Team-by-Team NFL Rookie Class Report Cards Heading into Preseason Week 3
Even though we are only about two weeks into the NFL preseason, it’s never too early to throw out some rookie report cards.
Using a combination of game tape and stats, each team’s rookie progress is assessed and graded for your viewing pleasure. What each player has done so far with their new teams and the grades given when entering the league were also considered.
Naturally, your favorite team is not going to be graded high enough, but the good news is that your team’s rookies still have time to impress throughout the season.
So let’s get to it!
SAMMY WATKINS (WR, CLEMSON, 1ST ROUND, 4TH OVERALL)
CYRUS KOUANDJIO (OT, ALABAMA, 2ND ROUND, 44TH OVERALL)
PRESTON BROWN (LB, LOUISVILLE, 3RD ROUND, 73RD OVERALL)
ROSS COCKRELL (CB, DUKE, 4TH ROUND, 109TH OVERALL)
CYRIL RICHARDSON (OG, BAYLOR, 5TH ROUND, 153RD OVERALL)
RANDELL JOHNSON (LB, FLORIDA ATLANTIC, 7TH ROUND, 221ST OVERALL)
SEANTREL HENDERSON (OT, MIAMI, 7TH ROUND, 237TH OVERALL)
The Buffalo Bills had a fantastic draft. It’s not every year that you get a potential star in the seventh round. So far, Seantrel Henderson could be that guy. He is currently starting while left tackle Cordy Glenn is out with an undisclosed illness.
Receiver Sammy Watkins could end up being one of the best players in the draft, justifying the hefty price the Bills paid to get him. He and quarterback EJ Manuel need to get on the same page, but that progress may be stalled while Watkins recovers from a rib injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Linebacker Preston Brown is going to see some playing time this year with Kiko Alonso out for the season with a torn ACL.
Cyril Richardson (6'5", 343 lbs) is a mountain of a man, and he too can end up starting for the Bills at some point.
Ross Cockrell is an underrated cornerback with elite instincts and the ball skills to rack up a ton of interceptions.
JA'WUAN JAMES (OT, TENNESSEE, 1ST ROUND, 19TH OVERALL)
JARVIS LANDRY (WR, LSU, 2ND ROUND, 63RD OVERALL)
BILLY TURNER (OT, NORTH DAKOTA STATE, 3RD ROUND, 67TH OVERALL)
WALT AIKENS (CB, LIBERTY, 4TH ROUND, 125TH OVERALL)
ARTHUR LYNCH (TE, GEORGIA, 5TH ROUND, 155TH OVERALL)
JORDAN TRIPP (LB, MONTANA, 5TH ROUND, 171ST OVERALL)
MATT HAZEL (WR, COASTAL CAROLINA, 6TH ROUND, 190TH OVERALL)
TERRENCE FEDE (DE, MARIST, 7TH ROUND, 234TH OVERALL)
The focus of the Miami Dolphins in the 2014 draft was pretty clear—get better up front on offense. Adding Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner to the roster was a combination of a solid upgrade and a great value.
The offensive weapons are still lacking in South Beach, and Jarvis Landry seems to be more of a depth guy than a starting NFL receiver.
Many experts were impressed with linebacker Jordan Tripp out of Montana, but I remain unconvinced.
New England Patriots
DOMINIQUE EASLEY (DT, FLORIDA, 1ST ROUND, 29TH OVERALL)
JIMMY GAROPPOLO (QB, EASTERN ILLINOIS, 2ND ROUND, 62ND OVERALL)
BRYAN STORK (C, FLORIDA STATE, 4TH ROUND, 105TH OVERALL)
JAMES WHITE (RB, WISCONSIN, 4TH ROUND, 130TH OVERALL)
CAMERON FLEMING (OT, STANFORD, 4TH ROUND, 140TH OVERALL)
JON HALAPIO (OG, FLORIDA, 6TH ROUND, 179TH OVERALL)
ZACH MOORE (DE, CONCORDIA, 6TH ROUND, 198TH OVERALL)
JEMEA THOMAS (CB, GEORGIA TECH, 6TH ROUND, 206TH OVERALL)
JEREMY GALLON (WR, MICHIGAN, 7TH ROUND, 244TH OVERALL)
The New England Patriots drafted running back James White in the fourth round, but after two preseason games, he has not been the most impressive rookie ball-carrier on the team.
That award goes to the surprising undrafted kid out of Oklahoma, Roy Finch (5'7", 180 lbs), who carried seven times for 37 yards and a touchdown in New England's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also had two receptions for another 34 yards, leading the team in receiving for Week 2.
On defense, it's not clear when we will get to see him play, but Dominique Easley is the best interior tackle I've ever watched on tape. He slipped to the No. 29 pick because he has a history of non-contact knee injuries that scared teams away. If he can stay healthy, he could be one of the best players of the 2014 draft class.
According to Christopher Price of WEEI.com, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been impressive for the second straight week. He is certainly making a strong case to take over the No. 2 spot from Ryan Mallett. The Patriots invested a second-round pick in Garoppolo, so you have to believe they hope he can be the QB of the future.
New York Jets
CALVIN PRYOR (S, LOUISVILLE, 1ST ROUND, 18TH OVERALL)
JACE AMARO (TE, TEXAS TECH, 2ND ROUND, 49TH OVERALL)
DEXTER MCDOUGLE (CB, MARYLAND, 3RD ROUND, 80TH OVERALL)
JALEN SAUNDERS (WR, OKLAHOMA, 4TH ROUND, 104TH OVERALL)
SHAQ EVANS (WR, UCLA, 4TH ROUND, 115TH OVERALL)
DAKOTA DOZIER (OT, FURMAN, 4TH ROUND, 137TH OVERALL)
JEREMIAH GEORGE (LB, IOWA STATE, 5TH ROUND, 154TH OVERALL)
BRANDON DIXON (CB, NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE, 6TH ROUND, 195TH OVERALL)
QUINCY ENUNWA (WR, NEBRASKA, 6TH ROUND, 209TH OVERALL)
IK ENEMKPALI (DE, LOUISIANA TECH, 6TH ROUND, 210TH OVERALL)
TAJH BOYD (QB, CLEMSON, 6TH ROUND, 213TH OVERALL)
TREVOR REILLY (OLB, UTAH, 7TH ROUND, 233RD OVERALL)
There are some positive things coming out of the New York Jets' 2014 rookie class. Safety Calvin Pryor has made enough of an impression both in college and this summer to fall on NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah's short list of top candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Tight end Jace Amaro has made some decent catches and should be a frequent target for whoever the quarterback ends up being.
QB Tajh Boyd is looking to prove he can make the team’s active roster, but so far he has only shown that he isn’t ready for the big stage.
ZACK MARTIN (OL, NOTRE DAME, 1ST ROUND, 16TH OVERALL)
DEMARCUS LAWRENCE (DE, BOISE STATE, 2ND ROUND, 34TH OVERALL)
ANTHONY HITCHENS (LB, IOWA, 4TH ROUND, 119TH OVERALL)
DEVIN STREET (WR, PITTSBURGH, 5TH ROUND, 146TH OVERALL)
BEN GARDNER (DE, STANFORD, 7TH ROUND, 231ST OVERALL)
WILL SMITH (LB, TEXAS TECH, 7TH ROUND, 238TH OVERALL)
AHMAD DIXON (SS, BAYLOR, 7TH ROUND, 248TH OVERALL)
KEN BISHOP (DT, NORTHERN ILLINOIS, 7TH ROUND, 251ST OVERALL)
TERRANCE MITCHELL (CB, OREGON, 7TH ROUND, 254TH OVERALL)
The Cowboys opted to draft a versatile offensive lineman with the 16th overall pick over Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. So far, Zack Martin has been decent, but certainly not dominant.
The last thing this organization needed was more injuries on defense, but that’s exactly what it got with its second-round defensive end, Demarcus Lawrence, who suffered a fractured right ankle during training camp. Lawrence should be back around October or November, according to Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News, but even with him, this defense is one of the more questionable groups in the country.
Don’t be surprised if wide receiver Devin Street turns out to be a star on the rise. This kid showed a lot of potential at Pittsburgh and has the size (6'3", 200 lbs) and skills to make a real difference.
New York Giants
ODELL BECKHAM JR. (WR, LSU, 1ST ROUND, 12TH OVERALL)
WESTON RICHBURG (C, COLORADO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 43RD OVERALL)
JAY BROMLEY (DT, SYRACUSE, 3RD ROUND, 74TH OVERALL)
ANDRE WILLIAMS (RB, BOSTON COLLEGE, 4TH ROUND, 113TH OVERALL)
NAT BERHE (SS, SAN DIEGO STATE, 5TH ROUND, 152ND OVERALL)
DEVON KENNARD (LB, USC, 5TH ROUND, 174TH OVERALL)
BENNETT JACKSON (CB, NOTRE DAME, 6TH ROUND, 187TH OVERALL)
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has Eli Manning and New York Giants fans excited for the future, but nagging hamstring injuries have kept him sidelined most of the summer.
One of the most impressive rookies on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL has been late-round USC linebacker Devon Kennard. He seems to have already earned a starting gig and is making all sorts of plays.
Undrafted defensive end Jordan Stanton has also made the most of his opportunity to make the team, recording two sacks in the preseason along with two forced fumbles so far.
The Giants will probably need the power running of Andre Williams a lot this year. He is a strong, physical running back who needs to learn how to catch and hold on to the ball, but his running ability is something to feel confident about.
MARCUS SMITH (LB, LOUISVILLE, 1ST ROUND, 26TH OVERALL)
JORDAN MATTHEWS (WR, VANDERBILT, 2ND ROUND, 42ND OVERALL)
JOSH HUFF (WR, OREGON, 3RD ROUND, 86TH OVERALL)
JAYLEN WATKINS (CB, FLORIDA, 4TH ROUND, 101ST OVERALL)
TAYLOR HART (DE, OREGON, 5TH ROUND, 141ST OVERALL)
ED REYNOLDS (FS, STANFORD, 5TH ROUND, 162ND OVERALL)
BEAU ALLEN (DT, WISCONSIN, 7TH ROUND, 224TH OVERALL)
Jordan Matthews is quickly establishing himself as the most exciting receiving option in Philadelphia. After one of the most talked-about camps in the NFL, the rookie out of Vanderbilt dominated in his second preseason game, catching nine balls for 104 yards against the Patriots.
However, he had a couple of drops during the Week 1 preseason contest against the Chicago Bears, an issue that plagued him throughout his college career, too.
As far as the team’s first-round pick, Marcus Smith, I really liked this selection during the draft, but it’s starting to look like Smith may need some time to adjust to the speed of the game before he can be the force on the edge the Eagles desperately need.
Outside of Smith and Matthews, it’s a mystery which rookie, if any, will become a major contributor. Up to this point, the Eagles' last two draft picks, Ed Reynolds and Beau Allen, have been impressive.
Keep an eye on undrafted free agent Frances Mays. He is a 6'9", 291-pound defensive lineman who has made some really nice stops in his first two games.
TRENT MURPHY (LB, STANFORD, 2ND ROUND, 47TH OVERALL)
MORGAN MOSES (OT, VIRGINIA, 3RD ROUND, 66TH OVERALL)
SPENCER LONG (OG, NEBRASKA, 3RD ROUND, 78TH OVERALL)
BASHAUD BREELAND (CB, CLEMSON, 4TH ROUND, 102ND OVERALL)
RYAN GRANT (WR, TULANE, 5TH ROUND, 142ND OVERALL)
LACHE SEASTRUNK (RB, BAYLOR, 6TH ROUND, 186TH OVERALL)
TED BOLSER (TE, INDIANA, 7TH ROUND, 217TH OVERALL)
ZACH HOCKER (K, ARKANSAS, 7TH ROUND, 228TH OVERALL)
Considering Washington lacked a first-round pick, it still managed to have one of my favorite drafts. Trent Murphy is already proving to be one of the better defenders in this draft, and his versatility should be invaluable for years to come.
Of all the offensive tackles available in this draft, Morgan Moses had the most impressive tape grade from my observations. With that said, Moses has certainly had his rookie struggles. When looking long term, I have a ton of confidence that he will be a great pro ballplayer.
Running back Lache Seastrunk is another player who could end up being a nice contributor to the offense, but he has yet to earn much praise after two games of preseason action.
C.J. MOSLEY (MLB, ALABAMA, 1ST ROUND, 17TH OVERALL)
TIMMY JERNIGAN (DT, FLORIDA STATE, 2ND ROUND, 48TH OVERALL)
TERRENCE BROOKS (FS, FLORIDA STATE, 3RD ROUND, 79TH OVERALL)
CROCKETT GILLMORE (TE, COLORADO STATE, 3RD ROUND, 99TH OVERALL)
BRENT URBAN (DT, VIRGINIA, 4TH ROUND, 134TH OVERALL)
LORENZO TALIAFERRO (RB, COASTAL CAROLINA, 4TH ROUND, 138TH OVERALL)
JOHN URSCHEL (OG, PENN STATE, 5TH ROUND, 175TH OVERALL)
KEITH WENNING (QB, BALL STATE, 6TH ROUND, 194TH OVERALL)
MIKE CAMPANARO (WR, WAKE FOREST, 7TH ROUND, 218TH OVERALL)
Throughout the summer, there have been a number of positives being reported regarding top pick C.J. Mosley. He could end up filling the hole left behind from Ray Lewis’ retirement in 2012. Against the Cowboys, Mosley led the team in solo tackles with four.
Timmy Jernigan has also done a decent job and moves really well for a big guy.
One of the bigger surprises so far has been the impressive play of Lorenzo Taliaferro out of Virginia. His 59 rushing yards on 16 carries with a touchdown against Dallas could be either a good sign for the rookie or a just a reflection of a severely weakened Cowboys defense.
Safety Terrence Brooks is a name to keep an eye on. He has starting potential written all over him.
DARQUEZE DENNARD (CB, MICHIGAN STATE, 1ST ROUND, 24TH OVERALL)
JEREMY HILL (RB, LSU, 2ND ROUND, 55TH OVERALL)
WILL CLARKE (DE, WEST VIRGINIA, 3RD ROUND, 88TH OVERALL)
RUSSELL BODINE (C, NORTH CAROLINA, 4TH ROUND, 111TH OVERALL)
AJ MCCARRON (QB, ALABAMA, 5TH ROUND, 164TH OVERALL)
MARQUIS FLOWERS (LB, ARIZONA, 6TH ROUND, 212TH OVERALL)
JAMES WRIGHT (WR, LSU, 7TH ROUND, 239TH OVERALL)
LAVELLE WESTBROOKS (CB, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, 7TH ROUND, 252ND OVERALL)
Running back Jeremy Hill has not had a ton of opportunities to show what he can do, but when given the ball, he tends to look like a guy who can have an immediate impact on this offense. Hill was an impressive back on the field while at LSU, but his checkered past off the field caused his stock to slide into the second round.
As for the team’s top draft pick, Darqueze Dennard, he is currently the lowest-graded defensive back on the Cincinnati Bengals defense two games into the preseason, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Bengals could finally have the talent required to go further into the postseason. How much of that will be the result of this rookie class is yet to be determined.
JUSTIN GILBERT (CB, OKLAHOMA STATE, 1ST ROUND, 8TH OVERALL)
JOHNNY MANZIEL (QB, TEXAS A&M, 1ST ROUND, 22ND OVERALL)
JOEL BITONIO (OT, NEVADA, 2ND ROUND, 35TH OVERALL)
CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY (LB, IOWA, 3RD ROUND, 71ST OVERALL)
TERRANCE WEST (RB, TOWSON, 3RD ROUND, 94TH OVERALL)
PIERRE DESIR (CB, LINDENWOOD, 4TH ROUND, 127TH OVERALL)
Sure, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the Cleveland Browns draft class this year, mainly because of a guy named Johnny Manziel. Manziel has looked good and bad so far this preseason—never more so than against Washington, where he finished 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown—but he still may end up the team’s starting quarterback for Week 1.
Every rookie QB suffers through growing pains, and Manziel has shown flashes of greatness. Keep in mind he is only 21 years old.
Meanwhile Justin Gilbert continues to look the part of a shutdown corner. He has the size (6'0", 202 lbs) and athleticism to match up to the ever-growing wideouts of the NFL.
On Monday Night Football, running back Terrance West had an impressive short-yardage run for a first down that epitomized what this kid is about. He should have a fruitful NFL career.
RYAN SHAZIER (OLB, OHIO STATE, 1ST ROUND, 15TH OVERALL)
STEPHON TUITT (DE, NOTRE DAME, 2ND ROUND, 46TH OVERALL)
DRI ARCHER (RB, KENT STATE, 3RD ROUND, 97TH OVERALL)
MARTAVIS BRYANT (WR, CLEMSON, 4TH ROUND, 118TH OVERALL)
SHAQUILLE RICHARDSON (CB, ARIZONA, 5TH ROUND, 157TH OVERALL)
WESLEY JOHNSON (OT, VANDERBILT, 5TH ROUND, 173RD OVERALL)
JORDAN ZUMWALT (LB, UCLA, 6TH ROUND, 192ND OVERALL)
DANIEL MCCULLERS (DT, TENNESSEE, 6TH ROUND, 215TH OVERALL)
ROB BLANCHFLOWER (TE, MASSACHUSETTS, 7TH ROUND, 230TH OVERALL)
When you get a player who can start immediately for longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, that should tell you he is something special. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt certainly looks the part in a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey and has shown some nice hustle thus far in the preseason. They needed to add D-line help, and Tuitt seems made for this defense. If his maturation continues, he can become a real stud.
Running back Dri Archer may be undersized (5'8", 173), but he is also one of the most explosive players in the draft class. Expect some highlights from this kid, because early indications have shown that offensive coordinator Todd Haley understands exactly how to use him. We're talking 4.26 40-yard dash speed here.
Martavis Bryant is an exceptional athlete and has shown as much after just two exhibition games, putting his 4.4 speed and a wide catch radius on full display when given the opportunity. This team has a proven track record of nailing the mid-round wide receiver picks.
Ryan Shazier, just 21 years old, shook off that knee injury that hampered him for 10 days this summer to make one of the most impressive preseason debuts we’ve seen all summer.
Shazier, covering Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler on a mid-level route over the middle, leaped athletically in the air to intercept Manuel’s pass. He then returned it 27 yards using his 4.4 speed and elite physical tools before being taken down.
Things are looking good for the rookies in Pittsburgh, as the team's highly touted selections have really shined so far.
KYLE FULLER (CB, VIRGINIA TECH, 1ST ROUND, 14TH OVERALL)
EGO FERGUSON (DT, LSU, 2ND ROUND, 51ST OVERALL)
WILL SUTTON (DT, ARIZONA STATE, 3RD ROUND, 82ND OVERALL)
KA'DEEM CAREY (RB, ARIZONA, 4TH ROUND, 117TH OVERALL)
BROCK VEREEN (FS, MINNESOTA, 4TH ROUND, 131ST OVERALL)
DAVID FALES (QB, SAN JOSE STATE, 6TH ROUND, 183RD OVERALL)
PAT O'DONNELL (P, MIAMI, 6TH ROUND, 191ST OVERALL)
CHARLES LENO JR. (OT, BOISE STATE, 7TH ROUND, 246TH OVERALL)
Will Sutton has been active thus far in the preseason and seems to be a constant presence around the ball. His college tape would suggest he has first-round talent, but his performance and workouts during the predraft process left some things to be desired. In many ways, this parallels the career of his former teammate, Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
The Chicago Bears understood they needed to get younger in the secondary, so adding Kyle Fuller was their way of addressing that need. Fuller has shown flashes when healthy.
I didn’t love the Ka’Deem Carey pick in the fourth round, and his performance so far is reflecting that. Carey was a very productive college player, but he lacks the skill set to be a good NFL starter.
Brock Vareen and David Fales are two names to keep an eye on during the next couple of games.
ERIC EBRON (TE, NORTH CAROLINA, 1ST ROUND, 10TH OVERALL)
KYLE VAN NOY (LB, BYU, 2ND ROUND, 40TH OVERALL)
TRAVIS SWANSON (C, ARKANSAS, 3RD ROUND, 76TH OVERALL)
NEVIN LAWSON (CB, UTAH STATE, 4TH ROUND, 133RD OVERALL)
LARRY WEBSTER (DE, BLOOMSBURG, 4TH ROUND, 136TH OVERALL)
CARAUN REID (DT, PRINCETON, 5TH ROUND, 158TH OVERALL)
T.J. JONES (WR, NOTRE DAME, 6TH ROUND, 189TH OVERALL)
NATE FREESE (K, BOSTON COLLEGE, 7TH ROUND, 229TH OVERALL)
The Detroit Lions needed to add more weapons around Calvin Johnson, and that is exactly what they did by taking tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick. Although I didn’t love the pick, I do think he brings a lot to the offense and should take pressure off both quarterback Matthew Stafford and Megatron.
One of my favorite value picks of the 2014 draft class was linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the second round. This kid brings a playmaking element to the defense that was certainly lacking in previous years. So far this preseason, he has looked impressive.
Green Bay Packers
HA HA CLINTON-DIX (S, ALABAMA, 1ST ROUND, 21ST OVERALL)
DAVANTE ADAMS (WR, FRESNO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 53RD OVERALL)
KHYRI THORNTON (DT, SOUTHERN MISS, 3RD ROUND, 85TH OVERALL)
RICHARD RODGERS (TE, CALIFORNIA, 3RD ROUND, 98TH OVERALL)
CARL BRADFORD (LB, ARIZONA STATE, 4TH ROUND, 121ST OVERALL)
COREY LINSLEY (C, OHIO STATE, 5TH ROUND, 161ST OVERALL)
JARED ABBREDERIS (WR, WISCONSIN, 5TH ROUND, 176TH OVERALL)
DEMETRI GOODSON (CB, BAYLOR, 6TH ROUND, 197TH OVERALL)
JEFF JANIS (WR, SAGINAW VALLEY STATE, 7TH ROUND, 236TH OVERALL)
The Green Bay Packers did a nice job giving franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers some new toys to play with after the gradual depletion of veteran receiving options like Greg Jennings in 2013 and James Jones this offseason.
Drafting wide receiver Davante Adams, tight end Richard Rodgers, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and wide receiver Jeff Janis should help provide this team with a ton of youth and depth at the skill positions.
The 6'3", 219-pound Janis in particular is a name to keep an eye on. This kid looked big and fast in the team’s win over the St. Louis Rams. To the surprise of many, Janis is actually one of the most gifted athletes in the NFL. Any chance you get to grab that kind of potential in the seventh round, you jump on it.
Top pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is wearing the same number (No. 21) and playing the same position that Charles Woodson (safety) played when he was in Green Bay. When you squint, there are some exciting resemblances.
ANTHONY BARR (OLB, UCLA, 1ST ROUND, 9TH OVERALL)
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER (QB, LOUISVILLE, 1ST ROUND, 32ND OVERALL)
SCOTT CRICHTON (DE, OREGON STATE, 3RD ROUND, 72ND OVERALL)
JERICK MCKINNON (RB, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, 3RD ROUND, 96TH OVERALL)
DAVID YANKEY (OG, STANFORD, 5TH ROUND, 145TH OVERALL)
ANTONE EXUM (CB, VIRGINIA TECH, 6TH ROUND, 182ND OVERALL)
KENDALL JAMES (CB, MAINE, 6TH ROUND, 184TH OVERALL)
SHAMAR STEPHEN (DT, CONNECTICUT, 7TH ROUND, 220TH OVERALL)
BRANDON WATTS (LB, GEORGIA TECH, 7TH ROUND, 223RD OVERALL)
JABARI PRICE (CB, NORTH CAROLINA, 7TH ROUND, 225TH OVERALL)
Slowly but surely, the Minnesota Vikings are accumulating a lot of young talented players. Bringing in Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater was a stroke of genius. Bridgewater should eventually become a solid starting quarterback at the very least, while Barr is one of the most physically gifted players in this draft.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding third-round running back Jerick McKinnon. He is a quarterback turned running back from Georgia Southern and has so much talent that even Adrian Peterson is impressed, as Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune relayed (via Pro Football Talk).
Another player who has a great chance at being a good NFL starter is offensive guard David Yankey out of Stanford. He is a physical player with a rare talent for moving piles.
JADEVEON CLOWNEY (DE, SOUTH CAROLINA, 1ST ROUND, 1ST OVERALL)
XAVIER SU'A-FILO (OG, UCLA, 2ND ROUND, 33RD OVERALL)
C.J. FIEDOROWICZ (TE, IOWA, 3RD ROUND, 65TH OVERALL)
LOUIS NIX (NT, NOTRE DAME, 3RD ROUND, 83RD OVERALL)
TOM SAVAGE (QB, PITTSBURGH, 4TH ROUND, 135TH OVERALL)
JEOFFREY PAGAN (DE, ALABAMA, 6TH ROUND, 177TH OVERALL)
ALFRED BLUE (RB, LSU, 6TH ROUND, 181ST OVERALL)
JAY PROSCH (FB, AUBURN, 6TH ROUND, 211TH OVERALL)
ANDRE HAL (CB, VANDERBILT, 7TH ROUND, 216TH OVERALL)
LONNIE BALLENTINE (FS, MEMPHIS, 7TH ROUND, 256TH OVERALL)
Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage was second in the rotation and did not look NFL-ready in his second NFL game. He completed four of five passes for only eight yards. However, considering the way Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked so far, Savage may be called upon at some point during his rookie season.
Jadeveon Clowney continues to make incredible highlight plays. On successive downs, he de-cleated Falcons running back Antone Smith for a big loss and then wrapped around a tight corner to grab Matt Ryan for a clean sack that really displayed his quickness. Clowney didn't get many plays, but he seems to have done everything right when on the field.
It appears the Texans should have given more attention to their offensive skill positions in this draft. That may come back to haunt them when the season starts.
JACK MEWHORT (OT, OHIO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 59TH OVERALL)
DONTE MONCRIEF (WR, MISSISSIPPI, 3RD ROUND, 90TH OVERALL)
JONATHAN NEWSOME (DE, BALL STATE, 5TH ROUND, 166TH OVERALL)
ANDREW JACKSON (LB, WESTERN KENTUCKY, 6TH ROUND, 203RD OVERALL)
ULRICK JOHN (OT, GEORGIA STATE, 7TH ROUND, 232ND OVERALL)
The Indianapolis Colts gave up their first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for the rights to acquire running back Trent Richardson last year. That move needs to pay off in 2014—so far, it hasn’t.
The Colts added another weapon with the selection of wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Moncrief is one of the more gifted athletes in this draft, but he is still very raw as a route-runner. His potential with Andrew Luck as his quarterback is intriguing.
The team's lack of draft picks and failure to add an established difference-maker leaves us with a lot of questions regarding this draft class. Either way, the Colts should be one of the best teams in the NFL this year.
BLAKE BORTLES (QB, CENTRAL FLORIDA, 1ST ROUND, 3RD OVERALL)
MARQISE LEE (WR, USC, 2ND ROUND, 39TH OVERALL)
ALLEN ROBINSON (WR, PENN STATE, 2ND ROUND, 61ST OVERALL)
BRANDON LINDER (OG, MIAMI, 3RD ROUND, 93RD OVERALL)
AARON COLVIN (CB, OKLAHOMA, 4TH ROUND, 114TH OVERALL)
TELVIN SMITH (LB, FLORIDA STATE, 5TH ROUND, 144ST OVERALL)
CHRIS SMITH (DE, ARKANSAS, 5TH ROUND, 159TH OVERALL)
LUKE BOWANKO (C, VIRGINIA, 6TH ROUND, 205TH OVERALL)
STORM JOHNSON (RB, CENTRAL FLORIDA, 7TH ROUND, 222ND OVERALL)
The Jacksonville Jaguars executed one of my favorite drafts of the 2014 class. Blake Bortles may not have the polish of some QBs entering the league, but his preseason play has many of his doubters rethinking their stance.
Of all the running backs coming out, Storm Johnson was one of my favorites. I was really impressed by his combination of power and elusiveness, yet he has been quiet thus far after two preseason performances.
Linebacker Telvin Smith looks a lot like the next edition of Tampa Bay's Lavonte David. Both backers are undersized, but the 6'3", 218-pound Smith is actually more physical while David (6'1", 233 lbs) is one of the best players I’ve ever seen at sifting through traffic to make a tackle.
Meanwhile, the two receivers the Jaguars drafted in the second round (Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson) each have the potential to be Pro Bowl-caliber. This team is certainly headed in the right direction and seems just a few years away from serious contention.
TAYLOR LEWAN (OT, MICHIGAN, 1ST ROUND, 11TH OVERALL)
BISHOP SANKEY (RB, WASHINGTON, 2ND ROUND, 54TH OVERALL)
DAQUAN JONES (DT, PENN STATE, 4TH ROUND, 112TH OVERALL)
MARQUESTON HUFF (FS, WYOMING, 4TH ROUND, 122ND OVERALL)
AVERY WILLIAMSON (LB, KENTUCKY, 5TH ROUND, 151ST OVERALL)
ZACH METTENBERGER (QB, LSU, 6TH ROUND, 178TH OVERALL)
Now that the Tennessee Titans have a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, they will probably be looking to move away from Jake Locker at quarterback, although Locker should get a fair shot to prove he can be a franchise QB—something he has obviously failed to do so far.
Zach Mettenberger has been incredibly accurate, considering he is less than one year removed from a horrendous knee injury. He is a prototype QB for Whisenhunt and could end up being the face of the franchise at some point in the future.
Running back Bishop Sankey is the most physically gifted runner in this draft, but his tape was not as impressive. He has actually looked much better than I expected so far.
Taylor Lewan must have been the best player available on the Titans' board, because offensive tackle was not exactly an area of need in the first round. Either way, they acquired an extremely talented athlete in Lewan.
JAKE MATTHEWS (OT, TEXAS A&M, 1ST ROUND, 6TH OVERALL)
RA'SHEDE HAGEMAN (DT, MINNESOTA, 2ND ROUND, 37TH OVERALL)
DEZMEN SOUTHWARD (S, WISCONSIN, 3RD ROUND, 68TH OVERALL)
DEVONTA FREEMAN (RB, FLORIDA STATE, 4TH ROUND, 103RD OVERALL)
PRINCE SHEMBO (OLB, NOTRE DAME, 4TH ROUND, 139TH OVERALL)
RICARDO ALLEN (CB, PURDUE, 5TH ROUND, 147TH OVERALL)
MARQUIS SPRUILL (ILB, SYRACUSE, 5TH ROUND, 168TH OVERALL)
YAWIN SMALLWOOD (OLB, UCONN, 7TH ROUND, 253RD OVERALL)
TYLER STARR (OLB, SOUTH DAKOTA, 7TH ROUND, 255TH OVERALL)
The Atlanta Falcons made an effort this offseason to get tougher up front. This was philosophy was reflected in their sixth overall pick when they snagged offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
From my tape study, the Falcons could have gotten a better offensive lineman much later in the draft, but with Clowney gone, they must not have known what to do outside of going with a huge team need.
Matthews has just been moved from right to left tackle in response to the recent season-ending knee injury of veteran Sam Baker. Baker’s loss could be a major setback for the team’s efforts to improve on the line.
On the defensive side of the ball, tackle Ra’Shede Hageman can look like a stud one minute and a hibernating bear the next. His physical attributes (6'6", 318 lbs) and potential are intriguing, but they rarely yield the level of production or domination you would expect.
Seventh-rounder Tyler Starr could end up being a nice project pick who pays off. The 6'4" linebacker has the length and athleticism to compete in the NFL but will need a hefty dose of polish.
KELVIN BENJAMIN (WR, FLORIDA STATE, 1ST ROUND, 28TH OVERALL)
KONY EALY (DE, MISSOURI, 2ND ROUND, 60TH OVERALL)
TRAI TURNER (OG, LSU, 3RD ROUND, 92ND OVERALL)
TRE BOSTON (SS, NORTH CAROLINA, 4TH ROUND, 128TH OVERALL)
BENE BENWIKERE (CB, SAN JOSE STATE, 5TH ROUND, 148TH OVERALL)
TYLER GAFFNEY (RB, STANFORD, 6TH ROUND, 204TH OVERALL)
The Carolina Panthers could have been more aggressive in free agency for a wide receiver, but drafting Kelvin Benjamin is turning out to be a great idea so far. Benjamin has looked very confident out there and has shown that the big stage is not too big for him.
Defensive end Kony Ealy is quietly having a very good preseason, and his skills will probably be needed once Greg Hardy is handed his suspension.
Remember the name Trai Turner. He is the most impressive guard prospect I scouted this season. His effort and movement ability for a big guy is incredible.
New Orleans Saints
BRANDIN COOKS (WR, OREGON STATE, 1ST ROUND, 20TH OVERALL)
STANLEY JEAN-BAPTISTE (CB, NEBRASKA, 2ND ROUND, 58TH OVERALL)
KHAIRI FORTT (LB, CALIFORNIA, 4TH ROUND, 126TH OVERALL)
VINNIE SUNSERI (SS, ALABAMA, 5TH ROUND, 167TH OVERALL)
RONALD POWELL (LB, FLORIDA, 5TH ROUND, 169TH OVERALL)
TAVON ROOKS (OT, KANSAS STATE, 6TH ROUND, 202ND OVERALL)
First-round pick Brandin Cooks has created a lot of excitement around the New Orleans Saints organization and among fantasy football owners as well. However, while he showed off his speed during practice and in a few preseason plays, his propensity to slow down in traffic and get tackled a bit too easily could hamper his rising stardom.
Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri is playing like a guy who could be an eventual NFL starter despite being an undervalued fifth-round selection. Last week he had some nice tackles to go along with an interception against the Titans.
Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is going to be a very good player for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. His size (6'3", 218 lbs) for a corner is the latest trend in the NFL, but his talent extends far beyond his impressive catch radius.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
MIKE EVANS (WR, TEXAS A&M, 1ST ROUND, 7TH OVERALL)
AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS (TE, WASHINGTON, 2ND ROUND, 38TH OVERALL)
CHARLES SIMS (RB, WEST VIRGINIA, 3RD ROUND, 69TH OVERALL)
KADEEM EDWARDS (OG, TENNESSEE STATE, 5TH ROUND, 143RD OVERALL)
KEVIN PAMPHILE (OT, PURDUE, 5TH ROUND, 149TH OVERALL)
ROBERT HERRON (WR, WYOMING, 6TH ROUND, 185TH OVERALL)
Wide receiver Mike Evans is starting to emerge for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (when they can get some blocking up front). He showed off his physical skills after bouncing off a defender on a 41-yard catch from quarterback Mike Glennon. Unfortunately, Evans fumbled at the 1-yard line before a possible score. His size (6'5", 231 lbs) and athleticism should prove to be a skill set this offense can build around for years to come.
In Week 1 of the preseason, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins struggled to find his footing, but he turned things around the following week. Against Miami, he gave us a more positive preview of things to come. When healthy, he should be a key contributor to an offense trying to find its identity.
Unfortunately, one of the team's most promising rookies, running back Charles Sims, will reportedly miss 12 to 14 weeks after he undergoes ankle surgery, according to Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com.
BRADLEY ROBY (CB, OHIO STATE, 1ST ROUND, 31ST OVERALL)
CODY LATIMER (WR, INDIANA, 2ND ROUND, 56TH OVERALL)
MICHAEL SCHOFIELD (OT, MICHIGAN, 3RD ROUND, 95TH OVERALL)
LAMIN BARROW (OLB, LSU, 5TH ROUND, 156TH OVERALL)
MATT PARADIS (C, BOISE STATE, 6TH ROUND, 207TH OVERALL)
COREY NELSON (OLB, OKLAHOMA, 7TH ROUND, 242ND OVERALL)
Bradley Roby is an enormously gifted corner who had some of the most inconsistent tape of any prospect coming out in this draft. His 2012 tape looks much more effort-filled and instinctual than his 2013 tape, where he barely seems to be trying. So far, the results have been mixed for Roby this preseason, but he should be a nice depth addition to the Denver Broncos secondary at the very least.
Receiver Cody Latimer was one of the better value picks in the second round even though the Broncos did not have much of a need at receiver. He looked great against the San Francisco 49ers while catching and blocking. Not only did he have a touchdown, but he also gave 49ers safety Antoine Bethea a concussion during a clean hit while blocking.
Kansas City Chiefs
DEE FORD (DE, AUBURN, 1ST ROUND, 23RD OVERALL)
PHILLIP GAINES (CB, RICE, 3RD ROUND, 87TH OVERALL)
DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (RB, OREGON, 4TH ROUND, 124TH OVERALL)
AARON MURRAY (QB, GEORGIA, 5TH ROUND, 163RD OVERALL)
ZACH FULTON (OG, TENNESSEE, 6TH ROUND, 193RD OVERALL)
LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF (OT, MCGILL, 6TH ROUND, 200TH OVERALL)
The Kansas City Chiefs decided to make a strength of their team even stronger with their first-round selection of Dee Ford. Ford is making the transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 front, and his explosiveness has impressed early on.
Ford may have a nice get-off, but he lacks the instincts and rush moves to be a dominant player. His ceiling is likely tapped out as a guy who can generate eight to 10 sacks per season.
The Chiefs got lucky with running back De’Anthony Thomas in the fourth round. He is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, as he showed with his impressive kickoff return for a touchdown in the preseason opener.
One unlikely standout I had rated high on my board despite going undrafted was BYU safety Daniel Sorensen. He is looking good this summer and could end up being a starter for Week 1.
KHALIL MACK (OLB, BUFFALO, 1ST ROUND, 5TH OVERALL)
DEREK CARR (QB, FRESNO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 36TH OVERALL)
GABE JACKSON (OG, MISSISSIPPI STATE, 3RD ROUND, 81ST OVERALL)
JUSTIN ELLIS (DT, LOUISIANA TECH, 4TH ROUND, 107TH OVERALL)
KEITH MCGILL (CB, UTAH, 4TH ROUND, 116TH OVERALL)
TRAVIS CARRIE (CB, OHIO, 7TH ROUND, 219TH OVERALL)
SHELBY HARRIS (DE, ILLINOIS STATE, 7TH ROUND, 235TH OVERALL)
JONATHAN DOWLING (SS, WESTERN KENTUCKY, 7TH ROUND, 247TH OVERALL)
The Oakland Raiders used the fifth overall selection on the guy I had listed as the top draft pick on my board. With that said, Mack has failed to dominate in any way thus far and appears to be making a difficult transition from a small-school prospect to the NFL. Mack should be fine eventually, but he certainly looks green at the moment.
Quarterback Derek Carr flashed enough promise to earn some first-team reps in Week 2 of the preseason, but he suffered a concussion and a rib injury in the game against theDetroit Lions. It is uncertain whether Carr will be able to play in the next preseason game, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Diego Chargers
JASON VERRETT (CB, TCU, 1ST ROUND, 25TH OVERALL)
JEREMIAH ATTAOCHU (LB, GEORGIA TECH, 2ND ROUND, 50TH OVERALL)
CHRIS WATT (OG, NOTRE DAME, 3RD ROUND, 89TH OVERALL)
RYAN CARRETHERS (DT, ARKANSAS STATE, 5TH ROUND, 165TH OVERALL)
MARION GRICE (RB, ARIZONA STATE, 6TH ROUND, 201ST OVERALL)
TEVIN REESE (WR, BAYLOR, 7TH ROUND, 240TH OVERALL)
The San Diego Chargers had a fairly quiet offseason this year, electing to get better primarily through players returning from injury and through the draft.
They started off strong when they drafted my top-rated cornerback in the class, Jason Verrett. Head coach Mike McCoy is a fan of his as well. When asked how Verrett has looked in camp, he had this to say, per Ricky Henne of Chargers.com:
Outstanding. But he’s got a long way to go. I mean, he’s made plenty of mistakes too, but there’s a reason why we took him where we picked him. You can see the talent that he has out here, but now it’s a matter of going into a game, playing full speed, making the checks and understanding what certain calls mean on the run. The next time he gets out there it’s going to be full speed. So when you’re playing the game for the first time, it’s a matter of executing the way you do out here on the practice field but when it counts for real. He’s practiced as hard as anyone else.
In addtion, the Chargers may have discovered some late-round playmakers in Marion Grice and Tevin Reese. Grice is known for his vision while Reese possesses world-class speed.
DEONE BUCANNON (S, WASHINGTON STATE, 1ST ROUND, 27TH ROUND)
TROY NIKLAS (TE, NOTRE DAME, 2ND ROUND, 52ND OVERALL)
KAREEM MARTIN (DE, NORTH CAROLINA, 3RD ROUND, 84TH OVERALL)
JOHN BROWN (WR, PITTSBURGH STATE (KS), 3RD ROUND, 91ST OVERALL)
LOGAN THOMAS (QB, VIRGINIA TECH, 4TH ROUND, 120TH OVERALL)
ED STINSON (DE, ALABAMA, 5TH ROUND, 160TH OVERALL)
WALT POWELL (WR, MURRAY STATE, 6TH ROUND, 196TH OVERALL)
The Arizona Cardinals may have surprised their fans when they drafted safety Deone Bucannon with their first pick. However, this guy is one of the most complete safety prospects of this class. Even in a draft with Pryor, Jimmie Ward and Clinton-Dix, Bucannon could end up being the best of bunch. He is a hard-hitting safety who can also make every type of big play available.
Quarterback Logan Thomas was supposed to be a talented project who lacked accuracy and intelligence, yet somehow this guy is looking like one of the best rookie quarterbacks of this class. He could end up being the steal of 2014 if he pans out as a fourth-rounder.
Kareem Martin was a solid pick and will be pivotal now that Darnell Dockett will miss the season with a torn ACL.
St. Louis Rams
GREG ROBINSON (OT, AUBURN, 1ST ROUND, 2ND OVERALL)
AARON DONALD (DT, PITTSBURGH, 1ST ROUND, 13TH OVERALL)
LAMARCUS JOYNER (CB, FLORIDA STATE, 2ND ROUND, 41ST OVERALL)
TRE MASON (RB, AUBURN, 3RD ROUND, 75TH OVERALL)
MO ALEXANDER (SS, UTAH STATE, 4TH ROUND, 110TH OVERALL)
E.J. GAINES (CB, MISSOURI, 6TH ROUND, 188TH OVERALL)
GARRETT GILBERT (QB, SMU, 6TH ROUND, 214TH OVERALL)
MITCHELL VAN DYK (OT, PORTLAND STATE, 7TH ROUND, 226TH OVERALL)
C.B. BRYANT (FS, OHIO STATE, 7TH ROUND, 241ST OVERALL)
MICHAEL SAM (DE, MISSOURI, 7TH ROUND, 249TH OVERALL)
DEMETRIUS RHANEY (C, TENNESSEE STATE, 7TH ROUND, 250TH OVERALL)
Although physical tools are incredibly important to compete at the NFL level, some guys just understand how to play the game with instinct, effort and cunning. St. Louis Rams rookie defensive back Lamarcus Joyner is proving to be one of those guys as he picks up where he left off at Florida State.
This kid has been finding his way to the ball better than most savvy veterans and has even dislodged the ball with his aggressive playing style. This is obviously just the beginning for Joyner.
Michael Sam is worth talking about here specifically for his impressive play on the football field. Initially, I didn’t think the 6'2", 261-pound Sam had the strength, speed or athleticism to make much of an impact at the pro level, but he has proven that he does indeed belong on someone’s 53-man roster.
Top pick Greg Robinson’s physical domination is truly elite, but he has a long way to go with his pass protection. This has showed up several times throughout the preseason, but the most noticeable instance was when Packers defensive end Julius Peppers beat him around the edge.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has flashed his famous ability to penetrate the line, but he is clearly still adjusting to the strength and speed of NFL athletes.
San Francisco 49ers
JIMMIE WARD (S, NORTHERN ILLINOIS, 1ST ROUND, 30TH OVERALL)
CARLOS HYDE (RB, OHIO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 57TH OVERALL)
MARCUS MARTIN (C, USC, 3RD ROUND, 70 OVERALL)
CHRIS BORLAND (LB, WISCONSIN, 3RD ROUND, 77TH OVERALL)
BRANDON THOMAS (OT, CLEMSON, 3RD ROUND, 100TH OVERALL)
BRUCE ELLINGTON (WR, SOUTH CAROLINA, 4TH ROUND, 106TH OVERALL)
DONTAE JOHNSON (CB, NC STATE, 4TH ROUND, 129 OVERALL)
AARON LYNCH (DE, SOUTH FLORIDA, 5TH ROUND, 150TH OVERALL)
KEITH REASER (CB, FLORIDA ATLANTIC, 5TH ROUND, 170TH OVERALL)
KENNETH ACKER (CB, SMU, 6TH ROUND, 180TH OVERALL)
KALEB RAMSEY (DE, BOSTON COLLEGE, 7TH ROUND, 243RD OVERALL)
TREY MILLARD (FB, OKLAHOMA, 7TH ROUND, 245 OVERALL)
First-round pick Jimmie Ward is a versatile playmaker in the secondary who can play either the slot or safety position. This is important because that beleaguered San Francisco 49ers secondary is looking like it can use all the help it can get.
Speaking of secondary help, defensive back Kenneth Acker was one of the few bright spots in their recent debacle against the Broncos.
Carlos Hyde is showing all the signs of being a productive starting running back in this league and should take up a large piece of ball-distribution pie for that offense, helping ease the load off the timeless Frank Gore.
PAUL RICHARDSON (WR, COLORADO, 2ND ROUND, 45TH OVERALL)
JUSTIN BRITT (OT, MISSOURI, 2ND ROUND, 64TH OVERALL)
CASSIUS MARSH (DE, UCLA, 4TH ROUND, 108TH OVERALL)
KEVIN NORWOOD (WR, ALABAMA, 4TH ROUND, 123RD OVERALL)
KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS (OLB, BOSTON COLLEGE, 4TH ROUND, 132ND OVERALL)
JIMMY STATEN (DT, MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE, 5TH ROUND, 172ND OVERALL)
GARRETT SCOTT (OT, MARSHALL, 6TH ROUND, 199TH OVERALL)
ERIC PINKINS (S, SAN DIEGO STATE, 6TH ROUND, 208TH OVERALL)
KIERO SMALL (FB, ARKANSAS, 7TH ROUND, 227TH OVERALL)
The Seattle Seahawks have a knack for finding talent in the later rounds. Rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis could be the next in line to keep this trend going as he continues to show he has the speed and athleticism to fly around and finish around the ball.
Paul Richardson might have been a surprise pick for many in the second round, but his speed and ball skills make him a name to pay attention to. With Richardson and Percy Harvin as targets, quarterback Russell Wilson can benefit from upgraded playmakers on the outside.
A large part of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl success was the result of their savvy drafting ability as an organization. While I’m not sold on most of the players they drafted, they have certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and currently writes for Bleacher Report.
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