Regrading the 2011 NFL draft

49ers and Panthers surge as the grades are scrutinized today

Originally Published: January 11, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

As I look back at the grades I handed out on the final night of the 2011 NFL draft, one thing is clear: Cam Newton was ready. So was Aldon Smith. And so were a lot of other players. In fact, many things are now clear. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't hand out grades after the draft. For one, what fun would that be? And secondly, you absolutely can grade the degree to which teams maximized value while addressing needs based on the knowledge you have at the time.

The key is to be willing to take another look. So, as we did last year, here's a look back at every grade for every team and where I think I was right and where I was clearly wrong. You'll note that it's fair to say "Incomplete" in so many cases. But if we say the Vikings don't yet know what they have in Christian Ponder, it doesn't mean we shouldn't recognize (and fix) the grades for Carolina or Cincinnati, which both did well. So take a look, and as always, feel free to disagree.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst