Gridiron Experts NFL Draft Round one Recap
Written by: Matt Harmon, Mike Rigz, Jason Willan, Darren Collette
1. Jadeveon Clowney
Houston | DE | 6’6 | 266lbs
Jadeveon Clowney improves the Texans defense the moment he walks in the door. He’s the type of transcendent defender who makes every player on the defense better. The pressure on quarterbacks that he’ll provide makes the secondary’s life easier. The offense won’t have to carry games, and they can get by with a lesser quarterback. Combine his skill with the fact that he’ll be paired with the best defender in the NFL in J.J. Watt, the Texans are in good shape. The only thing keeping Clowney from a dominant pro career is any potential injuries.
2. Greg Robinson
St. Louis | OL | 6’5 | 332lbs
It sounds like the Rams intend to use Greg Robinson at left guard—at least during his rookie season. That is a fantastic idea. Robinson is a dominant and powerful run blocker, who will excel at guard. The Rams began to establish a run first mentality with Zac Stacy late last season, which Robinson fits. St. Louis can bring Robinson along slowly and develop him into a potentially Hall of Fame type linemen.
Jacksonville | QB | 6’5″ | 232lbs
To me, Bortles is the distant third best quarterback in this draft—I have Bridgewater and Manziel over him. He is a project quarterback whose mechanics need work. Bortles fits the NFL prototype, and it’s why he went third overall. He has the physical tools and requisite size, but has a ways to go in his development. Hopefully, Jacksonville gives Bortles the he needs to sit the bench behind Chad Henne. I understand passing on some of the better players for a franchise quarterback, but it was the wrong player.
Bortles has a ton of upside and will compete for a starting job this summer. He’s a sharp kid and a born leader. The Jaguars failed to lock up their franchise QB a few years ago in Blaine Gabbert, but were not shy to try again with a player this time round that is deserving of a top 5 selection.
Bortles completed 52.9% of his passes thrown at least 25 yards downfield last season. Only Tajh Boyd (55%) had a higher completion percentage than Bortles on passes of this distance (min. 25 attempts).
Read more about Blake Bortles here
4. Sammy Watkins
Buffalo | WR | 6’1″ | 211lbs
The Bills clearly want to surround E.J. Manuel with talent, and Sammy Watkins is a tremendous one. The Bills did give up a lot to jump to the fourth pick, and it’s questionable if it’s worth it. However, Watkins will be a great player and has all the tools of a number one wideout. Buffalo has a ton of options in the passing game for Manuel. They can spread the field with Watkins, Mike Williams or Stevie Johnson and the two receivers they took in last year’s draft. It’s all on Manuel’s shoulders now. The Bills are setting it up as an excuse-free situation for him.
Buffalo seemingly gave up a lot to move up here – 9th pick in 2014; 1st and 4th round picks in 2015 – but Watkins could be a special players. The Bills are attempting to put weapons around E.J. Manuel and Watkins is one of the more explosive guys in the draft. For fantasy purposes, however, I don’t like this landing spot for Watkins. The Bills ranked 28th in passing yards last season and only the Jets threw fewer touchdown passes.
Read more about Sammy Watkins here
Oakland | LB | 6’3″ | 251lbs
The Oakland Raiders have had a ugly history of drafting busts in the first round, yet I’m confident Khali Mack will start a new trend for the Black and Silver. Mack will step in right away and add a boast to the Raiders pass rush and hopefully improve the 29th ranked defense. -Mike Rigz The Raiders get a strong piece for their defense in Khalil Mack. He brings versatility and aggression to a unit that has been bland for too long now. Mack is strong at the point of attack against the run, and can offer a lot as a pass rusher. He might be a tad shy of elite standards, but he’ll at least be a very good player. The Raiders brought in a lot of veteran stopgap defenders, but drafting Mack brings them a foundation piece.
Atlanta OT | 6’5″ | 308lbs
Jake Matthews is exactly what the Falcons need on the offensive line. He’s a franchise left tackle that can pass protect for Matt Ryan. The Falcons still believe they’re a contending team, and Matthews is the most pro ready player in the draft. He can step in day one and improve their pass protection. Atlanta is a team that is built around their quarterback and two high-end wide receivers. Jake Matthews allows the team to get back to the identity. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White all get better from this pick.
7. Mike Evans
Tampa Bay | WR | 6’5″ | 231lbs
I wrote on Gridiron Experts that Josh McCown wasn’t a viable starting fantasy quarterback. Well, this pick helps disprove that theory. Mike Evans paired with Vincent Jackson mimics what McCown had in Marshall and Jeffery last season in Chicago. Evans is a massive 6’5 and very physical. He can box out defenders and win at the catch point. While the pick may not be great value, Evans fits perfectly with the Bucs. He could easily be the best fantasy rookie this season. His size and ability in the red zone will give him the chance to snag many touchdowns.
Read more about Mike Evans here
8. Justin Gilbert
Cleveland | CB | 6’0″ | 202lbs
Trading up for Justin Gilbert is the most questionable move of the first round so far. It’s debatable whether Gilbert was even the best cornerback in this draft, much less a top 10 prospect. The Browns also passed up bigger needs at quarterback and wide receiver to take him. Not a strong start for another new regime in Cleveland.
9. Anthony Barr
Minnesota | OLB | 6’5″ | 255lbs
In 2013, Barr racked up 10 sacks to lead UCLA on his way to a berth in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech. The one knock on Barr is his ability to play a well-rounded game against the run, but with increased understanding of technique that may come in time. For now, Barr is a physical freak at 6’4 and 250 pounds who can bend at the hips and fly off the outside shoulder of a tackle. Anthony Barr has his issues, but also presents plenty of upside. If there was ever a coach to get it out of him, it was Mike Zimmer. The new Vikings head coach will use Barr in the same way he deployed James Harrison last season. Barr will stand up as a strong-side linebacker on early downs, and drop to the edge rusher position on passing plays. It’s a perfect marriage of coach and prospect. He will collect plenty of sacks as a rookie, and develop into a complete player with time.
10. Eric Ebron
Detroit | TE | 6’4″ | 250lbs
Eric Ebron walks into a great situation in Detroit. He’ll find himself third or fourth on the list of players defenses will scheme to stop. Ebron should be able to take advantage of single matchups with linebackers, safeties and slot corners. Even if he isn’t technically refined, he will win those on athleticism alone. Look for Ebron to emerge as a very productive starter and breakout candidate before too long. – Matt Harmon Eric Ebron to the Lions? Sounds like a match made in fantasy football heaven. The clear-cut top tight end in the 2014 draft falls into a great situation and could immediately produce big numbers alongside Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Made in the Antonio Gates/Jimmy Graham mold, Ebron is a big, athletic guy that could be a top-10 fantasy tight end as a rookie in 2014.
11. Taylor Lewan
Tennessee | OT | 6’7” | 309lbs
The Titans have Michael Roos and added Michael Oher, but brought in another tackle in Taylor Lewan. Lewan isn’t as great of a prospect as the national media would lead you to believe. He has several issues, and needs to time to develop. Lewan might develop into a nice option at right tackle, but the Titans left a lot of other holes on their roster. The Titans want to re-establish a physical running game, now that Chris Johnson is gone. Lewan does at least accomplish that.
12. Odell Beckham Jr.
New York Giants | WR | 5’11” | 198lbs
The Giants lost Hakeem Nicks, and actually got an upgrade by drafting Odell Beckham Jr. Their new receiver is an explosive threat and very refined in the finer points of the position. Beckham can highpoint passes, is an outstanding route runner and will make plays after the catch. He’ll be an instant impact player for the Giants, and will develop into their best offensive player.
13. Aaron Donald
St. Louis | DT | 6’1” | 285lbs
Keeps working to the ball. Disruptive penetrating ability. Outstanding career production. Tough and competitive with terrific personal and football character. Ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a defensive tackle and the combine and bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times. Was unblockable in Senior Bowl 1-on-1 drills. Aaron Donald and the Rams are a perfect marriage. He’ll be the finishing touch on a defensive line featuring Robert Quinn, Michael Brokers and other strong players. What a defensive line. Even if Donald is just a one-dimensional pass rusher, he brings value to St. Louis. Interior disruption is at a premium in the NFL, and Donald is phenomenal at that. The entire Rams defense benefits from this selection.
14. Kyle Fuller
Chicago | CB | 6’0” | 190lbs
Fuller has reminded many scouts of fellow Bears CB Charles Tillman. He can play a lot of positions, both inside and outside, and plays with a reckless abandon that Bears fans are used to seeing on the defensive side of the ball. He can play in multiple formations, is good in pass coverage and tough against the run.
15. Ryan Shazier
Pittsburgh | OLB | 6’1” | 237lbs
Shazier is a young (21-years-old) talent from Ohio State with blazing speed Pittsburgh selected Shazier at No. 15 and didn’t take much time off the clock before turning in their pick, which suggests that they love Shazier and were thrilled to see he was still available. Shazier changes direction and accelerates with ease. Explosive first step as a pass rusher — shows the ability to dip, bend and run the arc low to the ground. This could be the pick that everyone looks back on and says, “Why’d we pass on him again?”[ad id=”Ad1″]
16. Zack Martin
Dallas | OT | 6’4” | 308lbs
Started every game of his college career. Played well against Alabama in the BCS Championship and was MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl. Highly respected, hardworking leader who does all the right things. Solid pick, easy win.
17. C.J. Mosley
Baltimore | LB | 6’2” | 234lbs
Mosley is ready to plug and play in the NFL. He is a well-rounded defender who is good against the pass and the run. Excellent in pass coverage. He covers a lot of ground in zone, gets deep in his drop and has the potential to cover tight ends or backs in man coverage. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities in college, but when he did blitz, he was very effective at pressuring the quarterback. Mosley’s pass defending is a real strength and he should be an asset in pass coverage.
18. Calvin Pryor
New York Jets | SS | 5’11” | 207lbs
Makes highlight-reel plays in the form of one-handed INT’s or bone crushing monster hits over the middle. Good pre-snap recognition makes smart adjustments. Can leverage the field off the hash and cover ground. Good zone recognition.
19. Ja’Wuan James
Miami | OT | 6’6” | 311lbs
Bit of a reach here. Still, James broke into the starting lineup as a freshman and was awarded many honors. In 2012, the Volunteers’ offensive line was phenomenal as it allowed only 18 sacks, and James was rock steady on the right side. He played his best in 2013, including versus South Carolina. James got some double-team help when going against Jadeveon Clowney, but James kept Clowney from recording a sack. James also performed well going against some good talent with Florida and Missouri.
20. Brandin Cooks
Saints | WR | 5’10” | 189lbs
Cooks is a fantastic fit for the Saints. Without Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, Cooks is perfect to adopt some of the roles that made them valuable fantasy players. He has 4.33 speed and never missed a game at Oregon State.
21. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Green Bay | S | 6’1” | 208lbs
Saftey was absolutely the biggest need for the Packers coming into the draft and being able to get a player the caliber of Clinton-Dix here is a plus. I personally prefer Calvin Pryor in this year’s draft class, but Ha Ha will be a rangey saftey that can immediately help a porous Green Bay defense that gave up 30 passing touchdowns in 2013.
22. Johnny Manziel
Cleveland | QB | 5’11” | 207lbs
“I give (general manager) Ray Farmer and (head coach) Mike Pettine a lot of credit. There’s hope for the city of Cleveland. Johnny Manziel is going to bring his electrification to the city of Cleveland. The Browns have Brian Hoyer, and he was playing pretty well until he got hurt. Hoyer can be the bridge if the Browns need a bridge. I think, because of Manziel’s style, that he can play Day 1. This kid can make plays with his arm and legs until he learns how to be a pocket quarterback.” — Mike Mayock
Cleveland finally found a face of their franchise. I believe in Johnny Manziel and his potential pro prospects. He has the arm, athleticism and instincts to excel at the NFL level. Manziel needs to work on his play from the pocket and his ability to read base defenses. There are signs hinting that he can be a successful pro quarterback in the changing NFL. Kyle Shanahan helped develop another unorthodox quarterback in RGIII and now must turn his sights on Johnny Manziel.
23. Dee Ford
Kansas City | LB | 6’2” | 252lbs
Most fans thought wide receiver here, but Dee Ford is a pick that is a move for the future of the team’s pass rush. Justin Houston is entering the final year of his deal and will need a long-term contract, which will be a big one. Tamba Hali has two years left on his contract so adding a pass rusher for the future was something Chiefs fans considered before the draft.
24. Darqueze Dennard
Cincinnati | CB | 5’11” | 199lbs
Good patience and body control to adjust when the ball is thrown. Doesn’t panic with good ball skills. Locates the football and shows the hand-eye coordination to pluck it outside of his frame. Very good awareness and competitive spirit against the run. Fights through blocks and will take out the knees of oncoming blockers if necessary to leave teammates in position to make the splashy play. Physical and reliable open-field tackler who wraps his arms to secure the stop.
25. Jason Verrett
San Diego | CB | 5’9” | 189lbs
Risky. For all the pros, it’s hard not to overlook Verrett’s size. 5’9 and short-armed with a small, thin-waisted, thin-boned body. Durability is an issue — struggles to stay healthy and is not built to endure the physical toll of the NFL, particularly as a starter.
26. DE Marcus Smith
Philadelphia | DE | 6’3” | 251lbs
Marcus Smith is a natural athlete with solid size at over 6-foot-3 and 251-pounds. He has an NFL body with long arms and a 4.7 forty-time speed. On tape, he shows a good ability to wrap up on tackles and clear speed off the edge. He is the type of player that can line up pretty much anywhere in the front seven (outside of nose tackle in a 3-4) and be successful. He has experience blitzing from the inside linebacker position as well as rushing from the outside with his hand down or in a two-point stance. The Birds reached a little here, but they must really like him.
27. Deone Bucannon
Arizona | S | 6’1” | 211lbs
Bucannon possesses an imposing frame and good closing speed which can result in some big hits. Although, Bucannon is not particularly fluid which could lead to his struggles earning (and keeping) a starting role in the NFL. Another draft reach, but not by much. The Card’s needed depth and added a strong talent.
28. Kelvin Benjamin
Carolina | WR | 6’5” | 240lbs
Kelvin Benjamin shows the gliding speed and short-area quickness to create some separation and be a terror in jump-ball situations, especially in the red zone. Big hands, good hand-eye coordination and impressive body control to snatch passes outside of his frame. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Benjamin was an overrated draft prospect from the start. He’s physically imposing at 6’5 240 pounds, but doesn’t play that way. Benjamin is a poor route runner, doesn’t catch contested passes and gets outmuscled by smaller defenders. That’s someone you take later on and hope to harness his upside, not draft in the first round. If everything breaks right for Benjamin, he’ll be lethal with Cam Newton. The odds are stacked against that happening. He needs time to develop, and at 23 years old already he doesn’t have as much as most rookies.
29. Dominique Easily
New England | DT | 6’2” | 288lbs
Easley is extremely fast at the point of attack. He fires his gap and quickly gets penetration into the backfield. Once Easley gains leverage, he is tough to stop since he has the strength to shed blocks and maintain his balance with blockers pushing on him. Easley consistently blew up runs in the backfield and got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He is very strong for his size. It wouldn’t be surprising if his sack numbers increase in the NFL.
30. Jimmie Ward
San Francisco | SS | 5’11” | 193lbs
Ward is a bit undersized at 5’11 and 193 pounds, but makes up for some of that with excellent speed and good instincts. The former Huskies star played four years in college, contributing as a true freshman in 2010. It’s hard to find holes on the 49ers, many thought this would be another offensive talent, but the team decided to add more depth overall.
31. Bradley Roby
Denver CB 5’11” 194lbs
More depth to boost the Boncos chances to make a return to the Super Bowl. Terrific balance. Loose-hipped, quick-footed and agile (4.04-second three-cone drill). Smooth transition and change of direction. Flips his hips and has ample speed to carry receivers downfield.
Minnesota | QB | 6’2” | 214lbs
The Vikings pulled off a heist in getting the 2014 draft’s best quarterback this late. Bridgewater doesn’t have the tools of a typical Norv Turner quarterback—massive frame and arm—but he is a great prospect. He has the accuracy, intelligence and anticipation to excel with Adrian Peterson as the main focus of the offense. The fact that Norv pounded the table for Teddy only makes this pick look better. It wouldn’t be surprising if Bridgewater starts right away, and has the most success of all these rookie quarterbacks.
This was the cherry on top of a great round one of the NFL draft. Bridgewater was considered by many to be the #1 QB prospect until a weak pro day. He has some amazing tools to work with in Minnesota. He’s got the world’s best RB in Adrian Peterson, an electric young WR in Cordarelle Patterson, a solid veteran WR in Greg Jennings and a big talented TE in Kyle Rudolph. Vikings fans and fantasy owners should be very excited about this fit.
Read more about Teddy Bridgewater here
This article was written as a group effort by our team. Make sure you bookmark Gridiron Experts today to stay update on all our content!