1. New Orleans Saints
The rich got richer here, and that I mean in two ways. The Saints bolstered their defense, but gave Drew Brees a crucial new weapon. The Saints had to let go of Darren Sproles, a fan favorite, small Running Back who is now on the Eagles. Brandin Cooks is the new Darren Sproles, he just happens to have the WR tag. Brandin Cooks is small, but he is the fastest receiver in this years draft, running a 4.3 40. He has great athletic ability and the opportunity to become a key part of this Super Bowl caliber offense. Drew Brees liked to run screen plays with Darren Sproles, and Cooks can play the same way. They also got two decent Linebackers in Powell and Fortt, Jean-Babtiste at CB and a safety Vinnie Sunseri to add depth to their defense, which ranked 4th in the NFL in 2013. This team filled their needs in the draft, and they will be the favorites to win the NFC South in 2014.
2. Saint Louis Rams
In the first round the Rams got two lineman on both sides of the ball who were perhaps the best at their position in the NCAA in 2013. Greg Robinson is a monster on the O-line who will be protecting Sam Bradford for some time to come. The Rams also reunited Auburn’s Tre Mason (their 3rd round pick) with Greg Robinson, and Greg Robinson will definitely give Mason room to run and make some noise in the NFL. But the big headline wasn’t the Rams 2nd overall pick, it was their 249th overall pick, Michael Sam. Michael Sam being drafted marks the first time that a openly gay player has made it on an NFL Roster. Michael Sam fell this low in the draft because probably not many teams were willing to take that risk in the locker room, as it could provoke unwanted drama on their team. Michael Sam won SEC Defensive Player of the year and he was definitely one of the best Defensive Ends in this years draft, so he might be the ultimate steal for the Rams. The Rams also got Aaron Donald at DT with the 13th overall pick, along with CB Lamarcus Joyner out of FSU. The Rams got a lot better in this years draft, and they will make the NFC West NFL’s most dominating division, along with the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks. They could have a monopoly on the NFC wildcard and put 3 teams in the playoffs next year.
3. San Francisco 49ers
After this years draft, the 49ers have no excuse for not winning the Super Bowl in 2014 after falling short 3 straight years in the NFC Championship or Super Bowl. They had 13 picks in this years drat, the most out of any team. They added depth to their defense with safety, Jimmie Ward out of NIU, Chris Borland at linebacker, Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker at cornerback and Aaron Lynch and Kaleb Ramsey at Defensive End. They also got the best running back of this years draft in Carlos Hyde, who might be the fulltime replacement for Frank Gore. With their receivers healthy, they will have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL once again, and there will be no excuse for Jim Harbaugh not to win it all.
4. New York Giants
This may be a surprising to pick the Giants as a winner, but this team did a lot of things right. They got maybe the most complete receiver in this years draft in Odell Beckham Jr., he is fast, athletic, and the most polished route runner other than Sammy Watkins. They also got, in my opinion, the most underrated Running Back in this years draft in Boston College’s Andre Williams. The downside of Williams is he is very short, but he is speedy and he runs like a bull. He was a finalist for the Heisman in 2013, and holds the 5th all-time NCAA record for most yards in a season with 2,177. With the Giant’s top back David Wilson struggling mightily in 2014 as well as Eli Manning throwing 27 interceptions, the Giants might try out Williams on offense, and he will deliver. The Giants also built back up their defense in the draft, with a couple backs in the later rounds and Jay Bromley at Defensive Tackle.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers chose a player late in the first round that never should have made it late into the first round. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is THE player that can help turn this Packer defense around. He was an absolute dominate Safety in the SEC, and he will cause all kinds of problems for receivers in the NFL. They also got a very talented receiver in Davante Adams in the second round. Straight out of Ole Miss, Adams has the chance to make an impact on the field in 2014. They have two great receivers already, in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, but they have proven to be not so injury-prone (Cobb especially). This is why they drafted three receivers this year. They also got Tight End Richard Rodgers in the fourth round, possibly to replace, or at least compete for the spot that Jermichael Finely held, who suffered a nasty concussion last year. The Packers did a good job in this years draft, and will most likely remain the king of the NFC North.
1. Washington Redskins
The Redskins just didn’t do what they needed to do in the draft. Yes, they didn’t have a first round pick, but with their second round pick they got a linebacker and they really don’t have much of a need their. Also, they have 4 NFL-tested Running Backs on their roster and they got Seastrunk, a RB out of Baylor, in the 6th round. And with their 5th round pick, they got a WR, Ryan Grant from Tulane. Really? After just acquiring DeSean Jackson, they think they need to go out and take a receiver. The Redskins never had much of a need on offense, and yet they go out and pick up a receiver in a back in consecutive middle rounds.
2. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers missed a major need in the 2014 draft. Not taking an Offensive Tackle after Jordan Gross left is baffling. Also, I think they should have traded up to get Brandin Cooks, or waited until the Second Round and gotten Davante Adams, but instead they took Kelvin Benjamin, who has work ethic issues and has struggled with drops. Don’t get me wrong, Benjamin is a giant on the field and could turn out much like Brandon Marshall. But he will need to improve if he is going to be who the Panthers need him to be. 2014 will be a season where GM Dave Gettleman will try to prove everybody wrong. Everybody, including Panthers fans. They got a big steal in the second round with Kony Ealy, DE of Missouri, and that pick may prove to be very beneficial to the Panthers with the legal troubles of Greg Hardy. In the third round they got a great lineman Trial Turner, but in the 6th they drafted a RB, which is really of need to them. This Panthers will not be losers of this year’s draft if Kelvin Benjamin surprises and the Offensive Tackle they already have on the roster turns out okay.
3. Detroit Lions
Sure, the Lions got Eric Ebron in the first round. This was a good pick, Ebron was probably the nations best Tight End last year and possibly will take some pressure off of Calvin Johnson. But the Lions didn’t address their defense as much as they needed to. They got a Cornerback in the fourth round, Nevin Lawson, who has talent but is really short and he just wasn’t that good last year, especially against top competition. Also, they didn’t draft a single Safety, which is the single biggest need on this team. They drafted Kyle Van Noy at LB, Larry Webster at DE, and Caraun Reid at DT. But the Lions focused on the defensive line, when really they needed to focus on the Secondary, and their failure to do so makes them a loser.
4. The AFC
The AFC was a big loser of the draft because although they had almost a monopoly on the top picks in the draft, the NFC still managed to, for the most part, patch the holes on their teams, and the NFC will remain supreme in 2014. The teams in the AFC with major needs didn’t really do anything special, with the Texans drafting Clowney, but then not a QB until Round 5, which was the main need. Or with Jacksonville, passing on players such as Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins and reaching for overrated Blake Bortles with the third overall. Even following the draft, there are really only three teams in the AFC that can contend for the AFC Championship, and that is the Broncos, Patriots and Colts. The NFC, despite Seattle’s recent dominance, bolsters many contenders. The likes of the Seahawks, 49ers, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Cardinals, Eagles and even the Falcons have a chance to get to the Super Bowl this year. The NFC was clearly the dominant Conference in 2013, and the AFC did little to change that in the draft.
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