Posted May 13, 2014

2014 NFL draft grades: Vikings, Packers and Raiders receive highest marks

NFL Draft, NFL draft 2014
2014 NFL draft grades: Team-by-team breakdowns

The Vikings traded back into the first round to land QB Teddy Bridgewater. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

With all 256 picks of the 2014 NFL draft in the books, it’s time to take a look at where things stand.

Find grades and breakdowns for all 32 teams below.

Arizona Cardinals

One thing is for sure — if you’re a receiver and you’re facing Arizona’s defense, keep your head on a swivel. Between second-year safety Tyrann Mathieu and 2014 first-rounder Deone Bucannon from Washington State, the Cardinals are looking to scare enemy offenses with their safeties. Bucannon plays at full speed and with killer intensity at all times, and if he ever finds his sense of direction, he’s going to be even more dangerous.

Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas is a big blocker and burgeoning receiver who will take time to develop. North Carolina end Kareem Martin is a huge (6-foot-6, 272) defender who could back up Calais Campbell. Pittsburg State receiver John Brown will help take the top off enemy defenses. Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is a developmental prospect who might find his way at another position and Murray State receiver Walter Powell is a smaller slot man. Overall, the Cards added some targets and got meaner in the defensive backfield; two musts as they try to move atop the NFC West.

Grade: B

– Doug Farrar

MORE COVERAGE: Round 1 Steals, reaches | Day 2 steals, reachesFirst-round grades 

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons started their draft by getting bigger, stronger and more talented at their most pressing positional groups — the offensive and defensive lines. First-round offensive tackle Jake Matthews should slot right in as Matt Ryan’s blindside protector for the next half-decade. And on defense, Minnesota hybrid lineman Ra’Shede Hageman has the potential to play over multiple gaps on a line that has changed in scheme. Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward is an excellent athlete who can move around to a few different roles, and Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo is an interesting developmental pass rusher. All in all, a nice haul for the Falcons — if Hageman develops into the player he can be.

Grade: B

– DF

Baltimore Ravens

From a strict talent-and-value perspective, the Ravens may have done as well as any other team in the draft. LB C.J. Mosley, if he’s healthy, could be a Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner; DT Timmy Jernigan had mid-Round 1 potential, only to fall to pick 48; safety Terrence Brooks may be an instant starter. Baltimore also landed some of the better role players available, like TE Crockett Gillmore and underrated QB Keith Wenning. The lone knock here comes from Baltimore’s inability to really address its offensive line.

Grade: A-minus

– Chris Burke

Buffalo Bills

A gambler’s draft. The Bills traded the No. 9 pick and two 2015 selections (first- and fourth-round) to Cleveland so they could nab WR Sammy Watkins, then traded Stevie Johnson away to San Francisco. That’s all after they traded earlier for ex-Bucs WR Mike Williams. Oh, and they sent Philadelphia a draft choice for RB Bryce Brown. But for all that, their biggest risks came along an offensive line that needed some help. OTs Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson and G Cyril Richardson all are rolls of the dice.

Safer selections came in Rounds 3 and 4, with solid LB Preston Brown and CB Ross Cockrell, respectively. At least one sure thing on the O-line would have been nice, given how Buffalo sacrificed to make itself a contender in 2014.

Grade: B

– CB

Carolina Panthers

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman got some great value picks, though Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin went about as projected as the 28th overall pick. However, getting Missouri defensive lineman Kony Ealy with the 60th pick was a steal, if you believe the many first-round grades he had. Perhaps the best value Carolina got came in the third round, with LSU guard Trai Turner, a true mauler who fits the Panthers’ power offense perfectly. Tre Boston is a nice-sized safety who will help in the defensive backfield, and Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney fits the Panthers’ power prototype. They still need receivers, and Benjamin is an unfinished project, so it would be fair to ding the Panthers a bit because they didn’t take advantage of such a deep wideout class.

Grade: A-minus

– DF

.

Chicago Bears

General manager Phil Emery hit a number of potential home runs, starting with first-round cornerback Kyle Fuller, who may have had the cleanest tape of anyone in this class at his position. Second-round LSU DT Ego Ferguson, though still learning the finer points of the game, should be able to stick at multiple spots. Grabbing Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton in the third round and Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey should be a win for the team’s Southwest area scout. Minnesota safety Brock Vereen actually projects pretty nicely as a slot corner at the next level, filling another clear need. Head coach Marc Trestman gets his developmental quarterback in David Fales, and Boise State offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. projects nicely as a possible guard.

Grade: A-minus

– DF

Cincinnati Bengals

After absolutely stealing CB Darquze Dennard at No. 24, it would have been hard for Cincinnati to screw this up too badly. The Bengals kept their momentum going with later selections of RB Jeremy Hill (likely a BenJarvus Green-Ellis replacement) and DE Will Clarke. Trading up for C Russell Bodine — just the third trade-up in team history — was an odd move, even though Cincinnati needed someone to push Trevor Robinson. Ultimate judgment of this class, no matter how unfair, may rest with the future of QB AJ McCarron.

Grade: A-minus

– CB

Cleveland Browns

The first day of the draft may have been among the most exciting stretches in franchise history, what with a trade down and then two trades up, netting the Browns CB Justin Gilbert and QB Johnny Manziel. There was talent found after that, as well, namely versatile OL Joel Bitonio and CB Pierre Desir — the latter a remarkable value at No. 127 overall. RB Terrance West is a sleeper. But Desir was Cleveland’s final pick, and there was nary a receiver to be found among the previous five choices.

Grade: B-plus

– CB

Dallas Cowboys

For the second straight season, the Cowboys went offensive line in the first round — but unlike Travis Frederick, Zack Martin wasn’t a reach. The former Notre Dame tackle can be a fantastic guard with a little finishing work. Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will try to replace a more prominent DeMarcus (Mr. Ware), and he has the nascent tools to do so, though the second round might have been a slight reach. Outside linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Will Smith will reinforce positions needed as Dallas tries to move intelligently to a 4-3 this year, and Baylor safety Will Dixon could be special as long as he stays out of trouble off the field and plays with a bit more discipline on it. Seventh-round Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell might be the sleeper here.

Grade: B-minus

– DF

Denver Broncos

Denver checked off several needs: CB with Bradley Roby, WR depth with Cody Latimer and LB with Lamin Barrow. The first two there dipped a slight bit on the board, so the Broncos could claim them as values. They need third-round pick Michael Schofield to pan out … and preferably to do so at guard, where the Broncos are thin yet did not make any additions. Nothing too remarkable here, though both Roby and Latimer may develop into stars in the not-so-distant future.

Grade: B

– CB

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199 comments
DasDweeb
DasDweeb

Niners GM Baalke has "struck out in recent years"? Hilarious. Especially since you chose to ignore the first of his three drafts, which yielded Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Bruce Miller, and many others. Exactly how many starters did you think the last two drafts should have yielded, considering the depth of the team. Given, he has whiffed on wideouts so far, but that's the only spot he has whiffed on. And if you followed the team, you'd know that Patton shows a lot of promise and Baalke addressed the WR need with the Johnson deal. 


One has to worry about the starting RCB spot, but that's the only obvious question mark on the Niners' roster. And if redshirts Carradine and Lattimore produce this year, then you have to drastically reassess the 2013 draft. 

Stillerfan88
Stillerfan88

How do you guys think Jonny Cleveland will do against the AFC NORTH defenses and is that why Cleveland's other QBs in previous drafts didn't do so well.

Suncawy
Suncawy

Ok, these guys shouldn't grade teams drafts when they don't even know the name of the players the team drafted. The Cowboys did not draft someone from Baylor named Will Dixon. That should be Ahmad Dixon and they drafted Will Smith from Texas Tech.

Kalzy
Kalzy

That buffoon Kuiper graded the Vikes a B-    He really knows nothing about the needs of teams in the nfl. His hair is absurd as well

Danodin
Danodin

Jeff Fisher is one of the best football minds of our time. Tre Mason did some great stuff in a talented conference this year and I think he is for real in an other wise not so shiny running back class. Keeping him with Robinson is a great chemistry move, even though I think Robinson will struggle in his division this year. I agree with these writers that Minnesota and Oakland also drafted very well, but I would add the Bengals and the Rams to the top tier and shift Green Bay out of the elite echelon for this year. They are painting themselves into an all pass all the time corner by not providing future run blocking for Lacy. He'll still get chunks because teams will be dropping a lot of defenders, but the offense missed a chance to get balanced.


Is Morgan Moses good? Spencer Long may be.

Danodin
Danodin

Cincinnati got Dennard and Aj McCarron? A+ in my book. 

6marK6
6marK6

One publication ranks a team's draft an A and another publication ranks that same team a C. Who to believe?

PubliusK1
PubliusK1

We must be in the golden age of NFL GM's.  Only one team in the NFL did not get at least a B grade.  That of course is the Patriots.  Huh?

sliznut
sliznut

Cowboys 2013 = one of the worst defenses in history

2014 1st Rnd pick  = Offensive linemen  


There we go!  That is using the ol noodle.  

muser
muser

History will show that the only people more inept than the GM's who chose the players who didn't pan out were the writers who gave them all high marks......

Gs1
Gs1

As a 9ers fan, it's hard for me to admit it but the Rams killed it the first day. They realized that they can't compete physically up front with the other NFC West monsters and picked the two best guys on both sides of the trenches. They also know they have to run the ball better in this division and got a good change of pace back in day two. 

IT'S ON NOW!!! Can't wait for the season to start.

Joe R2
Joe R2

Draft grades before any of these guys have played a snap are, well, pointless. But we all eat it up anyways...

JohnMatuszak
JohnMatuszak

Reggie McKenzie had to nail this draft and he did

Jim21
Jim21

I think Dallas has a lock on guys with the first name, DeMarcus. 

Bucky182
Bucky182

Let's be real and grade every team with an 'I'. But if we did that these guys would have nothing to write about and not get paid.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

It will bear out in two to three seasons, the Steelers had the best draft.

TonyDeRosa
TonyDeRosa

Doug, are you a Redskins or Stanford fan?  I actually live out West and Stanford is my favorite team in PAC 12.  As much as I like Murphy's hard work mentality, high character, production & relentless effort the knock on him is that he might have reached his ceiling already athletically.  His measurables from workouts back up that theory so I am not really understanding your amazing potential part to him.  He kind of is what he is right now and hopefully for Wash that translates into a steady hardworking player that can get to the QB on a consistent basis like in college.

JJ72
JJ72

Love the B- for Seattle.  Translation, I don't understand what they did but it seems to work so I won't give them a D.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

SI, I'll give you the REAL GRADES on this draft....in about 5 years after they have actually played a game in the NFL.  

PackersFanNumeroUno
PackersFanNumeroUno

I like that they gave us an A but I'd give us an A+. We absolutely won this draft.

dkendr
dkendr

Nobody got worse than a C ???

kevin prast
kevin prast

I like my Panthers chances this year   but I always do. GO  Carolina!!

httpwww.charlotteplumbingsvc.com 

yarnallpi
yarnallpi

Well, it appears the Steelers will miss the playoffs again this coming year.  Still no offensive line, and an offensive coordinator who is really a jerk.

amybeth23456
amybeth23456

So disappointed the browns picked that jerk. 

rbas2678
rbas2678

Wooh! And the author of this article knows better what each team needs than those who run the team. I'm just amazed.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@Danodin  Fisher's a good coach but "one of the best football minds of our time"??  Let's not get carried away.  

Stillerfan88
Stillerfan88

With the depth of this years draft how could they not get at least a "B". Still some talent left for free agency.

emrabq
emrabq

@muser it's a snap judgement based on the information currently on hand.  are you some disgruntled fan of a team receiving a low grade?

emrabq
emrabq

@Gs1 49ers didn't do too bad themselves.  rams biggest question mark is still at qb.  not sure why they are still so high on bradford.  we can all point to the offensive line, the receivers, the anemic running game prior to last year etc.  but bradford has to be part of the discussion too, right?

emrabq
emrabq

@JohnMatuszak he's still going to be looking for a job next offseason since the raiders will probably finish 5-11.

Stillerfan88
Stillerfan88

Not the best draft (1984) but addressed some issues. Could have done more in the secondary. I like our new tall red zone WR.

SportPage
SportPage

@stabmasterarson21   Keep saying that as they likely miss the playoffs 2 of those 3 seasons. And then when those picks don't pan out, settle in for a long run of mediocrity much like they've experienced the last several seasons. 

Danodin
Danodin

@kevin prast  Carolina definitely reinforced their identity as a conservative offensive team that expects to win with defense. I like that they got some talented players, but I think this is going to be a very interesting year in the NFC South. This is the only division where I think all four teams did better than average in the draft. AFC North did almost as good. I think the Panthers will miss Steve Smith in the close games. Very interested to see just how good Atlanta gets next year. They could surprise everyone by getting right back into the mix competitively. Everyone is going to throw fruit at me, but I think Jake Matthews is the best over all player in this draft (covers head with arms). I think Johnny Manziel is going to get exposed as his primary beneficiary.

DanRinkes
DanRinkes

@yarnallpi  How many years in a row do you expect they to draft an OL high?  They DID address the OL this year, in the form of Mike Munchak.  You've already spent a handful of #1's and #2s on the OL (Pouncey, DeCastro, Adams, Gilbert). You've got to address other positions and allow Munchak to develop the OL talent that they have.  


Secondly, who cares if Haley is a jerk?  From what I can tell, Roethlisberger is a jerk, but I'll take him on my team if he produces. 

JosephBagadoughnutz
JosephBagadoughnutz

@yarnallpi    agreed,  im not a steelers fan, but i almost cried when the C went down on something like the second play of the reg season

RonaldFischman
RonaldFischman

@amybeth23456 Is Manziel guilty of some kind of sexual misconduct? Remember that highly athletic, prominent college athletes, male or female, are EXTREMELY sexually desirable, and unless they hold strong beliefs about virginity until marriage, they are going to have sex. Lots of it. Some jilted partner, who was expecting constancy and monogamy, is going to point fingers. 


That being said, if the guy did some irresponsible or violent sexual offense, I agree with you.

LetsGoYanks
LetsGoYanks

@rbas2678 i'm pretty sure the only person who thought the Lions needed a TE in the 1st round with the 10th pick was the ones who run the team.   Just b/c you run a team doesn't mean you know what your team needs.  In fact, there's at least 10 teams a year that after the season, you can confidently say "they didn't know what they needed". 

donald5
donald5

@rbas2678  They got you to click on the story and drive the advertising revenue for SI . com.  Looks like he did a good job.

Semantics
Semantics

@rbas2678 It's much easier to dump on analysts than it is to do their job. They're charged with making predictive analysis, which by its nature is speculative. Nowhere does he claim he knows better than the teams; he merely comments upon his view of their choices, which is EXACTLY why people come to read these articles.


Or at least it should be. Apparently, some people read them to feel like they know better and to imply he doesn't know what he's doing. I'm sure these folks could do so much better.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@rbas2678  

ALL Writers have   ACQ Syndrome   .    It's inherent in their field.

Danodin
Danodin

@Go_Niners! @Danodin  Guilty as charged. Very underrated, under the radar talent evaluator and developer. Great leader also.

Danodin
Danodin

@emrabq @Gs1  Just look at the three defenses Bradford has had to play against in his division! He is a good quarter back. His numbers may never reflect his actual talent.

Go_Niners!
Go_Niners!

@Danodin @Go_Niners!  Agreed, the man can definitely coach.  Now, if you had said he's one of the best mustaches of our time...