2014 NFL Draft Recap
In a lot of ways, the 2014 NFL Draft lived up to the hype.
Three quarterbacks were selected in the first round, multiple trades were made in the Top 10, and, as usual, some teams made questionable picks. That Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Blake Bortles were selected in the first round wasn’t a surprise – most experts had them as first round talents – but the order of their selection was certainly puzzling.
Bortles, ranked by many as the second or third best QB prospect, went first at number three overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, it’s tempting to write the pick off as a classic Jaguars blunder, but the more you look at the Jaguars draft, the more it looks like they know what they’re doing, but more on that later. Next was Manziel, but not until the 22nd pick, when the Browns executed a nifty trade-up to jump ahead of Kansas City, who supposedly wanted Manziel too. Finally, with the 32nd and final pick in the first round, the Vikings traded with the Seahawks and grabbed Teddy Bridgewater. For my money, this is going to be the best QB from this draft, both because of the chip he’ll have on his shoulder from falling so far, and because of the team he’ll have around him in Adrian Peterson, Gregg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. Doesn’t hurt to have a scheme fit in the West Coast offense and a QB guru in Norv Turner either.
But let’s look beyond the first round and examine how teams did overall.
Carolina Panthers: My main issue here is Kelvin Benjamin. They reached for him, selecting him in the first round, and there were other receivers I had rated higher. Benjamin’s big, sure, and he showed up in a big way in the BCS Championship, but can he take over the workload for Steve Smith? No. He’s too unpolished, especially in his route running. To add insult to injury, they then picked pass rusher Kony Ealy in the second round, another reach.
Indianapolis Colts: I put the Colts here because of the Trent Richardson trade. Losing a first round pick hurts, and so far Richardson hasn’t done anything to merit the trade. As long as he plays poorly, the Colts’ 2014 Draft will have a black eye on it.
Miami Dolphins: This comes down to head-scratching picks in the first and second rounds. Ju’Wuan James in the first, and Jarvis Landry in the second? There were better options on the board when the picked James at 19, and that was way too high for Landry. Landry’s a good route runner, but he’s not fast enough.
Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan in the first round? The Titans already have two solid tackles. I get drafting the best player available, but…to draft a third tackle with your first round pick, he needs to be head and shoulders above everyone else. And Lewan isn’t.
Chicago Bears: What’d they need? Defensive players. What’d they draft? You guessed it. Plus, in Fuller, they may have nabbed the best corner in the draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: This is not a misprint. The Jaguars earned their spot in the winners column, if only in the off-season, thanks to their aggressiveness. By itself, the Blake Bortles pick at third overall is a reach – and a pretty questionable one at that, considering Johnny Football was still on the board – but couple that pick with the Jags selections of wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, and suddenly Bortles has help and, with any luck, a chance to succeed.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings managed to select players they wanted, where they wanted them. Moving back into the first round to select Bridgewater was a particularly impressive move, especially when you consider that the QB needy Texans were drafting first the next day.
St. Louis Rams: The funny thing is, in a draft full of big name stars, the Rams might have had the best draft of any team, and all while selecting no big named stars. Michael Sam’s a much talked about pick, sure, but Robinson, Donald, and Joyner will be the players you remember from this draft. They’ll have an immediate impact.