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Senior NFL Columnist

2014 NFL Draft: Final team grades and analysis

Draft coverage: Picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Sam goes No. 249 | News

I gave you a little taste of my NFL Draft grades Saturday night, but here's the detailed look, the one that will make me look foolish three years from now when I do my re-grade.

That's one thing about these grades: They are instant. So I always re-grade the draft three years from now to get a real idea as to how these teams did.

It's the fair thing to do.

But in an era of wanting it all now, I offer you my long version of the 2014 draft grades. I want you to find a way to bookmark the page and come back to it three years from now with all my misses -- and hits.

I can hardly wait.

Arizona Cardinals

Best Pick: It was their first one. They traded down and picked up Washington State safety Deone Bucannon. He will bring a physical style to the defense.

Questionable move: Taking a blocking tight end so high in the second round. Troy Niklas is a solid player, but that seems a little high.

Third-day gem: Could it be fifth-round quarterback Logan Thomas? He has tools, but he's raw. I still think he could end up being a good tight end.

Analysis: This is a team that continues to improve under general manager Steve Keim. I liked a lot of the moves, and they added extra picks to move down in the first round, but did they do enough to compete for the division title?

Grade: B

Jake Matthews and second-rounder Ra'Shede Hageman make the Falcons a stronger team. (USATSI)
Jake Matthews and second-rounder Ra'Shede Hageman make the Falcons a stronger team. (USATSI)

Atlanta Falcons

Best Pick: Third-round safety Dezmen Southward has the speed to upgrade the secondary at free safety. He can cover a lot of ground.

Questionable move: Waiting until the fourth round to take a potential outside pass rusher.

Third-day gem: Fourth-round linebacker Prince Shembo is a tough, physical player who really showed up on tape.

Analysis: They opened by landing a top tackle in Jake Matthews and a big defensive end in Ra'Shede Hageman. They wanted to get bigger and stronger this offseason, and they have.

Grade: B+

Baltimore Ravens

Best Pick: I like third-round safety Terrence Brooks, former corner, who will bring much-needed range to the back end.

Questionable move: Not taking an offensive lineman until the fifth round.

Third-day gem: Defensive end Brent Urban is a 6-7, 300-pound player who could be help on the line next season. He was good value in the fourth round.

Analysis: The Ravens landed a lot of talent in this draft, led by first-round pick C.J. Mosley, a linebacker from Alabama. The Ravens do a nice job with the draft.

Grade: B

Buffalo Bills

Best Pick: I think third-round linebacker Preston Brown is a banger in the run game. He will push Brandon Spikes for time right away.

Questionable move: Trading their first-round pick in 2015 to move up to the fourth spot to take Sammy Watkins. I love the player, but that's a bit of a steep price to move up five spots.

Third-day gem: Guard Cyril Richardson was once considered a potential second-day pick, but his weight dropped him down. He could be a mauler at guard.

Analysis: The Bills landed a nice player in Watkins and a filled a need at tackle with the pick of Cyrus Kouandjio in the second round. But the price to move up downgrades their draft for me.

Grade: C

Carolina Panthers

Best Pick: Third-round guard Trai Turner is a physical player who can help upgrade their inside running game.

Questionable move: For me, it's taking receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. I think they had better options at the position.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round corner Bene Benwikere isn't a burner, but he's the type of corner who could come in and fit in their scheme.

Analysis: I didn't like their first two picks in Benjamin and pass rusher Kony Ealy. They had other needs. They needed to pick an offensive tackle and they didn't.

Grade: D

Chicago Bears

Best Pick: I'll go with corner Kyle Fuller, their first-round pick. He was my favorite corner in this draft.

Questionable move: I really liked their draft, but I'll be nitpicky and say it's taking runner Ka'Deem Carey in the fourth round. He isn't very fast.

Third-day gem: Fourth-round safety Brock Vereen has a chance at a weakened position on the roster to make an impact.

Analysis: They had to get help for their defense and they used their first three picks, and four of five, to do that. I love Fuller and they also took defensive tackles Ergo Ferguson and Will Sutton in the second and third rounds. Nice job.

Grade: A

Cincinnati Bengals

Best Pick: Third-round pass rusher Will Clarke really impressed at times coming off the edge at West Virginia. With Michael Johnson gone, it was a good move to help replace him.

Questionable move: Taking running back Jeremy Hill in the second round is too high for my liking. He's a solid runner, but they had other needs.

Third-day gem: The Bengals needed help at center, so they took North Carolina's Russell Bodine in the fourth round. He is a 310-pound player who should help them get stronger in the middle.

Analysis: They took corner Darqueze Dennard in the first, and he fills a need. But why take the back in the second? That drives the grade down some for me.

Grade: C+

Cleveland Browns

Best Pick: I like the decision to move up and take Johnny Manziel with their second pick. They have to get a franchise quarterback, so taking a shot on an exciting player made sense.

Questionable move: With the Josh Gordon possible suspension move, why not take a receiver in some round? That made no sense.

Third-day gem: They had just one third-day pick and that was corner Pierre Desir. He better be good because the fans wanted a receiver.

Analysis: I like the two players the Browns landed in the first round, but they might have considered a receiver at No 9, rather than corner Justin Gilbert. Even so, they traded down and added a first-round pick in 2015 from Buffalo. There is value in that.

Grade: B-

Dallas Cowboys

Best Pick: Trading up in the second round to take defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. They had to get a pass rusher.

Questionable move: Waiting until the seventh round to get secondary help.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round receiver Devin Street put up some big numbers at Pittsburgh He is a tall receiver.

Analysis: The Cowboys deserve credit for not getting caught up in Johnny Manziel fever to take guard Zack Martin. I liked that decision. They followed it up with a good move to get Lawrence.

Grade: B

Denver Broncos

Best Pick: First-round pick Bradley Roby was my second-rated corner and he will play a lot as a rookie. He is so athletic.

Questionable move: Waiting until the fifth round to address linebacker, a clear position of need.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round center Matthew Paradis is a player who could spend a year on the practice squad to get stronger.

Analysis: John Elway once again had another good draft. I love Roby and second-round receiver Cody Latimer was a nice pick. And some thought Elway would just be a figurehead?

Grade: B+

Detroit Lions

Best Pick: Second-round pick Kyle Van Noy is a speed linebacker who will help that unit in a big way. That's a value pick. I think he had first-round talent.

Questionable move: Taking tight end Eric Ebron in the first round with so many other needs. Good player, but it's a luxury pick.

Third-day gem: Fourth-round pick Larry Webster has played tight end and defensive end. I think he's a tight end. He's also a former basketball player.

Analysis: I like Ebron, but they needed to take a corner in the first round. He will be a good player. They settled in after that and had a decent draft.

Grade: B-

Green Bay Packers

Best Pick: I like the pick of receiver Davante Adams in the second round. He fits with what the Packers want from their receivers and they've had great success with receivers in the second round.

Questionable move: Why did they wait until the fifth round (Ohio State center Corey Linsley) to address their offensive line? Are they that good up front?

Third-day gem: Sixth-round corner Demetri Goodson is a raw player who is still learning how to play the position after playing basketball. But he has talent.

Analysis: I love the pick of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round to bring range to the secondary. And Adams was a nice hit. All in all, it was a good, solid draft.

Grade: B

Houston Texans

Best Pick: It was the first of the draft when they took South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He will be a star.

Questionable move: Not taking a quarterback until the fourth round when they took Tom Savage of Pittsburgh. He better be good -- or they will hear about it.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round defensive tackle Jeoffrey Pagan is a big body from Alabama who can play in their scheme.

Analysis: The nailed their first two picks by taking Clowney and guard Xavier Su'o-Filo in the second round. I wasn't high on third-round tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, and I didn't like them waiting on a quarterback.

Grade: B+

Indianapolis Colts

Best Pick: Third-round pick Donte Moncrief is a big-play receiver who will give Andrew Luck another threat down the field.

Questionable move: They traded away their top pick to get Trent Richardson last season, and that appears to be a bad move for now

Third-day gem: Fifth-round outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome has some pass-rush ability. He started his career at Ohio State, got in some trouble, and ended up at Ball State.

Analysis: Giving up the pick to land Richardson appears to be a bad move. Their first pick was 59th overall and they took Ohio State offensive lineman Jake Mewhort. I do like Moncrief.

Grade: C

Blake Bortles instantly becomes the face of the franchise in Jacksonville. (USATSI)
Blake Bortles instantly becomes the face of the franchise in Jacksonville. (USATSI)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Best Pick: It was their first, taking quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick. They had to take a quarterback, and he was the best in this class.

Questionable move: Taking Bortles. Not by me, but many others will question it.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round pick Telvin Smith is an undersized linebacker who will add some much-needed speed to the defense. Analysis: They got their franchise quarterback and then followed that up with two receivers with the next two picks. That's smart. They also got a tough-guy guard in Brandon Linder in the third. They nailed it, especially by taking Bortles.

Grade: A

Kansas City Chiefs

Best Pick: I like the pick of corner Phillip Gaines in the third round. He has good size and the Chiefs struggled in coverage late last seasons.

Questionable move: Taking Dee Ford in the first round is a bit questionable when you have Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. I know Hali is 31, but it's not like this team doesn't have other needs.

Third-day gem: Quarterback Aaron Murray fits what Andy Reid wants to do with his quarterbacks. I like Murray a lot more than the teams did. We shall see.

Analysis: If Ford ends up being a pass-rush star, this will be a good draft. I am not sure about that, and I think they had other needs. They did bounce back some, but why not a receiver at all?

Grade: C+

Miami Dolphins

Best Pick: Third-round pick Billy Turner was a college tackle who can make a smooth transition inside to guard. They need help there, so it works.

Questionable move: I think they picked receiver Jarvis Landry too high in the second round. He is a good route runner, but is he fast enough?

Third-day gem: Fifth-round linebacker Jordan Tripp can add some speed to the depth of that unit and maybe help on special teams.

Analysis: The Dolphins had to get help for their offensive line, which is why they took Turner in the third after taking tackle Ju'Wuan James in the first. Those aren't sexy picks, but they had to make those moves. I think there were better options than James and Landry.

Grade: C

The Vikings score what looks like another great draft haul just as they did in 2013. (USATSI)
The Vikings score what looks like another great draft haul just as they did in 2013. (USATSI)

Minnesota Vikings

Best Pick: I love the decision to move back into the first round to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They don't have a legitimate starter, so it made sense.

Questionable move: Using a third-round pick on Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon to make him a backup running back to Adrian Peterson. That's risky -- and high for that type of move.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round corner Antone Exum has the size where he could move inside to safety. He might not run well enough to stay on the corner.

Analysis: The Vikings had another good draft under Rick Spielman, and they hope they found their quarterback. First-round pick Anthony Barr will upgrade the speed at linebacker.

Grade: A

New England Patriots

Best Pick: Some will say I am nuts for saying this, but really liked the pick of defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the first round. He's had two ACLs fixed, but he can be a force inside.

Questionable move: I know they are looking for Tom Brady's replacement, but the window is shutting on his chances to win a Super Bowl. So why take Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round? Give Brady help.

Third-day gem: I love fourth-round running back James White. He isn't big or fast, but he produces.

Analysis: The Patriots did a lot of good things, but the drafting of Garoppolo brings the grade down. I think it was too high and I also think they could have used that pick on another position. Time will tell.

Grade: B-

New Orleans Saints

Best Pick: I love second-round corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who gives them some real size outside at 6-3, 215 pounds.

Questionable move: Why wait until the sixth round to address the offensive line?

Third-day gem: Fifth-round safety Vinnie Sunseri from Alabama has a chance when he recovers from ACL surgery to be a special-teams star and backup in a year or so.

Analysis: Trading up in the first round to land receiver Brandin Cooks was a really good move. All in all, it was a nice draft. I just wish they had taken an offensive lineman or two.

Grade: B

New York Giants

Best Pick: I like third-round defensive tackle Jay Bromley from Syracuse. He fills a major need inside.

Questionable move: Some will say it's taking a receiver in Odell Beckham in the first round, but I understand it. They need help for Eli Manning.

Third-day gem: Seventh-round corner Bennett Jackson is a player who could make the roster and contribute on special teams.

Analysis: The selection of Beckham with the 12th pick was a bit of surprise to some, but they need to free up Victor Cruz from the doubles. He will. Second-round pick Weston Richburg will compete to start at center.

Grade: C+

New York Jets

Best Pick: I liked the idea of taking physical safety Calvin Pryor in the first round. He will bring toughness to the secondary.

Questionable move: I know Jace Amaro is more of a receiving tight end, but taking him in the second round over some of the receivers available is a risk.

Third-day gem: Fourth-round receiver Jalen Saunders is small at 165 pounds, but he has the ability to be a really good slot receiver.

Analysis: I like Pryor and some of their third-day picks, but I just thought the Amaro pick was too soon and taking small corner Dexter McDougle in the third round was a bit high.

Grade: C

Oakland Raiders

Best Pick: It was their first pick, taking linebacker Khalil Mack with the fifth overall pick. The kid will be a star.

Questionable move: Taking quarterback Derek Carr in the second round. I know they liked him, but I was not a huge fan of taking him that high.

Third-day gem: Fourth-round corner Keith McGill is big at 6-3 and if he can overcome some character concerns, he will be a solid starter in a year or so.

Analysis: Reggie McKenzie did a nice job with his draft. I love Mack, but this is a draft that will be defined by what Carr does. If he becomes a quality starter, this will be a heck of a draft. I don't know if he will.

Grade: B

Philadelphia Eagles

Best Pick: I like third-round receiver Josh Huf. He is a guy who will come in and know the offense, having played in it at Oregon.

Questionable move: Waiting until the fourth round to address corner. I like the guy they took there in Jaylen Watkins, so that could work out.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round defensive tackle Taylor Hart will add some depth to the defensive. He was a productive player at Oregon and Chip Kelly knows him well.

Analysis: The Eagles passed on a receiver in the first round to take pass rusher Marcus Smith because the pass rushers were a thin group. That made sense. They did take two receivers in round two and three to make it work.

Grade: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Pick: I love the pick of receiver Martavis Bryant in the fourth round. He is a big receiver who will help their passing game.

Questionable move: Third-round pick Dri Archer has speed, but how do they get him the football. Is he a slot receiver?

Third-day gem: Sixth-round defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is a big body with a lot of ability. He has that Steelers' tough-guy look about him.

Analysis: I liked what they did in the first two rounds, getting Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt to help the defense. That made a lot of sense. Archer is a bit risky, but they bounced back with the Bryant pick.

Grade: B

Big-time tackle Greg Robinson is only the first piece of the Rams' huge draft score. (USATSI)
Big-time tackle Greg Robinson is only the first piece of the Rams' huge draft score. (USATSI)

St. Louis Rams

Best Pick: It would be easy to say it's their two first-round picks, but I love second-round corner Lamarcus Joyner. He will be a player in their nickel right away. Watch how many plays he makes.

Questionable move: Taking running back Tre Mason in the third round after taking backs the past two years. He's a good player, and different than what they have, but why not a receiver?

Third-day gem: Sixth-round corner E.J. Gaines is a feisty smaller corner who will come in and battle for time in the dime.

Analysis: They had two first-round picks and landed two of the best players in the draft in tackle Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Then they followed it up with a lot of good picks and made history by picking the first openly gay player in linebacker Michael Sam in the seventh round, who could be a special-teams player.

Grade: A+

San Diego Chargers

Best Pick: If first-round corner Jason Verrett was two inches taller, he'd be a top-15 player. He is a good cover corner.

Questionable move: Trading up to get pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu could be a boom-or-bust move. He has ability but he's raw. Can he become a 12-sack player?

Third-day gem: Sixth-round running back Marlon Grice is a good player who just lacks elite speed. I think he will be a nice backup to Ryan Matthews.

Analysis: I like how they addressed their defensive needs, which they had to do. Getting a corner was a must. They did wait until the fifth round to address the middle of their defensive line, which was a bit strange.

Grade: B-

San Francisco 49ers

Best Pick: It was their first one. Safety Jimmie Ward will be a nickel corner his first season and move to safety down the road to show off his rangy style.

Questionable move: Taking running back Carlos Hyde in the second round. They've taken a running back seven of the last eight years. Hyde's a good back, but the second round is too high.

Third-day gem: Fifth-round defensive end Aaron Lynch has a ton of ability, but there were some character concerns. If he can get things right, he could be a steal.

Analysis: The 49ers traditionally do a good job drafting players, and they did here too. I love Ward's game. They did take some risks with Lynch and tackle Brandon Thomas, who is coming off an ACL injury suffered in a workout. If they hit, this could be a great draft.

Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks

Best Pick: It's second-round receiver Paul Richardson. The offense needed another speedy playmaker outside and he has that ability.

Questionable move: They like tough guys and Missouri's Justin Britt is that, but taking him in the second round might be a little high.

Third-day gem: I love fourth-round defensive end Cassius Marsh. He really showed up on tape when I watched UCLA's Anthony Barr.

Analysis: The Seahawks traded out of the first round to get more picks and did a nice job -- as usual -- with them. General manager John Schneider is a shrewd drafter.

Grade: B+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Best Pick: I like second-round tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins a lot. They needed a true tight end in their offense and this kid is that. Watch how good he is on the next level.

Questionable move: Taking running back Charles Sims in the third round when they needed some pass-rush help after taking offense with their first two picks.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round receiver Robert Herron from Wyoming can fly. The Bucs could use a smaller, quicker slot receiver to go with their big outside receivers.

Analysis: I really liked what the Bucs did. They took receiver Mike Evans in the first round and then too Seferian-Jenkins in the second. Herron has a real chance to help the offense.

Grade: B+

Tennessee Titans

Best Pick: Fourth-round defensive lineman DaQuan Jones will be a rotation player in his first season and could be a longtime starter. He has that type of talent.

Questionable move: With two solid tackles, why take one in the first round in Taylor Lewan? Michael Roos is only 31. That's young in tackle years.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round quarterback Zack Mettenberger has an NFL arm, but a torn ACL and some off-field issues (reported diluted drug test) dropped him down. But he could end up being a quality backup and maybe more.

Analysis: I like Lewan as a player, but I think they had better options in the first round and I certainly think the second round is too high for a back. They rebounded and did some good things on the third day.

Grade: C-

Washington Redskins

Best Pick: I think they got great value in the third round by drafting tackle Morgan Moses from Virginia. Bet he starts at some point as a rookie at right tackle.

Questionable move: I like Trent Murphy as a player, but taking him with their first pick in the second round is a bit questionable

Third-day gem: Fourth-round corner Bashaud Breeland will be a starter in a year or so and could help in the nickel right away.

Analysis: For not having a first-round pick -- traded away in the Robert Griffin III deal -- the Redskins bounced back and a did a solid job with their seven picks. There are some intriguing players in their group and they addressed some needs.

Grade: B-

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