NFL Draft Grades 2014: Team-by-Team Scores and Analysis After Final Results

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NFL Draft Grades 2014: Team-by-Team Scores and Analysis After Final Results
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL draft is officially behind us, but the analysis isn't over.

Each team made some good moves and some questionable moves during the selection process. Many teams reached for players they thought might be gone later on, while others chose to play it safe and take the best player available based on needs.

Now that the draft is over we can finally get a good idea of how the upcoming NFL season is going to shape up. We'll have to grade each team's draft class to really determine the NFL's hierarchy, however, and that's what I've done here.

2014 NFL Draft Team Scores, Analysis
Team Notables Analysis Grade
Arizona Cardinals Deone Bucannon (S), Troy Niklas (TE), Logan Thomas (QB) In need of a safety and quarterback, Arizona fulfilled some needs in the draft. B
Atlanta Falcons Jake Matthews (OT), Ra'Shede Hageman (DT), Devonta Freeman (RB) Atlanta failed to address needs at tight end, but Matthews and Hageman are solid picks to improve the fight in the trenches. B+
Baltimore Ravens C.J. Mosley (ILB), Timmy Jernigan (NT), Terrence Brooks (FS) Talk about improving the defense. It's hard not to like what Baltimore did. A-
Buffalo Bills Sammy Watkins (WR), Cyrus Kouandjio (OT) Buffalo traded a lot to move up to grab Watkins, but he's a playmaker for EJ Manuel in Year 2. B-
Carolina Panthers Kelvin Benjamin (WR), Kony Ealy (DE) In need of a wideout, Carolina got its man in Benjamin. Ealy was a steal at the end of Round 2. B+
Chicago Bears Kyle Fuller (CB), Ka'Deem Carey (RB), David Fales (QB) In drafting defense with its first three picks, Chicago rightfully committed to improving that side of the ball. B+
Cincinnati Bengals Darqueze Dennard (CB), Jeremy Hill (RB), A.J. McCarron (QB) Dennard was a good pick, but taking Hill in Round 2 was questionable given the team's depth at running back. B-
Cleveland Browns Justin Gilbert (CB), Johnny Manziel (QB), Joel Bitonio (OT) It was a very good draft for Cleveland. It got another quality corner, a franchise quarterback and someone to protect him. A-
Dallas Cowboys Zack Martin (OL), Demarcus Lawrence (DE) Without a lot of early picks, Dallas did its best to bring in talent. Passing on Manziel to get Martin was a smart move. B
Denver Broncos Bradley Roby (CB), Cody Latimer (WR) After getting shellacked in the Super Bowl, Denver needed to improve its defense. Roby will help. B+
Detroit Lions Eric Ebron (TE), Kyle Van Noy (OLB) Detroit missed the mark with Ebron, as that pick should have been used to upgrade the secondary. Its other moves were just so-so. C
Green Bay Packers Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S), Davante Adams (WR), Jared Abbrederis (WR) Green Bay improved on the defensive front, in the secondary and at receiver—everywhere it needed to. A-
Houston Texans Jadeveon Clowney (DE), Xavier Su'a-Filo (OG), Louis Nix (NT), Tom Savage (QB) Not enough can be said about Houston's draft. Nix was a steal, and Savage will be groomed to take over at quarterback. A
Indianapolis Colts Donte Moncrief (WR), Andrew Jackson (ILB) Without a ton of picks, Indianapolis did its best to improve but failed to address needs in the secondary. C+
Jacksonville Jaguars Blake Bortles (QB), Marqise Lee (WR), Allen Robinson (WR) Taking Bortles was a head-scratcher, but Jacksonville did a good job to upgrade its group of wideouts. B+
Kansas City Chiefs Dee Ford (DE), De'Anthony Thomas (RB), Aaron Murray (QB) Not upgrading at wide receiver makes it hard to fathom what Kansas City was doing during the draft. C
Miami Dolphins Ja'Wuan James (OT), Jarvis Landry (WR), Jordan Tripp (OLB) It wasn't a deep class of running backs, but Miami's failure to add a three-down runner will hurt the team next year. C+
Minnesota Vikings Anthony Barr (OLB), Teddy Bridgewater (QB), Trading back into Round 1 to nab Bridgewater was great. Good job by Minnesota all around. A-
New England Patriots Dominique Easley (DT), Jimmy Garoppolo (QB), James White (RB) Easley may have been a stretch, but he'll pan out just fine if he stays healthy. Solid scouting, as usual, for New England. A-
New Orleans Saints Brandin Cooks (WR), Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB) New Orleans took care of its two primary concerns—defensive back and wideout—in the first two rounds. B+
New York Giants Odell Beckham (WR), Weston Richburg (C), Andre Williams (RB) Richburg was a great pick in Round 2, and Williams will likely see carries early on. Solid draft overall for New York. A-
New York Jets Calvin Pryor (S), Jace Amaro (TE), Shaq Evans (WR) Not taking a wideout earlier may come back to haunt New York, but Amaro essentially acts as one. A-
Oakland Raiders Khalil Mack (OLB), Derek Carr (QB) Passing on Mack was impossible at No. 5, and Oakland was smart to take Carr in Round 2. B+
Philadelphia Eagles Marcus Smith (OLB), Jordan Matthews (WR), Josh Huff (WR) Philadelphia took two wideouts before addressing serious needs in the trenches and in the secondary. C
Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier (OLB), Stephon Tuitt (DE), Martavis Bryant (WR) Shazier was a head-scratcher so early, but Bryant will excel next to Antonio Brown. B
San Diego Chargers Jason Verrett (CB), Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB), Marion Grice (RB) Not taking a quality wideout to pair with Keenan Allen was questionable, but Verrett is a good pick in Round 1. B
San Francisco 49ers Jimmie Ward (S), Carlos Hyde (RB), Marcus Martin (C), Bruce Ellington (WR) Another great draft for San Francisco. Martin and Ellington were great values later on in the draft. A
Seattle Seahawks Paul Richardson (WR), Kevin Norwood (WR) Upgrading at wide receiver was important for Seattle and without many other holes, the team's draft was solid. B
St. Louis Rams Greg Robinson (OT), Aaron Donald (DT), Tre Mason (RB) Fantastic draft. Robinson and Donald will help make St. Louis' trenches even more big and powerful. A+
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans (WR), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE), Charles Sims (RB) Tampa Bay succeeded in getting bigger and more athletic in terms of weapons for Josh McCown. Those big receivers will be hard to handle. A-
Tennessee Titans Taylor Lewan (OT), Bishop Sankey (RB), Zach Mettenberger (QB) Not replacing Alterraun Verner will ultimately hurt Tennessee, but the team was successful in upgrading the line and running back depth. B+
Washington Redskins Trent Murphy (OLB), Morgan Moses (OT), Lache Seastrunk (RB) Washington probably should have upgraded it's interior defensive line, but the picks made in other areas weren't bad. C+

 

St. Louis Rams

Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The St. Louis Rams did a stellar job during the draft. They could have traded back from No. 2, but instead made the right choice and took the best offensive tackle in the class, Greg Robinson. Then they made Aaron Donald, a defensive tackle many thought would go in the first 10 picks, their choice at No. 13.

That alone makes the Rams winners in my book. Upgrading with big guys in the trenches is key in today's NFL, and St. Louis certainly succeeded in doing so. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com is particularly a fan of the selection of Donald:

The Donald pick makes a nasty defensive line even nastier, and the Rams will be tough to deal with up front. The D-line features Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the outside, with Michael Brockers and Donald creating havoc inside. 

The selection of Tre Mason was an underrated one at the time, though it will pay dividends in the next few years. A fast runner who was a Heisman finalist, Mason has the speed to outrun most defenders. He's a bit on the small side, so that might prevent him from becoming a three-down back. He'll take a few carries away from Zac Stacy next season, but nothing major.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The draft's first surprise came very early. Instead of making a move at Johnny Manziel, Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack, the Jacksonville Jaguars chose to commit to Blake Bortles at No. 3. Bortles has the talent and size to succeed at the next level, but he isn't NFL ready just yet.

The team improved its grade during the draft by taking Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Even if Chad Henne starts over Bortles in Week 1, he'll have great young weapons to throw to. This tandem could eventually turn into one of the more dominant young groups of wideouts in the NFL, and that should make Jaguars fans very happy.

With their final pick of the draft, the team took Bortles' teammate at Central Florida, running back Storm Johnson. Johnson has the potential to be a decent change-of-pace back in the NFL, but at the very least he and Bortles will help ease each other's transitions into the league.

After a questionable start to the draft, Jacksonville did a good job to surround their young quarterback with talent.

 

Detroit Lions

Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions had real needs in the secondary and could have even used an improvement on the offensive line, but they used the No. 10 pick on UNC tight end Eric Ebron.

Matthew Stafford already has two tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria, so this was obviously a luxury pick for Detroit. But were they in a position to pick out of luxury?

No. No they weren't.

Ebron will likely be a valuable weapon for years to come if he improves his hands in traffic, but keeping up with the best receivers of the NFC North should have been Detroit's top priority at No. 10. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kyle Fuller or Calvin Pryor should have been the pick.

Kyle Meinke of MLive.com also addressed the team's need for help in the secondary:

The Lions will absolutely address the secondary. Here are their top two corners: Rashean Mathis, who will be 34 at the start of the season, and Chris Houston, who still hasn't recovered from a toe injury he suffered last year and might require surgery. Concern grows by the day that he won't return to form.

The team did end up taking Utah State corner Nevin Lawson in the fourth round, but there were better options earlier on that should not have been passed over.

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