NFL Draft: Our college football expert ranks NFC picks
College football expert Alex Ferguson ranks the NFC's draft picks, including undrafted free agents.
Last Updated: 16/05/14 5:26pm
Anyway, our college football expert Alex Ferguson ranks the NFC's draft picks, including undrafted free agent signings...
Hard to complain about the Bears here. They got an excellent CB in Kyle Fuller in the first round, two of the best DTs in college football in the second (Ego Ferguson (no relation, folks!) and third rounds (Will Sutton), a burner of a RB in Ks'Deem Carey in the fourth. Chicago went for Miami punter Pat O'Connell when Auburn punter Steven Clark was still on the board. Strange, because Clark, in my opinion, was the best in the game.
GREEN BAY: B+
Packers fans should be overjoyed that they now have more secondary help in HaHa Clinton-Dix, who was great in 2013 for Alabama, and Aaron Rodgers will be happy that he's got more receiving help in second-round pick Davante Adams and fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis. Both had good seasons for their respective schools. Also, getting Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard in free agency might prove a massive bargain.
The Lions got a good tight end in Eric Ebron in the first round. Ebron had 973 yards receiving and three TDs for North Carolina, and is very athletic. Matt Stafford has another weapon in seventh-round pick Notre Dame WR T.J. Jones, who had over 1,100 yards in an impressive senior season. The defence got some help when Detroit drafted LB Kyle Van Noy, who had 223 tackles and seven INTs in a four-year career at Brigham Young. That's good experience.
I loved Minnesota's opening round, getting DE Anthony Barr and QB Teddy Bridgewater via a bit of trading. And while Barr is somewhat of a project, Bridgewater could well be the next starting QB in Minnesota. Sorry, Christian Ponder. Guarding Bridgewater will be a strong rookie offensive guard in David Yankey, who was one of the key parts of Stanford's explosion over the last couple of years.
The Cowboys ignored the pressure and DIDN'T get Johnny Manziel as their QB of the future, opting instead for offensive tackle Zach Martin, which helps CURRENT QB Tony Romo. They got a rusher in DE Demarcus Lawrence who got 120 tackles and 20 sacks in just two years at Boise State. And they got another receiver in Devin Street, who had nearly 3,000 yards and 16 TDs in his career at Pitt. Free agency-wise, adding Missouri's L'Damian Washington (893 yards, 10 TDs) may prove to be a masterstroke.
I don't know why people think this is a poor draft by the Eagles. They needed a linebacker, and got one in Marcus Smith, who had 14-1/2 sacks last year. WRs Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff in the second and third are both excellent picks. Matthews had 1,500 yards last year, and Huff had over 1,100. And Huff's used to Chip Kelly's offence. CB Jaylen Watkins will be useful all over the field (secondary and special teams). The Eagles were excellent in free agency. Trey Burton (WR, Florida) is a solid-enough receiver with speed, while RB Henry Josey's played for a fast-paced offence throughout his career. Watch out for Josey, folks.
NEW YORK JETS: B+
Safety Calvin Pryor (first round) hit everything that moved at Louisville, and should make Rex Ryan happy. Jace Amaro was one of the top-performing TEs in college football last year (1,352 yds, 7 TDs), and WR Jalen Saunders had eight TDs and 723 yards receiving - including 75 and a pair of TDs against Alabama in his final game. Shaq Evans gives Rex Ryan a receiver and a bit of a punt returner, too. We particularly liked the seventh-round pick of Clemson QB Tajh Boyd. Expect Boyd to get some reps and at least compete for the starting job during practice. He's pretty talented.
After trading their first-round life away over the year, Daniel Snyder and team got a relentless pass rusher in Stanford LB Trent Murphy (15 sacks last year) in the second, two solid offensive linesmen in Morgan Moses and Spencer Long, and CB Brashaud Breeland in the fourth. I also loved the late-round pick of Baylor RB speedster Lache Seastrunk, who is going to have some designed plays and given the room, will take apart defences, as he did at Baylor last year.
NEW ORLEANS: A
A lot of love for the Saints here. Drew Brees has a bullet-speed weapon in Brandin Cooks (WR, first round), and the Saints 'D' just got an upgrade in 6ft 3 CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Vinny Sunseri (SS, Alabama). We also like the pick of former LB Khari Fortt, who had nearly 100 tackles in three years at Penn State and then Cal as a linebacker.
First-round pick Kelvin Benjamin was a giant target for Jameis Winston at Florida State, and was a TD-receiving machine for the Seminoles. Cam Newton will want more of the same. DE Kony Ealy could have gone first round if he was more consistent, but he still shredded offensive lines at Missouri. Tre Boston was a good strong safety at North Carolina. Some good picks here. Tyler Gaffney (seventh round) could well pick up some tough yards, too. He was a bruising RB in college.
It wasn't very exciting by the Atlanta Falcons, but it was pretty good. We liked the addition of OT Jake Matthews. He was a key member of Johnny Manziel's offensive line at Texas A&M, and was great at the job. Dirty Birds' fans will be hoping he can do the same for Matt Ryan. DT Ra'Shede Hageman is thought of having first round talent, while LB Prince Shembo isn't going to give up on a tackle in a hurry. RB Devonta Freeman had over 1,000 yards rushing and 14 TDs on an offense that was pretty split pass/run (Florida State), and will definitely help the ATL as they recover from a horrible year in 2013.
TAMPA BAY: C
Mike Evans was a great pick at WR for the Bucs, but they desperately need a QB to throw the ball to him. And there isn't a good one (sorry, but there IS an answer, and Josh McCown's not it). The Bucs got another target for [QB Unknown] in Price's TE Adrian Sefarian-Jenkins, as well as a RB (Charles Sims), two offensive linesmen, and a WR. But there's no QB. Did I say that enough?
A solid job done here by the Cardinals. If Logan Thomas is going to be Carson Palmer's heir in Arizona, then getting him late was a masterstroke. Otherwise, they shored up their defence, getting hard-hitting safety Deone Bucannon (first), DE Kareem Martin (third) and Ed Stinson (fifth), and paired it up with a TE with massive potential (Troy Niklas, second), and couple of wide receivers.
SAN FRANCISCO: B-
There are durability worries around first-round SS Jimmie Ward. Carlos Hyde is a good, if not thoroughly spectacular RB, and he'll pair nicely with born-again Marcus Lattimore, who's recovering from knee surgery. LB Chris Borland might seem slow, but boy can he hit hard. And WR Bruce Ellington in the fourth is a steal... as could DE Aaron Lynch be. Trust in Harbaugh.....
Pete Carroll's offenses like speed. That'll be Paul Richardson, the WR they got in the first round. Alabama WR Kevin Norwood had seven TDs for what was basically a running offence last year. Wouldn't be surprised to see him get a few catches this season. And if Carroll can keep DE Cassius Marsh on the straight-and-narrow, this will also be a good pick.
ST LOUIS: A
We all know about Michael Sam, the NFL's first gay football player who was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round. He's quick if not big, but there's so much ELSE to like about St Louis' picks. The offensive line immediately got better with Greg Robinson at OT, and tough-tackling DT Aaron Donald's addition to the D could well be a Godsend to the People Of The Arch. LaMarcus Joyner may be small, but he was as close as you get to to a shutdown corner at Florida State, and we like third-round running back pick Tre Mason, who can fly. And the forward-thinking Rams got some cover in Garrett Gilbert, who's got a great arm. That's one-up from Tampa Bay and their drafting choices.