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.
Part two of the 2014 NFL Draft re-grade highlights the NFC East.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: OG Zack Martin (16th overall), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (34), LB Anthony Hitchens (119), WR Devin Street (146), DE Ben Gardner (231), LB Will Smith (238), DB Ahmad Dixon (248), DT Ken Bishop (251), DB Terrance Mitchell (254)
Best pick: Zack Martin
Six seasons, six Pro Bowls, four First Team All-Pro selections and two missed games. Pro Football Focus has ranked Martin as a top-five right guard in the NFL every year he’s been a pro. He might be the best offensive lineman of the last half-decade. While other guys have come in and out of the vaunted Cowboys’ line the past handful of seasons, Martin has been its consistently excellent foundation and most valuable piece.
Worst pick: Devin Street
It feels incredibly cruel to make a seventh-rounder a team’s worst pick, so Street ends up here as the guy in between three outstanding selections and Dallas’s five seventh round picks. Street saw action 36 games in his career and hauled in 10 passes for 152 yards. After two seasons with Dallas, he made stops in Indianapolis, New England, New York and Houston. The only one of those teams he appeared in a game with was the Colts.
Add Lawrence’s 39 sacks and two Pro Bowl appearances to Martin and the result is an A. Throw in Hitchens — who recorded 135 tackles in 2018 and has started 78 games — and the grade moves to an A+. That’s without the 53 appearances, 22 starts and seven interceptions Mitchell’s provided. The Cowboys didn’t have all that much to work with but boy did they make the most of it.
New York Giants
Picks: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (12), C Weston Richburg (43), DT Jay Bromley (74), RB Andre Williams (113), DB Nat Berhe (152), DE Devon Kennard (174), DB Bennett Jackson (187)
Best pick: Odell Beckham Jr.
No surprise here. Over the past six seasons, OBJ trails only Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas in yards per game. He’s also 11th in receptions (464), sixth in receiving yards (6,511) and tied for third in receiving touchdowns (48). He has managed to play all 16 games twice in his career yet produced five 1,000-yard seasons and three seasons of 1,300+ receiving yards. Beckham led the league in yards per game as a rookie in what would be the first of three straight Pro Bowl seasons.
Worst pick: Jay Bromley
Bromley carved out a five-year NFL career as a backup defensive tackle for the Giants and Saints. All four of his starts came in 2015, the season in which he saw the most playing time. Following four years and 55 appearances with the Giants, Bromley signed with New Orleans in 2018. He was released, signed again and tore his bicep in Week 7. He was let go by the 49ers during final roster cuts in 2019 and was playing in the XFL with the DC Defenders when the league suspended operations.
Beckham, Richburg and Kennard all have 65+ starts in their careers and everyone except Jackson has reached the 40-game mark. Williams scored eight touchdowns and rushed for over 1,000 yards, most of which came in his rookie season. Two regular starters and an elite receiver is a nice return from seven selections. This is an A if Beckham hadn’t slowed down somewhat the past three seasons.
Picks: DE Marcus Smith (26), WR Jordan Matthews (42), WR Josh Huff (86), DB Jaylen Watkins (101), DE Taylor Hart (141), DB Ed Reynolds (162), DT Beau Allen (224)
Best pick: Beau Allen
While Allen has made only 16 starts in his career, the six-year veteran has played an average of 428 snaps per season, primarily on defense. His 90 appearances are 17 more than anyone else in the Eagles’ draft class. He may not play all that much, but it’s still worth noting Allen played in every game his first three seasons in the league. Philadelphia found a solid player good enough to get a second contract in the seventh round.
Worst pick: Marcus Smith
It’s never ideal when a first-rounder’s career comes to a close without a single start. Smith was released by the Eagles after three unremarkable seasons that featured four sacks in 37 appearances. He went on to play 14 games with Seattle in 2017 and another two with Washington in 2018. Smith recorded 6.5 sacks and 38 tackles in 53 contests.
Matthews was easily the most productive player of the group, and he’s had his fair share of struggles after three really nice seasons. Allen’s 16 starts are more than everyone except Matthews. Smith and Watkins both have 50+ appearances, though neither has made any kind of significant impact. The Eagles were hoping for a lot more from five picks in the top 150 and six in the first five rounds.
Washington Football Team
Picks: LB/DE Trent Murphy (47), OT Morgan Moses (66), OG/C Spencer Long (78), DB Bashaud Breeland (102), WR Ryan Grant (142), RB Lache Seastrunk (186), TE Ted Bolser (217), K Zach Hocker (228)
Best pick: Morgan Moses
Coming off his fifth straight season starting every game, Moses has solidified himself as the undisputed right tackle in Washington. The team rewarded his reliability with a five-year deal in 2017. Moses was on the field for 92% of Washington’s offensive snaps last season, his lowest total since 2014. He leads the group in both appearances (88) and starts (81).
Worst pick: Spencer Long
Long is rather unlucky to find himself here in all honesty. However, he’s played the fewest games (67) and made the second-fewest starts (44) of Washington’s top five selections. Long — who has played both guard and center — started 25 games from 2015 to 2016. He has only started more than six contests one other time. In 2014, he returned a kickoff 12 yards, yet another testament to his versatility.
As already mentioned when discussing Long, the strength of this class is its depth. Murphy has 24 sacks to his name and Breeland’s picked off 12 passes. Grant has 123 receptions for 1,333 yards and seven touchdowns. The last three picks are much less inspiring. Seastrunk and Bolser never played in an NFL game. Hocker appeared in eight.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by Erik Drost / Flickr