NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Draft AFC wrap

Houston Texans draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
10:46
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

HOUSTON -- A wrap-up of the Houston Texans' draft. Click here for a full list of Texans draftees.

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe Texans selected who they consider the best athlete in this year's draft in Jadeveon Clowney.
Best move: The Texans' selection of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was a no-brainer. Contrary to pre-draft rumblings, they didn't give Clowney advance warning they would be selecting him first overall. He even got nervous as the minutes ticked down while the Texans were on the clock. They waited until three minutes remained in their time to call him and tell him the news. Clowney's ability, both physically and mentally, made him the right pick for the Texans. They'll make him an outside linebacker, which will be a transition, but will use him in a lot of different ways. They needed outside pass-rush help, and, regardless of need, Clowney was the best player they could have taken.

Riskiest move: The Texans didn't take many risks. They stuck to their board, almost stubbornly so, and stayed with players who fit the description of what they've sought. They didn't take any players with character risks. They did take two players whose injury histories might have impacted where they were drafted in Alfred Blue and Jeoffrey Pagan, so I suppose those constitute the biggest risks. Blue tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in 2012 after starting the season as LSU's starting running back ahead of Jeremy Hill, who was drafted in the second round. Pagan had shoulder surgery, which prevented him from being able to work out at the combine. His combine experience was more about the medical evaluation, but he feels he could have raised his stock by showing what he could do athletically.

Most surprising move: It was a bit of a surprise the Texans waited until the fourth round to take a quarterback. General manager Rick Smith acknowledged at the end of Friday's Rounds 1 and 2 that there was still another need they hadn't addressed. Three quarterbacks went in the first round -- Blake Bortles third to Jacksonville, Johnny Manziel 22nd to Cleveland and Teddy Bridgewater 32nd to Minnesota. Two more, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo, went in the second round, and none went in the third round. The Texans had Tom Savage graded in the fourth round and took him there.

File it away: The Texans got bigger on defense. At 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, Clowney is bigger than any outside linebacker currently on their roster. Louis Nix III, the Notre Dame nose tackle the Texans traded up to get, is 6-foot-2, 331 pounds, making him one of the heaviest players on defense. Pagan is 6-foot-3, 310 pounds. Safety Lonnie Ballentine, "Mr. Irrelevant," is the tallest safety the Texans have at 6-foot-3. The Texans staff will be molding some of these guys' bodies to what they're looking for, but they have a good starting point with most of them. Smith said after the draft the Texans got bigger and tougher. It was a goal of theirs, and it's something to monitor as the offseason melds into the season. How will that added size and toughness translate onto the field?
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

BEREA, Ohio -- A wrap-up of the Cleveland Browns draft. Click here for a full list of Browns draftees.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIThe Browns didn't just opt for Johnny Manziel but the sideshow that comes with him.
Best move: The entire manipulation of the first day. The Browns had Johnny Manziel on their board as an option at 4, but finagled their way to an extra pick that resulted in the team drafting their highest-rated cornerback (Justin Gilbert) and their highest-rated quarterback -- while gaining an extra first-round pick next year. That is a series of events that is hard to top.

Riskiest move: Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones called Manziel an atypical backup who is "a celebrity" and "Elvis Presley." The Browns brought all that goes with Manziel -- the TMZ reports, the celebrity status, the incredible attention -- to a team that might not need that kind of scrutiny. And they brought it right to Brian Hoyer, who has done everything right since he joined the Browns. If Manziel can play, it would be worth it. If not, well then the circus that affected the Jets with Tim Tebow will be repeated in Cleveland.

Most surprising move: It makes no sense at all that a deep receiver class sends no receivers to Cleveland, which in the vernacular is "really in trouble" at the position -- assuming Josh Gordon is indeed banned for a year. Ray Farmer has to have something up his sleeve, because the group the Browns would field right now is hardly scary.

File it away: Farmer's description of running back Terrance West made him sound like an intriguing player. Farmer said West has the physique of a Maurice Jones-Drew but the quick feet of a Jerome Bettis. That's an interesting combination of skills that could make West worth following once training camp arrives.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


PITTSBURGH -- A wrap-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft. Click here for a full list of Steelers draftees.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIThe Steelers expect big things from Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt.
Best move: Taking Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt in the second round. The Steelers had no bigger need than at defensive end, and they were smart to pounce on Tuitt, who had been widely projected to go late in the first round. The 6-foot-5, 303-pounder has the ideal build for a five-technique defensive end, and he also has the pass-rushing skills to move inside when the Steelers go to their nickel package. Tuitt had 21 career sacks at Notre Dame, and the Steelers are convinced his play slipped last season because recovery from double-hernia surgery compromised his training and caused him to put on too much weight. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuitt is back to his 2012 playing weight when he dominated for the Fighting Irish, and they expect him to play significantly as a rookie if not start at some point in 2014.

Riskiest move: The Steelers took just one defensive back in the draft and they didn’t select cornerback Shaquille Richardson of Arizona until the fifth round. That won’t do anything to allay the anxiety of Steelers’ fans about the state of the secondary and specifically cornerback where Ike Taylor isn’t getting younger and where there isn’t much depth. Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said he is confident free-agent signee Brice McCain and Antwon Blake, who played almost exclusively on special teams last season, can be key contributors this season. They better be since the draft didn’t deliver the reinforcements at cornerback that most thought it would.

Most surprising move: The Steelers bypassed a cornerback and wide receiver in the third round to take speedy but diminutive running back Dri Archer. This looks like a luxury pick since the Steelers had more pressing needs when they selected the 5-8, 173-pounder. Archer ran the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.26 seconds) at the NFL combine, and the Steelers plan to carve out a role for him in the offense. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has compared Archer to Darren Sproles because of his explosiveness and versatility. Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann said Archer reminds him of former Browns scatback/receiver Gerald “Ice Cube” McNeil. “He’s not small,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s short.”

File it away: First-round pick Ryan Shazier will be an immediate difference-maker as a rookie -- and will make multiple Pro Bowls if he stays healthy. His speed is such that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has said he envisions playing Shazier all over the field. Lake said he will gladly take Shazier as a safety if linebackers coach Keith Butler doesn’t want him. Butler, when told that, smiled and said “I’m not in favor of doing that. Shazier can make mistakes and has make-up speed to get back into position and make plays.” Butler scoffs at the notion that the 6-1, 237-pound Shazier is undersized for an inside linebacker at this level. Butler said former Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior played between 225 and 230 pounds in the latter part of his carer, including 2010 when he made the Pro Bowl. “A lot of times young linebackers get in their head, ‘I have to weigh 250 or I have to weigh 260 [pounds] but can they move? Can they get where they need to be when they need to be there? This guy can do that.”

Buffalo Bills draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
8:15
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A wrap-up of the Buffalo Bills' draft. Click here for a full list of Bills' draftees.

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
AP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtThe Buffalo Bills landed a potential star wide receiver in Sammy Watkins in the draft's first round.
Best move: The cost of the trade notwithstanding, the Bills moving up to acquire Sammy Watkins will far and away have the greatest impact. It's hardly news at this point, but Watkins is a difference-maker. He immediately becomes the Bills' top receiver and will draw the attention of opposing defensive coordinators each week. The Bills' passing game was dismal at points last season -- it ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category -- and having Watkins should change that. He will make EJ Manuel better. With that said, the Bills still have a potential bottleneck at quarterback. Despite having Larry Fitzgerald, one of the game's most explosive receivers, the Arizona Cardinals haven't been able to get over the hump because they haven't had the right quarterback. The Bills will look to avoid a similar fate.

Riskiest move: Giving up a first-round pick for Watkins was the greatest "risk" the Bills took in this draft. However, in terms of players, selecting Cyrus Kouandjio in the second round deserves some consideration. Kouandjio was red-flagged medically by some teams because, according to an NFL Network report, he had an arthritic condition in his knee. The Bills doctors apparently didn't share those same concerns. The Bills view Kouandjio as a potential long-term starter at right tackle, and if he can't stay healthy, then, naturally, those plans might not come to fruition. Is that reason enough not to draft him in the second round? Probably not. But from a medical standpoint, Kouandjio is a riskier pick than another top tackle who remained on the board at the time, Virginia's Morgan Moses.

Most surprising move: The Bills' first four picks were all pre-draft visitors and players already on the radar, so not too much was surprising about the team's draft. However, selecting Louisville linebacker Preston Brown with the ninth choice in the third round was curious. Ourlads, a reputable NFL scouting service that has produced a draft guide for 33 years, projected Brown as a sixth- or seventh-round choice. That doesn't mean NFL teams agreed with the ranking; perhaps some teams had him much higher on their board. He makes sense as a potential replacement at "Mike" linebacker if Brandon Spikes departs via free agency next season. Still, you have to wonder if the Bills could have waited until the fourth or fifth round to take him off the board. Brown doesn't have the athleticism that would make him a good fit in the Bills' sub packages, so his main contributions as a rookie might come on special teams.

File it away: With their final pick -- No. 237 in the seventh round -- the Bills took massive Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson. At 6-foot-7, 331 pounds, Henderson is one of the draft's biggest linemen and would have gone much higher in the draft had it not been for his questionable judgment. Henderson was suspended three times at Miami for marijuana use and, after explaining those incidents to teams at the NFL combine in February, tested positive for marijuana at the combine. Bills GM Doug Whaley said Henderson "knows he has one shot," so the team will apparently have a minimal tolerance level for Henderson. After drafting him in the seventh round, the Bills likely won't think twice about cutting ties with Henderson should he run into trouble again.

New York Jets draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
8:00
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A wrap-up of the New York Jets' draft. Click here for a full list of Jets draftees.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Pryor
AP Photo/Tomasso DeRosaThe Jets' scouts believe safety Calvin Pryor has enough athleticism and range to hold up in coverage.
Best move: Safety Calvin Pryor in the first round was a solid move. It came as a mild surprise because of their previous philosophy at the position. Rex Ryan always treated his safeties as interchangeable parts, saving the big money for the cornerbacks. Now they are trying to copycat the champion Seattle Seahawks, recognizing the importance of safeties in the current NFL. Let's face it, the Jets' safeties were mediocre at best last season, so they needed a playmaker. Pryor isn't a ballhawk, but he's a hard-hitting enforcer who will bring attitude to the secondary, the weak link on defense. He was a good value at No. 18 overall. They could have used a cornerback in Round 1, but their scouts believe Pryor has enough athleticism and range to hold up in pass coverage. Pryor will be a Week 1 starter, mark it down.

Riskiest move: Third-round cornerback Dex McDougle missed the final nine games last season because of shoulder surgery. So, yes, he qualifies as a risk. Cornerback is the last place they needed another durability question; remember, they signed the injury-prone Dimitri Patterson in free agency -- and he's a likely starter. With McDougle, the Jets are making a projection based on his junior tape -- but it's not like he lit up in the ACC in 2012. He displayed ball skills in the first three games of '13 (three picks), but the competition was highly suspect. At 5-foot-10, he'll have trouble matching up against the big receivers. The Jets' scouts were giddy after watching his pro day (he ran the 40 in 4.43 seconds), but great pro days don't always translate to the field. McDougle doesn't solve the concerns at cornerback.

Most surprising move: We'll call this most surprising nonmove. The Jets went into the draft with 12 picks and came out with 12 players -- not a single trade, reinforcing John Idzik's reputation as a conservative general manager. Naturally, he was satisfied with the outcome, but this was curious draft management. The Jets squandered a rare opportunity. They could have used the extra ammunition to jump other teams, allowing them to cherry-pick players they really wanted. They tried to trade up in the second round for wide receiver Marqise Lee, but they couldn't get a deal done. Right now, their draft haul includes a handful of small-school players and undersized talents for their respective positions. You can't help but wonder if they could have done better. Of course, their passive approach will be forgotten if it turns into a watershed draft for the Jets.

File it away: The wild card is second-round tight end Jace Amaro. He was the most prolific pass-catching tight end in college football, but were his gaudy statistics (106 catches for 1,352 yards in 2013) the product of Texas Tech's pass-happy offense? It will be fascinating to see it play out because, if the Jets are right about him, they will have a legitimate threat at a position that has been a black hole in their passing attack. No one is expecting him to be the next Jimmy Graham, but if he can be a poor man's Graham, the Jets' passing game -- ranked 31st last season -- will be dramatically improved. It might take time, though. Amaro faces a potentially difficult transition into a pro-style offense. He's not a blocker, so it will be up to coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to scheme up ways to feature his strengths.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


INDIANAPOLIS -- A wrap-up of the Indianapolis Colts' draft. Click here for a full list of the Colts' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDonte Moncrief
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe Colts are banking on Donte Moncrief to evolve into a standout wide receiver for seasons to come.
Best move: The Colts started to prepare for life after receiver Reggie Wayne when they selected Donte Moncrief out of Mississippi in the third round. He's an all-around receiver who isn't afraid to throw a block if necessary. Moncrief left school early and is still a raw player, but he's not expected to come right in and contribute. It's all about the future with him. The Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks. But Wayne and Nicks will be free agents in 2015. Wayne is closer to retirement than playing another five or six years. There are not many receivers better in the league whom Moncrief can learn from than Wayne.

Riskiest move: The Colts went into the draft with question marks at safety. They left the draft with the same question marks. The Colts are looking for a starter to play alongside LaRon Landry after Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco in March. It hurt the Colts that they did not have a first-round pick, because Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward was selected by the 49ers at the end of the opening round. Mel Kiper Jr. said Ward was the best cover safety in the draft. Now the Colts are left with Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson as in-house candidates to start at safety -- unless they sign a free agent at that position.

Most surprising move: Linebacker Andrew Jackson in the sixth round. Jackson played at Western Kentucky, where he didn't even make first-team All-Sun Belt Conference. Jackson made the second team after recording 95 tackles last season. The Colts had more pressing needs -- safety -- than adding another linebacker to the roster. The Seattle Seahawks selected free safety Eric Pinkins five picks after the Colts in the sixth round. Who knows if Pinkins will pan out, but the Colts could have selected him to see if he has what it takes to play safety in the league. Now the Colts could end up going with guys currently on their roster to compete for the starting job.

File it away: Selecting Moncrief means the race for one of the final receiver spots will be competitive between Griff Whalen, Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill. The Colts could end up releasing at least two of them depending on how many receivers they want to keep on the roster next season. The Colts selected Brazill in the sixth round in 2012. Whalen has bounced around on and off the practice squad. Rogers likely has the inside track on making the roster over Brazill and Whalen. The Colts have high hopes for him because of his speed and size at receiver. His biggest issue is avoiding trouble off the field.

Denver Broncos draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
7:50
PM ET
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A wrap-up of the Denver Broncos' draft. Click here for a full list of Broncos draftees.

[+] EnlargeCody Latimer
AP Photo/Alan PetersimeThe Broncos made an aggressive trade for Indiana receiver Cody Latimer.
Best move: It cost three draft picks for the Broncos to move up seven slots to Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, and given the most commonly used draft charts, the Broncos surrendered too much value to do it, especially if the fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft is not at the bottom of the round. But if Latimer develops as you would expect a big, fast, physical wide receiver to develop in the Broncos offense, it won’t matter all that much. If Latimer rolls up his sleeves and gets to work, he should find a way into the team’s rotation as a rookie and develop into a starter.

Riskiest move: The Broncos saw a top-15 player in cornerback Bradley Roby on the board at No. 31 when they made their first-round pick, and they believed that presented the right risk-reward ratio with concerns about Roby’s maturity. The Broncos did their homework on Roby and believe he is ready to grow up and be a pro. So when all was said and done Saturday, the only hole that remained for the Broncos was improving the return game. The Broncos would rather not use wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the return game given the expectations for him in the offense but might have to make the risky move.

Most surprising move: The Broncos weren’t thrilled with this class of running backs, so it isn’t a shock they elected to pass on taking one. Though there were more big backs available than in years past, the Broncos did not use any of their picks on a back. Montee Ball is the clear starter, and the Broncos believe Ronnie Hillman can still offer some big-play ability in what is likely a make-or-break season for the 2012 second-rounder, but they are still a little thin at the position.

File it away: It might have been the move that got the least amount of attention, but it provided a big glimpse into how the Broncos go about the draft these days. John Elway has preached patience as things unfold, and when the Broncos traded out of the fourth round Saturday, it was, in large part, because they did not have a player still on the board with a grade worthy of that pick. It was a prudent move that got the team an extra pick in 2015 and kept it from reaching on a player. The good teams take the time to set the board right and stick to the board during the draft weekend. Don’t reach, don’t draft solely for need and things will go better. It was draft discipline that will serve them well if they maintain it moving forward.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A wrap-up of the Oakland Raiders' draft. Click here for a full list of Raiders' draftees.

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDrafting Derek Carr could be a risky move for the Raiders, as the team sees the quarterback taking more of a back-seat role in 2014.
Best move: Sitting tight the first two rounds. OK, so, I’m cheating a little bit here but given general manager Reggie McKenzie’s proclivity for wheeling and dealing, no one would have been surprised had the Raiders traded down for more picks. But with the way the draft unfolded, they merely had to let linebacker Khalil Mack fall into their laps at No. 5 overall and quarterback Derek Carr at No. 36 overall. In Mack, the Raiders got an instant difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball, a player who many observers saw as being the potential No. 1 overall pick. In Carr, the Raiders made a gutsy move in taking a player who, if all goes well for them, will not see the field next year, but could be the team’s franchise quarterback.

Riskiest move: Let’s go with the Carr selection. No, not because it shoudn’t pan out; it should. But because as the Raiders embark upon Year 1 of their reconstruction, they needed as many immediate impact players as possible in this draft. And Carr, by the Raiders’ own plan and admission, will not contribute much -- if anything -- in 2014. From an immediate on-field impact standpoint, there were other players at other positions available. The risk here, then, is McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen drafting the QB of the future for a future that, if the bottom falls out this year, they will not be a part of in Oakland.

Most surprising move: Since taking over as Raiders GM, McKenzie has made a point to bring in what he terms high-character, low-maintenance players. Last year, he stuck his neck out for defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who had DUI and marijuana incidents, but he stayed out of trouble and began to make an on-field impact late in the season. This year, McKenzie used a fourth-rounder (No. 116 overall) to draft Utah defensive back Keith McGill, a huge cornerback at 6-feet-3, 213 pounds who has some personal baggage besides giving up 29 completions on 59 passes his way, per STATS, and getting just one interception in two years at Utah after being converted from free safety. In 2012, McGill was arrested for DUI and possession of stolen property and missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury. McGill, 25, was all-Pac 12 last season with 12 pass deflections. “I’ve been trying to stay clean and trying to show everybody that that was the past and that’s exactly what it was,” McGill said in a conference call Saturday. “All the teams that passed on me, they’re going to realize it was a big mistake and the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it was a really good draft pick.”

File it away: McKenzie likes to keep things close to his vest, but judging by the size and power of the linemen he’s taken in this, his third draft, he showed his hand, especially with the selections of left guard Gabe Jackson (6-foot-3, 336 pounds) in the third round and defensive tackle Justin Ellis (6-2, 334) in the fourth. The Raiders are returning to a grind-it-out mantra on both sides of the ball. And keep this in mind -- rather than take defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, the Raiders used the second of their three seventh-round picks on a defensive end who did not play last season after being dismissed from his team for detrimental conduct in Illinois State’s Shelby Harris.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A wrap-up of the New England Patriots' draft. Click here for a full list of Patriots draftees.

[+] EnlargeDominique Easley
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesFlorida's Dominique Easley will be an impact talent for the Patriots if he can stay healthy.
Best move: Reinvesting in the offensive line. The Patriots hadn't drafted an offensive lineman in 2012 or 2013, but they triple-dipped with fourth-round center Bryan Stork (Florida State), fourth-round tackle Cameron Fleming (Stanford) and sixth-round right guard Jon Halapio (Florida). Time will tell if the picks were the right ones, but from a general standpoint, the Patriots needed to pay attention to the line both from an infusing-the-pipeline standpoint and also with salary cap integrity in mind. What stands out is the size of Stork (6-3 7/8, 315), Fleming (6-4 7/8, 323) and Halapio (6-3 1/2, 323). The Patriots added an element of offensive toughness in this draft, while also planning for the future. This is a big year for the team's offensive line as it transitions from former coach Dante Scarnecchia to Dave DeGuglielmo.

Riskiest move: Easley. The first-round defensive lineman is a big-time talent who wouldn't have been available at No. 29 if healthy. But he tore both ACLs at Florida and that affected his ability to work out at 100 percent in the pre-draft process. If Easley returns to full health, the Patriots' willingness to assume the risk could pay off in a big way as the team's interior pass rush could use a boost. But if problems crop up with Easley's knees, the Patriots might ultimately regret their willingness to invest such a high draft pick on an injured player.

Most surprising move: Dominique Easley. Wouldn't have thought the Patriots' selection of a player who tore both ACLs in a span of three years was an option in the first round. They generally don't assume that much risk with their top pick, which has contributed to their solid first-round draft record.

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File it away: All the angst that might have been expressed about the Patriots' selecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with a late second-round pick (No. 62) will most likely be looked back upon with a chuckle. The biggest question from this perspective is if the Patriots passed on a player who might have helped them more immediately (e.g., Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz to the Texans three picks later), and that's going to be an interesting dynamic to follow in the years to come. But overall, there is no more important position than quarterback. The 2011 Colts are the prime example of a team that didn't address the backup spot and the bottom fell out of their season when starter Peyton Manning was lost for the season. People lost jobs because of it. The Colts were fortunate to wind up with the rare can't-miss prospect (Andrew Luck) the next year in the draft, but most teams aren't that lucky, so the Patriots were wise to be thinking ahead at a hard-to-fill position. It's just a bit jarring to hear the team acknowledge the possibility of a succession plan with Tom Brady, which is still four years away (if not longer) from this viewpoint.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A wrap-up of the Baltimore Ravens' draft. Click here for a full list of the Ravens' draftees.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
AP Photo/Dave MartinCan rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley become the heir apparent to Ray Lewis for the Ravens?
Best move: Sticking with their board. The Ravens' middle of their defense was significantly upgraded because the team took the best player available instead of addressing a more pressing need at offensive tackle and safety. The result: the Ravens landed a top-10 prospect (Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley) at No. 17 overall and a first-round talent (Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan) in the middle of the second round. Mosley and Jernigan are two of the best in this draft in shedding blocks and stopping the run. The Ravens could've taken Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses in the second if they were trying to fill holes. But the Ravens haven't finished in the top 10 in defense since 2011, and Mosley and Jernigan are impact players who can get this defense back to its traditionally strong level.

Riskiest move: Not taking an offensive tackle. The Ravens showed a lot of faith in Rick Wagner when they didn't draft a tackle with any of their nine picks in this year's draft. Wagner, a fifth-round pick from a year ago, is now penciled in as the starting right tackle. Even though Michael Oher never lived up to expectations, this is a downgrade on the right side of the line. If Wagner struggles, the Ravens could start Ryan Jensen, a sixth-round pick from a year ago, at left guard and move Kelechi Osemele to right tackle. Another option is signing veteran free agent Eric Winston, who played six years under Gary Kubiak in Houston. While it's a risky move not to draft an offensive tackle, it's difficult to argue with their strategy. The top four tackles were gone before the Ravens were on the clock in the first round, and it would've been a reach to take Moses or North Dakota State's Billy Turner in the second round. An offensive tackle just failed to fall to them this year.

Most surprising move: Drafting a blocking tight end in the third round. This was the one head-scratcher of the Ravens' draft. Colorado State's Crockett Gilmore is a blocking tight end who's only played the position for three years. ESPN's Todd McShay rated him as the 165th prospect in this draft, and the Ravens selected him at No. 99. By the time the Ravens picked again, five running backs (Florida State's Devonta Freeman, Boston College's Andre Williams, Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas and Wisconsin's James White) and two other players previously linked to the Ravens (Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant and Utah cornerback Keith McGill) were gone. Tight ends play a major role in Kubiak's offense, and the Ravens underscored their importance by taking Gilmore on Day 2.

File it away: The future starting center of the Ravens may have been drafted in the fifth round. John Urschel started at right guard the past two years at Penn State, but he can play all three spots on the interior of the line. There's no question he's smart enough to handle the center position. Urschel won the William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the academic Heisman, and he has a master's degree in math. The Ravens don't need a center right now after trading for Jeremy Zuttah, but no one should be surprised if Urschel finds his niche there in a few years.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


CINCINNATI -- A wrap-up of the Cincinnati Bengals' draft. Click here for a full list of Bengals draftees.

[+] EnlargeDarqueze Dennard
AP Photo/Ben LiebenbergDarqueze Dennard was rated near the top of the Bengals' board, and the team ended up pouncing in the first round.
Best move: When the Bengals finalized their big board in the days leading up to the draft, they put cornerback Darqueze Dennard near the top of the list. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Dennard was ranked among the team's top 10 overall players. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther felt that rating was accurate and had few reasons to believe the man-press corner would actually fall to No. 24 where the Bengals were waiting for a defensive back. Once Justin Gilbert was scooped up by the Browns at No. 8 and Kyle Fuller came off the board to the Bears at No. 14, it started looking like a real possibility that Dennard -- rated the No. 2 cornerback on most draft boards -- would be available. That was especially the case when the Browns traded with the Eagles to move up to No. 22, taking a team with a cornerback need (Philadelphia) off the board before the Bengals' selection. As arguably the best player available when his pick was made, Dennard's selection was a wise one and deserved to be classified as the best of the Bengals' draft.

Riskiest move: It's never easy for teams to evaluate draft hopefuls who come into the draft process with arrest records, let alone convictions. That was what the Bengals had to do with running back Jeremy Hill, though, as they tried to figure out whether two separate events -- one from when Hill was in high school and another from when he was at LSU -- ought to be enough to deter them from selecting him. After consultations with Hill's coaches and others around him, the Bengals felt Hill had experienced enough of a life transformation the past several months to warrant grabbing him in the second round. Hill's conviction was for a misdemeanor sexual assault charge from his senior year of high school. He didn't play his entire first season at LSU because school officials wanted to wait until the legal process ran its course. Last year, he was arrested after punching a man in a bar fight. The incident was caught on tape. Taking him in the first place was a risky move. Doing so in the second round might have been even riskier. Time will be the judge of that.

Most surprising move: The biggest move of the Bengals draft was also its most surprising one. After four rounds went by without them selecting a quarterback, it started looking like the Bengals might end up not even entertain taking one. After all, based on their pre-draft chatter about having a firm belief in Andy Dalton, it seemed they might end up feeling so comfortable with their starter and the rest of their quarterback room that they might move beyond thinking about signing one. When quarterbacks started going off the board in the fourth and fifth rounds, though, it was time for the Bengals to act if they were going to act at all. What makes AJ McCarron's selection most surprising, though, was the fact that he was the one picked and not another quarterback. Target Aaron Murray could have been a possibility in earlier rounds. Tom Savage, too. It wasn't long after Murray's pick at 163rd overall that the Bengals did end up grabbing McCarron. They took him with the next pick.

File it away: In case you haven't already, something you might want to remember for future drafts under coach Marvin Lewis is this: He likes drafting SEC players. Entering the draft, the Bengals had claimed 26 players from the conference since Lewis' arrival in 2003. The conference that had the next-highest draft representation was the Big Ten, which had 15 selections. This year, the Bengals took three players from the SEC, including two from LSU. Their first-round pick, Dennard, is the lone Big Ten representative in this class.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


SAN DIEGO -- A wrap-up of the San Diego Chargers' draft. Click here for a full list of San Diego's draftees.

Best move: The Chargers moved up seven spots in the second round to grab Georgia Tech pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50. A good athlete with natural pass-rush skills, Attaochu immediately upgrades San Diego’s defense at a position of need. He will get good mentoring and skill development from veterans like Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. And similar to Bruce Irvin two years ago for Seattle, Attaochu can be successful early as a rookie situational pass-rusher in a limited role.

[+] EnlargeJason Verrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCornerback Jason Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Riskiest move: The Chargers bucked the NFL trend of drafting bigger cornerbacks by selecting TCU's Jason Verrett in the first round. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, Verrett checks all of the boxes in terms of toughness, speed, football awareness and ball hawking skills. But there will be questions about whether Verrett can play on the perimeter against bigger receivers in the NFL. Verrett is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and could miss the beginning of training camp. So how much Verrett can contribute at the beginning of the regular season remains a question mark. However, he showed durability in college, playing in 37 games in three seasons for the Horned Frogs.

Most surprising move: One of the team’s most obvious needs heading into this year’s draft, the Chargers passed on more well-known defensive linemen like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones in earlier rounds to select Arkansas State product Ryan Carrethers. At 6-2 and 330 pounds, Carrethers is a workout warrior. He benched 225 pounds 36 times at his pro day, squats 700 pounds and can power clean 400 pounds. He finished second on the team in 2013 with an impressive 93 tackles, including eight tackles for a loss. Carrethers also totaled four sacks and two blocked kicks. He’ll compete with Sean Lissemore for the starting nose tackle job on San Diego’s defense. "He’s a powerful, stout player inside," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "He also has some uncommon production for a nose tackle. He had a lot of tackles, TFL’s [tackles for loss] and sacks at Arkansas State. He really played well against the bigger schools."

File it away: The selection of Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Watt in the third round fills a need for more depth at interior offensive line. A three-year starter at left guard, Watt is considered a versatile performer who could also be trained to play center by offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. Watt provides some insurance for the Chargers in dealing with Jeromey Clary. The 30-year-old starting right guard is to make $4.55 million in nonguaranteed, total compensation in 2014. The Chargers have already asked receiver Eddie Royal, Johnson and Freeney to take pay cuts this year. Clary is highly thought of at Chargers Park, but if Telesco asks the Kansas State product to take a pay cut and he balks, the Chargers potentially could have an answer at right guard in Watt.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Jacksonville Jaguars' draft. Click here for a full list of Jaguars draftees.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonThe Jacksonville Jaguars added much-needed depth at the receiver position, drafting Marqise Lee in the second round.
Best move: Wide receiver is one of the Jaguars' biggest needs because of the uncertainty surrounding Justin Blackmon. They quickly snatched up Southern California's Marqise Lee when it came time for the Jaguars' first pick in the second round (39th overall). Lee is a first-round talent who slipped because his production dipped significantly in 2013 because of an early-season knee injury and inconsistent quarterback play. He's a big-play receiver (29 career touchdown catches) with good speed and elusiveness, but he also worked the middle of the field at USC. After Blackmon was lost for the second half of the season, the Jaguars had only Cecil Shorts as an outside playmaker and he was bothered by a sports hernia over the final month. Lee was one of the most dangerous players in the country as a sophomore in 2012, catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Riskiest move: Taking a quarterback high in the first round is always a risk unless you're able to nab a sure thing such as Andrew Luck, so the Jaguars' selection of Central Florida's Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick qualifies. He has ideal size (6-foot-5, 232 pounds), a strong arm and good athleticism and mobility, but he needs seasoning and time to develop. The Jaguars' plan isn't to put him on the field in 2014 but instead have him ready for 2015. There's no guarantee that he will be ready, however, or if he can be the elite quarterback the Jaguars desperately need. Missing on Blaine Gabbert in 2011 hurt the franchise for years. Bortles is the make-or-break pick for the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley regime.

Most surprising move: Considering the Jaguars are dealing with a player who has violated the league's substance-abuse policy multiple times (Blackmon), it was interesting that they drafted linebacker Telvin Smith in the fifth round (144th overall) because he failed a drug test at the NFL combine. Smith was forthcoming about the incident, calling it a dumb mistake and saying he told Bradley and Caldwell that he had learned his lesson and it won't happen again. Caldwell said they examined Smith's background pretty intensely and told him this is his opportunity to make up for his mistake. Smith is an intriguing prospect because he fit as a nickel linebacker as someone who can cover backs and tight ends. He needs to get bigger -- he's only 218 pounds at 6-foot-3 -- but he significantly upgrades the speed on defense.

File it away: Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin suffered a torn right ACL on the second day of Senior Bowl practices, but the little time he was on the field was enough to intrigue the Jaguars, who coached the South team, and they took him in the fourth round (114th overall). However, he's probably not going to be cleared for full contact until later in training camp and will begin the season on the PUP list. Caldwell said he's planning on Colvin getting on the field in the second half of the season, though how much depends on his grasp of the defense. He fits the Jaguars' profile for defensive backs (6-0, 192), although his arms are a bit shorter than they'd like (31 inches). He should be the eventual starter opposite Dwayne Gratz, most likely in 2015 because Alan Ball's contract expires following the 2014 season.

Miami Dolphins draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
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NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


DAVIE, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Miami Dolphins' draft. Click here for a full list of Dolphins draftees.

[+] EnlargeJu'Wuan James
AP Photo/Wade PayneThe Dolphins targeted right tackle Ja'Wuan James, and they got him with the 19th overall pick.
Best move: The Dolphins, as expected, plugged their biggest hole of need in the first round. Miami spent the No. 19 overall pick to select former Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James. He was a durable, four-year starter whom Miami believes will be ready to play in Week 1. The only question with this pick is whether Miami had to take James at No. 19. The Dolphins were talking to other teams about trading down to acquire more picks and perhaps could have landed James in the 20s, but Miami says it was safer to take James, whom general manager Dennis Hickey says was the best player on the board. If James turns out to be a quality starter for a long time, no one will care that James was taken at No. 19 instead of later in the first round. James will pair with Pro Bowler Branden Albert as Miami's two new offensive tackles in 2014.

Riskiest move: The Dolphins didn't make a lot of risky moves in this draft, but fourth-round pick Walt Aikens comes with a red flag. Aikens was kicked out of Illinois after his arrest for felony possession of stolen electronics in 2010. According to Aikens, he bought a laptop from a teammate that turned out to be stolen. Aikens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was forced to leave Illinois. He continued his career at Liberty and worked his way into a fourth-round pick. The Dolphins did their homework into Aikens' background and felt he was worthy of the selection. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Aikens was the first player drafted who wasn't invited to the NFL combine. Aikens said Saturday that he wants to compete for a starting job right away, but his best chance most likely is to compete on special teams.

Most surprising move: After playing it safe on Day 1, the Dolphins were wheeling and dealing on Day 2. Hickey produced three trades with the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders in the second and third rounds, respectively. Miami traded down twice and moved up once. The result was the Dolphins drafting LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry at the end of the second round and offensive lineman Billy Turner near the top of the third round. Both players are expected to add depth to Miami's roster. But it was surprising to see Hickey, in his first draft, do a complete 180 in terms of aggressiveness on Friday.

File it away: Leadership was a major issue in Miami in 2013. The Dolphins went through a bullying scandal that caused a media firestorm and suffered a late-season collapse while having a chance to make the playoffs. Five of Miami’s first six drafted players -- James, Landry, Turner, tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Jordan Tripp -- were team captains for their respective college teams. That was not a coincidence. Hickey made it a point to acquire natural leaders to place in Miami’s locker room. The Dolphins are putting a heavy emphasis on character at the top of this draft as they work to remake their locker-room image.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A wrap-up of the Kansas City Chiefs' draft. Click here for a full list of Chiefs draftees.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriThe addition of De'Anthony Thomas should help out the Chiefs offense, as well as special teams.
Best move: Though they had only six picks, the Chiefs covered a lot of ground. They selected a pass-rusher, a cornerback, a combination slot receiver/running back/kick returner, a quarterback and two developmental offensive linemen. Not all were immediate needs, but the potential is there for the Chiefs to get a lot from this class. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, a fourth-round pick, might represent the best value. The Chiefs will plug him into the spots on offense and special teams vacated by the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Thomas has world-class speed and will be given opportunities to play as a slot receiver and kick-return specialist.

Riskiest move: Despite having one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season, the Chiefs added nobody at the position, Thomas excepted. The Chiefs will search for help in free agency before they get to training camp in late July, but they might not be able to find a receiver who gives them more than what they already have on the roster. The Chiefs might come to regret passing on the chance to get USC receiver Marqise Lee in the first round or Mississippi's Donte Moncrief in the third. Thomas could help as a slot receiver, but on the outside, the Chiefs need improvement from a group that includes Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins.

Most surprising move: The selection of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the fifth round qualifies, given the Chiefs already gave up their second-round choice for a quarterback, starter Alex Smith, in last year's trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs also appeared set at quarterback with Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel and developmental prospect Tyler Bray. But the Chiefs couldn't resist Murray, whose senior season was ended early by a torn ACL. At about 6-foot and 200 pounds, Murray doesn't have classic size for an NFL quarterback or a huge arm, but the Chiefs think he has the necessary skills to thrive in coach Andy Reid's offense. Murray does a nice job of finding available passing lanes despite his size. He has also been an accurate passer. Murray says he has been cleared to practice when the Chiefs get on the field later this month. That sets up an interesting battle for available roster spots at quarterback. Bray is the most likely candidate to be crowded off the roster, but if the Chiefs believe he or Murray is advanced enough to be their backup, a trade market could develop for Daniel.

File it away: First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford of Auburn will become the second-best pass-rusher to emerge from this year's draft behind only Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick. The Chiefs have Pro Bowlers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to start at Ford's position, so he has time to develop his skills in pass coverage and against the run. He can focus immediately on his pass-rush skills, and the Chiefs need to find ways to get all three players on the field at the same time. Kansas City's pass rush was on pace at midseason to set an NFL record for sacks. It tailed off badly the second half of the season, but Ford's presence should help revive their pass rush.

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