The 2014 NFL Draft…..In 2020
The NFL draft is a meat market of epic proportions. Grown men watch on TV and in person as NFL team owners, executives and coaches make their best guess as to which of these young studs will lead their team to a Super Bowl. We are amazed by yet another NFL spectacle that has been labeled ‘Must See TV’ over the last decade or so.
Thanks to the league pushing the event back a few weeks this season we, the fans and team personnel alike, have been given a ridiculous amount of time to criticize, scrutinize and denigrate young men who haven’t even played a snap as a professional yet. Since January, I have been told that Player A would never do a thing, Player B will be a HOF level player, and Player C is a total bust and so on. A question that I always bring up is: How do you know? How can some people have such strong feelings about a player that more than likely they have never watched play a game? It makes no sense.
Having said that, I feel pretty good about our 2014 draft class. We got some raw talent for sure but for the most part I think the talent is moldable and could turn into something special with the help of our new coaching staff. And to be honest, what talent coming out of college isn’t raw? Nobody is prepared to be a pro football player right out of the gate. It takes months, if not years of preparation with NFL coaching staffs to get prepared and up to speed to the professional game. Making a pick in the draft doesn’t guarantee success. The true beauty of the draft is that teams spend countless dollars and hours into scouting college players and yet have no idea what that college production will turn into when they reach the NFL.
A player that was just selected in the 2014 NFL Draft will win their team win a Super Bowl in the next few years. We just don’t know which one. Let’s take a look at how the 2014 draft could play out over the next 6 seasons. It’s now the year 2020.
Scenario 1 – The Jacksonville Jaguars, led by Blake Bortles and Marquise Lee, finally turn their fortunes around. Their fan base swells throughout the state as the team averages 11 wins a season for the last four seasons, making the playoffs each year. Bortles struggled in his rookie season throwing the league’s most INTs. The team uses another high draft pick to acquire WR Christion Jones out of Alabama. Bortles recovers and improves slightly in his sophomore outing but began taking huge strides in his third season. Since then he has become a real leader and a destination QB for free agent wide receivers and tight ends. Bortles is awarded with a 6yr/$120 million contract in 2018. The Jaguars finally breakthrough in 2020, beating the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers final career play is giving up a safety to Jadeveon Clowney, who joined the Jags that season after fizzling out his final two years in Houston.
Scenario 2 – Khalil Mack joins the Oakland Raiders and quickly establishes himself as the defensive and spiritual leader of the team. His play is respected and feared throughout the league. Offensive coordinators always game plan around Mack knowing he can force a turn over if he is near the ball. However, Oakland never has a winning season during Mack’s six years with the team. The best they finish is in 2020 when they go 7-9. Mack forces a trade to Houston where he teams up with fellow 2014 draftee and league MVP Jadeveon Clowney. Both men receive matching 5yr/$88 million deals that offseason.
Scenario 3 – Greg Robinson came into the league highly touted and considered the most safe pick of his class, as most high end OL draft prospects are. However, his rookie season starts rocky. His play is sloppy and very inconsistent. QB Sam Bradford’s play suffers due to his OL play. He is quickly traded out of town in an attempt to salvage a dead season. QB Brian Hoyer is brought in from Cleveland to give the team a boost. Hoyer’s play is better but the OL play continues to be well below average. Robinson is benched in week 17 and never recovers. He is traded in 2016 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 6th round pick. He is cut from the Bucs in 2017. He joins the Ravens practice squad for the 2018 season and is out of the league two seasons later.
These situations happen every single season. The 2014 draft class are now officially members of the National Football League. All they have to do now is put pen to paper. Every season we get hope that the newest members of our team will do something special. Let’s not forget though that these are still young men and they all have a lot to learn. SKOL.