Unless you're a Cleveland Browns fan, you could probably make the case that your favorite team cleaned up at the 2014 NFL draft.
It looked like the Browns were going to pull off one of the best hauls of this year's event after they grabbed Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel in the first round. Then came star wideout Josh Gordon's potential season-long suspension for a failed drug test, as reported by ESPN's T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr., and Cleveland's failure to draft a replacement.
Also, somebody may want to tell Johnny Football that Northeast Ohio isn't New York City.
"The bigger the stage, the more energized [and] the more passionate I am," Manziel said to the media on Friday, per Kevin Jones of ClevelandBrowns.com. "It’s great to have those bright lights, the big stage, the big game, the big moment. It’s what you live for being a quarterback."
Why continue to focus on the negative, though?
Let's look at some teams that made the biggest strides between last year and next in the NFL draft.
|Day 1 Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||(27) Deone Bucannon, SS||B-|
|Atlanta Falcons||(6) Jake Matthews, OT||A+|
|Baltimore Ravens||(17) C.J. Mosley, ILB||B|
|Buffalo Bills||(4) Sammy Watkins, WR||A|
|Carolina Panthers||(28) Kelvin Benjamin, WR||B-|
|Chicago Bears||(14) Kyle Fuller, CB||B|
|Cincinnati Bengals||(24) Darqueze Dennard, CB||A-|
|Cleveland Browns||(8) Justin Gilbert, CB; (22) Johnny Manziel, QB||A+|
|Dallas Cowboys||(16) Zack Martin, OT||B|
|Denver Broncos||(31) Bradley Roby, CB||B+|
|Detroit Lions||(10) Eric Ebron, TE||B+|
|Green Bay Packers||(21) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS||A|
|Houston Texans||(1) Jadeveon Clowney, DE||A|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||(3) Blake Bortles, QB||C-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||(23) Dee Ford, DE||C+|
|Miami Dolphins||(19) Ja'Wuan James, OT||C|
|Minnesota Vikings||(9) Anthony Barr, OLB; (32) Teddy Bridgewater, QB||B+|
|New England Patriots||(29) Dominique Easley, DT||B|
|New Orleans Saints||(20) Brandin Cooks, WR||A-|
|New York Giants||(12) Odell Beckham, WR||B|
|New York Jets||(18) Calvin Pryor, FS||A-|
|Oakland Raiders||(5) Khalil Mack, OLB||A|
|Philadelphia Eagles||(26) Marcus Smith, DE||C-|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||(15) Ryan Shazier, OLB||B|
|San Diego Chargers||(25) Jason Verrett, CB||A-|
|San Francisco 49ers||(30) Jimmie Ward, SS||B-|
|St. Louis Rams||(2) Greg Robinson, OT; (13) Aaron Donald, DT||A+|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(7) Mike Evans, WR||B+|
|Tennessee Titans||(11) Taylor Lewan, OT||C|
|Selections via NFL.com|
|Day 2 Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||(52) Troy Niklas, TE; (84) Kareem Martin, DE; (91) John Brown, WR||B|
|Atlanta Falcons||(37) Ra'Shede Hageman, DT; (68) Dezmen Southward, FS||B+|
|Baltimore Ravens||(48) Timmy Jernigan, DT; (79) Terrence Brooks, FS; (99) Crockett Gillmore, TE||A-|
|Buffalo Bills||(44) Cyrus Kouandjio, OT; (73) Preston Brown, ILB||B|
|Carolina Panthers||(60) Kony Ealy, DE; (92) Trai Turner, OG||C-|
|Chicago Bears||(51) Ego Ferguson, DT; (82) Will Sutton, DT||B-|
|Cincinnati Bengals||(55) Jeremy Hill, RB; (88) Will Clarke, DE||C+|
|Cleveland Browns||(35) Joel Bitonio, OT; (71) Christian Kirksey, OLB; (94) Terrance West, RB||C-|
|Dallas Cowboys||(34) Demarcus Lawrence, DE||B+|
|Denver Broncos||(56) Cody Latimer, WR; (95) Michael Schofield, OT||B|
|Detroit Lions||(40) Kyle Van Noy, OLB; (76) Travis Swanson, C||B|
|Green Bay Packers||(53) Davante Adams, WR; (85) Khyri Thornton, DT; (98) Richard Rodgers, TE||B+|
|Houston Texans||(33) Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG; (65) C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; (83) Louis Nix, DT||A+|
|Indianapolis Colts||(59) Jack Mewhort, OG; (90) Donte Moncrief, WR||B|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||(39) Marqise Lee, WR; (61) Allen Robinson, WR; (93) Brandon Linder, OG||B-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||(87) Phillip Gaines, CB||B|
|Miami Dolphins||(63) Jarvis Landry, WR; (67) Billy Turner, OT||C+|
|Minnesota Vikings||(72) Scott Crichton, DE; (96) Jerick McKinnon, RB||C+|
|New England Patriots||(62) Jimmy Garoppolo, QB||B+|
|New Orleans Saints||(58) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB||B|
|New York Giants||(43) Weston Richburg, C; (74) Jay Bromley, DT||C+|
|New York Jets||(49) Jace Amaro, TE; (80) Dexter McDougle, CB||B|
|Oakland Raiders||(36) Derek Carr, QB; (81) Gabe Jackson, OG||A|
|Philadelphia Eagles||(42) Jordan Matthews, WR; (86) Josh Huff, WR||B|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||(46) Stephon Tuitt, DE; (97) Dri Archer, RB||B-|
|San Diego Chargers||(50) Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB; (89) Chris Watt, OG||B+|
|San Francisco 49ers||(57) Carlos Hyde, RB; (70) Marcus Martin, C; (77) Chris Borland, ILB; (100) Brandon Thomas, OT||A|
|Seattle Seahawks||(45) Paul Richardson, WR; (64) Justin Britt, OT||C+|
|St. Louis Rams||(41) Lamarcus Joyner, CB; (75) Tre Mason, RB||A-|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(38) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE; (69) Charles Sims, RB||A|
|Tennessee Titans||(54) Bishop Sankey, RB||B+|
|Washington Redskins||(47) Trent Murphy, OLB; (66) Morgan Moses, OT; (78) Spencer Long, OG||B-|
|Selections via NFL.com|
|Day 3 Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||(120) Logan Thomas, QB; (160) Ed Stinson, DE; (196) Walt Powell, WR||C+|
|Atlanta Falcons||(103) Devonta Freeman, RB; (139) Prince Shembo, OLB; (147) Ricardo Allen, CB; (168) Marquis Spruill, ILB; (253) Yawin Smallwood, OLB; (255) Tyler Starr, OLB||B+|
|Baltimore Ravens||(134) Brent Urban, DT; (138) Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB; (175) John Urschel, OG; (194) Keith Wenning, QB; (218) Mike Campanaro, WR||B|
|Buffalo Bills||(109) Ross Cockrell, CB; (153) Cyril Richardson, OG; (221) Randell Johnson, OLB; (237) Seantrel Henderson, OT||A-|
|Carolina Panthers||(128) Tre Boston, SS; (148) Bene Benwikere, CB; (204) Tyler Gaffney, RB||C+|
|Chicago Bears||(117) Ka'Deem Carey, RB; (131) Brock Vereen, FS; (183) David Fales, QB; (191) Pat O'Donnell, P; (246) Charles Leno Jr., OT||C+|
|Cincinnati Bengals||(111) Russell Bodine, C; (164) AJ McCarron, QB; (212) Marquis Flowers, OLB; (239) James Wright, WR; (252) Lavelle Westbrooks, CB||B+|
|Cleveland Browns||(127) Prince Desir, CB||B|
|Dallas Cowboys||(119) Anthony Hitchens, OLB; (146) Devin Street, WR; (231) Ben Gardner, DE; (238) Will Smith, OLB; (248) Ahmad Dixon, SS; (251) Ken Bishop DT; (254) Terrance Mitchell, CB||C|
|Denver Broncos||(156) Lamin Barrow, OLB; (207) Matthew Paradis, C; (242) Corey Nelson, OLB||B|
|Detroit Lions||(133) Nevin Lawson, CB; (136) Larry Webster, DE; (158) Caraun Reid, DT; (189) T.J. Jones, WR; (229) Nate Freese, K||B|
|Green Bay Packers||(121) Carl Bradford, OLB; (161) Corey Linsley, C; (176) Jared Abbrederis, WR; (197) Demetri Goodson, CB; (236) Jeff Janis, WR||B+|
|Houston Texans||(135) Tom Savage, QB; (177) Jeoffrey Pagan, DE; (181) Alfred Blue, RB; (211) Jay Prosch, FB; (216) Andre Hal, CB; (256) Lonnie Ballentine, FS||B|
|Indianapolis Colts||(166) Jonathan Newsome, DE; (203) Andrew Jackson, ILB; (232) Ulrick John, OT||B-|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||(114) Aaron Colvin, CB; (144) Telvin Smith, ILB; (159) Chris Smith, DE; (205) Luke Bowanko, C; (222) Storm Johnson, RB||A-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||(124) De'Anthony Thomas, RB; (163) Aaron Murray, QB; (193) Zach Fulton, OG; (200) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif||B+|
|Miami Dolphins||(125) Walt Aikens, CB; (155) Arthur Lynch, TE; (171) Jordan Tripp, OLB; (190) Matt Hazel, WR; (234) Terrence Fede, DE||A-|
|Minnesota Vikings||(145) David Yankey, OG; (182) Antone Exum, CB; (184) Kendall James, CB; (220) Shamar Stephen, DT; (223) Brandon Watts, OLB; (225) Jabari Price, CB||C+|
|New England Patriots||(105) Bryan Stork, C; (130) James White, RB; (140) Cameron Fleming, OT; (179) Jon Halapio, OG; (198) Zach Moore, DE; (206) Jemea Thomas, CB; (244) Jeremy Gallon, WR||B+|
|New Orleans Saints||(126) Khairi Fortt, ILB; (167) Vinnie Sunseri, SS; (169) Ronald Powell, OLB; (202) Tavon Rooks, OT||B|
|New York Giants||(113) Andre Williams, RB; (152) Nat Berhe, SS; (174) Devon Kennard, OLB; (187) Bennett Jackson, CB||A|
|New York Jets||(104) Jalen Saunders, WR; (115) Shaq Evans, WR; (137) Dakota Dozier, OT; (154) Jeremiah George, ILB; (195) Brandon Dixon, CB; (209) Quincy Enunwa, WR; (210) IK Enemkpali, DE; (213) Tajh Boyd, QB; (233) Trevor Reilly, OLB||A+|
|Oakland Raiders||(107) Justin Ellis, DT; (116) Keith McGill CB; (219) Travis Carrie, CB; (235) Shelby Harris, DE; (247) Jonathan Dowling, SS||B+|
|Philadelphia Eagles||(101) Jaylen Watkins, CB; (141) Taylor Hart, DE; (162) Ed Reynolds, FS; (224) Beau Allen, DT||C|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||(118) Martavis Bryant, WR; (157) Shaquille Richardson, CB; (173) Wesley Johnson, OT; (192) Jordan Zumwalt, ILB; (215) Daniel McCullers, DT; (230) Rob Blanchflower, TE||C+|
|San Diego Chargers||(165) Ryan Carrethers, NT; (201) Marion Grice, RB; (240) Tevin Reese, WR||C+|
|San Francisco 49ers||(106) Bruce Ellington, WR; (129) Dontae Johnson, CB; (150) Aaron Lynch, DE; (170) Keith Reaser, CB; (180) Kenneth Acker, CB; (243) Kaleb Ramsey, DE; (245) Trey Millard, FB||B|
|Seattle Seahawks||(108) Cassius Marsh, DE; (123) Kevin Norwood, WR; (132) Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB; (172) Jimmy Staten, DT; (199) Garett Scott, OT; (208) Eric Pinkins, FS; (227) Kiero Small, RB||B-|
|St. Louis Rams||(110) Mo Alexander, SS; (188) E.J. Gaines, CB; (214) Garrett Gilbert, QB; (226) Mitchell Van Dyk, OT; (241) C.B. Bryant, FS; (249) Michael Sam, DE; (250) Demetrius Rhaney, C||B|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(143) Kadeem Edwards, OG; (149) Kevin Pamphile, OT; (185) Robert Herron, WR||B|
|Tennessee Titans||(112) DaQuan Jones, DT; (122) Marqueston Huff, FS; (151) Avery Williamson, ILB; (178) Zach Mettenberger, QB||A-|
|Washington Redskins||(102) Bashaud Breeland, CB; (142) Ryan Grant, WR; (186) Lache Seastrunk, RB; (217) Ted Bolser, TE; (228) Zach Hocker, K||B-|
|Selections via NFL.com|
Most Improved Teams
When you have the No. 1 overall draft pick, you ought to be getting a few players who will contribute right away.
Three picks in particular make this draft a great one for the Houston Texans.
The first is the easiest. Jadeveon Clowney was the best player in this draft, and Houston shouldn't have given a second thought to taking him. No other player stood out as much as the former South Carolina star. Putting him and J.J. Watt in the same front seven is such a tantalizing combination.
Perhaps the better pick, though, in terms of value, was former Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix in the third round. If he had gone in the first round, few would've seen it as a surprise.
Now, the Texans can boast this trio:
As if that wasn't good enough, Houston may have snagged the best pure guard in UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo. He's been such a great blocker after moving to the inside. Su'a-Filo gives the Texans some much-needed help on the interior of the offensive line, and he can start in Week 1.
While Khalil Mack seemed an easy pick to make at No. 5 overall, would you have really been surprised if the Oakland Raiders had selected Jimmy Garoppolo?
This is an organization that has generally been an annual joke of the draft.
Now, however, the Raiders look to have their stuff together. Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis were all very good picks. Oakland managed to address its biggest needs without reaching for too many players or taking too many unnecessary risks.
I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of Carr heading into the draft, but I love him going to Oakland. With Matt Schaub seemingly locked in as the starter, Carr can spend a year on the sidelines until he's more prepared to play at a high level.
The Atlanta Falcons didn't need to do too much to become a contender again. As long as they avoided the same kind of injury issues they were plagued by in 2013, the Falcons would at least get a winning record.
Give credit to general manager Thomas Dimitroff because he added both ready-made players like Jake Matthews and Prince Shembo but also took risks on Ra'Shede Hageman and Dezmen Southward.
Matthews is undoubtedly the crown jewel. Nobody is better at this moment than the former Texas A&M left tackle. He can step into the Atlanta O-line and make it worlds better all by himself. Watch quarterback Matt Ryan get back to his best next season since he'll actually have time in the pocket to throw the ball.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com was also a big fan of the Hageman selection:
This was more of a shock because most believed Hageman would be gone at the end of the first round. He started his college career at a tight end at Minnesota, then transformed into a versatile defensive lineman capable of playing end or tackle. The Falcons view him as a defensive end as they are set to go more toward a 3-4 look. The havoc 6-foot-5, 310-pound Hageman could create up front next to nose tackle Paul Soliai (6-4, 340) and defensive end Tyson Jackson (6-4, 296) could be devastating.
It was important that Dimitroff and Atlanta's other front-office members didn't approach this draft with a lackadaisical attitude expecting everything to get better on its own. They did their homework, and it showed over the seven rounds.
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams could've probably stopped after Round 2 and still would've had one of the best drafts of anybody.
Although Greg Robinson isn't the polished blocker that Matthews is, his combination of speed and power gives him unlimited potential.
After that St. Louis somehow got defensive tackle Aaron Donald after he fell to No. 13.
In the second round, the Rams grabbed Lamarcus Joyner. He can immediately step in and improve what was a poor secondary.
When you consider value and potential contribution, it's difficult to determine which of those three is the best.
Donald is a player I've had my eye on, though, for the past few months. Having watched a lot of Geno Atkins, I'm well aware of how much a pass-rushing defensive tackle can change a game. Adding Donald to a unit that already had Robert Quinn and Chris Long on the edges isn't fair.