We are less than 24 hours removed from the end of the NFL draft’s third round, so naturally it's time to make sweeping generalizations about players who won’t make a name for themselves in the professional ranks for a number of years.
However, even though these grades may be a bit early, there are still initial impressions that can be made. With that in mind, here is a look at team-by-team marks for the first three rounds of the NFL draft, and then we dig into a bit more analysis for a few notable squads.
|Team||Round 1 Pick(s)||Round 2 Pick(s)||Round 3 Pick(s)||Grade||Explanation|
|Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||Xavier Su'a-Filo||C.J. Fiedorowicz, Louis Nix III||A-||Got the best player in the draft and help along the offensive line and at defensive tackle|
|St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson, Aaron Donald||Lamarcus Joyner||Tre Mason||A+||Incredible first round; added two of the more underrated players in Rounds 2 and 3 in Joyner and Mason|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles||Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson||Brandon Linder||C||Bortles was a huge stretch; taking one receiver in the second round is good, but two?|
|Buffalo Bills||Sammy Watkins||Cyrus Kouandjio||Preston Brown||B||Gave up a lot to get Watkins; added some depth on the offensive line|
|Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||Derek Carr||Gabe Jackson||A||Carr is a risk, but he and Mack provide answers to two areas of need|
|Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews||Ra'Shede Hageman||Dez Southward||B||Nothing wrong with getting two potential starters on both sides of the line|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||Austin Seferian-Jenkins||Charles Sims||A||Apparently Tampa Bay is going to play basketball with all of those tall receiving options|
|Cleveland Browns||Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel||Joel Bitonio||Chris Kirksey, Terrance West||A||Completely knocked the first round out of the park; the rest is just icing on the cake|
|Minnesota Vikings||Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater||N/A||Scott Crichton, Jerick McKinnon||B+||Got their quarterback and one of the best defensive players in the draft early|
|Detroit Lions||Eric Ebron||Kyle Van Noy||Travis Swanson||B||The later picks are better than a stretch in the first round|
|Tennessee Titans||Taylor Lewan||Bishop Sankey||N/A||B-||Carlos Hyde was the better choice at running back; Lewan is a solid tackle who provides depth|
|New York Giants||Odell Beckham Jr.||Weston Richburg||Jay Bromley||C||Really should have taken a defensive player in the second round, although Beckham fills a need|
|Chicago Bears||Kyle Fuller||Ego Ferguson||Will Sutton||B||The picks fill needs, but there were better players available at each position drafted|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Ryan Shazier||Stephon Tuitt||Dri Archer||B||Could have used a corner in the first two rounds with so many talented ones on the board|
|Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin||Demarcus Lawrence||N/A||A||Really like the second-round pick; smart to pass on the temptation of Manziel in Round 1|
|Baltimore Ravens||C.J. Mosley||Timmy Jernigan||Terrence Brooks, Crockett Gillmore||B||Nothing wrong with adding a couple of defensive playmakers who can contribute right away|
|New York Jets||Calvin Pryor||Jace Amaro||Dex McDougle||A||Pryor is a beast on defense, and Amaro is an underrated contributor|
|Miami Dolphins||Ja'Wuan James||Jarvis Landry||Billy Turner||C||Reach in every round of the draft|
|New Orleans Saints||Brandin Cooks||Stanley Jean-Baptiste||N/A||A||Filled need with a speedy receiver early and got great value later in the draft|
|Green Bay Packers||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Davante Adams||Khyri Thornton, Richard Rodgers||A||Great first round, and then added a replacement for James Jones in the second|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Dee Ford||N/A||Phillip Gaines||B||Got great talent early in Dee Ford|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Darqueze Dennard||Jeremy Hill||William Clarke||B||Dennard is a great pick that fills a need in the first round, but why not Hyde in the running back spot?|
|San Diego Chargers||Jason Verrett||Jeremiah Attaochu||Chris Watt||A||Added some of the most underrated players in the draft|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Marcus Smith||Jordan Matthews||Josh Huff||B||Solid picks, but there were better options at the positions drafted|
|Arizona Cardinals||Deone Bucannon||Troy Niklas||Kareem Martin, John Brown||C||Drafted their initial picks much earlier than they had to with those players|
|Carolina Panthers||Kelvin Benjamin||Kony Ealy||Trai Turner||B||Needed a receiver and got one; Ealy is a solid pick, although he doesn't fill a need|
|New England Patriots||Dominique Easley||Jimmy Garoppolo||N/A||B-||Garoppolo worth keeping an eye on as a potential backup next year|
|San Francisco 49ers||Jimmie Ward||Carlos Hyde||Marcus Martin, Chris Borland, Brandon Thomas||B-||Stop me if you've heard this before: The 49ers took a running back in the draft (although at least it was a very good one)|
|Denver Broncos||Bradley Roby||Cody Latimer||Michael Schofield||A-||Needed a corner and got an incredible athlete in Roby; Peyton Manning has yet another weapon at receiver now as well|
|Seattle Seahawks||NA||Paul Richardson, Justin Britt||N/A||B||Solid picks that help fill some needs|
|Washington Redskins||NA||Trent Murphy||Morgan Moses, Spencer Long||B-||Helps make up for lack of first-round pick with Moses so late|
|Indianapolis Colts||NA||Jack Mewhort||Donte Moncrief||C||No first-round pick makes grading harder, but a bit high for Mewhort|
Grades are my personal opinion
St. Louis Rams
Selecting linemen on either side of the ball isn’t always the most exciting route to go in the NFL draft, but the St. Louis Rams hit the first round out of the park.
They added Greg Robinson with the No. 2 pick overall as a foundation-type player at offensive tackle and then defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the No. 13 pick overall. The Rams defensive line, which was already intimidating enough as it was, got all the more imposing, as Jason McIntyre of the Big Lead and ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie pointed out:
St. Louis Rams defensive line: Chris Long (DE) Kendall Langford (DT) Aaron Donald (DT) Michael Brockers (DT) Robert Quinn (DE) That's filthy— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) May 9, 2014
The Rams weren’t done, though, and they added two of the most underrated players in the draft in the second and third rounds in Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner and Auburn’s Tre Mason.
Joyner brings some height concerns to the table for a pure corner, but his versatility is what makes him so special.
Look for him to play in the slot against spread offenses and even see some time at safety as his rookie season progresses. He absolutely lays the lumber on opposing ball-carriers and receivers too, small stature or not.
What’s more, he can contribute in the special teams department as a returner or flanker who can come after punts in blocking situations.
As for Mason, his elusiveness and speed makes him a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
The Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t have felt great about watching the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings grab top-notch quarterbacks in the later portion of the first round after grabbing Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick.
Who ends up with the best career?
The Jaguars could have likely traded down, loading up with other assets, and still ended up with Bortles if he was their man. Considering they are more than a couple of pieces away from competing for a playoff spot, that may have been the wise move.
At least Jacksonville grabbed some help in the wide receiver department, which was desperately needed, but it was a bit strange to see the same team take two wideouts in the same round. Mike Mayock of NFL Network commented on Jacksonville’s decision to take Marqise Lee of USC, via NFL.com:
Keep in mind, Justin Blackmon -- their first-round pick from a couple years ago -- is indefinitely suspended. The Jaguars aren't expecting anything out of him. The Jaguars needed a wide receiver and for Lee to be available at pick No. 39 is a bonanza for this franchise.
The storylines were right there for the taking.
Johnny Manziel was still on the board when it was the Dallas Cowboys’ turn to draft at No. 16 overall, but they resisted the temptation and went with offensive tackle Zack Martin out of Notre Dame. It may not have been the most popular move with the fans, but the Cowboys have a number of needs and signal-caller is certainly not one of them.
Will the Cowboys make the playoffs next season?
Martin has the versatility to play either guard or tackle, and he provides some much-needed depth along the offensive front.
What’s more, Dallas added one of the best edge-rushers in the draft in Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence, which will help fill the void left over from DeMarcus Ware’s departure. Lawrence is an explosive athlete who can play on the outside or inside, so look for him to contribute early in a number of ways for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have a ton of picks remaining at the end of the draft, so this will be a team to keep an eye on Saturday.
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