Grading a draft not even 24 hours after its completion is a pretty ridiculous exercise. Busts become booms, first-round blue-chippers and second-round steals never see their potential.
What we can do is take a look at how teams addressed certain needs, how they evaluated particular players during the draft and what those moves mean. The decisions during the draft are only on paper at this point, which isn't everything, but it is something.
At first glance, the AFC North as a division had a strong weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers have long had a reputation as a solid organization when it comes to the draft, and Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is developing a reputation as one of the best minds in the game. Here's a look at what each in-division team did.
1. (32) Matt Elam, S, Florida
2. (56) Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas St.
3. (94) Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern St.
4. (129) John Simon, DE/OLB, Ohio State
4. (130) Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard
5. (168) Ricky Wagner, G, Wisconsin
6. (200) Kapton Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame
6. (203) Ryan Jensen, C, Colorado St-Pueblo
7. (238) Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
7. (247) Marc Anthony, CB, California
Analysis: Through free agency and then the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, the Ravens have seemingly reloaded their vaunted defense in one offseason. Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears were all signed prior to the draft. After all the unrest surrounding futher Hall of Famer Ed Reed at safety, the Ravens already completely revamped that position with Huff and first-round pick Matt Elam. Newsome said after the pick that Elam was "their guy" all along.
Kansas St. LB Arthur Brown was a guy many had ranked as a top-30 player or better. Of all the "steals" on draft day, at least on paper, this was one that made a lot of noise. Then comes Brandon Williams, who adds depth to the Ravens' defensive line, and the Buckeye, John Simon, a tough-nosed bull rusher of a linebacker. The Ravens could have added four key pieces to a new and younger defense, three of them in th front seven.
Grades: I will not be giving out grades, because putting a number on something as fluid as an NFL draft doesn't really do any good. But below are grades from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr and Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke.
What these picks mean is more important. What the Ravens did was add two players many draft evaluators had in their top-30 or top-25 players, each on the defensive side of the ball after Ray Lewis, Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and company all left. Add in Dumervil, Huff and the others, and it's a new-look defense that could still be a very strong unit.
The Ravens could have added a wide receiver to complement the major investment in quarterback Joe Flacco, like Tennessee's Justin Hunter or California's Keenan Allen. Spending $20 million on one player would seem to warrant giving him as many weapons as possible. But it's hard to argue with taking a defense that could have been decimated and possibly turning it around in a couple of weeks.
Kiper: A- (Needs A-, Value B+)
1. (21) Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
2. (37) Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
2. (53) Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
3. (84) Shawn Williams, S, Georgia
4. (118) Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M
5. (156) Tanner Hawkinson, G, Kansas
6. (190) Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
6. (197) Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas
7. (240) Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio St.
7. (251) T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina
Analysis: While the Ravens revamped their defense, the Bengals added a couple of weapons to a young and talented offense. Tyler Eifert was a possible option for the Browns in a trade-down scenario and then for the Steelers at No. 17 but was finally taken off the board by the Bengals, who needed another threat in the passing game to take some heat off of receiver A.J. Green, already one of the NFL's very best. The Bengals hope quarterback Andy Dalton can take the next step in his career, and giving him a second receiving option should help.
The Bengals had two second-round picks as part of the incredibly one-sided deal that sent Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a first-rounder last year and a second-rounder in this draft (the Bengals used last year's pick to take Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick, while Palmer has already left the Raiders in a trade to the Arizona Cardinals). The latter part of the deal nabbed North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, a versatile running back who can also catch out of the backfield. The Bengals surprised a few by making Bernard the first RB to come off the board and not Alabama RB Eddie Lacy.
The latter second-rounder brought in Margus Hunt, a very raw but very athletic pass rusher. Hunt will be a project but has terrific upside. In the third round, the Bengals addressed their need at the safety position with Shawn Williams, who should be able to come in and compete with Taylor Mays for a starting spot. The safety position has been a major hole in the Bengals' defense, and it was a safe bet that position would be addressed at some point in the draft.
Grades: The Bengals are young and talented, and they continue to add weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The NFL has seen an upward-trending change in how tight ends are used in today's pass-happy offenses, and Eifert surely fits the mold as someone who can make an impact in the middle of the field. The running back position had become a bit of a sore spot as well, and Bernard should be able to contribute right away.
The Bengals could have addressed their need at safety earlier in the draft, either with Elam (who went to the Ravens in the first round), Florida International's John Cyprien (who went one pick later to the Jacksonville Jaguars) or Louisiana State's Eric Reid. While that's still a strong need, giving a young quarterback some help isn't a bad idea.
Kiper: A- (Needs B+, Value A-)