The pageantry is over and the 2014 NFL draft picks are in, which means all that's left to do is evaluate how the 32 teams did in stocking up for the future.
We won't know for years whether a given draft weekend makes or breaks things for an organization, but there are immediately signs that it will swing things one way or the other.
Obviously, teams must land raw talent in the draft, both in terms of immediate contributors and long-term investments. But can't-miss talent can do just that if a team fails to balance its depth chart properly, or its players don't mesh properly in the locker room.
The best drafters will seem to navigate the difficulties of the process effortlessly every year, while others will inevitably struggle. That's the beauty and the tension of the draft: One good one has the potential to start a turnaround, and a bad one can derail a successful thing.
|2014 NFL Draft: Full Results and Grades|
|Arizona Cardinals||SS Deone Bucannon (27), TE Troy Niklas (52), DE Kareem Martin (84), WR John Brown (91), QB Logan Thomas (120), DE Ed Stinson (160), WR Walt Powell (196)||B-|
|Atlanta Falcons||OT Jake Matthews (6), DL Ra'Shede Hageman (37), S Dez Southward (68), RB Devonta Freeman (103), LB Prince Shembo (139), CB Ricardo Allen (147), LB Marquis Spruill (168), LB Yawin Smallwood (253), LB Tyler Starr (255)||B+|
|Baltimore Ravens||ILB C.J. Mosley (17), DT Tim Jernigan (48), S Terrence Brooks (79), TE Crockett Gilmore (99), DT Brent Urban (134), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (138), G John Urschel (175), QB Keith Wenning (194), WR Michael Campanaro (218)||A-|
|Buffalo Bills||WR Sammy Watkins (4), OT Cyrus Kouandjio (44), LB Preston Brown (73), CB Ross Cockrell (109), G Cyril Richardson (153), LB Randell Johnson (221), T Seantrel Henderson (237)||C|
|Carolina Panthers||WR Kelvin Benjamin (28), DL Kony Ealy (60), G Trai Turner (92), S Tre Boston (128), CB Bene Benwikere (148), RB Tyler Gaffney (204)||B-|
|Chicago Bears||CB Kyle Fuller (14), DT Ego Ferguson (51), DT Will Sutton (82), RB Ka'Deem Carey (117), S Brock Vereen (131), QB David Fales (183), P Pat O'Donnell (191), T Charles Leno (246)||B+|
|Cincinnati Bengals||CB Darqueze Dennard (24), RB Jeremy Hill (55), DE William Clarke (88), C Russell Bodine (111), QB A.J. McCarron (164), LB Marquis Flowers (212), WR James Wright (239), CB Lavelle Westbrooks (252)||B-|
|Cleveland Browns||CB Justin Gilbert (8), QB Johnny Manziel (22), OL Joel Bitonio (35), LB Charles Kirksey (71), RB Terrance West (94), CB Pierre Desir (127)||B|
|Dallas Cowboys||OT Zack Martin (16), DE Demarcus Lawrence (34), LB Anthony Hitchens (119), WR Devin Street (146), DE Ben Gardner (231), LB Will Smith (238), S Ahmad Dixon (248), DT Ken Bishop (251), CB Terrance Mitchell (254)||B-|
|Denver Broncos||CB Bradley Roby (31), WR Cody Latimer (56), T Michael Schofield (95), LB Lamin Barrow (156), C Matt Paradis (207), LB Corey Nelson (242)||C+|
|Detroit Lions||TE Eric Ebron (10), OLB Kyle Van Noy (40), C Travis Swanson (76), CB Nevin Lawson (133), DE Larry Webster (136), DT Caraun Reid (158), WR T.J. Jones (189), K Nate Freese (229)||B-|
|Green Bay Packers||FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21), WR Davante Adams (53), DT Khyri Thornton (85), TE Richard Rogers (98), LB Carl Bradford (121), C Corey Lindsey (161), WR Jared Abbrederis (176), CB Demetri Goodson (197), WR Jeff Janis (236)||B|
|Houston Texans||DE Jadeveon Clowney (1), OG Xavier Su'a-Filo (33), TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (65), DT Louis Nix (83), QB Tom Savage (135), DE Jeoffrey Pagan (177), RB Alfred Blue (181), RB Jay Prosch (211), CB Dre Hal (216), S Lonnie Ballentine (256)||B+|
|Indianapolis Colts||OL Jack Mewhort (59), WR Donte Moncrief (90), DE Jonathan Newsome (166), LB Andrew Jackson (203), T Ulrick John (232)||C|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||QB Blake Bortles (3), WR Marqise Lee (39), WR Allen Robinson (61), G Brandon Linder (93), CB Aaron Colvin (114), LB Telvin Smith (144), DE Chris Smith (159), C Luke Bowanko (205), RB Storm Johnson (222)||A|
|Kansas City Chiefs||DE Dee Ford (23), CB Phillip Gaines (87), RB De'Anthony Thomas (124), QB Aaron Murray (163), G Zach Fulton (193), T Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (200)||C|
|Miami Dolphins||OT Ja'Wuan James (19), WR Jarvis Landry (63), T Billy Turner (67), CB Walt Aikens (125), TE Arthur Lynch (155), LB Jordie Tripp (171), WR Matt Hazel (190), DE Terrance Fede (234)||C+|
|Minnesota Vikings||OLB Anthony Barr (9), QB Teddy Bridgewater (32), DE Scott Crichton (72), RB Jerick McKinnon (96), G David Yankey (145), CB Antone Exum (182), CB Kendall James (184), DT Shamar Stephen (220), LB Brandon Watts (223), CB Jabari Price (225)||A|
|New England Patriots||DT Dominique Easley (29), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (62), C Bryan Stork (105), RB James White (130), T Cameron Fleming (140), G Jon Halapio (179), DE Zach Moore (198), S Jemea Thomas (206), WR Jeremy Gallon (244)||C|
|New Orleans Saints||WR Brandin Cooks (20), CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (58), LB Khairi Fortt (126), S Vinnie Sunseri (167), LB Ronald Powell (169), T Tavon Rooks (202)||B|
|New York Giants||WR Odell Beckham (12), C Weston Richburg (43), DT Jay Bromley (74), RB Andre Williams (113), S Nat Berhe (152), LB Devon Kennard (174), CB Bennett Jackson (187)||B|
|New York Jets||FS Calvin Pryor (18), TE Jace Amaro (49), CB Dex McDougle (80), WR Jalen Saunders (104), WR Shaq Evans (115), T Dakota Dozier (137), LB Jeremiah George (154), CB Brandon Dixon (195), WR Quincy Enunwa (209), DE IK Enemkpali (210), QB Tajh Boyd (213), LB Trevor Reilly (233)||B-|
|Oakland Raiders||OLB Khalil Mack (5), QB Derek Carr (36), OG Gabe Jackson (81), DT Justin Ellis (107), CB Keith McGill (116), CB T.J. Carrie (219), DE Shelby Harris (235), S Jonathan Dowling (247)||B+|
|Philadelphia Eagles||DE Marcus Smith (26), WR Jordan Matthews (42), WR Josh Huff (86), CB Jaylen Watkins (101), DE Taylor Hart (141), S Ed Reynolds (162), DT Beau Allen (224)||C+|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||OLB Ryan Shazier (15), DL Stephon Tuitt (46), WR Dri Archer (97), WR Martavis Bryant (118), CB Shaquille Richardson (157), C Wesley Johnson (173), LB Jordan Zumwait (192), DT Dan McCullers (215), TE Rob Blanchflower (230)||B-|
|San Diego Chargers||CB Jason Verrett (25), OLB Jeremy Attaochu (50), G Chris Watt (89), DT Ryan Carrethers (165), RB Marlon Grice (201), WR Tevin Reese (240)||B|
|San Francisco 49ers||SS Jimmie Ward (30), RB Carlos Hyde (57), OG Marcus Martin (70), ILB Chris Borland (77), G Brandon Thomas (100), WR Bruce Ellington (106), CB Dontae Johnson (129), DE Aaron Lynch (150), CB Keith Reaser (170), CB Kenneth Acker (180), DT Kaleb Ramsey (243), FB Trey Millard (245)||B+|
|Seattle Seahawks||WR Paul Richardson (45), OL Justin Britt (64), DE Cassius Marsh (108), WR Kevin Norwood (123), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (132), DT Jimmy Staten (172), T Garrett Scott (199), S Eric Pinkins (208), FB Kiero Smal (227)||B-|
|St. Louis Rams||OT Greg Robinson (2), DT Aaron Donald (13), CB Lamarcus Joyner (41), RB Tre Mason (75), S Maurice Alexander (110), CB E.J. Gaines (188), QB Garrett Gilbert (214), T Mitchell Van Dyk (226), S C.B. Bryant (241), DE Michael Sam (249), C Demetrius Rhaney (250)||A|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||WR Mike Evans (7), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (38), RB Charles Sims (69), G Kadeem Edwards (143), T Kevin Pamphile (149), WR Robert Herron (185)||B+|
|Tennessee Titans||OT Taylor Lewan (11), RB Bishop Sankey (54), DT DaQuan Jones (112), CB Marqueston Huff (122), LB Avery Williamson (151), QB Zach Mettenberger (178)||B-|
|Washington Redskins||LB Trent Murphy (47), OT Morgan Moses (66), G Spencer Long (78), CB Bashaud Breeland (102), WR Ryan Grant (142), RB Lache Seastrunk (186), TE Ted Bolser (217), K Zach Hocker (228)||C|
|NFL.com/Josh Cohen's grades|
Buffalo Bills: C
It looks as though the Bills nailed each of their first two picks, landing Sammy Watkins and Cyrus Kouandjio, but the cost may have been greater than the gain.
Buffalo used a pick with which it entered the draft to get Kouandjio, a first-round talent who slipped to the second. That's an example of leveraging how the board plays to gain value without sacrificing any assets—key to winning any draft.
The Watkins pick followed the exact opposite logic.
After packaging the ninth overall selection with first- and fourth-round picks in 2015, the Bills moved up to No. 4 overall to take the Clemson product. Watkins has the most star potential of any skill position offensive player in this class, but he'll have to reach it quickly to justify spending two first-rounders on him.
Besides, Buffalo has many more issues than just the wideout spot. Even if EJ Manuel thrives throwing to Watkins, the Bills will still have to prove they can protect him up front to support him. Kouandjio is a mauler at right tackle and the Bills will run the ball plenty, but how he fares in pass protection will be key for Manuel. The same goes for mammoth guard Cyril Richardson.
Buffalo's overall grade isn't exactly a judgement of Watkins. Rather, it's an initial evaluation of the enormous and questionable investment the Bills made in him.
New York Giants: B-
After a disappointing season and an offseason in which they lost mainstays Justin Tuck and Hakeem Nicks, the Giants did solid, if unspectacular, work rebuilding at Radio City.
Tuck and Nicks were both members of the aging guard of Giants championship contributors; the team asked a lot of each, but the years and injuries did not permit them to deliver as much consistently.
Nevertheless, their absences left both leadership and talent vacuums in New York, so Big Blue addressed a little of both in its picks.
New York's success is more obvious on the former front. With a clear mandate to target a future generation of steady locker-room presences, the Giants went out and nabbed a former college team captain with each of their seven selections.
On top of that, some of them can play a little football at the next level.
Odell Beckham Jr. is a superb route runner who will make opponents pay for overcommitting to Victor Cruz, while Weston Richburg was the best center in this draft and should start immediately in the interior of the Giants' offensive line.
Those guys will make Eli Manning's life easier, and they'll hopefully be able to lead in his stead when the time comes.
St. Louis Rams: A
This one isn't complicated: the Rams just became a much, much stronger team after this draft.
The team's fate will largely fall on Sam Bradford's oft-sacked shoulders, but the addition of Greg Robinson gives the St. Louis QB protection necessary to get his job done. Robinson has the strength and speed to seal the edge for years to come, and playing him across from Jake Long spells frustration for opposing pass rushes.
Meanwhile, the Rams made their own defensive front even scarier.
Aaron Donald is as explosive as they come from the defensive tackle position, able to shoot gaps past guards and cause commotion in the backfield. With him pressuring from the middle and Chris Long and Robert Quinn from the outside, St. Louis will get sacks in large bunches.
And those are just the first-rounders. The Rams found value on every day of the draft, taking Heisman candidate Tre Mason in the third round to bolster the running game and keeping Michael Sam in Missouri with a seventh-rounder.
They all give St. Louis a 2014 draft class with a tremendous record of past success. Now let's see what it looks like on an NFL field.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!