2014 NFL Draft: Round 1 grades for every pick

Roger Goodell reveals the draft picks. We dish out the grades. (USATSI)
Roger Goodell reveals the draft picks. We dish out the grades. (USATSI)

Draft coverage: Draft picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Mock drafts | News

Derek Stephens of NFLDraftScout.com grades every pick of Round 1 of the 2014 NFL DraftTo see the latest grades updates, click here to refresh the page.


1. Houston: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Although Clowney's production wasn't what many expected it to be in his final year at South Carolina, his combination of size and freakish athleticism still give him the highest upside of any player to come along in recent memory, and instantly make Houston's tandem of DEs arguably the most athletic in the league when adding him to the 2-time All-Pro J.J. Watt.   GRADE: A+

2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: The Rams have struggled to compile a consistent group up front, and Robinson gives them an instant upgrade with his rare combination of size, power and athleticism.  He's far from a finished product as a pass-protector, but he's an immediate enforcer in the run game and boasts the versatility to line up inside initially while he's groomed to eventually take over at left tackle.  GRADE: B

3. Jacksonville:  Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida:  The Jags make a big statement about their determination to fill the seats here, by taking the highly-talented but still-raw Bortles.  His rare athleticism and show of improvement give him perhaps the highest upside of any QB in this class, but he has struggled with his mechanics and accuracy at times, and may not be ready to start right away.  With Gus Bradley being a Pete Carroll disciple, one thing we do know is that Bortles will have every opportunity to compete and win the job out of camp. GRADE:  C+

4. Buffalo (Traded with Cleveland): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: Watkins is everything you want in a true number one receiver.  He can routinely beat press coverage, he has size, speed, incredible hands, and demonstrates big-time explosiveness after the catch.  When added to Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and the troubled but talented Mike Williams, he rounds out one of the most talented groups of young receivers in the league, and gives E.J. Manuel a true homerun threat on the outside.   GRADE:  A 

5. Oakland: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo:  Although Clowney is thought by most to be the clear-cut top talent in this year's draft, some believe Mack will have a greater immediate impact in the NFL.  He's known mostly for being an explosive pass-rusher, but what often goes overlooked with Mack is how solid he is both against the run and in coverage.  He's the total package, and the Raiders are fortunate to grab him at the fifth spot, where in any Clowney-less draft he very well may have gone first overall.   GRADE:  A+

6.  Atlanta:  Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M:  While the majority of the attention surrounding OTs in this draft has gone to Greg Robinson, Matthews is the safer bet to step in and man the outside from day one.  Though he may not possess the freakish athleticism and upside that Robinson boasts, he's technically savvy, underrated athletically and extremely consistent as a pass-protector.  He'll probably start at right tackle initially with Sam Baker currently holding the starting position on the left side, but he's destined to take over there at some point.   GRADE: A

7.  Tampa Bay:  Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M:  Having traded away the talented but troubled Mike Williams to the Bills for a sixth rounder, the Bucs are in need of a go-to target on the outside, and take one of this year's most imposing, in Evans.  His massive catching radius, top-notch body control and knack for extending plays with toughness after the catch give Tampa a true number one target who'll be a force right away, both vertically and in the red zone.   GRADE:  A

8.  Cleveland (Traded with Minnesota):  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State:  The Browns add one of this year's most gifted athletes in Gilbert who's combination of size, fluid hips and elite ball-skills make him an exciting complement to Joe Haden in the defensive backfield. He's also one of the most talented return men coming out, having set a Big 12 Conference record for kickoff return touchdowns with six, in 2013.  GRADE:  A

9. Minnesota (Traded with Cleveland):  Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA:  Barr may be this year's most naturally-gifted pass rusher in terms of getting to the edge, dipping the shoulder, and turning the corner.  He's explosive off the snap, has unique flexibility and balance, and exhibits strong closing burst to finish in the pocket.  He lacks the strength to routinely win with the bull rush, struggles against the run, and has a limited array of pass-rush moves to work with at this point, but the upside is there for Barr to develop into one of the league's best edge rushers.  GRADE:  B

10.  Detroit:  Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina:  Having added the unique and explosive Golden Tate in free agency, the Lions continue to stock up on targets for Matthew Stafford here, taking the rarely-athletic Ebron, who size/speed combination has drawn him comparisons to Vernon Davis.  Although Ebron boasts some eye-popping measurables, he's still raw as a receiver, as he needs to become a more consistent route runner, and demonstrate better physicality both at the line of scrimmage, as well as when contending for the ball in the air.  A lot of upside here, but a bit of a gamble with the tenth pick considering the lack of refinement.  GRADE:  C+

11.  Tennessee:  Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan:  Starting left tackle and former All-Pro Michael Roos will be 32 years old this year and has only one year remaining on his contract. After selecting guard Chance Warmack in the first round last year, the Titans add yet another young young building block to their O-line here, in the big, athletic Lewan.  He's a true tackle who can wall off the edge with consistency, and is solid with room to improve as a run-blocker. His athleticism gives him the versatility to line up at guard if necessary, while waiting to assume a starting role on the outside in the future.  GRADE:  B+

12.  New York Giants:  Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU:  Aside from Sammy Watkins, there may not be a more explosive deep threat in the draft than Beckham Jr.  He's extremely quick off the line, can stop and start with suddenness, tracks the ball, has rare body control and utilizes huge, soft hands to secure the ball off his frame.  He's also one of the most talented return men in this class, and will be a dynamic contributor from day one in New York to complement Victor Cruz.   GRADE:  A+

13.  St. Louis: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt:  Eleven slots after solidifying the offensive line with the Robinson selection, the Rams add yet another weapon to their already-talent D-line in the guy many consider to be this year's top interior pass rusher, Aaron Donald.  Though under-sized, Donald's rare explosiveness off the snap, strong, active hands and tenacious demeanor make him an extremely disruptive force to couple with Michael Brockers (5.5 sacks in '13) on the interior.  He struggles to hold ground against the run at times, but his rare burst and quickness give him the versatility to move around and contribute from a variety of spots. GRADE:  A

14.  Chicago:  Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech:  The Bears have prided themselves on their corner play over the past few years, and they look to continue that tradition here by selecting the consistent and fundamentally-sound Fuller.  Fuller possesses a rare suddenness and explosiveness when planting and driving back to the football, has the hips and speed to turn and run with anyone, and is a very good tackler in the open field.  He can be a bit over-aggressive at times, resulting in play-action bites or whiffs at the line, and he may need to bulk up a bit to compensate for his aggressive style. The Bears may have been able to grab him lower than 14, with a trade back.  GRADE:  B+

15.  Pittsburgh:  Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State:  A year after adding Jarvis Jones to the outside of an aging linebacking corps in the first round, the Steelers nab the most explosive interior 'backer in this year's class in Shazier.  Although his blazing speed and lighter frame have drawn him comparisons to the Bucs' Lavonte David, it's his instincts, fluidity in space, and fundamental tackling that should make him a candidate to sit along side the former Cornhusker as one of the league's most prolific tacklers right out of the gate.  GRADE:  A

16:  Dallas:  Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame:  Although considered to be undersized for an NFL tackle, Martin may be the most versatile and fundamentally-sound O-linemen in the entire class.  He can line up anywhere along the front line, and should be an upgrade right out of the gate for the Cowboys, at any spot but left tackle.   GRADE:  A-

17:  Baltimore:  C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama:  Mosley brings range, toughness and versatility to line up inside or out for the Ravens.  He possesses impressive downhill burst to close on plays in front of him, and is fluid and instinctive in coverage.  He'll get hung up in the trenches from time to time and doesn't always display the greatest vision in traffic, but the tools are there to be an immediate impact player and an instant upgrade to this group of linebackers.  GRADE: B+

18. New York Jets:  Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville:  The Jets fill a big need here and bolster their back end with this year's most well-rounded safety in Pryor.  You can put him up in the box against the run, line him up in the slot one-on-one or let him cover the deep middle, with his underrated range and ball skills.  Should jump in and start right away.  GRADE:  A-

19. Miami:  Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee:  Perhaps this year's most underrated O-linemen, James is an immediate upgrade to the Miami right side having compiled 49 consecutive starts at right tackle for the Volunteers, and proving to be their most durable, consistent performerup front over the course of his career.  On tape, James displays an impressive combination of fluidity and power that make him a force in both facets of the offense who needs very little refinement and should step in and start immediately.  He has the skill set to move inside if need be, as well.  GRADE:  B+

20.  New Orleans (Traded with Arizona):  Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State:  Losing Darren Sproles was a huge hit to the offense but the Saints grab a similar talent here in Cooks, who although often compared to to Tavon Austin, has more route-running savvy and receiver instincts than the former West Virginia Mountaineer, and should have a better NFL start than Austin did for the Rams last season.  This pick puts the Saints on a quick path to replacing Sproles.  GRADE:  B+

21:  Green Bay:  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama:  The struggles of the Packers' pass defense over the past couple of years have been well chronicled, but they take a big step toward improving their back-end here by adding the rangy, athletic Clinton-Dix.  His instincts and recognition have been suspect at times, but there's no denying the natural fluidity and explosiveness that give him the ability to cover sideline-to-sideline, and he'll be a factor in the run with a strong first-step downhill.  GRADE:  B

22:  Cleveland (Traded with Philadelphia):  Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M:  The decison to hold off on a QB in the first half of the round, proved to be the right one for the Browns who get their guy here at 22.  Manziel is easily the most exciting quarterback in this group, and despite size limitations and an unorthodox style that rubs some traditionalists the wrong way, there's something to be said for his ability to extend plays and make big things happen when it counts.  He lacks elite arm strength, but has improved his accuracy and decision-making from the pocket, and possesses rare athleticism.  GRADE:  A

23:  Kansas City:  Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn:  The Chiefs reinforce how much they value pass-rush here, by adding the explosive Ford to an already-strong tandem of OLBs in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.  Ford's first step, agility and closing burst make him a disruptive threat off the edge and give the Chiefs yet another speed-rusher to rotate in on passing downs.  Ford is talented, but the Chiefs may have been better-suited addressing a bigger need here at 23.  GRADE:  C+

24.  Cincinnati:  Darquese Dennard, CB, Michigan State:  The Bengals get younger, quicker and more instinctive at the corner spot here by adding the tough, technically-sound Dennard.  Though he doesn't boast the elite athleticism of some of his colleagues, Dennard's combination of instincts, fluidity and ball skills make him as well-rounded of a cover corner as there is in this year's class.  He'll get overwhelmed by bigger blockers against the run at times, but he demonstrates grit to compensate for his size and still be a factor up near the line.  GRADE:  B+

25.  San Diego:  Jason Verrett, CB, TCU:  Verrett gives the Chargers an elite combination of speed and quickness that provide flexibility to play both inside and/or out.  Though he lacks the size and thickness you'd like to see in a regular outside corner and struggles against the run when taking on bigger blockers, he's as good as anyone in the class at blanketing stride-for-stride and closing on plays in front of him, and has top-notch ball skills.  He may need to bulk up if he's ever to establish himself in the top echelon of corners at the NFL level.  GRADE: B- 

26.  Philadelphia (Traded with Cleveland):  Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville:  The Eagles take one of the more intriguing pass-rush prospects here in the long-armed Smith.  He's raw in terms of developing a repertoire of moves, but he has the initial burst you like to see, plays with intensity, and understands how to utilize his superb length (34' arms) to beat bigger blockers. Serious upside here.  GRADE:  B+

27.  Arizona (Traded with New Orleans): Deon Bucannon, SS, Washington State:  The Cardinals pick the right safety for the right division here, grabbing this class's top "thumper" in Bucannon.  While he's known for his decapitating hits and strong run defense, Bucannon's coverage skills are extremely underrated, as he posted six interceptions to go with his 78 tackles as a senior, earning him first-team All-American status in '13.  He lacks the range of some of the others in the class, but his top-notch instincts help him to make up for some of what he's missing athletically.  GRADE:  B

28.  Carolina:  Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State:  The Panthers fill a gaping hole here with a huge specimen in Benjamin, who is one of this year's most polarizing prospects.  His size/speed combination is uncanny, but concentration lapses have held him back from emerging as the top-10 talent that his athleticism says he should be. Despite his inconsistency, he should present a huge upgrade to what the Panthers currently have stocked at the receiver position, and is undeniably one of the most explosive big-play threats in the class.  There's massive upside with Benjamin here, but Marquis Lee is probably the safer overall WR prospect and is still available here.  GRADE:  B-

29.  New England:  Dominique Easley, DT, Florida:  Easley's natural talent as an interior pass-rusher rivals that of Aaron Donald, the 13th overall pick, and suggests he would have been a top-15 consideration had he not suffered two ACL tears (one to each leg).  Thus, taking him here at 29 is certainly a gamble, but you have to believe the Patriots have done their homework.  Big risk, but if he's able to get healthy, Easley could prove to be the steal of the round. GRADE:  B+

30.  San Francisco:  Jimmy Ward, SS, Northern Illinois:  Perhaps a bit of a surprise here, the Niners grab a safety for the second year in a row, and only a few weeks after adding Antoine Bethea in free agency.  The talent is certainly there with Ward, though, who put up 95 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior.  Despite his less-than-desireable size for the position, Ward boasts a unique combination of speed, range and instincts that should give the Niners options in terms of moving him around and plugging him in at a variety of spots.  GRADE:  A-

31.  Denver:  Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State:  Denver got first-hand look in the Super Bowl, at what physical, aggressive corners can do for your defense, and they clearly took note with this selection.  Roby has had his issues off the field, and even on the field lacks self control at times, but there's no denying the talent.  He strong enough to jam, quick enough to play off, and has the speed to turn and run with anyone.  If he can continue to improve, he could very well end up the best NFL corner from this draft.  GRADE: A

32.  Minnesota (Traded with Seattle): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville:  Once considered to be a contender for the first overall pick, Bridgewater descended down many draft boards due to questions about his size, and following a less-than-impressive Pro Day.  But the tape shows a poised, smart QB with accuracy and a good enough arm to make all the throws.  Considering the Vikings' other options at QB, Bridgewater should have as good of a shot as anyone at being the team's starter at the position in 2014.  GRADE: B

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