2014 NFL Draft Grades – 3 years later

It has now been 3 years since the 2014 NFL draft occurred. Because of this, I will go back and grade each pick in the 1st round. I will also incorporate my 2014 grades/analysis for each selection. It will be interesting to compare my previous thoughts to how these players have turned out.

  1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE

2017 Grade/Analysis: A-

Clowney was off to a slow start due to injuries, but had a good season in 2016, including 6 sacks. If he continues to improve, this could easily be an A, but an A- is good for right now.

2014 Grade/Analysis: A

Clowney is the top player in the draft and Texans couldn’t pass up with Clowney-Watt on the outside.

 

  1. Rams: Greg Robinson, OL

2017 Grade/Analysis: C-

Wow, I was wrong about this. Robinson was supposed to be a good player, but had trouble transitioning to the NFL. This been one of the worst picks in recent years.

2014 Grade/Analysis: A+

Greg Robinson will be a top lineman in near years and Rams have solidified their OL. Now they need a legit QB.

 

  1. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB

2017 Grade/Analysis: C+

I don’t think I need to change this grade. Bortles had a good start to his career, but had a terrible 2016 season. He is still young and can improve, so I won’t give them an F right now, but it very well could be that grade next year.

2014 Grade/Analysis: C+.

Maybe too early? Bortles may be the top QB in the draft, but they could have gotten him later. Jags need more picks!

 

  1. Bills (t): Sammy Watkins, WR

2017 Grade/Analysis: B-

I also won’t be changing this grade. Watkins started his career with stellar seasons, but was hurt in 2016. He’s a good player, but hasn’t had a good quarterback to get him the ball. It would be hard to improve this grade, considering Buffalo gave up so many picks to move up and get Watkins, so a B- is fine.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B-

Can’t argue Watkins’ talent, but the Bills traded TWO first round picks. Maybe it will be worth it.

 

  1. Raiders: Khalil Mack: OLB

2017 Grade/Analysis: A++

Rarely will we give out A++ grades, but Khalil Mack is every bit of deserving. I nailed this back in 2014. I’ll simply repeat my thoughts from 2014 to describe the 2016 NFL DPOY: Mack is the best of the best. He had no reason to be available at #5. Great move by the Raiders. Maybe their first round busts end here?

2014 Grade/Analysis:

A+ In my opinion, Mack is the best of the best. He had no reason to be available at #5. Great move by the Raiders. Maybe their first round busts end here?

 

  1. Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT

2017 Grade/Analysis: B+

Jake Matthews has been a solid player during his career thus far. He isn’t the best offensive lineman in the league, but he definitely is not the worst. I think a B+ is a good grade due to his skills and the desperate need the Falcons have at the position.

2014 Grade/Analysis: A

Falcons wanted Matthews and luckily he fell to #6. They also didn’t have to trade picks to get him.

 

  1. Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR

2017 Grade/Analysis: A

Mike Evans is simply a monster. With three consecutive 1000 yard seasons, he has been a stud since he was drafted. The is definitely one of the best selections in this draft.

2014 Grade/Analysis: A

Mike Evans is  legit #1 receiver. Mike Williams and Mike Evans will be tough to guard. Now, who’s throwing them the ball?

 

  1. Browns (t): Justin Gilbert, CB

2017 Grade: D-

Justin Gilbert has had a rough start to his career. He was so bad, the Steelers traded him for a 6th round pick. He is currently a free agent and his career is likely over.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B+

Didn’t really understand this pick. Gilbert is great, but they had more needs. Gilbert and Haden will be scary though.

 

  1. Vikings (t): Anthony Barr, OLB

2017 Grade/Analysis: B+

Barr was one of the best linebackers in 2015, but played very poorly in 2016. He somehow was invited to the Pro Bowl, but I don’t know how. If he can return to his level of play before, this grade could be moved up to the A range.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B

Still questioning why Viking fans hate this pick. Barr dominated at college and isn’t even fully developed as a linebacker. He has A LOT of potential.

 

  1. Lions: Eric Ebron, TE

2017 Grade/Analysis: C

Ebron has not lived up to the potential people expected when he was drafted out of North Carolina. He has had only 7 career touchdowns and dropped a lot of passes. He has been a big disappointment thus far.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B+

Ebron is the real deal tight end. CJ81 and Ebron will be tough for defenses. Lions should have drafted a DB because the Packers are still in their division.

 

  1. Titans: Taylor Lewan, OL

2017 Grade/Analysis: A

Lewan is one of the best tackles in the NFL. He continues to dominate week in and week out. This wasn’t the biggest need for Tennessee in 2014, but that gamble has very well paid off.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B

The Titans have a very good O-line before this pick. Lewan is good, but the Titans need to replace Alterraun Verner. Should have gotten Dennard!

 

  1. Giants: Odell Beckham, WR

2017 Grade/Analysis: A+

I don’t think anyone expected OBJ to become one of the best receivers so early in his career. This would easily be an A++ if Beckham wasn’t such a head case. Although that’s the case, the Giants are not complaining about his talent.

2014 Grade/Analysis: B+

Hopefully, Beckham can stop Manning from throwing interceptions. The Giants needed a tackle and should have traded up for Lewan!

 

  1. Rams: Aaron Donald, DL

2017 Grade/Analysis: A++

Aaron Donald has been arguably the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL for the past couple seasons. There was question about this pick in 2014, but there is not a doubt that the Rams made the correct choice.

2014 Grade: A

 

  1. Bears: Kyle Fuller, CB

2017 Grade/Analysis: C+

Fuller had a good rookie campaign, but has not been the same player since. He has also been injured almost every season.

2014 Grade: B-

 

  1. Steelers: Ryan Shazier, LB

2017 Grade/Analysis: A-

Ryan Shazier has been a very solid inside linebacker for Pittsburgh. This was a need for Pittsburgh back in 2014, so this was definitely a very good selection.

2014 Grade: B+

 

  1. Cowboys: Zack Martin, OL

2017 Grade/Analysis: A+

Zack Martin is arguably the best guard in the NFL. He has simply been dominant since his arrival in Dallas.

2014 Grade: B

 

  1. Ravens: C.J. Mosely, MLB

2017 Grade/Analysis: A

Mosley is a two time Pro Bowl selection and is one of the best inside linebackers in all of the NFL.

2014 Grade: A-

  1. Jets: Calvin Pryor, S

2017 Grade/Analysis: C+

Calvin Pryor, like other players in this draft, had a strong rookie season, but has not panned out since. He has not lived up to the hype people expected of him coming out of Louisville.

2014 Grade: B+

 

  1. Dolphins: Ja’Wuan James, OT

2017 Grade/Analysis: B-

James was a surprise pick back in 2014, but has played better than I initially thought. He is not the best tackle in the NFL, but has been an average player for the Dolphins.

2014 Grade: D+

 

  1. Saints (t): Brandin Cooks, WR

2017 Grade/Analysis: A-

Cooks definitely benefits from playing with Drew Brees, but is one of the best deep threats in the NFL. He has blazing speed, helping him score 8 touchdowns in 2016.

2014 Grade: B+

 

  1. Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S

2017 Grade/Analysis: A-

I thought this was an absolute steal in 2014, and it has worked out very well for the Packers. Clinton-Dix had 5 interceptions in 2016, making him one of the top safeties in the NFL.

2014 Grade: A+

 

  1. Browns (t): Johnny Manziel, QB

2017 Grade/Analysis: F

I don’t know even know where to begin with this pick… I had no idea what I was thinking…

2014 Grade: A-

 

  1. Chiefs: Dee Ford, DE

2017 Grade/Analysis: A-

Dee Ford is expected to take over Tamba Hali’s spot opposite of Justin Houston. He hit double digit sacks in 2016, so he is definitely making strides to take over the position. This was a very solid pick by the Chiefs.

2014 Grade: B+

 

  1. Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB

2017 Grade/Analysis: C

I definitely swung and missed on this grade. Dennard has not lived up to the potential he had coming out of Michigan State. With only one career interception, Dennard has not made a significant impact in the NFL.

2014 Grade: A+

 

  1. Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB

2017 Grade/Analysis: B+

Jason Verrett has been a very good player for the Chargers, when he is on the field. This would definitely be an A grade if Verrett could stay healthy.

2014 Grade: B+

 

  1. Eagles (t): Marcus Smith, DE

2017 Grade/Analysis: B-

The Eagles reached for Marcus Smith in 2014, and it has not paid off. He has not made much of an impact for the Eagles defense throughout his career.

2014 Grade: C+

 

  1. Cardinals: Deone Bucannon, S

2017 Grade/Analysis: B+

Bucannon has been an interesting player for the Cardinals. Playing as a hybrid safety/linebacker, he really fits their scheme well. In terms of the Cardinals, this was a good choice, picking a player that can affect the defense in multiple ways.

2014 Grade: B-

 

  1. Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR

2017 Grade/Analysis: B

Benjamin had a great rookie season, missed his entire sophomore campaign, and had a solid 2016 season. I think he could develop into a very good receiver, but for now, this is a solid B grade.

2014 Grade: C

 

  1. Patriots: Dominique Easley, DL

2017 Grade/Analysis: D

As for the Patriots, this was a bad selection. Easley was cut by New England, but had a solid year playing for the Rams. It’s not often the Patriots make a mistake was drafting, but this was one of their worst picks.

2014 Grade: B

 

  1. 49ers: Jimmie Ward, S

2017 Grade/Analysis: C+

Ward is another player in this draft that has suffered a lot of injuries. While on the field, Ward has not been that great of a player. For this reason, the 49ers receive a C+.

2014 Grade: B+.

 

  1. Broncos: Bradley Roby, CB

2017 Grade/Analysis: B

Roby had a fantastic start to his career, but took a step back in 2016. It’s understandable, as he plays a nickel corner, one of the more challenging positions on defense. If Roby gets back to his level of play he had in 2015, this grade would definitely be improved.

2014 Grade: A

 

  1. Vikings (t): Teddy Bridgewater, QB

2017 Grade/Analysis: B

This was one of the harder players to grade in this draft. If Bridgewater did not get hurt before the 2016 season, he could have had a good season, making this an easy A. Instead, Bridgewater missed the entire season, and possibly 2017. For this reason, I think a B is an appropriate grade.

2014 Grade: A-

 

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