Evan Silva

NFL Draft Grades

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Draft 2014: NFC Draft Grades

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Orleans Saints

20. Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, Oregon State.
58. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, cornerback, Nebraska.
126. Khairi Fortt, linebacker, California.
167. Vinnie Sunseri, safety, Alabama.
169. Ronald Powell, outside linebacker, Florida.
202. Tavon Rooks, tackle, Kansas State.

Overview: GM Mickey Loomis opened his draft by aggressively targeting Cooks, sending Arizona the Nos. 27 and 91 picks to land Oregon State's 4.33 speedster. Loomis likely believed the Eagles wanted Cooks at No. 22. I think Cooks will quickly take on a high-volume role in Sean Payton's offense, pushing for 70 catches and 90 all-purpose touches in 2014. I thought Jean-Baptiste had a chance to sneak into the late first round, and consider him a value pick by Loomis. Fortt needs to shake the injury bug, but when healthy could prove an athletic upgrade on ILB David Hawthorne. Sunseri is another likely year-one special teamer with long-range starting potential. Powell has a chance to be a useful sub-package pass rusher. Rooks is a practice squad candidate. The Saints didn't have a ton of picks, but they still came away with 4-5 good prospects. My guess is they will sign Jonathan Goodwin to compete with Tim Lelito at center before camp.

Grade: C+

New York Giants

12. Odell Beckham, wide receiver, LSU.
43. Weston Richburg, center, Colorado State.
74. Jay Bromley, defensive tackle, Syracuse.
113. Andre Williams, running back, Boston College.

152. Nat Berhe, safety, San Diego State.
174. Devon Kennard, linebacker, USC.
187. Bennett Jackson, cornerback, Notre Dame.

Overview: GM Jerry Reese's recent drafts have received effusive praise, but on-field results have disappointed. My guess is this draft won't earn a ton of national praise. So perhaps that's a good thing. Beckham is a great fit for new OC Ben McAdoo's offense. McAdoo hails from Green Bay and may envision Beckham as his version of Greg Jennings. The Packers run lots of zone blocking, a schematic fit for likely Week 1 center Richburg. Bromley generated little pre-draft buzz, but is a quality three-technique prospect. Williams has hands of stone and can't move laterally. I still think Tom Coughlin could see Williams as a Michael Turner-type back. Berhe is a immediate core special teamer with more potential to contribute on defense than his slow forty time suggests. Kennard can get after the passer situationally. Jackson will be a gunner. This is an interesting draft on paper. Reese hit on needs, though not in the order people anticipated. I thought he came away with a lot of good football players and at least two instant-impact starters.

Grade: B-

Philadelphia Eagles

26. Marcus Smith, linebacker, Louisville.
42. Jordan Matthews, wide receiver, Vanderbilt.
86. Josh Huff, wide receiver, Oregon.
101. Jaylen Watkins, defensive back, Florida.
141. Taylor Hart, defensive end, Oregon.
162. Ed Reynolds, safety, Stanford.
224. Beau Allen, nose tackle, Wisconsin.

Overview: It should be noted Philly acquired Darren Sproles from the Saints for a fifth-round pick, supplementing this haul. GM Howie Roseman's first move of the draft was to trade down after New Orleans leapfrogged him for Brandin Cooks. Roseman secured the Nos. 26 and 83 picks from Cleveland, which turned into Smith and Huff. Although Smith did not commonly appear in first-round mock drafts, he was a highly productive pass rusher at Louisville and possesses plus measurables. Matthews could prove to be one of the draft's biggest steals, and an eventual upgrade on Riley Cooper. Also keep in mind Jeremy Maclin only has a one-year deal. Hart, Allen, Reynolds, and Watkins all have a chance to be useful role players, with Hart offering the most potential to become a legit starter. Huff was the one pick I didn't like. I don't think he's skilled enough to be a consistent contributor at wide receiver, and I'm guessing Chip Kelly made that pick primarily because he is fond of Huff from Oregon. I expected Huff to be a late-rounder.

Grade: C+

San Francisco 49ers

30. Jimmie Ward, defensive back, Northern Illinois.
57. Carlos Hyde, running back, Ohio State.
70. Marcus Martin, center/guard, USC.
77. Chris Borland, inside linebacker, Wisconsin.
100. Brandon Thomas, tackle/guard, Clemson.
106. Bruce Ellington, receiver/returner, South Carolina.
129. Dontae Johnson, defensive back, North Carolina State.
150. Aaron Lynch, defensive end/linebacker, South Florida.
170. Keith Reaser, cornerback, Florida Atlantic.
180. Kenneth Acker, cornerback, SMU.
243. Kaleb Ramsey, defensive end, Boston College.
245. Trey Millard, fullback, Oklahoma.

Overview: The 49ers also traded a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick to Buffalo for Stevie Johnson, though GM Trent Baalke recouped the 2015 fourth-rounder in a day-two trade with Miami. It's almost inevitable that a team with so many selections will warrant high "grades" after the draft. The 49ers had a lot of picks, and turned them into a lot of good prospects. Each of the first six players San Francisco selected were at one point or another projected as possible late first-round picks during the pre-draft phase. Borland, Thomas, Lynch, Reaser, and Millard are all year-one "redshirt" candidates. Ward, Hyde, Martin, Ellington, and Johnson all offer potential to make rookie-season contributions. Baalke collected talent as he attempts to track down division-rival Seattle. The 49ers are getting closer. They were one of only two NFC teams I assigned an "A".

Grade: A

Seattle Seahawks

45. Paul Richardson, wide receiver, Colorado.
64. Justin Britt, tackle, Missouri.
108. Cassius Marsh, defensive end, UCLA.
123. Kevin Norwood, wide receiver, Alabama.
132. Kevin Pierre-Louis, linebacker, Boston College.
172. Jimmy Staten, defensive tackle, Middle Tennessee.
199. Garrett Scott, guard, Marshall.
208. Eric Pinkins, safety, San Diego State.
227. Kiero Small, fullback, Arkansas.

Overview: The Seahawks reportedly wanted Florida DT Dominique Easley at No. 32 and bailed when New England surprisingly took him 29th overall, sending the 32nd pick to Minnesota for Nos. 40 and 108. GM John Schneider then traded down again, turning Nos. 40 and 106 into Nos. 45, 111, and 227. Schneider's roster is so loaded that I think it's conceivable only 4-5 members of this nine-man class will make the final 53. Richardson will be a role-playing lid lifter. Britt has a chance to start quickly, pushing incumbent RT Michael Bowie. Marsh is a classic Seattle-type, hair-on-fire defensive lineman. The Norwood pick got a lot of attention on ESPN's broadcast, but I was underwhelmed. He was a 24-year-old senior who didn't dominate against 19- and 20-year-old college defensive backs. Pierre-Louis is Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith's heir apparent. Staten, Scott, Pinkins, and Small are long shots to enter the regular season with the club. The Seahawks have a great football team. I did not think this was a particularly great draft.

Grade: C-

St. Louis Rams

2. Greg Robinson, guard/tackle, Auburn.
13. Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh.
41. Lamarcus Joyner, safety, Florida State.
75. Tre Mason, running back, Auburn.
110. Maurice Alexander, safety, Utah State.
188. E.J. Gaines, cornerback, Missouri.
214. Garrett Gilbert, quarterback, SMU.
226. Mitchell Van Dyk, tackle, Portland State.
241. Christian Bryant, defensive back, Ohio State.
249. Michael Sam, defensive end, Missouri.
250. Demetrius Rhaney, center, Tennessee State.

Overview: The Rams smokescreened pre-draft interest in Johnny Manziel, stood pat, and stuck to their board. They emerged with arguably two top-five prospects in Robinson and Donald in round one, and traded up to select Tyrann Mathieu clone Joyner toward the top of round two. Robinson and Joyner addressed St. Louis' biggest on-paper needs. Donald and Mason were sheer value picks. Alexander, Bryant, and Sam project as core special teamers. Van Dyk and Rhaney are likely headed to the Rams' practice squad. Gilbert was a throwaway pick. The Rams likely won't overcome the NFC West behemoths until they get more reliable and effective quarterback play, but this was a stellar draft. St. Louis is going to run the football with volume and play incredibly tough defense in 2014. They should be competitive on a week-in, week-out basis.

Grade: A-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7. Mike Evans, wide receiver, Texas A&M.
38. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end, Washington.
69. Charles Sims, running back, West Virginia.
143. Kadeem Edwards, guard, Tennessee State.
149. Kevin Pamphile, tackle/guard, Purdue.
185. Robert Herron, wide receiver, Wyoming.

Overview: New coach Lovie Smith is widely considered offense-inept. With the aide of rookie GM Jason Licht, this draft suggests otherwise. Tampa will play stout defense for Lovie, and basketball on offense with Evans (6-foot-5), Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-6), and Vincent Jackson (6-foot-5) in Josh McCown's pass-catching corps. Sims may seem like a third-round "luxury," but is an upgrade on Mike James behind Doug Martin. Guard was arguably the Bucs' biggest pre-draft need. Instead of using a high pick at the position, Licht took two middle-round stabs, each on quality prospects. Herron was a value selection late in the draft. I expect Herron to quickly earn playing time at slot receiver between "Twin Towers" V-Jax and Evans. Tampa has undertaken a highly intriguing team formula. Their defense is a lock to be good, and they have touchdown scorers at the skill positions who will prop up their journeyman quarterback. Don't be surprised if the 2014 Buccaneers bypass the Panthers and Falcons to become the NFC South's No. 2 team.

Grade: B+

Washington Redskins

47. Trent Murphy, outside linebacker, Stanford.
66. Morgan Moses, tackle, Virginia.
78. Spencer Long, guard, Nebraska.
102. Bashaud Breeland, defensive back, Clemson.
142. Ryan Grant, wide receiver, Tulane.
186. Lache Seastrunk, running back, Baylor.
217. Ted Bolser, tight end, Indiana.
228. Zach Hocker, kicker, Arkansas.

Overview: The Redskins entered the draft without a first-round pick stemming from the 2012 Robert Griffin III trade. GM Bruce Allen improved his hand by sending the No. 34 pick to Dallas in exchange for picks 47 and 78. Unfortunately, Washington didn't come away with much. Murphy was a good college player who lacks NFL-caliber pass-rush traits and may eventually have to move inside to pan out in the pros. Moses and Breeland appear to be good value picks on the surface, but the former is an atrocious run blocker and misfit at right tackle, where he's penciled in for the Skins. The latter has all kinds of off-field concerns and is speed deficient without a clear NFL position. Long was probably my favorite pick. He's a heavy-handed mauler with starting right guard potential. Grant, Bolser, and Hocker are throwaways. Seastrunk was a dynamic college back who can't catch or pass block. Jay Gruden will have to get very creative to make Seastrunk work. Based on their head-scratching free agency and draft moves, I wonder who is making the personnel decisions in Washington these days. Allen is a cap guy. I wouldn't be surprised if it were senior executive A.J. Smith, he of "Lord of No Rings" infamy in San Diego.

Grade: D

Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva

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