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Draft grades are inherently flawed, but we like them anyway. (I’m guilty, too. I did SI’s draft grades this year and found the process surprisingly fun.) The biggest gripe about draft grades is that nobody really knows how draft picks will develop, and so how can we grade them before we know what they’ve become?

That’s immensely fair, but it’s also just part of the issue. The 2014 draft—where we now do know what has become of the players—still has loads of unknowns that should factor into the team’s “grade.” For example:

• Do we grade a team down if a player has battled injuries?

• Do we grade a team up if, say, a sixth-round pick becomes a star? If the team knew that player would be a star, it would have picked him before the sixth.

• What if the player’s team lost guys at supporting positions? How do we grade the pick of a running back whose offensive line gets hurt or decimated by cap-saving moves in his second season?

If a player busts, how do we know it’s because he was a bad pick? What if he had bad coaching? What if someone else at his position overachieved and stole his practice reps? What if the coaching staff changed and the new staff’s scheme didn’t fit the player? What if the player all the sudden stopped working hard once he got rich—how much responsibility does the GM hold for that? Some, sure (the GM should have done his homework, right?). But certainly not all the responsibility. When a good player becomes a bad player, nine times out of 10 it’s the player’s fault, not the GM’s or head coach’s.

It’s impossible to consider all these factors and then assign a grade. So, what you see below is more an examination of how a draft turned out, as opposed to how it was conducted. With big moves in Rounds 1 and 2, we can play the woulda/coulda/shoulda game (demeriting the Bills for trading up to get Sammy Watkins in a draft that also had Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks, for example), but most of the woulda/coulda/shouldas will be left on the table, where they belong.

So, with those (many) caveats, here are grades on the 2014 NFL draft, thanks to some substantial help from hindsight.

Arizona Cardinals

Round 1 (27 overall). Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
2 (52). Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
3 (84). Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
3 (91). John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
4 (120). Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
5 (160). Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
6 (196). Walt Powell, WR, Murray State

Deone Bucannon has been somewhat of a revolution, moving from safety to linebacker. “Smaller-but-faster” at that position can work in today’s NFL, where so many runs take place out of three-receiver sets, and where so many teams throw the ball on first and second down. Bucannon has not set the world on fire, but he’s had enough success to inspire the Rams to trade for Mark Barron, the Falcons to draft Deion Jones early in the second round and, most recently, the Steelers to take a big flyer on Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds late in the first round.

Troy Niklas battled injuries early on and never became a factor. Bruce Arians’ scheme wasn’t the most tight end-friendly, though if Niklas had been what they’d hoped, Arians would have found a role for him. Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson provided decent depth for a few years but never carved out distinct roles. John Brown did: deep threat. But after a tumultuous 2016 (health problems) and a quiet 2017, he’s now a Raven.

Grade: C

Atlanta Falcons

Round 1 (6 overall). Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
2 (37). Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
3 (68). Dezmen Southward, FS, Wisconsin
4 (103). Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
4 (139). Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
5 (147). Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
5 (168). Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse
7 (253). Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
7 (255). Tyler Starr, LB, South Dakota

Three quality starters were found in this draft, though only one at the spot you’d expect: first-round pick Jake Matthews. His long-term contract after playing out this year’s fifth-year option will be an interesting one. Matthews is not consistent enough to be deemed elite, but he’s certainly reliable at what’s still a premium position. In many respects, he is a younger Nate Solder, who just signed with the Giants for $34.8 million guaranteed. The Falcons just spent $100 million guaranteed on Matt Ryan. Would they pay one-third of that on an insurance policy to protect him?

Devonta Freeman—one of the two surprising starters—recently had his own interesting contract situation, but it was solved with a five-year, $41.25 million deal, with $22 million guaranteed. Some would deem that a lot for a 26-year-old back, especially when some in the organization believe that his 25-year-old backup, Tevin Coleman, who has one year left on his cheap deal, is better. Freeman doesn’t quite have the size to be a true bellcow… would the Falcons invest another $20-plus million guaranteed to retain Coleman? Both bring valuable flexibility to the passing game, and, stylistically, they fit Atlanta’s outside zone scheme.

The third starter is Ricardo Allen, who was drafted as a cornerback and has become one of the league’s top dozen free safeties. That’s what Dezman Southward was supposed to be, but he never took, not even after moving to cornerback once head coach Dan Quinn came aboard. Ra’Shede Hageman also never quite took, despite outstanding size (including long arms) and flashes—but only flashes—of impressive initial quickness.

Prince Shembo came into the league with red flags after a highly publicized sexual assault accusation while at Notre Dame (Shembo was never charged; the school came under heavy criticism for its investigation of Shembo). He didn’t last after he was arrested for killing his girlfriend’s Yorkshire terrier in 2015. Shembo later, though not initially, asserted that it was a reaction to the small dog biting him; he also admitted to kicking the dog more than once. However it played out, the Falcons, you may recall, once had a player who was connected to dog abuse, and they weren’t going to let a lowly fourth-round backup drag them into that PR mess.

Overall, three really good starters, but not a lot else. And so you have a solid, but not spectacular, draft.

Grade: B

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1 (17 overall). C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
2 (48). Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
3 (79). Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State
3 (99). Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State
4 (134). Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
4 (138). Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Coastal Carolina
5 (175). John Urschel, G, Penn State
6 (194). Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
7 (218). Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

Ozzie Newsome’s love for Alabama players paid off with C.J. Mosley. He’s not flawless, but he brings range and playmaking as a run defender and, perhaps more importantly, as a zone pass defender. He should be signed to a healthy second contract. Timmy Jernigan has also panned out, though more in Philly than Baltimore. The Ravens sent him to the Eagles last spring in exchange for advancing 25 spots in the third round. Overall, that’s not a great return, but one reason Jernigan became expendable is that some of Baltimore’s other defensive linemen, like Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, have overachieved. (When healthy, so has run-stopper Brent Urban, who was taken 86 spots behind Jernigan.) And it should be noted that none of the NFL’s defensive tackles taken after Pick 48 went on to become better than Jernigan.

Terrence Brooks did not overachieve—or even just “achieve.” He had chances to, given that 2013 first-rounder Matt Elam turned out a bust. Crockett Gillmore has teased at times, but there’s a reason the Ravens drafted a second-round tight end one year later (Maxx Williams) and, in 2018, took first- and third-round tight ends (Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews). Lorenzo Taliaferro and John Urschel had their moments and looked like value picks, but Taliaferro washed out of the league prior to the ’17 season, while Urschel retired to protect his health and study math at MIT.

Overall, this draft had a lot of good results, but those results were short-lived and never bore fruit at the same time.

Grade: B-

Buffalo Bills

Round 1 (4 overall). Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
2 (44). Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama
3 (73). Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville
4 (109). Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
5 (153). Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
7 (221). Randell Johnson, LB, Florida Atlantic
7 (237). Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami (Fla.)

Sammy Watkins, at the time, was nearly the consensus best wideout in this draft, and Bills GM Doug Whaley, with a callow E.J. Manuel at QB, needed to buttress his 2013 second- and third-round picks—possession guy Robert Woods and speedster Marquise Goodwin—with a true No. 1. All three receivers have become quality starters… unfortunately, for other teams.

Whaley traded his 2015 first-and fourth-round picks to move up from No. 9 to draft Watkins at 4. That expensive package hurts even more considering that first-rounders taken after slot 9 include Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin (whom Buffalo acquired from Carolina last year for third- and seventh-round picks). Watkins showed promise in Years 1 and 2, registering around 1,000 yards in each, but foot problems hindered his lauded speed and change-of-direction suddenness and, with turnover at quarterback, he never carved out a defined role.

Cyrus Kouandjio was a gamble that didn’t pan out. Buffalo hoped he’d be Erik Pears’ replacement at right tackle, but Kouandjio played just 25 games for Buffalo, starting eight. The Bills didn’t have many options; the next true offensive tackle drafted was Billy Turner, by Miami at pick 67. (After a few years, the Dolphins would have gladly traded Turner for Kouandjio… or, Turner for a few old tackling dummies.) Seantrel Henderson actually started 27 of 34 games at Kouandjio’s right tackle position but was mostly underwhelming (still, not bad for a seventh rounder). Henderson is now a fringe starter on an iffy Texans O-line, while Kouandjio is fighting for a roster spot in Denver.

Preston Brown became a starter, though a wildly average one. The Bills needed a Mike backer with more coverage versatility than run-thumper Brandon Spikes offered. Brown delivered, but not well enough to warrant a second contract. He recently signed a one-year deal with the Bengals in free agency.

The one big swing for Watkins missed, and so did the two smaller swings after it. Which is why Whaley is unemployed.

Grade: D-

Carolina Panthers

Round 1 (28 overall). Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
2 (60). Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
3 (92). Trai Turner, G, LSU
4 (128). Tre Boston, SS, North Carolina
5 (148). Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
6 (204). Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

The logic behind the Kelvin Benjamin pick was excellent: Cam Newton is not a precision passer, and when he misses, it tends to be high. So they got him a long-armed, 6' 5", 245-pound target. Benjamin’s career wound up being up and down, and he was traded to Buffalo by interim GM Marty Hurney three months after GM Dave Gettleman was fired. In exchange, the Panthers received third- and seventh-round picks in 2018.

Kony Ealy had both his coming out and going away party in Super Bowl 50, where he recorded three sacks and an interception. Instead of turning into Carolina’s newest D-line star, he was off the roster after 2016. He’s now a rotational player in Dallas after spending last year with the Jets.

Trai Turner is not the stud most people think—he sometimes struggles against powerful pass rushers and his mobility is only slightly above average. Still, overall, he’s a quality guard in an offense that values them.

Tre Boston was too finesse and never fully caught on here. The belief was he had a stellar season for the Chargers last year, but the fact that he remains unsigned in free agency suggests it was really just a case of fans seeing a guy with a catchy name and five interceptions (which can sometimes be circumstantial with a free safety).

Bene Benwikere was a rising slot corner but then broke his leg in 2015 and in 2016 Julio Jones revealed to the world that Benwikere could only play the slot. Jones’ 300 yards in Week 4 against Benwikere and Carolina is one of history’s biggest receiver-on-corner beatdowns on record.

So what you have: five players who were good for a minute (and longer, in Turner’s case), but not at the same time. Just another example of how the draft is a crapshoot.

Grade: C

Chicago Bears

Round 1 (14 overall). Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
2 (51). Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
3 (82). Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
4 (117). Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
4 (131). Brock Vereen, SS, Minnesota
6 (183). David Fales, QB, San Jose State
6 (191). Pat O'Donnell, P, Miami (Fla.)
7 (246). Charles Leno, T, Boise State

This turned out to be the last draft in GM Phil Emery’s three-year tenure. It was a sandwich with great bread and bad meat. The first and last picks have become long-term starters at key positions. Everyone else spoiled, some quickly, others gradually. The Bears learned how much they value Kyle Fuller when their division rival Packers tried to sign him in free agency. Thought to be content letting Fuller walk after a great rookie season, two underwhelming seasons and then a very solid 2017 contract year, the Bears instead inked him for four years, $56 million. Fuller is a stellar zone defender who can convert into man coverage.

Charles Leno is just one of four current starting left tackles who was acquired in the seventh round or later (the others: Donald Penn, Alejandro Villanueva and Kelvin Beachum). At 6' 4", 303 pounds, he was believed to be a better fit at guard. His lack of size shows once in a while (he had some lowlights against bull-rushers last season), but the Bears were comfortable extending him for four years, $21.6 million guaranteed last year.

Few would have guessed following the 2014 season that Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton would be out of football by now. Both teased of promise as rookies. That’s more than can be said for Ka’Deem Carey and Brock Vereen, who never carved roles.

Grade: C

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1 (24 overall). Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
2 (55). Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
3 (88). Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
4 (111). Russell Bodine, G, North Carolina
5 (164). AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
6 (212). Marquis Flowers, LB, Arizona
7 (239). James Wright, WR, LSU
7 (252). Lavelle Westbrooks, DB, Georgia Southern

Few zone-oriented defensive teams draft corners in the first round, let alone develop them from the bench their first two years. That’s precisely what the Bengals did with Darqueze Dennard. And, notably, with Dre Kirkpatrick two years before him and William Jackson two years after him. All three men remain on the roster, with Dennard the nickel slot. That’s an ancillary cornerback role, but by only a slim margin. Dennard is an important player in Marvin Lewis’s defense.

Jeremy Hill looked like a wonder as a rookie, but then all the sudden forgot how to run. He stutter-stepped his way to the bench and was allowed to walk in free agency, where he signed with the Patriots. (Given New England’s first-round selection of running back Sony Michel, don’t be shocked if Hill signs with another team sometime around Labor Day.)

After drafting corners in the early rounds, the Bengals often look for talented pass rushers in the middle rounds. Will Clarke has had the type of career that makes a team have to keep looking. He never found a role and now currently disappoints for the Buccaneers. Russell Bodine has been part of an inept interior O-line the past two years, but overall he’s been an adequate starter, which is good value for Pick 111. Having a solid backup QB is good value for Pick 164. Some might feel AJ McCarron never fully got a chance—and maybe they’re right. He started three regular-season games, plus a Wild Card bout against Pittsburgh.

Overall, this wasn’t an awful draft, but for a team with a stable coaching staff and, consequently, a well-defined scheme and identity, you’d like to see more value in the high-middle rounds.

Grade: C

Cleveland Browns

Round 1 (8 overall). Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
1 (22). Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
2 (35). Joel Bitonio, T, Nevada
3 (71). Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa
3 (94). Terrance West, RB, Towson
4 (127). Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

This was the first year of the short-lived Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine Era. Despite finding an upper-tier starting guard in Round 2 (Joel Bitonio), a quality three-down linebacker with speed in Round 3 (Christian Kirksey) and what, for a few years anyway, was a solid running back later in Round 3 (Terrance West), this is one of the worst drafts in recent memory, thanks to is the worst first-round in history.

Here’s what’s so damning about the blown Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel picks: both players flamed out of the league before ever igniting, due largely to the same immaturity they displayed in college. Gilbert’s, and especially Manziel’s, unprofessional behavior was sometimes shocking, but never surprising. And with Manziel, it’s not like he was a transcendent talent. In college, yes. But as a pro prospect? A less famous QB with his diminutive size, so-so arm, unrefined mechanics and lack of discipline would never have been considered. Alas, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam fell in love.

Grade: D-

Dallas Cowboys

Round 1 (16 overall) Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame
2 (34). Demarcus Lawrence, LB, Boise State
4 (119). Anthony Hitchens, OLB, Iowa
5 (146). Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
7 (231). Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
7 (238). Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
7 (248). Ahmad Dixon, DB, Baylor
7 (251). Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois
7 (254). Terrance Mitchell, DB, Oregon

The Zack Martin pick was made by Jerry Jones’ son Stephen—Jerry later lectured him about choosing the guard over Rockstar quarterback Johnny Manziel. The exact quote: “Son, I hope you're happy. But let me tell you something: You don't get to own the Cowboys, you don't get to do special things in life, by making major decisions going right down the middle. And that was right down the middle.”

It was right down the middle like a bowling ball on a strike—an analogy that’s extra ripe considering how Manziel’s career wound up in the gutter. Martin has become arguably the game’s best guard, and arguably the best player on what is inarguably football’s best offensive line.

The Cowboys knocked down all 10 pins on the Demarcus Lawrence pick, too. Lawrence, who had 14.5 sacks last year, took a little longer than Martin to reach stardom, so let’s call it a spare instead of a strike. Nevertheless, he was franchise-tagged this offseason and, as an elite run-defender and dozen-plus sack guy, should get a lucrative long-term deal in 2019.

The Cowboys had to trade the 47th and 78th overall picks to move up and get Lawrence at 34 in the second round. It was worth it, but their diminished draft capital carried a small price, as no other players in this class amounted to much. Anthony Hitchens received $25 million guaranteed from the Chiefs as a free agent this past offseason, but he did not quite become a true every-down player in Dallas. If the Cowboys truly valued Hitchens, they would have re-signed him, rather than spending this year’s first-round pick at his position (Leighton Vander Esch at 19).

Getting stars at Picks 1 and 2 is enough to make most drafts an A. But the rest of this draft—which, granted, had five seventh-round picks—amounted to nothing long-term.

Grade: B+

Denver Broncos

Round 1 (31 overall). Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
2 (56). Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
3 (95). Michael Schofield, T, Michigan
5 (156). Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
6 (207). Matt Paradis, C, Boise State
7 (242). Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma

Bradley Roby became an instant contributor and was integral to Denver’s 2015 Super Bowl run. (And that Super Bowl itself. A huge tactical factor in that game was defensive coordinator Wade Phillips subbing Roby in for a safety. Roby and fellow corners Chris Harris and Aqib Talib all played solo coverage from there, giving Denver enough bodies to eliminate Carolina’s running game out of three-receiver sets.) Presumably, one reason GM John Elway traded Aqib Talib to the Rams this offseason is Elway believes Roby can thrive as an every-down corner.

Offensively, this draft was disappointing, save for Matt Paradis, whose mobility and initial quickness off the snap perfectly fits Denver’s zone running game. The lanky Cody Latimer had an enviable body but did nothing with it. Even worse, he was taken five spots ahead of Allen Robinson, selected by Jacksonville. Latimer’s spot has now been filled by rookie Courtland Sutton—another lanky second-round receiver. Michael Schofield started for two years at right tackle, much to the delight of AFC West defensive ends. Khalil Mack once had four sacks against him. On Christmas night in 2015, Justin Houston ate him alive. (Schofield was moonlighting at right tackle that night after having been moved inside to guard.) Schofield is now a backup with the Chargers.