(RNN) – After three days of analysis, posturing and hearing about schools like Lindenwood University for the first time, the NFL Draft has ended.
That's the easy part. The hard part is knowing who did well and who didn't. Every year you hear the stories about Heath Shuler and Akili Smith – first round talents who failed spectacularly – and John Randle and Kurt Warner – undrafted free agents who had long and stellar careers.
We hear those stories because they fill air time and make you think your team's rival wasted its first round pick while your team picked up a Hall of Famer in the seventh round, when in reality he most likely will get relegated to the practice squad.
All we know right now is that some teams did well and some teams probably didn't. Here's a quick look at three teams that might fall into those categories.
Needs: QB, WR, C, G, LB
Draft picks: Blake Bortles (QB), Marqise Lee (WR), Allen Robinson (WR), Brandon Linder (G), Aaron Colvin (CB), Telvin Smith (LB), Chris Smith (DE), Luke Bowanko (C), Storm Johnson (RB)
Analysis: Surprise, right? The Jaguars are the butt of many jokes, and rightfully so. They entered this draft needing a home run and might have pulled off a grand slam.
Jacksonville made the first unexpected pick of the draft with Bortles, but he's widely seen as the most NFL ready of the QBs available this year. He may initially back up Chad Henne and likely be handed the reins in 2015, if not in the middle of the season. If the scouting report on him proves accurate, he'll be the best QB in franchise history.
This draft was deep on talent, but nowhere was that more evident than at wide receiver. Jacksonville drafted Justin Blackmon in the first round two years ago, but he was suspended indefinitely last season, and the best-case scenario has him missing eight games this year. Lee and Robinson were taken in the second round, but either could have easily been taken earlier and should provide some decent firepower alongside Cecil Shorts and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
The later picks for the Jags represent some good value – particularly Colvin and Telvin Smith – for players who could be long-term starters at positions of need.
Needs: WR, OT, DT, CB, S
Draft picks: Greg Robinson (OT), Aaron Donald (DT), Lamarcus Joyner (CB), Tre Mason (RB), Mo Alexander (SS), E.J. Gaines (CB), Garrett Gilbert (QB), Michael Van Dyk (OT), C.B. Bryant (FS), Michael Sam (DE), Demetrius Rhaney (C)
Analysis: St. Louis is loaded on the defensive line. Donald will be a strong addition to a unit that already has Pro Bowler Robert Quinn and 2012 first round draft pick Michael Brockers. Getting stronger up front on both sides of the ball was a priority for the Rams, and taking Donald in the second round beefed up an already solid unit that led a defense that was ninth against the run in 2013.
St. Louis didn't need much on offense, but got a solid backup QB option late and added Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist, to a backfield that already includes Zac Stacy, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a rookie, along with his college teammate, Robinson, to block for a unit that was 19th in rushing.
The Rams have been excellent in the draft the last three years, and this year was primarily about getting depth. Joyner and Alexander will compete for playing time in a secondary that was 19th in the NFL against the pass last season, while Gaines, Bryant and Sam, the SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year, would provide solid insurance against injuries.
Needs: QB, OG, DT, LB
Draft picks: Jadeveon Clowney (DE), Xavier Su'a-Filo (G), C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE), Louis Nix (DT), Tom Savage (QB), Jeoffrey Pagan (DE), Alfred Blue (RB), Jay Prosch (FB), Andre Hal (CB), Lonnie Ballentine (FS)
Analysis: The big name is obviously Clowney, who was selected first overall. The Texans needed a pass rusher, and Clowney can be a great one. He's already listed on Houston's roster as a linebacker, so he will be expected to be the key piece of the Texans' 3-4 scheme. The Texans were seventh in total defense, third against the pass and seventh against the run, so adding the 331-pound Nix as a space-eater in the middle could make the defense a juggernaut.
Houston had a lot of people questioning its decision to wait until the fourth round to take a quarterback, but now it looks like waiting was the smart choice, because several QBs thought to be taken in the middle rounds went much later. Savage is likely to get the starting job over Case Keenum, and it could be a perfect situation because he won't be asked to do much in an offense loaded with weapons.
The Texans already had receiving targets Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins and a running game powered by Arian Foster, and they added the 6'5" tight end Fiedorowicz in the third round and Blue and Prosch in the sixth, who could each turn out to be a solid addition.
Honorable mention: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs used their first two picks on a 6'5" receiver in Mike Evans and a 6'5" tight end in Austin Seferian-Jenkins to add to existing 6'5" receiver Vincent Jackson. However, they waited until the fifth round to address needs on the offensive line and failed to address a need at quarterback in a draft loaded with quality options.
Needs: QB, RB, WR, TE, LB, CB
Draft picks: Justin Gilbert (CB), Johnny Manziel (QB), Joel Bitonio (OT), Christian Kirksey (LB), Terrance West (RB), Pierre Desir (CB)
Analysis: Your opinion of this draft will hinge entirely on your thoughts about Manziel. He was by far the most controversial player in the draft in years and fell to the 22nd pick after being projected by nearly everyone as a top 10, or even top five, selection.
It's a solid, if not spectacular draft otherwise, but it contains a glaring omission – a wide receiver. The Browns went into the draft needing a receiver, and that was even without the knowledge of leading target Josh Brown facing a year-long suspension.
There were 33 receivers drafted this year, and the Browns had the chance to take every one of them. In fact, Cleveland twice traded down and the team it traded with took a receiver. The Browns have already signed five receivers as undrafted free agents, so they didn't forget about the position, they just didn't care about it.
It's also a little odd that, after signing Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen right before the draft and taking Manziel in the first round, the Browns signed two quarterbacks as undrafted free agents as well. But it won't matter who they have under center if he doesn't have anyone to throw to. Cleveland's running game was 27th in the NFL last year, and West likely isn't a guy who can change that.
Needs: QB, TE, OT, LB, S
Draft picks: Deone Buchanan (SS), Troy Niklas (TE), Kareem Martin (DE), John Brown (WR), Logan Thomas (QB), Ed Stinson (DE), Walt Powell (WR)
Analysis: The most perplexing selection of the entire draft was Thomas being taken in the fourth round. Thomas was the sixth QB selected, and he went ahead of Savage, AJ McCarron, Tajh Boyd, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, all of whom were projected to be taken higher.
It was an odd choice as the potential replacement for current starter Carson Palmer, and he will need plenty of time to develop. Many of the people searching for justification of the pick pointed out the connection Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has to Virginia Tech, where both he and Thomas attended, but that's a terrible reason to take a player you think might be the future starter for your team.
Elsewhere, the Cardinals drafted two wide receivers they don't need and completely ignored pressing needs on the offensive line and at linebacker. They had plenty of picks to address their needs, but used them on the wrong positions.
Needs: WR, G, C, LB, S
Draft picks: Jack Mewhort (OT), Donte Moncrief (WR), Jonathan Newsome (DE), Andrew Jackson (LB), Ulrich John (OT)
Analysis: The main reason why this is an underwhelming draft for the Colts is because they didn't have many picks, but the ones they made were solid. Moncrief could prove to be a solid addition, but the Colts will likely be looking to draft a wide receiver against next season as Reggie Wayne ages and there is no obvious heir apparent.
Mewhort gives the offensive line a ton of flexibility because he was a tackle in college, but can be both a guard and a center. Indianapolis was in big need of protection for Andrew Luck and a blocker for Trent Richardson, who was traded to them by the Browns for the pick they used on Manziel.
The biggest problem for the Colts was they needed a linebacker to complement Robert Mathis and help in the secondary, but they didn't have enough picks to address all their needs.
Honorable mention: Dallas Cowboys. Seven of the Cowboys' nine selections were on the third day, including five in the seventh round. They didn't make any exciting picks, but loaded up on players who will compete for spots on a defense that was last in the NFL last season. However, they took an offensive lineman in the first round when defensive line and safety were bigger needs, and didn't take a safety until the seventh round.
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