For this, I’m the GM — for every team. Typically I’m asked to project picks. But for the “Grade A” draft, I make them. Each pick I select what I might for that team, in that spot, based on who is gone and who is available. Best outcome for each team at each spot.The ground rules
1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won’t pass on a player at No. 5 just because I like how he fits better at No. 7. 2. There are no trades. I note team needs, but not all picks are specifically to hit a need — same as the draft.3. This is NOT A PROJECTION. It’s more a look at how I currently value players at each slot.
You’ll find the roundup for each team’s draft haul below, but I’ve also included a pick-by-pick version so you can see how the order of the picks progressed and get an idea of who was off the board when each team selected.
Pick-by-pick Rounds 1 through 3.
Top needs: QB, RT, OLB/DE
Round 1 (Pick No. 1) DE Jadeveon Clowney, South CarolinaRound 2 (33) QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern IllinoisRound 3 (65) CB Bashaud Breeland, Clemson
Analysis: Quarterback is obviously a big need, but I’m simply not willing to forgo the high likelihood of stardom for Clowney — at a critical position no less — for the risk associated with taking one of the available quarterbacks so high. It’s simply too big a leap in terms of value on my draft board. I’m not going to worry about system fit. Romeo Crennel and Bill O’Brien are smart enough to find a way for Clowney to be effective — and he will be special. I consider Garoppolo a potential NFL starter, possibly a good one with O’Brien’s guidance, and with one star in hand I’ll take him ahead of Derek Carr early in Round 2. It’s a little ahead of where I have him rated overall, but again, the value associated with the position is factored in against scarcity, and I take my shot. Cornerback isn’t a huge need, but I like value for Breeland there, and it’s impossible to have too many effective corners in the NFL of 2014. I think the pick at No. 1 represents not just how special Clowney is, but that this team is too good on paper to be waiting on a rookie to develop on the job. Take one at No. 1, and that’s what you get.
St. Louis Rams
Top needs: WR, S, RT, LB
To see the rest of the picks in Mel Kiper’s ‘Grade: A’ draft, in which he plays GM for all 32 NFL teams, and to get access to all of Insider’s 2014 NFL draft content, sign up for ESPN Insider.
ESPN NFL Draft analyst since 1984
Contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio
Writes weekly for ESPN Insider