2014 NFL Draft

NFL Draft 2014: Round 1 Results, Grades and Top Steals of First 32 Picks

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the 32 pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Fans had to know the first round of the 2014 NFL draft would be both unpredictable and wildly entertaining.

Top quarterbacks tumbled, teams made grievous errors and only a few franchises were able to come away with top grades by the end of Thursday night. So yes, the longer-than-normal wait was well worth it.

Draft grades can't be properly dished out until three years after the fact, but we can assign initial scores based on what is known about prospects, team needs and more. Let's do just that while also highlighting some of the biggest steals the first round had to offer.

 

Round 1 Results

Pick Team Player Position School
1. Texans Jadeveon Clowney DE/OLB South Carolina
2. Rams (from WSH) Greg Robinson OT Auburn
3. Jaguars Blake Bortles QB UCF
4. Bills* Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
5. Raiders Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
6. Falcons Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
7. Buccaneers Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
8. Browns* Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State
9. Vikings* Anthony Barr OLB UCLA
10. Lions Eric Ebron TE North Carolina
11. Titans Taylor Lewan OT Michigan
12. Giants Odell Beckham Jr. WR LSU
13. Rams Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
14. Bears Kyle Fuller CB Virginia Tech
15. Steelers Ryan Shazier OLB Ohio State
16. Cowboys Zack Martin OG/OT Notre Dame
17. Ravens C.J. Mosley ILB Alabama
18. Jets Calvin Pryor FS Louisville
19. Dolphins Ja'Wuan James OT Tennessee
20. Saints* Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State
21. Packers Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix FS Alabama
22. Browns* Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
23. Chiefs Dee Ford DE/OLB Auburn
24. Bengals Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State
25. Chargers Jason Verrett CB TCU
26. Eagles* (from IND) Marcus Smith DE/OLB Louisville
27. Cardinals* Deone Bucannon SS Washington State
28. Panthers Kelvin Benjamin WR Florida State
29. Patriots Dominique Easley DT Florida
30. 49ers Jimmie Ward SS Northern Illinois
31. Broncos Bradley Roby CB Ohio State
32. Vikings* Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
Note: An asterisk (*) indicates that a trade was made for the pick

 

Round 1 Grades

TeamGradeNotes
TexansAPretty easy call, although moving back into the first for a QB would have been smart.
Rams (from WSH)A+Amazing class. Robinson is an elite prospect and Donald gives St. Louis the best defensive line in football.
JaguarsCBortles looks like Ben Roethlisberger and plays like Blaine Gabbert. Let's see how he develops.
Bills*ANice job of getting more talent around EJ Manuel.
RaidersAMack paired with Sio Moore is downright scary.
FalconsA+Atlanta sits around at No. 6 and gets the safest pick of all.
BuccaneersBVincent Jackson 2.0 plays across from Jackson. Very good help for a question mark under center.
Browns*AGilbert seems like a bit of a reach, but all is forgiven with Manziel.
Vikings*ABarr is a very, very risky prospect. Bridgewater? Not so much.
LionsCEbron will line up all over the field, but one has to think Detroit could have traded down and still got him.
TitansBSupreme upside with Lewan, but he needs groomed. Good value.
GiantsCIt seems silly to not get turnover-happy Eli Manning better protection, but Beckham Jr. is a great prospect.
BearsBSmart pick with Fuller to help replace the aging corners on the roster. Donald would have been better, but thus is the life of those who stand pat.
SteelersCAnother OLB? Shazier is a great prospect, but CB and WR were bigger needs.
CowboysBSorry, no bashing the Cowboys for passing on Johnny. Martin is an elite talent who can play any spot on the line.
RavensBNothing to shout about here. Mosley may never live up to Ray Lewis hype, but he's a great insider 'backer.
JetsBIt was defensive back or wideout for New York, with Rex Ryan getting his way. That's not a bad thing.
DolphinsDWho? James isn't a bad player, but Morgan Moses would have looked good in Miami.
Saints*BDrew Brees has to be happy to have an elite slot wideout. That's a win.
PackersBWith Mosley gone, Clinton-Dix was the obvious choice.
ChiefsCFord's fit is a tad strange in Kansas City, but he'll contribute down the line, if not right away.
BengalsBAnother year, another time the Bengals catch a tumbling prospect at a great value. Dennard fills a major need to boot.
ChargersBSan Diego hit a need hard with Verrett and will be better for it as the Chargers look to make the postseason again.
Eagles* (from IND)CSmith is not a bad player by any means, but the trade down really hurt Philadelphia in the CB department.
Cardinals*BBucannon is far from a household name—for now.
PanthersCLove the upside with Benjamin, but he really didn't need to be hailed as Carolina's savior via a first-round pick.
PatriotsBEasley is one of the best players in the draft when healthy. That's the gamble for NE, a team scrambling for help with Vince Wilfork recovering from injury.
49ersBWell, San Francisco won't have any issues in the defensive backfield for the next few years.
BroncosCRoby has plenty of question marks, especially after getting beat deep consistently the collegiate level.
N/A

 

Top Steals

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08:  Jake Matthews of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with a jersey after he was picked #6 overall by the Atlanta Falcons during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/
Elsa/Getty Images

How in the world does Atlanta sit still at No. 6 overall and land the safest pick of the draft?

For whatever reason, Matthews has had little hype throughout the process. Maybe he's just boring. After all, a player who has no weaknesses to be relentlessly detailed by the media makes for boring television and content, right?

As Numbers Never Lie points out, the NFL is in Matthews' blood:

Some, such as Chris Steuber of CSN Philly, graded out Matthews as high as Jadeveon Clowney:

Bottom line—Matthews is an elite prospect who should have come off the board higher, but Matt Ryan and the front office in Atlanta won't dare complain.

 

22. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Obvious, sure. But there's something to be said for Cleveland having the wherewithal to move up and get the guy the front office covets.

Johnny Manziel is a risk, which would explain why he fell so far. His freestyle play can lead to major mistakes, but he's right when he says he has won wherever he goes, as captured by USA Today:

Manziel makes the Browns contenders. That sounds ridiculous, but the defense is on the rise, and Manziel can hit names like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to great success early.

The upside given the slot means the Browns get a highlight of the draft after an apparent early reach on Justin Gilbert.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Rinse and repeat for the Cincinnati Bengals, an organization that continues to find itself on similar lists each year, thanks to an uncanny ability to find value by picking off tumbling players.

Darqueze Dennard was hailed by many as the top corner in the class before the event, so his fall only strengthens one of the NFL's best defenses. Bleacher Report's Andrea Hangst summed it up well:

Dennard does not have to start right away, but he most certainly can. Regardless, the first three corners on the depth chart are over the age of 30 and have recent injury woes, so Dennard figures to eventually take over in tandem with Dre Kirkpatrick.

This far down the board, a starting corner who can be considered the best in his class and also happens to be a strong schematic fit is perhaps the biggest steal of all in the first round. Well, let's call it second place for Cincinnati.

 

No. 32: Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Cincinnati's former defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, stole the show late on Thursday night.

Zimmer was not content to sit around and watch Houston potentially take his franchise quarterback with the first pick on Friday. Instead, he maneuvered his franchise back into the bottom of the first round via a trade with Seattle and grabbed Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback who many graded out as the best in the class.

For Zimmer? One basic trait overrode everything in post-draft interviews, per NFL Network's Albert Breer:

But it's so much more than that. The fit with Norv Turner is fantastic. Bridgewater is the best in the class when it comes to progressions and the somewhat rare trait of moving defenders with his eyes. 

Now add in the fact that he'll hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and throw to wideout Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. 

Kudos to Zimmer and Co. for not pulling the trigger early in the proceedings, but doing so late while catching the rest of the quarterback-needy teams napping.

 

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