On April 27, Mel Kiper released his annual grades column for the 2009 NFL draft. A full regular season for those rookies nearly completed, he's at it again.
I'm surprised at how many of these grades I wouldn't change significantly. Before you filet me for being the ref who refuses to overturn my own calls, a quick explanation: Part of this, I admit, is because many players -- be it because of injury or the realities of the depth chart -- still would be graded as "incomplete." We're still grading an unfinished product. But there have been surprises and moves. When playoff teams get a lot out of rookies, you must be impressed. When guys show star potential even in losing situations, again, you grade up. But in some cases, there's also no reason to believe a player will really emerge. So, to the report card.
Green Bay Packers (Spring grade: A)
I said I loved what this team did with the first two picks, and I'll stand by that. They moved to a 3-4, grabbed two players in B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews who fit Dom Capers' system and have made huge gains. Matthews is a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Brad Jones is a steal in the seventh round. On the whole, four big-time contributors out of one draft on a playoff-caliber team is a lot.
Current grade: A
New York Jets (Spring grade: A-)
They had only three picks, but I had them high because they moved decisively and landed a guy I thought would be their franchise QB. Mark Sanchez has had his struggles, but there's no question this is his team -- and there's massive value in that. Shonn Greene has been good, and looks like a fit to follow Thomas Jones as the feature back. The future is bright in N.Y., and this draft is a reason. Grade drops just a tad: good picks, really low volume.
Current grade: B+