2014 NFL Draft: The 21 players, thoughts, and more as we wait for the Packers to pick
The NFL Draft gets going with its first round primetime name-calling segment on Thursday, May 8, then winds into Friday with second and third round coverage before soaking up your Saturday with rounds four through seven. When’s it all said and done we’ll have plenty more to talk about; about who the Green Bay Packers drafted, didn’t draft, reached for, what picks they traded, positions they neglected, times they passed on your favorite prospect, all that great stuff. With these things in mind, here are some thoughts as we prepare for the offseason’s biggest event, which no of course that’s not an oxymoron. Not at all.
1. Instant draft grades filtering out in the minutes, hours, and days after the draft do not matter. Basically they’re like middle school, or a not-for-credit college math course you’re forced to take because you didn’t qualify for the others. Please don’t ask how we know about this.
2. HOT SPORTS TAKE ALERT: The Packers could do a whole bunch of different things with their first round selection, and none of them will fill every area of need they have or want to address. As long as it’s not the fourth-best long-snapper in the draft it will probably be an okay pick.
3. The name we’re seeing on many a mock draft? 7. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley. The latest product on the NFL Draft market from the prestigious Alabama Factory of Football (Roll Tide), Mosley appeared to fade into the background at the combine a bit simply by virtue of being too solid, too much an obvious choice that why spend time on him when we can debate the mysteries of the universe, such as Jadeveon Clowney’s Motor? All signs point to Mosley going on a familiar path towards destroying worlds in the NFL just as he did in the SEC. If he can somehow be forgotten until the 21st pick because he’s un-trendy and undebatable, the Packers could be much better for it because he’s also a fast-moving wall of Alabama brick. The Packers also have a similar guy playing running back.
4. That said if we had a vote in this draft game we’d vote safety if Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are still available at No. 21. If they’re not available we’re sending our vote over to Ted Thompson.
5. These are the headliners of the safety position, a position that is so obviously in need of attention that we’ll be patiently waiting for the Packers to find a gem somewhere between the fifth round and undrafted free agency (because diamonds in the rough). Pryor is a mean football player in the best way.
6. A few other notable players from elsewhere in the secondary: Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard, who tenderized receivers into smaller and less effective players around the line of scrimmage in 2013 as one of the best singular representations of the Spartans’ overall shield-and-spears Roman army defense. A game-changing corner that makes bludgeoning offensive players look like an artform? Sounds beautiful to us.
7. Keith McGill, a cornerback/safety out of Utah. At 6’3 and 214 pounds, McGill is a long cornerback – the tallest at this year’s combine – who’s also played a bit of safety. If this sounds like the ideal potential prospect for the Packers, that’s because he is. Big, imposing secondaries are about to become incredibly in vogue across the NFL – thanks, Seahawks – and with the braintrust seemingly already tinkering with ways to get Micah Hyde on the field more, potentially at safety, McGill would be another interchangeable option. And these are the sort of dilemmas you want to have.
8. The Packers love the draft a lot, and want to share this passion with you via a weekend getaway: after Thursday’s first round, Green Bay has three picks on Friday and five on Saturday, ensuring there is going to be little time in which you can completely avoid the NFL Draft until Sunday. That’s just them showing you how much they care and want to be closer to you.
9. On that note, the weekend-long spectacle the draft has become is so very NFL that we can’t even be mad, just impressed, about it anymore. That said, we’re still pouring one out for the Old Days, or, when the draft started at 11 a.m. on a Saturday and gruelingly pushed its way through the day and night, through our last synapse of sanity and into Sunday, where our fried brains sat in numb shock watching the last couple of rounds melt away along with our eyeballs.
10. It was an information overload to be sure, but the most pertinent information came first, and you had to keep up and eventually, when you wistfully thought back to that first round because it felt like a week ago, you’ll remember how far you’ve come. It was a marathon. It was crammed and it dragged on but it felt, we don’t know, bigger, somehow. You can plan a day around an event like that. You can have draft parties and drinking games. It’s the weekend. Now by the time Saturday rolls around the draft has been spread thin enough that some of the significance feels lost. That idea of stuffing everything into two days like someone’s carry-on bag you look at in line and know immediately will be checked and stowed underneath, maybe it wasn’t healthier, and it sure made Chris Berman sound loopy and maybe we hallucinated a dragon towards the end of Saturday night, but dammit if it wasn’t more enjoyable.
11. Leaving the secondary, inside linebackers like Wisconsin’s Chris Borland and Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood and outside ‘backers such as Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier or Stanford’s Trent Murphy are potentially exciting picks in the second or third rounds.
12. Borland is good at playing football even though his physical specs maybe don’t check off all of those aforementioned boxes at the combine. This might be a bit of proximity bias but we can’t see him being ineffective if he’s healthy and given an opportunity to hit running backs as often as he’d like to. A pretty great embodiment of Big Ten football as we see it, if we’re being honest.
13. A few other defensive linemen to keep an eye on: Stephon Tuitt, a defensive lineman from Notre Dame. Tuitt is 6’5 and 304 pounds and plays a versatile style of defensive end, making everything we just said about him essentially the ideal version of a player at his position. He is faster than somebody this large should be and is about as strong as you feared. If a Bull Elk were to get very angry with you, stand upright, and begin charging full-speed – well, there you have it.
14. There’s also Dee Ford, a defensive end from Auburn. Ford plays piano, which is another thing he does well for people who’ll say all he does is turn around the corner of an offensive line with extreme quickness and force before ending the play with a quarterback on the ground. We’ll accept to a degree that Ford only brings one particular dimension to the field, but being an edge rusher is a damn important skill in the NFL and he’s gotten pretty good at it. He is a disruptor, plain and simple. He’s also a survivor of the 2012 Auburn football season, which means he’s going to make it through anything else imaginable.
15. Kony Ealy, a defensive end out of Missouri, could end up being an outside linebacker in a system not unlike Green Bay’s because he’s probably athletic enough to cover people in space in-between quickly hunting and dispatching quarterbacks from the edge. He’s about the same size as San Francisco’s Aldon Smith, who also attended Missouri. If time is a flat circle, Ealy could be Aldon Smith, and that’d be horrifying and great.
16. You know how when you’re watching golf and the announcers are breaking down a guy’s swing during a shot, and they’re using all this golf-y jargon and terminology and you don’t understand any of it, yet you still listen and nod your head in hypnotized agreement at the end of the tutorial? Yeah, we don’t get how it works either, but welcome back to the flashing lights of Broadway anyway, Mel Kiper, Jr., and congrats on your hard work, those who are fluent in the language of Draft Speak, because these are pretty close to the same.
17. But for those not versed in the ways of Draft Speak, here are some terms to throw into your draft day conversations with friends, family, and other respected loved ones. Remember: if you use these with conviction in your tone and desire in your heart, it doesn’t matter if they’re correct or not; everyone will assume you know your stuff!
(Note: the terms are real in the scouting world; the definitions are not and are only our assumptions based on the term.)
Flips his hips: That hit song by Shakira and Pitbull. DALE.
Sifts through the trash: Seasoned finder of deep deals at flea markets.
Stack and shed: Recovering hoarder.
Plays too high: [REDACTED]
Shoulder dip: That other hit song by Shakira and Pitbull.
Quicker than fast: Backyard squirrels, according to your dog.
Light-footed kick slide: Soccer.
Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane: Guessing it’s Tarzan and Jane’s kid but hey we’re not Maury.
18. There are just so, so many wide receivers worth getting excited about should the Packers select one or more of them. Allen Robinson (Penn State), Tevin Reese (Baylor), Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin), Bruce Ellington (South Carolina), Martavis Bryant (Clemson): these are all wideouts who could be really, really productive in the NFL, and who are not necessarily the first receiver names you’ll hear talked about in this ridiculous draft class for wideouts. This is a great thing for everyone.
19. Another wideout we love: Donte Moncrief, out of Ole Miss. We know we’ve talked about not knowing anything before. And on most subjects this is accurate. But this is an exception. With James Jones leaving via free agency and probable extension talks with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on the horizon, the Packers are most definitely drafting a wide receiver. Why? We’ll repeat, from above: time is a flat circle, that’s why, and Moncrief is a great example of Green Bay repeating itself in selecting a slightly-under-the-radar wideout, then turning him into a receiving monster for years to come.
20. And also, a tight end or two worth watching: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, out of Washington, seemingly fits the Packers’ ideal mold for the position: be athletic, be a difficult coverage decision for the defense, be a tall and dangerous option in the red zone. Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz must also be included here because Ted Thompson’s functioning Iowa pipeline (he’s drafted four Hawkeyes, the most of any one school, since taking over in 2005) is a real thing you should know about and accept.
21. The last thing, so let’s be very serious this time: the draft is important for every team, especially so for the Green Bay Packers based on their tried-and-true draft, then develop, philosophy. These are crucial days either way for the team going forward into the 2014 season, but even still, we won’t know much about anyone until at least training camp. And yet: championships can very much be won on the strength of productive draft classes, so although certain aspects of the NFL Draft’s weird gigantic universe living in a bubble of hair gel are absolutely over-the-top and silly, the end result remains as important as ever. War damn draft, Packers fans.