NFL Draft Grades 2011: Which Badgers ended up in the best situation?

After three days, seven rounds and 254 picks, the 2011 NFL draft has ended. All in all, five Badgers were selected at Radio City Music Hall in New York, so it's time to look back and see which Badger ended up in the best situation!

J.J. Watt

1st Round (11th overall) -- Houston Texans

Watt didn't have to wait long to hear his name called on Thursday night, and I'm willing to bet he's not too disappointed he missed out on being a Top 10 pick. Watt joins a Houston defensive line that has been anchored by Mario Williams since 2006, but one man can't stop an offense by himself. The Texans were last in the NFL last year in opposing passing yards allowed per game (267.5), and taking Watt gives them the flexibility to play Williams at outside linebacker if they want to. The Texans' main competition in the AFC South is the Indianapolis Colts, with both the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars breaking in new quarterbacks, so Watt's road to the playoffs looks like it goes straight through Indy.

Grade: A -- This is a great spot for Watt. He fits the 3-4 defense well, and the Texans drafted enough help in players like Brooks Reed that will improve Houston's defense. 

Hit the jump for more analysis!

Gabe Carimi

1st Round (29th overall) -- Chicago Bears

Carimi fell a little farther than most draft experts expected, but you could make the case that Carimi ended up in a pretty good spot anyway (Unless you're a Packers fan, in which case you're probably not very happy.) The Bears desperately needed reinforcements on the offensive line, as quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked a league-high 56 times in 2010. Carimi will most likely shift to the right side in the NFL, but he should be able to start immediately and try to keep Culter upright. The Bears made a great pick here- they filled their greatest positional need and had an underrated lineman fall into their lap late in the first round. The Bears will also probably contend for the NFC North division title again, with the Super Bowl Champion Packers being their biggest roadblock. The Lions could also make a wild card push from the looks of their draft, but for now it looks like Carimi may see playoff action early in his career. 

Grade: A- -- Another good spot for Carimi. He could have gone a little earlier, but Chicago wasn't going to let him fall past them. My only knock on his situation is he'll have to deal with a much scarier Lions defensive line twice a year (Did I really just write that?), but Carimi has proven he can go up against great players.

Lance Kendricks

2nd Round (47th overall) -- St. Louis Rams

You can make a good case for Wisconsin being a new "Tight End U." Kendricks is the latest in a long line of Wisconsin tight ends to go pro, and he found himself in a good situation on Friday. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford didn't get the deep threat wide receiver he wanted (The Falcons trading up for Julio Jones quickly took care of that possibility), but Kendricks gives Bradford an excellent security blanket if none of his first few options are open. They say that it's best to pair up a young quarterback with a young tight end, so when the Minnesota Vikings took the best option in Kyle Rudolph at No. 43, the Rams knew they needed to act if they wanted Kendricks. The Rams are in the comically bad NFC West, and missed making the playoffs with a 7-9 record, so if Kendricks and fellow draft picks like Robert Quinn and Austin Pettis produce, the Rams could easily sneak their way into a division title.

Grade: B+ -- Another good spot for a former Badger. It would have been nice for the Rams to get someone like Julio Jones to spread the defense and take pressure off Kendricks as a target, but the Rams had too many needs to fill and Quinn was a good value in the first round. 

John Moffitt

3rd Round (75th overall) -- Seattle Seahawks

Moffitt and Kendricks will go from teammates to division rivals next season, as the Seahawks used their second pick to beef up their offensive line. The Seahawks were second to last in the NFL last year in rushing yards per game (89), and they really got a good value pick here with Moffitt. He's a good character guy with position versatility, and if things work out he can be a long-term starter in the NFL. If you're looking to upgrade your run-blocking, you can do much worse than drafting a Wisconsin lineman. (Can the Badgers be both "Lineman U" and "Tight End U"?) Anyway, even if the Seahawks beefed up their line, they still need a quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck may be on his way out in Seattle, and Pete Carroll doesn't have anyone to replace him. If they can find the right signal caller, the Hawks may be able to repeat as division champs.

Grade: C+ -- Moffitt will be a good blocker for Marshawn Lynch, and should be able to play any of the interior line spots. However, the Seahawks could have helped themselves out a lot by drafting a young player like Andy Dalton, because right now their quarterback situation is a mess at best. 

Bill Nagy

7th Round (252nd overall) -- Dallas Cowboys

I don't think anybody really expected Nagy to get the call, but hey, it's still cool! Nagy was the glue to a Wisconsin offensive line that suffered a variety of injuries at a variety of positions, and for the most part he really held his own. Nagy was drafted for offensive line depth by the Cowboys, and again, if you need an offensive lineman you go to Wisconsin. Nagy doesn't really have a ton of NFL upside, but the Cowboys liked him enough to draft him, and they're probably trying to protect Tony Romo from breaking another collarbone. Always a solid success strategy. 

Grade: P -- I'm of the opinion that later round picks should be given on a Pass/Fail basis. That said, Nagy is not a sexy pick, but when in doubt it can't hurt to build depth on either line. Nagy should be happy to be drafted, and it's a nice testament to the strength of the Wisconsin offensive line. 

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