Utilizing our unique, objective approach to player projections and development, PredictionMachine.com presents its 2014 NFL Draft content, including a Seven Round Mock Draft, Position-by-Position Reports, Statistical Breakdowns and Future Projections for all prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft. New this year is the NFL Draft Machine for customizable mock drafts and comprehensive draft evaluation. All NFL Draft Content is FREE from PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire and John Ewing as well as NFL Draft Expert Matt Richner.
Despite a 10-6 record last year the Cardinals failed to make the playoffs. With a young defensive secondary already in place, they have added another valuable piece to their unit with the selection of Deone Bucannon (S, Washington State). Bucannon was the second ranked saftey on my board, at 6'1” and 211 pounds, he has the size and speed to match up with most tight ends in the NFL. He showed dramatic improvement in his coverage skills last season, recording six interceptions in 2013. Paired up with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals will be one of the best ball hawking defenses in the NFL for the next few seasons. Second round selection Troy Niklas (TE, Notre Dame) is the classic inline tight end who can block and is a solid pass catcher that will fit in nicely in Head Coach Bruce Arians' offense. Niklas lined up as an in-line blocker on 75 percent of his snaps last season, he won't be afraid to get in the trenches and throw his weight around. Third round selection Kareem Martin (DE, UNC) could be one of the steals of the entire draft, a prototypical defensive end Martin has the measurables and production to be an instant impact as a pass rusher in the NFL. At 6'6” and 272 pounds, he is big enough to anchor the edge and play against the run. Martin had an average of 1.82 impact plays per game throughout his career. While Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech) has all the measurables that teams look for in a franchise quarterback, unfortunately his production in college suggest that he won't be any better than a marginal backup quarterback in the NFL. The Cardinals placed too much value using a fourth round selection on Thomas, while still having their pick of the litter with Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and David Fales left on the board at that time.
The talk leading up to the draft for the Falcons was they were going to leapfrog up to the first overall spot to select Jadeveon Clowney. While holding their ground, the Falcons decided against that and wound up with the number one ranked tackle in Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M). Matthews is ready to step in and protect Matt Ryan's blind side from day one and will be an instant impact performer for them for a long time. Second round selection Ra'Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota) is a development type prospect, he has the measurables and size that are hard to find, but his production was limited in college. With top tier pass rushers Kyle Van Noy and Trent Murphy still on the board, the Falcons could have gotten better value with either one of them over Hageman. Dez Southward (S, Wisconsin) and Ricardo Allen (CB, Purdue) should provide some quality depth to a young defensive secondary. Allen has shown flashes of being a lockdown corner. If he can continue with his development, he might be a key nickel corner this upcoming season. The seventh round selections of Yawin Smallwood (ILB, Connecticut) and Tyler Starr (OLB, South Dakota) could end up producing two starters for the Falcons defense in a couple of seasons. Smallwood is a long, lanky defender who was one of the better pass coverage linebackers in the draft, he had the fourth most pass deflections of all the draft eligible inside linebackers.
For some teams the selection of draft picks mirror the best possible scenario, where selecting the best player available also happens to be at a position of need. First round selection C.J. Mosley (ILB, Alabama) fills that criteria. A pure tackling machine, he lead all linebackers in this year's draft class with 446.5 career tackles. In 676 snaps last season, he only had three missed or broken tackles. Look for Mosley to team up with last year's second round pick, Arthur Brown, to form on of the league's top young linebacking cores in the NFL. Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State), is a run stuffing monster who utilizes his speed and quickness to get in the backfield. He should prove to be a disruptive force that will allow the young linebackers behind him the opportunities to fly around the field and make some plays. Third round selection Crockett Gillmore (TE, Colorado State) was one of the sleepers I had going into the draft. At 6'6 and 260 pounds, he should be an instant target for Joe Flacco in the red zone and on third down. Gilmore is still a raw prospect, but with time and some player development the Ravens could have found a future Pro Bowl tight end. An older defensive line got an infusion of talent and hopefully production with the fourth round selection of Brent Urban (DT, Virginia). At 6'7”, he has the length and size to play defensive end in the 3-4 and should be able to clog up the passing lanes and disrupt a quarterback's vision and timing. John Urschel (OG, Penn State), a versatile lineman who can play at guard or center and provide some quality depth along the offensive line, was my seventh rated guard in this year's draft class. Yet, the Ravens were able to pick him up in the fifth round.
They paid a hefty price tag giving up a first and a fourth rounder next season in addition to their first round pick from this draft to move up and select Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson). While Watkins was the number one ranked receiver on my board, the value given up to get him was too much in my opinion. With Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and EJ Manual, the Bills are building a solid young offensive nucleus. They covet speed and opponents better be on their heels because the Bills have some burners at the wide receiver position. Second round selection Cyrus Kouandijo (OT, Alabama) fits a position of need at the right tackle spot. While there are concerns about his knees, he showed the consistent ability to shut down some of the nation's top pass rushers while in college. Two picks that I really liked for this draft class was the fourth round selection of Ross Cockrell (CB, Duke) and fifth round selection of Cyril Richardson (OG, Baylor). Cockwell, a four year starter, was the fifth rated defensive back on my board this year with the frame and production to be an accomplished starter in this league for a long time. Richardson just might be one of the steals of the entire draft. A big powerful run mauler, he will challenge for a starting spot right away. The selection of Seantrel Henderson (OT, Miami) was a wasted selection. While he has the measurables, his production was limited, giving up a high rate of sacks and he also failed a drug test at the combine.
Last year the Panthers dominated the draft, selecting the two top defensive tackles in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. This year, they took a big risk with their first round selection of Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State). While he possesses the frame and measurables, he had one of the highest drop rates of any wide receiver in this year's draft class. He is still a raw prospect who I didn't think warranted a first round selection. Hopefully he can develop into a reliable target for Cam Newton. With the power in the middle of the defensive line, Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri) brings the speed to the outside. A great value pick and player who should be a solid situational pass rusher during his first season. Trai Turner (OG, LSU) and Tre Boston (S, North Carolina) were two solid selections. Both players should compete for starting spots at some point this next year. It wouldn't be a Carolina draft without the selection of a running back. Tyler Gaffney (RB, Stanford) will most likely have to sit for the next year barring any injuries up front, and he has experience playing in a West Coast offense in college.
An older defense that is in desperate need of some youth and athleticism, the Bears focused on that side of the ball with their first three picks of the draft. Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech) was the tenth ranked defensive back in this year's draft class. Look for Fuller to play in the nickel defense his first season. With another reach in the second round, the Bears took Ego Ferguson (DT, LSU), a one dimensional run stuffer. The Bears had the worst rush defense in the NFL and for Bears' fans sake, hopefully Ferguson can make an improvement in this area. The Bears picks were not all bad. The third round selection of Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State) should provide some immediate impact as an interior pass rusher. If he can maintain a solid weight, he measured out as one of the fastest snap to QB hit times in college football two seasons ago. Ka'Deem Carey (RB, Arizona) is a workhorse running back who should slide into the number two running back position right behind Matt Forte. A two headed monster of Forte and Carey could develop into one of the league's most dynamic rushing attacks for the next couple of years. Finally, the selection of David Fales (QB, San Jose State) is ideal. Fales is a player who can sit and develop under Jay Cutler. Fales was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football the last two seasons with a quick release and uncanny field vision. He could be the quarterback of the future for the Bears.
Remember when the Bengals used to be the team that always made terrible draft picks and were perpetually laughed at. Well that time is now long gone. They have showed a tremendous ability to draft quality players and find talented, proven productive players in the later rounds of the draft. The selection of Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State) gives them a solid core of cornerbacks and if former first rounder Dre Kirkpatrick can't become the elite player everyone hoped for, Dennard is more than capable of becoming a top tier cornerback in the NFL. In rounds four through six, the Bengals were able to find some talented players who will provide depth at some key positions on their roster. Russell Bodine (OC, North Carolina) is a versatile lineman who can play center or slide outside to guard, and I expect him to take over the starting center position in a couple of years from now. Fifth rounder AJ McCarron (QB, Alabama) is the type of prospect who can sit, learn and develop into a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. While the Bengals might be happy with Andy Dalton, they could develop McCarron and then trade him in a few years for a handful of draft picks. Lastly, sixth round selection Marquis Flowers (OLB, Arizona) is the type of tackling machine who should see immediate playing time on special teams and provide depth at the linebacker position.
In some ways every time I think the Browns take a step forward, they turn around and take two steps back. First off, the trade with the Buffalo Bills to move down five spots and pick up the Bills first and fourth rounder for next year was a brilliant move. GM Ray Farmer should almost get arrested for basically stealing two extra picks from the Bills. The eighth overall selection of Justin Gilbert gives the Browns a solid core of young corners. Moving up in the first round to take Johnny Manziel was a reach. While nothing is official regarding the news of Josh Gordon's season long suspension, along with an injury to Nate Burleson, this means the Browns possible starting wide receivers for next season could be Andrew Hawkins and Greg Little. Manziel will need some additional weapons and it will take a long time for them to build a roster that can excel with Manziel at the helm. With two first round picks next year, both of which will most likely be top-10 picks, look for the Browns to target wide receivers in next year's draft. Two mid round selections who could end up being steals in the draft are Terrance West (RB, Towson) and Pierre Desir (CB, Lindenwood). At 6'1” and 198 pounds, Desir was one of the top performers at the NFL Combine amongst defensive backs. Physically, he compares to Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib. With his sheer size and athletic ability, he can match up with just about anyone.
While everyone was glued to the TV sets to see if Jerry Jones would add Johnny Manziel to the circus that is Dallas, he decided to take the smart approach and went for the quality starting right tackle in Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame). Martin can play the right tackle position or slide inside to one of the guard spots. The Cowboys needed to make an upgrade along their offensive line and having Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith gives them two young bookend tackles for the foreseeable future. Demarcus Lawrence (OLB, Boise State) was a tremendous pickup with their second round selection. During his tenure at Boise State he had 71 impact plays, giving him an average of 3.09 impact plays per game, the highest amongst all defensive ends in this year's draft class. One player to keep an eye on is fifth rounder Devin Street (WR, Pittsburgh), at 6'2” and 190 pounds he should be a deep threat in the Cowboys offense.
As the 2013-14 season wore on, the Broncos defensive secondary was decimated by injuries. This offseason they signed Aqib Talib away from New England and TJ Ward away from Cleveland, and with their first round pick they selected Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State). Roby is the tough, physical press corner that is perfectly suited to play in the Broncos defense. With speed rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, having a press corner will make quarterbacks hold onto the ball for the split second longer and allow his teammates the opportunity to apply pressure or pick up a sack. With a stable receiving core, the addition of Cody Latimer should provide some depth. A reliable pass catcher, Latimer will need to work on his route running. He might not make a splash in year one but he should develop into a reliable target for Peyton Manning. The best pick in terms of value and need is Michael Schofield (OT, Michigan). In some ways I thought he outplayed his teammate, first round pick Taylor Lewan. Lamin Barrow (OLB, LSU) will be a fantastic special teams player and could be a key contributor on defense in sub packages.
Leading up to the draft, in my mock draft I thought the Lions would get the best value in taking Brandin Cooks. He could play in the slot, a position they have been trying to fill the past few seasons with little success. The one area that I didn't think they needed to take a player at, especially in the first round, was at tight end. So with the first round selection who do they take? A tight end, Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina). While Ebron has the measurables, his production and efficiency ratings were not at the level of other top tier NFL tight ends. He led all the tight ends with a drop rate of 12 percent. They could have traded down, acquired more picks and focused their attention on a defensive secondary that is one of the worst in the NFL. Second round selection Kyle Van Noy (OLB, BYU) was one of the top 35 ranked players on my board. He brings versatility, pass rushing, and can play the run, a three down player who can do it all. Playing behind Suh and Fairley means he should have the freedom to roam the field and make some impact plays. Two players of great later round value are Larry Webster (DE, Bloomsburg) and Caraun Reid (DT, Princeton). In his first season playing college football, Webster set the school record with 13.5 sacks. He is still a raw player with only two seasons of experience, but the athletic ability and production are what you like to see out of a late round sleeper. In a couple of years, he could develop into a rotational pass rusher in the NFL. Reid was the second ranked interior pass rusher in this year's draft class from the defensive tackle position. Reid will have to work on his technique; in a number of cases he relies on his sheer athletic ability to beat his opponent. He will also have to answer questions about his ability to play against top competition. With time though, he should develop into a complete player capable of dominating in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers:
A team that sticks to their draft board more than any other organization, the Packers have a set criteria for what they want and look for throughout the draft process. While I wasn't that high on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS, Alabama), he does fill a pressing need. A ball hawk, he has the size to play either in the box or deep and take away opponents downfield throws. He might not make the immediate impact that Packers fans are hoping for but he could develop into a consistent, reliable starter in the NFL. The selection of Carl Bradford (OLB, Arizona State), should be an instant upgrade as a pass rusher. As a situational pass rusher, the likes of Matthews, Perry, Jones and Bradford could be the fastest and most lethal pass rushing linebacking core in the NFL. I think the Packers got one of the steals of the draft with the selection of Bradford and their fifth round selection of Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin). A homegrown talent, Abbrederis was ranked as the number four outside wide receiver on my board. A former walk-on, all Abbrederis has done is improve multiple aspects of his game each and every season. A skilled route-runner and playmaker, Abbrederis averaged a touchdown once every 8.8 receptions. Look for him to be a consistent target on third downs and an eventual replacement for Jordy Nelson.
The drafted started with the Texans having the first overall selection and they at least did the smart move and went defense, selecting Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina). While I had Khalil Mack ranked higher, Clowney is an incredible talent who paired with Watt should give the Texans one of the top five ranked defenses next year. The best part of the Texans draft is they didn't reach for a quarterback, they decided to build a solid football team and most likely next year they will target a quarterback. Second round pick Xavier Su'a-Filo is a solid player who will anchor the interior of the Texans offensive line for a long time. Third round selection C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa) has incredible size and was one of the better blocking tight ends in the draft. Louis Nix III (DT, Notre Dame) was another third round selection and cost the Texans their fourth and five round picks. Some had thought Nix III could be a late first round pick. Issues with his weight and off the field concerns caused him to drop. With a defense that has pass rushers on both ends, Nix will be asked to man the middle and be the run stuffing clog that he was in college. I wasn't a fan of Tom Savage going into the draft, he was the 20th ranked QB on my board. A fourth round pick of a player of his caliber is just too much.
Having given up a first round pick to acquire running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns, the Colts had to sit back and just watch the first round. They finished the draft having only five picks and while they might not have the quantity of some teams, they were still able to find some value with their picks. Second round selection Jack Mewhort (OT, Ohio State) can play either tackle spot or slide inside if needed. Some scouts believe he is best suited to play guard but he was one of the best tackles in college football last season. Donte Moncrieff (WR, Mississippi) is a big bodied target who could have used another season of college football to develop. If he is given time and patience, in a few years he could be a player that challenges for a starting spot. Andrew Jackson (ILB, Western Kentucky) will be an immediate difference maker on special teams. He is a tackling machine, while he might be undersized he has all the tools needed to be an impact performer in the NFL.
A team that has needed a starting quarterback since Mark Brunell left the team over a decade ago. The Jaguars pulled the trigger on another first round quarterback selecting Blake Bortles (QB, UCF). If you're a follower of the site, you probably know by now I'm not a fan of Bortles. In fact, his advanced metrics suggest that he is most similar to Blaine Gabbert. Now we can see if he can do what Gabbert could not, and that is turn the franchise around. The organization wisely started acquiring talented wide receivers for Bortles, picking Marqise Lee (WR, USC) and Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State) in the second round. It will take a few seasons for everyone to come together but they have the start of a young nucleus to work with. When healthy, fourth rounder Aaron Colvin (CB, Oklahoma) should be one of the better nickel corners in the NFL. He sustained an ACL injury in the Senior Bowl and will most likely miss the upcoming season. If he is able to regain his old form, the Jags might have gotten a second round type of talent in the fourth round. Don't sleep on the additions of Chris Smith (DE, Arkansas) and Storm Johnson (RB, UCF), both players showed flashes of being able to dominate in college.
Kansas City Chiefs:
A team that had needs at offensive tackle, guard, quarterback, and safety finished the draft only picking one of those needs. Using a first rounder on Dee Ford (DE, Auburn) was questionable at best. In three seasons as a starter, Ford amassed 54 career impact plays, an average of 1.04 impact plays per game. His average impact plays per game ranks him #23 amongst draft eligible defensive ends. He is strictly an undersized pass rush specialist, who is also a liability against the run. The addition of De'Anthony Thomas (RB/WR, Oregon) should provide an immediate impact on special teams. Andy Reid loves to call screen plays, look for Thomas to be the recipient of some of these calls. I absolutely love the pick of Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia). He should be given at least a year or two, depending on Alex Smith's contract issues, to develop and learn the offense. He is a mobile quarterback who is perfectly suited for the West Coast offense.
: By far one of the most head scratching moments during the first round of the NFL Draft was the Dolphins selections of Ja'Wuan James (OT, Tennessee). James is a solid right tackle, and a player who for all intent and purposes should be a decent NFL player. The issue I have with the selection is value, you can find right tackles in the NFL Draft later on, and you certainly don't need to waste a first rounder on one. They came back in the second round and took Jarvis Landry, a solid route running wide receiver who lacks the size and speed that is typically associated with the slot receiver. One of their two solid selections were Arthur Lynch (TE, Georgia) and Jordie Tripp (OLB, Montana). Lynch is a skilled blocking tight end who offers size and is a reliable pass catching target. Tripp is the classic dominant small school prospect that teams should take a flier on in the later rounds. He showed he couldn't be stopped in college. It will take some time, but he shouldn't have much of an issue adjusting to the speed of the NFL.
: We move from the Dolphins who had one of the worst drafts in the NFL to the Vikings who had one of the best drafts. Instead of reaching for a quarterback with their first selection, they went the smart route and took one of the best pass rushers in the draft, Anthony Barr (OLB, ULCA). A tandem of Barr, Everson Griffen, and Sharrif Floyd should prove to be a dynamic pass rush for the Vikings for the foreseeable future. Making a smart move to jump back into the first round and not costing them a ton of picks, the Vikings were able to snag the top quarterback on a lot of teams' board in Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville). With at least a season to learn from Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, to go along with a strong running game, a solid offensive line and young playmakers on the outside, the Vikings are doing a great job at building themselves up for the future. The third round selection of Scott Crichton (DE, Oregon State), who was ranked as one of the top five pass rushers in the draft, was a steal. He compares favorably both statistically and for scouting purposes to former Saints defensive end Will Smith. Fifth rounder David Yankey (OG, Stanford), who I had as the second ranked offensive guard in this draft class, comes from playing in a pro-style offense and a man blocking scheme. Don't be surprised if he jumps into a starting spot during some point this season.
New England Patriots:
Finishing the draft with a total of 9 picks, the Patriots showed once again that they are not afraid to move up and down the draft board. Selecting Dominique Easley (DT, Florida) is an intriguing pick, he sustained an ACL injury early last season and the hope is he can return by training camp. Easley could have been a top ten pick if he was healthy. The fourth round seemed to be the round where the Patriots hit the mark with Bryan Stork (C, Florida State), James White, (RB, Wisconsin) and Cameron Fleming (OT, Stanford). Stork and Fleming look to be fundamentally sound players who could see some playing time this season. White was one of my draft sleepers and the fifth ranked tailback in this year's draft. He will need to work on his pass protection, but he has the speed and quickness to be a big play threat. With a running back by committee approach, don't be surprised if he starts getting more carries than his teammates as the season progress.
New Orleans Saints:
With just six picks in this year's draft, the Saints made sure to target a few areas of weakness early on. The home run pick of the draft was the selection of Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State) in the first round. Cooks was the best slot wide receiver in the draft and should be an instant impact player for the Saints. Paired with all the other weapons the Saints have on offense, Cooks should see a lot of one-on-one situations and some space to catch the ball and run. Second round pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste is just another tool that Rob Ryan can use on defense. A big bodied defensive back the Saints have been missing, he should see a lot of action this year when goes head-to-head with Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Vinnie Sunseri (S, Alabama) and Ronald Powell (OLB, Florida) look to be players that can contribute right away on special teams.
New York Giants:
The last couple of years the Giants have gotten away from the bread and butter that brought them their Super Bowl championships, which was defensive and having a solid rushing attack on offense. I would have thought the Giants front office would have learned their lesson when they took former LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle in the second round in 2012. They used their first round pick on another LSU wide receiver in Odell Beckham (WR, LSU). Beckham was an above average college wide receiver. With numerous holes along the offensive and defensive lines, the Giants would have been better suited to trade down, pick up some extra picks and focus on areas of more pressing need. Weston Richburg (OC, Colorado State), the top rated center on my board this year, was a player I thought could have gone in the late first round. The Giants were able to find great value at a position of need. Fourth rounder Andre Williams (RB, Boston College) is the type of player that Head Coach Tom Coughlin has traditionally had success with. Similar to a Brandon Jacobs, though a bit smaller, Williams is a physical, inside runner who can grind out the tough yards and shows little issues with ball security.
New York Jets:
With a total of 12 picks in this year's draft, the Jets took six defensive players and six offensive players. In the first round they selected Calvin Pryor. A solid tackler, he only missed three tackles last season. While he plays like a strong safety, long-term he is better suited for the free safety position. With one of the better picks in the draft, the Jets got a steal in selecting Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech). He can be split out wide or line up on the line. With some impressive combine measurables and solid production in college, he will be a matchup nightmare for any defender. For a young quarterback like Geno Smith, having a reliable, pass catching tight end will be a nice security blanket. Fourth rounders Jalen Saunders (WR, Oklahoma) and Shaq Evans (WR, UCLA) should bring an instant upgrade to the slot and outside wide receiver positions. Both players also are skilled returners and look to make an instant impact in that department. Lastly, Trevor Reilly (OLB, Utah) is a top quality pass rusher that should push for some playing time. He just might be one of the better picks of the Jets draft.
The long standing tradition of drafting speed is officially gone from the Raiders. In its place is drafting quality, fundamentally sound football players. The selection of Khalil Mack was one of the top picks of the entire. A player of his caliber should not drop to the fifth overall spot, but he did and the Raiders will reap the rewards. Mack is the best pass rusher and defensive playmaker in the draft. Although I liked the Raiders draft, I'm not a fan of the selection of Derek Carr. For his career, Carr had the lowest third-down completion rate of any of the draft-eligible quarterbacks. He will have to be a long term project at quarterback, but taking him in the second shouldn't stop them from taking a quarterback next year. Third rounder Gabe Jackson (G, Mississippi State) is big, physical run mauler that they Raiders needed to shore up the interior of their offensive line. The rest of the Raiders draft was dominated on the defensive side of the ball, with three cornerbacks and two defensive lineman selected. The Raiders are quietly building a solid young nucleus of young defenders, focusing a lot of attention the past two drafts on defensive lineman and secondary players.
There is no denying that the Eagles and Head Coach Chip Kelly have a system and specific profile they like for each position group. In my opinion, first rounder Marcus Smith (DE, Louisville) was a bit of a reach pick. I had him rated a mid-second rounder and he is versatile enough to play in a 3-4 or 4-3. A hybrid type player with a full arsenal of pass rushing moves, he has three years of starting experience and will be viewed as Trent Cole's eventual replacement. One of the best picks in the entire draft was the selection of Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt), the SEC career leader in receptions and receiving yards. He will shine in Chip Kelly's offense. Former Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff (WR, Oregon) already has a firm understanding of the offense, look for him to make an immediate impact as a slot wide receiver this season. Two fifth round selections Taylor Hart (DE, Oregon) and Ed Reynolds (S, Stanford) provide great depth and value to special teams. Hart has the size and skill set to play defensive end in the 3-4. Reynolds, who is fully recovered from an ACL injury suffered two years ago, is a smart, instinctive player, who with some development could be the long term answer at saftey the Eagles have been missing since they let Brian Dawkins leave town.
Just when you think the Steelers have lost their draft touch they go and completely redeem themselves. They had one of the best draft classes this year picking players of great value and need. Starting with Ryan Shazier (OLB, Ohio State), paired up with last year's first round pick Jarvis Jones, the Steelers now have two young, athletic outside linebackers that can rush the quarterback. Second round pick Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame) is a classic 3-4 defensive end who can hold his ground, take on multiple blockers and allow his outside speed rushers to get after the quarterback. Staying on the good pick train, the Steelers took dynamic tailback Dri Archer (RB, Kent State). At 5'8 and 180 pounds, Archer is a lighting quick scatback who has good hands and can be a dangerous returner on special teams. He averaged over 7 yards per carry for his career. Wesley Johnson (OT, Vanderbilt) showed he could shut down the SEC top pass rushers, he was able to lock down Jadeveon Clowney this past season. Johnson is most likely suited to play the right tackle spot for the Steelers.
San Diego Chargers:
The past two drafts have been successful for the Chargers since new General Manager Tom Telesco took over the reins. The Chargers needed to add depth in their secondary and Jason Verrett will be an instant upgrade, especially in their defensive sub packages. He has the strength and quickness to cover the slot, and going up against Denver, look for Verrett to be matched up against Wes Welker. Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB, Georgia Tech) will most likely spend the next season playing behind Dwight Freeney and Larry English. A skilled pass rusher in his own right, Attaochu is still learning the game, but his athletic ability is off the charts and with some time and development he could turn out to be a cornerstone of a young defense. A hidden gem in this year's draft class is seventh rounder Tevin Reese (WR, Baylor). The last couple of years a number of Baylor wide receivers have done remarkably well in the NFL. Reese is a speedster who is a deep threat and someone they can utilize opposite of the big possession wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd.
San Francisco 49ers:
With a stacked roster that had few holes to fill, the 49ers finished with 12 draft selections. Jimmie Ward (S, Northern Illinois) is the quintessential ball-hawking safety that most NFL teams are looking for. He has the speed and quickness to play the center field position and take away the deep ball. He shows good hands and doesn't drop many of the balls that he is able to get his hands on. Teaming up Ward with last year's first round selection, Eric Reid, should give the 49ers a talented saftey tandem that could rival division rivals Seattle Seahawks in a few years. Bruising tailback Carlos Hyde (RB, Ohio State) is the type of physical, inside runner that the 49ers have been looking for the past couple of seasons. Hyde should be able to spell starter Frank Gore for a couple of carries, in the hopes of keeping Gore healthy and fresh for a deep playoff push. Chris Borland (ILB, Wisconsin) will see some starter minutes to start the season until NoVorro Bowman returns from his injury which he sustained in last year's playoff loss. Making a big push to give quarterback Colin Kaepernick some more weapons, the 49ers traded for wide receiver Stevie Johnson and selected Bruce Ellington (WR, South Carolina). Ellington should slide into the slot position. As a former tailback, Ellington brings another dimension to an offense; he can slide into the backfield and become a pass protector if needed. Despite only two seasons of experience as a wide receiver, Ellington led the Gamecocks in receptions both years. One of the few picks I didn't agree with is Aaron Lynch (DE, South Florida). With only two season of experience, he had limited production in both of them. He was never dominant, and his measurables were average at best. I believe they could have found better value and allowed Lynch to drop a few more rounds before taking a flier on him.
With a stacked roster just like the 49ers, the Seahawks had few positions of need. They were able to pick up an extra pick by moving out of the first round. With their first pick of the draft they took the elusive and athletic Paul Richardson (WR, Colorado). Needing a replacement for the loss of Golden Tate, Richardson is a deep threat and a skilled returner. Fourth rounder Kevin Norwood is the bigger wideout that Pete Carroll first targeted when taking over the Seattle Seahawks. One player to keep an eye on is Kevin Pierre-Louis (OLB, Boston College), he seemed to tackle just about anything that moved last season. The Hawks lost some integral players on special teams and Pierre-Louis can fill one of the open spots they have and provide some quality depth to a unit that is in desperate need of it.
St. Louis Rams:
Along with the Minnesota Vikings, the Rams draft might be my favorite. While I would have taken Jake Matthews, the selection of Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) will hopefully shore up their offensive line and give the Rams two bookend tackles. How Aaron Donald slid to the 13 overall selection will be a question that might never be answered. He was the most dominant interior pass rusher that has come out since Ndamukong Suh. For the Rams to get him and pair him up with Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, and Chris Long, will result in one of the most dominant pass rushing units in the NFL. The outside speed that Tre Mason (RB, Auburn) will offer should result in a solid one-two punch combined with Zac Stacy's inside running abilities. A solid cover corner that can play man-to-man and come up and press, E.J. Gaines (Missouri) is a nice pickup late in the sixth round.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Raiders liked speed for the past three decades, now maybe the Bucs are focusing mostly on size, specifically height. First rounder Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) is 6'5” and 230 pound deep downfield threat with size and speed, over a quarter of Evan's receptions came fifteen yards or farther past the line of scrimmage last season. Once he gets ahold of the ball he is very difficult to take down, averaging 1.3 broken tackles per reception last season. They followed that up with the selection of the top ranked tight end on my board Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington), who stands 6'5” and 260 pounds. The most sure-handed tight end in the draft, ASJ had the lowest drop rate at just over five percent this past season. These two playmakers give the Bucs a handful of skill position players on offense all over six feet who are a matchup nightmare for almost every defense in the NFL. The entire draft of the Bucs was geared towards offense, not a single defensive player was selected. Fifth rounder Kadeem Edwards (OG, Tennessee State) could possibly challenge Patrick Omameh as a starter later on this season.
The Titans are another team just like the Miami Dolphins and the K.C. Chiefs with an interesting first round selection. A position of strength, the Titans went and selected offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan) when they already had two players at both tackle spots that are above average. The needed an upgrade a guard, center, inside linebacker, and quarterback. Time will tell if this pick was useful, but in the short term they would have been better suited trading down, acquiring a few more picks and possibly selecting Teddy Bridgewater. With no starter in ink at running back, Bishop Sankey (RB, Washington) is an excellent candidate to take over. Sankey is an elusive runner who will excel in a zone blocking scheme. Fourth rounder DaQuan Jones (DT, Penn State) is a big, athletic nose tackle who can occupy blocks and shut down opponents rushing attacks. Players like that don't come around very often. He won't have the stats, but those around him will really appreciate all the little things he can do to help a defense.
After trading away this year's first round pick (along with last year's first round pick) to move up the draft board a few years ago to select Robert Griffin III, the Redskins had to sit and wait until the second round. Though they had to wait, they got spoiled when Trent Murphy (OLB, Stanford) fell into their lap. Murphy's versatility is his most important asset. He can play with his hand down on the ground or be a stand-up pass rusher. A three-down lineman, he has good quickness and speed to cover running backs out of the backfield and good depth in his drops to play in zone coverage. Morgan Moses (OT, Virginia) is another top end talent that slid to them in the third round. Look for Moses to slide over to the right tackle spot since Trent Williams has locked down the left tackle position. Sixth rounder Lache Seastrunk (RB, Baylor) is a third down back, who has speed and quickness. While he won't be the workhorse back like Alfred Morris, he will be a nice offensive weapon that Jay Gruden can use similar to the way he used Giovani Bernard.