You've already seen my first mock draft. Now it's time to take it further. Every year I hand out grades after the draft, and I even handed out draft grades this year after a full season. What gets you a good grade?
It's a combination of addressing needs and drafting for value. You can do well if you properly address a huge need with a high pick, like Detroit did by taking Matthew Stafford at first overall. But if you address a need with a poor pick in terms of value -- like Kansas City drafting Tyson Jackson last year at No. 3, a good player, but available later -- it hurts your grade, particularly when you have multiple needs. If you address needs and get good value, such as Green Bay with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews Jr., you've nailed it.
So here's a primer, an early look at what could get teams an "A." I have lined up teams, their top needs, their first-round pick and then some possible second- and third-round picks. Again, these will change -- perhaps greatly -- as we get results from the Senior Bowl, the NFL combine and other workouts. Even some needs could change, but let's just say we can build from here and do it all again later. You'll see that some teams will have second- and third-round pick options overlap, as players are slotted there based on current grades.
AFC | NFC
New England Patriots
Top needs: A 3-4 DE, OLB, RB, WR, OL
First round (22): OLB Ricky Sapp
Second-round options (44, 47, 53): DE Greg Hardy, RB Ryan Mathews, OT Charles Brown, LB Sean Weatherspoon, WR Brandon LaFell, WR Damian Williams, QB Tim Tebow
Third-round options: No third-round picks
Summary: The Patriots are set up for a huge weekend, with lots of high-value picks in a deep draft. At No. 22 they get value at their second-biggest need with Sapp (OLB in a 3-4) and then could go after a natural (and versatile) 3-4 DE like Hardy in Round 2. But they also can add a solid RB with Mathews and another good LB before addressing WR with the last of three picks in Round 2. With Julian Edelman's growth behind Wes Welker as a slot guy, I think they could look for a better downfield threat to back up the aging Randy Moss. Williams was in a pro-style offense and could be a good get in the late second. They could also take a good tackle in Round 2 if they don't like the WR value left at that stage. Tebow? He'd be a bad value here, and I highly doubt it, but hey, they have three picks ...