2014 NFL Draft Grades
by Robert Ferringo - 5/12/2014
The fact that Chris Berman, Ray Lewis, Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper were the top NFL analysts for the first round of the NFL Draft is the reason that I make a lot of money betting on the NFL.
Truly, those guys are idiots.
The general football-loving public still has some pretty clear misconceptions about how the NFL Draft works and how successful teams approach the annual pro football meat market. And the public's ignorance is fueled by the worthless bloviating of gasbags like the ones on ESPN all weekend.
All of the attention and over analysis have made the NFL Draft one of the most overrated occurrences in sports. Betting markets actually react strongly to the NFL Draft hype. This reaction mirrors the irrational reaction of NFL fans, which comprise the core of football bettors across the country. And at the end of the day public perception about certain teams is unreasonably swayed by the selection of college players that likely won't even contribute to this year's teams.
Coming out of the weekend the toasts of the town are perennial loser franchises like Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Detroit. But in the meantime franchises like San Francisco, Denver and Baltimore once again came, saw and conquered the NFL Draft and added valuable pieces to their already solid foundations. None of their moves may have been as sexy as drafting Johnny Manziel. But there's a reason that the Niners, Broncos and Ravens have more conference titles in the past two years than the former group have in the past 20 years.
With that in mind, here are my team-by-team 2014 NFL Draft grades:
New England (C-) - It's tough to argue with the Patriots' unorthodox drafting style considering how well they've done in recent seasons. This year's approach was similar; they took players that they approved of rather than guys that analysts approved of. I don't mind that. But there are obviously health questions about Dominique Easley, and I don't understand wasting a pick on Jimmy Garoppolo at all.
New York Jets (C) - Safety Calvin Pryor was a fine selection, and he enters the season with as much pressure on him as any rookie in the class. I was surprised by the Jace Amaro selection in Round 2. Tight ends have a pretty high bust rate, and you can always find talented ones in later rounds. Also, they went quantity over quality at wideout.
Miami (C-) - I'll generally give a team that drafts two offensive tackles with its first two picks a solid grade. But not when you reach for both of them, and that is exactly what the Dolphins did. Miami also snagged wideout Jarvis Landry, but compared to the amount of receiving talent in this class that's nothing to write home about.
Buffalo (F) - The Bills proved once again why they are one of the biggest loser organizations in all of sports. I liked the trade up to get Sammy Watkins. They gave up a lot, but I am a big fan of Watkins.However, it was idiotic to trade Pro Bowl receiver Stevie Johnson to San Francisco and only recover a fourth-round pick. This may be the only team in the league that is actually worse after the draft than they were before it.
Cincinnati (B+) - Not only do I like what the Bengals did this weekend, I love the fact that they seem to have a very clear identity and chose accordingly. Darquez Dennard will fit in perfectly and will have the benefit of learning behind quality veteran cornerbacks. Jeremy Hill is a stud, and Will Clarke can contribute. Also, I felt that A.J. McCarron had the potential to be the top quarterback in this watered-down class, and the Bengals snatched him up with a late pick. That could pay huge dividends because I like McCarron coming out of school more than I ever liked Andy Dalton.
Baltimore (A+) - I mean, at this point you can just pencil in an A+ for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens draft every year. This was no exception. They shored up the middle of the defense at each level, and they drafted three players that could end up being top-notch talents. C.J. Mosley is a hero. Tim Jernigan had first-round talent. And
safety Terrence Brooks is another hardnosed player. Baltimore didn't get an offensive lineman but also didn't reach for someone just to plug a hole. I like that.
Pittsburgh (C+) - I like that the Steelers tried to shore up the guts of their team. But they have had a lot more misses than hits in recent drafts, so its fair to question the talent they picked up this weekend. They drafted athletic linebacker Ryan Shazier. But we've been down this road with them before, and he is no sure thing. I was a big fan of the Dri Archer selection. He has a unique skill set. But the Steelers didn't beef up the offensive line or address the secondary, so this weekend can't be seen as a victory.
Cleveland (B-) - I'm really torn on the Browns. I would never want Johnny Manziel on my team. But if there is any offensive system he can produce in, it's Kyle Shanahan's. And you have to credit the Browns brass for injecting some life into the fan base. Further, they picked up another first-round pick for next season, and that could end up being their best acquisition of the weekend. But they didn't do much after the first two rounds, and they somehow passed over a sea of receiving talent despite knowing Josh Gordon's situation.
Indianapolis (D) - The Colts didn't do much because they lacked a top pick thanks to the Trent Richardson deal. They get dinged for that. And truly nothing else the Colts nabbed this weekend impressed. However, if you consider Hakeem Nicks and Richardson as part of the draft class then I'd give the Colts a B- in terms of how they used their selections.
Houston (A+) - The Texans were overshadowed by some secondary drama this weekend. But at the end of the day they took home the best player in the draft in Jadeveon Clowney. They also scored Xavier Su'a-Filo in Round 2 and also grabbed Louis Nix III. People may knock the Texans for not grabbing a quarterback. But no one they would've drafted would've helped Houston this year, and I was not high on this class anyway. I thought they played things perfectly.
Tennessee (B) - This is the way you're supposed to draft. Taylor Lewan was the top player along the offensive or defensive line available when the Titans were on the clock. They took him, and now he can support Michael Oher and Michael Roos without having to be thrown into the fire right away. Bishop Sankey is a player, and Zach Mettenberger was low-risk pick in the sixth round.
Jacksonville (D+) - The Jaguars failed because they could've had a top-tier talent with the No. 3 overall pick but instead they wasted it on Blake Bortles. I do like the fact that Jaguars front office personnel have said Bortles will sit his first year and learn behind Chad Henne. That is how it is supposed to happen. As long as Marquise Lee or Allen Robinson pans out and if one of the two Smiths, Telvin or Chris, also pans out then this draft grade could be short. But right now I feel the Jaguars could've done a lot better with the selections they had.
San Diego (C) - I felt the Chargers drafted based on immediate needs rather than overall talent, and they could've ended up with some better players. Jason Verrett and Jeremiah Attaochu were by-the-numbers picks. The guy I'm intrigued by is mammoth defensive tackle Ray Carrethers. If the Arkansas State prospect can round into shape he could be a difference-maker in the trenches.
Denver (B-) - I like the fact that the Broncos didn't gamble that much just because they have an already stocked roster. They didn't reach for guys or grab a bunch of projects. The Broncos took a plug-and-play dime corner in Bradley Roby, and they provided Peyton Manning with another potential weapon in Cody Latimer. If Michael Schofield or Lamin Barrow can provide anything this could turn out to be a decent little draft for the Broncos.
Oakland (B) - Anytime the Raiders don't puke on their shoes it's a win. But in a vacuum this was a good draft for any team, especially Oakland. The Raiders just need to pray that Khalil Mack isn't a bust, and I am one of the few people that seem to think he might be. I also think Derek Carr has nice potential if he's given two or three years to develop. Gabe Jackson was a really solid selection, and the Raiders used their first five picks on nice, solid foundation pieces.
Kansas City (C-) - It was a roller coaster draft for the Chiefs, who were sans a second-round pick. Like many others I didn't really understand the Dee Ford selection. But that doesn't mean it won't work out. I thought Phillip Gaines was a nice value selection. And I am very intrigued by the Aaron Murray pick. I think if he's given time to learn and develop he will be much better than at least half the quarterbacks taken ahead of him. I don't see any instant impact from any of these picks.
Dallas (C-) - Jerry Jones desperately needs a general manager. Jones just continues to prove that he has very little idea of what he is doing. Taking Zack Martin was the easy choice and a solid selection. But after that the Cowboys didn't do anything inspiring. I think Devin Street could work out. But while the Cowboys put the focus on drafting defensive players, I don't know if they selected any that can actually play in the NFL.
Philadelphia (C) - On its face this wasn't a super-impressive offering from the Eagles. But I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what Chip Kelly is looking for in guys to plug into his system. So I'm going to avoid making any bold proclamations about his selections. But at first glance there were several reaches for guys Kelly could've had later.
New York Giants (C) - There is nothing more overrated than a rookie wide receiver. And Odell Beckham is going to be shackled with a ton of added pressure heading into the New York market. I thought the Giants would go with Zack Martin in the first round. But they kind of made up for it by going with a center and defensive tackle with the next two selections. There was nothing inspiring for the Giants this weekend. But Jerry Reese and Co. has still had a solid offseason.
Washington (C-) - You can only accomplish so much without a No. 1 pick. And Washington did OK with what they had to work with. Their draft will be defined by how Trent Murphy and Spencer Long perform because those were two surprising selections. I loved the value on Morgan Moses in Round 3, and Lache Seastrunk could end up being a steal in the seventh round.
Minnesota (B+) - I like what the Vikings did overall. But of course this draft will be graded on how Teddy Bridgewater develops. I don't have a strong feeling on him one way or another, so we'll just have to wait and see. But I really liked the selection of Scott Crichton in Round 3 and I thought they scored nice value with David Yankey in Round 5. If either of them plays above their draft placement the Vikings will have made out like bandits.
Green Bay (C) - I think that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the chance to be a very good starting safety, so the Packers got maximum value snagging him in the first round. I was particularly surprised because so many teams choosing before the Pack needed safeties. Beyond that the Packers picked up a bunch of young receivers. Will any of them step in and make an immediate impact? Probably not.
Chicago (B) - The Bears weren't flashy, but they picked up five good players. I like the Kyle Fuller selection, and he will study under two Pro Bowl corners. I am not thrilled about the Ego Ferguson pick, but as long as either Ferguson or Will Sutton works out on the defensive line they are OK there. I am a Ka'Deem Carey fan, and the Bears at least acknowledged their glaring need at safety with Brock Vereen. I would've liked to see a linebacker selected (and they could've had Chris Borland), but it was a good weekend for Chicago.
Detroit (D) - I was one of the only analysts in the country that criticized the Brandon Pettigrew pick in 2009. I felt like the Eric Ebron pick was validation - not that I needed it - that Pettigrew was a mistake. But history is repeating itself as the Lions committed a solid Draft "Don't" by taking a tight end in Round 1. Ebron was a reach, and the Lions had bigger needs on the defensive side of the ball. They better hope they hit with Kyle Van Noy, because if not this draft will be considered another train wreck.
New Orleans (D+) - Brandin Cooks is a new toy for Drew Brees. But I wouldn't have given up a third-round pick to move up seven slots to get Cooks, and he won't make up for the loss of Darren Sproles. I also wasn't really impressed with anyone else they grabbed later. I think Vinnie Sunseri was a waste of a pick, and if more than two of this year's picks are still on the roster and contributing three years from now I'll be surprised.
Atlanta (B-) - The Falcons had a good, solid draft. And if Jake Matthews turns to be a 12-year starter with multiple Pro Bowls then you'd have to be pretty pleased with the haul. The problem is that I felt like Atlanta reached for Ra'Shede Hageman and Dez Southward just because they were trying to fill needs on the roster. They should have just taken the best players available. I liked the selections of Devonta Freeman and Prince Shembo in later rounds.
Carolina (C+) - It hasn't been a great offseason for the Panthers, and they have lost a ton of talent. But I thought they had an OK draft. They reached for athletic Kelvin Benjamin at a time when there were better players on the board. They kind have made up for it by getting two very good, physical players in Kony Ealy and Trai Turner in the second and third rounds. They didn't address all their areas of weakness in the draft, but that's OK with me.
Tampa Bay (C+) - I was very, very interested to see what Lovie Smith did with his first draft in Tampa Bay. He secured a high-ceiling skill player in Mike Evans - who I loved - and then came back with even more offensive weapons at RB, WR and TE. Lovie is a defensive guy and didn't work that side of the ball. Smith always liked small school guys, so keep an eye on Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards.
Arizona (C-) - Ho-hum. The Cardinals didn't have a lot of glaring needs coming into this weekend. But they still could've added more talent than they did. I think Deone Bucannon can be a decent safety. But I don't see him as an instant producer. Tight end Troy Niklas and end Kareem Martin are just ordinary guys. There was nothing here to get excited about.
San Francisco (A+) - It is an undeniable fact that only one team in the NFL gave up a fourth-round pick and walked away with a Pro Bowl player. I thought the Niners absolutely stole Stevie Johnson from the Bills, and that was one of the best moves of the weekend. San Francisco would've gotten an A for that move alone. But they didn't stop there. Jimmie Ward has some work to do at safety but is a sharp prospect. And I really liked the selections of talented, productive guys like Carlos Hyde, Bruce Ellington and Chris Borland. This franchise hauled in a load of talent this weekend.
Seattle (C-) - I feel like the Seahawks fell into a common trap and displayed a champion's hubris with how they drafted. Seattle always drafts a little unconventionally, and they have scored some serious wins with mid-round and late-round selections in years past. But Seattle looks like it grabbed guys with a narrow skill set rather than drafting the best all-around players that their position allowed. We'll see how it plays out.
St. Louis (A+) - I'm not alone in praising the Rams draft class. They went with beef with their first two picks, getting two mammoth linemen in Greg Robinson (OT) and Aaron Donald (DT) with their first round picks. The Rams are very strong in those areas. But instead of following the consensus of idiots in the media and reaching for a quarterback they choose to continue to reinforce the foundation of their team. That is how it's done. Sure, they reached for LaMarcus Joyner, and I think Tre Mason was overworked in college. But both guys have talent. And forget about the social issues: you don't accidentally win the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. So I thought getting Michael Sam in Round 7 was a steal (without even considering the revenue boost from his jersey sales). All in all it was a good weekend for the Rams.
Robert Ferringo is one of the top NFL handicappers in the country and is coming off a legendary football betting season. Robert hit 62.1 percent of his NFL plays, going 95-58 for over $8,000 in pro football profit. He has posted six of seven winning NFL years and has reeled off three straight overall winning football seasons. Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of Robert's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc's Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today .
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