In a draft year when the trades became a huge storyline, they also factor into my grades. It's a question of value. If a team traded up a number of spots to get a player that can really help it, it should be rewarded for getting the player -- but you have to consider both the cost and whether that guy might have been available later on. It's not just about the player, it's about the board.
Was aggressiveness misplaced? Was patience rewarded?
So keep that in mind as you go through the grades for this year -- and of course I realize grades take a few years to truly come into focus -- there were plenty of teams that got guys I think can help them, but their ability to maximize value matters too.
It's been a fun year. I go into this weekend knowing that I've spent a year (more, in fact) learning everything about these prospects, and where and why they'll fit with teams, but also knowing that the opinions can and will be wrong because of the nature of this sport. But I also like to think I'm a tough enough grader that the toughest of graders -- you, the fans -- can relate. And if it was a tough year, well, the first Big Board for 2011 is just days away.
Summary: Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient! Russell Okung lands in their laps at No. 6, Earl Thomas is there at No. 14. Golden Tate is still there at No. 60. All three can help the team not just in a few years but immediately. A swap netted the team LenDale White, who isn't remarkable, but it cost the Seahawks nothing. Then, Seattle parlayed a fifth-rounder into Leon Washington. No team outside of possibly Detroit added impact players the way Seattle has.
Draft grade: A
Summary: For top grades, it's a contrast in styles. Seattle had high picks and got great fits, then waited and got Golden Tate. Baltimore traded down and still loaded up on talent all over the place. In Round 2, the Ravens got Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, a pair of guys who could have landed in the first round. They get a pair of fantastic tight end prospects in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, continuing a promise to both buy and draft options for Joe Flacco. Love the Arthur Jones pick, a one-time Big Board guy who fell to the fifth round, mostly because of health issues. Even in the sixth, the Ravens got Ramon Harewood, a small-college tackle prospect who has a chance to develop. And we can't forget that Anquan Boldin is, in some respects, a part of this class, as well.
Draft grade: A