I’m hoping to get this blog going again, so here’s the grades for every pick in the first round in the 2014 draft. Sorry for posting this somewhat late.
1: Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney is the only prospect worth the #1 overall pick, despite what Skip Bayless thinks. The Texans might have to wait until the 2015 Draft to find their franchise quarterback, but at least they can enjoy pummeling the other AFC South quarterbacks in the meantime.
2: St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Greg Robinson is certainly worthy of the #2 overall pick, but I’m not convinced he was the best possible pick. I still think they should have drafted Sammy Watkins instead, to give Sam Bradford a true #1 receiver. Their current offensive is capable, but their receiving corps isn’t. But still, the athletic Robinson has the potential to be an All-Pro lineman, assuming he develops his pass protection.
3: Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
This isn’t a terrible pick, since the Jaguars are desperate for a franchise quarterback, and Bortles end up being that. But still, Bortles only has an above-average arm and he’s not a top-3 talent. Khalil Mack should have been the pick here.
4: Buffalo Bills – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins has All-Pro potential and this is a great pick by the Bills. So why the “C” grade? The Bills gave up a 2015 first round pick to trade up. EJ Manuel likely isn’t the long term answer, so this prevents the Bills from potentially landing Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston in next year’s draft. Bills fans better hope Manuel massively improves with Watkins on the team.
5: Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Great job by the Raiders for picking up an elite prospect and not reaching for a quarterback (they would later be able to steal Carr in the second round). Mack instantly improves their pass rush, which is essential when they have to face Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers twice a year.
6: Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons wanted Clowney or Mack, but they weren’t willing to surrender too much to trade up for them. Jake Matthews is a nice consolation prize. Matthews is more NFL-ready than Robinson, and he’s played both left and right tackle, so there won’t be much of a learning curve. He’s also a better pass protector than Robinson at the moment. Do not be surprised if he has the better career. Matt Ryan can sleep peacefully at nights.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Many reports said the Bucs would draft Manziel if available, but they were probably bogus. Evans is a better prospect, anyways, and Josh McCown can hold the fort until the 2015 Draft. How are defenses supposed to stop two Vincent Jacksons? This isn’t fair. The Buccaneers just got much better offensively.
8: Cleveland Browns – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Why did the Browns feel the need to trade with the Vikings to make this pick? The Vikings weren’t likely going to pick him in the first place. It’s also debatable if Gilbert is even the top corner in the class (many have argued for Foller or Roby), let alone a top-10 talent. However, three things keep this from being a bad grade. 1: cornerback help was desperately needed across from Joe Haden. 2: there weren’t any quarterbacks or wideouts worth taking here. And finally 3: they were able to grab the Bills 2015 first round pick, which will likely be in the top-12, so this is an automatic win. The Browns’ defense just got better, so this is still a solid selection.
9: Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
This isn’t a flashy pick, but it’s a solid one. Barr is still raw, and he was shut down by Joel Bitonio of Nevada, but he still has immense talent and upside. He’s also a great fit for Mike Zimmer’s defense, so this deserves a good grade. The Vikings need to improve their defense with the other teams in the NFC North having great offenses.
10: Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Everyone is praising this pick, but I’m not a huge fan of it. Eric Ebron, while the top tight end in the class, has been slightly overhyped and not worthy of a top-10 pick. This would make sense if the Lions didn’t resign Brandon Pettigrew, but they did, so why spend such a high pick on a tight end?
11: Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Some have criticized this pick, but this is a fantastic selection. Michael Roos won’t be on the team much longer, so Lewan will be the left tackle of the future. Locker will have solid protection, and won’t have anymore excuses for mediocre play.
12: New York Giants – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
The Giants needed another receiver with Hakeem Nicks gone, so this isn’t a bad pick. Zack Martin would had been preferable (a quality wide receiver could had been picked in the second round), but I can’t blame them for going after the speedy Beckham. Hopefully they have a plan to protect Eli Manning, though, because they just passed up a fantastic prospect in Martin.
13: St. Louis Rams – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Holy crap, how did the Rams manage to make their already awesome defensive front even better? As good as the Seahawks’ and 49ers’ defensive fronts are, the Rams may have just passed them. Donald should had been picked a while ago. Kaepernick, Wilson, and Palmer all just crapped their pants.
14: Chicago Bears – Kyle Fuller, CB/S, Virginia Tech
The Bears desperately needed to upgrade their secondary, and many have argued that Fuller is the best cornerback in the class. He can play either cornerback or safety, so his versatility makes him valuable. This is a good pick.
15: Pittsburgh Steelers – Ryan Shazier, ILB, Ohio State
Usually, the Steelers simply grab a falling defensive prospect and laugh at the other teams’ stupidity. However, that didn’t quite happen this year, but that’s no problem. This is a solid pick. Shazier was an underrated prospect, and he fills a need. He could be an early favorite for DROY.
16: Dallas Cowboys – Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
The Cowboys really needed to fix their defense, but perhaps Martin was too good to pass up. The offensive line needed fixing, so this is a nice pick. At the very least, they didn’t reach for a 3rd round center like they did last year. Other teams will still score 30+ on the Cowboys, but at least Romo won’t get too hurt trying to keep up.
17: Baltimore Ravens – CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Yet another pick that media talking heads praise, but this isn’t a very good selection. Mosley has injury history, and many scouts consider him to be damaged goods. This fills a need, but this has serious bust potential. The Ravens are having an unusually mediocre offseason (see: stupid Steve Smith deal), I expected better from Ozzie Newsome.
18: New York Jets – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
This is a nice pick. Pryor is exactly what Rex Ryan loves to see in his players. It would have been nice for them to address their anemic offense, but there were plenty of options in round two (they ended up drafting Jace Amaro). The secondary just got much better. Too bad this likely won’t save Rex Ryan’s job when Geno Smith (and Michael Vick) predictably fail.
19: Miami Dolphins – Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Grade: BUTT FUMBLE
Yes, I have a butt fumble grade, for picks so bad they don’t deserve a letter grade (similar to Walter Football’s “Millen” grade). I understand that the Dolphins are desperate to protect Ryan Tannehill, but that’s no excuse to reach on a 3rd round right tackle prospect. Miami didn’t even bother to trade down for him, which is what cements this “butt fumble” grade.
20: New Orleans Saints – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Saints needed a new receiver, and Cooks is a great target for Drew Brees. Cooks is similar to DeSean Jackson in that they’re both small but speedy. Hopefully, Cooks doesn’t have the DeSean Jackson attitude. But, Brees will love airing it out to Cooks, so this is a great selection. Cooks could be an early favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
21: Green Bay Packers – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Ted Thompson has to be laughing right now. HaHa should had been a top 15 pick, yet the Packers somehow managed to draft him, without trading up. He immediately improves Green Bay’s atrocious secondary. This is why the Packers are always in the playoffs, whereas other teams are always picking in the top 10.
22: Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I have my doubts about Manziel. To me, he’ll probably be a one-year wonder and then fall off once NFL defenses figure him out. He will have to learn that he can’t play like he did in college and have all of his limbs intact. That said, the Browns are desperate for a franchise quarterback, and Manziel has already sparked the fan base, so I can’t blame them for taking him.
23: Kansas City Chiefs – Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
Grade: BUTT FUMBLE
Dee Ford has been overrated by the media. He’s a good player, but he’s a 2nd round prospect. Out of all the teams that could have reached for him in the 1st, Kansas City is the most perplexing. The Chiefs don’t even have a need at OLB, so why reach for Ford? That’s why this is a butt fumble grade.
24: Cincinnati Bengals - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
This pick makes so much sense. The Bengals needed cornerback help with the departure of Mike Zimmer. Dennard could had gone earlier, so the Bengals are happy he landed with them.
25: San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Jason is shorter than ideal for an outside cornerback at 5’9”, which is why many teams wouldn’t take him in the 1st round, but he’s an extremely skilled player who makes the Chargers’ secondary better. The team desperately needed someone to help them beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
26: Philadelphia Eagles – Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
Many have criticized this pick, and this is indeed a reach. But, Smith fills a need, is the type of player Chip Kelly loves, and the team traded down for him. This pick really shouldn’t surprise people in the first place; many people hinted that he would sneak into the first round. I’m not going to criticize this pick too much, but I still think they could have chosen a better prospect.
27: Arizona Cardinals – Deonne Bucannon, S, Washington State
Some are deeming this a big reach, but I don’t have a problem with it. I love Bucannon and felt like he was being seriously underrated during the draft process. He’s a tough, physical safety who makes an already stingy Cardinal defense even more aggressive. While he could technically have been a 2nd round pick, there’s no guarantee he would have made it to the Cardinals’ 2nd round selection, so I think this pick is justified.
28: Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Benjamin is talented, but he was overrated during most of the draft process. That is until recently, when people figured out he isn’t a hard worker and drops a ton of passes. There were better receivers available (Marquise Lee), and Benjamin won’t immediately be able to help Cam Newton out very much.
29: New England Patriots – Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Easley is a surprise 1st round selection. He has the talent to be chosen in the top 15, but he has torn ACL’s and is a huge injury risk. He could end up being a beast for the Patriots, but he’s more likely to piss off the coaches when he’s always hurt.
30: San Francisco 49er’s – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Ward has some fans in the scouting community, but he still shouldn’t have been chosen in the 1st round. I’m still shocked; why didn’t the 49er’s use some of their extra picks to move up and choose a stud receiver or defensive back? That would have made more sense than this pick.
31: Denver Broncos – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
There is plenty of risk with this selection, but the potential rewards are tremendous, so I like it. Roby would have been a top 10 pick in the 2013 draft had he declared. He was dreadful during the past season, but many coaches believe they can coach him up. If the Broncos manage to do that, they could field one of the top defenses in the NFL.
32: Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater fell victim to over-analyzing late in the draft process, so it’s nice to see him still be picked in the 1st round. Bridgewater is extremely intelligent and has experience in a pro-style offense, and I don’t understand why many people didn’t like him. At worst, he’s a serviceable starter for the Vikings, which is still better than what they had. I think Derek Carr would have been a better quarterback for the Vikings, but this is still a solid choice.