Conventional wisdom in the NFL says you need at least three years to properly determine a draft class. Sure, it’s always fun to score after the fact. But there’s a lot to be said for waiting to see the players take the field before we see if they’ll be out.
2014 Nfl Draft
The three-year rule under the current CBA is very effective. After locking rookies into four-year contracts, teams have the 2017 season to decide if their 2014 draft picks are worth updating. They also need to decide their first-round pick, who is eligible for a fifth-year option in 2018 but could also see a significant raise if they qualify.
Looking Back At The Philadelphia Eagles’ 2014 Nfl Draft Class
The 2013 draft was mostly wrong, but fortunately the 2014 draft had many more interesting players. Just a quick analysis of the first round reveals the star players who came in and immediately made their team better. There have also been a few high-profile incidents, some involving the same team (look away, Cleveland Browns fans!). Still, this was a huge improvement over 2013 and could end up being one of the best drafts of the modern era when all is said and done.
Clowney became the first name off the board after a big college career. A rare physical specimen, he weighed 6’5, 266 pounds at the combine and still ran a 4.53 40. Unfortunately, Clowney’s first two years in the pros were plagued by injuries. He missed most of 2014 with a torn meniscus and later underwent surgery for a minor fracture. Clowney was able to play 13 games in 2015 and showed flashes of his potential, but he still had issues staying healthy.
Things finally came together for Clowney last year. Continuing without the presence of J.J. Watt was a disruptive force in Clowney’s lineup, frequently commanding double teams that freed up Whitney Mercilus to make game-changing plays. Clowney set a career high with six sacks and earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. Hopefully we’ll finally see the Clooney/Watt/Mercilus trinity in full action next year.
This is one of several picks the Rams received from Washington in the Robert Griffin III trade. It must be a place not to be missed, right? Well, about that. Robinson played left guard his rookie year, where he suited up. But he has been one of the worst left tackles in football over the past few years.
Nfl Draft: Six Years Later
The Rams admitted their mistakes this offseason, signing Andrew Whitworth to play left tackle. Robinson will have one last chance to save his life at defensive end or right tackle next year.
The Jaguars made a bold gamble by making Bortles, an intriguing but flawed prospect, the first QB off the board in 2014. The results have been mixed at best. After a poor rookie year, Bortles seemed to hit a big stride in 2015, throwing for 35 touchdowns and 4,428 yards. However, his 2016 was bad. Bortles’ mechanics went to hell, as he developed a Tebow-esque throwing motion and terrible footwork. He made the turnover like candy, the Jaguars got off the ground (again), and Gus Bradley was ready.
Now Doug Marrone is at the helm, and his biggest challenge will be trying to salvage something from the Jags’ investment in a QB.
Watkins is a solid, spread-the-field threat who can change plays in a game … when healthy, which has happened a few times in three years. He played in all 16 games in 2014 but was limited by lingering injuries. Watkins played in just 13 games and eight over the next two years, as complications from foot surgery continued to crop up.
Nfl Draft: Top 10 Qbs
Watkins is a good player, but the Bills paid a high price to get him, trading their 2015 first-rounder to move up four picks to Cleveland. They will definitely want to get more from them.
As one of the best defensive backs in this year’s draft, Mack lived up to the hype, winning Defensive Player of the Year in just his third season. Sometimes it is good when the analysis is simple and straightforward.
Although he struggled in his first year, Matthews has been playing on the Falcons’ left side, missing just one game in three seasons. He has been a good lineman for the most part but has been riddled with ill-timed mistakes. Matthews’ worst performance came in Super Bowl 51, where he committed a crucial holding penalty in the fourth quarter that put Atlanta out of bounds, contributing to the team’s late collapse. At 25 years old, you could say that Matthews still has untapped potential.
If you couldn’t tell already, the WR class in 2014 was set. Despite Josh McCown and Mike Glennon throwing him the ball, Evans exploded out of the gate with 12 touchdowns in his first year. He had a bit of a down year in 2015 but still cleared 1,200 receiving yards. However, Evans and Jameis Winston developed strong chemistry and last year he set new highs with 96 catches, 1,321 and 12 touchdowns.
Reviewing The Cleveland Browns’ 2014 Nfl Draft
Already a top-10 receiver, Evans doesn’t even turn 24 until August. He is the centerpiece of a Bucs offense that is having its best year ever.
Cleveland started at No. 4 but moved up five spots before moving up one spot to draft Gilbert. It’s safe to say this doesn’t work. Gilbert was brutal on the field and faced questions about his commitment to football.
After just two seasons, the Browns saw enough and took him to Pittsburgh in the sixth round. The Steelers waived him in February of this year and Roger Goodell suspended Gilbert for the entire 2017 season.
Barr looked like a rising star in his rookie year and a true star in 2015. Things didn’t go well in 2016 – Barr managed just two sacks and had to fumble while being responsible in the sack. Head coach Mike Zimmer, never one to mince words, said Barr could be better in “all” areas of his game. The bar was previously considered a sure thing, and it could easily return to that level. But 2017 is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for his Vikings future.
Nfl Draft Trades
This one is pretty bad when you look back at all the stars that came right after the 10th pick. An injury-prone drop machine, Ebron has done little to live up to his draft status. He said, he still holds the starting job and the Lions do not have a very offensive game. So Ebron will have another chance to put it all together next year.
After missing six games with an injury his freshman year, Levan has remained healthy and has become one of the league’s best left tackles, making his first Pro Bowl last year. He’s also notorious for taking cheap penalties (including an ejection for shoving a referee), but as long as he stops Marcus Mariota, the Titans will tolerate him.
Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of this guy. Despite concerns about his on-field behavior (and that stupid streak), there’s no doubt that Beckham is one of the best receivers in the game. Still just 24 years old, the sky’s the limit for Beckham, the centerpiece of the Giants’ offense. Eli Manning finally had the big play threat he had been missing for years before this draft.
After impressive performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, Donald climbed draft boards. Despite being undersized for an interior runner (6’1, 285 pounds), Donald has been one of the best players in the league. In three seasons, he already has 28 sacks and is disrupting almost every game. Opposing offenses try to respond to Donald’s presence. Now we get to see him work in Wade Phillips’ defense, which should be fun.
Nfl Draft: Top 5 Pass Rushers
An outstanding starter his first two years, Fuller’s 2016 ended before it began when he underwent knee surgery in training camp and missed the entire season. Fuller should be healthy for the 2017 season, but the Bears are hedging their bets, signing Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency. Now playing for a coaching staff and GM who didn’t draft him, it’s far from certain that Fuller will pick up his fifth-year option.
Injuries have plagued Shazier over the years — he’s yet to play a full 16-game season — but when he’s on the field, he’s one of the Steelers’ best defensive players. 2016 was Shazier’s best year to date as he set career highs with three interceptions and nine passes defensed.
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