Craig: Trying to sort out the NFL draft winners and losers

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 11, 2014 - 12:02 AM

It’s way too soon to figure out the NFL draft winners and losers, but let’s try.


Cleveland had one of the best drafts, including making a wise move by gambling on Texas A&M phenomenon Johnny Manziel.

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“You have to create the angle when you rush the quarterback. Most big ends can’t do that. They don’t have the speed to create an angle. That’s why Reggie White was so unique. He had the power and strength to create an angle. This kid can create an angle.”

These are the kind of draft-day words that have been said every year for decades, or at least since the process of NFL teams selecting unproven players became a national obsession followed by immediate proclamations of success or failure.

This particular quote came on April 17, 1999. The man who said it was then-Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson. The player who created this much springtime optimism?

Dimitrius Underwood.

So, yeah, we strongly suggest mixing multiple grains of salt with three years of patience before believing or disbelieving anything that anyone has said the past three months or so. Including the Star Tribune’s 2014 NFL Draft “Likes” and “Don’t Likes.”

Patriots (Like): Bill Belichick is one of the best defensive minds in NFL history. But even he knows where his career would be without a quarterback. So don’t suggest that a second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo was too high. Or that it came too soon after Ryan Mallett was taken in the third round.

“With the situation we have at quarterback... I think you’re better off being early than late at that position,” Belichick said.

When Garoppolo’s contract is up, Tom Brady will be 40. As for Mallett, at worst, he’s high-grade New England trade bait. Remember, the Chiefs gave Belichick a second-rounder for Matt Cassel once upon a time.

Colts (Don’t Like): This draft was blown last year when the Colts traded their first pick for running back Trent Richardson. Not only is Richardson of little use, the Colts also didn’t make a pick until taking a guard 57th overall.

Browns (Like): Hindsight is the only way to view anything the Browns do, but, what the heck, they had a great first day. They got a 2015 first-round pick from the Bills, the best cornerback in the draft (Justin Gilbert) and Johnny Manziel.

Yes, Manziel is a giant risk. But if I’m Cleveland and I’ve stumbled down all those wrong quarterback paths, I’d rather be wrong again in taking Manziel than wrong in not taking Manziel.

Bengals (Don’t Like): A.J. McCarron in the fifth round would have been great value for a team with a stopgap quarterback. For the Bengals, all it does is disrupt Andy Dalton’s progress with a player who won’t be good enough to beat him out anytime soon.

49ers (Like): The Kneejerk MVP of the 2014 draft has to be 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. The most active trading team of the draft took 10 of the top 180 players, 12 overall and acquired Bills receiver Stevie Johnson and a 2015 fourth-round pick. Baalke also had the ammo to trade away two picks to move up to No. 57 and take the best running back in the draft in Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde when the run on running backs started.

Jaguars (Don’t like): With 11 picks entering the draft, the Jaguars should have taken receiver Sammy Watkins No. 3 and then used that arsenal of picks to trade back into the first round and take Blake Bortles at a spot that came closer to matching his value.

Vikings (Like): The overall grade is closer to “who the heck knows” than anything else. But, in theory, the first round was handled very well for a third consecutive year. The Vikings addressed the most immediate need — athletically elite linebacker for a league-worst scoring defense — and their No. 1 long-term concern — someone better than Christian Ponder to groom as a future franchise quarterback. In three years as GM, Rick Spielman has seven first-round picks. Seven.

Around the NFC North: Packers (Like): Filled their biggest need with the best safety (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix). Lions (Don’t Like): Took only one defender in top three rounds. Bears (Like): Used top three picks and four of top five to rebuild the league’s worst run defense.


Mark Craig •

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72


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