With everything in athletics, there are winners are there are losers. This year’s NFL Draft is no different.
Some teams made solid picks that were of no particular need to their team. Some teams made picks that were a good pick need-wise but not value-wise. And others, well, they just couldn’t capitalize.
For this, I’ll pick one winner and one loser of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Let’s start with the loser, shall we.
It has to be the Cleveland Browns.
I’ll be honest, I was rooting for them to have a good draft after the first round. But that’s all they had: a good first round.
Cleveland first traded out of the No. 4 spot, shoring up some picks for next season from the Buffalo Bills and consequently passing on a dynamic wide receiver in Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. But, with their pick, the Browns were able to draft Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert at corner back with the No. 8 pick in the first round. Then, the Browns traded up from No. 29 to No. 22 to take Johnny Manziel.
After round one, I had them as winners.
Day Two came with the news that star wideout Josh Gordon may be facing a season-long suspension for failing a drug test. Not to worry, though, Cleveland was due up third in the 2nd round and there was a high caliber wide receiver in USC’s Marquise Lee sitting on the board for them to take. This move, too, would give Manziel a second top target if Gordon was going to be on the field. It seemed to be a no-brainer.
Instead the Browns took an offensive tackle in Joel Bitonio.
Cleveland then chose an OLB and a RB in the 3rd and another CB in the 4th.
I wanted so badly to believe that the Browns would finally put together a top-notch draft. They had a young QB coming in who could sit behind Brian Hoyer until he was ready. They picked up a lockdown corner to play opposite of Joe Haden. They have a No. 1 receiver in Gordon. They just needed some extra pieces. And they blew it.
Sure, they picked up some picks for next season, but Cleveland has been in a downward spiral for years with some upside finally coming their way it seemed. Once again, Cleveland is a loser in the draft.
The winners on the other hand could have been a number of teams but, in my eyes, it has to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccs may not have their quarterback situation figured out but they have two pretty decent signal callers to choose from. The way they drafted, though, will help out whoever is at quarterback.
Their first pick was a home run, choosing Mike Evans at No. 7. Evans is a dynamic player who can provide a spark to their passing game, especially with the lack of many dominate No. 2 corners in the NFC South.
They followed that up by taking one of the draft’s top tight ends in Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Bucs used TE Brandon Myers heftily last season so Seferian-Jenkins could come in and provide a solid redzone target for Josh Mcown or Mike Glennon at QB.
With their third pick in the draft, Tampa Bay selected WVU running back Charles Sims. Pairing Sims up with Doug Martin in the backfield gives Tampa Bay a dynamic that they haven’t had in a while, a two-back system with a pass-catching back on third down. In 2012, Martin caught 42 passes as a rookie. Last season Tampa Bay running backs caught 52 passes for 272 yards but no scores. Sims can surely help in that department. Then you add in Bobby Rainey, who filled in nicely for the Bucs last season and you have a solid backfield.
With their final picks, Tampa Bay drafted a guard, a tackle and a wide receiver – all team needs – to make them my winner of the 2014 NFL Draft.