256 players were selected over seven rounds of the NFL Draft. It all started with a bang on Thursday and finished up on Saturday.
Who were the drafts winners?
Baltimore Does anyone draft better year in and year out than Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens? This class is no different, as Baltimore nailed it at the top with players like linebacker C.J. Mosley, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, safety Terrance Brooks and defensive tackle Brent Urban. I do wonder about the fit of Jernigan in their defensive scheme but I don't question Newsome.
There's hope in Cleveland, as the Browns did some very nice things. First things first, they drafted the polarizing Johnny Manziel. He will have a chance to resurrect this proud franchise that has really fallen on some hard times of late, much from their own doing. The Browns want versatility and athletes on both sides of the ball and that's what they got with just about every other pick. The one question I have is what about the wide receivers? With the uncertainty of Josh Gordon you would have thought that Cleveland would have addressed this need. I really like the two small school players they drafted in Terrance West and Pierre Desir.
I like what the Texans did from top to bottom. Houston drafted the very best prospect in this draft in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. They also got the top rated guard in Xaiver Su'a Filo. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and fullback Jay Prosch are ideal pieces that fly under the radar in a Bill O'Brien offense. Nose tackle Louis Nix is a steal at No. 83 overall. Meanwhile, Tom Savage will have a chance to develop as their quarterback under O'Brien.
Obviously, Jacksonville will look back at this draft and see how one player develops - quarterback Blake Bortles, their first overall selection and No. 3 overall. He's got to turn into that franchise guy. How about the Jaguars getting him immediate help in wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson? This trio could be huge in Jacksonville. Cornerback Aaron Colvin could turn into a steal down the line. He tore up his knee at the Senior Bowl in January and was once considered a top 50 overall player. Telvin Smith is a good linebacker to be able to land in the fifth round and they finish with running back Storm Johnson in the seventh.
The Vikings hit their needs, especially in the top half of the draft. I love the aggressive move to go get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They also have a potential pass rushing star in outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Defensive end Scott Crichton is a nice pick for their defense at No. 72 overall and guard David Yankey is a steal in the fifth round. They just are missing a big time cornerback but did land Antone Exum in the sixth and Jabari Price in the seventh.
The Steelers always seem to draft well and this class is no different. Ryan Shazier will bring speed and athleticism to their defense. Pittsburgh landed defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second. Wide receivers Dri Archer and Martarvis Bryant can both fly. Daniel McCullers will be a huge anchor in the middle of their defensive front. I love what the Steelers did here.
The Chargers knocked it out of the park with cornerback Jason Verrett and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. They are two very good players that fill huge needs on their defense. Chris Watt is a guard that should help out immediately and nose tackle Ryan Carrethers could be a nice piece to anchor their defense.
As good as the Rams did, the 49ers may have a better group from top to bottom. Only time will really tell. But here's clearly a case where the rich get richer. San Francisco drafted a need in safety Jimmie Ward with their first pick. Then they got a bruiser running back in Carlos Hyde and a versatile interior offensive lineman in Marcus Martin. The 49ers also added some terrific players in the middle of the draft like linebacker Chris Borland, wide receiver Bruce Ellington and defensive back Dontae Johnson. They could also net absolute steals in offensive lineman Brandon Thomas and defensive end Aaron Lynch. Thomas recently tore up his knee in a pre-draft workout and was considered a top 50 overall talent. Meanwhile, Lynch is an incredibly gifted player that has simply underachieved. He has first round talent.
I think the Rams absolutely killed it, especially with the top half of their draft. The Rams first two picks were offensive tackle Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. I had those two ranked in the top five overall prospects of the entire draft. Then St. Louis gets one of the best football players regardless of position in the second round is defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. My top ranked running back in this draft class was Tre Mason. He was picked by St. Louis in the third. The Rams are closing the talent gap in the ultra-tough NFC West.
More than anything the Bucs needed weapons for their offense and they got them in big doses with two huge targets in wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. They also drafted a speedy slot late in Robert Herron. The Bucs also drafted offensive line help and an every down running back in Charles Sims. Tampa Bay used all six picks on offensive players.
Where did the draft prospects come from?
College football fans always love to look at the breakdown of what conferences did well in producing the NFL Draft picks. Below are the numbers by conference. It's no surprise the SEC leads the way.
Pac 12 (34)
Big 10 (31)
Big 12 (17)
The school breakdown may surprise some people. Most would assume that Alabama would lead the way or maybe Florida State. It was actually LSU.
Notre Dame (8)
Ohio State (6)
North Carolina (5)
What state's produced the most 2014 draft picks? Here's a breakdown –
Roughly 35% of all college football players come from the states of Florida, California and Texas. Here's it even higher for this draft, as that trio of state's accounted for 41% of the draft picks. Add Georgia and you get close to half (48%).
That's the number draft picks from the University of Texas in the 2014 Draft class. The Longhorns had six or seven players strongly considered like wide receiver Mike Davis and defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. You now understand why Mack Brown is no longer the coach in Austin. The Lone State State produces more Division 1 talent than any state of in the country year in and year out.
Four players were drafted from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – running back James White, cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, safety Dez Southward and guard/center Brandon Linder. It could have been five but Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson was not drafted.
That's now the number of Florida quarterbacks that have become first round draft picks. Going into Thursday night, John Reaves, Duante Culpepper and Tim Tebow were the only high school and college playing quarterbacks that were drafted in the first round. Blake Bortles was drafted third by Jacksonville and Teddy Bridgewater was drafted 32nd by Minnesota on Thursday night to bring that historic total to five.
18 defensive players from Alabama that played in the national title game against LSU a few years ago have now been drafted. Jeoffrey Pagan (defensive end) was the last, picked in round six by Houston.
Every draft, some player has to be last. They call him Mr. Irrelevant. That distinction goes to Memphis free safety Lonnie Ballentine, the 256th draftee and the last one of the seventh round.
Some very high visible college players went undrafted like quarterback Jordan Lynch (North Illinois) and Brett Smith (Wyoming), running backs James Wilder (FSU) and Henry Josey (Missouri), wide receiver Brandon Coleman (Rutgers), offensive tackles James Hurst (North Carolina) and Antonio Richardson (Tennessee), defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (LSU), linebackers Shayne Skov (Stanford), Max Bullough (Michigan State), and Christian Jones (FSU), cornerbacks Chris Davis (Auburn) and Louchiez Purifoy (Florida) and safety Craig Loston (LSU).
Are there really 248 players better than outside linebacker/defensive end Michael Sam? This is the SEC co-defensive player of the year here. He admitted earlier this off-season that he was gay. I just am stunned that he was picked that late in the draft. Of course Sam will stay close to home, as he was drafted by the Rams.
I like how the Dolphins and Rams drafted on Friday and Saturday but I question both of their first round selections. Miami was desperate for offensive tackles and the first four were already off the board. They reached on Ja'Waun James at No. 19 overall. Heck, they could have drafted him in the second round. Outside linebacker/defensive end Marcus Smith was drafted by the Eagles in round one. Yea, I get it, that's a need position in Philadelphia but he's another guy that could have possibly been available with their next pick. My feeling here is that both teams could have gone in another direction with their first selections and drafted these guys in the second. Or they could have traded out of spot or traded up in the second round to go get their guy(s). They are both good players who fill obvious needs. I wouldn't have drafted them there and that early. No way.
The city of Cleveland is fired up to have quarterback Johnny Manziel. But you learn early on during the draft that your star wide receiver, Josh Gordon, may be suspended for the entire 2014 season and the Browns don't draft a wide receiver? That's stunning.
The Panthers have a huge need at offensive tackle and didn't draft a single player here. I don't get that non-move. Same thing with the Chiefs at wide receiver. I like what K.C. did and they didn't have many selections but how could they not draft a wide receiver in a deep wide receiver class when they have a glaring need at this position?
The Bills paid dearly to move up and draft Sammy Watkins. They gave up next year's No. 1. Will Watkins really be worth it, especially considering the sheer amount of depth and talent at this position in this draft?
I love what the Patriots did in drafting defensive linemen Dominique Easley No. 1 and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo No. 2. Easley is easily a top ten talent had it not been from the knee injuries. If can be a star in this league if he can stay healthy. I do realize that's a big if. Then you have Garoppolo, who will join Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet on the Patriots roster. They have another guy now to groom behind the Surgeon General Brady. And remember Mallet will enter his final year of his rookie deal.
What a downer for the Colts. They trade their No. 1 pick for Trent Richardson early on this past season and he did nothing in Indy. Nothing. Think of the players that they could have had a No. 26 – like a position of need in safety (Deonne Bucannon or Jimmie Ward), cornerback Bradley Roby or one of many elite wide receivers.
Finally, I love offensive lineman Zack Martin from Notre Dame. This is a kid that can play all five positions on the offensive front. He was drafted by Dallas. I get it, you need help across your front and you are paying quarterback Tony Romo a ton of money. At the same time, the Cowboys have the worst defense in the NFL and one of the worst pass defenses in the history of pro football. How the heck does Jerry Jones not address that unit with the first pick? They could have really gotten an impact player to help out a unit that was carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey.