Sept 1, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs offensive linesman Gabe Jackson (61) during the game against the Jackson State Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Jackson State Tigers 56-9. Mandatory Credit: Spruce DerdenUSA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Grades: Third Round Picks 77-88


The third round moved fast and furious and it’s time to sift through the latest 2014 NFL draft picks.

13 (77). San Francisco 49ers (f/TEN) – Chris Borland – LB – Wisconsin

It is impossible to ignore the knee situation for NaVarro Bowman.  The San Francisco 49ers have no guarantees he’ll ever be the player he was before tearing it up in Seattle.  Chris Borland is a heady, athletic, intelligent thumper with great intangibles who fits their style and offers insurance.

Grade:  A-
14 (78). Washington Redskins (f/DAL) – Spencer Long – OG – Nebraska
Protecting Robert Griffin III is a top priority for the Washington Redskins and their primary situation of concern rests at guard.  Spencer Long is big all around, surprisingly quick and plays with some nastiness.  Still, I don’t think he was the best available at his position.

Grade:  B-

15 (79). Baltimore Ravens – Terrence Brooks – FS – Florida State
You learn to trust Ozzie Newsome with the Baltimore Ravens and it’s hard to argue against this pick.  Terrence Brooks is a great athlete at safety with the speed to play center field and should allow Matt Elam to play down in the box where he belongs.

Grade:  B

16 (80). New York Jets – Dexter McDougle – CB – Maryland
Injuries really held back the 2014 NFL draft stock of Dexter McDougle but when healthy he flashed serious potential and showed game-changing speed at his pro day.  Rex Ryan can unlock that skill provided the kid listens and stays off the injured list.  Not the best corner available though.

Grade:  C+

17 (81). Oakland Raiders (f/MIA) – Gabe Jackson – OG – Mississippi State
I love Gabe Jackson.  He epitomizes the old school Oakland Raiders.  He’s big, powerful, stout and an absolute mauler once he gets his hands on you.  I feel he was one of the better guards in the draft and the Raiders did their offense a favor getting him.

Grade:  A

18 (82). Chicago Bears – Will Sutton – DT – Arizona State
Ego Ferguson was brought aboard for his run defense and the Chicago Bears struck at defensive tackle again with Will Sutton.  His senior year showed weight issues, but when he was in shape as a junior nobody could keep him off the quarterback (13 sacks in 2012).  Great value pick if he stays focused.

Grade:  B+

19 (83). Houston Texans (f/PHI) – Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
Wow.  You have J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the outside to rush the passer and now throw in the massive Louis Nix in the middle to do what he does best which is swallow up running lanes.  Seattle may not have the #1 defense for much longer.

Grade:  A+

20 (84). Arizona Cardinals – Kareem Martin – DE – North Carolina
Bruce Arians clearly feels the success of the Arizona Cardinals will ride on defense.  Kareem Martin is an intriguing physical specimen with loads of pass rush potential.  If he can get his technique under control the Red Birds have another talent to control the line of scrimmage.

Grade:  B

21 (85). Green Bay Packers – Khyri Thornton – DT – USM
Defensive end is an area that could use some tweaking for the Green Bay Packers and Khyri Thorton projects as a great fit there given his side and brute strength.  Very versatile to play along the entire line.  Endurance and lack of length are issues.

Grade:  C

22 (86). Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Huff – WR – Oregon
Chip Kelly went to his well.  He recruited Josh Huff at Oregon and knows exactly how to use the young wide receiver.  Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter.  He’s smooth, quick, athletic and has soft hands to consistently make the catch.

Grade:  B

23 (87). Kansas City Chiefs – Phillip Gaines – CB – Rice
Brandon Flowers is on his way out so it made sense the Kansas City Chiefs were planning to go after a corner.  Rice standout Phillip Gaines is much more their type with size at 6’0″ and a fluid agility and physical presence made for press coverage in that 3-4 scheme.

Grade:  B+

24 (88). Cincinnati Bengals – Will Clarke – DE – West Virginia

The defense of the Cincinnati Bengals is built around controlling the trenches up front.  That means dynamic activity from the ends and tackles.  Will Clarke has great length and improved his mechanics last year.  Has some work to do but there is upside to explore.

Grade:  C+

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