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THE GREENZONE REPORT:: Top 5 GZL 2014 Draft Classes
By John Stanley
Special to gzl-football.com

THE GREEN ZONE REPORT:: Top 5 GZL 2014 Draft Classes
Yahoo! Sports 2014 Draft Recap

Saturday, January 6, 2013
John Stanley, Yahoo Sports!

49ers got the top player, but who won the weekend?

[1] St. Louis Rams

Rams 2014 Class
[1.3] – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
[1.19] – HB La’vonte Bell, UCLA
[1.23] – FS Eric Reid, LSU
[2.15] – LT Owen Hartley, Texas
[2.21] – DT Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
[7.20] –
[7.23] –
[7.31] -

Quick Thoughts: The Rams came into the Draft in good shape with a number of good picks, but through trade downs and other trades were able to add even more assets in this draft. Their 1st pick of Xavier Rhodes with the 3rd pick in the draft was a good one. At 6’2” and with great athleticism, Rhodes projects as a future shutdown #1 CB. To go along with last year’s top 10 pick, Stephon Gilmore, the Rams should be set at CB for the forseeable future. The next Rams pick at 1.19, was acquired on a trade down with the Patriots. They selected RB La’vonte Bell who figures to be the starting RB right away in St. Louis. He was one of the better value picks in my opinion, in the first round. He has great speed and acceleration and is already a pretty polished. To go along with that, he has pretty good size for a speed back, not something you generally see. With their next 1st rounder, they took FS Eric Reid, someone who I personally wanted a lot. Reid has everything you look for in a safety, size, athleticism, and he is already polished to play right away. In Round 2, the Rams were able to add a pretty solid OT in Owen Hartley. While he is a bit raw, he could be worked on, and following the run on offensive lineman in Round 1, it was a nice find for STL. With their 2nd second rounder, the Rams nabbed Daniel McCullers who is an absolutely massive man at 6’6” 377lbs. He is also pretty raw, but should be able to clog some run lanes and be effective in the short term anyways. The Rams also have 3 seventh round picks which figure to be depth players.

[2] New England Patriots

Patriots 2014 Class
[1.5] – LOLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
[1.7] – LT Leo Richards, Georgia Tech
[1.9] – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
[4.7] – LE John Simon, Ohio State
[5.5] – LOLB Merlin Stewart, Fresno State
[5.30] –
[6.13] –
[6.26] -

Quick Thoughts: The Patriots came into the draft LOADED with picks. They ended up moving up in the first round a few times, and leaving themselves with 3 top 10 picks. They hit it big with those 3 picks. Their first pick with the 5th overall pick was LB Jarvis Jones out of Georgia. Jones will enter the league and instantly become one of the most talented LB around. Jones doesn’t have elite size, but it is good enough. He has the potential to be able to 88SPD/80STR/90ACC through Training Camp and Offseason Conditioning, and that would be unmatched throughout the league. He should be a force next to Jerod Mayo for years to come. Next up, the Patriots took the top OT in the draft in Leo Richards. Richards is ready made to start from day one, and is a stud both athletically and physically. Good size at 6’6” 308lbs, and athleticism 66SPD/92STR/84ACC, he should develop into one of the top OT in the league. Another very nice pick. With their 3rd top 10 pick, the Pats took DT Star Lotulelei, who is an absolute stud. He is 6’3” 320lbs, with top athleticism from the DT position. He rivals past top DT draft picks like Marcell Dareus and JJ Watt who have quickly become some of the top players in the league at the DT position. The Patriots added two more players thus far, with LE John Simon and LOLB Merlin Stewart, and will look to add even more depth to an already top class with their remaining 5th and 2 6th round picks.

[3] San Diego Chargers

Chargers 2014 Class
[1.21] – LOLB Casey Carter, Missouri
[1.25] – SS Matt Elam, Florida
[2.19] – LE Sam Montgomery, LSU
[2.23] – TE Jackie Thomas, Wisconsin
[2.29] – WR T.Y. Hilton, FIU
[4.3] – HB Ronnie Lewis, UTEP
[4.4] – CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana
[4.12] – LG Thomas Vandal, Syracuse
[4.24] – SS Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse
[7.24] -

Quick Thoughts: Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think my draft class deserves a mention among the top classes, and he is why. With their first pick, the Chargers took OLB Casey Carter from Missouri. Carter’s size/SPD/STR/ACC combo instantly makes him one of the better LB’s physically in the league. Carter is similar to someone like Jermaine Cunningham who has been one of the more productive LB in the league of late. With the next pick, the Chargers went after safety Matt Elam out of Florida, making him the 3rd safety taken in the draft. Elam although only 5’11” is going to be a very good safety in the league. He is already among only 6 safeties in the league with 93SPD/93AGI/93ACC at 5’11 or taller, and among those is the only one with at least 75TKL. He may not play from day one, but is certainly ready to. With their 3 2nd round picks, the Chargers took DE Sam Montgomery, TE Jackie Thomas, and WR T.Y. Hilton. Montgomery is a consolation prize for the Chargers after missing out on Dion Jordan in the 1st round. Montgomery possesses great size and solid athleticism, and figures to be the starter at DE once Tuck’s contract expires after the season. Their next pick was TE Jackie Thomas out of Wisconsin, who is a matchup nightmare similar to Chargers’ current star TE Vernon Davis. Thomas could be in line to take over for Davis following this season. Their last second round pick T.Y. Hilton adds depth to the WR corps. Hilton is a smaller, but very athletic WR who can stretch the field and also be a solid player in the slot. The Chargers were also able to add HB/return man Ronnie Lewis, CB Trumaine Johnson, LG Thomas Vandal, and SS Shamarko Thomas in the 4th round, and also have another 7th round pick for depth purposes.

[4] Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs 2014 Class
[1.4] – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
[1.15] – WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
[1.32] – LG Frank Capone, S.D. State
[4.11] – LE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
[4.14] – TE Stephen Belantonio, Auburn
[4.19] – QB Matthew Tebow, Florida
[4.20] – LT Brian Santee, Virginia
[5.19] – WR Troy Eisen, Arkansas
[6.7] –
[6.16] –

Quick Thoughts: The Chiefs draft may be a bit underrated around the league, but I think it’s pretty clear that they had one of the better drafts this year. Their 1st 2 draft picks were at 1.4 and 1.15 and they took WRs Justin Hunter and Terrance Williams. They are very similar players. Hunter at 6’4” and Williams at 6’3”, neither of them are overly athletic, but they are both very polished players. They have good strength to go along with their size, and although I mentioned they weren’t amazing athletes, they are good enough for their size and figure to give the Chiefs and Andrew Luck two very nice weapons for a long time at #1 and #2 WR. In addition to the 2 WR in Round 1, the Chiefs were able to make a trade up to select LG Frank Capone. Capone was pretty underrated pre-draft, but he is a pretty good player. He has solid size for a OG, but the thing that sets him apart is his amazing strength to go along with very solid athleticism. Capone will be one of the better OG in the league once he develops for a long time. The Chiefs didn’t have another pick until the 4th following their 3 1st rounders, but I think the Chiefs 4th round may be one of the better single rounds by a team. First they were able to nab Ezekiel Ansah the raw but ultra-talent pass rusher out of BYU. If allowed to develop a little bit, Ansah could be a pretty similar player to 1st rounder Dion Jordan. With their next 4th they took TE Stephen Belantonio who I am still struggling to see why he lasted as long as he did. If I didn’t already have 4 TE on my roster, he probably would have been one of my own 4th round picks. Belantonio has everything you look for in a TE, size, athleticism, and the ability to block at a high level. The only potential thing that could be seen as a negative would be his STR or AWR, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that, Belantonio is a steal. The Chiefs were also able to nab Matthew Tebow, a developmental QB, and LT Brian Santee who could develop into a pretty nice OL in the 4th. With their 5th round pick, the Chiefs added WR Troy Eisen who with a good skew, could develop into a pretty nice value. They also have 2 6th round picks to add some more depth.

[5] Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers 2014 Class
[1.17] – LT Frankie Gerard, Michigan
[1.18] – LE Dion Jordan, Oregon
[2.11] – FS Brandon Claiborne, Alabama
[2.16] – MLB Jack Pounds, Iowa
[3.12] – FB/TE Gary Dowlings, Kansas State
[3.13] – C Leon Scott, Northwestern
[3.14] – WR Vin Davis, Oklahoma
[4.17] – LE Jordan Williams, Virginia Tech

Quick Thoughts: The Bucs, per usual, had another great draft in 2014, and also were able to set themselves up with 2 1st rounders in 2015. In the 1st round, the Bucs nabbed LT Frankie Gerard and DE Dion Jordan with back to back picks. Gerard is a very good OT out of Michigan. He has great size, and is also very athletic for a man his size. The only potential knock on Gerard could be his blocking ability at this point, but with custom progression, that could be improved rather easily. Gerard will be a very good OT. Next, the Bucs took one of my favorite players in the draft in Dion Jordan. Jordan is an ultra-athletic DE/LB out of Oregon. He has impressive size and length at 6’6”, and great athleticism 86SPD/86ACC which can be improved even further through camp. He will be one heck of a player, and I am not happy that I missed out on him. In the 2nd round, the Bucs had two more picks when all was said and done. They took FS Brandon Claiborne, and MLB Jack Pounds, two very interesting players. Claiborne is on the small side for a safety at 5’9” but has everything else you look for at the position. He has a great combo of 94SPD/75STR/93ACC and will certainly be someone to watch and see how they do in the league. Claiborne’s AWR and CTH are a little low entering the league but both are able to be improved through progression, so not too much worry there. The other 2nd, Jack Pounds was a polarizing prospect entering the draft. Extremely undersized at 5’9” at MLB, Pounds actually is pretty thick and stout at 260lbs. He has good enough of athleticism for the position and also extremely polished coming out. He is seen as a top leader and a great teammate. If anyone can overcome the size, it will be him. Like Claiborne, Pounds will be a fun player to watch and see how he does in the league. The Bucs at one point had 5 straight picks in the 3rd round, but when all was said and done, had 3 straight. They first took FB Gary Dowlings who they plan to turn into a TE and who should be a pretty good player there. Then they boosted their OL by taking C Leon Scott who has the potential to step in and play from day one, if needed, and be a pretty solid player. They also nabbed Vin Davis in the 3rd, who with a good skew could also be a pretty good WR, but at worst will be a nice #3 or 4. With their last pick of the draft, the Bucs added LE Jordan Williams out of Virginia Tech, who is athletic but raw, and should provide nice depth at DE.

John Stanley covers GZL for Yahoo! Sports.

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