The first two days of the 2014 NFL draft have both lived up to the immense expectations and also provided some of the most unpredictable selections and twists fans could have asked for from the spectacle.
In other words, it has shown just how little the 99 percent knows about how the league and its 32 teams will act over the course of the opening three rounds.
Grades are a difficult tightrope to waltz right after the rounds are over, but let's go ahead and dish out some letters to each franchise based on how they performed in terms of a value-need marriage. After the jump, let's admire the top three classes through as many rounds.
|Team||Round 1 Pick(s)||Round 2 Pick(s)||Round 3 Pick(s)||Grade|
|Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||Xavier Su'a-Filo||C.J. Fiedorowicz, Louis Nix III||A|
|St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson, Aaron Donald||Lamarcus Joyner||Tre Mason||A|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles||Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson||Brandon Linder||B|
|Buffalo Bills||Sammy Watkins||Cyrus Kouandjio||Preston Brown||C|
|Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||Derek Carr||Gabe Jackson||A|
|Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews||Ra'Shede Hageman||Dez Southward||B|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||Austin Seferian-Jenkins||Charles Sims||B|
|Cleveland Browns||Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel||Joel Bitonio||Chris Kirksey, Terrance West||A|
|Minnesota Vikings||Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater||NA||Scott Crichton, Jerick McKinnon||B+|
|Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron||Kyle Van Noy||Travis Swanson||B|
|Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||Bishop Sankey||NA||B|
|New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||Weston Richburg||Jay Bromley||C|
|Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller||Ego Ferguson||Will Sutton||A|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier||Stephon Tuitt||Dri Archer||C|
|Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin||Demarcus Lawrence||NA||B|
|Baltimore Ravens||C.J. Mosley||Timmy Jernigan||Terrence Brooks, Crockett Gillmore||A|
|New York Jets||Calvin Pryor||Jace Amaro||Dex McDougle||C|
|Miami Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James||Jarvis Landry||Billy Turner||B|
|New Orleans Saints||Brandin Cooks||Stan Jean-Baptiste||NA||A|
|Green Bay Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Davante Adams||Khyri Thornton, Richard Rodgers||B|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford||NA||Phillip Gaines||B|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||Jeremy Hill||William Clarke||C|
|San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett||Jeremiah Attaochu||Chris Watt||B|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Marcus Smith||Jordan Matthews||Josh Huff||B|
|Arizona Cardinals||Deone Bucannon||Troy Niklas||Kareem Martin, John Brown||C|
|Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||Kony Ealy||Trai Turner||B|
|New England Patriots||Dominique Easley||Jimmy Garoppolo||NA||B-|
|San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward||Carlos Hyde||Marcus Martin, Chris Borland, Brandon Thomas||B-|
|Denver Broncos||Bradley Roby||Cody Latimer||Michael Schofield||B|
|Seattle Seahawks||NA||Paul Richardson, Justin Britt||NA||C|
|Washington Redskins||NA||Trent Murphy||Morgan Moses, Spencer Long||D|
|Indianapolis Colts||NA||Jack Mewhort||Donte Moncrief||C|
Top Classes Through Three Rounds
Oakland Raiders: A
It's a strange day when the Oakland Raiders are messing around and winning the top-of-class award.
Khalil Mack was a heck of a way to start things off in the first round. He's an elite pass-rusher who can also use his savvy athleticism to drop back in coverage or move sideline-to-sideline to stuff the run.
In tandem with Sio Moore, the Raiders quietly have one of the better linebacker corps in the league if Mack pans out.
But the highlight of the class goes to Derek Carr, the quarterback the front office wanted most. The Raiders didn't reach and still got their guy. As ESPN Stats & Info points out, he may be the first positive on a long list of negatives under center:
Since '11, the Raiders have used draft picks (inc. trades) to acquire QBs C. Palmer, T. Pryor, T. Wilson, M. Flynn, M. Schaub and now D.Carr— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
Best of all, Carr doesn't have to start right away with Matt Schaub on the roster. But he sounds more than ready to compete for the job, as captured by the San Francisco Chronicle's Vic Tafur:
Carr said offensive coordinator Greg Olson "wants to work and he wants to win. And that's all that I am about." #Raiders— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) May 10, 2014
Potential franchise quarterback in tow, the Raiders also managed to steal Gabe Jackson in the third round, one of the draft's better interior linemen. Not a bad two days at the office for owners of the NFL's worst roster—before the draft.
Baltimore Ravens: A
General manager Ozzie Newsome is often hailed as one of the best in the business and his 2014 class through three rounds shows exactly why.
Fans surely know about C.J. Mosley by now. Arguably the best interior linebacker to enter the league since Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Mosley is a tackling machine who will hold down the fort in the interior of the defense for a decade or more.
But look at Timmy Jernigan in the second round, a versatile piece who gives the unit options based on the situation. He's a scary complement to Haloti Ngata and an eventual replacement.
The third round? Safety Terrence Brooks, a name many agreed should have come off the board earlier. His addition shores up a major area of need, as Rotoworld's Josh Norris helps to explain:
Love the Ravens selection of Terrence Brooks. A great counterpart to Elam. FS.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 10, 2014
Brooks himself is excited to join a franchise that historically fields strong defenses, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun:
Jernigan: "The Ravens definitely play with a swagger. They play football the way that I play football. I feel like I’m the perfect match."— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) May 10, 2014
Crockett Gillmore is a bit of an odd pick to end the first three rounds for Newsome but more targets for Joe Flacco is never a bad thing.
All things considered, Newsome once again mostly managed to grab players that make onlookers simply scratch their heads, as they should have come off the board much earlier.
New Orleans Saints: A
Like it or not, the New Orleans Saints sure know how to do a lot with very little.
Which team had the best two days?
Sean Payton and the Saints wanted to get quarterback Drew Brees another elite weapon, so they traded up in the first round in an aggressive manner and managed to land Brandin Cooks. The Oregon State product will excel in the slot as one of Brees' favorite weapons right away.
In the second round, New Orleans elected to stand pat. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was the one rewarded this time in the form of gigantic cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6'3", 218 pounds), who draws comparisons to one Richard Sherman, as captured by ESPN's Mike Triplett:
Jean-Baptiste was aware Richard Sherman comparisons and thinks that helped. But said hed like to think #Saints liked him bc of who he is.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 10, 2014
Jean-Baptiste joins what is becoming a very, very scary secondary along with the likes of Keenan Lewis, Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd. He'll line up against bigger receivers around the division such as Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Kelvin Benjamin.
Overall, the first two days make for a nice balance between offense and defense as one of 2014's serious contenders only gets better as Brees' career winds down. Scary.