Raiders: Khalil Mack DE/ OLB A
Mack, who many projected to be the No. 1 overall selection, figures to share time with offseason additions Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley. Mack has the versatility to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 front as well as defensive end in a 4-3. Macks’ versatility will enable the Raiders to be multiple in their fronts, which will help him get on the field early in many different situations and packages. Mack is an excellent pick for the Raiders and could be a very good building block for this up and coming team.
#23 Chiefs: Dee Ford DE/ OLB A
Like Khalil Mack, Ford has the versatility to play across multiple fronts. While the Chiefs had multiple needs (namely wide receiver), it is very important to have the ability to rush the passer in the AFC West. Look for Ford to get early playing time in passing situations where he can pin his ears back and rush the quarterback. Ford teaming up on the other side of Tamba Hali will help the Chiefs in their mission to reduce the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have in the pocket. It’s a pressure league and a premier pass rusher will get the nod overwide receiver almost every time.
#25 Chargers: Jason Verrett CB A
How many times does a player go to the team he covets? Well, Thursday May 9, Verrett’s dream came true as he was selected by his favorite NFL team. Verrett might be undersized at just 5-foot-9, but he possesses the footwork to play in the slot as well as the toughness to contribute as a field or boundary corner. Verrett is also a former wide receiver who brings tremendous ball skills to the cornerback position. With cornerback being arguably one of the Chargers greatest needs, they ware able to fill it with one of the more talented players in the 2014 NFL draft.
#31 Broncos: Bradley Roby CB B+
Roby had an up-and-down year at Ohio State as he struggled in off-man coverage. Roby had the majority of his success when he was allowed to play press-man. The Broncos recently lost Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and desperately need to fill the cornerback position. If Roby can return to his 2012 form, he will make the Broncos defense better rather quickly.
#8 Browns Justin Gilbert CB C-
Many Cleveland fans and NFL draft pundits insist they loved the move the Browns made to trade down and select Gilbert in exchange for a first and a fourth round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. While I understand the logic, there aren’t many prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL draft superior to Watkins.
Gilbert is a very good pick and gives the Browns a potential shut-down corner on the opposite side of Haden which will enable them to play a lot of cover one in the secondary. Unfortunately, the Browns looked greatness in the face with their No.4 pick and decided they wanted no part of it.
Who they should have taken: Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
#15 Steelers Ryan Shazier ILB C+
I recognize the player the Steelers think their getting and I also know the type of player Shazier actually is. As a result of the OSU defense keeping Shazier clean, he was able to make a lot of impact plays (tackles behind the line of scrimmage) for the Buckeyes. As a result of him running the 40-yard dash in the high 4.3 range, there is an automatic assumption that he’s good in coverage as well.
With that said Shazier is a linebacker who has difficulty disengaging from blocks, isn’t overly aware in coverage and is a run and chase linebacker. Shazier will likely play WILB in the Steelers 3-4 defense, but I have a hard time believing they got much better with this selection.
Who they should’ve taken: C.J. Mosley ILB Alabama
#24 Bengals Darqueze Dennard CB A
The Bengals have addressed the secondary on multiple occasions in previous drafts and it’s difficult to grasp that it is again a need. Due to injuries and poor play from some of the newly acquired cornerbacks, the selection of Dennard makes a ton of sense for the Bengals.
While he is very physical, he is at times overly aggressive with his hands and should look to clean up his propensity to illegally grab wide receivers. Once Dennard learns to rely on his athleticism, as he has very fluid hips and better than average speed to turn and run with wide receivers, he should perform admirably for the Bengals for years to come.
#22 Browns Johnny Manziel QB A
The Browns traded up from 26th pick in the draft to pick No.22 to select Manziel. As a result the Browns fans were extremely happy, as they should have been. Manziel is a talented player who has the potential to make them relevant again.
Browns’ fans should look forward to Manziel extending plays with his legs to move the chains and keep his offense on the field. Now how much better would the Manziel selection look had they stayed pat at No.4 and selected Sammy Watkins? Bridgewater would’ve been the quarterback I coveted, but Manziel is a very nice selection as well.
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