8 Most Head-Scratching Decisions of the 2014 NFL Draft
At the least, most teams have done that with their picks.
While there were no outright horrible selections this year, there were plenty that left me confused, trying to figure out what the front office was going for.
These selections either will not be able to start anytime soon or just don't fit the team's system in the slightest. It's possible that the picks could work out, but for right now, they are simply head-scratchers. This doesn't mean that they are going to be busts, though the situation they are in makes that a lot likelier.
Players are listed in reverse order of draft selection.
Round 2, Pick 55: Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
It took until late in the second round for running backs to be selected this year, and that's due to teams not wanting to give out huge contracts to players with relatively short careers.
Bishop Sankey went first and is a no-brainer to start for Tennessee, which needs a replacement for Chris Johnson. One pick later, the Bengals took Jeremy Hill, a move that just doesn't make sense.
The Bengals have BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard on their roster already, and there's no reason to think those two cannot share the workload. Bernard was a second-round pick himself just last year, so choosing two that early in back-to-back years raises eyebrows.
That is enough of an issue, but Hill has plenty of character issues, including two arrests at LSU. Even if it is all in the past, right now it looks like a "Bengals of old" type of draft pick—and that's not a good thing.
Round 2, Pick 45: Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks
I should know better than to bash a Seahawks pick. They seem to strike gold more often than not, especially the later in the draft they get.
Besides, they needed some wide receiver help with the departure of Golden Tate.
Despite that, I just don't get this selection. With their first selection, the Seahawks take a wide receiver who was far from the best one on the board at the time—Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson and others were still available—and while he is speedy, he has a lot of room to grow.
In his case, I use the term "grow" literally. NFL.com indicates that the 6'0" wideout tipped the scales at 175 pounds at the combine. Right now, he's going to lose those 50-50 balls, and even if he can outrun a defender, the defensive backs in the NFL would outman him without difficulty.
If he can bulk up without losing his speed or leaping ability, then this pick could pan out. Given the Seahawks' track record, it probably will.
However, this is a team looking to make it back to the Super Bowl, and if it does, I can't see Richardson being a significant part of that.
Round 1, Pick 29: Dominique Easley, DT, New England Patriots
This is a selection I understand from the Patriots' perspective. The defensive tackle tandem of Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly played a combined nine games last season, and if injuries are a concern, they need extra depth at that position.
That would be all well and good, but Easley is coming off a torn ACL that sidelined him all of last year, and he's had other injuries in the past.
The Patriots didn't sign him for the durability, though. It's a calculated risk hoping that he has the attributes to be a good defensive tackle.
That being said, his strength pales in comparison to Wilfork and Kelly's. He's athletic and a different type of defensive tackle, but relying on athleticism combined with the injury history makes this pick somewhat confusing.
If this and the Jimmy Garoppolo picks are any indication, the Patriots seemed to use this draft to plan for three-to-five years from now rather than trying to win.
Perhaps the Patriots know something I don't or perhaps this draft just got away from them.
Round 1, Pick 28: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are a rising team that could have made an impact by acquiring a second wide receiver—namely someone who can contribute immediately and be the heir apparent for Steve Smith.
Instead of taking a polished receiver like Jordan Matthews or others that were available, they chose Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin. He fills a need at wide receiver, but can he start immediately?
He may have a 6'5", 240-pound frame and be able to keep up with smaller defenders, but he only had one real year of college production. Others before him, such as Stephen Hill and Greg Little, have not done much in the NFL.
Cam Newton needs weapons, but he's ready to win now. He can't be waiting around for another receiver to develop.
Round 1, Pick 23: Dee Ford, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
If I were ordering these selections in order of how much they confused me, this pick would be at the top of the list. Even after trying to figure out Kansas City's draft strategy, I'm not left with much.
The Chiefs had pressing needs on defense, mainly at defensive end, or could have taken a wide receiver, yet they went with a pass-rushing outside linebacker, which is their position of strength. Even if Ford is a sure thing, he has Tamba Hali and Justin Houston ahead of him on the depth chart.
Ford's not a sure thing anyway.
He was a bit of a reach in the first round and is limited in what he can do. He doesn't have the ability in run-blocking or pass coverage just yet, and he will have to provide more in the NFL than just great acceleration and burst.
At best, the pick was insurance in case the Chiefs are not able to keep both Hali and Houston around. There are better ways to find insurance than using a first-round draft pick.
Round 1, Pick 19: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Miami Dolphins
Unlike most of the picks on this list, this is a perfect one in terms of need. The Dolphins absolutely needed offensive line help in the draft wherever they could get it, and getting a tackle with their first pick was an obvious decision.
James is a solid right tackle who can step in immediately and do his job. He's not flashy, and Scouts Inc. (h/t ESPN.com) suggests he's a blocker first rather than someone who will pancake a defender.
This is fine, though it's not the best scouting report for a first-round selection.
The Dolphins could have realistically taken another offensive lineman here, such as Cyrus Kouandjio, and grabbed James with their second-round pick, or they could have traded down, grabbed James and found more depth later on.
Given some of the other moves that happened on Day 1, there were trade partners to be had, so I can't use the lack of any as an excuse.
At least he will be an immediate starter, and that's better than I can say for a lot of players on this list.
Round 1, Pick 11: Taylor Lewan, OT, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans had a lot of questions to address entering the NFL draft. They needed to find a new running back, a quality pass-rusher and help throughout the defense.
Instead, they used their first selection on offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Admittedly, as a value pick it was good, as he could have very well been a top-10 selection.
That's where the positives end, however.
The Titans already have Michael Roos—a multiple-time Pro Bowler—and Michael Oher—who was just signed to a multiyear deal—manning the tackle spots. This means either moving one of these two to guard or placing Lewan there if they don't want him riding the bench.
The Titans could simply be building for the future here when Roos leaves, but Lewan is not someone who is going to help them get better now in what is not a strong division in the AFC South.
Round 1, Pick 10: Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions
Eric Ebron was the best tight end in the class and the only one I would have taken in the first round. His athleticism would fit without any issue on most teams.
With that being said, this pick does not make sense on any level.
At 10th overall, the pick was a reach, as a top-10 tight end would have to be a dynamic difference-maker to be worth the selection. The Lions skipped drafting top secondary talent to address a need as well.
Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were all on the board and could have helped immediately.
Besides, where is he going to play? Matthew Stafford has plenty of weapons to throw to already, and even if you're not a fan of Brandon Pettigrew, last year's undrafted free agent, Joseph Fauria, looks like he could evolve into a great tight end.
Detroit essentially just spent a top-10 selection on someone who might be a third-string player after training camp ends. That's a mistake no matter how you slice it.