Where the players go in the 2014 NFL draft depends on many factors, not the least of which is the actual players themselves. However, it’s also key to know which teams will select near the top. Who is up and who is down through week three?
#1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Gus Bradley won’t solve offense with Gabbert
It’s easy to see a team is bad when everybody in the country believes they will get blown out by the Seattle Seahawks and they do. That is the sad state of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Gus Bradley has so many holes in his roster left unfilled and the most glaring of course is at quarterback. Chad Henne doesn’t inspire much confidence, prompting the coach to announce Blaine Gabbert will start next week. Safe to say it won’t matter because the Jaguars are still easy favorites for the first overall pick.
Ranking Last Week: #1
#2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Glennon entrance imminent
If they didn’t hit rock bottom they certainly came awfully close. Another early defensive effort was wasted as the problems for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense continue. Josh Freemans has lost whatever edge he had a year ago. Is it due to the frayed relationship with head coach Greg Schiano? It’s had to argue against. After his latest dud in New England, expectations are that Freeman will get pulled sometime soon in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. While it may signal a bright future considering how much scouts loved him coming out of N.C. State, it effectively kills any hopes the Bucs had of making the playoffs and their continue ascent up 2014 NFL draft boards.
Ranking Last Week: #3
#3 – Oakland Raiders – Terrelle Pryor injured in blowout
There was at least one good thing to take away from the Oakland Raiders blowout loss to Denver on Monday night. It was the steady improving play of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, accounting for over 300 yards from scrimmage (281 through the air) and a touchdown. Then it all went south when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Wesley Woodyard in the 4th quarter, resulting in a concussion. Though he continued to play for a short time afterwards, the injury could leave Pryor out for some time and the offense in the hands of either Matt Flynn or Matt McGloin. Either way it’s bad news.
Ranking Last Week: #5
#4 – Cleveland Browns – Brian Hoyer gives team a heartbeat
By far the biggest surprise of week three was the inspired effort of the Cleveland Browns as they upset an equally desperate Minnesota Vikings team in their building. Leading the way was backup quarterback Brian Hoyer who played poised under pressure and despite throwing three interceptions also threw three touchdowns, including the decisive one to clinch the game. He was aided by a terrific defensive effort, signaling the Trent Richardson trade may not have killed Cleveland as much as first thought. It remains to be seen whether Hoyer keeps the job moving forward or Brandon Weeden gets it back.
Ranking Last Week: #2
#5 – Philadelphia Eagles – Same problems exist with Michael Vick
Teams don’t win games when they turn the ball over five times. Sadly quarterback Michael Vick was the familiar culprit as he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. These are the same problems that have dogged him the last few seasons, including taking too many hits. The Philadelphia Eagles can’t seem to put together one solid effort. When the offense hum, the defense falls apart. Week three showed a good defensive showing squandered by inability to secure the ball by the offense. Chip Kelly has a lot of work to do if he wants to get his team back on track.
Ranking Last Week: #8
#6 – San Diego Chargers – Defense fails Mike McCoy again
Mike McCoy against saw his quarterback Philip Rivers do enough to put the San Diego Chargers in position to win and again his defense couldn’t shut the door. Though they only gave up 20 points, they saved their worst for the end of the game as they allowed Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker to hit rookie receiver Justin Hunter for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left to play. It was a play good teams would never allow and further proves the Chargers aren’t a good team. Rivers may be playing better but it won’t matter until McCoy can figure out the problems on the other side of the ball. By that point may be too late.
Ranking Last Week: #9
#7 – New York Giants – Eli Manning crushed under bad line and backfield
Could the 2014 NFL draft mark the first time the New York Giants will hold a top ten pick in a decade. Ironically that was the year they made their famous draft-day trade for Eli Manning. After winning two Super Bowl titles one would think could never look as bad as they have the past three weeks with him under center but it is reality. Manning started out with no running game and quickly discovered not long after that he doesn’t have great protection either as Carolina sacked him seven times. If they have any hope of rescuing their season from an ugly 0-3 start they must discover what has happen to their dominance in the trenches, on offense and defense.
Ranking Last Week: Not in Top Ten
#8 – New York Jets – Geno Smith shows improvement vs. Bills
His play still isn’t pretty at times but Geno Smith deserves a ton of credit for the New York Jets being 2-1. Even the best quarterbacks would struggle to overcome his team committing 20 penalties in a game, but Smith did. Granted, much of the success comes from having a great defense to lean on but it was he who threw two huge touchdown passes including one to Santonio Holmes in the 4th quarter that put the game out of reach. It’s still up in the air whether the Jets can be contenders but their prospects are brightening thanks to the improved play of their rookie quarterback.
Ranking Last Week: #7
#9 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger plays Jekyll and Hyde
They gave it everything they had Sunday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers played like the desperate team they were. Unfortunately they also made mistakes like one. Ben Roethlisberger was the defining example. He threw for over 400 yards and two touchdown but also had two interceptions and two lost fumble. Two of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns. Even their mighty defense gave up a game-defining touchdown when Chicago converted three consecutive third downs, two of them for ten or more yards and capped it with a 17-yard touchdown pass, just the second one the Steelers have allowed all season. There is hope that their prospects for the 2014 NFL draft will improve with Heath Miller back and Le’Veon Bell set to make his debut at running back. Still, one can’t believe it until they see it.
Ranking Last Week: #10
#10 – Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder can’t stop defensive bleeding
Two heartbreakers on the road against division opponents was bad enough and not befitting a team that made the playoffs last year. So the Minnesota Vikings clearly intended to right the ship at home against Cleveland. Instead they thoroughly outsmarted and outplayed by a team considered inferior. If the Vikings had the benefit of the doubt before, it’s gone now. Christian Ponder hasn’t looked great but he isn’t the problem. Minnesota’s defense is. They are clearly a different team when they can’t sack the quarterback and until they figure out what happened to their pass rush it’s going to be a big problem all season to stop teams.
Ranking Last Week: Not in Top Ten