I've posted 2012 NFL Draft Grades for every pick. Why not grade all of the trades? There were eight in the first round, so let's analyze them.
Vikings trade No. 3 to Browns for No. 4, 4th-, 5th- and 7th-rounders
I've been making fun of Rick Spielman ever since he manufactured those Morris Claiborne rumors. I thought he was crazy and inept for even considering Claiborne, but he did a great job of duping another general manager into acquiring the No. 3 pick. The Vikings picked up three third-day selections and still obtained the right player. Bravo, Spielman.
As for the Browns, I like that they went all out to secure Trent Richardson, but no other team was moving up to No. 3. The Buccaneers said as much, and the Rams reportedly were hoping Richardson would fall to No. 6. That's kind of like hoping Megan Fox shows up at your door with two other hot chicks, all of whom want to have sex with you at the same time. St. Louis needs a reality check.
Grade for Vikings - A+
Grade for Browns - B
Buccaneers trade No. 5 to Jaguars for No. 7, 4th-rounder
I usually like it when teams trade down, but the Buccaneers acquired just a fourth-round pick for giving up on one of the six blue-chip players in the 2012 NFL Draft. The No. 7 spot was deemed the worst position in this draft all along, so they should have gotten more for making the move, especially considering that the Jaguars were desperate to land Justin Blackmon. If they couldn't get anything more out of Gene Smith, they should have stayed put and drafted Morris Claiborne.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, deserves all the credit in the world. Charlie and I have been saying all along that Blackmon was the guy the Jaguars coveted. Giving away a fourth-rounder for a legitimate No. 1 receiver is nothing. Smith made a great move.
Grade for Buccaneers - D
Grade for Jaguars - A+
Rams trade No. 6 to Cowboys for No. 14, 2nd-rounder
The Rams apparently are making it their mission to bolster the NFC East. They gave Robert Griffin to the Redskins a couple of months ago (albeit for fair compensation) and yesterday, they allowed Dallas to land one of the six blue-chip players in the 2012 NFL Draft.
As I wrote earlier, I like it when teams slide down and acquire picks, but the Rams need talent. Staying put and drafting Morris Claiborne would have been the best move, but I don't mind this deal because they were able to pick up a second-round selection.
Meanwhile, Dallas filled its need at cornerback by moving up for the consensus top player at that position in the 2012 NFL Draft. I'm not a fan of surrendering second-round picks, but I'll definitely make an exception in this case because the Cowboys acquired one of the six blue-chip prospects in this class.
Grade for Rams - B-
Grade for Cowboys - A-
Seahawks trade No. 12 to Eagles for No. 15, 4th- and 6th-rounders
I understand Philadelphia's thinking here. Fletcher Cox was the desired prospect, so leapfrogging the Rams, who needed defensive tackle help, was imperative. Considering all of the draft picks Andy Reid had in his arsenal through various other deals, this was a no-brainer. Except St. Louis wanted Michael Brockers over Cox for some strange reason. I guess we'll just have to see who the better pro will be.
At any rate, this was a good move for the Eagles. I also liked what the Seahawks did. Forget the whole Bruce Irvin thing; when this deal went down, I thought to myself, "Luke Kuechly's gone... the Seahawks will take a pass-rusher, but there are so many still left on the board like Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, Whitney Mercilus, etc. No wonder they're moving out of 12."
So, I liked what the Seahawks did - until they picked a one-trick pony who dropped out of high school, committed robbery and ruined public property a couple of months ago. I'll base this grade on the trade alone. Make sure you check out my Millen grade for the Seahawks in my 2012 NFL Draft Grades.
Grade for Seahawks - A
Grade for Eagles - A
Bengals trade No. 21 to Patriots for No. 27, 3rd-rounder
The Bengals picked up a third-rounder for moving down only six spots, which was nice, but they missed out on David DeCastro. Even worse, they allowed arch rival Pittsburgh to snatch him at No. 24. I have a feeling Cincinnati will regret that for the next 10-15 years.
As for the Patriots, they made some noise by uncharacteristically trading up twice, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Tom Brady is entering the final stages of his career, so New England has about a window of three to four years to win at least one more Super Bowl. They need talent now instead of assets for the future. Moving up for Chandler Jones was crucial because neither he nor Whitney Mercilus was expected to be available at No. 27.
Grade for Bengals - C
Grade for Patriots - A-
Broncos trade No. 25 to Patriots for No. 31, 4th-rounder
The Patriots moved up yet again, this time for Dont'a Hightower, an extremely versatile linebacker whom Bill Belichick will have fun utilizing. Hightower definitely wasn't going to drop to No. 31 because the Ravens loved him. I like this deal better than the other one because New England surrendered a fourth instead of a third for jumping up the same amount of picks.
Meanwhile, I'm not sure I understand Denver's strategy. The Broncos dumped Tim Tebow and replaced him with Peyton Manning - a huge gamble, considering that Manning has endured multiple neck surgeries and was showing signs of erosion in 2010. Manning is 36, so even if he's healthy, the Super Bowl window is quickly closing. The Broncos need talent now; not later. They should have traded up for David DeCastro, Kendall Wright or Riley Reiff.
Grade for Broncos - C-
Grade for Patriots - A
Ravens trade No. 29 to Vikings for No. 35, 4th-rounder
It was reported that the Vikings really liked Harrison Smith, but I'm not sure whom they had to jump to obtain him. I don't think the 49ers, Broncos, Giants or Rams would have selected him. Maybe the Colts? Spielman's not paying much of a price, so I won't penalize him much.
Meanwhile, the Ravens really wanted Dont'a Hightower, but he was plucked off the board four picks earlier. They still have a chance to land Peter Konz or Stephen Hill at No. 35, so sliding down six spots and picking up a fourth-round selection was a nice transaction.
Grade for Ravens - A
Grade for Vikings - B
Broncos trade No. 31 to Buccaneers for No. 36, 4th-rounder
I'm not going to downgrade the Broncos twice. There are tons of prospects who made sense for them at this point like Doug Martin, Jerel Worthy, Kendall Reyes, Devon Still, Stephen Hill, Peter Konz, David Wilson, etc., so why not slide down five spots and pick up an extra fourth-rounder? I still think they should have traded up though.
As for the Buccaneers, Doug Martin makes perfect sense for their offense. They absolutely had to leapfrog the Giants to obtain him, so giving up a mere fourth-round pick for someone who has been compared to Ray Rice deserves a high mark.