After a long offseason full of prospect analysis, combine workouts, pro days and countless mock drafts, the 2014 NFL draft was a sight for sore eyes.
With so much anticipation and excitement leading up to the NFL's spectacle at Radio City Music Hall, the draft's three days seemed to go by in a blur. Now that 256 selections are in the books, it's time to see how each team fared.
It's time for draft grades.
Each franchise heads into the draft with the hopes of securing prospects who will solidify its roster for years to come. We may not know the exact impact of these rookies for a season or two, but we can always speculate.
Based on the potential of each team's draft class, the value of each player drafted and how well needs were filled, let's look at how each franchise fared this year.
2014 NFL Draft Grades
|Green Bay Packers||B-|
|Kansas City Chiefs||C-|
|New England Patriots||D+|
|New Orleans Saints||B-|
|New York Giants||B|
|New York Jets||B+|
|San Diego Chargers||C|
|San Francisco 49ers||C+|
|St. Louis Rams||A|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||B-|
Sean O'Donnell's Grades
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers made some smart moves throughout the draft; however, a couple of questionable decisions prevented the team from coming away with a higher grade.
Selecting Jimmie Ward in the first round addressed a need for the team, albeit not an immediate one.
When Donte Whitner left in free agency, the 49ers brought in the reliable Antoine Bethea to pair with last year's first-round selection Eric Reid. Both of these players should begin the season in starting roles.
This gives Ward a little time to develop and find a role with the team. He has a slender 5'11", 193-pound frame that could be considered smallish in nature for an NFL safety. We'll have to see how he'll be able to contribute early in his career.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports put it best in this tweet:
Jimmie Ward might not seem like a fit in SF right away, but the 49ers know how to draft good football players and make it work.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 9, 2014
The Carlos Hyde selection in the second round came with great value, although once again, it didn't fill an immediate team need. San Francisco is very deep at the running back position; however, Hyde can be viewed as a nice future replacement for Frank Gore.
Marcus Martin may have been San Francisco's best selection. The former USC center was an absolute steal in the third round. He's a big-bodied center with an aggressive mean streak in the middle of the line. Martin fits in perfectly in the tough NFC West.
With so many draft picks this year, it was slightly disappointing to see the team's lack of aggressiveness to move around more frequently and obtain earlier selections to grab prospects capable of making a more immediate impact.
As it stands right now, the 2014 NFL draft wasn't exactly a home run for the Eagles.
The first odd decision the Eagles made was trading back from No. 22 to No. 26 overall with plenty of need-filling prospects on the board.
Wide receiver, safety and cornerback were all glaring needs for this team entering the draft. There may not have been an available wide receiver the team liked at the time, and that's fine. However, with safeties Deone Bucannon and Jimmie Ward and cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard, Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby available, it's difficult to conceive why the team opted to trade.
At No. 26, the Eagles decided to go with a linebacker. Marcus Smith appears to fit the Eagles defense nicely and will probably be the long-term replacement for the aging Trent Cole.
Smith may have been a bit of a reach for the Eagles. After all, many analysts—including CBSSports.com—didn't have any higher than a second-round grade on the Louisville product.
Chip Kelly has heard some backlash from the Smith selection; however, he made a great point, according to a tweet from Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com:
Chip on Marcus Smith backlash: "Let him step on the field and take a snap first before anybody makes a decision."— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) May 10, 2014
Jordan Matthews was a great selection for Philadelphia in the second round. Wide receiver was a big need for this team, and Matthews should fit nicely.
At 6'3" and 212 pounds, Matthews is big and strong enough to make contested catches over the middle and has reliable hands that should make him a favorable target for Nick Foles.
Jaylen Watkins was another nice selection by Philadelphia. He is a versatile defensive back who can play outside cornerback, in the slot and at safety. He will need time to develop, but he should find a spot on special teams initially.
The Titans had a strong draft haul in terms of addressing team needs and getting value from their picks.
Selecting Taylor Lewan at No. 11 overall may have baffled some; however, this was a brilliant move. Lewan is a mauler in the trenches and is possibly the most athletic offensive tackle in this year's draft. There was great value with this pick.
Even though the Titans brought Michael Oher in as a right tackle, he has been entirely inconsistent and Lewan adds insurance. Also, left tackle Michael Roos is getting up there in age, which only makes the Lewan pick seem more sensible.
The Titans are already receiving plenty of praise for the Lewan selection. Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com tweeted a comment from an NFL general manager:
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean tweeted a reaction he saw from Mark Dominik on ESPN:
Just turned on ESPN and former Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik said the #Titans got the steal of the draft in tackle Taylor Lewan— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) May 9, 2014
Running back became an immediate team need once the Titans released Chris Johnson. Adding Bishop Sankey in the second round was a perfect example of getting value from a pick and addressing a need at the same time.
Sankey is only 5'9" and 209 pounds, but he is a bruiser between the tackle. He has the ability to do it all, getting tough yards on the inside and bouncing to the outside. He has the durability to handle a heavy load and will be a great complement to Shonn Greene.
Quarterback remains a questionable position for this team. Jake Locker has been inconsistent, and his durability remains a concern. The Titans got some great value selecting the strong-armed Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round; however, he's recovering from an ACL injury and may not be able to compete for a starting role this season.
Mettenberger does have plenty of upside, and he could make this sixth-round selection pay off in a big way.