2014 NFL Draft Winners and Losers

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
May 11, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Winners and Losers – Day 1:


Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Texans made the decision they should make. You don’t want to reach in the first round, especially with the first-overall pick. Houston didn’t reach on a signal-caller out of desperation despite needing a quarterback. Clowney and J.J. Watt will form Houston’s answer to Andrew Luck. By building up the defense, having a run game and a second-day quarterback prospect, the Texans are following the same pattern of success that has worked well for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

St. Louis Rams: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Rams have an overwhelming defensive line with pass-rushers coming off the edge. Now, the team just added an interior rusher who can be a devastating speed rusher. With opponents focused on stopping Robert Quinn and Chris Long, Donald should see a ton of single blocks. St. Louis has four first-round picks on the defensive line and will can make life hell for opposing quarterbacks in 2014.

Chicago Bears: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bears had to get a young cornerback given the ages of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Chicago got a steal in Fuller as many didn’t think he would get to No. 14. He is a versatile defender who could also play some safety or nickel as a rookie while he learns behind those veterans. In a year or two, Fuller should take over as a starter and be an asset in Mel Tucker’s defense. Fuller has good size, coverage skills and instincts. This was a great pick by the Bears.

Green Bay Packers: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Green Bay played the draft just like a team should. The Packers stayed patient and were able to land a good value who fills a critical need. Most projections had Clinton-Dix going just outside the top 10; some projected him to crack the top 10. Green Bay had to improve its safety play and defense in the middle. The organization has had far too many busts in the deep portion of the field. Clinton-Dix was the top free safety in the 2014 NFL Draft, and to land him at No. 21 was a steal for the Packers.


Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
I like Ebron as a player and as a fit in Detroit’s offense, but how many targets is he really going to get? Calvin Johnson receives the vast majority – as he should. Detroit recently overpaid to sign Golden Tate and re-sign Brandon Pettigrew. Plus, carries and passes to Reggie Bush have to be factored in. If tight end was an option with the 10th pick, I don’t understand why the Lions spent so much on Pettigrew. Detroit’s secondary remains a massive weakness, and the team’s first-round pick could have nabbed a good safety or cornerback.

Dallas Cowboys: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Martin is a fine player, but taking a right tackle with the 16th-overall pick is questionable. Good right tackles can be found on the second day of the draft. When you add in the fact that the Cowboys have a terrible defense and a serious lack of talent on the defensive line, you have to wonder if this was another draft-day mistake from Jerry Jones. When Aaron Donald slipped out of the top 10, the Cowboys should have moved up with the Titans for him.

Miami Dolphins: JaWuan James, OT, Tennessee
The Dolphins had to upgrade their offensive line this offseason, but many teams didn’t view James as a first-rounder at all; they had a second-round grade on him. I had Miami taking James in the second round, and the organization could have maybe landed him in Round 2. While Miami filled a need, the team did pass on some higher-rated talents including the No. 1 guard in the 2014 NFL Draft, UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo. The Dolphins’ staff is on the hot seat and must have felt that it had to reach for need, but from the long-term team-building perspective, it could prove to be a mistake to pass on some other more talented players.

Kansas City Chiefs: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
The Chiefs already have two Pro Bowl edge rushers and just drafted a backup. Sure, Ford will rotate into the game, but Kansas City could have found that kind of situational pass-rusher in the mid-rounds. The team had – and has – much bigger needs along the offensive line and at wide receiver. The top guard, Su’a-Filo, was available along with some good wide receivers. Sources with multiple teams told me they had a second-round grade on Ford, but thought a team would reach on him in the first. They were right, and Kansas City was the team that overdrafted Ford.

2014 NFL Draft Winners and Losers – Day 2:


Houston Texans
The Texans got Day 2 started by taking the best guard in the 2014 NFL Draft. Xavier Su’a-Filo is a big upgrade for Houston on the inside of the offensive line. The team followed that up with getting a versatile tight end for Bill O’Brien’s offense in C.J. Fiedorowicz. Fiedorowicz was the last three-down, starting-caliber tight end available in the 2014 NFL Draft. To cap off a great day, Houston traded up and landed a starting nose tackle in Louis Nix. Nix is a perfect fit as a zero-technique disruptor for Romeo Crennel’s defense. The Texans got a lot better at the point of attack on Friday night.

Washington Redskins
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen was without a first-round pick, but he made the most of his draft positioning. A trade-down with the Cowboys netted a third-rounder, and Washington still came away with some difference-makers. The Redskins needed an edge rusher to develop as a replacement for Brian Orakpo and found one in Trent Murphy. Murphy’s a perfect scheme fit in Washington’s 3-4 defense. In the third round, the organization upgraded its offensive line with Morgan Moses and Spencer Long. Moses could have been a late first-rounder, while Long was a future second-rounder before his 2013 injury. Those two could be future starters for Jay Gruden.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars had to upgrade their wide receivers with Justin Blackmon being suspended indefinitely. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson give Blake Bortles two good receivers to grow with as the three develop in the NFL. With Cecil Shorts in house, the Jaguars have the makings of a receiving corps with some run-after-the-catch ability. Jacksonville did well landing two good receivers in the second round. David Caldwell later traded up into the third round to take guard Brandon Linder. I’m not a fan of Linder, but the Jaguars’ interior offensive line was very weak and he could at least give them some depth.

Detroit Lions
I had Detroit as Day-1 losers, but the organization came back to hit a home run with Van Noy. The Lions could use an upgrade at linebacker in their 4-3 sets and an edge-rushing type for their 3-4 package they’re adding to their scheme. Van Noy fills both voids and was a tremendous edge rusher in 2012 on the other side from Ziggy Ansah. Van Noy will be an asset for new Detroit coordinator Teryl Austin. The Lions also landed a quality center with their third-round pick. Travis Swanson is the team’s center of the future. He was a good value pick and the last center available who could be viewed that way. GM Martin Mayhew had a good night.

Half Winner/Half Loser

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs made a great pick with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He is a steal in the second round as he has the athletic skill set to be a dangerous receiving tight end and a potential pro bowler. However after that great pick, the Buccaneers took a good running back in Charles Sims. The problem is running back was one of the few positions that has any depth on the Tampa Bay roster. With Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps, it is a real head scratcher for the Bucs to use a third-round pick on a running back.

New York Jets
The Jets got a good value with tight end Jace Amaro in the second round. He is an instant upgrade and should be a nice security blanket for Michael Vick or Geno Smith. Landing a good receiving tight end in the middle of the second round is nice value. However, the pick of Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougal was questionable. He has major durability issues and probably could have been had on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft. There were good corner prospects available like Philip Gaines, Dontae Johnson, Marcus Roberson and others.


Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were without their first-round pick from the regrettable Trent Richardson trade. Indianapolis passed on better offensive linemen like Morgan Moses and Gabe Jackson for tackle/guard Jack Mewhort. He is a slow Big Ten plodder who was abused by Clemson and dominated by Khalil Mack. Mewhort was a reach, and there were better players available. The Colts took Donte Moncrief in the third round, and that was a quality pick. However, it wasn’t good enough to make up for Mewhort.

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals took a lot of projects on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. Tight end Troy Niklas is raw after really only playing one season at the position. He has to improve his blocking and receiving. Edge rusher Kareem Martin has potential, but he hasn’t been consistent enough or played up to his skill set. Small school receiver Josh Brown is just backup quality. Arizona still needs help on the offensive line, and there were good blockers available at all those picks. Some of the players the Cardinals passed on included Morgan Moses, Gabe Jackson and Spencer Long. Adding in passing on Deone Bucannon in the first round, and the team has had some suspect drafting this year.

2014 NFL Draft Winners and Losers – Day 3:


Houston Texans
It was amazing that the Texans landed their quarterback of choice at the end of the fourth round with a compensatory pick. Tom Savage is a big-armed pocket passer who has matured into a hard worker and a tough player. He is a great fit for Bill O’Brien’s offense, and it is a perfect landing spot for Savage. After him, Houston landed some good role players in five-technique defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and running back Alfred Blue. The Texans also landed a competitor for their nickel cornerback position in Andre Hal. Houston had a great draft and really helped its roster.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota was without a fourth-rounder, but the team made up for it in the fifth round by landing a steal at guard with David Yankey. The Vikings could use an improved interior for Adrian Peterson and Yankey could easily have gone on the second day. He is a tough blocker who has experience at guard and tackle. It wouldn’t be surprising if Yankey competes quickly for the Minnesota.

Half Winner/Half Loser

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco made a great pick in Bruce Ellington. The speedy and tough wide out from South Carolina could compete as a slot receiver and special teams play-maker. Ellington was a fourth-round steal for Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers blew a third-day pick on South Florida defensive end Aaron Lynch. He has some physical talent, but he is a mess off the field. It doesn’t make sense that San Francisco would have one of its insurance policies for Aldon Smith be another player with massive off-the-field issues that could land him with suspensions. The 49ers came back to get a steal with Trey Millard in the seventh round. The dynamic fullback would have been a third-rounder if he hadn’t been injured in 2013. Overall, it was a very mixed draft for San Francisco.

Chicago Bears
I have to admit that I’m not a fan of specialists being drafted. Quality kickers and punters can be had as veteran or undrafted free agents. The Bears took the first specialist of the 2014 NFL Draft with punter Pat O’Donnell. Aside from that questionable pick, Chicago made some good choices in running back Ka’Deem Carey and safety Brock Vereen. Both could contribute as role players next season. David Fales also could be a nice backup quarterback for the Bears.


New England Patriots
The Patriots drafted a few offensive linemen for depth and a running back, James White, who could have a hard time making the team. The offensive line needed help, but New England neglected tight end and defensive tackle despite some quality players being available. The Patriots could have had DaQuan Jones, but took Florida State center Bryan Stork instead. Scouts have said that Stork has no special qualities and also has concussion concerns. Last year, New England’s offense really missed its receiving tight ends with Rob Gronkowski being hurt and Aaron Hernandez behind bars. It was surprising that the Patriots did nothing to address that void.

Carolina Panthers
Carolina waited to draft some badly needed secondary help. Getting a safety in Tre Boston and a cornerback in Bene Benwikere were nice depth selections, however the Panthers didn’t take an offensive tackle when they have a huge need at the position. The organization drafted Tyler Gaffney despite already having four runners: Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and last year’s pick of Kenjon Barner. A potential tackle Carolina could have taken instead of Gaffney was Tennessee standout Antonio Richardson. The Panthers’ third-day picks were underwhelming.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has a dire need at wide receiver, but didn’t address it at all via the 2014 NFL Draft. On the third day, the Browns took another cornerback, Pierre Desir. He’s a quality prospect, but the team used a top-10 pick on Justin Gilbert. Josh Gordon is uncertain to play in the future and Cleveland needs more receiving help to begin with. Some quality receivers the Browns passed on include Matt Hazel, Jared Abbrederis, Ryan Grant and T.J. Jones. It doesn’t make any sense that the organization didn’t address wide receiver in this draft.

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