NFL Network went “take two” on the 2014 NFL Draft on Wednesday and there were a lot of changes at the top. NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks reshuffled the deck on the first 10 picks.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was no longer the first overall pick by the Houston Texans, despite being referred to as “a no-brainer” first overall pick when they were made last season. He was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, the last pick of the first round.
It was an ironic twist of fate. When the mock draft season first started last year, Bridgewater’s name was at the top. But, as the fickle winds of March and April rolled through, a bad pro day performance dropped Bridgewater from the penthouse to the basement of the first round.
By the pre-draft estimation of the Class of 2014, the belief of those with NFL Network was that there were four “can’t-miss, must-have” prospects – Clowney, offensive tackle Greg Robinson, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Khalil Mack.
A year later, subject to 20/20 hindsight brainpower as opposed to “no-brainer” thinking, Bridgewater reassumed his spot atop the heap of the Class of 2014.
“The no-brainer No. 1 last year should have been Teddy Bridgewater,” Brooks said. “Think about the success the Houston Texans had with four quarterbacks. They wouldn’t have to do that with Teddy Bridgewater.”
A year after Brooks and others dropped Bridgewater on their own draft boards, he reverted to what the M.O. on Teddy was before he went gloveless at his pro day and the sky fell. In terms of the discussion between him, Blake Bortles and Artist Formerly Known as Johnny (College) Football, Bridgewater went from back row status to valedictorian, bringing with it the expectations of now being viewed as the most likely to succeed.
“Teddy Bridgewater was the most pro-ready quarterback in last year’s class,” Brooks said. “I think his rookie season proved that he continues to be the guy that we should think about being the next great quarterback in our league.”
Forgetting the comments he made prior to draft day last May, Brooks went on to praise Bridgewater’s attributes – to the point of putting the pressure on Teddy to be the No. 1 pick, not the 32nd.
“Outstanding pocket passer, terrific anticipation and timing and does a great job making decisions,” Brooks said. “I think his career is going to be spectacular at the pro level. I think the Texans would really love to have him as their franchise quarterback.”
As for the rest of the top overhaul, hindsight pushed Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. all the way up to No. 2 on Brooks’ draft re-do list. He kept picks 3-5 the same – Bortles to Jacksonville, Watkins to Buffalo and Mack to Oakland. Clowney fell to Atlanta at No. 6. Wide receiver Mike Evans remains with Tampa Bay at No. 7, while quarterback Derek Carr replaces cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8.
The Vikings had their first pick come next – linebacker Anthony Barr at No. 9.
Brooks’ second take a year later?
Keep Barr at No. 9. The Vikings made the right move, citing that Mike Zimmer has Barr already playing at a Pro Bowl level at a new position.
Owners, general managers and head coaches don’t get the luxury of 330-day hindsight. But given the current landscape, the Vikings have to feel pretty good about how things worked out at live speed as opposed to hitting the rewind button.
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