Who Were the Best Players Drafted During Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft?
|Date & Time||Friday May 9, 2014, 12:00 PM (EDT)|
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With the first night of the 2014 NFL draft behind us, now it’s time for the really fun part. We get to analyze picks for the next 117 days….starting right now. Yay! Below, you’ll find a breakdown of my top ten favorite round one picks. Things got a little topsy turvy last night (especially for the Cleveland Browns), but overall teams made smart decisions and 32 players know whose colors they’ll be donning for the foreseeable future.
1. I’m a big fan of WR Sammy Watkins and I was gunning for Cleveland to take him with the No. 4 overall pick. Even though the Browns (somewhat randomly, it seemed) opted to trade this pick to the Buffalo Bills, Watkins was still the 4th player drafted. I love this pick. Giving QB E.J. Manuel a solid, dynamic target like Watkins is the smartest thing the Bills organization could’ve done.
2. DE Jadeveon Clowney was considered by most to be the best player available in this draft. The Houston Texans agreed, snapping him up with the No. 1 overall pick. Clowney’s 4.53 40 remains insanely impressive given his 6’5, 266 pound frame and his natural athleticism is incredible. J.J. Watt and Clowney on the same D line? I’m getting worried for my boy Nike Andrew Luck's ACLs already…
3. Personally, I think OLB Khalil Mack (who became the first player from the University of Buffalo ever taken in rounds one or two) is an even better all-around player than Clowney, so I was thrilled to see him go in the top five last night. The Oakland Raiders need help at, well, every position, so taking one of the best overall players in the draft wasn’t a bad call. During his senior year, Mack had 10.5 sacks and 3 interceptions. Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Alex Smith might just have to learn to watch their backs.
4. OT Jake Matthews, cousin of Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and the seventh in his family to become a professional football player, is a smart, tough player who was one of the safest bets in this year’s draft. Matthews started for three years in the difficult SEC conference and knows the game like the back of his hand. The Atlanta Falcons desperately need to bolster QB Matt Ryan’s O line and drafting Matthews was the perfect place to start.
5. Lovie Smith and the powers-that-be at Tampa Bay opted to refrain from drafting a QB (perhaps they see Mike Glennon as the future of the franchise after all?) and grabbed WR Mike Evans instead. Evans, who holds the distinction of being Johnny Manziel’s favorite target in college, is 6’5 and 230 pounds. Evans racked-up 1,394 yards and 12 TDs during the 2013 season and should do well in the NFL due to both his size and raw talent.
6. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who are basically the Oakland Raiders of the east, could benefit from adding talent everywhere. They decided to start under center by drafting QB Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick. 6’5, 232 pound Bortles has great size and is surprisingly fast. Bortles has drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and I think he was the most well-rounded QB in this year’s draft class. Though Bortles hasn’t won the starting job over the Jags current QB Chad Henne yet, drafting him should give Jacksonville loyalists some semblance of hope for the future.
7. Ex-Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks had 1,730 yards and 16 TDs in 2013. The New Orleans Saints decided that Cooks will be the perfect addition to their offense, which lost RB Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles. Between TE (or is that WR? Oh drama…) Jimmy Graham, WR Marques Colston, WR Robert Meachem, and Cooks, QB Drew Brees ought to be sititn’ pretty in 2014.
8. For once, the New York Jets seem to have made an intelligent decision during the draft. The Big Apple’s other team opted to take S Calvin Pryor, whose nickname, “The Louisville Slugger,” is this baseball loving girl’s favorite in a long time. During his last two college seasons, Pryor forced a total of seven fumbles and gave offenses fits. Pryor is fast, hits hard, and has the kind of swagger that Rex Ryan doesn’t shy away from.
9. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is getting old. This isn’t a jab, merely a fact. The organization decided to give their D a booster shot by adding OLB Ryan Shazier. According to the books, Shazier had an astounding 143 tackles in 2013. The former Ohio State Buckeye also had a great showing at the combine. Hopefully Shazier will be able to inject some life into the Steel City’s defensive line.
10. The Cleveland Browns No. 8 pick (which they received when they traded the No. 4 to the Buffalo Bills) was expected to be QB Johnny Manziel. But then it wasn’t. Instead, they took Manziel with the No. 22 pick (which they received when they traded the No. 26 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles). Got all that? Yeah, it was weird. Regardless, I like the Browns’ decision to take CB Justin Gilbert in the top ten. Though they already have an excellent CB in Joe Haden, Gilbert was the most NFL-ready DB in 2014 draft. If they had to take a defender (instead of a WR or QB, which they need like fish need water), Gilbert was a good play.