David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
ESPN's Mel Kiper re-graded the 2012 NFL Draft today (insider article). Immediately after the draft, Kiper gave the Browns a B- for the draft they put together. Cleveland's new grade has them improving slightly to a B. Kiper's explanation is listed below:
Post-draft grade: B-
Summary: The Browns had question marks about value, but they did a really good job of hitting needs. They got the running back they really wanted, but when you take Trent Richardson at No. 3 overall, you're banking on stardom. At his best, Richardson has that upside, but he dealt with injuries all season and, in the short run, you could say others got more value at running back farther down the board.
Brandon Weeden wasn't bad, but there are legitimate questions about whether the new administration wants him to be the 2013 starter. Mitchell Schwartz filled in well at right tackle, and you have to factor in that perhaps the best rookie for the Browns was Josh Gordon, whom they grabbed in the supplemental draft in Round 2.
Where you saw really good value was with the additions of John Hughes and Billy Winn on the defensive line. The Cleveland defense regressed in 2012, but both look like keepers and good rotation players up front. I think when you factor in Gordon for the 2012 haul, this grade actually jumps a bit. But this draft will still be defined by whether Richardson can reach his full potential and if Weeden actually remains the starter and also makes major strides. Both of those are big questions.
New grade: B
Based on Kiper's explanation, it sounds like the productivity of Gordon and the rookie defensive tackles were enough to give Cleveland a minimal bump. Had Richardson had a more explosive year or if Weeden had firmly established himself as the 2013 starter, Cleveland could have gotten somewhere in the "A" range.
Last year, Kiper re-graded the Browns' 2011 draft from a B+ to an A-. Tom Heckert did well. When you think about the team's 2013 draft, things could be drastically different for two reasons: we have a new front office in place, and we are without a second-round draft pick.
Around the rest of the division, the Bengals dropped from an A- to a B, the Ravens improved from a B to a B+, and the Steelers dropped from a B to a C. The highest "new" grades in the NFL were given to the Indianapolis Colts (A), the Minnesota Vikings (A-), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (A), and Seattle Seahawks (A).