Grading an NFL Draft immediately after it occurs is akin to giving your compliments to the chef based on the menu rather than actually waiting to taste the food. It will take at least three years before we can truly assess how the 32 NFL teams fared over the weekend. But waiting is no fun. As such, let's take a take at which teams appear to have done the best job of filling needs and building for the future via the seven rounds of the 2014 draft.
Bill O'Brien would have loved an Andrew Luck-caliber quarterback to be sitting on the board for him at No. 1 overall but a dominant pass rusher like Jadeveon Clowney was the next best scenario. Clowney will quiet any critics when he earns the Defensive Rookie of the Years with at least 10 sacks and the combination of he, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Louis Nix could help Houston enjoy quite the bounce-back campaign in 2014. That is, of course, if O'Brien can work his magic at the quarterback position, where the Texans added only Tom Savage to a position group currently headlined by journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. Versatile offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo was a first round talent that the Texans were fortunate to have slip to No. 33 and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz will also be solid. Sixth rounders Jeoffrey Pagan and Alfred Blue could also surprise. Grade: B
The Colts traded away the rights to their first round pick for running back Trent Richardson and while I expect that he'll be significantly improved with a full off-season to master their playbook, at this time the deals looks pretty one-sided on Cleveland's behalf. Helping Richardson's chances at improving in 2014 was the selection of tough-guy offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and an exciting vertical threat in Donte Moncrief. Of their Day Three selections, former Western Kentucky run-stuffer Andrew Jackson looks like he could provide the most immediate impact. Grade: C
Some are going to knock Jacksonville for selecting Blake Bortles at No. 3 but not me. He's not a sure-fire superstar but I love the tools and the fact that Jacksonville already has in place a heady veteran in Chad Henne to aid in the young quarterback's development. The other thing I love is that Jacksonville has talent on the offensive line already in place (and added two solid interior options this weekend) and added to their receiving corps with Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson with their second round picks. Jacksonville's Day Three picks also are going to turn heads as they are each athletes who are very good schematic fits in Gus Bradley's defense, especially injured (but intriguing) cover corner Aaron Colvin, speedy outside linebacker Telvin Smith and classic LEO defensive end Chris Smith. Rather than spend a high pick on a non-premium position, the Jags got former UCF (and Miami) running back Storm Johnson in for cheap as a 7th round pick and he, too, could make this roster. Ultimately, this draft will hinge on Bortles' development but I see this class as potentially a big win for an up and coming franchise. Grade: A
Given the Pro Bowl caliber play of left tackle Michael Roos and the addition of right tackle Michael Oher in free agency, the Titans' selection of Taylor Lewan in the first round surprised me. There is no denying his talent and toughness, however, and I don't quibble with the idea of adding offensive linemen - especially when a club has a gifted quarterback like Jake Locker whose biggest struggle to this point remains durability. I love the selection of running back Bishop Sankey in the second round. He is a tough, grounded kid with a terrific blend of instincts, burst and hands. Fantasy enthusiasts should take note of him. Of Tennessee's Day Three picks, I'm especially high on Penn State's DaQuan Jones, who is a wide-bodied run-stuffing presence whose size complements the smaller, quicker interior rushers already on the roster. Adding Zach Mettenberger in the seventh round is a low-risk gamble that could pay off big as his arm is a nice fit in Ken Whisenhunt's offense and gives the Titans a quarterback to develop should Locker not earn an extension with his play next season. Grade: B