Through three rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, we have seen some interesting storylines materialize.
One, which is no surprise, has been the plight of the quarterbacks. For instance, Johnny Manziel was selected 19 picks after Blake Bortles was, and two-time national champion AJ McCarron hasn't been selected at all to this point.
There is also the plight of the running back, as a draft-record 53 selections occurred before Washington's Bishop Sankey heard his name called as the first running back off the board.
Just as a little spoiler, both of those positions figure into the top steals over the first three rounds that I'll feature below. First, however, have a look at all the results for each of the first three rounds along with my grade for each pick:
|2014 Round 1|
|1.||Texans||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina||A-||Clowney was the best player available. He will increase Houston's pass rush.|
|2.||Rams (from WSH)||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn||A||Robinson is a potentially dominant lineman in the pass and run game.|
|3.||Jaguars||Blake Bortles, QB, UCF||B-||A surprise pick that the current Jaguars regime will be hoping pans out.|
|4.||Bills*||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson||A||The Bills made a bold move to grab the best WR to help bring balance to their offense.|
|5.||Raiders||Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo||A+||The Raiders lucked out with Mack falling into their lap.|
|6.||Falcons||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M||A||Matthews is a polished pass-blocker who will contribute right away.|
|7.||Buccaneers||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M||A||Evans will pair with Vincent Jackson to give new quarterback Josh McCown lengthy targets like he had last year.|
|8.||Browns*||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St||D||The Browns shouldn't have traded up one spot to make this pick, but Gilbert has big potential.|
|9.||Vikings*||Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA||C||Barr is a bit of a project pick for a franchise that needs instant impact.|
|10.||Lions||Eric Ebron, TE, UNC||C-||Ebron is a decent value, but the Lions should've addressed the D or O-Line|
|11.||Titans||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan||B+||Lewan is a potential franchise left tackle and instantly improves the Titans by allowing Michael Oher to move inside.|
|12.||Giants||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU||B||Beckham is the kind of deep threat the Giants need to open up their vertical offense.|
|13.||Rams||Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt||B||An explosive DT who will help give the Rams one of the best D-Lines in the NFL.|
|14.||Bears||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech||B||Would've liked to see Bears go D-Line, but Fuller is a strong prospect.|
|15.||Steelers||Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State||C+||A bit of a reach, but the Steelers have a great track record drafting LBs.|
|16.||Cowboys||Zack Martin, OG/T, Notre Dame||B+||Martin will help give the Cowboys a strong offensive line.|
|17.||Ravens||C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama||B+||Ravens found a player to help solidify their front seven.|
|18.||Jets||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville||A||Pryor is a hard-hitting safety who will fit right in with the Jets.|
|19.||Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee||C+||James was a bit of a reach, but the Dolphins definitely need help on the O-Line|
|20.||Saints*||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State||B+||The Saints found an explosive playmaker to replace Darren Sproles.|
|21.||Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama||A||The Packers needed a free safety, and Clinton-Dix was the best available.|
|22.||Browns*||Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M||A+||It is a steal to get a quarterback with Manziel's talent at No. 22.|
|23.||Chiefs||Dee Ford, DE, Auburn||C||The Chiefs reached for Ford and did so when pass rush was already a strength.|
|24.||Bengals||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St||A||A wonderful corner prospect who will be groomed to take over for the aging Terence Newman.|
|25.||Chargers||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU||B+||The Chargers needed help in the secondary and grabbed a natural cover man.|
|26.||Eagles* (from IND)||Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville||C||Marcus Smith went earlier than most expected, but the Eagles needed someone to boost their pass rush.|
|27.||Cardinals*||Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington St||B||Buccanon is an accomplished safety, but the Cardinals should've gone D-Line|
|28.||Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St||A-||A lengthy target for a team desperate for competent receivers.|
|29.||Patriots||Dominique Easley, DT, Florida||C||A reach here, but the Patriots needed the depth on the D-Line|
|30.||49ers||Jimmie Ward, SS, N. Illinois||C-||The 49ers needed secondary help but should've grabbed an accomplished corner.|
|31.||Broncos||Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State||B||The Broncos needed corner help, but Roby is not the most polished corner.|
|32.||Vikings*||Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville||A||A strong move by the Vikings to get back into the first round and grab their possible QB of the future.|
|2014 Round 2|
|1||33||Houston Texans||Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA||B||Su'a-Filo is a needed addition to the O-Line, but the Texans should've grabbed a QB.|
|2||34||Dallas Cowboys*||Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise St||C+||The Cowboys gave up too much value to grade this favorably.|
|3||35||Cleveland Browns||Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada||C||Given the possible suspension of Josh Gordon, it was shocking the Browns didn't go WR.|
|4||36||Oakland Raiders||Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St||A+||The Raiders must be ecstatic to get Mack in the first and still find a QB as talented as Carr.|
|5||37||Atlanta Falcons||Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota||B+||The Falcons added needed size and strength on the D-Line|
|6||38||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE) Washington||C+||Tight end was not a big need in Tampa. Seferian-Jenkins will have to improve his consistency to warrant the pick.|
|7||39||Jacksonville Jaguars||Marqise Lee, WR, USC||B+||Lee has injury issues, but he is a talented WR and the Jaguars needed a weapon.|
|8||40||Detroit Lions*||Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU||B-||I like the Lions targeting an LB, but they didn't have to trade up to address the need.|
|9||41||St. Louis Rams*||Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida St||B||Joyner is small but explosive, and the Rams had the resources to trade up.|
|10||42||Philadelphia Eagles*||Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt||B+||With the top receiver prospects going off the board, the Eagles made an aggressive and needed move.|
|11||43||New York Giants||Weston Richburg, C, Colorado St.||C+||The Giants boosted their rebuilding of the offensive line with a solid center, but not at the best value|
|12||44||Buffalo Bills*||Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama||A-||A good value pick who fills a need.|
|13||45||Seattle Seahawks*||Paul Richardson, WR, Colorada||B||A small receiver who will add more explosiveness to Seattle.|
|14||46||Pittsburgh Steelers||Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame||B+||A strong interior presence for the Steelers' rebuild of their defense.|
|15||47||Washington Redskins*||Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford||B||The Redskins were wise to target defense. Murphy is an explosive LB.|
|16||48||Baltimore Ravens||Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State||A||Most had Jernigan going in the first round. He is a good fit and value for Baltimore.|
|17||49||New York Jets||Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech||A||The Jets need offensive playmakers, and that's what Amaro is at TE.|
|18||50||San Diego Chargers*||Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Ga Tech||C+||The Chargers made an aggressive move to try and boost their pass rush. They have too many needs on defense to give up value.|
|19||51||Chicago Bears||Ego Ferguson (DT) LSU||B+||The Bears had to add muscle to the interior of their D-Line. Ferguson brings that.|
|20||52||Arizona Cardinals||Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame||C+||Niklas has potential but is raw. This was too early for the Cardinals to take a project pick.|
|21||53||Green Bay Packers||Davante Adams, WR, Fresno St||B+||This was a solid value and it was a smart decision to give Aaron Rodgers another weapon.|
|22||54||Tennessee Titans||Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington||A||Finally! An RB was drafted. The Titans have a potentially great offensive line. Sankey will flourish behind good blocking.|
|23||55||Cincinnati Bengals||Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU||C+||Hill is an upgrade over Green-Ellis, but the Bengals didn't need to adress RB.|
|24||56||Denver Broncos*||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana||B||Latimer is a good value here. The Broncos needed another receiver.|
|25||57||San Francisco 49ers*||Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio St||C+||Hyde fits the 49ers' physical style, but San Francisco has plenty of depth at the position.|
|26||58||New Orleans Saints||Stan Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska||B+||After spending the first pick on a WR, the Saints were wise to add a corner here.|
|27||59||Indianapolis Colts||Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio St||B+||When you have a QB like Andrew Luck, you make sure he is protected.|
|28||60||Carolina Panthers||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri||B||Great value here, but I'm surprised the Panthers didn't grab an LT.|
|29||61||Jacksonville Jaguars*||Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State||B+||The Jaguars are making sure new QB Bortles has weapons. Robinson is a good value.|
|30||62||New England Patriots||Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, E Illinois||B||The Patriots have another QB to groom and now have the freedom to trade R. Mallett.|
|31||63||Miami Dolphins*||Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU||B||The Dolphins need more weapons on offense. Landry was a decent value.|
|32||64||Seattle Seahawks||Justin Britt, OT, Missouri||D||The Seahawks have had success drafting players that appeared to be reaches, but not when it comes at O-Line.|
|2014 Round 3|
|1||65||Houston Texans||C.J. Fiedorowicz,TE, Iowa||B-|
|2||66||Washington Redskins||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia||A|
|3||67||Miami Dolphins||Billy Turner, OT, NDSU||B+|
|4||68||Atlanta Falcons||Dez Southward, S, Wisconsin||B+|
|5||69||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Charles Sims, RB, W Virginia||B-|
|6||70||Jacksonville Jaguars||Marcus Martin, C, USC||B+|
|7||71||Cleveland Browns||Chris Kirksey, OLB, Iowa||C|
|8||72||Minnesota Vikings||Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon St||B|
|9||73||Buffalo Bills||Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville||C+|
|10||74||New York Giants||Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse||B-|
|11||75||St. Louis Rams||Tre Mason, RB, Auburn||A|
|12||76||Detroit Lions||Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas||B+|
|13||77||San Francisco 49ers (from Tennessee)||Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin||B+|
|14||78||Washington Redskins*||Spencer Long, OG, Nebraska||C+|
|15||79||Baltimore Ravens||Terrence Brooks, S, Florida St||B|
|16||80||New York Jets||Dex McDougle, CB, Maryland||C|
|17||81||Oakland Raiders*||Gabe Jackson, OG, Miss St||B+|
|18||82||Chicago Bears||Will Sutton, DT, Arizona St||B+|
|19||83||Houston Texans*||Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame||A|
|20||84||Arizona Cardinals||Kareem Martin, DE, UNC||B|
|21||85||Green Bay Packers||Khyri Thornton, DT, So Miss||B|
|22||86||Philadelphia Eagles||Josh Huff, WR, Oregon||B|
|23||87||Kansas City Chiefs||Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice||C-|
|24||88||Cincinnati Bengals||William Clarke, DE, W Virginia||B|
|25||89||San Diego Chargers||Chris Watt, OG, Notre Dame||B+|
|26||90||Indianapolis Colts||Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss||B|
|27||91||Arizona Cardinals (from New Orleans)||John Brown, WR, Pitt St||B-|
|28||92||Carolina Panthers||Trai Turner, OG, LSU||C|
|29||93||Miami Dolphins*||Brandon Linder, OG, Miami||B|
|30||94||Cleveland Browns*||Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan||B-|
|31||95||Denver Broncos||Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan||B-|
|32||96||Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle)||Jerick McKinnon, RB, G Southern||B+|
|33||97||Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory)||Dri Archer, RB, Kent St||B+|
|34||98||Green Bay Packers (compensatory)||Richard Rodgers, TE, California||B+|
|35||99||Baltimore Ravens (compensatory)||Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado St||B-|
|36||100||San Francisco 49ers (compensatory)||Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson||B|
No. 22: Browns select Johnny Manziel
I get why teams passed on Johnny Manziel. With all of the talented players in this draft who felt like sure-fire bets to succeed, it was justifiable to pass on the question marks around Manziel, which included his less-than-ideal size (6'0", 207 lbs), per NFL.com, and volatile playing style.
Still, it was rather shocking to see a guy with the kind of arm talent Manziel possesses remaining available at pick No. 22.
The Browns, who have been insanely active over the past couple of days, gave up their third-round selection in this year's draft in order to swap picks with the Eagles to jump up from No. 26 and draft Manziel.
I am of the school of thought that Manziel will be a very good quarterback in the NFL. Even if he doesn't pan out, however, this was still a worthwhile selection.
Manziel brings with him energy and excitement. This will help breathe life into a Browns' franchise that needs it. For the Browns to get him with their second selection in the draft, it was a complete steal.
No. 54: Titans select Bishop Sankey
There was a time not all that long ago when the notion of calling the first running back selected in the NFL draft a steal would be absurd. Of course, there was a time not so long ago when running back was a coveted position in the draft.
Times have changed, though, and teams now wait to identify their future ball-carriers much later than usual.
As a result, a running back was not selected until pick No. 54 in this year's draft, and the Titans lucked out. Looking to replace Chris Johnson, Tennessee landed Bishop Sankey.
Sankey will be competing with Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster in the backfield, but he has more than enough talent to make each of them an afterthought.
Sankey is not intimidated by following Johnson and had this to say after being selected (h/t ESPN.com):
Only time will tell. No one really knows what tomorrow is going to bring. It's up to us to prepare the day for whatever situation we're put in. that's something that I'm going to do. Just worry about myself and control that I can control and be the best football player that I can be.
Sankey finished as Washington's all-time leading rusher. He is not the biggest or fastest back in this draft, but he is the most well-rounded and complete one.
Sankey has good vision and knows how to churn out positive yards. He will flourish behind the Titans' potentially excellent offensive line.
No. 66: Redskins select Morgan Moses
Morgan Moses has the power and feet that would have made him a worthy selection in the second round. That didn't happen, though, as he slid into the third round, allowing the Redskins to reap the benefits.
Moses is slightly inconsistent in his technique and isn't quick enough to handle playing left tackle, but he is an ideal right tackle.
The Redskins have veteran Tyler Polumbus on the right side, but his performance has been declining lately. My guess is that Moses will supplant Polumbus by Week 1 and hold the starting job for years to come. He will provide an instant boost to the running game and was a great value pick.