NFL.com analysts Chad Reuter and Bucky Brooks are handing out grades for every team following the 2012 NFL Draft. Click the team name to see each team's entire class.
The Cowboys came into the draft needing to infuse their defense with talent, and they accomplished that goal. Trading up in the first round to select the top-rated cornerback (Morris Claiborne) and taking a chance on FCS stud safety Matt Johnson greatly helped the secondary. Also, linebacker Kyle Wilber has potential as a pass rusher. The offense wasn't ignored, either, with quarterback Tony Romo getting a new receiver (Virginia Tech's Danny Coale) and tight end (Oklahoma's James Hanna) to help exploit the middle of the defense. It was an all-around solid weekend for the Cowboys.
Best pick: Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State (Round 3, 81st overall pick).
He played on the strong side in Boise's 4-3 scheme, but adding just a bit more weight to his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame will make his initial punch on the tackle at the five-technique even more potent.
Questionable pick: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU (Round 1, 6).
This isn't about Claiborne as a player -- his ball skills are the best in the class. Giving up a potential starter at No. 45 (they picked LB Sean Lee at No. 55 in 2010) to trade up to get Claiborne, though, might prove to be an imprudent move. They could've held tight, kept that valuable second-round pick and taken CB Dre Kirkpatrick.
Successful teams are supposed to have a difficult time improving through the draft because they pick late in each round. Apparently, no one has told this to the Giants. With the last pick in the first round, they secured a future starting running back in Virginia Tech's David Wilson, who could be a playmaker in the LeSean McCoy mold with more seasoning. Wilson and the rest of his teammates in the backfield were happy to see the Giants pick up two offensive tackles (athletic fourth-round pick Brandon Mosley and long sixth-round project Matt McCants) to strengthen the weakest part of the team.
Best pick: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU (Round 2, 63).
This is the second straight draft in which the Super Bowl champion picked up an excellent wide receiver at the end of the second round (Green Bay selected Randall Cobb in 2011). Randle's smooth running, solid hands and good size/speed combination makes him a candidate to see the field regularly in 2012.
Questionable pick: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech (Round 3, 94).
In terms of value as a player, Hosley is an excellent pick because he has good ball skills and plays bigger than his 5-foot-10, 178-pound frame. Reports of his failing the combine drug test put his maturity in question, though, so it will be interesting to see if he can stay out of trouble while surrounded by the trappings of the NFL lifestyle.
Impact front-four defenders? Check. Linebacker help? Check. Slot corner? Check. Bruising running back? Check. Back-up quarterback? They got that, too. The price of a fourth-round pick and a sixth-rounder to trade up in the first round to secure top three-technique Fletcher Cox was reasonable. Small-but-talented linebacker Mychal Kendricks (Cal) and cornerback/returner Brandon Boykin (Georgia) were selected in the right spots and should fill their roles well. Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry was too talented to pass up at pick No. 59, as well.
Best pick: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State (Round 1, 12).
A league source told me Cox reminded him of Minnesota Vikings star DT Kevin Williams. If Cox continues to improve his strength at the point of attack in addition to utilizing his quickness off the ball, he could have a similar career to Williams as a perennial Pro Bowler.
Questionable pick: Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (Round 3, 88).
There's little doubt the Eagles needed to find a backup quarterback, due to Michael Vick's propensity for injury and inconsistency. Foles flashes as a pocket passer, but most scouts didn't give him a top-100 grade because they weren't sure he could handle the speed of the NFL game.
Sleeper pick: Brandon Washington, OG/OT, Miami (Round 6, 200).
It might take time for Washington to mature, but his versatilty and physicality give him a chance to contribute right away as a swing reserve -- and eventually start inside or outside.
Owner Daniel Snyder, general manager Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan decided a bold move was needed for the team to compete in the difficult NFC East; trading two future first-round picks and their 2012 second-round selection in order to move up four spots to secure quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick certainly qualifies. Grabbing another passer 100 picks later (Michigan State's Kirk Cousins) emphasizes the team's belief that the defense is good enough to win the division (and more) with more help from the offense. The rest of the team's draft was not extraordinary, however, and the lack of future premium picks means Snyder will open his wallet in free agency to keep the team in contention -- but he's well-practiced at that.
Best pick: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (Round 1, 2).
The Redskins need RG3 to take this team to the next level. His exceptional athleticism, superb arm strength and strong mental aptitude make him a wise investment. There is risk involved concerning his durability and ability to handle interior pressure, but his potential as a playmaker is great enough to take the leap of faith.
Questionable pick: Josh LeRibeus, G, SMU (Round 3, 71).
It's a great story -- LeRibeus misses the 2010 season due to academic difficulties, but then loses 70 (or more) pounds and works himself into a solid mid-round NFL prospect. But safety Brandon Taylor (LSU), cornerback Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma) and running back Lamar Miller (Miami) might have presented better value, and the team ended up finding a possible starting guard later in the draft in Adam Gettis.
Sleeper pick: Adam Gettis, OG, Iowa (Round 5, 141).
A one-year starter for Iowa because of the team's perennial depth on the offensive line and his injuries suffered as a junior, Gettis' athleticism and growing frame makes him a likely starter for the 'Skins within a year or two.