It's stupid but we did it, anyway

What are we talking about? Grading the draft, of course. We've got our thoughts and national views, too. As you'd expect from such an unscientific process, the views are varied — but mostly good.

First, the obligatory statement noting the sheer silliness of grading an NFL Draft just days after the event. These guys haven't played a single game, much less gone through the grind for two or three seasons.

With that said, we at Packer Report aren't party-poopers. So, below, you will find grades from the guys who were at Lambeau Field this weekend, plus Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber. Following them are grades from Mel Kiper and his ilk.

W. Keith Roerdink, Packer Report: Grade A

Early indications are that GM Ted Thompson nailed it in his fifth draft with the Packers. B.J. Raji was the absolute right call at No. 9. He'll anchor the new 3-4 scheme, but don't write off Ryan Pickett. He'll still be an important contributor at tackle or end. Trading back into the first round for Clay Matthews III was a shock, but his size and athleticism make him the obvious starter opposite Aaron Kampman. More than just a pass rusher, Matthews ability to quickly diagnose a play and drop into coverage will be valued assets.

Aside from Raji and Matthews, Green Bay may have picked up two more starters in this draft. Eastern Michigan tackle T.J. Lang, taken in the fourth round, has a legitimate chance to win the right tackle job, especially if Daryn Colledge and Josh Sitton remain at the guard spots. Sitton earned a starting spot at the end of training camp last year before getting hurt, so clearly Green Bay has no qualms about lining up with a rookie. Louisiana State fullback Quinn Johnson, the first of the Packers' two fifth-rounders, is a wrecking ball who could win a starting spot, as well. But even if Johnson doesn't start, he'll be the hammer in short-yardage situations. Guard Jamon Meredith is a big man who many had going a round or two earlier. Defensive end Jarius Wynn, cornerback Brandon Underwood and linebacker Brad Jones add quality depth.

Bill Huber, Packer Report publisher: Grade B+

Mostly, I like this draft.

The thought of having Michael Crabtree in place to replace Donald Driver in a year or three was intriguing, but many league experts believe B.J. Raji is one of the finest defensive tackles to enter the league in years. Goodness knows, the Packers needed a big body up front.

Of course, the splashy move was Ted Thompson's decision to trade three early draft picks to move back into the first round to get Clay Matthews III. This is the hit-or-miss move of the draft for the Packers, and I worry that Matthews started only 10 games during his five years at USC. I know there's a lot of talent there and I know Matthews is a wonderful athlete with incredible genes, but facts are facts. Matthews was a very good player — but not a great one — for less than a season.

Beyond that, though, getting two highly regarded offensive linemen is huge, and I love fullback Quinn Johnson. Getting a cornerback earlier in the draft and finding another big body to play defensive end would have been nice, but there are only so many picks.

Matt Tevsh, Packer Report: Grade B

Probably the most intriguing draft under Ted Thompson since 2005 when he took Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins with his first two picks. The move up to get Clay Matthews III in the first round was a bold move, and ironically, felt like a need pick for the man who likes to take the best available. Raji filled a need and was the best available interior lineman for a team that desperately needed it.

The rest of the draft produced some much-needed offensive linemen and at least signaled a shift to playing more power football — something Mike McCarthy preached about on his arrival in Green Bay but has yet to be seen. All in all, the Packers should benefit from this draft in the first year more than any of the past four. It might yield up to four starters.

Chris Steuber, Scout.com: Grade B+

I like what they did overall. I thought they got great value. Getting a guy like B.J. Raji really solidifies the middle in a 3-4 defense. He's a guy who can penetrate and get to the quarterback. Clay, I'm not sure what he's going to be, but I just like the move because he's a highly talented guy. They made a bold move to get him.


Mel Kiper, ESPN: Grade A (Packers were his top team)

I love what this team did to solidify its shaky defense in the first two picks alone, with the selection of two excellent players in defensive tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Tackle T.J. Lang was a good pickup for the offensive line, while Quinn Johnson could be a bruising lead fullback in the league. Sixth-round pick Brandon Underwood could make this team and give the Packers depth as a backup.

Charles Robinson, Yahoo!: Grade A

Almost all the team needs were addressed in some way. Nose tackles in the 3-4 scheme are at a premium, and the Packers had a great one fall in their lap in Raji. Matthews has a ton of versatility and adds another badly needed piece in the Packers' scheme change on defense. The two tackle prospects are something to work with long term.

Clifton Brown, Sporting News: Grade A-

They targeted defensive help and got it. Defensive tackle B.J. Raji is a run-stuffer with agility, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews is excellent in pass coverage. Both might start in Week 1. Tackle T.J. Lang and fullback Quinn Johnson are physical blockers. This team should be improved.

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: Grade B+

Packers GM Ted Thompson is classified as conservative in many areas, but history has shown that he is one of the more aggressive players on draft day, and this year's draft was no exception.

After fortifying the interior of their new 3-4 defense with the selection of B.J. Raji, the Packers made an aggressive move to get back into the first round to nab outside linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. The duo is expected to play a key role in the team's new defensive scheme, and each is surrounded by enough talent to ensure their success.

With a huge void at offensive tackle, the Packers grabbed a draft sleeper in T.J. Lang. Furthermore, the team later added one of the more versatile linemen available with the selection of Jamon Meredith in the fifth round. Throw in the addition of fullback Quinn Johnson, and the Packers suitably addressed their biggest offensive needs without expending high picks on the players.

Larry Weisman, USA Today: Grade B+

Shift to 3-4 dictated first two picks and they should be good ones. DT B.J. Raji will be the interior space-eater. He's 6-1, 323 pounds and uses leverage well. Acquired another No. 1 pick to get OLB Clay Matthews. He could start on the weak side. Other crying need was at OT, where Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton both come off surgeries and are heading into sunset years. T.J. Lang brings size and a mauler's attitude.

Pete Prisco, CBSSportsline.com: Grade B

Best pick: They had to get a power player inside and took B.J. Raji in the first round. He is a load.

Questionable move: Trading back into the first round to get USC linebacker Clay Matthews. I didn't like that move at all. He's good. Not that good.

Second-day gem: Landing tackle Jamon Meredith in the fifth round could prove to be a steal for a team in need of a tackle.

NBCSports.com: Grade B-

GM Ted Thompson put need ahead of his usual best-player-available approach, but it paid off on day one. While Michael Crabtree was atop Green Bay's board at No. 9, B.J. Raji is still a top-five talent and offered much better value for a team changing to a 3-4 defense. Raji never should've gotten by Kansas City, Cleveland or Oakland. Clay Matthews had the best 10-yard split of any rush linebacker prospect at the Combine and will threaten for the team lead in sacks right away.

However, T.J. Lang is too developmental and small to solve the Packers' right tackle woes, and they didn't need another fullback behind Korey Hall and John Kuhn, but still took Quinn Johnson. Johnson offers nothing as a receiver or ball carrier. South Carolina OT Jamon Meredith will probably be tried at guard initially. S/CB Brandon Underwood and LB Brad Jones were strictly special teams selections.

Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News: Grade C

The Packers are implementing a 3-4 defensive scheme this season, and Raji gave them the best nose tackle in this draft. Matthews provides an outside presence in the pass rush. Johnson was the draft's best blocking fullback.

John Czarnecki, FoxSports.com: Grade C

The Packers are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season in which their rush defense ranked 26th in the NFL. Dom Capers is installing his 3-4 defense and GM Ted Thompson went for Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji with his first pick — he's a quicker Gilbert Brown — and then made a big trade in order to draft USC outside linebacker Clay Matthews. With their holdovers and if both of these rookies produce as expected, the Packers' front seven should be solid this season. LSU fullback Quinn Johnson is a converted former linebacker who isn't a bad lead blocker. Late picks such as Cincinnati cornerback Brandon Underwood and Colorado linebacker Brad Jones don't figure to make the final roster.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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