AFC Team by Team Best and Worst Picks of the DraftPosted on May 17, 2014 by Will Grabill
These picks represent the best and worst picks from each team based on talent, need, fit, and where they were drafted.
Best Pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina Pick #1
Worst Pick: Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis Pick #256
Analysis: Clowney was the most talented player in the draft, and the Texans wasted no time in making sure he ended up on the same defensive front as JJ Watt. The Ballentine selection raises a red flag as it does not make sense that the team that had the fewest interceptions in the league (7), would draft a safety who went his entire senior year without recording an INT.
Best Pick: Telvin Smith, ILB, Florida St Pick #144
Worst Pick: Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas Pick #159
Analysis: Though the Jaguars may have found their franchise cornerstone in Blake Bortles, value wise Telvin Smith was their best selection. His energy and instincts from the linebacker position should provide a great return on investment for their 5th round pick. Just 15 picks after arguably their best selection, the Jaguars had one of their worst in Chris Smith. Other than his plus athleticism and quickness, he has very few strengths. His lack of pass-rushing moves and inability to stop the run will leave him an uphill road to a spot on the Jags defensive line.
Best Pick: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood Pick #127
Worst Pick: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St Pick #8
Analysis: Desir is an absolute steal in the 4th round as he can come in and be an immediate contributor to the Browns secondary. If the level of competition at D-2 Lindenwood was a hesitation point, it was immediately erased when Desir played up to the level of competition at the Senior Bowl. Though Gilbert can be a very good player, the Browns did not have a very bad pick, so he was slotted here because it was a bit of a reach. This pick could look much worse if the Browns look back on the Josh Gordon situation and realize they could have had Sammy Watkins.
Best Pick: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo Pick #5
Worst Pick: Shelby Harris, DE, Illinois St Pick #235
Analysis: The Raiders did an excellent job of filling a need with the best player available while staying true to their board. Mack will provide an immediate pass rush for a team that did not have one player with more than 6 sacks last season. Harris is far and away the worst pick of the draft for the Raiders as his major character issues and questionable work ethic pushed him off many teams boards entirely.
Best Pick: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor Pick #153
Worst Pick: Randell Johnson, OLB, Florida Atlantic Pick #221
Analysis: Not that long ago Cyril Richardson was getting first round evaluations due to his talent as a road grader and outstanding size. This did not go unnoticed among Big 12 coaches as he was voted the Big 12 offensive lineman of the year the past 2 seasons. For the Bills to pick up this talent in the middle of the 5th round the value was too good for him not to be their best pick. Johnson is a very good athlete who offers nothing more than that. His durability concerns and lack of functional strength make this a very questionable selection.
Best Pick: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU Pick #178
Worst Pick: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky Pick #151
Analysis: Mettenberger has as much talent as any Quarterback in the class, but his ACL injury and questionable character lead to his fall to the 6th round. He played in a pro-style offense and has all the tools to be a starting NFL QB. This was a great pick as Ken Whisenhunt, the Titans new head coach, will have little hesitation in pulling the underperforming Jake Locker. Williamson is a bit of a reach at the beginning of the 5th round as he is very poor in coverage and struggles to get off blockers.
Best Pick: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio St Pick #15
Worst Pick: Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona Pick #157
Analysis: The aging Steelers defense got a speed and youth infusion with the highly productive Shazier. Though he lacks ideal size, he flies around the field and has a great blend of coverage and tackling skills. This was not a reach as the Cowboys were prepared to take him with the 16th pick. Richardson is lean corner who aside from occasional flashes of dominance has drastically underperformed. There are also some character question marks as he was previously released from the UCLA team.
Best Pick: Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida St Pick #79
Worst Pick: Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina Pick #138
Analysis: Brooks should slot in immediately at free safety next to 2013 first round pick Matt Elam. Brooks was the most athletic safety at the combine and translates this speed to the field. It is evident he was a former cornerback as his ball skills are very good. As a single-high safety, the role he will be asked to play most frequently, he displays great instincts and superb closing speed. Taliaferro was the most questionable pick of the Ravens draft as they passed up on another very good running back to select him. He does not have good speed, but is a solid one cut and go runner. The biggest question here is why they took him over Lache Seastrunk of Baylor.
New York Jets
Best Pick: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville Pick #18
Worst Pick: Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma Pick #104
Analysis: Pryor is the ideal safety in Rex Ryan's defense, and is not getting as much negative criticism as you would expect for being taken over seemingly consensus top safety Haha Clinton-Dix. His range and tackling ability make him an active threat at the line of scrimmage, which is exactly what Ryan wants from his safeties. Saunders is only 5' 9" 165, so his durability as a receiving threat is a big concern. He should have an impact in the return game, but it will be hard for him to be productive as a wideout.
Best Pick: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU Pick #63
Worst Pick: Ja'Waun James, OT, Tennessee Pick #19
Analysis: Jarvis Landry was one of the best slot receivers last season, and snagging him at the end of the second round was a great selection. He will be a solid complement to Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. Though the Dolphins desperately needed offensive line help, taking James with a top-20 pick was a major reach. He could be a very solid tackle for them, but by trading back they could have acquired more picks and still likely got their guy.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best Pick: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice Pick #87
Worst Pick: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn Pick #23
Analysis: Gaines is a long corner who, though he needs some refinement, has the traits to become a lock-down corner. This selection could also allow the team to trade Brandon Flowers. This was a good 3rd round pick who fills a position of need and has good upside. The Ford selection was questionable at best as it focused completely on future needs. He is stuck behind Tamba Hali and Justin Houston on the depth chart, and until they do not resign, he will not jump them. He has value as a situational pass-rusher but they had many more immediate needs than a long-term backup.
Best Pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St Pick #24
Worst Pick: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU Pick #55
Analysis: Dennard was not expected to last this long, and the best press corner in the draft found a great home in the physical defense the Bengals run. This was an excellent combination of need and value in the first round. Hill's significant off field troubles made this selection very questionable, especially when he was taken over Carlos Hyde. All the more, taking a backup running back in the second round seemed like a bit of a reach no matter who it was.
San Diego Chargers
Best Pick: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU Pick #25
Worst Pick: Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame Pick #89
Analysis: If not for his subpar size, Verrett would have been the best corner in the draft. Getting him at 25 was a steal for the Chargers, and he gives they a physical presence at the corner position. He makes up for his lack of size with blazing speed and very good athleticism, which he uses to play a big role in run support even given his small frame. Since the Chargers gave up their 4th round pick to move up for Jeremiah Attaochu, they had to reach for Watt in the 3rd as they knew he would not be there in the 5th. His durability is a huge concern as he had 3 leg injuries in the latter half of the season.
Best Pick: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss Pick #90
Worst Pick: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio St Pick #59
Analysis: The Colts needed to continue to surround Andrew Luck with receiving weapons, and the very athletic Moncrief fits the bill. He caught the 3rd most touchdowns all time at Ole Miss, 20, and performed very well at the combine. This is just a solid pick in a Colts class with very few good picks. One of those not so great picks is Jack Mewhort. Mewhort projected best at right tackle, but the Colts already have more than $30 million tied up at right tackle. The Colts will be asking their highest draft pick to play a position he has not played since freshman year, which does not sound like a good idea.
New England Patriots
Best Pick: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida Pick #29
Worst Pick: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois Pick #62
Analysis: Easley fell in the draft due to concerns over his multiple knee injuries, so he is a high-risk high-reward pick. The Patriots currently have two old but capable defensive tackles who can make Easley's transition into a starting role as seamless as possible. Garoppolo is the worst pick of the Patriots draft for the pure reason that they passed up tremendous talent in order to land their 3rd string quarterback. Sure in 2 seasons Brady might retire and Ryan Mallett may no longer be with the team, but then they would have had two more drafts to use a middle round pick or two on a quarterback. The Patriots got a little too anxious about being ill-prepared for the future without Tom Brady and wasted a very good draft pick.
Best Pick: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana Pick #56
Worst Pick: Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan Pick #95
Analysis: Latimer is a raw but very talented receiver who will get miles better being able to learn under Peyton Manning and the Denver pass catchers. He was getting late first round consideration so snagging him in the middle of the second was good value. Schofield may have starting potential, but his athletic limitations could make it very difficult for him to start. He does well in the run game, but the Broncos run a high powered passing offense where Schofield will likely struggle. There were better options here than an athletically limited offensive lineman.
Take all grades and evaluations of the draft with a grain of salt, because as Russell Wilson and the 2012 Seahawks draft class showed us, anything can and will happen.