The 2014 NFLDraft was one of the most dynamic drafts in recent years. There was depth and talent everywhere, especially with the record 98 underclassmen that declared for the draft. Every year general managers walk away from the draft thinking they hit their marks. However, as fans know very well, that’s false. Every draft has winners and losers; here are this year’s.
Samuel Lester “Les” Snead, the St. Louis Rams general manager, may have won General Manager of the Year simply with his first two picks alone when the team drafted Auburn University tackle Greg Robinson and University of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with its first two picks.
Robinson should start on the right side of the Rams’ offensive line and has the potential to become a premier left tackle. Donald was CBSSports.com’s Defensive Player of Year in 2013 and could give the Rams the best defensive front four in the NFL. Donald will now team-up with All-Pro Robert Quinn and Pro Bowler Chris Long to go along with space-eating defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
The Rams also picked up Florida State University cornerback Lamarcus Joyner in the second round to replace Cortland Finnegan. Robinson’s Auburn teammate Vincent Lamont “Tre” Mason Jr. was drafted in the fourth round to add some extra fire power to the Rams offense. If quarterback Sam Bradford can stay healthy this year, the Rams could be a team that surprises everyone.
Cleveland Browns GM Harvey Ray Farmer knew he couldn’t please everyone when it came to the NFL Draft. His defensive coordinator, Jim O’Neil, desperately needed another top corner in order to run the defense he wants. Yet the organization and fan base were desperately crying for a franchise quarterback.
With the No. 8 overall pick, the draft’s most popular and most talked about quarterback was staring them in the face. Yet Farmer decided to draft Justin Gilbert, arguably the best corner in the draft, to complement recently re-signed All-Pro corner Joe Haden.
But the Browns weren’t finished in the first round. Thanks to a Draft Day fall not seen since Aaron Rodgers, Texas A&M University quarterback Johnny Manziel— who many scouts had as the top rated quarterback in the draft— fell to the Browns at No. 22. While they didn’t get a top-rated wide receiver as insurance to the upcoming suspension of Josh Gordon, the Browns added to an already formidable defense and got a face for their franchise.
The Minnesota Vikings drafted University of California, Los Angeles linebacker Anthony Barr with the No. 9 pick in the draft. He is raw but his talent is through the ceiling. Under the guidance of head coach Mike Zimmer he can turn into a top rusher.
And then the Vikings traded back into the first round to draft the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft in University of Louisville’s Theodore “Teddy” Bridgewater. A year ago Bridgewater was a potential Top-5 pick, and his selection could prove to be a big steal for the Vikings in years to come. However, the biggest robbery was the drafting of Stanford University guard David Yankey — who some scouts had first- and second-round grades on — in the fifth round.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a good team that entered the draft with very few needs. Those needs include safety, pass rushing end and wide receiver, so the team decided to take linebacker Marcus Smith from Louisville with the No. 26 pick.
Smith is a good player; however, most scouts had him graded in the second round. This pick seemed to be a reach, especially when the very next pick was Washington State University safety Deone Bucannon and three picks later the San Francisco 49ers drafted Northern Illinois University safety Jimmy Ward, both of whom are playmaking safeties.
The Eagles drafted Jordan Matthews in the second round, which could end up being a great pick, but the reach of Smith and lack of deep secondary depth help hurts this team. Safety Ed Reynolds from Stanford could prove to be a contributor, but fifth round picks rarely become stars.
The Detroit Lions drafted the top-rated tight end, North Carolina State University’s Eric Ebron, on everyone’s board with the 10th overall pick. However, the Lions were ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense. They have options on the offensive side of the ball and also resigned Brandon Pettigrew. Ebron may very well develop into a key player for this offense, but the team’s most glaring need was a defensive back.
Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard were still available, along with safeties Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor. The Lions had their pick of any of the best defensive backs in the draft but chose to pass. This could come back to haunt the team that was ranked 23rd in passing yards allowed in the NFL.
Now that the draft is over, it’s time for the teams to get down to work with mini camps and training camps coming up. This draft could be remembered not only for its depth or the Rams’drafting of Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL, but for being the last draft held at Radio City Music Hall in a while. The NFL is considering moving the draft to a different city. It’ll be sad to see the draft move away from such a historic venue, but it’s been fun while it lasted.