The depth of the 2014 NFL draft class is astounding.
Before Friday night’s proceedings began, NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt, a longtime league personnel evaluator, said this draft is 1 1/2 rounds deeper than last year’s, and it’s showing. Great players such as Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton and Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses still were coming off the board in the third round, and quality players like Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron remain available.
Some teams owned the draft in Rounds 2 and 3, while others made some head-scratching decisions. Check out Day 2’s winners and losers:
San Francisco 49ers: Stockpiling picks paid off for the 49ers, who grabbed the consensus best running back in the draft (Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde), a potential starting center (USC’s Marcus Martin) and a potential starting inside linebacker (Wisconsin’s Chris Borland). General manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh might not get along, but they do know how to draft.
The 49ers also potentially found a future starting offensive lineman in Brandon Thomas, who was projected as a second-round pick before tearing his ACL this offseason. The 49ers can stash Thomas on the non-football injury list for the season, like they did with Marcus Lattimore and Tank Carradine in 2013.
Baltimore Ravens: This team succeeds because it obviously knows how to draft. After grabbing Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round, the Ravens selected the best available players in Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and safety Terrence Brooks on Friday. Baltimore’s defense could be dangerous once again.
The Ravens also filled a need with Colorado State tight end Crockett Gilmore toward the end of the third round.
Jacksonville Jaguars: They gave quarterback Blake Bortles a couple of solid receivers in a class stocked with them. If Marqise Lee’s knee is healthy, Jacksonville might have the steal of the second round. The Jaguars also grabbed Penn State wideout Allen Robinson later in the second round, and one or both of those players should be able to contribute right away.
Cleveland Browns: They realize they need receivers to catch passes from Johnny Manziel, right? The Browns’ top wide receiver — Josh Gordon — reportedly is facing a 16-game suspension, and they haven’t drafted a wideout yet.
Nevada offensive tackle Joel Bitonio, Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey and Towson running back Terrance West are great players, but some tremendous receivers were on the board when the Browns made those picks.
Houston Texans: Maybe Bill O’Brien is the last person on earth who has faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Texans are three rounds deep and they still haven’t drafted a quarterback.
The Texans drafted well, grabbing UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix, but if they hope to compete soon — and they have the team for it — they need a quarterback.
Perhaps the Texans will grab Alabama’s AJ McCarron on Day 3.
Seattle Seahawks: They certainly have their own way of drafting. They selected a projected third-rounder (Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson) in the second round after trading down twice, and they took a projected fifth-rounder (Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt) in the third.
It’s tough to argue with the logic of a team that just won the Super Bowl, but last year’s draftees didn’t contribute much in 2013, and only time will tell how Richardson and Britt turn out. There’s reason to believe the Seahawks know what they’re doing, but based on perceived value alone, they have to be included in this category.