Who got lucky with some players that slid? Who got the most bang for their buck? ISH breaks down the top draft steals from the 2014 NFL Draft.
1) Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Marqise Lee would have been a top 5 pick in last years draft had he come out earlier than he did, instead he slips all the way to the second round to the tremendously grateful Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars had one of the best drafts in the NFL, drafting Blake Bortles, Lee, Allen Robinson, and Storm Johnson, all guys that could help out as rookies. Lee will come in and could be the top receiver in Jacksonville from day 1. This is a team that’s leading receiver only caught 66 passes last year (Cecil Shorts III), and the team’s most talented receiver has major off the field issues (Justin Blackmon). Ace Sanders was one of the starting receivers last year, but he probably would not start for any other team in the national football league. It should be nice for Lee and Bortles to have that young guy connection right from the start which should develop a very good chemistry over a few year span, assuming each one plays out like predicted. Lee should have just as great an impact as any other rookie receiver from this draft class.
2) Darqueze Dennard, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dennard is the biggest steal of the first round. In my mock I had him going 11th, and that was with a bunch of teams needing corners picking after that. Somehow the Bengals got lucky enough for him to slip all of the way down to number 24. The reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner for the best corner in the nation fell for no real apparent reason, except for the fact that teams simply wanted players at other positions of need. The consensus was that he was one of the 3 best corners in the draft, along with Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller. Gilbert and Fuller were the only other 2 corners drafted ahead of him, showing that teams didn’t have him lower on their boards in terms of that position. Corner was the biggest area of need for the Bengals, and even though they did not have a great draft as a whole, they still wound up with a tremendous football player in Dennard.
3) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay was the only team in the league last year without an interception by a safety, Clinton-Dix should be the one to change that. Clinton-Dix was one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the nation last year in the Alabama Crimson Tide. He was projected as a top 10 talent coming in to the draft, but as it turned out, no team really felt the need for safeties until the Jets and then the Packers just a few picks later. Clinton-Dix will be the starter for Green Bay immediately and should have one of the biggest impacts from this draft class. My only worry is if Clinton-Dix follows the history of other Alabama players from the secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron,Dee Milliner, and Kareem Jackson were all Alabama secondary players that were drafted in the 1st round but have not lived up to expectations. Hopefully Clinton-Dix will change that, but there is still the chance that he could play out like the others. If he does turn out like the Packers hope, then he will be a force from day 1 and the biggest piece to turning around the Pack defense.
4) Louis Nix III, DT, Houston Texans
Nix III would have been a top 3 pick in last years draft, even potentially the number 1 overall, but he opted to stay another year at Notre Dame. Unfortunately he really hurt his draft stock by staying another year. He became out of shape, and was not the force he was the year before, where he was a crucial part of the Notre Dame run to the National Championship. I think that the NFL life should have no problem whipping him back into shape, where he should succeed immensely as many thought he would had he come out last year. If he can get back in shape then he could be an excellent player, especially playing on a line with Clowney and Watt. I have said it before and i will say it again, if he can get back to how he was then he has Vince Wilfork type potential.Texans really got a steal here in the mid 3rd round.
5) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Bridgewater fell all the way to the last pick in the first round after being heavily projected as the 1st overall pick right after the college football ended. Just because he fell doesn’t make him a bad quarterback, in fact I believe he is the next best quarterback in the draft after Blake Bortles. Bridgewater was the leader of an unbelievable Louisville team that just never got the credit it deserved. He got a lot of questions about his durability due to an extremely slim frame, but he posses great mobility in the pocket which should help him avoid injury. He has some talent in his receivers with veteran, Greg Jennings, and youngster, Cordarelle Patterson. I think he will have just as much success as the other rookie quarterbacks in this class, the Vikings will be happy that they traded up here to nab Bridgewater.
Other notable steals:
- Scott Crichton, DE, Minnesota Vikings
- Morgan Moses, OT, Washington Redskins
- Tom Savege, QB, Houston Texans
- DaQuan Jones, DT, Tennessee Titans
- Bruce Ellington, WR, San Francisco 49ers