My favorite picks of 2014 draft
Identifying the best selections made by each of the 32 NFL teams
NFL Draft Winners & Losers
I leave the handing out of draft grades every year to my colleague Mel Kiper (here is this year's version), so instead I've gone through and identified my favorite pick for every NFL team in the 2014 draft.
These aren't necessarily the players who will have the biggest impact early in their careers or the players with the highest grades or even the ones who provided the best value based on where they were selected -- but I took all of those factors into account when selecting the picks I liked the best. After looking through each team's draft board, these choices stood out as being the best based on what each player brings to the table, how he fits with his new team and where he was drafted in the order (and also who else was available at the time).
Here are my favorite picks of all 32 teams, plus plenty of thoughts on some of the other choices I did or didn't like for each.
Round 3 (79): Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
I could have gone with C.J. Mosley, who was the best player on the board when the Ravens took him at No. 17 overall, and is an NFL-ready player who will be a playmaker behind the Ravens' big defensive front.
But I decided to go with Brooks here, as I think he was a steal in the third round and could develop into an every-down starter for Baltimore given his physicality near the line and range in coverage. He's always around the football.
Timmy Jernigan, drafted at No. 48 in the second round, is a good player, but I don't totally understand his fit as a 1-technique. He won't provide much as a pass rusher, and he comes with some character baggage.
Rd. 1 (4): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (from CLE)
It came at a high cost (a 2015 first-rounder in the trade with Cleveland to move up from No. 9 to No. 4), but the Bills got the most dynamic offensive playmaker in this draft -- and the best wide receiver prospect since A.J. Green -- in Watkins. They are going to need to surround second-year QB EJ Manuel with great players to give him a chance to succeed, and in Watkins he will have a true No. 1 target.
Second-rounder Cyrus Kouandjio has high upside at tackle given his youth (still just 20 years old) and physical tools, but has some technique and injury issues to overcome in order to reach his full potential.
Rd. 1 (24): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Dennard was one of the top value picks of the first round. He dropped a bit because of durability concerns, but assuming he stays on the field he could wind up as one of the 10-15 best players in this class. He isn't a burner and didn't pick off a ton of passes, but he's Velcro in coverage, sticking to receivers with great instincts, quickness and body control in press-man coverage. I also liked the picks of RB Jeremy Hill (second round) and C Russell Bodine (fourth) -- both of those signaled to me the Bengals want to get more physical in the running game to solve some of their past offensive issues in December and January.
To see all of Todd McShay's favorite picks of the 2014 NFL draft, become an ESPN Insider.