ESPN's NFL Draft Guru, Mel Kiper, Jr., reviewed the entire 2011 NFL Draft and gave out grades to each team in the league. The article is in the premium, ESPN Insider, which means you have to pay to play, if you know what I mean. However, one of our SB Nation's compatriots sent it around to the rest of us NFL blogs and I was able to peruse it, specifically to see what he thought of the 2011 draft class of the Baltimore Ravens.
Kiper looked at two things to determine his overall grade, needs and value. He only gave out two "A" grades out of the 32 teams, both "A-" overall grades, to the Detroit Lions and, are you ready for this, the Cincinnati Bengals. Kiper basically said that Cincinnati saw two huge glaring needs at QB and WR and didn't hesitate to go get them in WR A.J. Green (Georgia) and QB Andy Dalton (TCU), plus he thinks LB Dontay Moch will be a good pass-rushing specialist. Finally he said they got good value the rest of the draft to earn that top grade.
(Click on the 'Jump' to see Mel Kiper's grade of the Ravens, as well as the other AFC North team's grades)
At the other end of Kiper's grading spectrum, there was one team he flat out thought missed the boat and received his lowest grade of a "D+" for their three days of drafting. The Seattle Seahawks need a QB and they passed on every one who was a there when they made their picks, which earned Kiper's bottom grade of the 32 teams.
In the AFC North, he liked both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers draft choices giving both teams "B+" overall grades. The Browns made that huge trades giving them picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, and got great value with their picks, including WR Greg Little (UNC). The Steelers had what Kiper termed "an effective" draft for a team picking so late in each round. He likes that they got younger at defensive end, the much needed offensive line help and a cornerback that they needed as they were exposed by Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in their Super Bowl loss in February.
As far as the Baltimore Ravens, Mel graded the Ravens three-day group of players with the same "B+" he gave the previous two teams and here is what he said about the newest group of guys we got:
Baltimore Ravens- Top Needs: CB, WR, LB, S
Summary: Last year, the Ravens got a lot good value but didn't get much out of the class in 2010. This year, they again got a lot of good value, but also hit on some players that could fill holes a little earlier. The big name is Jimmy Smith, who has the talent to go higher, but could use the guidance that a player like Ray Lewis can provide. Given that cornerback was the biggest need on my board for Baltimore, a value like Smith should have them thrilled. The Ravens also needed a wideout who can stretch the field, and got one with Torrey Smith of Maryland. He's a burner. I would have liked to see an outside linebacker on the board, but Reid is a decent value, and Doss has great hands and helps receiver depth. McPhee is an intriguing defensive end prospect, as well.