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Draft prep is tough; grading it is even tougher

As soon as the NFL draft is held, in less than a month, all the so-called experts will begin evaluating how the 32 teams did with their picks, giving them the same kind of report card we usually associate with schools -- grades ranging from A to F.

Big difference, though.

In school, you take the test before you get a grade. In the NFL, it seems we're all too eager to learn the grade before the exam even begins.

The true test of draft success does not occur in April, and folks who have lived through it know that better than anyone. The draft-day grades are based largely on how the prospects prepared for the draft and what we know about them then. The grades that matter are based on how they perform after draft day.

"I know about the grading, and I find it humorous," said A.J. Smith, the San Diego Chargers' general manager. "Everybody has this consensus, meaning that if somebody takes a 'seventh-rounder' in the fourth-round, they're a fool. They may be correct in that assessment -- but it takes three years.

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