2014 NFL Draft Redo

1. Houston Texans – DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)

There was nothing wrong with the Texans’ original pick of Jadeveon Clowney, but the Texans can shoot a little higher in this re-draft with Aaron Donald, who is the best defensive player in the league. Donald and JJ Watt have won 5 of the last 7 Defensive Player of the Year awards. Imagine trying to block both of them. No thanks.

2. St. Louis Rams – DE Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

As good as Aaron Donald is, Khalil Mack isn’t much of a downgrade. The Rams miss out on Donald (originally drafted 13th overall), but Mack gives them a much needed edge rush presence and helps soften the blow of losing Donald.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Odell Beckham (LSU)

In a draft class filled with elite talent, the Jaguars reached on a quarterback, taking Blake Bortles 3rd overall. Quarterback was a huge need for them at the time, but Bortles hardly solved it, as the Jaguars are in the market for a new quarterback again this off-season. I thought about giving the Jaguars a quarterback here, but with several elite talents still left on the board, any quarterback would be a bit of a reach. Wide receiver was also a massive need at the time and the Jaguars originally added a trio of wide receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and Allen Hurns. None of those receivers are bad, but Beckham is an obvious upgrade and would have been a big boost to this offense.

4. Buffalo Bills – G Zack Martin (Notre Dame)

Guards don’t usually go in the top-5, but with Zack Martin you know you’re getting an annual All-Pro. The Cowboys were criticized by some for taking him at 16, but it turns out that wasn’t nearly high enough, as he’s arguably the top interior offensive lineman in the league and has been one of the best at his position since his first game in the league.

5. Oakland Raiders – DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)

Jadeveon Clowney is the Raiders’ consolation prize for Khalil Mack going a few picks higher. He hasn’t been as durable or as consistent as Mack, but he’s shown stretches of dominance and was one of the younger players in this draft, so he could continue getting better, only going into his age 26 season in 2019.

6. Atlanta Falcons – OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

Jake Matthews, the Falcons’ original pick here, is a solid left tackle, but Taylor Lewan is a higher level player. Matthews’ 4th quarter hold in Super Bowl 51 is also a big part of the reason why the Falcons were not able to finish off the Patriots, so perhaps the Falcons would have been Super Bowl Champs if they had taken Lewan instead.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

The Buccaneers stick with their original pick here, as Mike Evans has topped 1000 yards in all 5 seasons in the league, averaging a 79/1221/8 slash line and missing just 3 games with injury. Still only 26 in August, Evans is one of the top receivers in the entire NFL.

8. Cleveland Browns – QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)

The quarterbacks were tough to slot in this re-draft. Normally franchise caliber quarterbacks go high, but this draft is filled with top level talent at other positions, while the top quarterbacks have their warts. With much of the top level talent gone at this point, it makes sense for the Browns to take a quarterback. Derek Carr has been inconsistent, but he’s started 78 of 80 games in 5 seasons in the league and would have stabilized the Browns’ quarterback situation far earlier than Baker Mayfield eventually did. He would have been an obvious upgrade over Johnny Manziel, the quarterback they took with the 22nd pick, or Justin Gilbert, the cornerback they took with this 8th overall pick originally.

9. Minnesota Vikings – QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)

Like Derek Carr, Garoppolo was tough to slot. At his best, he has a higher upside than Carr, but he’s much less proven, with just 10 career starts. After spending the first 3 and a half years of his career as Tom Brady’s backup, Garoppolo tore his ACL 3 games into his first full season as a starter in 2018. Signed to a 5-year, 137.5 million dollar extension last off-season, Garoppolo is  highly valued and productive quarterback when healthy.

The Vikings top quarterback at the time of the 2014 NFL draft was Matt Cassel. They did take Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick and he was decent for a couple years, but then he suffered a devastating injury, forcing the Vikings to trade a first round pick for Sam Bradford and give a guaranteed contract to Kirk Cousins. At his best, Garoppolo is an upgrade over both of those quarterbacks and could have lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl in 2017, when the Vikings made the NFC Championship with Case Keenum. He comes with questions, given his lack of experience, durability concerns, and the fact that he might not have been as good if he didn’t start his career with New England, but he’s worth the pick here for Minnesota.

10. Detroit Lions – DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Boise State)

Eric Ebron, the Lions’ original pick here, never panned out for them like they wanted, so instead they get some much needed help for their defense. Lawrence had injuries early in his career, which is why he slides to 10, but he’s been one of the best edge rushers in the league over the past 2 seasons, with a combined 25 sacks and 23 quarterback hits, while playing stellar run defense as well. Unless he’s franchise tagged for a 2nd straight year at a price of 20.57 million, he’s expected to become one of the highest paid defensive players in the league on a long-term deal this off-season.

11. Tennessee Titans – WR Davante Adams (Fresno State)

The Titans have needed a #1 receiver for years, with Kendall Wright in 2013 being their last 1000-yard wide receiver. Davante Adams slides because he got off to a slow start to his career and because he’s benefitted from playing with Aaron Rodgers, but he also had a 74/885/10 slash line in 2017 with Rodgers missing most of the season with injury and his 111/1386/13 slash line was among the very best in the league in 2018.

12. New York Giants – WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)

Brandin Cooks has topped 1000 yards in 4 straight seasons, but falls a little bit in a strong wide receiver class. As consistent as he’s been, he’s never put up dominating numbers and he’s always played with a lot of talent around him, catching passes from Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff in his career. The Giants take him as a consolation prize for losing Odell Beckham. Cooks is a slight drop off talent wise, but he’s more durable and less of a headache to deal with than Odell, so this isn’t a bad scenario for the Giants.

13. St. Louis Rams – OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

The Rams can’t take Aaron Donald, their original choice here, but they took Khalil Mack at 2 instead of their original #2 overall pick Greg Robinson, who was a massive bust, and now they can take a better left tackle in Jake Matthews here at 13. As good as Donald is, the Rams might prefer to have both Mack and Matthews, who has developed into an above average left tackle. The Rams had terrible play at left tackle until they signed Andrew Whitworth two off-seasons ago and he could retire this off-season, ahead of what would be his age 38 season.

14. Chicago Bears – CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

The Bears have had a weird ride with Kyle Fuller, their original pick here. He was a starter for them his first 2 seasons in the league, but missed all of his 3rd season with injury and had his 5th year option declined, as they felt he did not work hard enough to return from injury. Fuller ended up making the Bears regret turning down his option, playing at a high level in 2017 and parlaying that into a big contract. The Bears gave him the transition tag, giving them the right of first refusal on any contract offer he accepted, and ended up matching a 4-year, 56 million dollar deal he signed with the Green Bay Packers. Considering he had arguably the best season of his career in 2018 on an overall dominant Bears defense, I don’t think they regret that contract and ultimately they’d probably take him again if they could.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – DE Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)

Stephon Tuitt was originally a 2nd round selection by the Steelers, but he’s played at such a high level that they’ll have to take him in the first round this time around. Their original first round pick Ryan Shazier was not a bad selection, but his career is in doubt after a terrible neck injury he suffered during his 4th season in the league in 2017.

16. Dallas Cowboys – DE Dee Ford (Auburn)

The Cowboys have already lost Zack Martin, their original pick here, and DeMarcus Lawrence, a 2nd round selection, but they still get a high level player in Dee Ford here at 16. Ford isn’t as good as Lawrence against the run, but he has 30.5 sacks and 40 hits in 67 career games, while Lawrence has 34 sacks and 36 hits in 64 career games, so there isn’t much drop off there.

17. Baltimore Ravens – MLB CJ Mosley (Alabama)

CJ Mosley was the Ravens’ original pick here and they would probably take him again if they had the opportunity. He has his issues in coverage, but he’s one of the best run stoppers in the league and has been a tackling machine for one of the NFL’s better defenses. His 579 tackles over the past 5 seasons combined rank 4th behind Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, and Lavonte David.

18. New York Jets – WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

Originally the 4th overall pick, Sammy Watkins was tough to slot in this re-draft. On one hand, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year and has only topped 1000 yards once, which puts him far behind the other top receivers in this class in terms of production. He hasn’t even topped 600 yards since 2015 and missed 15 of 48 games the past 3 seasons combined. On the other hand, he signed a 3-year, 48 million dollar deal with the Chiefs last off-season, making him the 6th highest paid wide receiver in the league in terms of average annual salary, so clearly his skill set is still in high demand. He was a bit underwhelming in 10 games for the Chiefs in his first season in Kansas City, but, still only in his age 26 season, he still has plenty of upside and at least one team would fall in love with him in the first round in a re-draft. The Jets, who only had one receiver with more than 409 yards in 2014, are one of the teams that could use him.

19. Miami Dolphins – WR Jarvis Landry (LSU)

The Dolphins chose not to retain Jarvis Landry as a free agent last off-season, instead franchise tagging him and trading him to the Browns for a 4th round pick, but that was mostly for financial reasons, as the cap strapped Dolphins couldn’t afford the 5-year, 75.5 million dollar deal the Browns ultimately gave him. That deal might be a little bit of an overpay, but Landry has still averaged a slash line of 96/1003/5 in 5 seasons in the league and has just 26 career drops, as opposed to 481 career catches. The Dolphins have to use their first round pick to keep him this time around, after originally taking him in the second, but he’s worth this spot, even in a good wide receiver draft.

20. New Orleans Saints – CB Malcolm Butler (West Alabama)

The Saints tried to trade for Malcolm Butler two off-seasons ago, even offering their original pick here, Brandin Cooks, in a trade for Butler, before ultimately sending Cooks to the Patriots for a first rounder when the Patriots decided to keep Butler. The Saints addressed their cornerback need by taking Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but taking Butler in 2014 would have helped them sooner and he’d form a solid duo with Lattimore. There’s some concern that Butler was benched in the Super Bowl by the Patriots and that he wasn’t as good in his first season outside of New England, which is why he slips a little, but he’s still a solid starter and was still highly valued on the open market last off-season, signing for 61.25 million over 5 years.

21. Green Bay Packers – S HaHa Clinton-Dix (Alabama)

I went back and forth on putting Clinton-Dix here. On one hand, he was a solid starter for the Packers for the first four and a half years of his career, making 65 starts after originally being drafted here at #21 overall, but he was also traded mid-season to the Redskins for a 4th round pick this year. He was in the final year of his rookie contract, but the Packers were also in playoff contention, so it was surprising to see the Packers deal away their best safety. An above average starter at his best, Clinton-Dix is worth drafting again.

22. Cleveland Browns – G Joel Bitonio (Nevada)

The Browns missed badly with their two first rounders in 2014, taking Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, but they did salvage their draft somewhat by taking Joel Bitonio in the 2nd round. Bitonio has developed into one of the better left guards in the league and would likely go in the first round in a re-draft, so the Browns have to take him here if they want to keep him. In reality, they kept him with a 5-year, 50 million dollar extension in 2017, so clearly they value him highly.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – G Andrew Norwell (Ohio State)

Originally undrafted in 2014, Norwell made 54 starts in 4 seasons with the Panthers, before signing a 5-year, 66.5 million dollar deal with the Jaguars last off-season. He’s talented enough to go higher in this re-draft, but falls because of lack of positional need. He’d fill a big need for the Chiefs and would be the most talented guard they’ve had in recent years.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – C Brandon Linder (Miami)

The Bengals originally took Russell Bodine in the 4th round of this draft and he made all 64 starts for them at center from 2014-2017, but he didn’t play all that well and the Bengals ultimately used a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on a center, taking Ohio State’s Billy Price. Linder, one of the better centers in the league, would be an obvious upgrade over Bodine and Price.

25. San Diego Chargers – C Matt Paradis (Boise State)

The Chargers have had offensive line issues for years, especially at center, which was an annual weakness until they signed Mike Pouncey to a 2-year, 15 million dollar deal last off-season. Paradis, one of the better centers in the league, would have filled that weakness much quicker.

26. Philadelphia Eagles – OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

Anthony Barr hasn’t been as good in recent years as he was early in his career, but he still would have helped an Eagles team that had linebacker issues in 2014. A free agent this off-season, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of market he has.

27. Arizona Cardinals – OLB Telvin Smith (Florida State)

The Cardinals originally drafted Deone Bucannon here, a 6-1 211 safety that they eventually turned into a linebacker. Bucannon had some good years early in his career, but has struggled with injuries in recent years and likely will have to settle for a one-year deal on the open market this off-season. Telvin Smith, who signed a 4-year, 45 million dollar extension with the Jaguars in 2017, is a similar player at 6-3 215, but has been much more consistent in his career, despite originally falling to the 5th round. He’d likely go in the first in a re-draft.

28. Carolina Panthers – OT Charles Leno (Boise State)

The Panthers had serious issues at both tackle spots in 2014 and still have a weakness at left tackle even today, despite giving Matt Kalil a 5-year, 55.5 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago. If they had taken someone like Charles Leno, they could have avoided that. Leno, originally a 7th round pick, was a late bloomer, which is why he falls this far, but he’s one of the better pass protecting left tackles in the league.

29. New England Patriots – DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida State)

The Patriots used this pick on defensive tackle Dominique Easley in 2014, but he played in just 22 games for New England due to injuries. Timmy Jernigan would have been a better option for a team that had a big need at defensive tackle at the time, taking one in the first round in both 2014 and 2015. Jernigan missed most of 2018 after off-season back surgery, but he was a solid starter in 3 seasons with the Ravens and took his game to the next level in 2017, when he won the Super Bowl after an off-season trade to the Eagles, earning a 4-year, 48 million dollar extension in the process.

30. San Francisco 49ers – S LaMarcus Joyner (Florida State)

The 49ers didn’t have a lot of weaknesses in 2014, as this Jim Harbaugh team was coming off of its 3rd straight NFC Championship game appearance. They took a versatile defensive back in Jimmie Ward here originally, but LaMarcus Joyner, who fell to the Rams in the 2nd round, became a much better version of what they were expecting Ward to be, though it did take him until his 4th season in the league to breakout. Drafting him here not only gives them much needed talent on a defense that was depleted pretty quickly after 2014, but it also keeps him away from the division rival Rams.

31. Denver Broncos – CB Bradley Roby (Ohio State)

Bradley Roby was the Broncos’ original pick here and, while he never developed into a top level cornerback, I don’t think the Broncos really have too many regrets about getting a solid starter late in the first round. At this point, it’s hard to do much better than Roby, who will likely be one of the highest cornerbacks in free agency this off-season.

32. Minnesota Vikings – WR Allen Robinson (Penn State)

The Vikings got a quarterback at 9 and now get a receiving threat. Before the days of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, had a real problem at wide receiver. The 2014 Vikings were led in receiving yards by the overpaid Greg Jennings, who was released the following off-season after a 59/742/6 slash line. Allen Robinson has been inconsistent and injury prone, but he’s shown #1 receiver ability for stretches. He falls because he’s part of a very deep wide receiver class.

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