2014 SURGEX NFL Draft Grades
BUFFALO BILLS: Wideout Sammy Watkins may very well be the difference-maker Buffalo is looking for to help take the pressure off 2013 surprise first round quarterback EJ Manuel, but the Bills gave up two first round picks to get him, which I believe will prove too much. I do like the focus on blockers with second rounder Cyrus Kouandjio, fifth rounder Cyril Richardson and the late gamble on the talented but troubled Seantrel Henderson. Defensive back Ross Cockrell could surprise, and I like Preston Brown’s physicality in the middle.
MIAMI DOLPHINS:Jawuan James at No. 19 overall, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and tight end Arthur Lynch are solid, pro-ready players but neither has the athleticism to ever likely more than complementary players in the NFL. Frankly. Relatively “small-schoolers” in Billy Turner, Walt Aikens and Jordan Tripp are more intruging. James will start right away and Turner will develop into a starter relatively soon, filling huge gaps in Miami’s offensive line.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: Johnny Manziel’s ability to throw from the pocket consistently (especially on a gusty field)will be a major issue, he will be protected by the same caliber of left tackle play in Pro Bowler Joe Thomas as he received with Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews while at Texas A&M. Unfortunately, Manziel won’t have a dynamic pass-catcher in Cleveland like Mike Evans to bail him out as the reported suspension of wideout Josh Gordon was met with an inexplicable ignoring of the position throughout the draft by the Browns. The trade down from No. 4 to No. 9 netted Cleveland what could very well wind up being a high first round pick a year from now and I do like the talent added in playmaking cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir, versatile and tough offensive lineman Joel Bitonio and underrated athletes Christian Kirksey and Terrance West but five games into the 2014 season, long-suffering Browns fans may be wondering what if the Browns had just selected Sammy Watkins (or Mike Evans) at No. 4 overall and rather than trading back.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: The Colts traded away the rights to their first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson in 2013. While he should be significantly improved with a full offseason to master their playbook, at this time the deals looks pretty one-sided in Cleveland’s favor. Helping Richardson’s chances at improving in 2014 was the selection of tough-guy offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and an exciting vertical threat in Donte Moncrief. Of their Day Three selections, former Western Kentucky run-stuffer Andrew Jackson looks like he could provide the most immediate impact.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Versatile edge rusher Trent Murphy starred out of the two- and three-point stance at Stanford and gives the team some flexibility behind established rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Offensive lineman Morgan Moses didn’t always play up to his talent while at Virginia but he boasts first-round traits and is an upgrade over incumbent right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Spencer Long also adds toughness and size (6-5, 310) up front. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland and running back Lache Seastrunk offer exciting athleticism. Inconsistency and durability issues pushed them down the board a bit. Wide receiver Ryan Grant isn’t as explosive but he’s a reliable route-runner and pass-catcher.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Panthers in the second round. At 6-5, 240 pounds, he offers incredible size. He isn’t particularly quick or a polished route-runner, he was a reach at No. 28 overall. Defensive lineman Kony Ealy offers intriguing athleticism, but like Benjamin, flashed rather than dominated at the collegiate level. Guard Trai Turner is a physical, athletic interior lineman with future starting ability and safety Tre Boston is a big hitter. Bene Benewikere is instinctive and quick to the ball but may not be a future starter in the NFL and cornerback was a concern. The Panthers picked RB Tyler Gaffney in the sixth. The talent is there, but this looked like a draft class in which GM Dave Gettleman took the Best-Player-Available strategy.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Moved up to secure wide receiver Brandin Cooks, a dynamic athlete with elusiveness and acceleration. Cooks is talented enough on his own but given his fit in this offense (and the fact that he has Drew Brees throwing him the ball), he could be an immediate impact performer worthy of Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. Not surprisingly, the Saints focused on the defensive side of the ball throughout most of the rest of the draft, gambling on the long, nimble athletes for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to mold with cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste and linebackers Khairi Fortt and Ronald Powell.