NFL Draft Grades 2014: Franchise-by-Franchise Report Card for Total Results

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
NFL Draft Grades 2014: Franchise-by-Franchise Report Card for Total Results
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The 2014 NFL draft was filled with top talent, and while some teams did a great job addressing key needs with exciting prospects, others made some rather questionable moves.

It's always difficult to grade drafts for specific teams, because at this point we haven't gotten to see how the prospects fit with their new teams. Back in 2012, it looked like the Seattle Seahawks had a very questionable draft, but players like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin proved many critics wrong.

In this article, all draft grades are based off of how teams addressed their needs, not how the picks are projected to perform at the next level. With that being said, let's take a look at the draft grades for all 32 teams after this past weekend.

 

Arizona Cardinals: B+

General manager Steve Keim has a tough job with the Arizona Cardinals as they try to compete with the rest of the NFC West, but you have to like what he did in this draft. Trading down and taking safety Deone Bucannon was a great move, as they added even more talent to their secondary.

Tight end Troy Niklas will help open up rushing lanes on offense, but he won't be the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. The most intriguing pick was Logan Thomas, as they drafted the raw quarterback before more polished, NFL-ready prospects like Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and AJ McCarron.

 

Atlanta Falcons: B

The Atlanta Falcons realized that they needed to add a ton of help to their defense after a rough season in the NFC South, but their best pick came in the first round. After Matt Ryan was constantly knocked around and the running game struggled to get going, bringing in a versatile offensive tackle like Jake Matthews was the best possible move.

 

Baltimore Ravens: B+

I would have thought that the Baltimore Ravens would have tried to add some help on offense earlier in the draft, but it's hard to complain with all of the help they brought in for the defense. C.J. Mosley, Timmy Jernigan and Terrence Brooks could all be in the starting lineup this year, and bringing in three starters in one draft could make the Ravens the team to beat once again in the AFC North.

 

Buffalo Bills: C+

Trading away next year's first-round pick is a steep price to move up five spots for Sammy Watkins, but I'm sure EJ Manuel doesn't mind, as he'll be getting another dynamic playmaker to throw to. Guard Cyril Richardson and OT Cyrus Kouandjio will help out the offensive line, but the latter had knee concerns heading into the draft and, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, even failed Washington's physical.

Louisville linebacker Preston Brown is probably the most underrated pick here, as he'll be a nice backup behind Brandon Spikes.

 

Carolina Panthers: C

I understand why the Carolina Panthers drafted a wide receiver in the first round, but the fact that they didn't draft an offensive tackle at any point in the draft after Jordan Gross retired is a bit odd. Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy was a solid value in the second round, but with Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson on the roster, it didn't seem that necessary.

 

Chicago Bears: A

The Chicago Bears understood that they had one of the worst defenses in the league last year, especially against the run, and came away with cornerback Kyle Fuller and two strong defensive tackles in the first three rounds.

Brock Vereen will be a nice piece to fight for the starting strong safety job, while Ka'Deem Carey will be a nice backup behind Matt Forte. Overall, the Bears found nice value with almost every pick while still addressing key needs, so it's hard to not be impressed with their draft.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: B

Taking Jeremy Hill in the second round when there were other more exciting running backs on the board was an odd move, but the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals' draft was solid. Darqueze Dennard will be a great long-term option at corner, and Russell Bodine could be the starting center if he has a solid training camp.

I liked the move of bringing in AJ McCarron to put some pressure on Andy Dalton, but according to Kevin Patra from NFL.com, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson stands by Cincinnati's starter, saying:

Andy Dalton is our quarterback and we stand by him 100 percent. And he has done a tremendous job during the offseason. I am so looking forward to working with all these guys, but obviously he is the leader of our football team. I think he has a bright, bright future ahead of him.

Still, if Dalton continues to struggle next season, expect Bengals fans to start calling for McCarron to get a chance.

 

Cleveland Browns: B

Jason Miller/Getty Images

I was tempted to give the Cleveland Browns a lower grade since they didn't draft a wide receiver after the news that Josh Gordon could be suspended for the year due to a failed drug test (h/t ESPN.com). Still, they added key pieces with most of their picks.

The two first-round picks will be instant starters in Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert, while Joel Bitonio and Christian Kirskey will have chances to fight for starting jobs as well.

 

Dallas Cowboys: B+

Had the Dallas Cowboys given in on the Johnny Manziel hype, the Internet might have exploded.

Thankfully, the Cowboys didn't give in and instead took a solid offensive lineman in Notre Dame's Zack Martin in the first round. Dallas added a lot of help and made a smart move trading up to get a pass-rusher in Demarcus Lawrence, so this was a strong draft.

 

Denver Broncos: A-

While the Denver Broncos didn't have a ton of needs heading into this draft, they made some very smart moves. Bradley Roby will contribute instantly as a nickel corner due to his speed, and slot receivers will have a hard time against him. With Eric Decker gone, adding an outside threat at receiver like Cody Latimer in the second round will give Peyton Manning another strong weapon with which to work.

 

Detroit Lions: B-

The fact that the Detroit Lions didn't address secondary help until the fourth round didn't help their grade, but it's hard to argue with their first two picks in North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron and BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Ebron will give Matthew Stafford another threat downfield to go along with Calvin Johnson, while Van Noy will help with the pass rush.

 

Green Bay Packers: B+

Packer general manager Ted Thompson is the master of building teams through the draft, and he found the likely long-term option at free safety in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Adding three receivers after James Jones left might have been overkill to some, but all three were good picks that were probably graded higher by most scouts than where they were selected.

 

Houston Texans: A

You have to give the Houston Texans credit for not giving in and taking a quarterback until the fourth round, as they stuck with their board and consistently took the best player available. Jadeveon Clowney will be a monster alongside J.J. Watt, while Xavier Su'a-Filo, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Louis Nix III will all likely find the field and make positive contributions as rookies.

 

Indianapolis Colts: C

After trading away their first-round pick for Trent Richardson this past season, the Colts didn't have too much to work with in this draft. Still, they should have focused at least one pick on the secondary, as safety was an obvious need that went unaddressed. During Day 2 of the draft, Jake Query from 1260 WNDE and many Colts fans were hoping that they would take Florida State safety Terrence Brooks.

Instead, the Colts took Ohio State's Jack Mewhort, which wasn't a terrible pick, but the team could have found value at offensive line later. Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief might have been the team's best pick, but he'll be more important down the road rather than this season.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

The Jacksonville Jaguars got solid players throughout the draft and addressed positions of need, even in the seventh round when they picked UCF running back Storm Johnson. They added who they hope will be their franchise quarterback, and gave him a few solid weapons in receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson to help him out.

Defensively, Aaron Colvin, Telvin Smith and Chris Smith could all be starters as well.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: C+

Dee Ford was a smart move in the first round, as the Kansas City Chiefs will get another player to rush the passer. Other than that, however, nothing really stands out. It will be interesting to see what they do with De'Anthony Thomas, but this team could have really used a true receiver to play opposite of Dwayne Bowe.

 

Miami Dolphins: B

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

After the Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito fiasco, the Miami Dolphins desperately needed offensive line help, and they got just that with two of their first three picks. LSU receiver Jarvis Landry will give Ryan Tannehill another solid weapon as well.

 

Minnesota Vikings: B+

This was a very solid draft for the Minnesota Vikings, as they addressed two of their biggest needs in the first round by taking linebacker Anthony Barr and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Running back Jerick McKinnon might have been a reach in the third round, but the rest of their draft picks were used on some solid players.

 

New England Patriots: C+

It's clear that the New England Patriots are trying to find Tom Brady's eventual replacement, but using their second-round pick on a quarterback doesn't help their chances of winning another Super Bowl before he retires. Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley might be a risky pick as well, as he's had two ACL surgeries.

 

New Orleans Saints: B-

Giving Drew Brees another weapon in receiver Brandin Cooks should help him continue to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but the New Orleans Saints probably could have used a pass-rusher with this pick as well. Still, the Saints found solid players in the secondary in Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Vinnie Sunseri of Alabama that will help the defense about as much as a pass-rusher could have.

 

New York Giants: B-

I was a big fan of the New York Giants' first two picks, Odell Beckham and Weston Richburg. Beckham will help take some pressure off Victor Cruz while Richburg, will help protect Eli Manning from the center spot. After that, however, nothing really stands out.

 

New York Jets: B

Rex Ryan found a hard-hitting safety in Calvin Pryor that he will love to use on defense as well as a few weapons for Michael Vick or Geno Smith to work with next season. At the same time, Maryland corner Dex McDougle might have been a bit of a reach, though the Jets made up for it with some solid value on the third day.

 

Oakland Raiders: A-

Khalil Mack will come to Oakland and be an instant contributor for the Raiders. Derek Carr could be the starting quarterback in the near future, especially if Matt Schaub begins to disappoint. Guard Gabe Jackson and defensive tackle Justin Ellis were solid additions as well, so the Raiders may look back at this draft class and be thrilled with the players they brought in.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: B

Chip Kelly got one of his former players at Oregon in Josh Huff, and he'll be able to help fellow rookie receiver Jordan Matthews understand the offense so that Nick Foles can have a couple of reliable new weapons. Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith will be a solid pass-rusher and former Florida corner Jaylen Watkins may be able to help the secondary.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: A-

The Pittsburgh Steelers came in and did exactly what they needed to with their first two picks: add youth to the defense. Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt will be instant contributors on a defense that needs to continue to add youth over the next few drafts. Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant will be solid weapons for Ben Roethlisberger too.

 

San Diego Chargers: B+

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I'm probably a bigger fan of what the San Diego Chargers did than most. Cornerback Jason Verrett doesn't get enough credit for his abilities in coverage due to his size and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu will give them another player who can get to the quarterback. Marion Grice should find ways to get on the field, whether it's running the ball or making catches out of the backfield.

 

San Francisco 49ers: B

With 12 picks, the San Francisco 49ers brought in a ton of new faces. Jimmie Ward has a legitimate chance to take over the starting strong safety from Antoine Bethea, considering how the veteran performed with the Colts last year. Carlos Hyde might have been an unnecessary pick considering how many running backs they have, but they found plenty of solid prospects throughout the draft.

 

Seattle Seahawks: B+

As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks didn't have too may pressing needs, but wide receiver was arguably one of them. They addressed the position twice with Colorado's Paul Richardson and Alabama's Kevin Norwood, so they should be fine there this coming season. For a team with few needs, the Seahawks were able to add plenty of depth to ensure they're set for another Super Bowl run.

 

St. Louis Rams: A+

For me, the St. Louis Rams had the best draft of any team. Their two first-round picks, offensive tackle Greg Robinson and DT Aaron Donald, give them instant starters in the trenches, while Lamarcus Joyner, Maurice Alexander and E.J. Gaines should all see playing time in the secondary. Former Auburn running back Tre Mason will complement Zac Stacy nicely, and Michael Sam will give the Rams another pass rusher if he can make the final roster.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B

Despite having just six draft picks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the most of them. Receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be nice weapons for Josh McCown, and Charles Sims will give them the depth at running back behind Doug Martin they lacked last season. The Bucs should have looked at a quarterback at some point, but they seem content with who they have right now.

 

Tennessee Titans: C

The first two picks could have gone better for the Tennessee Titans. Michigan's Taylor Lewan has the potential to be a great offensive tackle, but there were other more appealing prospects they could have taken. Although Chris Johnson is now gone, the Titans probably shouldn't have reached so early for a running back.

 

Washington: B+

Washington didn't have a first-round pick, but it made the most of the rest of the draft, adding players like Trent Murphy and Morgan Moses, who will be day-one starters. Ted Bolser will be interesting to watch at tight end, if he makes the team, and Lache Seastrunk should be a solid backup to Alfred Morris.

 

 

Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

NFL

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.