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Similar to their pre-draft counterparts, the ‘Mock Drafts’, the post-draft grading of NFL teams’ performances are anything but an exact science. It often takes anywhere up to five years before you can truly judge how successful a certain draft class has been, so assumptions made before training camp has even begun, should be treated with a reasonable amount of skepticism. That being said, certain factors, such as whether or not a team managed to fill their needs, whilst also trying to adhere to a ‘best player available’ policy, can be assessed.
When you wind up with three first round selections, chances are that you are going to have a successful draft. Minnesota took Shariff Floyd (23rd pick), Xavier Rhodes (25th pick) and Cordarrelle Patterson (29th pick) with their three first round selections, and cases could be made that they were arguably the best defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver in the draft respectively.
All of the three were expected to be off the board before they were actually taken, and General Manager Rick Spielman deserves credit for his draft day maneuvering, and the value he was able to pick up with each selection. He was also able to address a need at linebacker later in the draft, bring in Gerald Hodges (4th round) and Michael Mauti (7th round) who will both provide depth, and potentially eventually compete for a starting role.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers may not have had three first round picks like the Vikings did, but they did draft three first round talents. San Diego took D.J. Fluker with the 11th pick overall, and then added Manti Te’o (2nd round) and Keenan Allen (3rd round) shortly after, with both Te’o and Allen seen by many as late first round talents. New GM Tom Telesco should be applauded for adding a potential leader to his defense, and helping out quarterback Philip Rivers with a new offensive lineman in Fluker, and target in wide receiver Allen.
You can forgive Cleveland fans for having a feeling of anti-climax after their draft which saw them make very little improvement, at least in the short-term, to their current roster. First round pick Barkevious Mingo will likely transition to an outside linebacker role in the Browns’ new 3-4 defense, but will most likely end up providing depth behind Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard in his rookie year as he develops his ability to drop back into coverage.
The Browns offloaded some of their picks for better selections in the 2014 draft, so outside of Mingo and cornerback Leon McFadden (3rd round), they’re unlikely to have much impact from their rookie class this season. GM Michael Lombardi may have laid foundations for Cleveland’s future, but it’s doubtful this class will be able to help the Browns move up the AFC North pecking order.
The Cowboys did the right thing trading down from the 18th spot, presumably a decision made after Kenny Vaccaro was taken by New Orleans with the 15th pick, but spending their resulting first round pick on Travis Frederick was wasteful. The center is a good player, and will probably start on Dallas’ offensive line, but was a reach in the first round, as the Cowboys could have easily traded down once more, picking up extra picks, and still have taken Frederick.
Dallas also added a potential starter in J.J. Wilcox (3rd round) and good depth in Gavin Escobar (2nd round) and Terrance Williams (3rd round), but completely overlooked their defensive line. They have already lost players such as Marcus Spears on that side of the ball, and considering their shortage of cap space, could struggle to find reinforcements.
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