Love/Hate: Reactions from the 2014 NFL Draft Days 2 & 3
Oct 12, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) catches a pass as Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves (1) during the first half of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Sorry for the delay folks, wanted to take a few days and wrap my head around all that happened last week so I could be a little more just and unbiased with this list here. Day one saw plenty of star power and a flurry of trades, but we all know that the crown jewels of the draft are found in days two and three. After the first round there were a lot of great players still available, and we saw many teams capitalize, but we also saw quite a few teams flounder away their future. Let take a look at some of the best and worst moves on days two and three of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Houston Texans select their QB… in round 4
Love and Hate
This is the only one where I stand on both sides of the fence. This team was arguably the most talented team to finish with the worst overall record in years. The Texans have a great defense, a good offensive line, and great skill position players, with their one glaring need being a franchise quarterback. Matt Schaub did his best, but he was shipped out to the Oakland Raiders after a tumultuous season in Houston. In comes University of Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage. Relatively unknown until late last season, Savage is a raw talent with great upside. He has a cannon for an arm, arguably the best in this years class along with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. Savage saw his stock rise tremendously for his physical tools and prowess and what he could bring to an NFL franchise. I love the potential he can bring a team looking for it’s guy of the future. That being said, Savage should of ended up on a team with a good veteran leader at the helm to learn from, not a team looking for the answer at quarterback right now. Savage is not ready to come in and start for the Texans in September, and I don’t think anyone expects him to. However, if that is the case, then what is Houston going to do, watch Ryan Fitzpatrick lead them back to where they were this year? This team has far too much talent now to wait on a project quarterback that needs at least a year or two of growth before he is ready to take the field. Andre Johnson, the teams career leading receiver, has already showed his displeasure with the current situation, and has contemplated whether or not the team is moving in the right direction as his age and health start to catch up with him. This team for ninety percent of its history has been a perennial loser. Personally I feel this franchise made the wrong decision in waiting so long to pick up a quarterback. Not to say they had a bad draft, they picked up some phenomenal players. In the end though I believe that the Texans needed to focus on the quarterback position a little bit more with a better or more NFL ready prospect or a veteran free agent. It has been a long and winding road for this expansion franchise. Here it goes again.
The Jacksonville Jaguars land their Wideouts
The Justin Blackmon situation in North Florida has gotten ugly. The enigmatic former first round pick is currently suspended for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, this after just coming off of a prior suspension. There has been wide speculation that he may not return this year at all to the Jags. Making it more than likely that we will never see Blackmon suit up for the Jaguars again. It is truly a shame for such a talented wide receiver to fall so far from grace as he has (I’m also talking to you Josh Gordon, get your act together you are too talented) and see his career go to the wayside. I truly hope that he gets himself together and finds his peace on the field, because he can be a star in this league. Without Blackmon though, the Jaguars were left with a rather thin and weak receiving core. Their best guy heading into the draft, on the active roster, was Cecil Shorts III, a very solid player but not the flashy dynamic play maker that this offense desperately needs. In comes arguably the biggest steal in the draft in my opinion, the second round selection of Marqise Lee out of the University of Southern California. I know there are plenty of doubters on this guy but let me tell you I am not one of them. Marqise possesses all the tools necessary to be a dominant receiver at the next level and the Jaguars number one option. Marqise brings a well rounded blend of good speed, great hands, fluid hips and most importantly pretty polished route running at this stage in his career already. He isn’t going to burn you down the field, but he will go up for the ball, and he will work in space and make defenders miss. Even with injury concerns I believe in Lee’s potential. I think he can develop into one of the best receivers in this class within the next three seasons especially with the help of the guy they took next, Penn State receiver Allen Robinson. I was shocked to see how far both of these guys fell on day two. I personally had them as first round selections with first round grades, I was not expecting to see so many defensive backs off the board in round one. The Jaguars however were probably overjoyed seeing that they were able to pick up two of the drafts best pure pass catchers. Robinson has tremendous size, (6’2”, 220 lbs) and is a perfect compliment to the more smaller, more agile style of Lee. Robinson is a big target in the mold of the new era receivers with a big frame and the ability to go up and get the ball at its highest point and get physical with defensive backs. Two huge steals in the second round for Jacksonville to go with its new face of the franchise Blake Bortles, you have to admit things went very well for the Jags in this draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins also get their guys
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE
We did not see the flurry of pass catchers taken in round one as many people had projected through mock drafts all spring long. We did however see nine defensive backs taken, leaving a lot of great receivers for the taking in rounds two three and even four. The Eagles, after focusing on defense in the first round with linebacker Marcus Smith, picked up their much anticipated Desean Jackson “replacements”. Their first selection was Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt University, whom they traded up in the second round to get. Matthews is a big, lean target (6’3”, 212 lbs) who is really unlike any guy Chip Kelly or the Eagles have had in a long time. He is taller and bigger than Jeremy Maclin, and clearly bigger than Desean, but he has deceivingly good speed, running a 4.46 forty time at the combine. He has the makings of a number one receiver, and a blood line to the great Jerry Rice doesn’t hurt either. The Eagles then followed that up with Josh Huff, product of Oregon University, Chip’s old stomping grounds. Huff is a smaller, more burner style of receiver that will be more likely to fill out Desean’s old role in the offense. He can line up all over the field for Philadelphia, who did a great job of reloading targets at a great value on the second day. The Miami Dolphins also landed their compliment pass catcher with the selection of Louisiana State University receiver Jarvis Landry. I am a big fan of Landry and what he can bring to the table in Miami. He did run a slow time at the combine, but he was not fully healthy. When healthy, Jarvis will add a great pop to the offense, a guy who can make great flashes in the passing game and making moves in space. He is a pure pass catcher with amazing hands and a great compliment to the flyer, Mike Wallace. It gives quarterback Ryan Tannehill a set of reliable hands to move the chains and keep the offense rolling. These two franchises did a great job of getting their guys at a tremendous value.
The New England Patriots take Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2nd round
In striking contrast to the Texans situation, the Patriots in my opinion did not need to look at the upper half of the draft for a quarterback, even with Ryan Mallet set to hit free agency after this season. They have one of the most durable and top performing quarterbacks in the NFL in Tom Brady. Yes I understand he is getting old and will hang it up soon, but this team has its starter for another two or three years! Instead of taking a guy that they can groom with Tom such as Savage, or perhaps Aaron Murray or A.J. McCarron or someone along those lines who could be solid with some good learning years, they spent their second rounder to have Jimmy do it. To make it clear, it is not that I dont like Garoppolo. I think he is a very talented quarterback who especially in New England will be able to do some great things in his future sitting under Brady. I just did not like the value or the sense it made for the Patriots to make the jump in round two, especially after taking Dominique Easley in the first round. The Patriots first two selections are likely to never see starting time next year, if any playing time at all. For a team with a future Hall of Famer still playing at a high level aiming for another title, this was a huge whiff for the defending AFC East champions. They should have focused on a quarterback in later rounds, if at all, and should have focused on building depth at critical positions, as this team has been ransacked by injuries the last few seasons.
The Cleveland Browns do not select a receiver
The Browns made a lot of flash on day one, picking up Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel. After day one things got a little bit questionable due to one big piece of news out of Cleveland. There has been rumors that top wide out Josh Gordon may be facing a very lengthy suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy again. There has also been rumors that the Browns knew of this heading into the draft weekend. Notice a glaring hole in the Browns draft selections? That’s right no wide receivers. They finished off the draft with a tackle, a linebacker, a running back, and a corner back in that order, capped off at the 4th round due to all their first day trades. No receivers selected in the first four rounds for the Browns, who really do not have quality depth after Gordon. Is Greg Little really going to light it up as a number one option? I think not. At the second round, players such as Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, and Cody Latimer were available to the Browns at their selection. Instead they went with what will likely be their starting right tackle this season in Joel Bitonio. They have signed former Dallas Cowboy receiver Miles Austin as of today, but unless he can come back to form and good health, it is a stop gap solution at best for this team that needs to support its new dynamic quarterback. Good luck Johnny, you’re gonna need it this year.
There were many more things that I loved and hated about days two and three of the draft, but I’d end up with a magazine here. Overall it was another very exciting draft with so much potential to look forward to. It will be another exciting season to watch as the 2014 class of rookies hit the field this September.
Look for my early offseason rookie predictions coming soon!