2014 NFL Draft Recap AFC South, AFC West
The NFL Draft never goes as draftniks predict and 2014 was no different. Here is my assessment of how each team fared.
AFC SOUTH Draft Recap
The Colts didn’t have a 1st round pick due to their 2013 trade for RB Trent Richardson. With the five picks the Colts had they did little to excite. They had a big need for help in the secondary that went unaddressed and none of the players selected look to contribute in 2014.
The Jaguars were all in on QB Blake Bortles, whom they selected 3rd overall, while many thought they would take a pass rusher and address the QB issue later. Bortles had all of the protypical QB measurements that some of the other QB prospects lacked which helped convince Jacksonville he could be their QB of the future. To that end, the Jaguars hope to let Bortles develop behind Chad Henne for a season. In the 2nd round the Jags selected two WRs, Marquise Lee from USC and Allen Robinson from Penn State. Both of these players should be able to help a team that has lacked weapons on offense and that will be without former 1st pick WR Justin Blackmon (suspension) for a portion/all of the season. The Jaguars also took a chance on CB Aaron Colvin who tore an ACL during practice for the Senior Bowl and will likely need the season to rehab.
By selecting DE Jadeveon Clowney to pair with J.J. Watt, Houston has to have QBs throughout the league worried about their personal safety. There is some thought that Clowney didn’t give full effort last season at South Carolina but the Texans believed in what they saw on film and apparently have a plan for keeping Clowney motivated. The Texans also addressed needs at OG ( Xavier Su’a-Filo) and TE (C.J. Fiedorowicz). Additionally, they may have lucked out by grabbing DT Louis Nix in the 3rd round, a player who had a 1st round grade. The big question that still remains for Houston is who will be their starting QB in 2014?
This was a curious draft for the Titans. With their 1st selection they chose OT Taylor Lewan, despite having LT Michael Roos and newly signed FA Michael Oher already on their roster. Roos is in the last year of his contract, so I can appreciate the Titans need to plan for the future, but I still think they should have used this pick on an impact player to help them now. In the 2nd round the Titans selected the first RB of the draft, but not who everybody expected to go first at that position as they took Washington’s Bishop Sankey. Sankey finds himself in a great position considering the Titans need to replace departed RB Chris Johnson. Additionally, with QB Jake Locker in the last season of his rookie contract, the Titans took a late round flyer on former LSU QB Zach Mettenberger, who his coming off an ACL injury from last season. Mettenberger has the skills to replace Locker if the Titans decide to let him leave after the season.
AFC WEST Draft Recap
The Broncos filled many of their needs through free agency including DE DeMarcus Ware, S T.J. Ward, and WR Emmanuel Sanders. This allowed the Broncos to select players for the future and both CB Bradley Roby and WR Cody Latimer are high upside guys that could use some time to fully develop. Roby slipped in the draft due to off-field concerns and Latimer surged up the board leading up to the draft.
The Chargers filled their biggest needs with their first two picks. TCU CB Jason Verrett is a tough man coverage corner who will help the San Diego secondary (which was one of the worst in the NFL last season). The Chargers also grabbed a pass rusher in round 2 in Jeremiah Attaochu from Georgia Tech. Attaochu is considered a relentless pass rusher with a non-stop motor.
The Chiefs’ strength last year was their pass rush, led by Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. This made their selection of DE Dee Ford was somewhat of a surprise, especially since Kansas City had bigger needs to fill at other positions (such as WR and TE). However, the Chiefs did fill an immediate need in drafting a replacement for Dexter McCluster with their selection of Oregon athlete De’Anthony Thomas. With QB Alex Smith in the last year of his contract, KC also took a chance on former Georgia QB Aaron Murray. Murray is coming off and injury from last season and should get some time to learn as the 3rd stringer behind Smith and backup Chase Daniel.
The Raiders were happy to see LB Khalil Mack fall to them at pick 5 as Mack could be the impact player the Raiders having been looking for on the defensive side of the ball. In the 2nd round the Raiders got a player they had been linked to leading up to the draft, QB Derek Carr. The Raiders, under GM Reggie McKenzie, have made some good personnel decisions and may finally be a franchise moving in the right direction.
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Photo by Zennie Abraham via Flickr.