Top Ten Most Improved Teams After the 2014 NFL Draft
Which NFL Teams Had the Best Drafts in 2014?
2014 NFL Off-Season
It’s all draft analysis all the time this week, folks. This morning we’re going to take a look at the ten most improved teams post-draft. Of course, we can’t possibly know for sure how players (I’m looking at you, Manziel) will work out until after the season begins. Theoretically, though, these ten teams’ front offices and coaching staffs hit it out of the park.
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1. When your division includes both the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, it’s tough to compete these days. I really like what Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis Rams did to boost their chances, though. The Rams snagged both top-ranked OT Greg Robinson and top-ranked DT Aaron Donald, which will add much-needed power to their lines on both sides of the football. The club also drafted phenom RB Tre Mason and DB Lamarcus Joyner, who gave offenses fits throughout his college career.
2. The Houston Texans, who came into the 2014 draft with the No. 1 overall pick and the worst record in the league, made intelligent choices under new head coach Bill O’Brien. The club, if you were off the grid bathing in a river and eating bugs last weekend, selected much-heralded DE Jadeveon Clowney with their first pick. Watt and Clowney together? Sounds like a recipe for success. I’m thinking their nickname ought to be Wowney. After securing Clowney, the Texans drafted top G Xavier Su’a-Filo and top nose tackle Louis Nix, among others.
3. Remaining in the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars made some uncharacteristically good decisions in the 2014 draft. The Jags scored fewer points than any other team in the league last year. They’re trying to remedy this problem with picks like QB Blake Bortles, WR Marqise Lee (a favorite of mine), WR Allen Robinson, and RB Storm Johnson (a round 7 pick who could turn out to be an incredible value.) Might be a little harder than usual for my Colts to take the division when the season finally arrives. Deep cleansing breaths…
4. Amazingly, the Cleveland Browns are in my top 5 on this list, largely due to their No. 8 overall selection of CB Justin Gilbert (who should be excellent alongside current CB Joe Haden) and their later picks of OL Joel Bitonio and RB Terrance West. We won’t overlook the elephant in the room, though. The Browns took much-hyped QB Johnny Manziel with the No. 22 pick. Y’all know how I feel about Johnny Football, but here’s hoping he proves me wrong and actually does turn out to be the second coming of Fran Tarkenton.
5. The Cincinnati Bengals made some exceptional selections during this year’s draft. Though the team isn’t as flashy as some, their consistent play-off appearances in recent seasons prove that they’re drafting well. I love the addition of CB Darqueze Denard in the 1st round; 2nd round pick RB Jeremy Hill could very well become a starter in due time. Furthermore, the squad added QB AJ McCarron. Presumably, McCarron will be backing up Andy Dalton for now, but we’ll have to wait and see how the Red Rifle’s contract situation shapes-up….and if he can actually win a play-off game.
6. During free agency, the Oakland Raiders made some more-than-befuddling choices (I once again return to the Roger Saffold disaster), but they largely redeemed themselves in this year’s draft. The club took my absolute favorite player from this year’s class, LB Khalil Mack, in the 1st round. Later on, they added QB Derek Carr and G Gabe Jackson, both of whom have the potential to be solid starters.
7. The San Francisco 49ers continued to stack their roster in this year’s draft; they arguably have the top all-around team in the league after adding RB Carlos Hyde in the 2nd round and future starter OL Brandon Thomas in the 3rd. The Niners also drafted talented C Marcus Martin, LB Chris Borland, and WR Bruce Ellington.
8. It looks like the Buffalo Bills have decided to give QB EJ Manuel at least one actual target after his rookie campaign. The Bills traded a 2015 1st round pick to the Browns in order to secure WR Sammy Watkins (who you know I love) with the No. 4 overall selection. They also added RT Cyrus Kouandijio (fingers crossed his knee holds up) and G Cyril Richardson to protect their young QB.
9. Three out of four from my boys’ division made my list; I’m gearing up for a rough season or five. The Tennessee Titans, under the new leadership of Ken Whisenhunt, added several solid players, including T Taylor Lewan, RB Bishop Sankey, and QB Zach Mettenberger. Lewan and Mettenberger have both had some off-field issues, but if they can be whipped into shape, Nashville now has the basis for a darn good football team.
10. The Atlanta Falcons had an absolutely disastrous 2013 season after making it to the NFC championship game the year before. Despite being unable to broker a marquis trade, the club added some top talent, including T Jake Matthews and T Ra’Shede Hageman. The club also opted to bring talented RB Devonta Freeman to the ATL.