2014 NFL Draft Grades: Report Cards for All 32 GMs
Grading the NFL draft is a tricky proposition. After all, how can we possibly know how the prospects from the 2014 NFL draft will pan out just hours after they were picked?
Still, there is plenty to be said about the selections.
How did the general managers and head coaches fare in the draft? Even if we cannot get a true sense of value until these players have seen the field, there is plenty to grade based on scouting and draft movement.
Each general manager—and sometimes head coach—gets an overall grade for the moves and picks he made, with the first three rounds heavily weighted here.
Arizona Cardinals: Steve Keim, B
The Cardinals play in the vaunted NFC West, but general manager Steve Keim has his team ready to strike. A good draft could lead to a serious challenge in the division from Arizona.
He recently told Arizona Sports 98.7 that he takes a "best player available" approach to the draft. Of course, that's all relative—the Colts aren't going to take a quarterback in the first round now, are they?
The Cardinals needed help along the offensive line and at linebacker, and quarterback Carson Palmer isn't getting any younger at 34.
Naturally, they took a safety in the first round: Deone Bucannon out of Washington State.
Keim did well to nab a third-round pick from the New Orleans Saints in a move down from No. 20. It did cost him a shot at Ha Ha Clinton-Dix—arguably the draft's best safety—who was available when Arizona's original turn came up.
The second round saw Keim draft monster tight end Troy Niklas out of Notre Dame, a 6'6", 270-pounder.
Overall, the draft was a good one for the Cardinals. Perhaps taking project quarterback Logan Thomas was a bit of a reach, given that Zach Mettenberger and AJ McCarron were still on the board.
Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff, B+
A rough 2013 season had the Falcons picking in the Top 10. They headed into the draft with some clear needs, particularly in the trenches. General manager Thomas Dimitroff had his work cut out for him.
They were a mess last season, particularly along the offensive line. They got some help at No. 6.
Offensive tackle Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M had long been a popular projection for the Falcons, and Dimitroff delivered. It wasn't a sexy pick, but it was the one he had to make.
As players with upside go, defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman out of Minnesota is one of the best in the draft.
The athletic lineman oozes potential, but he was a bit too raw for the first round. The Falcons were able to snag him early in Round 2, gaining a nice rotational player who can develop into a devastating pass-rusher in the middle.
Atlanta added some great value later in the draft in running back Devonta Freeman and linebacker Yawin Smallwood. All in all, it was a solid draft for Dimitroff and the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens: Ozzie Newsome, A-
The Wizard of Oz shines this time of year.
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the best at this whole draft business, as unpredictable as it can be.
He lit up another draft-day cigar with his first pick: linebacker C.J. Mosley out of Alabama.
Even in decline, Ray Lewis was an important part of that defense. His absence was felt last season, even with Daryl Smith playing well in his stead.
Smith is no spring chicken at 32, and Baltimore fell into an excellent pick in Mosley to replace him.
He has some durability concerns coming out of college—though he immediately declared himself 100 percent healthy, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson—but he is the best inside linebacker in the draft.
Newsome followed that up by letting talented defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan fall to him in the second round out of Florida State.
The big defensive lineman could be the nose tackle of the future in Baltimore. He should get playing time as a rotational guy right away.
The rest of Newsome's draft wasn't spectacular, but it was solid all around.
Buffalo Bills: Doug Whaley, B
Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley traded down in the 2013 draft and wound up with the first quarterback taken last year, EJ Manuel.
He went in a different direction this year.
The second big surprise of the draft came when the Bills moved up from No. 9 to snag Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4.
It's a solid pick that would have earned a higher grade had it not cost the Bills future first- and fourth-round picks. Was Buffalo really one wide receiver away from contention?
The second round saw Whaley address the right tackle position with Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama, who fell in the draft because of an arthritic knee. The Bills took a quality middle linebacker in Louisville's Preston Brown to understudy behind Brandon Spikes.
Whaley might have gotten one of the steals of the draft by gambling on offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson out of Miami, a first-round talent with an undrafted-free-agent mentality. If he can get his head screwed on straight, Henderson could be better than Kouandjio.
Carolina Panthers: Dave Gettleman, C-
The cap-strapped Carolina Panthers had a lot of work to do in the draft.
General manager Dave Gettleman watched his wide receiver corps get gutted—partly through his own doing after releasing Steve Smith—without being able to do much because of financial constraints.
There were other holes on that roster, too. Unfortunately, he didn't do a fantastic job of filling them.
The Panthers were in dire need of help at wide receiver. The question is whether Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State was the right choice. A 6'5", 240-pound monster of a prospect, he is a frustrating guy to project. His combine performance was a big letdown, which led some to label him a glorified tight end.
Granted, Gettleman lost out on the top receivers in the class. Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were long gone, and Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks followed in short order. Behind that quartet, however, there is a whole lot of uncertainty surrounding the Panthers.
Benjamin is part of that uncertainty.
Offensive tackle was another big need after Jordan Gross retired, and the team entirely ignored the position. Offensive guard Trai Turner was a nice third-round find out of LSU, but overall, this wasn't a particularly palatable draft from Gettleman and the Panthers.
Chicago Bears: Phil Emery, B+
In a somewhat astonishing deviation from the norm, the Bears needed a big defensive overhaul this offseason.
Typically stout on that side of the ball, Chicago fielded one of the worst defenses in the league in 2013. General manager Phil Emery did his best to rectify the situation.
The Bears snagged a quality cornerback in Kyle Fuller at No. 14. He should start right away in the nickel role.
They needed a defensive tackle or two, and Emery got a pair in the second and third rounds in Ego Ferguson out of LSU and Will Sutton out of Arizona State. Ferguson is a fine pick, but why they passed on Louis Nix III twice is a bit perplexing.
Sutton was fantastic in 2012, but a lackluster 2013 put a drag on his draft stock. If he can get back to form, the Bears may have found a suitable replacement for the departed Henry Melton. Nobody would have faulted the Bears if they had taken Sutton in the second and Ferguson in the third.
Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey was a nice replacement for Michael Bush out of the fourth, and San Jose State's David Fales was an excellent project for quarterback guru Marc Trestman out of the sixth round.
Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown, B
It has been an interesting, noisy offseason for the Bengals.
He backed up those words in the draft, at least until the fifth round when the Bengals took Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron.
Some might expect him to challenge Dalton right out of the gate, but it's rare to see a fifth-round pick step up to a young incumbent who is coming off three straight playoff appearances.
McCarron is a nice pick as a backup quarterback with the potential to take over if he develops well in the coming years.
Rewinding to the beginning, Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard was a fine cornerback option out of the first round. He'll shore up an aging and injury-prone secondary.
Taking running back Jeremy Hill out of LSU in the second round was a bit perplexing, given BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard are in the fold.
Cleveland Browns: Ray Farmer, B+
All the offseason tumult subsided for the Cleveland Browns, and Ray Farmer was left sitting in the general manager's seat when the dust settled.
He had plenty of work to do if he was going to turn the Browns from perennial pariah to contender anytime soon. He got off to a hot start in the first round.
The Browns made a great move in trading down, nabbing future first- and fourth-round picks from the Buffalo Bills to move back five spots. Then they pulled a bit of a head-scratcher to move up one spot and take cornerback Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State when it was unlikely the Minnesota Vikings would have selected him.
Of course, the big news—at least out of the first day of the draft—was Farmer's move to nab former Aggie Johnny Manziel, the most electrifying and polarizing quarterback on the board.
The Browns announced season-ticket sales soared after the first round, which is proof positive that some players do sell tickets.
The rest of the draft, however, was no picnic.
Just before the second round started, bombshell news broke that Josh Gordon is facing a yearlong suspension, per T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN.com. Speculation immediately sprung up that Cleveland would take a receiver or two.
Instead, Farmer avoided the position altogether.
Outside of snagging talented, small-school cornerback Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood, the rest of the draft was a disappointment for Farmer and Browns fans.
Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones, C
Being in cap hell is no fun. The Cowboys went through that this offseason.
Forced to let some big-time contributors go, Jerry Jones had plenty of work to do to fill holes on the roster.
He had a chance to set the Twitterverse on fire by taking Johnny Manziel, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. In all honesty—comedic potential aside—why would he when he has $100 million committed to his current quarterback?
The question is whether he made the right pick in taking offensive lineman Zack Martin.
Dallas has a lot of holes on defense, particularly on the defensive line after losing DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. The secondary could use some help as well, as could the wide receiver corps.
Demarcus Lawrence was a fine pick to fill the void left by Ware, but the rest of Jones' draft was unspectacular.
Denver Broncos: John Elway, C+
Broncos general manager John Elway made splash after splash in free agency this past offseason. All that spending masked some big-time losses, however.
For every big-name signing Elway made, he lost a solid contributor. Wide receiver Eric Decker, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, guard Zane Beadles and linebacker Wesley Woodyard all left the fold.
Still, it has been a pretty good offseason for the Broncos. They could have used an offensive guard in the first round more than anything, but cornerback was another position of need.
Despite signing Aqib Talib to replace Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback, Denver needed to add some quality depth at the position. Chris Harris Jr. is a criminally underrated defensive back who will pair nicely with Talib, but there is a big drop-off in talent after that.
Bradley Roby shores up depth at the position in a big way.
Wide receiver Cody Latimer out of Indiana is a tantalizing prospect, but by the time he sees regular playing time, Brock Osweiler will be quarterback.
The rest of the draft was immediately forgettable.
Detroit Lions: Martin Mayhew, B
The Lions were disappointing yet again in 2013, despite having loads of talent on the roster.
Underachieving got head coach Jim Schwartz fired this time around. His replacement, Jim Caldwell, stepped into a good situation that could have been made great with a nice draft.
Did general manager Martin Mayhew do his new head coach any favors?
Tight end wasn't a huge need for the Lions, whose roster includes Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. But how could they resist Eric Ebron out of UNC?
Pettigrew has never lived up to his potential, and Fauria is a red-zone matchup nightmare who is of little use between the 20s.
Ebron gives quarterback Matthew Stafford a bona fide seam threat. With receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate and running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Stafford's arsenal is now full of explosive ordinance.
The Lions moved up in the second round to snag Kyle Van Noy, the versatile linebacker out of BYU. He is an athletic playmaker who should start right away as the "Sam" in Detroit's defensive scheme.
Mayhew gave up a fourth- and seventh-round pick to move up for the talented linebacker, who should slot in as a starter right away.
Green Bay Packers: Ted Thompson, A
Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson's philosophy is to draft and develop players rather than spend big money in free agency. Here is how he did this year.
The Packers needed a safety in a bad way. Fortunately for them, the best one in the draft fell right into their lap.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama became one of the steals of the first round when he fell out of the top 20, and Thompson was glad to oblige.
Losing receiver James Jones in free agency won't hurt one bit with Davante Adams in town. He is a bigger, more talented version of Jones, who fared quite well in the Packers offense in recent years.
If head coach Mike McCarthy can develop Adams quickly, he will be a boon to the offense right away.
It will be interesting to see if California tight end Richard Rodgers can contribute as a rookie—Thompson may have found the long-term replacement for Jermichael Finley if the latter doesn't come back in free agency.
Green Bay needed some help at linebacker, too, and Carl Bradford was an excellent fourth-round find.
Houston Texans: Rick Smith, A-
It was a long journey meandering through the shark-infested waters of draft season to find out what we knew all along: Jadeveon Clowney was the top pick in the draft.
For all the question marks surrounding the defensive end, his talent and athleticism have been undeniable. He is a 6'5", 266-pound, 4.53-second-running freak of nature.
Pairing him with all-world defensive end J.J. Watt was a no-brainer. Opposing offensive coordinators are going to have trouble sleeping trying to game-plan for those two. General manager Rick Smith did the right thing.
Xavier Su'a-Filo was a nice pick in the second round as the best pure guard in the draft, and C.J. Fiedorowicz out of Iowa will be an immediate contributor as a No. 2 tight end.
But the Texans got one of the biggest steals in the draft when they made a move for Notre Dame's Louis Nix III in the third round. He will anchor the middle of a frightening defensive front.
Smith got his quarterback late in the fourth round by selecting hyped prospect Tom Savage out of Pittsburgh. He might not be a Week 1 starter, but waiting that long for a quarterback puts little pressure on the team to start him as a rookie.
Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Grigson, C-
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was hamstrung in the draft thanks to an ill-advised trade during the season. He did a nice job, given what he had, but the trade must factor into his overall grade.
It was a long, anguishing wait for Colts fans that was likely made more difficult by knowing disappointing running back Trent Richardson was the reason for it. Indianapolis didn't pick until the last part of the second round.
Grigson had a shot at USC's Marcus Martin—arguably the best center in the draft—and the Colts have a gaping hole in the middle of the offensive line. They went in a different direction, however, taking Jack Mewhort out of Ohio State to play guard at the next level.
The third round was much kinder to Colts fans, however. While the team may have had other pressing needs, Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief was too good to pass up.
He has an excellent combination of size and speed. Likely drafted as Reggie Wayne's eventual replacement, Moncrief could easily become the No. 3 in Indianapolis come Week 1.
There wasn't much else to see in a lackluster draft for Grigson.
Jacksonville Jaguars: David Caldwell, A
The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Year 2 of the rebuild under David Caldwell and Gus Bradley this offseason with plenty of work to do on the roster. They did work in the draft.
The draft's first surprise came from the Jaguars, who took Blake Bortles out of UCF with the No. 3 overall pick.
He is a hulking quarterback prospect at 6'5" and 232 pounds, at least when compared to diminutive Johnny Manziel and "too skinny" Teddy Bridgewater. Often compared with Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles offered a tantalizing combination of size, athleticism and potential heading into the draft.
Questions about the former Knight's polish persist, but it looks like the Jaguars are content to bring him along slowly.
The Jaguars hit on pick after pick in the draft after Bortles, including receivers Marqise Lee out of USC and Allen Robinson out of Penn State. Caldwell maneuvered his way through the draft well to get his way.
Linebacker Telvin Smith out of Florida State and running back Storm Johnson out of UCF were great value picks later in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs: John Dorsey and Andy Reid, B-
There is no such thing as having too many pass-rushers. The question is whether the Chiefs might have too few offensive linemen.
Dee Ford has been impressive this draft season, starting with a great Senior Bowl showing and putting on an athletic exhibition at Auburn's pro day.
He will be a nice situational pass-rusher who will likely take over for Tamba Hali next year. There is something to be said for avoiding a big loss down the line like that, but this pick didn't help the Chiefs in the short term very much.
By the time general manager John Dorsey picked in the second round, it was obvious he wasn't drafting for need.
Rumors swirled that the Chiefs might be willing to trade Brandon Flowers before the draft, per Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei. Taking Phillip Gaines could be confirmation, though he is likely to be the No. 3 cornerback at best in 2014.
Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas was an excellent choice out of the fourth round to replace Dexter McCluster, particularly as a kickoff returner.
Miami Dolphins: Dennis Hickey, B+
Hoping to put the drama behind them, the Dolphins headed into the 2014 draft with a new general manager in Dennis Hickey.
He took over a roster with some glaring needs, particularly along the offensive line.
They were stuck in the first round, at least if they weren't getting any serious offers to trade out of No. 19.
The top offensive linemen were gone by that point. Hence, Ja'Wuan James was the de facto selection.
He might have been the least sexy pick of the first round and a reach by many accounts. In truth, the Dolphins got a starting-caliber right tackle, which they desperately needed.
They also needed a No. 3 receiver—though it may not have been a top priority—and they got a good one in Jarvis Landry.
The 5'11", 205-pound receiver out of LSU is not a burner, but he is a smooth route-runner with great hands. Mike Mayock called him the "toughest wide receiver in the draft" during NFL Network's coverage, and he was a leader in the locker room at LSU.
By picking offensive lineman Billy Turner out of North Dakota State, the Dolphins completed their offensive line makeover. Turner should slide in and start at offensive guard, perhaps alongside fellow rookie James.
Hickey had a good draft all around, perhaps punctuated by stealing Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp in the fifth.
Minnesota Vikings: Rick Spielman, A
If any general manager is on the hot seat this year, it's Minnesota's Rick Spielman.
A year removed from a surprising playoff berth, the Vikings are once again among the middling teams in the NFL. Stuck in quarterback purgatory yet again, Spielman may have found his phoenix to rise from the ashes in the 2014 draft.
He took athletic pass-rusher Anthony Barr out of UCLA with the ninth pick in the draft after nabbing that extra selection—a fine replacement for the departed Jared Allen.
Barr is a bit inexperienced after only playing outside linebacker for two seasons before going pro. What he did with those two years was phenomenal, though, as he amassed 23.5 sacks in that span.
Spielman was on a roll in the first round. Hours after taking an athletic pass-rusher to replace Allen, the general manager took a bold leap back into the first round to grab arguably the best quarterback in the draft.
Sure, there is a reason why Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater fell all the way to the end of the first round, but many of those reasons are specious—things like weight, knee size or having the face of a franchise.
Nabbing him in this fashion means less pressure to start him right away with Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder in the fold. Spielman was able to pull it off and give up a mere fourth-round pick to do it—a price made more meager since he nabbed an extra fifth-rounder earlier in the draft.
Another great pick fell into his lap in the second round in Scott Crichton, a big defensive end out of Oregon State. He should immediately be a rotational player who, along with fellow rookie Barr, will make the defensive line dangerous.
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick, B-
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had an interesting draft history in recent years. There was no early movement this time around, though, as the Patriots stood pat in the first two rounds.
Picking a defensive tackle was all but fated for them. The question was which one. We got our answer at No. 29 in Dominique Easley out of Florida.
Belichick stayed put instead of trading up or down, which was a bit uncharacteristic for New England's head coach. No matter—the Patriots got a much-needed upgrade at defensive tackle.
Were it not for a torn ACL, Easley might have gone in the top 15. The big defensive tackle was injured early enough last season that he could be ready to play in Week 1, however, which is likely why the Patriots were willing to take him in the first round.
They nabbed their potential quarterback of the future in the second round in Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois.
He has been hyped on and off throughout draft season. He was the fifth quarterback taken in the draft and is perhaps the heir to Tom Brady's throne.
Of course, we thought Ryan Mallett might be that guy when Belichick selected him a few years ago. Maybe Brady simply needs to feast on the life force of younger quarterbacks to sustain his career.
New Orleans Saints: Mickey Loomis, B
The Saints returned to their winning ways last season.
General manager Mickey Loomis was tasked with keeping that momentum going this offseason. He did just that in the draft, at least if the early picks were any indication.
New Orleans got rid of Darren Sproles this offseason yet found his replacement in Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State.
That is not to say Sproles is a great pro comparison for Cooks—they play different positions, after all—but the latter can do many similar things in the passing game.
The cornerback position needed some attention in New Orleans. There were plenty of cornerbacks left when the Saints were on the clock, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska may have been the best of the bunch when they chose him in the second round.
New York Giants: Jerry Reese, B-
The New York Giants quietly had a nice free-agent period.
General manager Jerry Reese restocked a porous roster with quality players all around, though he couldn't possibly address every position.
Of course, it may not have helped to draft a Cruz clone.
Odell Beckham Jr. was widely considered the third-best receiver heading into the draft out of LSU. Indeed, he is a bit of a technician at the position, something that helped him rise into the Top 15 despite being just 5'11" and 198 pounds.
He also makes up for his stature with good athleticism and great hands. The question is whether the Giants were wise to pass up on defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was available at No. 12 and plays a position of need.
Reese added Weston Richburg out of Colorado State to shore up the center position and Syracuse's Jay Bromley to bolster the middle of the defensive line. But it seemed like the Giants just missed on having a good draft.
New York Jets: Rex Ryan and John Idzik, B
Jets head coach Rex Ryan got a reprieve after a strong finish to a disappointing 2013 campaign, buying himself one more year to get the Jets back into the postseason.
He and general manager John Idzik had a lot of work to do this offseason, draft included, to improve that roster.
The Jets haven't taken an offensive player in the first round of the draft since Mark Sanchez back in 2009. They weren't about to end the streak this year.
New York has a fearsome front seven but needed some help in the secondary. Enter Calvin Pryor, the big-hitting safety out of Louisville.
It was a bit surprising to see him taken as the top safety in the class, given Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was widely considered to be the best in the draft. Nonetheless, the Jets got a great enforcer in the middle of the defensive backfield.
Idzik drafted a 6'5" monster in the second round who has been likened to Rob Gronkowski, the feared tight end for division-rival New England. Texas Tech's Jace Amaro isn't quite the athletic specimen that Gronkowski is, but he is a big target for second-year quarterback Geno Smith or Mike Vick.
The rest of the draft was a bit of a letdown outside of Furman offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, whom the Jets picked later than he was expected to go.
Oakland Raiders: Reggie McKenzie, A
After walking through the valley of the shadow of salary-cap death in recent years, general manager Reggie McKenzie emerged with the most money to spend in free agency this offseason.
The Raiders used that cash to good effect, signing a litany of players to plug their many holes. There weren't any big signings, however, which is a reflection of McKenzie's preference to build through the draft.
He complemented a solid free-agent period with an excellent draft.
Oakland saw the Jacksonville Jaguars take Blake Bortles and had the Buffalo Bills trade just ahead of it for Sammy Watkins, which left Khalil Mack there for the taking at No. 5.
McKenzie may have preferred to trade back until Mack fell into his lap, and taking the talented pass-rusher out of Buffalo was too good to pass up at that point.
The second round was almost as impressive, as McKenzie benefited from standing pat once again.
Reports surfaced during draft season that the Raiders loved Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. The trouble was that he wasn't likely worth a top pick in the draft.
McKenzie was able to get his man anyway, waiting until the second round while resisting the urge to move up and lose a draft pick to get him. By some accounts, Carr is the best quarterback in the draft class.
That part remains to be seen, but this was another excellent pick by McKenzie and the Raiders. There is no pressure to start Carr right away with Matt Schaub in the fold, which gives Oakland time to develop its quarterback of the future.
All in all, it was a top-notch draft for McKenzie and the Raiders. The arrow is pointing up in Oakland.
Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman, B+
It was quite the successful inaugural season for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who turned the franchise around in a hurry.
The biggest reason for the turnaround was his brilliant offensive mind. Philadelphia's second-ranked offense masked defensive deficiencies, however.
Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman needed to bolster the defense this offseason, and it fell on them to address needs in the draft.
The Eagles did well to acquire an extra third-round pick by moving back a few spots late in the first round. They also did well to address their pass rush, which they needed to upgrade.
Was outside linebacker Marcus Smith out of Louisville the right man for the job, though?
He had been quietly stalking the first round for some time. An underrated pass-rusher, he was second in the nation with 14.5 sacks as a senior. Smith was a defensive end in college who will slide over nicely at outside linebacker in the pros.
He might have been an unfamiliar name to those who were casually tuning in to the draft, but Smith should provide a pass-rushing boost to the Eagles right away. It seems like a reach for Philadelphia, but there was little chance he would have been available deep into the second round.
Kelly appeared to take a step back when he let leading receiver DeSean Jackson go earlier this offseason. He made up for the move in the draft by selecting Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt.
The 6'3" receiver with 4.46 speed has flown under the radar a bit this draft season, but he caught fire in the waning weeks heading into the event. He didn't quite make it into the first round, but Matthews found a fine home with the Eagles out of the second.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, A-
Attrition has taken its toll on Pittsburgh. General manager Kevin Colbert has had to deal with cap problems, which forced the Steelers to part ways with productive players.
Linebacker was a huge position of need for them heading into the draft. Former Buckeye Ryan Shazier gives them a much-needed boost in that area.
Shazier is one of the most athletic players in this year's draft class, as he was among the combine's top performers at his position and ran the 40-yard dash in an eye-popping 4.36 seconds, unofficially per NFL.com's Mike Huguenin.
More importantly, Shazier represents a versatile chess piece the Steelers can move all over the field. He is a viable middle linebacker who is mobile enough to cover the likes of tight end Jimmy Graham. He could also line up wide and rush the passer if needed.
After taking Shazier in the first round, the Steelers selected their 5-technique defensive end in Stephon Tuitt out of Notre Dame. Once considered a first-round prospect, he fell into Colbert's lap in the second.
The Steelers got a tantalizing steal in the fourth round of the draft in Martavis Bryant out of Clemson. The 6'4" receiver with 4.42 speed is a bit raw and didn't have big production in college thanks to playing behind DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.
But the Steelers may have found their X receiver of the future.
San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco, B
San Diego was a nice surprise last season.
New head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco turned a flailing franchise around rather quickly, as the Chargers made a playoff appearance that nobody predicted.
Did the draft add to their momentum?
San Diego had the fourth-worst pass defense in the league last season. Hence, the secondary was a top priority.
Jason Verrett is a bit undersized at cornerback out of TCU, but he makes up for it with instinct and athleticism. He should step in right away, though he might start as a nickelback.
The Chargers also needed help at pass-rusher and made an excellent move up to snag the best available outside linebacker. Telesco gave up a fourth-round pick for the privilege to draft Jeremiah Attaochu, an athletic outside linebacker with upside out of Georgia Tech.
Attaochu, who had been somewhat underrated heading into the draft, was strictly a pass-rusher in college, but he is quite good at it.
The rest of the draft was somewhat forgettable for the Chargers, but the first two rounds were enough to earn an above-average grade.
San Francisco 49ers: Trent Baalke, A+
Are the 49ers headed in the wrong direction?
That might seem like a ludicrous question given their third consecutive NFC Championship Game appearance last year, but turnover on defense and some off-field drama have rocked the boat in San Francisco.
General manager Trent Baalke had to watch some of his talent go because of cap constraints, particularly on defense. He quickly put the 49ers back on track with a fantastic draft.
That did not happen in the first round as Baalke stood pat at No. 30 and took safety Jimmie Ward, though the 49ers made a bunch of trades later.
Ward has been an underrated prospect out of Northern Illinois, at least by media-coverage standards. Draft analysts know what the versatile safety brings to the table, though, and so did the 49ers.
He is great in coverage and capable of playing center field or pressing a slot receiver. He is a nice chess piece for head coach Jim Harbaugh, one that will mitigate the loss of Donte Whitner, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers in the secondary.
The 49ers may have found their running back of the future in Ohio State's Carlos Hyde. The big back fell a bit due to character concerns, but he is easily the best choice that Baalke has made with an eye toward the future at the position, even with Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James in the fold.
Baalke followed that up with one fantastic pick after another, including center Marcus Martin out of USC, linebacker Chris Borland out of Wisconsin and receiver Bruce Ellington out of South Carolina.
He also continued his new annual tradition of selecting fantastic prospects who fell because of injury or character concerns by taking offensive lineman Brandon Thomas out of Clemson and defensive end Aaron Lynch out of USF.
Indeed, this was an excellent draft for Baalke. Again.
Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll and John Schneider, C
What do you get the team that has everything?
The Seahawks are the defending champions, but they lost some talent in free agency. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider hoped to work some more magic in the draft to fill those needs.
Some of Seattle's picks were head-scratchers, to be sure. The Seahawks have found gems in the draft in recent years, but it will be interesting to see if that's the case coming out of this draft.
That's because Schneider and Carroll made some baffling moves, starting with undersized receiver Paul Richardson. The former Buffalo isn't a prototypical receiver at 6'0" and 175 pounds, but what he does bring to the table is blazing speed.
The Seahawks have lacked a true deep threat in recent years. While Richardson was a bit of a reach here, he should help stretch defenses if he can get on the field early.
The rest of the draft featured some odd choices. Kevin Norwood looks like the best pick in their draft; he is an underrated receiver out of Alabama whom the Seahawks landed in the fourth round.
Who are we to question the Seahawks? Well, if not for their recent success, this grade might have been a lot lower.
St. Louis Rams: Jeff Fisher and Les Snead, A-
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead are still reaping the benefits of their big trade with Washington in 2012.
The Rams had two first-round picks—including No. 2 overall—as a result. With plenty of holes to fill on that roster, could Fisher and Snead do work in the draft?
Sometimes, taking the best player available is the right thing to do.
St. Louis re-signed Rodger Saffold in free agency—thanks in large part to the Oakland Raiders getting cold feet—but he should be playing guard permanently. They also have Jake Long, though he is recovering from a torn ACL.
Even so, former Auburn Tiger Greg Robinson was too good to pass up.
He is an athletic specimen at his position, as evidenced by his 4.92-second time in the 40-yard dash at 6'5" and 332 pounds. His athleticism is a big reason why he is such an effective run-blocker.
The Rams also took the best player available by selecting Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who had fallen far enough. St. Louis didn't have a big need along the defensive line with Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford on the inside.
Adding Donald to that defensive front is a coup for Snead and Fisher. The talented defensive tackle will make the line a pass-blocking nightmare for opposing offenses.
Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner out of Florida State and running back Tre Mason out of Auburn were solid additions in the second and third rounds, respectively, as well, but the Rams made the boldest pick in the draft by taking Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
They made history by selecting the first openly gay player in the seventh round. Whether he pans out as a prospect remains to be seen, but kudos to Fisher, Snead and the Rams for taking Sam here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lovie Smith and Jason Licht, B+
Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht had their work cut out for them when they joined the Buccaneers this past offseason. So far, so good.
The Buccaneers were arguably free agency's biggest winners, landing a ton of talent despite cutting cornerback Darrelle Revis. Their free-agent spending spree diminished draft needs, but there were still some holes left to be filled.
For a team coached by Smith, the Buccaneers were sure focused on offense early in the draft. All six of their picks were on that side of the ball.
Vincent Jackson needed a running mate at wide receiver, especially with Mike Williams traded to the Buffalo Bills. He got one in Mike Evans out of Texas A&M.
Evans could wind up being the best receiver to come out of this class. At 6'5" and 231 pounds, he has fantastic size. He couples that with good athleticism and great ball skills, making him a top-tier possession receiver with upside.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is another massive target for the quarterback—whomever that may be between Mike Glennon and Josh McCown—as a 6'5" monster with huge upside.
There is a bit of a glut in the Tampa Bay backfield at this point. Perhaps the new front office and coaching staff feel differently about the current crop of running backs.
Doug Martin should come back in a major way this season, but Mike James and Bobby Rainey—big-time contributors once Martin was injured last season—are on notice, as the Bucs picked up third-rounder Charles Sims out of West Virginia.
Tampa Bay nabbed a nice late-round receiver in Robert Herron, a speedster out of Wyoming who could become a nice weapon in that offense. He may be small, but the Buccaneers don't need every receiver to be 6'5", do they?
Tennessee Titans: Ruston Webster, C+
Tennessee is stuck in perpetual mediocrity these days. Did Ruston Webster do anything to break the Titans out of that rut?
Given their needs elsewhere, picking an offensive tackle in the first round was a bit perplexing.
Taylor Lewan was one of the top tackles in the draft out of Michigan, to be sure, but the Titans have solid left tackle Michael Roos and just signed right tackle Michael Oher to a four-year, $20 million contract.
Offensive line wasn't one of Tennessee's weaknesses, even if Roos will be turning 32 and on the final year of his deal this coming season. There is nowhere to move Roos or Oher, either, with Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack at the guard positions.
Webster made up for his first-round head-scratcher by taking Bishop Sankey in the second after moving back. Considered by many to be the top running back in the class, Sankey will fill the shoes that Chris Johnson left behind.
The Titans needed help on the defensive line and got a nice rotational player with potential to start in DaQuan Jones early in the fourth round.
If Tennessee's gamble on Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round works out, Webster will look like a genius. If it doesn't, he will have spent a mere sixth-round pick.
Washington: Bruce Allen, B-
It was back to the drawing board this offseason for Washington, at least in the coaching ranks.
Bruce Allen survived Mike Shanahan's shenanigans, though—perhaps being the son of a former Washington head coaching great buys you more rope. How did he do in his first offseason without Shanahan in Washington?
Entering the draft without a first-round pick again, Washington made a savvy move down in the second round to pick up an extra third-round pick.
The Redskins needed to shore up their pass rush. With many of the top guys gone, Stanford's Trent Murphy was a decent choice, at best.
Allen didn't have a huge need at right tackle heading into the draft, but landing Morgan Moses in the third round was a coup. Moses was a fringe first-round pick. The big offensive lineman out of Virginia should give incumbent Tyler Polumbus a run for his starting gig right away.
Needing help in the secondary, Washington found great value in the fourth round in Clemson's Bashaud Breeland. He brings good size and length. While not an elite athlete, he makes up for it with solid technique and instincts.
DeAngelo Hall, 30, may have re-signed for a few more years, but he isn't getting any younger. Breeland gives Washington a young cornerback to develop for the future alongside David Amerson.
All draft and combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
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