The Worst Picks from 2014 NFL Draft
The NFL draft is a value based game that requires each team to find fits, talent and get the most out of each pick. Those who reach on prospects or have a poor approach often wind up picking in the early part of the next couple drafts.
My list of the worst selections in this year's draft includes players who came off the board way too early, don't fit a team's specific scheme or are picked ahead of players that are more talented. Only time will tell but each of these choices have a chance to produce poor results.
1st Round, 3rd Pick: Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Blake Bortles based on his perceived upside rather than his NFL readiness. This is a quarterback who has plenty of holes in his game that will take time in order to correct. Fans of the Jaguars shouldn’t expect instant success from such a raw player.
Bortles needs to first focus on improving his overall throwing mechanics. He has a tendency to fall off his throws which decreases the zip on the ball. This is a concern because Bortles doesn’t have elite arm strength needed to maximize the zip on each pass.
The overall accuracy of his passes is a concern which can also be attributed to technique issues. Bortles doesn’t routinely tie his eyes and feet together. It’s important for a quarterback to square his body to his target in order to deliver a balanced and accurate pass.
Bortles’ accuracy issues extend to the deep-passing game which is a major problem. An NFL quarterback needs to be able to attack down the field by throwing an accurate bucket pass. We’ve seen young quarterbacks such as Blaine Gabbert struggle to develop because of issues stretching the field.
Throwing the football isn’t the only trait a quarterback needs to succeed in the NFL. He also needs to make sound decisions, command the huddle and move the chains. Bortles is still developing in the mental aspect of the game.
He has a tendency to misread a defense and force the ball into coverage. It’ll be important for Bortles to develop better anticipation and get the ball out of his hands at the appropriate time.
Bortles’ athleticism is seen by many as a positive, but he tends to rely on his legs too often. A lot of his success at Central Florida was thanks to his ability to keep drives alive with his feet. This helped him overcome some of those inaccurate throws and missed opportunities.
The last thing to point out is that many evaluators point to Bortles’ performance against Penn State as one of his signature games. After looking at this game, it’s easy to see Penn State’s defensive problems played a major role in the outcome of the game.
Penn State consistently lined their cornerbacks 10 yards off the ball, giving the Central Florida receivers a ton of room to operate. Bortles took advantage of this situation by playing pitch and catch with his receivers along the sideline.
The key to Bortles' success heavily relies on how well he takes to coaching and patience within the Jaguars organization. Jacksonville did do him a big favor by adding Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson on the draft's second day.
1st Round, 15th Pick: Ryan Shazier, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Linebackers today are getting more looks based on their explosiveness rather than size. This is why Ryan Shazier was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick No. 15. However, Shazier doesn’t only lack good bulk; he has other glaring deficiencies.
He must quickly work to improve the way he takes on blocks. His tendency to try and go around a block routinely puts him out of position. Shazier needs to add some bulk to his frame so he can meet the blocker in the hole, anchor after contact and disengage.
There are too many situations where Shazier hesitates and doesn’t trust his reads. This results in the majority of his tackles coming several yards down field. He needs to trust his reads and use his explosiveness to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
I don't love the scheme fit for Shazier at this point. He's likely to play inside linebacker in Pittsburgh where he'll be forced to deal with a lot of traffic.
1st Round, 23rd Pick: Dee Ford, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
Dee Ford is a talented pass-rusher the Kansas City Chiefs will need to be creative with in order to get him on the field. The Chiefs' decision to add Ford to the mix is confusing because they already have Tamba Hali and Justin Houston on the roster.
This adds depth to an important position but does very little to plug some glaring holes. Kansas City lacks playmakers at the wide receiver position, depth at cornerback and along the offensive line. Just this offseason they lost Branden Albert and Geoff Schwartz.
A versatile lineman like Xavier Su'a Filo would've been a great pick for the Chiefs. He's capable of immediately stepping in at guard and filling in at offensive tackle in the case of injury.
Kansas City is going to have a tough time duplicating last year's impressive record.
1st Round, 28th Pick: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
The big-bodied and physical receivers are all the rage in the NFL. Teams are trying to find players who will attack the football and make plays in tight coverage. However, Kelvin Benjamin is a long way from reaching the level of a Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall.
The majority of Benjamin’s issues can be tied to his lack of effort and hustle. He’s a very sloppy route-runner who doesn’t keep his balance, shows no deception and struggles locating the open spots in the defense. This is why he struggles creating separation and making impact plays on a consistent basis.
NFL receivers are asked to run a sophisticated route tree which takes time and effort to perfect. It’s fair to question whether Benjamin is mature enough to put in the work needed to improve.
His route-running problems are only exacerbated by his tendency to catch the ball against his body. Benjamin’s size advantage is wasted because he doesn’t consistently attack the ball at its highest point. This is where someone like Alshon Jeffery separates himself from the other big-bodied receivers in the NFL.
The Panthers selected Benjamin based on his upside, but a lot will need to change for him to reach his potential.
1st Round, 31st Pick: Bradley Roby, CB, Denver Broncos
Bradley Roby needs a drastic change to how he approaches the game of football. He’s is too reliant on his athletic ability which leads to a lack of focus and sloppy technique. There’s a long list of elite athletes who quickly washed out of the league because of how they handled themselves.
The Broncos need to immediately work on Roby’s pad level which is often too high. This limits his balance which hurts his fluidity and click-n-clock ability. Roby has shown a number of times he can flip his hips to stick with a receiver, but in the NFL the extra space poor technique provides will be the difference.
While Roby’s aggressiveness is an asset, he needs to do a better job picking his spots and limiting big plays. He has a tendency to peek into the backfield and look to jump every route. Learning to know when to take a risk will come with experience and film work.
A character red flag also needs to be attached to Roby’s draft profile. He has had several off-field incidents that bring to question his decision making. The most recent occurred just a few weeks ago where he was arrested for driving under the influence.
2nd Round, 12th Pick: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are going to be disappointed when they are forced to move Cyrus Kouandjio inside to guard. Kouandjio just isn’t a fluid enough mover nor does he play with the balance needed to hold up in space.
His kick slide features a lot of wasted motion, including a jerky body and duck arms. The jerky motion is the biggest problem as it messes with his weight distribution. Kouandjio is routinely off balance which makes him vulnerable to a wide array of pass-rush moves.
The most noticeable struggles come with changing direction and holding his ground against a bull rush. His unsteady kick slide and wild arms allows defenders to get into his frame. The leverage and hand placement surrendered by Kouandjio allows even smaller defenders to knock him off his feet.
His success as a run-blocker is why he is a candidate to eventually move to guard, but the Bills selected him at pick No. 44 to play offensive tackle.
The above issues are all related to Kouandjio’s on-field play and don’t factor in his health concerns. According to reports, Kouandjio’s knee raised red flags during the medical tests at the combine. There are just too many question marks for me to feel good about this selection.
2nd Round, 30th Pick: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots
Jimmy Garoppolo has the potential to develop into a solid NFL quarterback, but it makes little sense for that to be with the New England Patriots. The Patriots are one of those teams that are expected to win the Super Bowl every season or else the year is considered a bust.
Garoppolo doesn't help New England get closer to that goal. This is a team with plenty of areas that need to be addressed such as defensive line, safety and offensive line. Second-round picks typically translate to starters, or at the very least, major contributors.
New England could have targeted players such as Louis Nix III, Dez Southward or Morgan Moses. I actually would've loved to see Tom Brady work with a reliable pass catcher like Jarvis Landry.
Overall, the Patriots used their first two picks on players who may not make an impact during this upcoming season. It looks like another situation where Bill Belichick tried to be too clever.
3rd Round, 2nd Pick: Morgan Moses, OT, Washingotn Redskins
One of the oldest sayings in evaluating NFL prospects is “you can’t teach size.” Morgan Moses is a massive offensive tackle prospect who makes it tough for defenders to get around his frame. However, that size isn’t all positive. The Washington Redskins will quickly find out Moses isn’t the most fluid mover, which can be attributed to his size.
Gaining and maintaining leverage is an important part of offensive line play. Moses isn’t a natural bender and struggles to keep a low pad level. This makes him vulnerable to a wide range of pass-rush moves employed by savvy NFL defenders.
Look for the speed guys to dip their shoulder, making it tough for Moses to lock on and use his strength. Playing too high also allows long-armed pass-rushers to gain inside hands and knock pass protectors off balance. This especially comes into effect when a less mobile guy like Moses is focused on protecting the edge.
This brings us to another one of Moses’ problems, and that’s change-of-direction ability. With his size, it’s tough to change the momentum created by his body. Most NFL pass-rushers have a counter move which is designed to keep offensive linemen off balance.
The Redskins should expect a lot of growing pains if they want Moses to step right in and contribute. There will be more than a handful of times where he allows free rushers to the quarterback.
3rd Round, 6th Pick: Marcus Martin, C, San Francisco 49ers
I’m having a hard time finding what everyone loves about Marcus Martin. The player I see is one that struggles to generate a push off the line, features questionable awareness and doesn’t display the nastiness I like to see from an offensive lineman.
Martin’s problems getting movement in the running game is because he plays with a high pad level. This allows the defensive linemen to gain leverage and force him off balance. Too often, Martin gives up initial ground, causing timing problems for his offense.
My biggest concern surrounding Martin’s game is the fact he doesn’t protect the gaps. He has a tendency to allow the defense to shoot the gap—especially to the play side. This appears to be an awareness issue as he doesn’t seem to know his assignment.
The San Francisco 49ers will need to work with Martin to increase his feel for the position if they hope for him to excel. It’s expected the center is the main communicator along the offensive line. Martin will struggle in this role initially.
3rd Round, 22nd Pick: Josh Huff, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly went with an Oregon guy in Josh Huff in the third round, which was a mistake. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jordan Matthews in the second round and then added another receiver with other needs left unfilled.
Philadelphia’s secondary is a major concern with depth issues at cornerback and a lack of talent at safety. Several solid prospects were on the board when the Eagles picked in the third round such as Pierre Desir, Jonathan Dowling and Marqueston Huff.
The safety Huff would’ve been an excellent fit alongside Malcolm Jenkins. He’s a physical defender who supports the run but also has good range in coverage. Chip Kelly wants to score points, but he still needs to field a defense to slow the opponent.
3rd Round, 25th Pick: Chris Watt, OG, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers offensive line was improved last year, but they still need to work on adding talent to the unit. Pulling the trigger on Chris Watt in the third round is a mistake, especially with the other players still on the board.
Trai Turner and David Yankey are both better prospects with more upside. Watt is a limited athlete and is just about fully developed. Both Turner and Yankey have room to grow while also featuring enough talent to help out immediately.
They also bring versatility, as Turner could also help out at center and Yankey has experience at left tackle. I have a hard time seeing how someone could look at the tape of these three players and come away feeling Watt is the better player.
4th Round, 4th Pick: Jalen Saunders, WR, New York Jets
The New York Jets offense needs playmakers who can immediately provide a spark. Jalen Saunders has too many deficiencies to quickly make an impact. He's small in stature and needs to play in the slot. This is an issue because the Jets already have Jeremy Kerley and Jacoby Ford on the roster.
New York would've had been better off targeting higher-upside players such as Martavis Bryant, Brandon Coleman or even Cody Hoffman. If they were sold on adding a slot-type receiver they should have targeted Bruce Ellington who also features a ton of potential.
Up until this point, the Jets have gotten great value but made a mistake here by taking Saunders.
4th Round, 28th Pick: Tre Boston, FS, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are a team that should've focused on filling needs during this draft. They lost three offensive linemen this offseason and only brought in one starting-caliber replacement in Trai Turner. Selecting Tre Boston in the fourth round didn't make much sense with offensive line prospects like David Yankey and Cameron Fleming on the board.
Boston was also a questionable pick if the Panthers were set on addressing the safety position. Prospects like Brock Vereen, Jonathan Dowling and Ahmad Dixon are just some prospects I have with higher grades.
Carolina could be looking at a potentially disappointing season after making a playoff run this past year.
4th Round, 35th Pick: Tom Savage, QB, Houston Texans
Tom Savage has ridden a live arm and the hype train all the way into the fourth round. Savage has plenty of natural talent; however, he still needs to work on several aspects of his game. The majority of his adjustments need to come in the mental aspect of the game.
Savage struggles making quick and sound decisions. His tendency to throw the ball into tight coverage will result in plenty of turnovers at the next level. The Houston Texans can also expect to see a high amount of interceptions because of Savage’s habit of locking on to his No. 1 target.
He routinely stares down his first read, rarely going across the field with his progressions. This allows defensive backs to jump the route, pull down an interception or break up the pass. It’ll be important for Houston’s coaches to focus on getting Savage comfortable with the playbook and stress the importance of using all his targets.
Savage had a very interesting college career in that he spent time at three different colleges (Rutgers, Arizona and Pittsburgh). The Texans must have been comfortable with the answers Savage provided as to why he moved around so much.
Despite some of his issues as a player, the biggest problem I have with this pick is the fact Houston waited this long to address the quarterback position. They had a chance to grab a Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round. Both would've provided more upside and NFL readiness.