Overall draft grade: B or B+
Overall I am happy with the draft, but I would have liked a CB like most everyone else. I really thought we should have taken a chance on Dennard in R7, or Johnson/Minnifield at 253 to ensure we had at least a decent body in camp. But oh well. Grigs all but said Asa Jackson was his guy in R5, and he got picked right before us. So whatever, that's how it goes I guess.
Picks I really liked (A grade): Luck, Fleener, Hilton, Chapman. These are 4 players who should all start for 10 years. Luck & Fleener have pro bowl potential, and Hilton/Chapman should be very solid and at least average starters in the NFL. Any draft that produces 4 quality starters is a good draft, PERIOD!
OK picks (B or C grades): Allen, Fugger, Anderson, Harnish. The Allen pick I didn't like cause Josh Robinson was there, and we needed a CB more than a 2nd TE. That being said, Allen was good value in R3 and will be a good TE and probably an above average starter. So I can't be too mad with getting a starter in R3, especially one that will help Luck develop. Fugger I like cause we needed LB depth, and he is fast with rush ability too so he can backup at ILB and OLB. Anderson is a decent OL project, hoping Grigs has a good eye for OL guys. Harnish again I'd rather we took Leonard Johnson or Minnifield, but if Harnish can make the team and impress enough to be our primary backup the next few years, it's def worth pick 253.
Bad picks (D or F grades): Ballard, Brazill. I hate these 2 picks. Brazill is same player as Hilton and Avery, only worse. He's the 5th WR or practice squad player, and he prob won't play ST if Hilton wins return job. We should have gotten a better LB, like Audie Cole or Travis Lewis, or one of the many CBs still around like Dennard, Johnson, etc. Ballard is also bad IMO, and not just because he plays RB. He's the same player as Carter when we needed a 3rd down back. Two great 3rd down backs were there in Michael Smith and Cyrus Gray. Both these guys are fast and can be productive in passing game. Only positive to Ballard pick is if he flashes this year we can let Brown go next year. But could have done the same with Smith/Gray, and then we'd have speed and power in 2013, instead of 2 power backs who are not weapons.
So coming out of draft, we're set everywhere but CB IMO. I'm happy to see we signed 4 CBs as UDFA's, that should create a good competition in camp and could get Rucker cut. Pellerin and Fenelus were 2 of the top 5 CBs still available according to NFL.com (http://www.nfl.com/draft/2012/tracker#dt-tabs:dt-by-position/dt-by-position-input:cb), so that is encouraging. I would still really like to see Grigs go sign 1 more vet CB though just to ensure that the camp battle has some decent quality in there. There's some guys still out there: http://walterfootball.com/freeagents2012CB.php. I'd take Alan Ball or Tryon for a 1 year minimum contract. They'd prob take it if we offered. Or we can sign someone after camp cuts, but I'd rather get someone in now to compete in our camp.
Next year outlook: 4-6 wins
Offense should be pretty good, even with a rookie QB. Oline is much bigger and we have 3 quality RB's, although none are game changers. But we should be able to run pretty well which can set up PA pass to Hilton/Avery, and their speed will keep safeties back. Fleener/Allen should really help with the short passing game, as well as Wayne, which can really help 3rd down conversions. Overall the offense should be average (mid-teens rank) and will hopefully score over 20 most games.
Defense I think will struggle against the pass. Obviously CBs are pretty weak (or so we think) and will routinely get beat man to man. Pass rush could be good, but no way to know how Freeney adjusts to 3-4. Hoping run D will be much improved with new scheme and bigger Dline. Overall I think our D ranks in the lower 3rd of the league.
This year is all about getting Luck to progress and evaluate our players for the future in these new schemes. Another top 10 draft pick is likely in the cards, and I think that's a good thing for our long term success. We need a young playmaker on Defense and a top 10 pick can provide that next year. As for this season, I'd just like to see our offense get better as the year goes on, and our run D and special teams play better. To me, the record means nothing next year. Its all about player development, not wins/losses. And its actually better if we lose by 1 most games instead of win by 1, assuming we play just as well in both cases and lose due to a missed FG.
For 2013: With cap space to sign impact FA's, another 3-4 good players in next year's draft, and our offense progressing and becoming top 10, I think we make the playoffs. No reason we can't make it in 2013 as long as we can sign a couple impact FA's and have another good draft.
What does everyone else think???