A run through Kiper Jr.'s 2013 draft grades

April, 28, 2013
4/28/13
12:42
PM ET
Good morning, NFC West. I've had a chance to run through Mel Kiper Jr.'s 2013 NFL draft grades Insider for the NFC West.

As Mel notes, "Everybody knows you can't grade an NFL draft on performance the day it ends. You can't do it for years, which is part of the reason why I audit old drafts. What I do here is assess three main things: How much overall talent did a team add based on board position? How effectively did they address key personnel needs? How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?"

With those things in mind, let's take a peek at Kiper Jr.'s grades and offer some initial thoughts. The comments I've included from Mel represent a small sampling of his overall thoughts for each team.

St. Louis Rams

Kiper Jr.'s overall grade: A-minus

Kiper Jr.'s give: "I really liked this draft, and found myself in agreement with my colleagues. Oh, and they still have an extra first-rounder next year. The NFC West arms race is not just a two-team affair."

Sando's take: The Rams set up themselves to succeed in this draft when they traded the 2012 second overall choice to the Washington Redskins. I loved the way they emerged from the first round Thursday night with the most highly rated skill-position player (Tavon Austin) and the same number of total picks they brought into the process. The Rams also addressed immediate needs with most of their picks, which always looks good on paper when a draft concludes. However, St. Louis emerged from this draft with only seven players overall. Eighteen teams drafted between eight and 11 players. The Rams had the two early picks, so they got quality. But a home run for me would have included getting quality and quantity. The Rams had only 52 players on their roster coming into the draft. All those open roster spots made it easier for St. Louis to land more attractive rookie free agents, at least.

Arizona Cardinals

Kiper Jr.'s overall grade: B

Kiper Jr.'s give: "Nothing remarkable about this class, but Carson Palmer's chance to succeed has improved with the presence of Jonathan Cooper, and there's plenty of sleeper potential."

Sando's take: The Cardinals came away with nine players after entering the draft with seven picks. The team had never drafted more than eight players in any year since 2001. The more picks a team has, in general, the more chances to acquire a long-term contributor. Coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim came into the draft saying their offensive line was going to be OK, particularly at tackle. The team still used the seventh and 116th overall choices for guards, an indication Arians and Keim agreed with public concerns there. I thought Arizona would have been more aggressive in targeting a safety, but the team expects Tyrann Mathieu to provide some flexibility at that position. Adding a couple running backs later in the draft made sense. Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams have breakout potential, but neither has been reliable lately.

San Francisco 49ers

Kiper Jr.'s overall grade: B

Kiper Jr.'s give: "I'd like this draft a little more if they got a safety I had rated higher, but they did well, just as you figured they would."

Sando's take: Analysts are going to disagree about the value of specific players. Kiper Jr. didn't like safety Eric Reid so much. Another analyst, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly, ranked Reid as the 14th-best player in the draft on his overall list published in March. I often prefer revisiting player grades issued well before the draft. I'm skeptical when grades change in the absence of actual football being played. Reid comes to the 49ers as a lower-cost alternative to Dashon Goldson. The 49ers came out of this draft with a likely immediate starter in Reid while addressing needs that might not become acute for another year or so. General manager Trent Baalke likes to say he's in it for the long haul. This draft addressed longer-term needs on the defensive line (Tank Carradine) and at running back (Marcus Lattimore) in particular. Getting a 2014 third-round choice from Tennessee was another long-term move.

Seattle Seahawks

Kiper Jr.'s overall grade: B

Kiper Jr.'s give: "I don't know that Seattle added a starter among their picks, but they certainly added one in Percy Harvin."

Sando's take: The Seahawks have earned the benefit of the doubt in the draft after hitting home runs with Russell Wilson and other players selected over the past three years. I think analysts would be harsher in their day-after-draft analyses if they hadn't been forced to eat their words regarding Wilson in particular. The Seahawks have proven they know what they're doing. Including Harvin in the analysis changes the overall feel for this draft. Otherwise, we could reasonably say the team came away with a backup running back, depth at defensive tackle and a complimentary wide receiver. I can see why the Seahawks wanted to have so many seventh-round picks (four). One, the team has come away with potential starters in that round previously, including J.R. Sweezy. Two, Seattle has relatively few openings on its roster, making it tougher for the team to recruit undrafted free agents. Those seventh-round picks gave Seattle a jump on priority free agents.

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