Picking “losers” this year was pretty tough, especially because I liked some picks that the team’s made in these drafts quite a bit. Teams seem to be getting better and better at drafting because of the amount of information that is available to them. You might recognize some of these teams from last year, but it was still tough to put together Top 5. In my mind, if you don’t have a 1st round pick you’re automatically on this list. So without further adieu here is my Top 5 in alphabetical order.
The Buffalo Bills had a pretty nice draft, minus the fact they don’t have a first round pick next year and they took a chance on some offensive linemen. Sammy Watkins will be an instant impact player and is the second best player in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney. Watkins gives EJ Manuel a legit #1 wide receiver and the trade that netted them Bryce Brown will also give them depth at running back. This draft was all about helping out Manuel as must as possible. Cyrus Kouandjio could be a good right tackle, but if his knee problems flare up that reportedly got him red flagged at the combine, he may not be able to play in the league for very long. Cyril Richardson and Seantrel Henderson were good value picks, but neither will have much of an impact in the NFL if they don’t improve. Richardson is a big bodied guard that is too slow and isn’t very strong, while Henderson has all the talent in the world and seemingly doesn’t care. If two of these three linemen pan out, this will end up being a great draft, but they took a risk on all three. Ross Cockrell was their other good pick behind Watkins. Cockrell is a reliable cover corner that has quite a bit of experience and will help add depth to their secondary and should start in the nickel.
I really like the Kony Ealy and Trai Turner picks, but the fact they didn’t address the issue at offensive tackle at all is a major red flag. Jordan Gross retired and they haven’t replaced him whatsoever. Turner will give Cam Newton more time up the middle, but they didn’t replace their starting left tackle and that is a major problem. Kelvin Benjamin has a lot of potential and will be a true #1 at some point, but his impact next year may not be what they hope. Tre Boston wasn’t a bad pick, but taking him in the 4th round was a bit of a reach with issues at offensive tackle still unaddressed. The Panthers again added to their crowded backfield by drafting Tyler Gaffney to go with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and last year’s selection of Kenjon Barner. Was a 4th running back really worth drafting over taking a flyer on an athletic tackle? Bottom line is this is a quarterback driven league and if the Panthers can’t keep Newton upright, it won’t matter that he’s only throwing to Benjamin and Jason Avant. They’re not on this list because of what they picked, but more because of what they did not pick.
The Dallas Cowboys made this list for me when they made the smart choice and took Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel. Just kidding (sort of). Zack Martin was a fantastic choice and will give them versatility and depth on the offensive line, but Manziel would have been the fun choice. Martin can play any position on the line and will likely start at guard next year before transitioning to right tackle to play opposite Tyron Smith. Trading up to draft Demarcus Lawrence wasn’t the best decision, especially since they went back to the well and drafted another outside linebacker with their next selection. Demarcus Lawrence won’t replace DeMarcus Ware like they hope. Lawrence is an athletic pass rusher, but he needs to get bigger and stronger so he doesn’t get pushed around. Ahmad Dixon and Terrence Mitchell were nice depth selections for their struggling secondary, but they needed to address the issues at safety far sooner. Taking a flyer on a 7th rounder doesn’t fill a need at a position they have serious holes at.
As I said in the beginning, not having a first round pick is an automatic addition to this list. The Colts did make two nice picks by adding Jack Mewhort and Donte Moncrief. Mewhort gives the Colts depth on the offensive line and a potential future starting right tackle (though they already have two decent tackles). They clearly panicked at the thought of the Houston Texans with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Donte Moncrief gives the Colts another legitimate receiving option with TY Hilton, and Reggie Wayne coming off a serious knee injury. The rest of their draft will add some depth, but it still didn’t address the issues at running back or more importantly, the secondary. Do you really want to go into the season with only Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw? I think Richardson has the chance to get back to being a productive running back, but I’m one of the few that still thinks that and I still wouldn’t have gone into the season with only that crew in the backfield. On top of that, 53 defensive backs were picked in this year’s NFL Draft and they didn’t pick a single one despite having a need. Not a good look when you have limited draft picks.
The Washington Redskins had a solid draft, probably the best of anyone on this list, but no first round pick lands them here. That and the fact that they passed on a tackle to draft Trent Murphy. Murphy was a good player at Stanford but they had serious offensive line issues. Lucky for them Morgan Moses fell and they were able to draft him. Moses has played guard and tackle and gives them a future starting right tackle opposite Trent Williams. Spencer Long and Bashaud Breeland were solid picks and so was Lache Seastrunk. Long and Breeland at depth at need positions and Seastrunk gives them a very, very good running back to backup Alfred Morris. I don’t know why Seastrunk fell, but this is one of the bigger steals of the draft. It wasn’t a bad draft for them, but the fact that they were still without a first round pick because of the RG3 trade has them on this list.
You can see my 2014 NFL Draft Winners post here.