Each year Mel Kiper grades the each team's draft class shortly after the conclusion of that year's draft. In reality we don't know the real grade for a class for at least a few years. However, as each year passes we can still grade them year-by-year based on their respective contributions to date. The 2010 NFL Draft class now has a full season under its belt, which means we have something with which to grade them. It's not a lot, but hard statements can be made about what they've done thus far. After the jump we'll take a look at Mel Kiper's 2010 grades and this year's re-grades for the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.
The Oakland Raiders received as big a boost as most anybody when Mel Kiper re-graded them. Last April Kiper gave the Raiders a C+ indicating that a lot of the talent they added had some questions marks. He felt they might have reached for Rolando McClain, but some of their later picks could prove valuable. It's an odd grade because it seemed like Kiper wasn't exactly killing the draft class, but seemed to be a bit more pessimistic as to how they would perform. He expressed some concern over Jacoby Ford's straight-line speed and described Jared Veldheer as a "workout warrior." I wasn't quite sure what that mean as it could mean he's putting in the work but it's not showing on the field. I'm not really sure.
A year later he bumped the Raiders up to an A- because the players did in fact perform. According to Kiper:
Summary: This is another team that gets a big bump up the Board, based on performance. As I wrote about Oakland midway through the season, its ability to get maximum value in "playing the draft" has been questionable, but what isn't in question is the eye for talent. Rolando McClain was a starter at linebacker, and a pretty good one; Lamarr Houston is a solution in the middle of the defensive line; and Jared Veldheer got moved around to start the season but found a home right where he was in college, as an athletic left tackle who should only get better. Then they got a steal out of Jacoby Ford as icing on the cake. His pass-catching skills are far better than his draft profile indicated. Solid work.
San Francisco 49ers
Mel Kiper initially gave the 49ers a B for the draft as he lauded them for strongly addressing the offensive line. He hit the nail on the head when he called Mike Iupati "a lock to be a good NFL guard" as Iupati had a strong rookie campaign and appears destined to be one of the better guards in the NFL. The most prescient comment might have been his mention of the trade for Ted Ginn Jr. Although Ginn continues to be a bit of a liability as a receiver, he was a huge improvement for the 49ers punt return game.
A year later Kiper upgraded the 49ers grade to a B+, in large part due to the development of Iupati and Anthony Davis:
Summary: I thought the Niners showed a lot of conviction, aggressively targeting their offensive line. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati got plugged in and started throughout the year, so you can't say the Niners didn't have a plan. Taylor Mays wasn't a big contributor. and NaVorro Bowman was a special-teams stud instead of a regular, but he has a chance to develop. No leaks with the top picks, however.
He didn't mention the 49ers later picks, although they didn't get a whole ton out of them. Anthony Dixon was arguably the most notable as he showed some ability in limited action. Given his mention of Ginn in the first grading, I'm a bit surprised he didn't bring up Ginn again a year later given his contributions on special teams.