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Learning from the 2014 NFL Draft

This was one of the deepest draft classes of all time. There was so much talented to be distributed and many teams got future stars with their investment. Let’s break down this 2014 NFL Draft to see what exactly happened last weekend.

First off, 14 quarterbacks were selected, three in the first round. Blake Bortles was the first of many to come. Probably the biggest surprise was Jimmy Garoppolo being picked in the 2nd round by the New England Patriots. That’s the highest the Patriots have drafted a quarterback in the draft since Tom Brady took over as the starter. This was considered a steal from Houston, who was planning on taking a quarterback with their next pick. Brady still has two to three, maybe even four more years left in him, so what does that mean for Garoppolo? Well, if he got drafted by the Texans, he probably would have been rushed in to start on week one. With the Patriots, Garoppolo will learn from Brady and will be groomed into an NFL-ready quarterback. He probably won’t be starting any time soon unless Brady gets injured, but this could be a Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers type of deal that Bill Belichick is going for. If Garoppolo ends up succeeding Brady and exceeding expectations, this could be one of the greatest draft picks of the Patriots’ franchise.

This draft also marked the first time since 1937 where no Texas player was drafted. It also broke the record for the longest time gone before a running back got picked. The first player didn’t get off the board until the Tennessee Titans selected Bishop Sankey in the second round with the 54th overall pick. Sankey will make a good replacement for Chris Johnson, who is now with the Jets.

I thought that a lot of teams got much better through this draft, starting with Jacksonville. The Jaguars got their franchise quarterback and then built the rest of the draft around him. They got the former Wide Receiver-of-the-Year winner Marqise Lee out of USC and then also added Allen Robinson from Penn State, a big target for Bortles to throw to.

The St. Louis Rams took advantage of their great draft picks with players that can start right away for the team. They solidified both their offensive line with Greg Robinson of Auburn and their defensive line with Aaron Donald out of Pitt. They got Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner who can play both corner and safety. They also finished their draft in style by selecting Michael Sam in the 7th round, making him the first NFL player to be openly gay. He will definitely be a back-up in the league, but will make the most out of his opportunities once he gets the chance.

The Houston Texans also had a great draft, despite not selecting a quarterback till the 135th pick with Tom Savage out of Pitt. However, they did manage to grab Jadeveon Clowney and they continued to bulk up the trenches with the addition of Xavier Su’a-Filo, the guard from UCLA, and Louis Nix III, the defensive tackle from Notre Dame. Their defensive line is now settled with veteran J.J. Watt already establishing himself as one of the best in the business.

There is so many other things to say about this draft, like how the Baltimore Ravens replaced Ray Lewis with Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and how the Green Bay Packers improved their secondary with fellow Alabama star Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. However, none of this matters until opening kickoff when all of these players have made their mark on the gridiron. For all we know, some of these players might end up as busts or some of them might end up as future Hall of Famers. You never know in the great world of the NFL.


Redskins Address Draft Needs

The Redskins had a lot of needs in their roster this off-season, especially on defense. Washington drafted eight players and even though they did not have a first round pick this year, they still managed to grab some talent. Here’s a look at who they drafted:

Round 2, Pick 47: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford – The 6’5″ and 250- pound pass rusher led the NCAA in sacks with 15. At first I was surprised at this pick, because Washington already has Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo as their sack artists. Then I realized what need they were addressing here: tackling. The Redskins’ defense had horrible tackling and with London Fletcher gone, this was something that had to be addressed early in the draft. Murphy is a tackling machine. He could basically play anywhere in the front seven. The Redskins will probably use him as a rotational pass rusher or maybe stick him somewhere in the middle with Perry Riley. He could also play on special teams, which is something that Redskins needed as well. When you really think about it, this was a good pick for Washington. I just don’t see where they will put him, but I’m sure Jim Haslett will utilize his abilities.

Round 3, Pick 66: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia – I thought this guy would be taken in the first 50 picks of the draft, but he slid all the way to 66 and that was good news for Washington. They desperately needed an offensive tackle and they got one of the best in Moses. He played both right and left offensive tackle in college, but will most definitely play right tackle seeing that Trent Williams is holding down the left side already. At 6’6″ and 314 pounds, this guy is an immovable force that can both pass protect and run block. Moses will probably start on opening day after he gets some good coaching during training camp.

Round 3, Pick 78: Spencer Long, OG, Nebraska – The Redskins are officially stacked on offensive line. This was one of the biggest needs after last season and Jay Gruden has targeted the right guys to move forward. Gruden is known to prefer big lineman that take up space. That’s exactly what Long is. He’s 6’5″ and 320 pounds, but he’s faster than he looks. Like Moses, there’s a possibility he could start in week one, depending on how well he does in training camp. Good pick for the Redskins bulking up the depth on offensive lineman.

Round 4, Pick 102: Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson – Secondary was a huge need for the Redskins after getting torched by receivers last year. With the addition of Tracy Porter during free agency, Breeland will probably be the third or fourth corner on the depth chart. The preseason games will definitely test the young kid, who can also play well against the run. This was a pretty good steal for Washington, knowing that this guy can mature into a great defensive back in the NFL.

Round 5, Pick 142: Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane – No this is not the former running back from Green Bay. Grant is a short receiver at 6’0″, but can run good routes and has great hands. It seems as if the Redskins don’t need any more receivers because of the free agency landing of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. Grant will provide competition during training camp and could move up in the depth chart after the preseason. In the future, he might replace Santana Moss, who is getting up there in age and is losing productivity as he gets older.

Round 6, Pick 186: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor – The top running back coming out of high school, Seastrunk originally went to Oregon, but then transferred to Baylor after sharing the backfield with De’Anthony Thomas. His first name is pronounced “Lake” and he was known for his incredible speed. In college, he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, but then at the NFL Combine, he only ran a 4.51. He’s probably the most athletic running back of this draft class, having the highest vertical jump (41.5 inches) and longest broad jump (11’2″). He was the semifinalist for the Doak Walker Running Back of the Year Award in college after leading the Big 12 with 107 rushing yards per game. He is also the first player in Baylor history to have back-to-back 1,000 yards rushing. With a backfield already occupied by Alfred Morris (who was also a 6th-round draft pick) Seastrunk will ease into the NFL and produce a few game-changing plays every once in a while.

Round 7, Pick 217: Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana – At first, this pick didn’t make any sense either. The Redskins already have Jordan Reed, Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen as their tight ends. However, Reed did have concussion issues and Paul has not played up to expectations so far. Bolser will primarily be used for special teams, but he did have six receiving touchdowns last season, which shows that he can be very productive. He was the semifinalist for the John Mackey award which is given to the nation’s best tight end and he set Indiana tight end records with 117 receptions, 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns. He will be a big target for Robert Griffin III, standing tall at 6’5″ and 257 pounds. The only reason why he fell so far in the draft is because he is not a good blocker. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins will use this guy.

Round 7, Pick 228: Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas – I was upset with the Redskins drafting a kicker. They already have two kickers on the roster, including Kai Forbath who was the team’s starting kicker for the last two years. If you are getting a kicker though, you might as well get this one. Hocker connected on 16 of 19 field-goal attempts with a long of 51 and all 56 extra-point tries. He broke the school record for points by a kicker in 2011 with 118 after making 21 of 27 FGs with a long of 50 and 55 of 57 PATs. He will compete for the job in Washington.

Draft Grade: B-

I thought the Redskins did address some needs, but not all of them. I personally believed that they should have drafted a safety. They had many chances too, passing up on guys like Terrence Brooks from Florida State, Brock Vereen from Minnesota and they had multiple chances to grab Ahmad Dixon from Baylor. I guess with the signing of Ryan Clark and the resigning of Tanard Jackson and Brandon Merriweather, Washington felt like they were pretty strong at that position. I also thought that the drafting of Murphy was good, but not great and the drafting of wide receiver Ryan Grant was unnecessary and could have been used to draft a defensive back. Maybe next year, Gruden will have a much better draft with that 1st round pick in his pocket. Hopefully the Redskins will make good use of these players and make them useful for the Washington franchise.

2014 NFL Draft Round One Results

It was a night full of surprises and great picks. Dreams came true while others might have to wait for their chance to get drafted by an NFL team. Here’s the first five picks of the draft:

1. Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney DE from South Carolina

The Texans basically picked the best player in the draft when selecting this beast of a pass rusher. Clowney is definitely a Pro Bowl talent and he also has the pleasure of teaming up with J.J. Watt. If I were Andrew Luck, I would be shaking in my cleats every time I took the field against this defense.

2. St. Louis Rams- Greg Robinson OT from Auburn

The Rams need to protect Sam Bradford, who is very injury-prone. They believe that Robinson can protect their franchise on the offensive line. He is one of the best offensive tackles in the draft and can make a big impact on day one. Emphasis on the big, standing at 6’5″ and 332 pounds!

3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Blake Bortles QB from UCF

Bortles can just drive down the street to play for his new team. This prototypical quarterback is ready to play in the NFL. He has the arm strength and the mobility in the pocket to become a starter in the league for years to come. The Jaguars needed a franchise quarterback and they got one in Bortles.

4. Buffalo Bills- Sammy Watkins WR from Clemson

The Bills traded up to get this pick and it looks like it paid off. Watkins is by far the best receiver in the draft and he will make a good fit with E.J. Manuel and the Bills’ offense. He’s a dynamic play-maker that can get yards after the catch, which is something very valuable in the NFL.

5. Oakland Raiders- Khalil Mack OLB from Buffalo

Buffalo stole Watkins from the Raiders, but they ended up getting the next best thing in Mack. This pass rusher was one of the best linebackers in all of college football last year. He will definitely make some big plays in Oakland and give their linebacker corps some much-needed depth.

Other Great Picks

Atlanta Falcons select OT Jake Matthews 6th overall. No matter where Matthews went, is was going to be a great selection for any team. The Falcons needed to bulk up their offensive line to improve their running game and that’s what Matthews brings to the table. He’s the cousin of Clay Matthews and the part of the Matthews football family tree that has produced great players over the years.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers select WR Mike Evans 7th overall. Besides Watkins, Evans was the most NFL-ready receiver. He’s big like Calvin Johnson and will be a great asset to Vincent Jackson. His role in the passing game will greatly benefit a team that does not have a solid foundation at the quarterback position.

St. Louis Rams select DT Aaron Donald 13th overall. First Chris Long, then Robert Quinn, then Michael Brockers and now Aaron Donald. I think it’s safe to say that the Rams have now solidified the best defensive line in football. Donald will make an excellent addition to this much-improved defense.

There were a lot of other great picks, but the one that made the biggest headlines was Johnny Manziel going to the Cleveland Browns for the 22nd pick in the draft. The Browns shocked a lot of people when they didn’t take Manziel earlier at number 8 when they took CB Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State instead. They were very fortunate that Manziel slid down to 22 and will become the 3rd quarterback selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round since 2007. He will also be the 21st quarterback for the Browns since 1999. Hopefully, he can produce a great future for the Browns that has not found a superstar quarterback in a long time.

Some other notable mentions are CB Kyle Fuller to the Bears at 14, MLB C.J. Mosley to the Ravens at 17, WR Brandin Cooks to the Saints at 20, WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Panthers at 28, and finally QB Teddy Bridgewater to the Vikings as the last pick in the first round. Stay tuned for rounds 2 and 3 later tonight. For more information on this year’s draft, click here.

NFL Draft 2014

I’m not good at making Mock Drafts, but I do know that big things will happen! A bunch of football players have their dream come true once Roger Goodell announces their name on the Radio City Music Hall stage in New York City. Here’s a list of some things I think will happen in this year’s upcoming draft:

1. There will be at least five trades in the first round. Last year, there were 11 trades in the first round of the draft! That messed up everyone’s Mock Draft! This year I see a lot of trades, because some teams will look for more quality picks than more quantity of picks. However this year, it is a very deep draft class for almost every position, so I see teams getting exactly what they need at every pick.

2. Michael Sam will get drafted in the first round. Sam is the 1st Team All-American defensive end out of Missouri. He’s a very talented pass rusher and a gifted athlete. He also made history recently by being the first NFL prospect to publicly announce his homosexuality. So I see him as the first openly gay athlete to play in the NFL. I don’t think teams will draft him to say that they drafted the first gay football player, but teams should focus more on his play-making ability on defense and the way he could attribute to his team on the field rather than off of it. I could see him go to the Tennessee Titans at pick 11 or possibly the San Diego Chargers at pick 25. Either way, he will be a great player in the NFL in the near future.

3. Four quarterbacks will be taken in the first ten picks of the draft. This draft class is loaded with talented quarterbacks. You got Johnny Manziel, the first freshman quarterback to win the Heisman; Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville; Blake Bortles, the Tebow-like player out of UCF; Derek Carr, brother of former 1st overall pick David Carr, out of Fresno State; A.J. McCarron, the quarterback out of Alabama that has won a ton of football games; and many more. Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Oakland all need quarterbacks and we could possibly see four quarterbacks taken in the first five picks of the draft, but you just never know.

4. Jadeveon Clowney won’t be a top five pick. I’m not saying this to downgrade Clowney’s talent, I’m just saying that teams won’t really need him until later on in draft. Clowney is probably the most gifted and talented player in the draft, but last season was kind of disappointing for him. He didn’t exceed expectations and that’s probably why teams will hesitate to draft him. His work ethic and off the field antics would probably cost him a top pick. I will say this though, whoever gets him will get a future Pro Bowler. He’s going to have to land at the right team with the right coach to get him in that direction.

5. The San Francisco 49ers will be the winner of this draft. Jim Harbaugh knows a good football player when he sees one. This year, he has 11 picks in the draft, the most out of any team this year. Are the 49ers going to draft 11 players? Absolutely not. They are going to use these draft picks to trade up in the draft to get better quality players. I see them drafting probably only five or six players, but those five or six players will probably be future stars in the NFL. Not only that, but the 49ers already have Super Bowl talent on their team. So if they get a hold of five or six great, talented players, they could shove Seattle out of the way as the big contender in the NFC West. Look for San Francisco to draft high quality receivers and offensive line to counter the Seahawks’ defense.

If I do want to toss up some mock draft picks, I would say that Johnny Manziel will be the first pick overall by the Houston Texans. It would be a great fit for both him and Houston. Manziel would get to stay in his home state of Texas and Houston would get an exciting player that will bring in ticket sales like never before. Also, if Detroit gets Manziel’s teammate, wide receiver Mike Evans, the Lions would have the best passing offense in the NFL. Having a big receiver like Evans would take a lot of pressure off Megatron. I predict that Matthew Stafford will have a career year if the Lions get that number two receiver that Calvin Johnson needs. That’s my prediction for this year’s NFL draft and I can’t wait for it to start! I hope the Redskins get someone good.