamic pass rusher led the Chargers to Melvin Ingram, a versatile force off the edge. Ingram started only one season at South Carolina, where he displayed an array of effective moves to complement his 4.65 speed. Defensive lineman Kendall Reyes boasts an impressive closing burst. GRADE: C.

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