NFL Draft Review Part 2 – Reflecting On All 7 Rounds

After 3 days and 256 picks, the 2014 NFL Draft has come and gone. Join me as I review each team’s draft.

Houston Texans (10 selections) – The Texans come away with the best player in the draft, Jadeveon (JD) Clowney from South Carolina. Clowney will be able to make an immediate impact for Houston and has the potential to be a legend. Tight end CJ Fiedorowicz and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo will be able to help the offense right away as well, and the same goes for the great value pick of Louis Nix III on the defensive side. One player who won’t be able to help right away though is quarterback Tom Savage from Pitt (amongst other schools). I did not like Savage at all coming in to the draft, and I don’t like him now. If Bill O’Brien can really work with him, he may turn into an alright starting quarterback, but that’s very iffy. With Aaron Murray and several other quality QB’s on the board, that pick seems like a reach to me still. Nonetheless, Houston filled several needs well, and you can’t argue with the best player in the whole draft.

St. Louis Rams (11 picks) – While I like OT Jake Matthews more than Greg Robinson, it was a pick based on great potential so it’s hard to argue with that, and the Aaron Donald pick at #13 overall makes the Rams’ defensive line truly terrifying. I’m very high on CB Lamarcus Joyner out of Florida State so I like that pick a lot, and Tre Mason adds some help at running back behind the Staced God, Zac Stacy. We should also note that the Rams did take a QB as they said they would, and it came in the form of the SMU (and former Texas) product Garrett Gilbert, the closest thing the Longhorns had to a player picked in this draft. But of course the biggest story is Michael Sam, who was drafted with the 249th overall selection, squelching the firestorm that would have occurred had he gone undrafted. Honestly, round seven was a fitting place for Sam. With a front seven like the one the Rams have already in place, Sam will be able to make himself worthwhile for depth and special teams if he makes the team. I’m happy for him and I know that this is a huge milestone, but let’s also not lose sight of the fact that Michael Sam was a late-round quality pick, so this spot in the draft makes sense. Nonetheless, great draft by St. Louis.

Jacksonville Jaguars (9 picks) – ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Raise Your Bortles ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Blake Bortles was the first quarterback off the board, going to the Jags with the third overall pick. I know I sounded harsh when discussing Bortles leading up to the draft, and I still think Teddy Bridgewater is a better quarterback, but I really do hope Bortles proves me wrong and has a good career. Jacksonville got their new quarterback plenty of weapons, getting great value in Marqise Lee (early) and Allen Robinson (later) both in the second round, as well as Bortles’ former UCF teammate and running back, Storm Johnson, who I loved coming into this weekend and I think the pick is fantastic. Overall, I definitely liked the Jaguars draft this year.

Buffalo Bills (7 picks) – The Bills went for the home run and traded up with Cleveland to get the fourth overall pick so that they could draft the top wide receiver prospect, Sammy Watkins (and then break my heart the next day when they traded Stevie “Why So Serious?” Johnson to the 49ers). The Bills then drafted some great value and talented, if not potentially worrisome for various reasons, offensive linemen, now working to keep EJ Manuel upright this season. Buffalo also traded for Bryce Brown, now giving them three running backs and two young receiving threats, trying to help put their young QB as much as possible. The defense was already solid, so the Bills are hoping that by focusing on offense they’ll be able to more readily compete this year, but only time will tell.

Oakland Raiders (8 picks) – Even with the #5 overall pick, Khalil Mack was a steal. A very good outside rusher, Mack gives the Oakland Raiders a defensive playmaker that they really need. Derek Carr was no surprise in the second round, they need a quarterback of the future and Carr was apparently tops on their draft board (I’m still higher on Aaron Murray, but we’ll get to that later). Schaub will be the starter this year I would assume, with Carr being groomed for next year at the earliest. They have enough weapons, both in the backfield with the newly acquired MJD and Kory Sheets from the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL (who can make a huge impact, and we’ll get to another Roughrider later as well), and in the receiving corps with Rod Streator and the addition of James Jones. I like Johnathan Dowling out of Western Kentucky, their seventh rounder, as a sleeper to make an impact. Not bad at all by Oakland.

Atlanta Falcons (9 picks) – The Jake Matthews pick in the first round was a great pick and a no-brainer, as he is the most ready OT right now and can help keep Matt Ryan upright. A lot of people have been high on Ra’shede Hageman, but his extreme inconsistency worries me. Atlanta really needs help on their defensive line, and if Hageman can’t be coached up well, I don’t know if he can help the way they need him too. Hageman is the biggest risk I see, but the potential is there. I really like the Devonta Freeman pick in the fourth round, he can definitely help the rushing attack for Atlanta that struggled with injuries this past season. Atlanta got (most) of the help they needed to address, although I’m not sure if Prince Shembo is really the best option as a new pass rusher.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6 picks) – In a very un-Lovie Smith draft, the Bucs went all offense in 2014. Mike Evans in the first round gives Mike Glennon two huge options at receiver in Evans and Vincent Jackson. They also got a big tight end in the second in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who I’m not as high on as Jace Amaro. Nonetheless, there are now some options for Glennon. They also shore up an already solid backfield by drafting Charles Sims from West Virginia. All in all, I like most of the picks, however, it may cost them that they didn’t add any defensive depth in the draft.

Cleveland Browns (6 picks) – The Browns were wheeling and dealing in this draft, moving down from four to nine in a swap with Buffalo (which got them a second first rounder again next season), and then traded up with Minnesota to draft Justin Gilbert at number eight. Gilbert is a great athlete, my second ranked CB of the draft, and he can help both in the secondary and on special teams right away. Cleveland wasn’t done though, as they swapped their #26 pick with Philadelphia to move up to #22 and draft their (probably) quarterback of the future, Johnny Manziel. I really like both of these picks and I honestly think that Johnny Football is going to succeed as a Brown. What I don’t like though is that the Browns didn’t address their dire need at wide receiver, which was a big hole even before the Josh Gordon news got out. The Browns front office surely knows more than I do, but I really do not understand not getting JFF (or Brian Hoyer, for that matter) someone to throw too.

Minnesota Vikings (10 picks) – The Vikings got the steal of the draft by trading back into the first round (and they didn’t even give up that much to Seattle) to get Teddy Bridgewater, my far and away favorite quarterback in this draft. They get a guy who can start right away with solid (at worst) pieces around him on offense. With their first pick in the first round, the Vikes got Anthony Barr with the ninth overall pick, and while he is another player with potential, who is fast and can tackle, is going to need some work in his pass rushing technique (read: more moves than “run fast”). Getting Antone Exum and David Yankey in the middle-late rounds were both good selections as well. This was a good draft for Minnesota.

Detroit Lions (8 picks) – I hated Detroit’s first pick, tight end Eric Ebron for North Carolina, with the tenth overall pick. The Lions’ secondary is much too weak to pass on plenty of good defensive backs, and instead go with a tight end who has potential to be great, but currently has very inconsistent hands. The Kyle Van Noy selection in the second round is a great one though, as I think the BYU outside linebacker can help this team very soon. Overall though, I really do not like this Lions draft because I believe they ignored their biggest need foolishly.

Tennessee Titans (6 picks) – Taylor Lewan is going to be a good OT, assuming he keeps his head on straight. I also really like the Bishop Sankey pick in the second round, my top-ranked running back in this class who can step in to fill the void left by Chris Johnson. The most interesting pick in this draft is Zach Mettenberger, the quarterback from LSU. I think the sixth round is the right spot to take a QB with skill like Metternberger (unlike Ron “Ratings” Jaworski” who had him as his second ranked quarterback), and now Jake Locker knows that the heat is on. His option wasn’t picked up, another quarterback was drafted (albeit late) and he has to perform. That being said, I’m not a Mettenberger fan whatsoever and I think he will be relegated to the bench for a while. Not a bad draft by Tennessee overall.

New York Giants (7 picks) – This was a good draft for the Giants. Odell Beckham gives Eli Manning a weapon that he can use right away, and Weston Richburg out of Colorado State helps out the much-maligned New York offensive line and can start right away most likely. I also like the Andre Williams pick in the fourth round. The Giants’ running game last year was terrible, and Williams definitely gives them another option. He’s a tough runner who may not be good enough to be an every-down back, but he’s at least a good third down back if not more. I was impressed by New York’s draft this year.

Chicago Bears (8 picks) – I think the Bears got the second biggest quarterback steal of this draft by taking David Fales out of San Jose State. I got to watch a decent amount of SJSU games over the last two years and I always impressed with Fales. Cutler has been prone to injuries and I think Fales can step in as a backup when needed. Good late round value. I think the Bears should have gone with a safety in the first round, but Kyle Fuller is not a bad pick and learning for a year under Peanut Tillman will be highly beneficial for him. I also like the Ka’Deem Carey selection. Carey led the FBS in rushing this past season and he provides a good option behind Matt Forte. I think the Bears had a solid draft this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9 picks) – Ben Roethlisberger gets two new weapons in speedster Dri Archer, who I assume will also be returning kicks, and the underrated Martavis Bryant from Clemson, who provides a big target for Big Ben. Ryan Shazier is also a quality linebacker who can, when given the chance, succeed for Pittsburgh. Along with Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers certainly helped themselves in the front seven. Something that I think would have made this draft better though would have been taking an offensive lineman earlier, as the older Roethlisberger gets and the more hits he takes, he needs more and more protection.

Dallas Cowboys (9 picks) – This was a very boring draft for Dallas. Not that a boring draft is necessarily a bad thing, but are no real big games that were taken by Dallas this year. I mentioned this in Part 1 of my draft review, but I am stunned that so few teams who needed the help went for a defensive backs in the first round, the Cowboys included. The first defensive back that Dallas took was a seventh round compensatory pick in Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon. The Cowboys really could have used more help in the secondary, as that unit was decimated this past year.

Baltimore Ravens (9 picks) – I am a big fan of Baltimore’s first three picks. I love CJ Mosely and I think he can help the Ravens right away with his speed, tackling and coverage ability. Timmy Jernigan really made a name for himself at Florida State this past season, especially as the season went on, and with some decent coaching he can be a force up the middle. His FSU teammate, Terrence Brooks, is a player I am high on who will be able to help the Baltimore secondary, if not right away as a starter then in extra-DB packages. Those three picks alone make me really like this draft. Ozzie Newsome does it again.

New York Jets (12 picks) – The Jets need help in the secondary, and they got it in Louisville safety Calvin Pryor. Do I think he was the best safety in this class? No, but he can still help out and will do nothing else if not set the tone of the defense with his constant big hits. I had Jace Amaro as the second best tight end prospect this year and he provides a good target for Geno Smith or Michael Vick. The pick I’m confused about is Tajh Boyd, not necessarily because the Jets took a mediocre, reserve quarterback in the sixth round, but because the media was going crazy over it. Yes, his college numbers are good, but he hasn’t done anything that I’ve seen to make me think I should be super excited for a sixth rounder who succeeded mainly because of the great weapons around him, who will at best be a third string quarterback. I did like the Jalen Saunders pick though, the Oklahoma wide receiver is a good choice for the Jets. Not a bad draft by New York, especially since the offense is starting to come together.

Miami Dolphins (8 picks) – Talk about a boring draft. Again, that’s not a bad thing, especially when Miami needed players most at stereotypically boring positions. Mike Pouncey being an idiot aside, the Ju’Wuan James pick in the first will help out the rebuilding offensive line, and I also like the Jarvis Landry pick since it gives Ryan Tannehill more to work with. Adding extra O-Line depth in the third round with NDSU’s Billy Turner was a good choice as well. Solid draft by the Dolphins.

New Orleans Saints (6 picks) – It was an interesting draft for New Orleans, led off by trading up with Arizona to draft in the #20 spot of the first round and taking Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks there, adding another weapon in Drew Brees’ arsenal. I like Cooks and I think he can definitely make an impact for the Saints. Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska is an underrated corner who can help on the edges, and Vinnie Sunseri provides nothing if not depth in the safety spot. A sound draft by the Saints, headlined by helping out their stud quarterback even more.

Green Bay Packers (9 picks) – Detroit aside, I really like the drafts by everyone in NFC North this year. The Packers got an absolute steal with Haha Clinton-Dix at #21 overall in the first round. HCD is going to be a day one starter and hopefully give the Packers some legitimately good safety play for the first time since losing Nick Collins in early 2011. Drafting three receivers was very interesting to me. Davante Adams has potential to be the next solid possession receiver that Aaron Rodgers has to use, Jared Abbrederis is the hometown favorite who actually should be able to help out, even in minimal usage, and Jeff Janis is a speedster and a great athlete who should be able to return kicks right away. The one concern I would have is if drafting all these receivers means contract extensions of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin are in limbo (although considering the incredible numbers Rodgers puts up with Jordy and his love of Cobb, I would assume at least those two will be returning). Outside linebacker Carl Bradford was also a fourth round steal for the Packers. The one spot not addressed by the Packers where they need help is inside linebacker, but even with that in mind, the Packers had a very good draft this year.

Kansas City Chiefs (6 picks) – I have very mixed opinions about the Kansas City draft. On one hand, I really don’t like the Dee Ford pick, as he a pure speed rusher with very little else to offer at this point, and I think De’Anthony Thomas was taken pretty high with all things considered. Plus, the lack of a safety or (especially) wide receiver for the Chiefs in this draft seems very risky (although I will say that I have faith in the Chiefs being able to utilize my favorite player from my CFL team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Weston Dressler, because the guy can just play football). On the other hand, I do like the Phillip Gaines pick, the CB from Rice, and I think that Aaron Murray in the fifth round was a steal and one day, especially if Alex Smith contract negotiations go nowhere, Aaron Murray will be a quality starter in the NFL. Not a great draft for KC, but there are some bright spots for sure.

Cincinnati Bengals (8 picks) – An alright draft by Cincy, which is headlined by stealing Darqueze Dennard, the top cornerback in this draft who slipped down to #24 overall. He will be an immediate starter most likely for Cincinnati who can make a long-term impact on that secondary. The biggest pick for the Bengals, though, is AJ McCarron, drafted one spot after Aaron Murray in the fifth round. Personally I don’t think McCarron is ever going to be starting material, and his poor attitude showcased ever since draft season started clearly did not help. I can’t wait for people to start clamoring for him to stat over Andy Dalton, sheesh.

San Diego Chargers (6 picks) – San Diego addressed their biggest need in the first round by drafting Jason Verrett from TCU, who likely will be able to start right away with a good camp and help out that awful Chargers secondary. One pick that I really like was getting Tevin Reese, the wide receiver from Baylor, in the seventh round. I think he may be able make the squad as an occasional option for Philip Rivers. Chargers drafted this year with potential in mind.

Philadelphia Eagles (7 picks) – I was expecting the Eagles to take a defensive back much earlier than they did. However, the choice of Ed Reynolds in the fifth round is a good pick, I think Reynolds has the potential to make an impact and get plenty of playing time for Philly. I really liked some of the Stanford defensive players who entered the draft this year. Marcus Smith in the first round was not really an expected pick, but if he can take some attention away from Trent Cole it will be a big help for the Eagles’ defense. Chip Kelly showed his love of receivers again, getting great value with Jordan Matthews and also taking his former Oregon player Josh Huff, who has quite an incredible story. The Eagles drafted pretty well.

Arizona Cardinals (7 picks) – Arizona is strengthening their secondary even more, adding a good safety in Deone Bucannon into a defensive backfield already occupied by corners Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Many people are very high on the Washington State safety, and I’m excited to see what he can do. The pick by the Cardinals that I do not like is Logan Thomas out of Virginia Tech in the fourth round. That is very high for a quarterback with extreme inconsistency concerns and terrible accuracy. Yet again, falling in love with size over substance. Murray and McCarron were still on the board, both still definitely better value than Thomas. That was the only real negative I see in the Cards’ draft.

Carolina Panthers (6 picks) – I definitely do not like the Panthers’ draft as much as I like some others. I hate their first round pick, as I think Kelvin Benjamin was a big reach with the likes of Marqise Lee and Jordan Matthews on the board. Kony Ealy, on the other hand, came as a great value late in the second round and will provide yet another pass rushing threat. Carolina also adds yet another running back, going with Tyler Gaffney from Stanford in the sixth round, but the Panthers’ running back stable is not nearly the embarrassment of riches that the one in San Francisco is. Again, not a huge fan of this draft.

New England Patriots (9 picks) – The real news of course with the Patriots’ draft is the pick of Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round (late in the round, I should add). I don’t care that he was an FCS player, that pick was a real steal. To get Brady’s replacement in a quarterback as good as Garoppolo in that spot will pay big dividends later on. When Brady hangs it up, being able to transition to the former Rolling Meadows HS player will be huge for New England. This pick alone makes the Pats’ draft a win.

San Francisco 49ers (12 picks) – San Francisco drafts well again and is shaping up for another great year with more good young players. Jimmie Ward will likely be playing alongside Eric Reid right away and he can make a name for himself quickly. That is going to be a very scary safety duo for years to come. Bruce Ellington as a fourth round pick was a fantastic value, and when you group him in with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, the newly acquired Stevie Johnson and tight end Vernon Davis, plus all of their very good running backs, this offense is shaping up to be phenomenal. The two lineman they took in the first half of the draft, Marcus Martin and Brandon Thomas, will be able to make immediate impacts, Martin probably being an opening day starter and Thomas getting a shot when recovers from his injury. The 49ers’ front office really does work wonders sometimes.

Denver Broncos (6 picks) – The first two picks for Denver are two big ones who can really help or hurt the team. Second round pick Cody Latimer will be the de facto replacement for Eric Decker, and likely has even better hands, and giving Peyton Manning another quality receiver is definitely not a bad thing. I talked about first round draft pick Bradley Roby in Part 1, so I won’t rehash too much of that. I will say though that if he plays consistently up to his abilities and avoids trouble off the field, he will be a mainstay in the NFL for many years. However, that is a big “if”.

Seattle Seahawks (9 picks) – It’s really not worth analyzing a Seahawks draft, because their personnel development is great and I honestly have no idea if sixth round pick safety Eric Pinkins from San Diego State will be a nobody or will turn into a stud in a couple years. I will say though that the team really helped out Russell Wilson by getting two talented receivers in Paul Richardson from Colorado and Kevin Norwood from Alabama, those picks were both very good.

Washington Redskins (8 picks) – Unfortunately for Washington, none of their eight picks came in the first round, and they missed out on a lot of talent that they could have used. I’m inclined to say this is a very middle of the road draft overall, but OT Morgan Moses from Virginia definitely comes at good value in the third round and should be able to help keep RGIII upright. I’m also a big Lache Seastrunk fan, and he just adds another weapon to the Washington backfield, along with Alfred Morris, Roy Helu and of course Griffin. Otherwise, really a “meh” draft.

Indianapolis Colts (5 picks) – The Colts had the fewest picks in this year’s draft, and I’m not a big fan of who they used their minimal number of picks on. Donte Moncrief adds another receiver for Andrew Luck, and the Colts did need to address the offensive line, but a center would have gone better than reaching for a tackle. Not a very good draft, in my opinion, for the Colts.

 

I’m very excited to look back on this draft a few years down the road, because it appears right now like this draft had a lot of available talent and I’d like to see where some of these top prospects are after a few years of exposure to the NFL game. Of course, nobody has any real idea of how many of these players will turn out, but this is how I see it based on skills and potential right now. Unfortunately for us football fans, it will be a while before a big NFL date again. But on the bright side, we’ll be able to cover tons of other great sports news this summer, and I’ve got a feeling this summer is going to have some awesome sports stories.

 

There’s fresh content up over at Per audacia ad astra. And don’t fear if you missed my weekend of NFL Draft live tweeting, I’m always active on Twitter.

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