2014 SURGEX NFL Draft Grades
Let’s take a look at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Selecting Blake Bortles at No. 3. and Jacksonville has talent on the offensive line already in place (and added two solid interior options this weekend), and added talent to the receiving corps with Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-round picks. Jacksonville’s Day Three picks also are going to turn heads. They’re athletes who are very good schematic fits in Gus Bradley’s defense, especially injured (but intriguing) cover corner Aaron Colvin, speedy outside linebacker Telvin Smith and LEO defensive end Chris Smith.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: San Diego was successful filling some holes with a limited number of picks. What cornerback Jason Verrett lacks in size, he makes up for with quickness, instincts and tenacity. The schematic fits and value that the Chargers found with outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu in the second round, guard Chris Watt in the third and nose guard Ryan Carrethers in the fifth are huge pluses. Running back Marion Grice offers a very specific skill-set as one of the elite pass-catchers at the position as does big-play wideout Tevin Reese
CHICAGO BEARS: General manager Phil Emery did a nice job of patching holes throughout the draft, however, adding a pro-ready corner in Kyle Fuller at No. 14 overall, a talented 1-2 punch at defensive tackle in run-stuffer Ego Ferguson and one of the top penetrators in Will Sutton and one of the more intriguing safeties in the class in Brock Vereen in the fourth. The Bears added insurance behind star Matt Forte with Ka’Deem Carey, who plays faster than he timed and is a strong, determined runner.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Despite all of the knocks on his slight frame and poor Pro Day workout, Teddy Bridgewater remained the Vikings top-rated quarterback. He doesn’t possess the ideal accuracy on the deep ball to be a perfect match in Norv Turner’s offense but given the presence of Adrian Peterson, steady route-runners Greg Jennings and Kyle Murphy and burgeoning playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson, he enters a nice situation and will eventually overtake Matt Cassel. The Vikings led things off with pass rusher Anthony Barr, whose speed off the edge will be utilized well by defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer. Blue-collar defensive end Scott Crichton also is a quality addition. Watch out for middle round selections Jerick McKinnon (a phenomenal athlete who could play any number of roles).
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Entering the draft with 11 selections (tied for second most in the NFL), you can’t blame GM Trent Baalkefor gambling a bit in the draft. He filled clear areas of need, adding a versatile defensive back in Jimmie Ward, who has the range to handle safety as well the coverage ability to drop down and play nickel corner. The 49ers drafted the most intriguing center in the draft in Marcus Martin and added a dynamic athlete in slot receiver Bruce Ellington. San Francisco also invested relatively early picks in players likely to need a “redshirt” season, nabbing former Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas (projects to guard in this scheme) and cornerback Keith Reaser. Add to this, San Francisco added the most bullish runner in the draft with Carlos Hyde, a potential steal in pass rusher Aaron Lynch and quite possibly the most instinctive defender at any position in the draft in inside linebacker Chris Borland.
ST. LOUIS RAMS: With two of the first 13 picks, the Rams were in an ideal position to boost their roster, adding run blocker Greg Robinson to significantly upgrade their physicality on the offensive line. in an attempt to make a very good defensive line the league’s best the Rams added defensive tackle Aaron Donald to complement star Robert Quinn, rising talent Michael Brockers and steady veteran Chris Long. Rams GM Les Snead filled arguably the team’s biggest need with their next selection, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner in the second round. The addition of Tre Mason — a running back some graded as the best in the class — in the third round gives the team better big-play possibilities than incumbent starter Zac Stacy. The Rams added several intriguing prospects to their secondary on Day Three of the draft, as well as Michael Sam, the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the first openly gay player to get drafted into the NFL. Sam (the 249th player selected overall) is no guarantee to make the roster but given the talent on this defensive line, he’ll get one-on-one opportunities off the edge and possesses the burst, strength and motor to endear him to coaches and fans, alike.