We saw how the first four divisions draft grades looked, the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings earned the highest grade in the AFC and NFC North; while New York reigned supreme as the Jets and Giants had the highest drafted grades in the AFC and NFC East.
Now Pro Player Insiders, turns their attention to the South and West divisions of the AFC and NFC, as reveal our remaining 2014 NFL Draft Grades.
First up: the AFC South.
Once a division ruled by Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts, the AFC South looked to be on the verge of being run by the Houston Texans but after a disastrous 2013 campaign, they too are rebuilding with new head coach Bill O’Brien. The Colts look to continue developing under coach Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck in their third year together. The Jaguars are on the upswing under coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell. Then the Tennessee Titans are in the midst of rebuilding as they set on their maiden voyage with new coach Ken Whisenhunt at the helm.
With such a young and developing division, it will be interesting to see how things turn out in 2014. One thing is certain, this year’s draft class will be vital to each team. Here are the draft grades:
1.) Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2.) Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
3.) C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
3.) Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
4.) Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
6.) Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, Alabama
6.) Alfred Blue, RB, LSU
6.) Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn
7.) Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
7.) Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis
The new regime in Houston addressed their team the smartest way possible, build from the inside out. Clowney, will shift to outside linebacker. New defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel usually gets this best out of his players. Su’a-Filo, is a versatile guard. With veteran Wade Smith gone, Su’a-Filo could be a Day One starter on the left side. The Texans scored huge in the third-round with Fiedorowicz and Nix. Both could develop into starters. Pagan, could very well turn into a starter. He only had one season as a starter in Tuscaloosa and showed promise. He left school early citing a knee injury his senior season of high school.
Sleeper Pick: Tom Savage
He doesn’t have much of a proven track record as he transferred twice (Rutgers to Arizona and Arizona to Pitt). He started as a freshman with Rutgers and earned the team’s offensive MVP award. His next stating season was as a senior at Pitt, where he had 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.
2.) Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio St.
3.) Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
5.) Jonathan Newsome, DE, Ball St.
6.) Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
7.) Ulrick John, OT, Georgia St.
The Colts didn’t have a lot to work with as they used their first-round choice to get Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns last season. Mewhort, can play tackle or guard and is as technical as they come. He could be a Day One starter at guard. Moncrief, is a perfect pick and will continue to develop. He’ll take over for Reggie Wayne once he retires. Newsome, an Ohio State transfer, has had some off-field issues. He could develop into an edge rusher.
Sleeper Pick: Andrew Jackson
Jackson was a star in the Sun Belt conference, where he posted over 300 tackles in three seasons. He has the size and ability to fit in well with Pagano’s 3-4 defense. However, questions linger about work ethic and maturity.
1.) Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
2.) Marqise Lee, WR, USC
2.) Allen Robinson, WR, Penn St.
3.) Brandon Linder, OG, Miami
4.) Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
5.) Telvin Smith, ILB, Florida St.
5.) Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
6.) Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia
7.) Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
The Jags knocked it out of the park and earned the best draft grade and second “A” of the draft. Bortles, Lee, Robinson are studs and will be for the foreseeable future. Linder, is a team player who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Colvin, could have been a second-rounder had a knee injury during the draft process not wiped out his 2014 season. Chris Smith is a quality pick in the fifth-round. He had 9.5 sacks last season.
Sleeper Pick: Telvin Smith
The big knock against Smith is that he is undersized. Which he very much so is at 218-pounds but you cannot ignore his talent. He can fly sideline-to-sideline, rush the passer, and doesn’t shy from contact stopping the run. Smith is a high energy player who is perfect for Gus Bradley’s style defense. He had 90 tackles, two sacks, and three picks in ’13.
1.) Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
2.) Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
4.) DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn St.
4.) Marqueston Huff, S, Wyoming
5.) Avery Williamson, Kentucky
6.) Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Lewan, was a rising prospect throughout the draft. He was drafted as the heir to veteran Michael Roos as left tackle. Sankey, the first running back drafted, can do it all and will be a solid compliment to veteran Shonn Greene’s tough running style. Huff, impressed at the Senior Bowl. He is versatile enough to play corner or safety. Williamson is a load, he racked up over 100 tackles the past two seasons. Mettenberger was a great land and should develop into a solid challenger to Jake Locker under Whisenhunt’s tutelage.
Sleeper Pick: DaQuan Jones
As the Titans transfer from a 4-3 to 3-4 style defense, the defensive line is critical. Jones can help that development. He led the Nittany Lions in tackles for loss last season with 11.5 and could develop into a quality nose tackle.
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