After three days and seven rounds, the 2014 edition of the NFL Draft is finally over, and it’s time to take a step back and grade how each team handled their selections.
The Houston Texans kicked off the festivities on Thursday by selecting South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall, and it was the Texans that ended the show on Saturday by taking Memphis safety Lonnie Ballentine 256th overall.
What a wild ride.
Here are the grades for all 32 NFL franchises after an unpredictable draft.
|2014 NFL Draft Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||7||Deone Bucannon||B|
|Atlanta Falcons||9||Ra'Shede Hageman||B+|
|Baltimore Ravens||9||C.J. Mosley||B+|
|Buffalo Bills||7||Sammy Watkins||B|
|Carolina Panthers||6||Kony Ealy||C|
|Chicago Bears||8||Kyle Fuller||C|
|Cincinnati Bengals||8||Darqueze Dennard||C+|
|Cleveland Browns||6||Johnny Manziel||A|
|Dallas Cowboys||9||Zack Martin||C-|
|Denver Broncos||6||Bradley Roby||B|
|Detroit Lions||8||Eric Ebron||C+|
|Green Bay Packers||9||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||B-|
|Houston Texans||10||Jadeveon Clowney||A|
|Indianapolis Colts||5||Donte Moncrief||C|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||9||Marqise Lee||A-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||6||De'Anthony Thomas||C-|
|Miami Dolphins||8||Jarvis Landry||C-|
|Minnesota Vikings||10||Teddy Bridgewater||B+|
|New England Patriots||9||Cameron Fleming||C|
|New Orleans Saints||6||Brandin Cooks||B-|
|New York Giants||7||Odell Beckham Jr.||B|
|New York Jets||12||Jace Amaro||B+|
|Oakland Raiders||8||Khalil Mack||A-|
|Philadelphia Eagles||7||Jaylen Watkins||D+|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||9||Ryan Shazier||B-|
|San Diego Chargers||6||Jason Verrett||C|
|San Francisco 49ers||12||Marcus Martin||C+|
|Seattle Seahawks||9||Kevin Norwood||D+|
|St. Louis Rams||11||Aaron Donald||A|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||Mike Evans||B-|
|Tennessee Titans||6||Bishop Sankey||B|
|Washington Redskins||8||Morgan Moses||C|
|Source: NFL.com. Grades via Donald Wood|
Team That Stole the Show: Cleveland Browns
There were many teams expected to make a huge splash on draft day, but just like in the movie Draft Day, it was the Cleveland Browns that stole the show with a series of selections that should help change the losing culture of the franchise.
Cleveland dominated the draft with stellar first-round picks, including the selection of star Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall and Heisman Trophy winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 22.
Not only did the Browns make two blockbuster picks in the first round, but the franchise also added smart selections in the second, third and fourth rounds. While Cleveland has been the butt of NFL jokes for years, the culture of the organization is clearly changing.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network talked about how the team got better in a hurry:
Here is how the Browns 2014 NFL draft shook out:
|Browns 2014 Draft Results and Grades|
|1||8||Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State||A|
|1||22||Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M||A|
|2||35||Joel Bitonio, Offensive Lineman, Nevada||B|
|3||71||Christian Kirksey, Inside Linebacker, Iowa||C|
|3||96||Terrance West, Running Back, Towson||B|
|4||127||Pierre Desir, Cornerback, Lindenwood||A|
|Source: NFL.com. Grades via Donald Wood.|
The two biggest picks were the first-rounders. Adding Manziel was the move that garnered the most attention from the media, but adding a potential star cornerback in Justin Gilbert to complement elite defensive back Joe Haden makes the secondary a legitimate force.
As great as the Gilbert selection was at No. 8 overall, the football world exploded when Manziel started sliding down the board and was eventually selected by the Browns. When asked about Manziel, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock broke down why this was such a good selection for Cleveland:
I give (general manager) Ray Farmer and (head coach) Mike Pettine a lot of credit. There's hope for the city of Cleveland. Johnny Manziel is going to bring his electrification to the city of Cleveland. The Browns have Brian Hoyer, and he was playing pretty well until he got hurt. Hoyer can be the bridge if the Browns need a bridge. I think, because of Manziel's style, that he can play Day 1. This kid can make plays with his arm and legs until he learns how to be a pocket quarterback.
CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman shared Gilbert’s reaction when Manziel was selected:
Cleveland’s official Twitter account shared head coach Mike Pettine’s thoughts on spending time with Manziel prior to the draft:
While all of the focus will be on Gilbert and Manziel, the Browns stole the show during the draft because of the depth and talent the franchise added beyond the first round.
In the second round, Cleveland added the offensive lineman it desperately needed in Nevada’s Joel Bitonio. The Browns filled another major need with the selection of Iowa middle linebacker Christian Kirksey in the third round, but the franchise really dominated with its final two selections.
With Trent Richardson in Indianapolis, Cleveland added one of the most underrated running backs in the 2014 class with Towson star Terrance West. With unmatched tenacity and blazing speed, West is a great pick in the third round.
Add in another steal in the fourth round with defensive back Pierre Desir from Lindenwood, and it is clear that the organization executed its game plan to perfection.
There were questions about the lack of wide receivers with the possible loss of Josh Gordon to a suspension, according to T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com, but the Browns have added Ball State wide receiver Willie Snead as an undrafted free agent.
With several more free agent wide receivers still on the market, Cleveland won the draft with its confidence and willingness to take educated risks.
Predicted 2014 Season Record: 10-6 (first-round postseason loss)
*Stats via NFL.com.