Looking Back At The 2014 NFL Draft

 

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

Every time you hear someone talk about grading a draft class they say “You have to wait at least three years before you can really grade a draft.”  I was cleaning up the computer when I find some old notes on the 2014 draft class and I thought it might be fun to do just that. Back then I was not writing for any particular site, so my audience was about a dozen of my friend who, after awhile, probably got sick of me sending them stuff on the draft and stopped reading them. I found several different emails regarding the class, including a love, like, hate list for both offensive and defensive players as well as a top 100 with some notes. I thought you all might enjoy taking a trip down memory lane and seeing what I had to say before I started writing here.

Looking back at these emails, it is amazing to see how my process has changed. I have learned so much over the years and yet I still find myself gravitating towards certain types of players. I feel like I have a better knowledge of the game and that has helped me in my scouting. Don’t get me wrong, I still get it wrong more times than I get it right, but I at least feel like I can defend why I ranked a player the way I did better now than even four years ago. I won’t bore you with the entire list (unless you want to see it) but here are some highlights from the top 100.

TOP FIVE:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: I think most people who were scouting back then had Clowney as their #1 player. He finally showed that promise this past year after several injury plagued seasons that could have derailed his career.
  2. Jake Matthews: In my comments I wrote: ” pro ready, good against run and pass, high FBI.” Matthews is another player who got off to a slow start to his career, but has steadily improved and has played very well the past few seasons.
  3. Khalil Mack: I can’t honestly remember how high “big draft” had Mack back then, but looking back, I feel really good about having Mack ranked this high.
  4. Sammy Watkins: This one is still up in the air. The talent is clearly there, but he just has not stayed healthy enough to produce.
  5. Greg Robinson: Ughhh, this was a bad one. I knew he was a projection because he had little experience as a pass blocker but moved so well and had great size. Just never put it together.

Interesting Names In the Top 20:

#11 Dominique Easley: I was all in on Easley. He was so disruptive from the interior and I thought he was a perfect fit in New England. When they drafted him I was more than excited. He was the player that made me realize I needed to be more aware of a players injury history. I still can’t believe he busted out so fast for the Patriots. He has had a bit of a resurrection to his career, but nothing like I thought he was going to be.

#14 Kyle Fuller: Fuller was my #1 CB in this class and it was not even close. I loved how physical and unafraid he was to come up and make a tackle. It is still something I tend to fall for when watching corners. Injuries have really derailed his career to this point, which is too bad.

#16 Odell Beckham: This isn’t a huge miss, but I definitely should have had him higher than I did. My notes say ” good size and speed, amazing hands and a good route runner. Nothing elite about his game.” Looking back now, I don’t think I put enough emphasis on route running. Guys who come into the league with a better understanding of route concepts have a leg up on the competition and can contribute sooner.

#18 Brandin Cooks: I made note of his elite speed and quickness as well as his ability to keep his momentum through his cuts. Watching him now, I think I was pretty close. Chalk this up to a win for me.

Interesting Names From #20 to #50:

#27 Teddy Bridgewater: Bridgewater was my #1 QB in this class and while he his career is in limbo because of his injury, I feel like I got this QB class right. You won’t find Johnny Manziel’s name anywhere on my top 100 list. In fact, I didn’t talk too much about Manziel, or any of the QB’s for that matter, because it wasn’t a high priority for the Patriots, but I did say in one of my emails that I wouldn’t take him until the 6th round. Looking back, that is still way too high (no pun intended)

#29 Joel Bitonio: I remember wanting the Patriots to take him really bad. I loved his toughness and his versatility. He has turned out to be a really good player.

#30 Kony Ealy: One of the newer Patriots made the top 30. I called him a tweener with great pass rush skills. Let’s hope he can be that player this year.

#46 Scott Chrichton: Some may be asking themselves who this is, and that is why I am putting him on here. While I am not proud of this ranking, I will own it. I loved his style of play coming out of Oregon State and I think that the only reason he is not a star today is injuries. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

#47 Kyle Van Noy: Another player who has found his way to the Patriots after being highly ranked coming into the NFL. I called him fluid with the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage but needed to add bulk and get stronger.

Interesting Names From #50 to #100:

#53 Trai Turner: I remember getting into some heated discussions over Turner. Funny that a Guard would be the player to get me all hot and bothered, but I loved his game and thought he deserved to go higher. Turner has turned into one of the better Guards in the league, so I will take my pat on the back now.

#63 Jimmy Garrappolo: I had Jimmy G rated right where he went in the draft, just didn’t think it was going to be with the Patriots. I called him smart with good footwork and a better than advertised arm. I said he needed to improve on play recognition and anticipation. I had Derek Carr rated one spot higher.

 

Honestly, I wish I could give you more, but either this class was really bad or I missed the mark on quite a few guys. There are a lot of guys on that list that I had to really think hard about to even remember who they were. So, which was it? Was the class overall really bad, or was my evaluation of the class that bad? I went ahead and looked at the each round to see who I may have missed on. Here is what I found

 

Round 1: My biggest miss in the 1st was probably Deone Buchanon. I had him ranked 49th in the class and he has played very well for the Cardinals. I think he went to a situation where the team knew how to use him and that has helped him in his career. If he would have went to a team that wanted him to play a traditional Safety position, I don’t think he would have had they type of success he has had.

Round 2: Looking through that second round, you don’t see too many success stories. Jarvis Landry at 64 is probably the best pick of the round. I had him ranked ten spots higher than that and even I was too low on him.

Round 3: There are a few names that have done well from this round, but nothing too far off my rankings. C.J Feidorowicz has been a decent TE (drafted 65, ranked 73), Christian Kirksey had a nice year for a bad Browns team (drafted 71, I did not have him in my top 100) and Trai Turner (drafted 92, ranked 53).

Round 4: The big name from this round that should have been drafted higher is Devonta Freeman(103, not ranked). Martavis Bryant was drafted in the 4th because of off field issues, not talent, and that has played out exactly how teams thought it would so far. James White, a guy I was not particularly high on, has played much better than his 4th round selection.

Round 5: Telvin Smith was a guy I really liked (I ranked him at 59) coming out of college and he has been a very good LB for the Jaguars. AJ McCarron has turned into a nice backup for the Steelers, but outside those two there is not a whole lot of success stories coming out of round 5.

Round 6: Laurent Duverney Tardif was a small school kid out of Canada that I was hoping the Patriots would draft as a developmental guy. He went around where I expected, but he has earned a nice 2nd contract from the Chiefs. The only other name from Round 6 that is worthy of noting is Jets WR Quincy Enunwa.

Round 7: Seantrel Henderson has had an up and down run with the Bills, but when he is on the field, he has been a quality starter.

Patriots draft picks:

RD 1: Dominique Easley: Like I said before, I loved the player coming out of college and was ecstatic when the Patriots drafted him. Things clearly did not work out for him in New England and while he has had some success with the Rams, he never lived up to the hype I put on him.

RD 2: Jimmy Garropolo: While Jimmy G has not had many opportunities to showcase his talent, the team obviously values him. He showed flashes of a quality starter last year and he is probably the best backup in the league and could start for many other NFL teams. This was a good pick.

RD 4: Brian Stork: It looked like right out of the gate, Stork was hands down the best pick made by the Patriots. He played really well early, but concussions derailed his career as fast as it started.

RD 4: James White: I was not a big fan of this pick when it was made, but he has shown to be a valuable piece to the offense. He is hands down one of the better picks of the 2014 draft.

RD 4: Cameron Flemming: While Flemming has not been spectacular, he has managed to survive this long. He has a limited role and could be cut at anytime, he has probably had more positive moments than negative.

RD 6: Jon Halapio: Both Flemming and Halapio were picks that just didn’t seem to fit the typical mold of a Patriots offensive lineman. This was the year after Scar had retired and there seemed to be a shift in philosophy. Halapio dealt with injuries from the start and while he bounced around the league for awhile, he never stuck anywhere for long.

RD 6: Zach Moore: I didn’t know much about Moore before he was selected, but I was intrigued by his measurables. He stuck around for awhile and flashed some promise in preseason, but the jump in competition was just too much for him to overcome.

RD 6: Jemea Thomas: I remember him having a great pro day where he killed the testing, which is why he was drafted. He was just too small to play in the NFL.

RD 7: Jeremy Gallon: I thought this was the steal of the draft. Gallon seemed like a perfect fit to be the next great slot receiver for the Patriots. He never made it out of his first training camp and we never heard from him again.

What If?

In an exercise in futility, I thought it would be fun to see who the Patriots should have taken at their picks using the power of hindsight. I will only take players who were picked after the Patriots actual selection

RD1: Joel Bitonio: He would have been a great fit at Tackle or Guard for the Patriots and a pick like this could have had a ripple affect on future drafts as the team may have not had to use so many assets on the Guard position.

RD2: While I have no problem sticking with Jimmy G here, an argument for Jarvis Landry has to be made. His route running and hands would have made him an ideal target for Brady.

RD4: Martavis Bryant: While I know he has had major off field issues, the 4th round is a wasteland of players, so he gets the nod by default

RD4: James White: Easy pick here, stay with the guy who has had success in the system

RD4: Telvin Smith: I think the skill set Smith brings to the table would be a nice compliment to the other Linebackers on this team.

RD6: Laurent Duverney Tardif: This is the Guard the Patriots should have drafted here. He is another athletic guy that moves well for his size.

RD 6: Jeff Janis: Why not, he is at least still in the league

RD 7: slim pickens here, no one really pops out, so the Patriots should have traded this for a 2015 1st or something.

 

So, what can we gleam from this walk down memory lane? For one, this class was not very good. Even the first round is littered with players who did not live up to their draft status. Very few quality players have come from this class. The Raiders seemed to navigate the draft well, getting two of the better players in Carr and Mack with their first two picks. The Patriots draft netted them one quality started and a quality backup at the most important position on the field. Considering who was taken after them in the draft, I did not see any huge misses from the Patriots outside of Easley.

Well, I hope you found this enjoyable. I never claimed to be good at this whole scouting thing, but even the so called experts had a tough time with this draft class. I certainly hope the Patriots most recent class is better than the one from 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37 Responses to “Looking Back At The 2014 NFL Draft”

  1. Jeff says:

    David Harris to the Pats!

  2. Daniel Sullivan says:

    Celtics Mock Draft after Trade. No Apologies several Patriots including Owner and Coach
    are big Celtic fans. So bear with it if you only want football talk.

    1 Josh Jackson F Kansas
    2 Terry Lydon F Syracuse
    2 Jonah Bolden F UCLA
    2 Isiah Briscoe G Kentucky

    Stay aggresive Danny Ainge as you are doing excellent!

    • macspak says:

      here’s mine Dan but only first round as I have no idea who the players available in the 2nd round are but that focus should be on bigs and international.

      trade #3 to Sacramento for 5 and 10
      trade 5 to Charlotte for #6 and a future 1
      with #6 pick FL F/C Jonathan Isaac
      trade #10 to Lakers for one of their young promising players and a future pick, maybe their late 1st rounder this year, which I think they have

      This way you turn the #1 overall into Isaac, another young player from LA, and two more future #1’s. Plus the other 1 they got from Philly. How’s that for a haul with just one pick?

      Isaac is a big they need and per some has the highest upside of anybody in this year’s draft. We don’t need guards and another young swingman would be nice but that is what they get from LA.

      • Daniel Sullivan says:

        Macspak,

        Very complex but if Celtics ended up with Jonathan Isaac and Randle from Lakers
        that would strengthen the front court. I do think the Celtics have another major move
        in mind. Enjoy the draftand then back to the Pats hey Gronk needs to tone it down a bit
        he’s great with kids but the hard drinking is a horrible example to set.

      • Daniel Sullivan says:

        Macspak,

        Just to go one step further Gronk with his great career and how well he is with kids
        at football camps. Instead of being at Foxwoods which is a place I love with a 102,000
        bar bill how about him giving his Gronk effort to a much needed Charity like Tom Brady
        has done. I’ll give you a few inner city sports programs. a whole bunch of young people that are
        destoying ther life with addiction and finally one that gets the least in donations is Mental
        Health. If he ever went into one of those places he could changed a lot of peoples lives.
        Just look at his comebacks from back surgery those have been amazing!

        Dan Sullivan

  3. Daniel Sullivan says:

    The dropped passes for Dwayne Allen don’t bother me as he has been very good for
    a long time he will be as good as Bennett was last year.
    Should be a exciting year with Butler and Gilmore at corners. It would be very nice if we could get
    an extension for Butler.

    Players who could compete for starting job.
    Glenn Gronkowski FB
    Jason Thompson S
    Harvey Langi ILB

    Sorry to Jump to Celtics as this is a big coming week for them.
    Final Celtics Mock Draft.

    Celtics trade this years 1st round pick and next years for round pick to the Kings.
    They receive the 5th and 10 pick in draft this year plus Center Willie Cauley Stein.
    They also trade all three second round picks to move to a first round pick.

    Celtics Draft.
    5 Zach Collins PF Gonzaga
    10 Malik Monk G Kentucky
    1st rounder received in possible trade for second round picks. Derrick White SG Colorado

    • macspak says:

      I wouldn’t trade this year’s one for that package never mind this years and next years. Fultz is supposed to be something special. Never trade quality for quantity. I might trade the #1 but for a much better package than that. Regardless, this should be an exciting week and the 22nd an interesting night.

      • Daniel Sullivan says:

        What if Willie Cauley Stein turned out to be the next Robert Parrish?

        • macspak says:

          One never knows because nobody knew Parrish was going to turn out to be Parrish. Of course things now are really heating up between the C’s and 76’s. The #1 for #3 and future #1’s, one likely to be the Laker’s unprotected next year. Maybe Danny then does another trade down – #3 to the Kings for 5 and 10, maybe getting Fox, Johnson or Tatum at 5 and Collins at 10. All depends who Danny really wants/targets and if he thinks he still can get him with another trade down.

        • Daniel Sullivan says:

          Hello Macspak,

          Seems like Danny Ainge wants to maximize the value of the #1 and that seems very
          smart to me.

          Enjoy the Celtics Draft.
          Dan

        • macspak says:

          Been doing some research on Josh Jackson. Not sure I don’t like Fultz better who seems to be a more natural shooter. Jackson reminds me of a slightly taller/larger version of Marcus Smart (who I love for his all around game)with the same shooting limitations.

        • macspak says:

          one of the trade/draft rumors is that Ainge is trying to stock pile picks to trade for Butler or George. No thanks. Get Anthony Davis or keep the picks. This is other than the #3 they get from Philly who they will use to draft Jackson, if available.

  4. Russell says:

    Well done article Mike! Telvin Smith is the guy I liked the Patriots missed on. I would have taken him 3d round , BUT he would have been better than Easley in the first, who I dis-liked as the patriots pick.

  5. steve earle says:

    Jets cut Harris so now we wait to see if Bill cares?

  6. macspak says:

    Great article Mike. I’ve always wanted to read these type look backs but they seldom are done.

    Dan, OK to divert and speak about the draft. Most of us here are “Boston” not just Patriot fans. I love Fox but I think it either is Fultz or a major trade for the #1. Who they pick with their second round picks is intriguing.

    As for the look back. I recall blogging on a different site during that draft and a few of the members were ecstatic with the Easley pick thinking even with the injury risk he was worth it with #31 or 32. Ironically the same people, smart people, hated the JG pick. How wrong they were. That’s the thing with the draft. All of us are more often wrong than right. Who remembers Red picking Clarence Glover? Ron Mercer? Michael Smith? etc. And he was considered a genius and great talent evaluator. BB has had his share of misses, as we all know, also.

    • Daniel Sullivan says:

      Just dealing with No Pro Football or College Football and I am a true Boston fan.
      Your probably very right on Fultz there certainly looks like the Celtics have a lot of trade
      chips maybe they end up with Fultz and a solid veteran addition.

      Thanks
      Dan

    • steve earle says:

      Your right, we are more wrong then right when it comes to the draft but I’m not buying that Easley was a good pick anyway. Those of us that recognized his injury history was a big problem were right this time. About JG, he was a surprise 2nd rd pick and we asked why? And so far he started two games for us, did well but as of now we have the current situation where he will be a free agent after this season and it will come down to TB12 or JG. Maybe a great pick but will it be for us or some other team?

    • td says:

      Um, Mercer was the pick of that righteous a-hole, Pitino.

      • macspak says:

        you’re right – about Mercer and Pitino being a $%^&%$#@

        I was thinking about another guard who’s name slips my mind. He may have played for Maryland. I know he relatively was local to Washington DC, which is where Red lived. I think he also was the 2nd of multiple early 1st picks. It will come to me.

  7. Daniel Sullivan says:

    I would rather see the Patriots be looking at Decker from Jets than Harris. Decker with Brady
    throwing to him he would be very solid addition. Finally James O’Shaugnesey looks like a great
    pick up for Patriots.

    Sorry to get away from Football my Celtic Mock Draft.
    1 De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky ( Can do more than Fultz)
    2 Alec Peters F Valparaiso
    2 Mathias Lessort F France
    2 Jonah Bolden F Australia

    Look for Jackson( guard ) and Nader (forward) to make the Celtics next year they are from
    Red Claws.

    Lets all back off Jerry Remy as the game needs to speed up a bit people have busy lives
    to still deal with and finally he has been thru enough all ready.

    • Jeff says:

      Go Celts Dan! I think the Celts should be looking to move Bradley and Smart to try to get a decent, reliable big on a reasonable contract, and maybe another 1st round pick to boot. Faried from the Nuggets and their 13th overall for Smart, Bradley, and a couple of 2nd rounders??? Add Gordon Hayward this year and another top 5 pick next year and the team should be pretty good.

      • Daniel Sullivan says:

        Jeff,

        Thanks for your importas Faried would be a great addition a guy super aggresive for rebounds
        would certainly help Celtics.

        • macspak says:

          where’s Paul Silas, Maurice Lucas or Dennis Rodman when you need them?

          BTW – I could see them trading the #1 and still getting Fox as long as they don’t trade down too far. Fox will be a top 5. Problem will be he might be a top 2.

    • steve earle says:

      About Decker over Harris, have to disagree because we already have WR position covered about as well as it could be covered. Where does Decker fit where he would get the playing time he wants? Who would we sit to give him that time? Formula for discontent it seems to me. There is such a thing as to much of a good thing.

      • macspak says:

        except for ice cream

        I agree – we already can’t fit all the WR’s whereas an upgrade at LB, and interior OL, would be helpful especially if injuries hit

  8. Ryan says:

    This is the draft that I always look back upon and wish that Bucannon had dropped to us. I LOVED him coming out of school and I think he could’ve been a successful strong safety in New England, maybe even a great one. It’s a moot point as Bucannon’s taking names at LB for the Cardinals, but I was never very sure that Easley would stick in NE.

    Some notes: You probably should’ve had Derek Carr as your highest-rated QB in retrospect, no? Even if Bridgeqater was healthy, I think Carr would be outplaying him right now. Bitonio was a great player who I wanted the Pats to look at in the 2nd or 3rd round, but the Browns realized his value and snagged him pretty early. Same with Ja’Wuan James, who most people pegged as a terrible pick by the Dolphins. James has played pretty well regardless, which hasn’t surprised me because I knew he had the talent, just thought he went a bit early.

  9. steve earle says:

    This is great Mike. As you say everyone says you can’y evaluate a draft for a few years but I can’t recall anyone before this going public with a complete review like you have. My own papers for back then are out in the shed in a Tupperware box I believe, having moved last spring. Lots of stuff crammed into the little 10 x 12. (Boy I miss the space in the old house) Anyway you bring up some memories and I can at least say was very much against Easley so I give myself an at-a-boy for that one. But like you I was pretty hit or miss though I want to think for the first four rounds I had most prospects about the right round. Not all but maybe 75%. It’s so darn hard because separating the hype, then projecting if a small school guy can make the jump and was that terrific combine performance for real? Seems to me so much at we fans level is instinct. You have a better source of reference and I for one really appreciate and depend a great deal on your evals so thank you Mike please keep them coming.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Thanks Steve,
      I am one who will always be transparent about my work. I am not paid by a team, so my next paycheck does not depend on my being right all the time. I tend to point out my misses more than my hits because I find it easier to make fun of myself than pat myself on the back kind of guy.
      I really enjoy the process and if I get time, I want to go back and see how many in my top 100 were actually picked in the top 100. I hadn’t thought about that until reading your post, so thanks again.

  10. Jeff says:

    Nice review. I love the historical perspective – it’s so helpful, especially to ground our expectations when it comes to upcoming drafts. For example, it’s not unusual for a draft to have no real standouts in the 7th round, but its easy to fall in love with multiple 7th round prospects leading up to the draft. Sure you hope you hit on one of these lottery tickets, but it’s nice to be reminded that more likely than not, those guys are going to be marginal backups, practice squad players, or special teamers at best.

    On another note, any chance the Pats sign David Harris to complete the linebacker group this season? I think he could be a good second linebacker to complement Hightower and allow the Pats to slot in the rest of their linebackers in more specialty roles that maximize their traits while also providing some insurance if Hightower misses time due to injuries.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Jeff,
      I would think they would at least give Harris a hard look. Although he is up there in age, he still played at a high level last year. His experience and leadership would be a nice addition to that group. His skillset is similar to Hightower and would probably be a short term upgrade. Obviously it could come down to money, but if he is willing to come here on the cheap and make the Jets foot the bill, I don’t see any real downside to bringing him in. An aging veteran who hasn’t experienced much winning could really help out that group.

      • td says:

        Harris would have to have a lot of versatility and probably vet minimum, I don’t see them bringing in a player that only plays near the line of scrimmage.

        As for Decker, I don’t think his game is built for the Pat’s offense; get open quick and get YAC.

        I doubt either of these guys are willing to take vet minimum or close to it.

    • steve earle says:

      Hey Jeff, Good idea to bring in Harris. It has Mike’s seal of approval and mine, what else do we need?

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