The operative word of any NFL draft is value. Every team wants to find it, though some are better at it than others. It's also the key to building a championship team, as those that can maximize their picks find stars and depth.
It's not easy to get exactly what you need when you want it, because there are 32 teams competing for the same goal and some have the same idea as others. The best teams are the ones who don't overreact to a selection made ahead of them, but let the board talk to them.
As we devour all 256 picks in the 2014 NFL draft, some teams clearly had an understanding of what was going to happen and rolled with the punches, either through trades or really good scouting.
Here's a look at our grades coming out of the weekend's biggest event and the best value selections made.
Best Value Picks
Carlos Hyde to San Francisco 49ers (57th overall)
You could include almost all of San Francisco's selections after the first round as great value picks because that's how general manager Trent Baalke operates. Bruce Ellington in the fourth round has tremendous potential with his ability to separate from defensive backs, particularly in the slot.
For the purposes of this discussion, though, Carlos Hyde is the name that immediately jumps out. He's the perfect heir to Frank Gore, who is 30 years old and entering the final season of his contract. The 49ers can slowly work Hyde into their offense this year with the idea of letting him be the No. 1 guy in 2015.
Hyde's first quotes after becoming a 49er just fit the style of this team and what Baalke and Jim Harbaugh are trying to build:
The pick also adds more depth to a position that did have a lot of questions. Gore ran for over 1,000 yards last season, but you have to wonder how much longer he can be effective given his age and the volume of hits he's taken. Marcus Lattimore has great potential, but also comes with the baggage of two knee reconstruction surgeries.
This is a perfect marriage of team and player, so to get the best running back on the board at the end of Round 2 is a steal.
Dri Archer to Pittsburgh Steelers (97th overall)
The Steelers were very subtle in the draft, filling nearly all of their top needs early with great value picks and looking for bargains in the later rounds.
While Dri Archer isn't an every-down back due to a slight 5'8", 173-pound frame, and he only appeared in 10 games last season, there's an element to his game that makes him a nightmare for opponents: speed.
Archer ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the combine, the fastest of any player this year and the second-fastest since 1999, giving him the ability to appear in games as a player who catches screen passes, contributes in the return game and potentially lines up outside to stretch the field.
ESPN's Mel Kiper compared Archer to another diminutive running back who carved out an NFL career by playing multiple roles, via Bob Labriola of Steelers.com.
Teams rarely rely on one running back anymore, so having players who can serve multiple roles and create on their own is essential. Archer has that kind of ability in the right situation, which he found in Pittsburgh.
Zach Mettenberger to Tennessee Titans (178th overall)
All that you can ask for from a college player coming into the NFL is improvement from season to season. It would be hard for any quarterback to get better than Zach Mettenberger did at LSU last year, based on ESPN's Total QBR from the Stats and Info department.
There are obvious risks with Mettenberger, who suffered a torn ACL in December and, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio, produced a diluted urine sample at the combine.
Mettenberger's knee injury is particularly problematic because he's never shown great mobility in the pocket, so how will he fare against NFL defenses?
Even with the questions, there's something to be said for a quarterback who spent last season learning to play the position from Cam Cameron, who was LSU's offensive coordinator in 2013, and has the kind of arm strength Mettenberger has.
The fact that Tennessee was able to get Mettenberger in the sixth round, after fellow quarterbacks like AJ McCarron and Logan Thomas went off the board earlier, was great value and gives the team a chance to develop him behind Jake Locker this season with the hopes of starting in 2015.
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