The first round of the 2012 NFL draft is officially in the books, and if you weren’t on the edge of your seats from the very beginning, then you clearly aren’t a football fan. This was easily one of the most exciting and action-packed first rounds in recent years.
The NFC North is one of the better divisions in the NFL, and every team definitely improved with some solid picks across the board. Here are grades for the NFC North’s first-round picks.
Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC (Fourth Pick)
The Vikings traded back one spot with the Cleveland Browns and were able to still get their top player while picking up a few extra picks along the way.
Kalil is easily the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft and should be able to start of left tackle for the Vikings for the next 10+ years. He has the potential to become a perennial Pro Bowl player for the Vikings.
Final Grade: A
Chicago Bears – Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State (Nineteenth Pick)
There is a lot to like about McClellin’s game, but this pick was certainly a head-scratcher for the Bears.
For starters, McClellin appeared to be better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker and not a 4-3 defensive end. While I’m sure he is certainly capable of playing DE in the NFL, he appeared to be more highly coveted by teams that use a 3-4 defense.
Secondly, this seems a little high of a pick for McClellin. The Bears would have been likely to trade back a few picks and still draft McClellin.
Overall, a good pick for Chicago, but nothing spectacular.
Final Grade: C
Detroit Lions – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa (Twenty-Third Pick)
Without any cornerbacks left worth drafting in the first round, the Lions addressed the offensive line which was their second biggest need heading into the draft.
It was surprising to see Reiff fall this far down the draft, as many experts expected him to be drafted near the tenth pick. However, the Lions were lucky to have Reiff fall right into their laps.
Reiff is talented enough to start from day one for the Lions at either left or right tackle. This was a pick that is only going to make the Lions a better overall team moving forward.
Final Grade: A
Green Bay Packers – Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC (Twenty-Eighth Pick)
The one position that Ted Thompson and Green Bay needed to improve in this draft was outside linebacker. By drafting Perry, they did just that.
Perry isn’t as complete of a linebacker that you’d want in the first round, but his talents as a pass-rusher are extremely unique. Perry can use his athleticism and strength to get after the quarterback in numerous ways. Pairing him with Clay Matthews will improve both players a great deal.
This was a fantastic selection by one of the best in the business.
Final Grade: A
Minnesota Vikings – Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame (Twenty-Ninth Pick)
The Vikings jumped back up into the first round and improved their secondary a great deal by drafting Smith from Notre Dame.
When you watch Smith on tape, it’s clear to see that this kid is a football player through and through. He is a playmaker against both the pass and the run, and should be able to step in from day one and make an impact.
With a division as pass-happy as the NFC North, the Vikings made a great decision by boosting their secondary.
Final Grade: B+