What It All Means: AFC Draft Breakdowns

Andy Benoit
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Houston Texans

1.01 Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, South Carolina
2.01 Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
3.01 C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
3.19 Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame
4.35 Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
6.01 Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, Alabama
6.05 Alfred Blue, RB, LSU
6.35 Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn
7.01 Andre Hal, DB, Vanderbilt
7.41 Lonnie Ballentine, FS, Memphis

After Thursday night, people could argue that the Texans were simply taking the best player available in Jadeveon Clowney. But after Friday night, with the selection of mobile guard Xavier Su’a-Filo at the top of Round 2, classic two-way tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz at the top of Round 3 and prototypical nose tackle Louis Nix in a trade up 18 picks later, it was clear: head coach Bill O’Brien and GM Rick Smith did not agree with the legions of pundits who claimed the team needed a quarterback. Despite what the way-too-frequently-cited Tom Brady story says, Tom Savage projects as a long-term backup. If he didn’t, the Texans—or another team—would have taken him long before the 135th pick.

You’ve maybe heard that if anyone can cajole a full effort out of Clowney, it’s Texans D-line coach Bill Kollar. But the man Clowney might be working closest with is new linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. Normally, whether Clowney plays with his hand in the dirt opposite or stands up as an edge-rusher would be a function of where the players around the rookie fit. But if Clowney’s talents are as transcendent as expected, wherever he plays will strictly be a function of wherever D coordinator Romeo Crennel feels he’s most dominant.

Indianapolis Colts

Despite losing their first-round pick in last year’s disastrous Trent Richardson trade, the Colts might have had the steal of the draft fall into their hands when Donte Moncrief was available in the third. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Despite losing their first-round pick in last year’s disastrous Trent Richardson trade, the Colts might have had the steal of the draft fall into their hands when Donte Moncrief was available in the third. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

2.27 Jack Mewhort, OL, Ohio State
3.26 Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
5.26 Jonathan Newsome, DE, Ball State
6.27 Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
7.17 Ulrick John, OT, Georgia St.

And the award for Most Boring Draft Weekend goes to… the Indianapolis Colts (courtesy of Trent Richardson). Imagine if the Colts could somehow draft Richardson as we know him now. Where would GM Ryan Grigson take him? The fifth round? The sixth?

With the draft picks he did have, Grigson addressed the two areas of greatest concern on offense. Jack Mewhort figures to compete for a starting job immediately given that left guard Donald Thomas is a fringe player and last year’s starter and there’s an opening at center after Indy let go Samson Satele. Donte Moncrief has been described by some as the steal of the draft. Time will tell, but his chances seem good given that few quarterbacks bring out the best in their targets like Andrew Luck does.

The Colts hope that their fourth-round pick also produces a starter one day. The pick was invested a year ago when Grigson traded up to the Browns’ spot at No. 139 to get defensive lineman Montori Hughes. That day likely won’t come in 2014, though, as Hughes is coming off a knee injury that landed him on I.R. after playing a rotational role in each of the first four games.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1.03 Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
2.07 Marqise Lee, WR, USC
2.29 Allen Robinson, WR, Penn St.
3.29 Brandon Linder, OG, Miami (Fla.)
4.14 Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
5.04 Telvin Smith, LB, Florida St.
5.19 Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
6.29 Luke Bowanko, OC, Virginia
7.07 Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida

Johnny Manziel would have filled more seats next season, but Jaguars owner Shad Khan smartly recognized that winning games is the surest way to keep those seats filled going forward. Khan lets his football people, headed by second-year GM Dave Caldwell, make choices. Caldwell seriously addressed his team’s most glaring needs, which is why Jacksonville’s first four selections came on offense. Start at the top, where Blake Bortles turned out to be the quarterback Caldwell & Co. liked all along. The 6-5, 232-pounder from nearby Central Florida is similar in style to Chad Henne, a traditional pocket passer, but Bortles figures to be a much better mover.

The selection of Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson makes the Bortles pick more encouraging, as top receiver Justin Blackmon is suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse. Guard Will Rackley did not cut it as first-stringer, which is why he got cut in the wake of the Brandon Linder selection.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs’ selection of edge rusher Dee Ford could signal that the end is near for Tamba Hali. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Chiefs’ selection of edge rusher Dee Ford could signal that the end is near for Tamba Hali. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

1.23 Dee Ford, DE/LB, Auburn
3.23 Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
4.24 De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
5.23 Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
6.17 Zach Fulton, OG, Tennessee
6.24 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill (Canada)

It’s never a good idea to disparage a team’s draft because, unless you’ve actually been in that war room for several months, you can’t rationally believe that you know better than that team’s coaches and front office execs. That being said… boy, it’s sure hard to understand why the Chiefs did not take advantage of what may have been the deepest wide receiver class in draft history.

It’s especially hard to understand when you consider who the Chiefs did take: Dee Ford, a pass-rusher; Phillip Gaines, believed to fit best as a zone corner; and De’Anthony Thomas, a ballcarrier. Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey may have addressed their team’s three strongest areas. But, having not been in Reid’s and Dorsey’s war room, instead of asking WHAT WERE THE CHIEFS DOING!!???! let’s calmly and genuinely ask, What were the Chiefs doing?

First off, the guess here is that Reid believes his offense, which runs on screens and defined route concepts, does not need a big-time wide receiver; the system will get guys open. Either this, or Reid believes that a plodding Dwayne Bowe, underachieving A.J. Jenkins and buttery-fingered (and historically injury-prone) Donnie Avery will suffice. Whatever it is, Reid and Dorsey were comfortable drafting at other positions. The guess on those picks…

With Ford, the Chiefs believe that Tamba Hali, who is only 30 but has played almost every snap the past eight years—and with a relentless outpouring of energy, no less—is nearing the end. His contract expires after the 2015 season, or he might be worth cutting after this season. And, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hali was also 20 pounds overweight this offseason.
With the Gaines pick, the Chiefs believe that sturdy press corner Brandon Flowers, in the near future, is not going to be worth the $6 million-plus that his contract pays him annually. With the Thomas pick, the Chiefs are ostensibly concerned about a 27-year-old feature back Jamaal Charles’ durability and workload. Those are just theories of what the Chiefs may have been doing.

Miami Dolphins

1.19 Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
2.31 Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
3.03 Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota St.
4.25 Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
5.15 Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
5.31 Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
6.14 Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
7.19 Terrence Fede, DE, Marist

Mike Pouncey, a prominent figure in last year’s bullying scandal, took tone-deafness and sensibility to new lows shortly after the selection of Ja’Wuan James. The Pro Bowl center tweeted, “Great pick! I can’t wait for our gifts he’s getting us lol.” Quit laughing, Mike: your team needs James to perform like a veteran right away.

Pouncey’s twitter account was, mercifully, deactivated by the time first-year Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey took Billy Turner. That selection gives last year’s third-round pick, guard Dallas Thomas, notice that the new regime may not be as fond of him as the last one was. Thomas’s right guard position figures to be Turner’s best chance at starting right away, though the 6-foot-5, 315-pound rookie is said to be capable of playing multiple positions. Can he transition from tiny North Dakota State, though?

Jarvis Landry’s arrival might be viewed by some as a notice to Mike Wallace. Maybe it is. But keep in mind: Miami’s top backup receivers, Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns, are both coming off serious knee injuries. If neither can contribute at a high level, Landry will compete for immediate playing time with improving 2012 seventh-rounder Rishard Matthews.


Mr. Benoit, to say Brady shows no signs of decline befuddles me. I'm a Pats fan since 1974 and have seen them all come and go. The Brady of old rarely missed wide open receivers downfield and consistently threw the ball to the proper side enabling yards after the catch, the current Brady fails to consistently do this. He's also developed a habit of ducking in anticipation of fantom rushers and has lost the little bit of mobility he once had. I wouldn't be surprised if this is Toms' last season as the starter for the Pats. Belicheck has often said its better to let a player go a year early than a year late and is not sentimental when making decisions for his team. The list of fan favorites he has let go is a long one.


Both Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are coming off injuries. Wilfork's deal has only one year guaranteed; the other two years are club options. A healthy Easley (he also has an injury history while at Florida) could just as likely be the long-term successor to Wilfork as Kelly's short-term replacement.  


"At 6-6-6 and 300 pounds..."

So, Schofield will be a beast then?


Hear ya on the Chiefs draft. Hope that's not Andy making the same mistake he made with McNabb, not getting him a flat-out playmaking stud WR. It's why the Eagles and McNabb never won the SB. Arena League talent at WR. 


"...or maybe he’ll go the Branden Albert/Shawn Andrews/Jammal Brown/Alex Barron/Levi Brown/Chris Williams/Jason Smith/Andre Smith/Eugene Monroe/Michael Oher/Bryan Bulaga route and not."

Andre Smith just got a new contract with the team who drafted him: the Bengals. 


In the wake of free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos remain the best team in the AFC.The Patriots are No. 2 and the Colts are No. 3, ahead of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Bengals.“The Hoodie” must give Brady & Co. more reliable offensive weapons if New England is to overtake Denver.


@Jason1988  ...and last i checked bryan bulaga is still holding strong with the packers.

but his point is taken. few projected "plug and play 10 year tackles" turn out to be that. 


@Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan The more that HOU and JAX improve, the less likely it is that IND will remain at #3.

The big fear is that Brady is going to start breaking down; I can see him finishing up his career someplace else. The old cliché is that its better to trade a player like that one year too early than one year too late. Garoppolo and Mallet will be starter and backup soon; its just a matter of which player is which.