The 2014 NFL Draft has come and gone with tremendous ratings and extensive hoopla. From the first round drama with Johnny Manziel to the sensationalized selection of Michael Sam in the seventh round, the NFL proves yet again why it is clearly the king. I don’t believe in post draft grades because true evaluations occur at least three years down the road. However, our initial thoughts on each team in the AFC:
Buffalo - The Bills were in love with Sammy Watkins,so much so they traded their own first round pick and next year’s first round pick to move up five spots. A hefty price indeed, but with ownership in flux, the current administration only cares about now. Not a fan of Cyrus Kouandijo in the second round, but absolutely love the selection of Baylor guard Cyril Richardson in the fifth round. Watkins better be a top tier receiver.
Miami - it was not a good draft at all by the Dolphins. They had a major reach in the first round with the selection of offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James followed in the second with Jarvis Landry. In the third round they selected another o-lineman in Billy Turner. Yes the team has o-line needs but drafting exclusively for needs results in this type of draft.
New England - The Patriots have remained relevant by letting free agents walk and trading veterans for draft picks. They have built great depth but have failed to draft for now, which may have cost them additional Super Bowl Rings. The days of Tom Brady covering warts is soon coming to an end. First round selection Dominique Easley is a reach, never mind his significant knee injuries. Drafting Jimmy Garoppolo cost the Pats from filling more needs that could have pushed them closer to a title. The fourth round selections of Bryan Stork, James White and Cameron Fleming will prove beneficial. The window is closing.
New York Jets - The Jets had a plethora of picks and used them to fill several holes. Calvin Pryor is a big hitter who will play well under the aggressive scheme of Rex Ryan. Tight end Jace Amaro will quickly become a fan favorite and a big target for Geno Smith. The later rounds could result in some nuggets as well. Keep an eye on seventh round pick Trevor Reilly. Overall, a very good draft by the Jets.
Baltimore - The Ravens are always solid. They stick to their board and rarely take risks. They were true to form with the selection of C.J. Mosley in the first round and Timmy Jernigan in the second. They both will be very solid players. Keep an eye on fourth round tight end Crockett Gilmore, he will contribute. Not a lot of pizazz, but a solid draft.
Cincinnati - The Bengals got a nice first round pick in Darqueze Dennard, not a great athlete but a physical corner who will play well against both the run and pass. The second round selection of Jeremy Hill was a head scratcher. Certainly his baggage is a concern but as a runner in today’s game he isn’t worth a second round selection. West Virginia defensive end William Clarke is a long rangy athlete with potential. The most buzz was created by the fifth round selection of A.J. McCarron. The Bengals brass stated the selection of McCarron had nothing to do with Andy Dalton but rest assured they are hedging themselves against the potential of a huge upcoming Dalton contract. Another solid draft for Cincinnati.
Cleveland - The Browns suffered some bad news with the potential suspension of star wideout Josh Gordon, but that discarded, the team had a very good draft. They drafted a starting defensive back in Justin Gilbert (#1 defensive back on our board), traded up to get quarterback Johnny Manziel (#1 QB on our board), drafted a starting guard in the second round, a starting inside backer in Christian Kirksey in the third round along with small school phenoms Terrance West and Pierre Desir. Incredibly, they also come away with Buffalo’s first and fourth rounds picks in 2015. Johnny Football fever has engulfed Cleveland.
Pittsburgh - Ryan Shazier will be a very good inside backer in the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme. He is incredibly fast with great instincts. Second round pick Stephon Tuitt is a steal. Third and fourth round picks respectively, Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant, are reaches but both speedy athletes. Some good late round reaches combined with Shazier and Tuitt make a good draft with the potential of a great draft.
Houston - A very good draft but the headline may be the lack of a quarterback . Jadeveon Clowney will be a stud while second round guard Xavier Su’a-Filo will be an immediate starter. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has a shot at being a really good player. Louis Nix III is a major steal in the third round. Tom Savage has potential but with him and Ryan Fitzpatrick as the potential starters the Texans will likely fall short again, even with a dominant defense.
Indianapolis - The Colts’ draft was stained due to trading their first round pick for running back Trent Richardson, which has turned out to be a very poor trade thus far. Offensive tackle Jake Mewhort was selected higher than predicted but should be a solid starter. Keep an eye on Donte Moncrief as he could turn out to be a very good third round selection. Overall the Colts did very little to close the gap in the AFC but with the continued maturation of Andrew Luck it may not matter.
Jacksonville - The Jags are trying to shake the losing culture and they may do so in quick fashion. Many view Blake Bortles as a reach with the #3 overall pick but when you need a quarterback, you need a quarterback, period. The anemic offense may be lifted with two second round selections in wide receivers Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson, both of whom could be impact players. We absolutely love the selection of linebacker Telvin Smith in the fifth round. Although undersized, he is everywhere. Look for seventh round selection Storm Johnson to contribute as well. A tremendous job by a team looking to swing the pendulum.
Tennessee - The Titans have many holes and the selection of Taylor Lewan at #11 does very little to solve them. He will likely be a solid tackle, but is Jake Locker the answer? Bishop Sankey is a good back in the second round but the rest of the draft is questionable at best.
Denver - Selecting Ohio State defensive back Bradley Roby late in the first round is a good gamble. Although a major talent, Roby has lacked focus both on and off the field. A veteran team like Denver should keep him on the straight and narrow. Cody Latimer received a lot of buzz leading up to the draft, but for my money there were better receivers available. Fifth round selection Lamin Barrow should contribute. If Roby hits, Denver will have addressed their major area of need. If not it is a wasted draft. Regardless, they will be one of the favorites in the AFC.
Kansas City - The Chiefs added six players in the draft, the bad news is I didn’t like four of them, the good news is I really liked two of them. In the first round, they chose Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. He has a chance of becoming a high level pass rusher. Ford possesses incredible quickness off the line and combined with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, KC will again have a fierce pass rush. In the fifth round, the club selected Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He fell way too far and in time the Chiefs will benefit greatly. He will be a very good quarterback in time.
Oakland - The Raiders did the unthinkable, they had a very good draft. Khalil Mack could be an outstanding football player. He has all of the necessary skill sets plus a very high motor. Mack will be a favorite of the Black Hole in short order. In the second round, they added a potential front line starting quarterback in Derek Carr. Al Davis would be proud. Carr possesses the big arm to push the ball down the field. Third rounder Gabe Jackson will be a force in the running game and we absolutely love defensive back Keith McGill selected in the fourth round. He is a big corner with very good coverage skills. If Carr progresses, the 2014 draft may be the turning point for the once proud franchise.
San Diego - Jason Verrett could be a solid corner but somewhat of a reach at #25 overall. The same could be said of their second round selection Jeremiah Attaochu. He is a very good athlete but very raw with lack of technique. The Chargers draft was lackluster at best but Verrett could help and sixth round running back Marion Grice could be a nice back.
For more coverage of the NFL visit www.nfltalent.com and follow us on Twitter @nfltalentstaff.