Draft recap: A couple of shockers, but mostly what was expected

 

 

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) poses for a photo with commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number twenty-one overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Green Bay Packers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) poses for a photo with commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number twenty-one overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Green Bay Packers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief

May 10, 2014

 

The problem with draft prospects telling reporters that they’ve “received a second-round grade,” for instance, is that NFL teams blow more smoke than the Marlboro Man in a bowling alley bar.

 

Along those lines, the results of the 2014 NFL Draft, from an Alabama players’ perspective, went about the way everyone expected. Not every Bama player with a draft grade got drafted, and some fell far below their expected position. With the exception of quarterback ’s free-fall into the fifth round, and perhaps the fact that went undrafted, there were no major surprises.

 

Here’s a recap of Alabama’s draft picks, compared to where TideFans.com projected them in two prior articles (March 1, 2014 and April 15, 2014).

 

C.J. Mosley, LB

Projected March 1: Round 1, pick 21 (Green Bay)

Projected April 15: Round 1, pick 21 (Green Bay)

Draft result: Round 1, pick 17 (Baltimore)

Analysis: Ozzie Newsome reached into his Bama connections once again to pick Mosley, who will be plugged right away into the team’s linebacker rotation. Other than in extreme short-yardage situations, he might never leave the field. Mosley’s coverage skills are already the best of the Ravens’ projected inside linebackers. This is a good fit for Mosley and Baltimore, both.

 

Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S

Projected March 1: Round 1, pick 11 (Tennessee)

Projected April 15: Round 1, pick 13 (St. Louis)

Draft result: Round 1, pick 21 (Green Bay)

Analysis: Instead of Mosley going to Green Bay, it was Clinton-Dix, as the Packers had to get someone to help out one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. The Packers’ safeties intercepted exactly zero passes in 2013, and Packer fans, en masse, had begun a grassroots push to draft the man called Ha Ha several months ago. When the Packers hit the clock and found Clinton-Dix still available, the intersection of need, Clinton-Dix’s availability and a fast-shrinking pool of top-end safety prospects proved too much to overcome.

 

, OT

Projected March 1: Round 2, pick 39 (Jacksonville)

Projected April 15: Round 2, pick 39 (Jacksonville)

Draft result: Round 2, pick 44 (Buffalo)

Analysis: The question marks surrounding Kouandjio’s health and spotty production in 2013 conspired to knock him out of the first round, as TideFans.com expected would happen. In the end, he found a home in Buffalo, which is in the middle of a too-long playoff drought. A cold-weather city like Buffalo might not be the best place for a guy with bad knees – and Buffalo also drafted Seantrel Henderson in a later round, who plays the same position as Kouandjio – but it was good to see Kouandjio’s fall stopped at the top of the round.

 

, WR

Projected March 1: Round 3, San Francisco

Projected April 15: Round 4, Detroit

Draft result: Round 4, Seattle

Analysis: In our April 15 article, we mentioned Seattle as a possibility for Norwood if he dropped into Round 5. Turns out the Seahawks weren’t going to give him the opportunity to slide. San Francisco filled its main wide receiver need by trading for Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson, and the Seahawks more than happy to take Norwood when he fell to them. Seattle’s first pick of the draft, Colorado speedster WR Paul Richardson in the second round, isn’t competing for the same job as Norwood. Norwood will likely make his early mark on third downs and special teams. This is about as good a fit for Norwood as he could have hoped.

 

, DE

Projected March 1: Round 4, Washington

Projected April 15: Round 5, Washington

Draft result: Round 5, Arizona

Analysis: Washington never filled its front-line need. The Redskins took LB Trent Murphy in the second round, then spent the rest of the draft drafting for offense with the exception of CB Bashaud Breeland in the fourth. Arizona had already taken DE Kareem Martin in Round 3 before picking Stinson, but it’s a good fit nonetheless, and puts Stinson on a club with a bigger short-term upside.

 

A.J. McCarron, QB

Projected March 1: Round 2, Houston

Projected April 15: Round 2, Houston

Draft result: Round 5, Cincinnati

Analysis: McCarron suffered arguably the biggest slide of any player in the draft, at any position. News had started to leak out within the last week or so that McCarron had interviewed poorly with teams, with a couple even flagging him for character as a result. Houston, which was thought to like McCarron, not only passed on him, but drafted another quarterback ahead of him (Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage, in Round 4) and left McCarron’s fate to twist. However, McCarron ended up sliding into a situation that is actually pretty good for him, all things considered. The Bengals seem to be losing their affinity for incumbent starter Andy Dalton, who was already a reach out of TCU the year he was taken. If McCarron shows quick progress in fall camps, he could convince the Bengals not to re-sign Dalton after the 2014 season.

 

, S

Projected March 1: Undrafted

Projected April 15: Round 6, Green Bay

Draft result: Round 5, New Orleans

Analysis: Sunseri looked to be headed for the free-agent route until Alabama’s Pro Day, when Sunseri ran a fast 40-yard dash and showed no ill effects of the ACL surgery he had undergone roughly six months earlier. Once teams got the physical questions out of the way, Sunseri’s mental aptitude and intangibles came back to the surface, and his much-criticized decision to go pro suddenly didn’t look as bad. Provided he really is healthy, Sunseri figures to go immediately onto every Saint special teams coverage and return unit, and he could even become the team’s No. 1 dime safety. This is a good fit for both sides.

 

, DE

Projected March 1: Round 6, Tampa Bay

Projected April 15: Round 6, New England

Draft result: Round 6, Houston

Analysis: Pagan ideally fits the mold of late-round pick taken based on potential. The production in college just wasn’t there on a consistent basis, but it proved too hard for teams to overlook his raw physical skills and hope he slid into free agency. Houston had plenty of defensive needs, but the Texans had already taken DE Jadeveon Clowney with the draft’s first overall pick, then added Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III in the third round. Pagan will have to work hard to make the team, but it shouldn’t be impossible, especially given the way the Texan defense stunk up games in 2013.

 

PLAYERS WHO WENT UNDRAFTED

 

, WR

Projected March 1: Undrafted

Projected April 15: Undrafted

Analysis: Bell had the speed, but durability and size issues proved too much to overcome. At press time, it was not known whether he would be offered a free-agent contract.

 

Anthony Steen, OL

Projected March 1: Round 4, New York Jets

Projected April 15: Round 4, New York Jets

Analysis: This one raised more than a few eyebrows, particularly since teams staged a run on interior linemen on the third day of the draft. An injury had caused Steen to miss much of the NFL Combine, but it was thought his work ethic, hard-nosed attitude and body of work would be enough to get him drafted. At press time, there was still no word on whether he had signed a free-agent contract, but he is almost certain to be offered a few.

 

, LB/DE

Projected March 1: Round 5, Jacksonville

Projected April 15: Round 4, Atlanta

Analysis: This one was even more surprising than Steen, given Hubbard’s strong showing at the Combine and then again at Alabama’s Pro Day. Unfortunately for Hubbard, there were some concerns about his consistency and work ethic, and those apparently proved damaging enough to push him out of the draft. Hubbard is all but certain, however, to find a free-agent home in the coming days.

 

Deion Belue, CB

Projected March 1: Round 7, Pittsburgh

Projected April 15: Round 6, Pittsburgh

Analysis: Depending on which draft analyst you trusted, Belue was either always going to be an undrafted free agent, or he had the potential to get up as high as Round 4. The conflict heated up after reports got out that Belue’s stock was going up. But the free-agent crowd ended up winning the day. At press time, there were conflicting reports over whether Belue would end up in Buffalo or Miami via the free-agent route.

 

Cody Mandell, P

Projected March 1: Not projected

Projected April 15: Not projected

Analysis: TideFans.com doesn’t project kickers and punters, owing to the fickle nature of teams drafting special teams players. There were six punters thought to have a shot and getting drafted; in the end, only one was taken. Mandell immediately signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys after the draft was over.

 

John Fulton, CB

Projected March 1: Undrafted

Projected April 15: Undrafted

Analysis: Fulton was thought to be so off the radar that TideFans.com didn’t even mention him in either article, even in the category of players expected to go undrafted. But Fulton immediately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles following the draft, and will go to camp there.

 

Tana Patrick, LB; Cade Foster, PK; Kellen Williams, OL

Projected March 1: Undrafted

Projected April 15: Undrafted

Analysis: These players were not drafted, and there has been no news on free-agent possibilities for any of them at this time.

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