Perhaps the only thing more impressive about the NFL draft than the amount of time it takes to complete all seven rounds is the amount of grades produced in the aftermath of each selection. The draft’s winners and losers are decided before any pick plays a down of professional football.
For all the immediate evaluation that is done, it is impossible to fairly assess a draft class without data and the gift of time. Starting with 2010, 110 Sports is going back and grading every NFL draft of the past decade on a team-by-team basis.
These grades are based first and foremost on production. Other factors were taken into consideration, but the primary goal is figuring out how successful teams were at identifying talent.
The 2014 NFL Draft re-grade begins with the AFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: WR Sammy Watkins (4th overall), OT Cyrus Kouandjio (44), LB Preston Brown (73), DB Ross Cockrell (109), OG Cyril Richardson (153), LB Randell Johnson (221), OT Seantrel Henderson (237)
Best pick: Preston Brown
Brown increased his tackle production four years in a row to start his career. He posted 109 as a rookie, 120 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and a league-leading 144 in 2017. Bobby Wagner was the only player with more tackles in that span than Brown, who ranks seventh in total tackles with 609 since entering the league. He’s been nowhere near as effective after leaving Buffalo in 2018 but still has more appearances and starts than any other player the Bills drafted.
Worst pick: Cyrus Kouandijo
In five NFL seasons, Kouandjio started seven games and never appeared in more than 12 in a season. He played three snaps as a rookie, all on special teams. Twenty-four of the 30 games Kouandjio played came in 2015 and 2016, as did seven of his eight starts. The Bills released Kouandjio in May 2017 and he found his way to the Broncos for two seasons after a brief stop in Detroit.
Watkins produced 2,029 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons but has disappointed since. Last year (52 receptions, 673 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games) was his best season since 2015. The fact Buffalo was willing to offload him after three seasons for defensive back E.J. Gaines and a second round pick speaks volumes. Cockrell and Henderson have 107 appearances and 72 starts between them. Buffalo did well after the first two rounds, but not well enough to completely make up for Watkins and Kouandjio.
Picks: OT Ja’Wuan James (19), WR Jarvis Landry (63), OT Billy Turner (67), DB Walt Aikens (125), TE Arthur Lynch (155), LB Jordan Tripp (171), WR Matt Hazel (190), DE Terrence Fede (234)
Best pick: Jarvis Landry
Even if he was not a five-time Pro Bowler with three 1,100-yard seasons in six years, there’s a good chance Landry would be here. Why? He has not missed a game in his NFL career. That makes him the only wide receiver to appear in all 96 contests since 2014. In one of the three years Landry didn’t reach 1,000 receiving yards, he led the NFL in receptions with 112. Landry’s combination of production and availability is as impressive as any wideout in the league since he became a pro.
Worst pick: Arthur Lynch
In less than five months, Lynch went from getting selected in the fifth round to injured reserve to unemployed. He was with the Jets for the preseason in 2015 and spent just under three months on the Broncos’ practice squad that season. Lynch failed to survive roster cuts again in 2016, this time with the Falcons. He never played in an NFL game.
In addition to Landry, James has started all 65 games he’s appeared in, Turner’s made 41 starts and Aikens is one of 56 players with at least 93 appearances in the last six seasons. With the exception of Lynch and Hazel, the entire draft class has played in a minimum of 37 games. Another high-profile player to pair with Landry would’ve made this an A+.
New England Patriots
Picks: DT Dominique Easley (29), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (62), C Bryan Stork (105), RB James White (130), OT Cameron Fleming (140), OG Jon Halapio (179), DE Zach Moore (198), DB Jemea Thomas (206), WR Jeremy Gallon (244)
Best pick: Jimmy Garroppolo
Say what you will about Garoppolo, but the man is 21-5 as a starter with a Super Bowl appearance and a 2.1 touchdown/interception ratio. Last season, Garoppolo ranked eighth in passer rating (right behind Patrick Mahomes) and third in yards per pass attempt, trailing only Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford. While he may not be the player San Francisco thought it was getting, it is absolutely possible to win a Super Bowl with Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. That makes him worthy of a first round pick by itself.
Worst pick: Dominique Easley
Easley’s two seasons with New England ended the same way: 11 appearances and a trip to injured reserve. The Patriots released Easley in April 2016 after three sacks and 25 tackles. Easley then signed with the Rams and played in every game in 2016, recording 3.5 sacks. He missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL and landed in injured reserve again the following season. Easley played in 41 games in his career, starting six of them.
What matters most is that New England got the Garoppolo pick right, resulting in a B+ rather than a B. However, he was never able to push Tom Brady out and no one the Patriots drafted has started more than 26 times. White is on the verge of going over 4,000 total yards for his career, which also includes 32 touchdowns. Everyone except for Stork, Thomas and Gallon has more than 25 appearances.
New York Jets
Picks: DB Calvin Pryor (18), TE Jace Amaro (49), DB Dexter McDougle (80), WR Jalen Saunders (104), WR Shaquelle Evans (115), OT Dakota Dozier (137), LB Jeremiah George (154), DB Brandon Dixon (195), WR Quincy Enunwa (209), DT IK Enemkpali (210), QB Tajh Boyd (213), LB Trevor Reilly (233)
Best pick: Quincy Enunwa
Every single one of the 17 players in the 2014 draft class with more career receiving yards than Enunwa’s 1,617 were taken in the first four rounds. Enunwa came off the board in round six. Had he not missed all but one quarter of the 2019 season, he’d be even higher on the list. Enunwa’s best season came in 2016, when he led the Jets in receiving yards (857) and receiving touchdowns (4). The fact he’s spent his entire career with New York is an added bonus.
Worst pick: Jace Amaro
Amaro had a fine rookie season, catching 38 passes for 345 yards and playing in 14 games. Then came the torn labrum that sidelined him for 2015. After getting cut by the Jets during final roster cuts in 2016, Amaro signed with the Titans. He spent one season in Tennessee and appeared in three games. That was the last time Amaro played in an NFL game.
Six picks in the first four rounds and another six after that resulted in one player with 50 career appearances. That would be Dozier, who has started all of 11 times. Pryor leads the group in starts with 38 and didn’t see the field past 2017. Three of the 12 players in this class have double-digit starts to their name. Evans never played in an NFL game. It was a tough draft all around for the Jets.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Parker Anderson / Flickr