What It All Means: AFC Draft Breakdowns
1.17 C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
2.16 Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
3.15 Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State
3.35 Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado St.
4.34 Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
4.38 Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina
5.35 John Urschel, OG, Penn State
6.18 Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
7.03 Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
For years, every Ravens draft review focused on whether they improved the offense. But Joe Flacco has shifted that balance of power, which is why there was minimal murmuring about four of Baltimore’s first five picks being defensive players. The lone offensive selection through Friday, tight end Crockett Gillmore, will primarily watch from the sideline as a rookie as veterans Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels figure to occupy the two spots in new coordinator Gary Kubiak’s play-action system. As for those defensive picks …
C.J. Mosley—who hails from Alabama, ostensibly GM Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater and favorite program to draft from—will compete with last year’s second-rounder, Arthur Brown, for the starting inside linebacker job next to 32-year-old Daryl Smith, whom the coaching staff justifiably loves. Mosley and Brown hope to both be starters sometime before Smith’s new contract expires after 2017. One could argue that Timmy Jernigan “dropped” to the Ravens in Round 2. By drafting another big defensive lineman, Brent Urban, two rounds later, Newsome tacitly told us he’s not optimistic about Terrence Cody, a second-round pick in 2010 who re-signed for one year and small money.
1.04 Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
2.12 Cyrus Kouandijo, OL, Alabama
3.09 Preston Brown, LB, Louisville
4.09 Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
5.13 Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
7.06 Randell Johnson, LB, Florida Atlantic
7.22 Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (Fla.)
Buffalo’s trade up five spots to the fourth pick, to get Sammy Watkins, might evoke memories of Atlanta’s trade to get Julio Jones, but this is a different scenario. For starters, GM Doug Whaley’s Bills have a lot more needs than Thomas Dimitroff’s Falcons had in 2011, making Buffalo’s a much costlier trade. History says the Bills will wind up surrendering a pair of top-10 picks in this deal. That might not be of much concern to Whaley. New ownership is on the horizon and the buyer is not promised to be loyal to the current front office. The best way for Whaley to prove to his next boss that he’s right for the job is to win as many games as possible in 2014.
Watkins can help this cause, certainly, but it’s a little curious the Bills traded Stevie Johnson the day after making this pick. The soon-to-be 28-year-old veteran was due only $3.65 million this year and Doug Marrone’s offense often features three wide receivers. The Bills need at least four, and maybe five, receivers who can contribute on Sundays. Perhaps they are just intrigued with last year’s rookie receivers, second-rounder Robert Woods (a good route runner) and third-rounder Marquise Goodwin (a burner).
As for this year’s other picks, Kouandijo will vie for the right tackle job opposite 2012 second-rounder Cordy Glenn, who has been solid on the left side. The Preston Brown selection proves the Bills are serious about moving 2013 second-rounder Kiko Alonso, sensational playing inside as a rookie, outside in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3.
1.24 Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
2.23 Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
3.24 Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
4.11 Russell Bodine, OC, North Carolina
5.24 A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
6.36 Marquis Flowers, LB, Arizona
7.24 James Wright, WR, LSU
7.37 Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern
Darqueze Dennard’s arrival is partly an indictment of Dre Kirkpatrick, a first-round pick three years ago who has been sidelined by injuries and sluggish development. But even if Kirkpatrick blossoms this summer there’s still likely to be a playing time for Dennard; incumbent starting left corner Terence Newman is 35, and right side starter and slot ace Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury.
Jeremy Hill’s arrival likely signals BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s departure, if not this year then certainly next year. Hill figures to be a more dynamic version of The Law Firm. The selection of Will Clarke was no surprise. Every year, the Bengals use an early-to-middle-round pick on an athletic defensive lineman who has the pass-rushing prowess and athleticism in space to operate in the zone-blitzing scheme that Mike Zimmer installed and that new coordinator Paul Guenther now hopes to perfect.
Lastly, it’s worth noting for the record that A.J. McCarron is not here to compete for Andy Dalton’s job. McCarron said before the draft that multiple teams told him he had a first-round grade. But when talk was no longer cheap, multiple teams (as in every team) told McCarron what everyone else already knew: He was a fifth-round prospect.
1.08 Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
1.22 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
2.03 Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
3.07 Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa
3.30 Terrance West, RB, Towson
4.27 Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
You know the narrative here: The Browns fan base is ENERGIZED!, Johnny Manziel is just here to work, blah blah blah… No team ever won because of an ENERGIZED! fan base, a harsh truth made more unfortunate by the fact that no fan base has ever managed to remain ENERGIZED! when its team couldn’t win. There is speculation that Ray Farmer’s choice of Manziel was influenced by owner Jimmy Haslam. The Browns refute this, but it wouldn’t be the first time an owner’s wishes overruled the draft board. That is Haslam’s prerogative, of course. But if Haslam had truly been bullying Farmer into picking Manziel, wouldn’t Farmer would have done so at Pick 4? Or at least at Pick 8?
Instead, Farmer tabbed Justin Gilbert, a selection few saw coming but one that makes perfect sense. New head coach Mike Pettine’s blitz-happy scheme demands that corners hold up in one-on-one man coverage. Even when it’s not a blitz, Pettine will often still need his corners to play on an island given that many of his coverage concepts feature man-to-man outside and zone inside. Gilbert, teaming with budding superstar Joe Haden, theoretically gives Pettine two corners he can use in iso-man.
1.31 Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
2.24 Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
3.31 Michael Schofield, OL, Michigan
5.16 Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
6.31 Matt Paradis, OC, Boise St.
7.27 Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma
With a 38-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl-ready roster, one has to assume that Bradley Roby, Cody Latimer and Michael Schofield are viewed as instant contributors. There’s room for all of them in 2014. Roby will vie for the starting corner job opposite Aqib Talib, ahead of incumbent Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in January. If Harris begins the year on the PUP list, Roby will almost certainly be assured of at least nickel snaps (which are like starter’s snaps in today’s NFL) and will have to beat out last year’s third-rounder, Kayvon Webster, for reps in the base 4-3.
Latimer should be able to beat out Andre Caldwell as the first wideout off the bench in Denver’s three-receiver base. Claiming a starting job is out of the question though, as Emmanuel Sanders already represents a solid upgrade over the departed Eric Decker (regardless of what the traditional stats might say).
Schofield will have a chance to compete for starting duties in the wake of Zane Beadles’ departure. At 6-6 and 300 pounds, he won’t actually go for Beadles’ old left guard job though. Rather, he’ll compete with Chris Clark at right tackle. RT incumbent Orlando Franklin has moved to Beadles’ old spot, where he’ll be less of a liability in pass protection.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
New England Patriots
1.29 Dominique Easley, DL, Florida
2.30 Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
4.05 Bryan Stork, OC, Florida State
4.30 James White, RB, Wisconsin
4.40 Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
6.03 Jon Halapio, OG, Florida
6.22 Zach Moore, DE, Concordia-St. Paul
6.30 Jemea Thomas, DB, Georgia Tech
7.29 Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
People are still recovering from the shock of the Patriots not trading up or down in the first round. They stood pat (or Pats) and filled an immediate need at defensive tackle. Whether Dominique Easley starts in Week 1 could be determined by whether veteran Tommy Kelly is fully recovered from the knee injury that wiped out his season last October. Vince Wilfork, coming off an October Achilles tear, figures to have the other defensive tackle job locked down; Bill Belichick would not have signed Wilfork to a new three-year, $22.5 million deal if he wasn’t on track to start in September.
Rumor is, the Patriots view Jimmy Garoppolo as a possible long-term replacement for Tom Brady. Recall that the man Brady unseated, Drew Bledsoe, was also ultimately replaced in Dallas by another young QB from Eastern Illinois. Like Tony Romo, Garoppolo has impressed scouts with his quick release and functional mobility. That said, it’s entirely possible that he is actually viewed as a developmental backup with some trade value down the road. There is zero evidence that Brady, who turns 37 in August, is slowing down. Brady has said he wants to play until he’s 40, which means he could have another four years left. Good teams draft with “down the road” in mind, but not four years down the road.
New York Jets
1.18 Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
2.17 Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
3.16 Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland
4.04 Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
4.15 Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA
4.37 Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
5.14 Jeremiah George, LB, Iowa St.
6.33 Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska
6.34 IK Enemkpali, LB, Louisiana Tech
6.37 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
7.18 Trevor Reilly, LB, Utah
Everyone expected the Jets to go wide receiver in the early rounds, but that’s never been Rex Ryan’s M.O. The pick was actually GM John Idzik’s call, but Idzik’s ideology is likely in line with Ryan’s: the most important thing is to keep your strengths strong. For the Jets, that’s defense.
And it’s not that Calvin Pryor isn’t a value pick anyway. The need at safety was just as dire as the need at wide receiver. Incumbent Dawan Landry has been average, and while Antonio Allen overachieved at times last year it wasn't always enough to keep former Eagles bust Jaiquawn Jarrett off the field. Ryan’s scheme uses a lot of three-safety packages, and they are key in his blitzes and disguises.
Sticking with the “building on strength” idea, the Jets also went defense in the third round with Dexter McDougle, who should compete right away for significant reps in this reeling cornerback corps (or, after the departure of Antonio Cromartie, cornerback corpse). One reason the Jets were comfortable passing on receivers in Round 1 is because they knew that this year’s rich receiver class would present quality prospects in the later rounds. Hence the selections of Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans in the fourth. And let’s not overlook Jace Amaro in Round 2. He was basically a slot receiver at Texas Tech.
1.05 Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
2.04 Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
3.17 Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi St.
4.07 Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
4.16 Keith McGill, CB, Utah
7.04 Travis Carrie, CB, Ohio
7.20 Shelby Harris, DE, Illinois State
7.32 Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
It takes a pretty special player to be drafted at No. 5 and be considered a steal. The Raiders are hoping that’s what Khalil Mack is, but that could be tough initially. Playing in a rotation that features declining newcomers LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck, Mack might very well have to deal with regular chip-blocks and protection slides while transitioning to the NFL from the Mid-American Conference.
Derek Carr is a dicey pick for GM Reggie McKenzie because McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen could feel pressure from owner Mark Davis to play the rookie right away. McKenzie and his coaching staff are likely pining to play an experienced signal-caller. Davis is likely less eager to see Matt Schaub then he is to see Carr, potentially the new face of the franchise. The rest of Oakland’s picks addressed areas of need because, well, for this team every area was an area of need.
1.15 Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
2.14 Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
3.33 Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State
4.18 Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
5.17 Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
5.33 Wesley Johnson, OL, Vanderbilt
6.16 Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
6.39 Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
7.15 Rob Blanchflower, TE, Massachusetts
Historically, rookies haven’t played much in Dick LeBeau’s defense. The matchup-zone principles are too complex for a first-year player to master. Last season, however, the Steelers departed from that unwritten rule. First-round outside linebacker Jarvis Jones worked his way into the starting lineup and fourth-round safety Shamarko Thomas was used predominantly in their dime package. Sure enough, both players struggled enough to lose their jobs at some point. (Jones later recaptured his.)
The play of Jones and Thomas wasn’t enough of a problem to keep coaches from bending that “no rookies” rule again this year. Like Lawrence Timmons, also drafted 15th overall, Ryan Shazier is a limber, athletic linebacker who can play a number of spots. He might be asked to play inside where, in this system, he would assume more duties in space and coverage. Last year’s starter, Vince Williams—a sixth-round pick in 2013 who also wound up being a rookie starter thanks to Larry Foote’s injury—is not a viable every-down player, so Shazier already has the beat on a starting job. Stephon Tuitt will compete for first-string reps at defensive end, where Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood were not re-signed.
San Diego Chargers
1.25 Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
2.18 Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
3.25 Chris Watt, OG, Notre Dame
5.25 Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas St.
6.25 Marion Grice, RB, Arizona St.
7.25 Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
The Chargers surprised no one by going with a cornerback in the first round. They needed an upgrade over the trio of Richard Marshall, Steve Williams and an improving but still flawed Shareece Wright. Jason Verrett should be in the starting lineup when the season opens.
Jeremiah Attaochu will not start in Week 1, as Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram are too good on first and second down to supplant. But the edge-rushing rookie could see regular snaps in coordinator John Pagano’s sub-packages, depending on how outside linebacker Dwight Freeney recovers from the torn quad that wiped out most of his 2013 season. At the very least, Attaochu’s arrival should bring an end to the underwhelming Larry English era—an era that, incredibly, lasted five years and two different management regimes. Chris Watt’s best chance at a starting gig is on the left side, where Chad Rinehart currently resides.
1.11 Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
2.22 Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
4.12 DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
4.22 Marqueston Huff, CB, Wyoming
5.11 Avery Williamson, LB, Kentucky
6.02 Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
By now you’ve probably heard more than one person say that Taylor Lewan is a guy you can plug in and have as your left tackle for 10 years. Who decided that all first-round left tackles can be expected to start for 10 years? And why just the left tackle position? Can wide receivers or, say, linebackers not be “plugged in” for 10 years?
This ridiculous generalization comes from the Orlando Pace/Walter Jones/Jonathan Ogden era, which means the first prospect people regularly touted as a “10-year left tackle” was Robert Gallery in 2004. Maybe Lewan will play 10 years for the Titans, 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. Time will tell.
To be fair to the cliché artists, there have been several left tackles who have lasted maybe not 10 years, but at least a quality seven or eight. One of those tackles is the man whose job Lewan is chasing: soon-to-be 32-year-old Michael Roos. Rounding out the top of this group, Bishop Sankey doesn’t have to chase Chris Johnson’s job, he already has it. DaQuan Jones and Marqueston Huff will likely just bring depth to the defense, while Zach Mettenberger projects as a hopeful long-term backup and nothing more.