Live Blog: NFL Draft Day One Grades and Evaluations

Draft day is here! Chat Sports draft aficionados Tom Downey and Al King will be updating you live with notes on each draft pick and trade throughout round one of the NFL Draft. Each team will be graded on their picks, with breakdowns of how each pick met (or didn't meet) the needs of the team.

Grading Scale:

A: A team filled a big need and got great value.

B: A team filled a need and got respectable value OR got great value at a spot that wasn't a major need.

C: A team filled a need, but didn't get value for a player OR found good value, but the player doesn't fill a need.

D: A team didn't fill a need or reached terribly.

F: A team didn't remotely fill a need AND reached terribly.

Draft Order:

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Al's Grade: B

The top defensive end and the top player in the draft should rightfully go No. 1 overall. Crazy combination of speed and size. It only makes sense that in a pass-heavy league, if you don't take a quarterback, you take a guy who can get after the quarterback. Jadeveon Clowney is the No. 1 pick - congratulations, and welcome to the NFL.

Tom's Grade: B

Clowney is the best player in the draft, so I can’t fault the Texans for taking him. I don’t think he’ll be as effective in a 3-4 as he would be in a 4-3, but he’s special enough that it won’t matter too much. If I ran the Texans, I’d move to a 4-3 and put Clowney at DE and Watt at DT on the same side of the line...imagine how scary that would be.

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Al’s grade: B -

Greg Robinson has flown up draft boards with his size and athleticism. He overtook Jake Matthews as the top offensive lineman, and is the first one off the board. The Rams can move him inside for his first year if they wanted to, then move him back to tackle the following season. He will need to learn better technique in pass protection, but will definitely help the running game in St. Louis.

Tom’s grade: C+

I don't hate the Robinson pick, but it doesn't blow me away either. I like Robinson a lot, but would rather have had Watkins if I were the Rams. Robinson isn’t ready quite yet, but he has the potential to be an elite tackle. The Rams have two first rounders, so tonight should be a good one for St. Louis.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortle, QB, Central Florida

Al’s grade: C -

Shocker! Blake Bortles goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, sticking with the Florida theme apparently? Looking for ticket sales? I’m a bit stunned with this pick, he can surely be coached into a solid starter...but this year? They need to be careful with him going forward to keep his confidence intact.

Tom’s grade: D

Wow. Blake Bortles. The 3rd QB on my board, behind Johnny Football and Teddy Bridgewater. This is a really bad reach. He’s not ready to start as far as I’m concerned. I really don’t like this pick, but it does fill a need, so the Jags don’t fail. This should have been Khalil Mack.

4. TRADE: Buffalo Bills (via Cleveland Browns): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Trade details: Bills Receive 4th overall pick (2014)

Browns Receive 9th overall pick (2014), 1st-round pick (2015), 4th-round pick (2015)

Al’s grade: B-

Watkins is my guy, he is an absolute monster on the outside. However, I don’t like the fit for him as a player. Really would have liked it if he was paired with a better quarterback, it would have been a great get for Cleveland who decided they wanted additional picks instead.

Tom’s grade: B-

I love Watkins, but I don’t love moving up and sacrificing a first rounder next year. Watkins is going to be huge for E.J. Manuel and the offense will be a lot better because of him. He’s going to be really good. They don’t get an A, because they sacrificed a first-rounder next year. I’ve never liked doing that.

5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Al’s grade: B+

The Raiders did something right for the first time in quite a while. Mack is an electric linebacker who can get after the quarterback, and has the tools to do even more. The grade isn’t an A solely because I still feel they should have gone for an offensive lineman here, and grabbed a pass rusher in a later round. Overall, though, this is a good pick for the Silver & Black

Tom’s grade: A

Great job, Oakland, and I’m a little surprised I’m saying that. Mack is a stud, and he’s the best player on the board. He fills a need, and the Raiders got great value. My first A grade of the draft.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Al’s grade: A

Yes, yes and yes! The Falcons got what they wanted when they decided to stay put at the sixth pick. I still have Matthews as my number one offensive lineman, and Atlanta needed to upgrade the O-line for two reasons: the run game needs help, but most importantly they need to protect their franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan.

Tom’s grade: B

I like this pick quite a bit. The Falcons had to protect Matt Ryan better, and Matthews is way better than Taylor Lewan. It's huge need and solid value. The Falcons made a nice pick here.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Al’s grade: B-

Mike Evans opposite Vincent Jackson. Are you kidding me? Better get some tall corners to guard that duo. I’m not as high on Evans as others are, but with Mike Williams gone, new Head Coach Lovie Smith wanted to add another weapon for quarterback Josh McCown.

Tom’s grade: B

Solid pick here by Tampa. Evans always made sense in Tampa, and pairing him with Vincent Jackson reminds me of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. This fills a need and represents solid value.

8. TRADE: Cleveland Browns (via Minnesota Vikings): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Trade details: Browns Receive 8th overall pick (2014)

Vikings Receive 9th overall pick (2014), 145th overall pick (2014)

Tom’s grade: C

Oh Cleveland. Why? You could have had Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Football. Corner is a need, but not as much as WR or QB. I don’t like this. The pick alone is a D, but getting a first-rounder next year bumps it to a C.

Al’s grade: C+

The Browns decided to pair Joe Haden with arguably the top corner in this draft. They also get a good return man on special teams - think Patrick Peterson. But as Tom said, they should have taken a WR at No. 4 and stayed put there.

9. Minnesota Vikings (via Cleveland Browns via Buffalo Bills): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Al’s grade: C-

Barr is still raw at the position, and this pick is a bit of a reach for me. With Jared Allen moving on, though, the Vikings clearly wanted to fill that void as quickly as they could. I get the pick, just don’t think I would have made it.

Tom’s grade: C+

Barr could be great, but he’s raw. This isn’t amazing value, but the Vikings desperately needed a LB. They were really bad there last season. They still need a QB, so I’m curious as to how they address that later on.

10. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Al’s grade: C-

This pick would have been a D if I didn’t absolutely love Ebron. The Lions didn’t need him, though - they really should have gone for a cornerback or linebacker here. A confusing pick out of Detroit.

Tom’s grade: D+

I like Ebron, but this doesn’t fill a need at all. The Lions desperately need to upgrade their secondary. This isn’t a reach for Ebron, but it isn’t great value either. I’m not a fan of this pick.

11. Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Al’s grade: D+

Very questionable pick here with Lewan going to the Titans. I would much rather have seen Aaron Donald or Darqueze Dennard at this spot. Lewan is a solid offensive lineman and could be a rock in their line for a long time...if he can stay out of trouble. His maturity is a big reason why this pick puzzles me.

Tom’s grade: D+

I don’t like this at all. The Titans don’t need an offensive tackle. They have Michael Roos and just signed Michael Oher. The only thing saving the Titans from failing is that this is the right range for Lewan to go in.

12. New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Louisiana State University

Al’s grade: C

Man, this is a massively confusing draft for me so far. Sure, Hakeem Nicks is gone, but there are plenty of receivers you could get later and use in a rotational basis with Reuben Randle. The Giants needed to go with an offensive lineman or pass rusher here. Wow.

Tom’s grade: D

No, no, no, Giants. You should have taken Aaron Donald here. This doesn’t fill a need, and is a bit of a reach. Too many D grades going out tonight.

St. Louis Rams: Aaron Donald, DL, Pittsburgh

Al’s grade: A-

Donald is undoubtedly the top defensive lineman left on the board. He was right behind Clowney for me coming into this, and the Rams are looking to stay competitive in the NFC West and adding another very solid defensive lineman will help them do that. Very stout defensive front in St. Louis.

Tom’s grade: B+

I like this pick. Donald is a Geno Atkins 2.0, and this is great value. It isn't the Rams' biggest need, but I'm a huge Donald fan. With Robinson, Donald and their current players, the Rams are loaded on the lines...and that’s really good.

14. Chicago Bears: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Al’s grade: D+

There is no doubt that Kyle Fuller has skills, but the Bears really need safety help and a linebacker upgrade with guys like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor still available. One of those two would have been my choice.

Tom’s grade: D+

I love Kyle Fuller and the Bears need to develop corners, but this is too early for him and the Bears need safety help in the worst way. Unless they plan on moving Charles Tillman to safety, I hate this pick.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

Al’s grade: D+

Really would have liked to seen a wide receiver go here for Pittsburgh or even a safety. It’s interesting to see these safeties falling. It’s only a D+ because Shazier is talented.

Tom’s grade: D+

Not a fan of this one either. It’s too early for Shazier, and this doesn’t really fill a need. A corner would have been a better choice.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Zack Martin: OL, Notre Dame

Al’s grade: B+

Wow, didn’t think Tom and I would disagree this much on a pick this year. Zack Martin is a great offensive lineman. I understand there is a huge need for defense as well, and yes they could have taken a safety, but they are committed to Romo and protecting him.

Tom’s grade: F

Yeah, an F. It's not Johnny Football, but I'm still failing Dallas. The defense was the worst in the league last season, and Clinton-Dix was on the board. I hate being a Cowboys fan at moments like these.

17. Baltimore Ravens: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Al’s grade: B+

Drafting C.J. Mosley here is smart, as the Ravens are still looking to replace Ray Lewis. Combining him with Terrell Suggs and Arthur Brown could give Baltimore one of the top linebacker groups in the NFL.

Tom’s grade: B

I’m fine with this pick. It fills a need and is decent value. It’s not a home-run, but the Ravens could have done a lot worse.

18. New York Jets: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Al's Grade: B

Pryor is a hard hitter who will help bring back the intimidation factor that the Jets defense has lost over the past few years. Pryor was my top-rated safety, and I like this pick by the Jets.

Tom’s grade: B-

I’m okay with this. I’d prefer Clinton-Dix, but the Jets need a safety and Pryor is a first-round talent. The Jets still need a ton of help and have a lot of work to do still.

19. Miami Dolphins: Ja'Wuan James, OL, Tennessee

Al’s grade: F

This is way too much of a reach for me. It does fills a need, but the Dolphins could’ve waited for him or traded back and gotten additional picks. Dumb dumb dumb.

Tom’s grade: D-

The Dolphins were in a bad spot. They need OL help badly, but this is a really bad reach. James would probably have been there in round two. The only thing that prevents an F is that the Dolphins HAD to take an OT. They should have traded down.

20. TRADE: New Orleans Saints (via Arizona Cardinals); Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Trade Details; Saints receive 20th overall pick (2014)

Cardinals receive 27th overall pick (2014), 91st overall pick (2014)

Al’s grade: A

Darren Sproles out, Lance Moore out, Brandon Cooks in. Cooks will immediately be a factor in the high-octane New Orleans offense. His small stature and speed will remind many Saints fans of Darren Sproles. Very good fit.

Tom’s grade: C-

I like Cooks and the Saints did need a WR, but I don’t like shipping away a third-rounder in such a deep WR class. It’s not the worst pick ever, especially compared to some of ones we've seen already tonight.

21. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix; S; Alabama

Al’s grade: A

This is up there as top pick of the night, right alongside Jake Matthews to the Falcons. The Packers definitely needed safety help, and have to be happy with Clinton-Dix falling to them here. Also, he wins the best-dressed of the night award, hands down.

Tom’s grade: A+

I love this pick. Clinton-Dix shouldn’t have been on the board, and he fills a HUGE need for the Packers. This is a classic Ted Thompson pick - absolutely brilliant job here, Packers.

22. TRADE: Cleveland Browns (via the Philadelphia Eagles), Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Trade Details: Browns receive 22nd overall pick

Eagles receive 26th overall pick (2014), 83rd overall pick (2014)

Al’s grade: B-

WOW. This guy is full of himself and still needs to mature, but the Browns wanted a QB and that’s what they got. On the field, Manziel has the ability to do magical things, but my concern is that he won't commit enough off the field to become a great NFL QB. A high risk, high reward pick here.

Tom’s grade: B

Did you see the look on JFF’s face? He didn’t look thrilled, but Browns fans were probably too happy to notice. Now, we wait and see if Cleveland has FINALLY found their franchise QB. I’d honestly prefer Teddy here, but I like this pick nonetheless. A third to move up was fair, and I think the Browns have to be ecstatic over getting Manziel and a first-rounder next year too.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Al’s grade: C-

That defensive front needed no help, but Alex Smith certainly did at wide receiver. I think Kelvin Benjamin or Marqise Lee would have been better choices here, but you can never have too many pass rushers in the pass-happy NFL.

Tom’s grade: D

I don’t understand this one. It’s not a reach, but the Chiefs have Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who were really good last year. They need a WR badly and Marqise Lee was right there. I’m really disappointed in the picks this year - too many bad grades for such a deep draft.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Al’s grade: A+

Great value, fills a need on a team with aging cornerbacks. Dennard was my No. 1 rated corner, and this is an excellent pick for the Bengals. Early prediction - Dennard gets six interceptions in 2014.

Tom’s grade: A+

Now this is how you're supposed to draft. Dennard shouldn’t even be on the board at this point, and this is a steal for Cincy. He fills the team’s biggest need, and while he might have issues with with pass interference calls, the Bengals had to take him here. This is one of the best picks so far.

25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Al’s grade: B+

It was pretty obvious that the Chargers were going to go for a corner in the first round, and with Dennard off the board they decided to go for the next-best option here. Verrett is very talented, and uses his special skillset to overcome his small size.

Tom’s grade: B

I’m fine with Verrett here. It fills a major need and is solid value. I wouldn’t call it an amazing pick, but it's a sensible one. I’d rather have Verrett than Bradley Roby, so I think the Chargers made the right call.

26. Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Smith, LB, Louisville

Al’s grade: D

Another reach here. I feel like a cornerback was a much bigger need for the Eagles, and they could have drafted one of the best had they not traded back. Yet again, a team chooses to go for the additional picks in a deep draft class.

Tom’s grade: F

This is a really, really bad reach. I had Marcus Smith as an early third, late second kind of player. I’d rather have Jeremiah Attaochu, Scott Crichton, Kony Ealy or Demarcus Lawrence here. They need an OLB, but Marqise Lee should have been the pick.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Deone Buchannon, S, Washington State

Al’s grade: B-

I really enjoyed watching Bucannon on tape - he's an impact safety and a very hard hitter. He has a knack for finding the ball, and finished with six interceptions last year.

Tom’s grade: C

I actually don’t hate this pick. I like Bucannon a lot and he’s the perfect fit with the Honey Badger. It’s a reach, but I’m okay with it. Plus, an extra third is nice.

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Al’s grade: B-

Benjamin still has a lot to learn, but one thing you can’t coach is size, and that's exactly what he brings to the table. I still have Lee rated higher, but the Panthers filled a major need here.

Tom’s grade: B

I’m surprised Benjamin went off the board before Marqise Lee. This fills a huge need, so I won’t argue with it. Benjamin will either be great or terrible - Alshon Jeffery or Mike Williams (the USC one). Classic boom or bust pick.

29. New England Patriots: Dominique Easley, DL, Florida

Al’s grade: C

Easley is coming off of two ACL surgeries, and has known durability issues. In my opinion, he isn't the top-rated defensive lineman left on the board, and is a bit of a reach here. However, the Patriots do get some credit for addressing a need with this pick.

Tom’s grade: C-

I love Easley, but in round two, not round one. This is a serious reach by New England. It fills a need, but they should have grabbed Louis Nix or Timmy Jernigan.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

Al’s grade: C-

The Niners went out and got Antoine Bethea to replace Donte Whitner, and already have Eric Reid at the other safety position, so this pick baffles me. Sure, most of the talented corners were gone, but Bradley Roby was still on the board, along with WR Marqise Lee. This pick just didn’t seem like what the Niners needed.

Tom’s grade: B

I like Jimmie Ward a lot. I prefer him to Bucannon, and he fills a need for San Francisco. I had a Round 2 grade on him and would have prefered Marqise Lee here, but I still like the pick.

31. Denver Broncos: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Al’s grade: B

Bradley Roby slipped in the draft due to his recent off-the-field troubles. The Broncos may be the beneficiaries of a very talented corner sliding. This is the first step towards replacing Champ Bailey.

Tom’s grade: B

Solid pick here by Denver. They needed corner depth, and Roby was clearly the best one on the board. He played poorly at times last year, but looked like a early or mid-first round pick before that.

32. TRADE Minnesota Vikings (via the Seattle Seahawks): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Trade Details: Vikings receive 32nd overall pick (2014)

Seahawks receive 40th overall pick (2014), 108th overall pick (2014)

Al’s grade: A+

Bridgewater went from likely No. 1 overall pick to the last pick of the first round. Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are obviously not the answer in Minnesota. Adding arguably the best quarterback in this draft class will only bring positive things for the Vikings.

Tom’s grade: A+

This is best pick in the draft. Giving up a fourth-rounder to get the best QB in the draft and fill a huge need? That’s a great move. I love this pick.


Follow Tom Downey on Twitter!

Follow Al King on Twitter!

Back to the NFL Newsfeed