The first round is in the books and the assessments have begun. Which teams hit and which teams missed so far in the 2014 NFL draft?
Buffalo Bills – Sammy Watkins
They gave up a nice chunk of picks to get him but the Buffalo Bills succeeded at one of their top off-season objective by going to get Sammy Watkins. Thanks to that deal and the one for Mike Williams, E.J. Manuel has perhaps the most prolific arsenal in the AFC with loads of speed everywhere. If they can protect him better, this team could get interesting.
Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack
It was a surprise the Jacksonville Jaguars passed on Khalil Mack and the Oakland Raiders didn’t make the same mistake. They did a good job in free agency loading up the defense with veteran talent and leadership but needed a young stud with superstar potential to bring it all together. Mack is that type of complete player.
St. Louis Rams – Aaron Donald
Games are won and lost in the trenches and Jeff Fisher knows that better than any coach. That philosophy was put in practice for the St. Louis Rams, and wisely so when they took Aaron Donald at #13. He is the best interior pass rusher in the 2014 NFL draft and now he gets chance to showcase that between Robert Quinn and Chris Long. The lives of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are about to change.
Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel
This pick will be dissected and analyzed for years to comes. There are plenty of doubters regarding Johnny Manziel but the word that keeps coming up with him is “playmaker.” Several draft experts had him going somewhere around the top ten. To get him at #22 has to be considered a great triumph for the Cleveland Browns who were in dire need of a face for their franchise.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles
It’s not the player himself that I consider this a miss. Blake Bortles has all the physical tools to succeed coming out of the 2014 NFL draft. What I question is where the Jacksonville Jaguars took him at #3. I genuinely feel they could’ve moved back for extra picks and still gotten him. He’s not ready to start yet anyway.
Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron
I completely understand why the Detroit Lions made this pick. Jim Caldwell wants another weapon for Matthew Stafford to use in order to take heat off of Calvin Johnson. Eric Ebron is the best tight end in the draft but I never viewed tight end as a big need for them. Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria aren’t stars but they are nice role players and with Odell Beckham and Taylor Lewan still on the board, not to mention some quality corners, I wonder if they got locked in too much.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Ryan Shazier
First of all, Ryan Shazier is a great player. He’s so fast for his size and simply makes the tackle all day long. I understand why the Pittsburgh Steelers took him but I don’t see the fit. Shazier made a name for himself in a 4-3 style defense at OhioState as an outside linebacker. The Steelers employ a 3-4. Unless they have hopes he can rush the passer, which is not his strength, then they must envision a move for him inside which is a bit of a reach considering he’s never played there, doesn’t have the ideal bulk for it and that there was stills some secondary help available.
San Francisco 49ers – Jimmie Ward
This move reeked of a team “getting cute” with their pick. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t need a safety. They already have Eric Reid and signed Antoine Bethea in free agency. Yes, Jimmie Ward has the best potential in coverage of any safety in the 2014 NFL draft class but that is not his style as yet. Perhaps the running idea that he projects better as a corner was the reason they took him, but if that were the case they could’ve easily solved their problems by taking Ohio State standout Bradley Roby, who universally rated ahead of Ward.