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 next stop in the 2014 NFL Draft re-grade is the AFC West.
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.
Picks: DB Bradley Roby (31st overall), WR Cody Latimer (56), OT Michael Schofield (95), LB Lamin Barrow (156), C Matt Pradis (207), LB Corey Nelson (242)
Best pick: Matt Paradis
In one year, Paradis went from being a member of the Broncos’ practice squad to the team’s starting center. He made his NFL debut in Denver’s 2015 season opener and did not miss another snap on offense until 2018. Paradis’ performance over four seasons as a starter for the Broncos earned him a three-year, $27 million deal with the Panthers last offseason. The former sixth round pick started every game for his new team, the fourth time in the last five seasons he’s done so.
Worst pick: Lamin Barrow
Barrow appeared in all 32 games in the 2014 and 2015 seasons and Denver’s other five selections have still played in over twice as many games as he did. His lone start came with the Broncos in 2014. Denver waived him after the season and he was signed to the Bears’ practice squad but was quickly elevated to the active roster. Barrow is certainly unlucky to end up here, but it was an easy call in the end.
Everyone except Barrow has more than 60 appearances, though Latimer and Nelson have a total of 22 starts between them. This is an extremely average group of players on their own, but getting five out of six guys to last six seasons is worthy of more than a straight B. Sometimes it’s about quantity rather than quality.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: LB Dee Ford (23), DB Phillip Gaines (87), RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (124), QB Aaron Murray (163), OG Zach Fulton (193), OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (200)
Best pick: Zach Fulton
Fulton immediately stepped into a starting role and was on the field for 99% of Kansas City’s offensive snaps in his rookie season. The first time he failed to appear in every game was 2017, when he played in 15 contests and made 12 starts. Fulton is one of 10 players in the 2014 draft class with at least 90 appearances and 70 starts to their names. Other names in that group include Zack Martin, Khalil Mark and Aaron Donald.
Worst pick: De’Anthony Thomas
Murray never played in an NFL game but was in the league for three seasons as a quarterback picked in the fifth round, so Thomas is here instead. The former Oregon Duck has returned 98 punts and 68 kickoffs in his career, scoring on an 81-yard punt return in his first season. That’s about the extent of his impact though. Thomas touched the ball 37 times on offense as a rookie and hasn’t touched it more than 26 times since.
Thomas and Murray weren’t particularly bad picks considering where they were taken. The two sixth-rounders (Fulton and Duvernay-Tardif) have played in 151 games and started 131 times. Ford recorded double-digit sacks in 2016 and his Pro Bowl campaign in 2018. All told, everyone except Murray has more than 55 appearances. Don’t forget Kansas City made that happen with one pick in the top 75 and two in the top 120.
Las Vegas Raiders (then the Oakland Raiders)
Picks: LB/DE Khalil Mack (5), QB Derek Carr (36), OG Gabe Jackson (81), DT Justin Ellis (107), DB Keith McGill (116), DB T.J. Carrie (219), DE Shelby Harris (235), DB Jonathan Dowling (247)
Best pick: Khalil Mack
The worst part of this pick from the Raiders’ perspective is that they were unable to extend Mack and traded him to the Bears, where he’s been named a First Team All-Pro and made two Pro Bowls in two seasons. Since entering the league, the three-time First Team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler is second in forced fumbles and seventh in sacks. Mack has 74 more tackles than any of the six players ahead of him on the sack list too.
Worst pick: Keith McGill
McGill claims this spot as the only of one Oakland’s first seven picks who was not active in 2019. His 54 career appearances and three starts are the fewest of any player the Raiders took before Dowling. McGill failed to record double-digit tackles in three of his four seasons but did return a fumble for a touchdown in 2014.
Carr’s 39-55 record as a starter is the main reason the Raiders don’t get an A+. As good as this group is (and it’s phenomenal), it never translated into any kind of real success for the franchise. Regardless, seven of the eight players have more than 50 appearances and five have more than 40 starts. That’s before factoring in the franchise-altering talent Mack is and Carr being a quarterback worth building a team around even though he’s not in the upper echelon of signal-callers.
Los Angeles Chargers (then the San Diego Chargers)
Picks: DB Jason Verrett (25), LB Jeremiah Attaochu (50), C Chris Watt (89), DT Ryan Carrethers (165), RB Marion Grice (201), WR Tevin Reese (240)
Best pick: Jeremiah Attaochu
Though Attaochu has only started multiple games twice in his career, he has registered two or more sacks five times in six seasons. His finest year came in 2015, when he posted six sacks and made 12 starts. Attaochu has also played in 35 more games than anyone else in the group, making this an even easier decision.
Worst pick: Chris Watt
Watt spent two seasons with the Chargers, making eight starts and appearing in 17 games. He was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to begin the 2016 season. A failed physical resulted in the Chargers waiving him and he never played in the NFL again. Watt spent just over a month with the Saints in the summer of 2017 but retired before the season started.
The one time Verrett was healthy enough to play in more than six games, he made the Pro Bowl. There is no disputing his talent though. How many players get placed on injured reserve five times in six seasons and continue to be offered contracts? Watt, Carrethers, Grice and Reese were gone by 2017 with 11 combined starts. San Diego caught a tough break with Verrett, but the rest of the draft class didn’t exactly make up for it.
Click here to see the entire draft grades series.
Photo by All-Pro Reels / Flickr