2013 NFL Draft Grades: Vikings, Rams, Steelers earn top marks

  • By NFL.com
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When Bucky Brooks handed out grades following the 2013 NFL Draft, a handful of teams received marks worth sticking on the fridge. Here's what he had to say about the five teams that earned an "A" (click on team names for full draft classes):

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The Vikings pulled off an unlikely triple play by landing three elite prospects in the first round -- the result of general manager Rick Spielman's ability to cleverly manipulate the draft board. Sharrif Floyd is a disruptive interior defender capable of manning the point at the 1- and 3-technique positions. He collapses the pocket with force, displaying enough athleticism to get to the quarterback up the gut. Xavier Rhodes is a big, physical corner with the size and athleticism to be effective in a press or Cover 2 scheme. Rhodes' size will encourage the Vikings to line him up against the big-bodied receivers (such as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall) dominating the NFC North. Cordarrelle Patterson is an explosive vertical threat with the speed and burst to blow past defenders on the turf. With Adrian Peterson in the backfield and veteran Greg Jennings functioning as the No. 1 receiver, Patterson should feast on single coverage on the outside. If Patterson can master the go-route, post and comeback, he could wind up leading the NFL in yards per catch as a rookie. GRADE: A+

CINCINNATI BENGALS: It's no coincidence that the Bengals have emerged as perennial playoff contenders in recent years, given that they've strung together a series of productive drafts. This year's draft was no exception, with Cincinnati adding explosive playmakers in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard to an offense already brimming with talent. Coach Marvin Lewis scooped up a few intriguing defensive pieces in end Margus Hunt, safety Shawn Williams and linebacker Sean Porter. Those three might start the season in backup roles, but their collective talent upgrades the depth of the defense and gives coordinator Mike Zimmer options for exotic sub-package looks. With the Bengals stacking another solid class on top of an already loaded roster, Cincinnati is in position to be a legitimate contender in the AFC for years to come. GRADE: A

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: GM Trent Baalke has done a terrific job of stacking draft classes full of substance and sizzle in recent years. This year's group definitely fits the bill, with several premium players joining a roster that's already chock-full of talent at every position. Eric Reid is the prototypical safety with the size, speed and athleticism to roam freely in the deep middle. He should step into the role vacated by Dashon Goldson and provide the 49ers with timely playmaking between the hashes, making this trade-up decision a wise one. Cornellius "Tank" Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore are both big-time players coming off significant injuries, but their immense talent and potential make them worthwhile risks, despite the possibility that neither could see the field any time soon. Quinton Patton is a standout receiver with a well-rounded game. If he makes the most of his opportunities as a rookie, he could give the 49ers a viable No. 2 option in the receiving corps. GRADE: A

ST. LOUIS RAMS: Jeff Fisher followed through on his promise to upgrade the talent around quarterback Sam Bradford with this impressive draft haul. The Rams added Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey -- a dynamic duo at West Virginia -- to a receiving corps that lacked sizzle last season. Both are explosive players on the perimeter who have the potential to put the ball in the paint from anywhere on the field. Austin, in particular, is an all-around threat with the capacity to pick up chunk yards as a runner, receiver and returner. He will command the attention of the defense with his speed and quickness, which will open up the field for the rest of the Rams. Alec Ogletree gives the defense a sideline-to-sideline chaser with speed and burst on the second level. He will team with James Laurinaitis to wreak havoc between the hashes against the run and pass. T.J. McDonald is a big, physical safety with speed and quickness. GRADE: A

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: The Steelers have long favored substance over sizzle on draft day. This has been the draft philosophy of the franchise since Chuck Noll roamed the sidelines, and it continues under the direction of GM Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin. The Steelers grabbed one of the most productive pass rushers in the draft in Jarvis Jones. He dominated SEC competition over the past two seasons, displaying a knack for getting to quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield, particularly in big moments. Jones' disruptive game is reminiscent of former Steeler James Harrison, which makes him a viable candidate to start as an edge player. Le'Veon Bell is a big back with quick feet and outstanding instincts. Additionally, he is a natural pass catcher with the receiving skills to play a prominent role in the passing game. Markus Wheaton is a more polished version of the departed Mike Wallace on the perimeter. He might be the star of this Pittsburgh class when the draft is revisited in a few years. GRADE: A-

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks

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