2014 Nfl draft grades clowney, manziel, bortles, mack si.com data recovery los angeles

Devonta Freeman—one of the two surprising starters—recently had his own interesting contract situation, but it was solved with a five-year, $41.25 million deal, with $22 million guaranteed. Some would deem that a lot for a 26-year-old back, especially when some in the organization believe that his 25-year-old backup, Tevin Coleman, who has one year left on his cheap deal, is better. Freeman doesn’t quite have the size to be a true bellcow… would the Falcons invest another $20-plus million guaranteed to retain Coleman? Both bring valuable flexibility to the passing game, and, stylistically, they fit Atlanta’s outside zone scheme.

The third starter is Ricardo Allen, who was drafted as a cornerback and has become one of the league’s top dozen free safeties. That’s what Dezman Southward was supposed to be, but he never took, not even after moving to cornerback once head coach Dan Quinn came aboard.


Ra’Shede Hageman also never quite took, despite outstanding size (including long arms) and flashes—but only flashes—of impressive initial quickness.

This turned out to be the last draft in GM Phil Emery’s three-year tenure. It was a sandwich with great bread and bad meat. The first and last picks have become long-term starters at key positions. Everyone else spoiled, some quickly, others gradually. The Bears learned how much they value Kyle Fuller when their division rival Packers tried to sign him in free agency. Thought to be content letting Fuller walk after a great rookie season, two underwhelming seasons and then a very solid 2017 contract year, the Bears instead inked him for four years, $56 million. Fuller is a stellar zone defender who can convert into man coverage.

Charles Leno is just one of four current starting left tackles who was acquired in the seventh round or later (the others: Donald Penn, Alejandro Villanueva and Kelvin Beachum). At 6′ 4", 303 pounds, he was believed to be a better fit at guard. His lack of size shows once in a while (he had some lowlights against bull-rushers last season), but the Bears were comfortable extending him for four years, $21.6 million guaranteed last year.

The Zack Martin pick was made by Jerry Jones’ son Stephen—Jerry later lectured him about choosing the guard over Rockstar quarterback Johnny Manziel. The exact quote: “Son, I hope you’re happy. But let me tell you something: You don’t get to own the Cowboys, you don’t get to do special things in life, by making major decisions going right down the middle. And that was right down the middle.”

It was right down the middle like a bowling ball on a strike—an analogy that’s extra ripe considering how Manziel’s career wound up in the gutter. Martin has become arguably the game’s best guard, and arguably the best player on what is inarguably football’s best offensive line.

The Cowboys knocked down all 10 pins on the Demarcus Lawrence pick, too. Lawrence, who had 14.5 sacks last year, took a little longer than Martin to reach stardom, so let’s call it a spare instead of a strike. Nevertheless, he was franchise-tagged this offseason and, as an elite run-defender and dozen-plus sack guy, should get a lucrative long-term deal in 2019.

Then-GM Martin Mayhew’s second of four drafts had some hits and foul balls. Eric Ebron’s route running mechanics and flexibility improved two years ago, and he finally brought to Detroit’s passing game the dimension that was expected. That never quite offset his shoddy blocking, unfortunately, which cost him playing time last season. The Lions didn’t want to keep him at the fifth-year option price of $8.25 million.

Kyle Van Noy, whom the Lions traded up to get, never quite fit in defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s scheme. In 2016, Van Noy was traded to New England, where he has become a versatile nickel and dime sub-package player. Travis Swanson started 42 games in four years, but he’ll be a utility backup with the Jets, whom he just joined in free agency. Nevin Lawson has started 40 of 47 games—a great return for a fourth-rounder at a position usually dominated by more athletic first-and second-rounders. He is signed for the next two years; what he gets in 2020 (he’ll be 29) might depend on whether he gets more snaps covering the slot. That job currently belongs to Quandre Diggs, though Diggs shined at safety down the stretch last season and may ultimately end up there.

Alfred Blue and Jay Prosch have given the Texans some good clock-burning snaps late in games (where Bill O’Brien loves to go heavy personnel and pound the rock). But both are lower-tier role players, meaning the only other pick after Fiedorowicz who truly panned out was Andre Hal, who converted from cornerback to safety a few years ago, bringing valuable flexibility to Houston’s foundational matchup zone coverages.

Their 2014 first-round pick went to Cleveland in exchange for running back Trent Richardson, who had shown nothing as a pro but everything as a prospect out of Alabama. Richardson lasted two years with the Colts and then disappeared, becoming the first player in history to be a first-round bust for two teams. It’s easy to say in hindsight that this is where GM Ryan Grigson most screwed the pooch, but much of the NFL was smitten with Richardson when he entered the league in 2012. Grigson, whose Colts were arguably just a tailback away from Super Bowl contention, bet that a change of scenery and a backfield shared with Andrew Luck would flip Richardson’s switch. It didn’t.

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