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2014 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND WINNERS AND LOSERS: 3 TEAMS I LIKED AND 3 I DIDN’T LIKE

The 2014 NFL Draft began last night with the first round. There were plenty of great moves and a number of bad ones to go with all of the surprises. Some teams did amazing, while others fell flat when they got their turn in the spotlight. Here are three teams that I liked from last night’s first round action and three I didn’t like.

THREE TEAMS I LIKED

1.  St. Louis Rams – The Rams had the best first round of any team in my opinion landing two of the top ten prospects in the draft and instantly becoming a more intimidating team in the trenches. With the 2nd-overall pick they chose to remedy their offensive tackle issues by drafting massive Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson, a prospect many feel could have the highest ceiling of anyone not named Clowney. Their current left tackle Jake Long is recovering from a torn ACL and has seen his play take a dip the past few years making Robinson at the very least Long’s heir apparent. Right tackle Roger Saffold was resigned, but can’t stay healthy and played a lot better when he was moved inside to guard last season. Robinson can play either of those spots. However, reports from draft night have the Rams playing Robinson inside at left guard to start, although those plans could change quickly with the health issues of the other offensive tackles on the roster. Then with the 13th selection, the Rams had the NFL Scouting Combine MVP defensive tackle Aaron Donald fall into their laps. Massively underrated to start the draft process, Donald blew scouts, analysts and front offices away with his performances throughout this off-season, which caused them to go back to the game tape where they were able to see a dominant interior defensive lineman. The Rams now boast arguably the scariest defensive line in the NFL with four first round picks in Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and now Donald. Yikes. Great Job St. Louis!

2.  Cleveland Browns – The Browns were arguably the story of the 2014 NFL Draft’s first round. New General Manager Ray Farmer moved all over the board by making three trades and in turn he landed arguably the top corner prospect in Justin Gilbert with the 8th-overall pick and then of course he got their new franchise quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd selection, while also landing Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2015 in the process, which could easily be a top ten pick considering the Bills’ recent history. Farmer not only landed two pretty good players at two of their top areas of need, but also gave new Head Coach Mike Pettine the player he really wanted, while giving owner Jimmy Haslam the guy he wanted. Ray Farmer was the MVP of the first round.

3.  Minnesota Vikings – A year after landing three first round picks (Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson) in the 2013 NFL Draft, Vikings GM Rick Spielman was able to secure another two first-rounders this year. He would move down a spot to the 9th overall pick to land pass-rusher Anthony Barr and an extra 5th round selection, while making his big move at the end of the night by sending his 40th overall draft choice and just a 4th rounder to Seattle to get the final pick of the round (32nd) to obtain their new franchise quarterback, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings had to get a new signal-caller this year after last season’s disastrous quarterback situation and Bridgewater, who is arguably the top quarterback prospect in this draft, was fantastic value at the end of the first round and should form a great pairing with Adrian Peterson for years to come. It’s also worth mentioning that along with their two first-round picks this year and three last year, Spielman also drafted twice in the first round in 2012 landing Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith. That’s an incredible seven first round picks in the last three years.

Also liked: The Cincinnati Bengals got fantastic value and filled one their top needs by grabbing arguably the top rated corner in the draft in Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.  Dennard has all the skills to be a top shutdown corner with the ability to play right away. The Bengals got a good one.

THREE TEAMS I DIDN’T LIKE

1.  San Francisco 49ers – What were the 49ers doing last night. They came into the draft with more ammo (draft picks) than any other team and more than they could ever need and yet they didn’t make any moves whatsoever to work their way up the first round from the 30th-overall pick, where they could’ve landed a real impact player that could’ve helped them immediately. They even had enough picks that they probably could’ve moved up to get into the first round to make a second selection. Yet they chose to remain at the 30th spot in the draft and slightly reach for Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, who might have still been available into the mid-second round. They needed secondary help, but could’ve easily made a move to land either of the two top safety prospects, Calvin Pryor or HaHa Clinton-Dix or any of the top three corners.

2.  Philadelphia Eagles – Another really questionable move from last night was the Eagles drafting Louisville outside linebacker/defensive end Marcus Smith with the 26th-overall pick. Smith was by far the biggest reach of the night as he was projected to be a third round pick. He was the 89th ranked prospect on my draft board. There were a number of much higher rated players at the same position still on the board. Even though they were able to gain an extra third round pick by moving down from the 22nd pick to the 26th to take Smith, this was still a horrible value pick even if he fills a need on their roster. They very likely could’ve gotten him with their second round pick.

3.  Detroit Lions – A number of reports leading up to the draft had the Lions in love with North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron and I guess they were true as they quickly snagged him off the board with 10th-overall pick. But why. The Lions have two solid playmaking tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew, who they just resigned and last year’s rookie Joseph Fauria, who became a pretty dangerous red-zone threat for them. They didn’t need a tight end and while they did need to add another wide receiver to the mix, this is an incredibly deep draft at that position and they could’ve got one later. There are also a ton of questions about Ebron to go with the fact that he doesn’t block at all. They needed a lot more help on the defensive side of the ball than they do on their already explosive offense. This was not a smart pick.

Also didn’t like: The Tennessee Titans selecting talented left tackle Taylor Lewan, even though they don’t have a spot at all in their starting lineup for him. They still have Michael Roos at left tackle, who is pretty good and just signed free agent right tackle Michael Oher to a four-year deal, while they are set at guard with last year’s first round pick Chance Warmack and Andy LeVitre, who they signed to a big deal just last off-season. Lewan is not a center. The Titans are not good enough to take a luxury pick at this point in the draft.

 

Written By: Mark Scott

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