With the NFL draft finally over, it’s time to see who did the most to make their team better. I’ll be discussing who got the most talented players with their picks and also filled key needs for their team.
San Francisco 49ers: A
The 49ers had 12 picks total in the draft for a team who just went to the NFC Championship Game last season; they didn’t need that much help but with those 12 picks they picked up some quality players. They picked up Jimmie Ward, a safety from Northern Illinois University with their first pick in the draft. Ward is a quality defensive back and could make an immediate impact a la Eric Reid.
He has good ball skills, having seven interceptions and ten pass deflections at NIU. He’s small, but has good speed and plays tougher and bigger than his size. They recently picked up Antoine Bethea in free agency to play safety and drafted Reid in last year’s draft to play safety as well, so Ward can add depth at that position and also play corner as well.
They also drafted Carlos Hyde, the best running back in the draft, and Marcus Martin, one of the top centers. Hyde is a big back who runs hard and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. However, he’s slow in getting to top speed- he ran a sub par forty of 4.66 seconds. He slipped, being a running back, but has 1st round talent.
Martin was a good pick also- the 49ers were short handed at center and Martin could come in and compete for that job if the 49ers believe he’s able to handle it.
They also drafted Bruce Ellington, wide receiver from South Carolina who can be that third receiver the 49ers have been looking for, a speedy receiver who can separate and make the offense more dynamic.
The 49ers didn’t need much help on both sides but picked up 1st round talent with each of their first three picks, giving them an A grade.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B
Even though I give the Jaguars a B, they made some key moves to improve their offense. They drafted their quarterback of the future in Blake Bortles, who you can argue was the best quarterback in the draft. He probably won’t start week one due to the resigning of Chad Henne, but if the Jags start to lose games and their season is over Bortles can come in and take the job over.
With Justin Blackmon being suspended for the 2014 season the Jags were short on receiver help, but they surely addressed that in the draft getting Marqise Lee out of USC, who would’ve been the number one receiver taken in the 2013 draft, and Allen Robinson out of Penn State, a big, fast receiver at 6-foot-2 and weighing 220 pounds. Both could and should be playing opposite of one another when the season starts.
Even though they went offense with their first four picks with three being possible starters, the defense needed just as much help and I feel they didn’t do that much in the draft to help their defense. The only defensive pick that I liked was linebacker Telvin Smith out of Florida State. He’s undersized but plays hard and can move from side to side to make tackles and is a great coverage linebacker. Can be bullied by O-lineman due to his size but is a solid football player.
St. Louis Rams: B+
The Rams didn’t address wide receiver with any of their 11 picks to help Sam Bradford, but possibly got four starters with their first four picks.
They got the best O-lineman to help keep Bradford upright in Greg Robinson who will make their offensive line much better. They also snagged Aaron Donald in the first round, who will rotate in with that defensive front to put added pressure with an already dominant D-line.
Lamarcus Joyner is a small defensive back that can come in and play in nickel situations or move to play safety next to T.J. McDonald. Tre Mason is Auburn’s single season leader in rushing yards with 1,816. They also Michael Sam, co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, with a seventh-round pick.
I believe they got four starters with their first four picks that can come in and play day one. I would of given them an A instead but they didn’t address the wide receiver position at all in this draft that can come and help Bradford.