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2014 NFL Draft grades: Seahawks, Colts among underachievers

It's obviously way too early to completely tear apart any team's draft class, but it is fair to say some hauls are less inspiring than others. In grading out the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucky Brooks found that six teams deserved "C" marks for one reason or another. Here's what he had to say about these apparent underachievers (click on team names for full draft classes):


Around The League predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

CAROLINA PANTHERS: Since winning the division last season with a patchwork roster, the Panthers have lost two franchise players (WR Steve Smith and OT Jordan Gross) and a host of key contributors. Although general manager Dave Gettleman plugged a few holes in free agency, the team needed to find a few blue-chippers at marquee positions in the draft to remain among the NFC's elite. First-round receiver Kelvin Benjamin certainly has game-changing potential as a big-bodied touchdown-maker with exceptional ball skills. He expands the strike zone for Cam Newton in the red zone while giving the Pro Bowl quarterback a go-to guy in the mold of Panther great Muhsin Muhammad. The second-round pick didn't make as much sense. Gettleman's affinity for big, athletic defenders comes from his positive experiences with the Giants, but critics instantly wondered why the Panthers bypassed a pressing need at offensive tackle to select yet another pass rusher in Kony Ealy. Of course, when the pick was made, Gettleman and Co. undoubtedly were considering the unclear future of pass rusher Greg Hardy, given his impending free agency following this season. Then, on Tuesday, Hardy was arrested on a domestic assault charge, which obviously adds to the uncertainty going forward. Still, the thought of ignoring a glaring hole on Newton's blind side surely led to some head-scratching around Charlotte. Tre Boston and Bene Benwikere are intriguing secondary defenders with the potential to slide into key roles as rookies. Gettleman couldn't address all of the team's biggest needs during the draft, but he snatched up a handful of athletic talents with upside. GRADE: C+

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: The Colts entered the draft with limited ammunition, having traded away their first-round pick to land Trent Richardson in a deal with the Browns last September. Thus, Indianapolis needed to knock it out of the park with later-round selections to make amends for what appears to have been a misevaluation of Richardson's potential. It's obviously early, but looking at the results, it's tough to say the Colts hit it big on draft night. Second-round O-line selection Jack Mewhort offers some toughness and versatility as a swing player, and he has the potential to start at tackle or guard in the NFL. Donte Moncrief possesses all of the raw tools to be a No. 1 receiver, but the third-rounder needs time to refine a game that's full of promise. While observers obviously will base their evaluations of GM Ryan Grigson's draft performance on the progress of Mewhort and Moncrief over the next few years, the final grade on the Colts' 2014 class will come down to how well Richardson plays as a feature back in Indianapolis. GRADE: C

Brandt: Instant-impact rookies
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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The Chiefs were one of the league's biggest surprises in Reid's first season. The team ran out to a 9-0 start before unraveling down the stretch due to injuries and inexperience. Thus, K.C. entered this draft needing to add more blue-chip prospects to fill some of the glaring holes that were exposed in the second half of the season. With that in mind, Reid raised eyebrows around the league when he opted for Ford at No. 23. While Ford eventually could become a key contributor, right now, he is pegged to play as a designated pass rusher behind two Pro Bowlers (Hali and Houston). Phillip Gaines is a long, rangy corner with the potential to develop into a starter down the road. De'Anthony Thomas slides into free-agent departee Dexter McCluster's role as a versatile offensive weapon/return specialist. Pay close attention to Aaron Murray over the next few seasons. Reid seemingly has the Midas touch with quarterbacks, which is why Murray could be Alex Smith's replacement in 2015. GRADE: C+

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Since the beginning of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, the Seahawks' draft classes have routinely earned initial low marks -- and yet, their roster is regarded as one of the best in the NFL. Thus, observers should really reserve judgment until the team's plan for each prospect is revealed. Looking at this year's collection of rookie talent, I see a number of height-weight-speed athletes with ultra-competitive personalities. Receiver Paul Richardson (Round 2) is a blazer with exceptional straight-line speed and burst. He's an unpolished route runner, but his ability to get past the defense on vertical routes could make him a legitimate home-run threat in the Seahawks' offense. Richardson and fourth-round selection Kevin Norwood give Seattle a pair of young pass catchers with tremendous potential. Fourth-round pick Cassius Marsh is an underrated pass rusher with the size and length to create problems off the edge. Overall, the Seahawks' class lacks sizzle, but Carroll and Co. will surely find a way to develop these new additions into key contributors down the road. GRADE: C

TENNESSEE TITANS: The draft process can get a little tricky at times. ... Reviewing the Titans' haul, it's apparent that GM Ruston Webster and first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt stayed true to their core principles, drafting what they perceived to be the best players available. Unfortunately, some of these selections didn't exactly match the team's biggest needs. Taylor Lewan was regarded as one of the blue-chip OT prospects, but the Titans weren't really hurting at the position. Tennessee already has a pair of talented starting offensive tackles (Michael Roos and free-agent addition Michael Oher) in place. Thus, Lewan could be forced to play a different position as a rookie, at least until the Titans are able to settle the configuration of the offensive line. (Meanwhile, Tennessee really could've used a top-notch corner after the departure of Alterraun Verner in free agency.) Second-rounder Bishop Sankey, though, did address the Titans' hole at running back. DaQuan Jones, taken in Round 4, provides the defensive line with some depth. If you're looking for a true wild card to watch in this draft class, look no further than Zach Mettenberger. This intriguing quarterback prospect with enticing physical tools has the potential to outplay his draft slot (Round 6, No. 178 overall). With Jake Locker on shaky ground -- due to durability and consistency issues -- Mettenberger could quickly become the top dog in Nashville. GRADE: C

WASHINGTON REDSKINS: The Redskins are still feeling the tremors from the Robert Griffin III trade. The team surrendered a boatload of picks in 2012 for the right to select the quarterback, including its first-round choice in this year's draft, which ended up being No. 2 overall. Without the ammunition to orchestrate a major move this time around, GM Bruce Allen patiently waited for the best player available when the Redskins were on the clock. The decision to draft Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy in the second round was a bit of a surprise, but he could be an insurance policy against a possible free-agent defection by Brian Orakpo in 2015 or Ryan Kerrigan in '16. On the plus side, third-rounders Morgan Moses and Spencer Long are possible first-year starters, despite coming off the board on Day 2. Fifth-round pick Ryan Grant is a polished receiver with the skills to make an impact as a No. 3. GRADE: C+

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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