2014 NFL Draft

4 Draft-Day Moves That Will Shift Balance of Power in the NFL

Dan TylickiAnalyst IMay 20, 2014

4 Draft-Day Moves That Will Shift Balance of Power in the NFL

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    With the 2014 NFL draft now over, all 32 teams are looking towards finalizing their rosters via training camp, as well as getting prepared for the upcoming season.

    For some teams, however, the players who were drafted in May aren't just to help make the team better this year. There are some difference makers in this class who could change how teams perform over the next decade.

    Which players fit that bill are usually not who you would expect, as even day two moves can tell a story of a team and can shape how the NFL might look a few years from now. Here are four such moves.

4. Bills Drafting Sammy Watkins

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills have some hidden talent on their roster. Kiko Alonso was one of the NFL's best rookies, former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams has been racking up sacks and C.J. Spiller has finally broken out and shown what he can do.

    Even with all this, fourth overall pick Sammy Watkins has the potential to be a special player, and he's the type of guy E.J. Manuel can do a lot with. Manuel showed some promise his rookie year, and with a top-tier wideout, Buffalo all of a sudden looks like a threat.

    The Bills went 6-10 last year. The Dolphins and Jets are not as good as their 8-8 records indicated, and the Patriots have enough holes in their defense to make them beatable.

    The result? If the Bills come together and everything meshes up, the Patriots won't be the automatic division winners much longer, and the Bills may again be there in a year or two.

3. Buccaneers Drafting Offense

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The NFC South is shaping up to be a very tough division. The Panthers hit their stride last season, and the Saints only seem to add more weapons to their offense.

    Realizing this, the Buccaneers spent their draft making their own high-powered offense, adding Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins with their top two picks. All of a sudden this turns the Bucs' offense into a productive, tall bunch.

    If those two players pan out, then new quarterback Josh McCown could make some waves and guide the team to a much better record. That's not what this move is intended to be for, however. Rather, these moves were for Mike Glennon.

    Two years from now, McCown will be gone, and Drew Brees will be 37, which could lead to the Saints falling back. Evans, Doug Martin and everyone else will have that much more experience, and if Glennon is in fact the quarterback of the future, that could be a core of a perennial playoff team that could easily take over any void Brees might leave behind.

2. Jaguars Drafting Blake Bortles

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    Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

    On the surface, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a simple, yet solid draft. They needed a quarterback who could be the future, and they drafted Blake Bortles with their third overall selection, giving him more wide receivers to throw to in the process.

    All of a sudden, the Jaguars have turned into a capable offensive unit if Bortles works out and he develops a connection with several of the wide receivers.

    Not only that, but should he succeed, that gives the Jaguars a top two quarterback in the division, and since the Texans and Titans are scrambling to find a quarterback of the future, that turns the Jaguars from a laughingstock into a potential playoff team almost overnight.

    Yes, a new quarterback does not magically fix all the holes the Jaguars have, but it puts them in a much better shape to become a contender relatively quickly than most people realize.

1. Patriots Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    A day two quarterback selection tops this list? As crazy as that may look, the more I think about this move the more I think it tells a great deal about the Patriots.

    Tom Brady will be 37 when the 2014 season starts, and while he is guaranteed through the 2017 season, there's no guarantee he will still be elite at that time. More importantly, they now have potential trade bait in Ryan Mallett, and Garoppolo could go that route in a year or two as well.

    What makes me place this move first on the list is how early it happened. The fact that they went quarterback in round two despite needing a lot of help on defense tells me that they know the era of Tom Brady winning Super Bowls (which he hasn't done in a long time) is done.

    Perhaps the Patriots are trying to keep the team afloat when Brady decides to retire, not wanting to see a 2-14 season like the Colts went through when Peyton Manning missed a year.

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