The 2014 NFL Draft was loaded in talent, as it turns out. You could make an argument that there are at least 12 guys who are elite players at their positions, and should go in the top 5 in a typical draft. Some of those players have gotten their big paydays; others are still waiting and making noise about needing to get paid.
But the top of the the draft included plenty of busts, which left those teams wanting as future stars were taken right behind them. What if we could go back and re-draft? Well, that’s what I’m going to do today. My loose criteria:
- Player quality and how they have performed;
- Team needs, not as they appeared at the time but as they look in retrospect;
- Where a player was arguably among the group in consideration now, I erred toward staying with the original pick (though that’s just a general rule, which I break right away).
- How they project going forward, though since contracts go up exponentially, how they would have fared over the first four years if drafted by the team is the prime consideration.
Let’s get right to it.
#1 Texans: Aaron Donald, DT (Original: Jadaveon Clowney)
There’s no way thatAaron Donald was in consideration back in 2014 for Houston. Clowney was the clear stud, and J.J. Watt was the best defensive player in the league. If we had our crystal ball, though, Donald has become every bit the force that Watt was. Pairing those two together would have created nightmares, and provided cover for Watt’s injuries.
#2 Rams: Jadeveon Clowney, DE (Original: Greg Robinson)
Here, I have Clowney just swapping spots, but not at the same picks, as it was Greg Robinson, and not Donald, who was the first Rams’ selection. They right that error by taken Clowney, who may not have hit his ceiling yet, after a slow start in Houston due to injuries.
#3 Jaguars: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Original: Blake Bortles)
And here’s where it gets interesting. No way do the Jaguars take Blake Bortles again if they had a semi-visible crystal ball. It’s a bit of a risk, but I’m taking Jimmy Garoppolo over Derek Carr as the top quarterback. Carr’s played more. It would have been interesting to see what Jimmy G could do with all the playing time he missed sitting behind Tom Brady. An upgrade at QB here would make the Jaguars one of the Super Bowl favorites.
#4 Bills: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR (Original: Sammy Watkins)
The Bills originally took Watkins, so we can pretty seamlessly slide Beckham into this spot as the best receiver in a loaded class. I’m sure he would still be a big name even if he were frequenting the boating life near the Great Lakes.
#5 Raiders: Derek Carr, QB (Original: Khalil Mack)
Carr or Mack? It was a great draft for the Raiders back in 2014, but no way do they get both this time around. Well, Mack is the more dominant player at his position, and could easily go as high as 2nd in the re-draft. But we know that quarterback is king, and Carr is the one that the Raiders made sure to pay early, while Mack still awaits his deal. Gruden needs the QB.
#6 Falcons: Khalil Mack, LB (Original: Jake Matthews)
Sure, the Falcons would be passing on a left tackle that has been a solid anchor in the offense, but they would no doubt go for the all-pro pass rusher to further solidify the defense, and figure out the offensive line elsewhere.
#7 Bucs: Mike Evans, WR (Original: Evans)
The next 6 or so picks are pretty even, so the Buccaneers will stay with the main target for Jameis Winston.
#8 Browns: C.J. Mosley, LB (Original: Justin Gilbert)
Here’s the first chance to correct a massive error, as Gilbert was a huge bust. Addressing the offensive line is a possibility (especially since we know that Joe Thomas is now retiring four years later) but they’ll take a team leader away from a division rival, and get a star linebacker to provide leadership on defense.
#9 Vikings: Anthony Barr, LB (Original: Barr)
The Vikings stay with Barr, who has been a key member of the defense over the last several years.
#10 Lions: Devonta Freeman, RB (Original: Eric Ebron)
The Detroit Lions have had no running game for pretty much all of the Matthew Stafford era. Can you imagine how things could have gone if they had Devonta Freeman for the last four years?