2014 NFL Draft: 15 Thoughts from Mike Loyko

8) How do you think Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson is feeling today? Three days away from the deepest draft in history and his Colts only have three selections in the first 166 picks. The Colts don’t have a first round selection (#26) because of the disastrous Trent Richardson trade. Even if Richardson reaches his ceiling, he’s not worth anything close to a first round pick in this draft. They also lost their 4th Round selection (#127) to the Browns, opting to trade it to Cleveland during last year’s draft for the right to select DT Montori Hughes.

You have to give former Browns GM Mike Lombardi credit. He took Ryan Grigson to the woodshed twice and left the Cleveland franchise in the best possible position entering this year’s draft. As for Grigson, his sins will be paid for during the next week. He has little choice, but to stand pat and pick where they are, as the worst thing he can do now is to keep mortgaging future assets to get more picks this year. Just take your punishment and move on.

9) I can’t for the life of me figure out what is going to happen with Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifory come draft day. The two enigmatic Florida CB entered the draft process as highly regarded prospects, but have since dropped like an anchor due to disastrous pre-draft efforts. In Roberson’s case, he put out some bad tape during his time at Florida, but his snail-like 40 time has crushed his draft stock. It’d be one thing if Roberson was a dynamic playmaker on the backend and played faster than he is timed, but that’s not the case. How some people still have Roberson ranked in the top 60 players in this draft boggles my mind.

In Purifoy’s case his combination of bad on-field play, poor off-field decisions, and average at best workouts have dropped him deep into the draft. Purifoy’s poor 40 time surprised me more than Roberson’s because he plays a bit faster, however he lacks technique and discipline in coverage. Purifoy has always had character and coachability red flags, but his recent bath salts arrest might be the last straw. I have no clue where either player is going to be selected this week, but it will be later than many are still projecting.

10) It comes as no surprise that Nevada OT Joel Bitonio is soaring up draft boards to the point where he could be selected in the first round now. Not only is Bitonio one of the most versatile Offensive Lineman in the draft and has put out some impressive film vs. top tier edge rushers, he’s also one of the smartest players I encountered during this process. I distinctly remember interviewing Bitonio at the Senior Bowl with Alex Dunlap from RosterWatch and we were both blown away with how smart he was. Bitonio was able to breakdown various OL techniques, was keenly aware of his strength-weaknesses, and had a tremendous understanding of different blocking schemes.

Bitonio a very good athlete for the position, but he’s also one of the hardest workers in the film room. He can play just about any position on the Offensive Line and while he can play LT in the NFL, he’s a Pro Bowl OG in my opinion. When the run on Offensive Linemen starts in the first round, Bitonio is likely to benefit. I see him coming off the board between picks 28-35 with Carolina a likely landing spot.

11) For teams like the New England Patriots that need Running Back depth this is the perfect draft. Not only is the draft loaded with NFL caliber runners, but the value that can be found at the position is unlike ever before. There will not be a Running Back selected in the first round and there might not be one selected in the top 50 picks. When you look at the draft board it’s easy to see why teams will wait to address the position. In this year’s 4th and 5th Rounds teams can draft a RB that may have gone in the 2nd or 3rd rounds a few years earlier. Running Backs such as Devonta Freeman, Strom Johnson, Terrance West, Lache Seastrunk, and Isaiah Crowell are all backs that could fall to day three of the draft and provide tremendous value to the team that picks them. Inevitably some Running Backs will fall all the way out of the draft and this year more than ever, I believe we’ll see UDFA and late round RB make a big impact during the 2014 NFL season.

12) Georgia QB Aaron Murray is a player to watch on day two of the draft. Ever since his Pro Day a few weeks ago, he’s begun to generate some real buzz among NFL teams. Despite his knee injuries and lack of size, teams love his experience as a starting QB. A four year starter in the SEC, Murray’s battle tested and has plenty of big game experience. While his arm isn’t super strong, it’s strong enough to be successful in the NFL. He provides teams in the 3rd or 4th round a fallback option if they should miss out on their top target in the 1st or 2nd round. For my money Aaron Murray in the 4th round is a much better value than taking Tom Savage in the second round. If it wasn’t for his knee injury, I think it’s safe to assume Murray would be firmly in the 2nd Round of this year’s draft.

13) When USC Center Marcus Martin was invited to the draft in New York late last week it caught my eye. Martin has flown a little bit under the radar lately because he wasn’t able to work out prior to the draft, but after watching him on tape he’s clearly the best Center in the draft. Martin started his career at Guard for the Trojans and moved to Center this past season. He’s 20 years old making him one of the youngest players in the entire draft and has only played 13 career games at Center. He didn’t draw much attention during the season because many people didn’t expect him to enter the draft. Now that he’s been invited to the draft there appears to be a real chance he gets picked in the first round. It can be argued that he has as much upside as any OL in the entire draft. For teams picking at the end of the first round and don’t have a Center, like the New Orleans Saints, Marcus Martin has to be in the conversation.

14) This is an important draft for the other three AFC East teams. The Jets and Dolphins in particular have to hit on their first few draft picks to even have a chance to compete for the division title. The Dolphins once again were active in free agency, but have they closed the gap on the Patriots? As of right now it appears they are poised to reach for an Offensive Tackle with the 19th pick, potentially Tennnessee’s Ja’Wuan James and that certainly won’t put them over the top. The Dolphins will go as far as QB Ryan Tannehill will take them and in my opinion that isn’t very far.

The Jets are in a little better position entering the draft. The two glaring needs on the Jets roster remain at Wide Receiver and Cornerback. Sitting at pick #18 in the first round the Jets should have their choice of the top CB or WR on their board. If the Jets are able to land say an Odell Beckham Jr. or a Darqueze Dennard it will certainly make them better. But is either team ready to compete for the AFC East title? It doesn’t look like it.

15) UCLA DE/OLB Anthony Barr has taken a beating during the pre-draft process for his poor film, technique, and other flaws found on tape. Many project him to slide into the later part of round one. However, if history has taught us anything it’s that dynamic speed rushers go early in the draft. On pure potential and upside Barr is one of the most attractive players in the entire draft. His ceiling, once he learns the finer aspects of the position, is incredibly high and he can be a rare difference maker off the edge. I just can’t see 25-30 teams, many of whom are in dire need of edge rush help, passing over Barr if he’s on the board for their selection. Even though he won’t go as high as he was once projected, I see his draft range starting at pick #11 with the Tennessee Titans and extending to pick #20 with the Arizona Cardinals. I feel comfortable predicting Barr comes off the board somewhere in between those selections.

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19 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: 15 Thoughts from Mike Loyko”

  1. Victor Kiams ghost says:

    After much procrastination and a modicum of research, I humbly sumbit my Pats draft picks.
    1) Kelvin Benjamin Wr/Te he has size speed and versatility
    2) Kareem Martin De because Nink, Will Smith aren;t getting younger
    3) Christian Kirksey Lb a cover linebacker and athletic
    4) Travis Swanson C
    4) Trey Burton Qb/Rb/Te/Wr versatile offensive player
    6) Tyler Gaffney Rb
    7) CJ Barnett SS
    Of course Bill will trade all over the draft board end up with 10 more picks for now and next year. He will also draft some kid from East Southwest North Dakota Community College and turn him into a ProBowl player in 2 years….

  2. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions

    1 Trade for 2,3 and 5th round picks.
    2 Dominique Easley DL Florida
    2 Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
    3 Marcus Smith DE/OLB Louisville
    3 Travis Swanson C Arkansas
    4 Billy Turner G/OT North Dakota St.
    4 Andre Williams RB BC
    5 Shamar Stephen DL Connecticut
    6 Lonnie Ballentine S Memphis
    6 De’Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR Oregon
    7 Kenny Ladler S Vanderbilt

    • RMillette says:

      Do not see any possible way the patriots select 2 safeties and 2 players in a rb:wr role while only taking a player who would be a pass rusher. I’d be ety unhappy if this is how the draft turns out.

    • jim r says:

      Dan, I see you do a lot of these mocks, no knocks on any of them. I do however wonder what you base these mocks on. What do you think the prioritized needs are?

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        I am doing my last mock draft tonight and here is what positions I would

        1 Defensive line

        2 Offensive line

        3 Tight End

        4 Linebackers

        5 Safety

        6 Home Run threat either at RB or WR.

        Enjoy the draft as I know I will.


  3. Trev says:

    Great thoughts, Mike. Really a good read. Are you going to publish a final Patriots mock this week or are you done with those for the year? Keep up the good work.

  4. Kevan says:

    Great article. That’s all.

  5. Jack says:

    An annoying thing about a lot of the mocks is they have Rashede Hagemen or Easley going to the Pats. Hagemen had a horrible 3-cone time and that’s one thing the Pats always focus on. Easley is of course a risk and now I read that he watches cartoons

    There are a host of other players the Pats could draft there that would be better. Here’s a list of 33-60 from Mayock’s top 100. Trade down and grab one of these studs plus an extra in the 3rd. In particulary like Kony Ealy, Deone Bucannon and Sua-Filo and ASJ from the list below. One of them ought to be available if we trade down.

    33. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
    34. Marcus Martin, C, USC
    35. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
    36. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
    37. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
    38. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
    39. Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
    40. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

    41. Demarcus Lawrence, LB, Boise State
    42. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
    43. Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
    44. Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
    45. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
    46. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
    47. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
    48. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
    49. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
    50. Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

    51. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
    52. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
    53. Marcus Smith, LB, Louisville
    54. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
    55. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
    56. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
    57. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
    58. Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
    59. Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
    60. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Jack, Mike Mayock is good analysis but terrible mocker!

      • Ken W says:

        This isn’t Mayocks mock draft, it is his list of top 100 prospects.

      • Jack says:

        Hi JH,

        That’s not really a mock, though. It’s just a selection from his top 100. I’m thinking, if they roughly fall in that order, one of those guys ought to be around even if the Pats trade into the middle of the second. The nice thing is they don’t have any one real desperate need, so they can afford more so than usual to grab the best athlete.

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    Mike Loyko, good article. Also can you publish the UDFA list directly after the draft? thank you!
    With all the comp picks around the league and lack of cap space, some teams don’t have 1st and 2nd round picks, there have to be some trade offers for the 29th pick.
    AFC East will be a division to be reckoned with this year!
    Seattle and Denver will not be as strong as it was this year, they lost too much in FA.
    Watch out for Arizona, San Diego, Oakland, Washington and i hate to say it, the NY Jets and Indy.

  7. trent says:

    Since I’ve noticed you sometimes read your article comments, I have a question for you, mike:

    It is obvious that from information you have that NE will be considering Easley, which is a perfect talent match to what we need at the moment IMO after signing will smith to help at end. Back at the combine, Easley did an interview in which he said that he has never watched a whole football game on tv, and that he preferred to watch cartoons. He defended that comment by noting that he still has a love for the game, but that studying film is enough to fuel that love.

    This comment immediately concerned me at the time, as I wasn’t sure that it was a comment that would sound good to patriots management, who I feel place a high value on players with a passion for the game. Would you agree? Do you think (or know) if something like this would pose a question mark to the team, or if they have already investigated and have checked off the box and marked it as a non-issue?

    Thanks mike, and thank you for all the valuable information this draft season.

    • Mike Loyko says:

      Yes that comment concerned me as well.

      • John says:

        Didn’t Matt Light saying something similar when he was playing, like he didn’t watch games growing up and didn’t watch other games during the season?

  8. trent says:

    Some of my quick thoughts on your thoughts, mike–

    3) one view I would have with the potential situation at #29 is that if they have quite a few of their preferred players reach them, why not consider a small drop down, and still see one or two of their guys fall to them. CLE and JAX both have extra picks in this draft and may want to jump some teams to pick their QB, and give up an extra 4th round pick to do so. I don’t think there will be too much of a difference between picks 29 and 35 for example, a few of those may be QB’s.

    4) now we know why jernigan backed out…

    12) I am still beating the drum for Aaron Murray if he makes it to the end of day 2 or day 3. He doesn’t fit the physical QB mold that NE typically looks for, but he has a lot of experience which IS highly valued by the patriots staff. Great poise and decision making. Hoping they hold on drafting a QB until at least the end of day 2 and if Murray is gone, look to trade a 4th round pick for mike glennon.

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