Debate: Which pick was biggest reach in 2014 NFL Draft?

For every player who drops in a draft, there is a player who wasn't expected to be selected as high as he was. The 2014 NFL Draft was no exception, so our experts offer their selections for the biggest reaches of this year's draft.

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  • Gil Brandt
  • Eagles reached on pro-day wonder

The biggest reach in the first round was Marcus Smith, the No. 26 pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Smith is a former high school quarterback who had 14 1/2 sacks in 2013. Smith had a very good pro day. At the end of a very long day at Louisville that included Teddy Bridgewater's pro day workout, Smith was the last to work out and really impressed people who watched him work out.

However, he was the No. 83-rated prospect in my final Hot 100 rankings before the 2014 NFL Draft. That ranking would indicate Smith would be a third-round pick, and if my evaluation -- which did not factor in the end of his pro-day workout -- was any good that is about where he should have been selected.

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Dolphins paid hefty price to fill need

The biggest reach in the 2014 draft is Ja'Wuan James. The former Tennessee standout was taken in the middle of the first round despite playing right tackle extensively as a collegian. Although the seismic shift of the NFL into a passing league makes it necessary to have a pair of quality offensive tackles in the lineup, the draft value of a right tackle doesn't mesh with where James was selected. Of course, it's hard to fault the Dolphins for taking an offensive tackle based on their O-Line woes a season ago, the James pick is certainly curious based in his talent and position.

The first-round pick that surprised most was probably the Eagles' choice of Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith, but the biggest reach came at the end of the second round, when the Seattle Seahawks took Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt at No. 64 overall. Draft wisdom in Seattle is proven, and Britt might well prove to be worthy of the pick, or even better. But for a guy projected to slide well into Day 3, Seattle likely could have picked up Britt two rounds later, at least. The Seahawks didn't have a third-round pick, so it's possible the club wanted a tackle need filled before its next pick came around at No. 108 overall.

If you're looking at the first round, the Miami Dolphins' selection of Ja'Wuan James certainly seemed like a reach because, despite all his potential upside, he was considered a late second-round pick or early third-round selection. But the biggest reach in the entire draft was probably Seattle's selection of Jimmy Staten in the fifth round. The Seahawks certainly draft how they want to and when they want to, but it was a bizarre choice given some of the talent still on the board. Staten was just an honorable mention All-Conference USA player last year and considered a likely undrafted free agent, but wound up as a fifth-round pick.

The biggest reach was the Miami Dolphins taking Tennessee OT Ja'Wuan James. I was shocked when it happened and I remain shocked more than two weeks later. I don't think the guy was one of the top eight offensive tackles and am flabbergasted Miami felt the need to take him in the first round. He's a right tackle who can struggle when blocking for the run. What am I missing? I think Missouri OT Justin Britt (to Seattle), Iowa LB Christian Kirksey (to Cleveland) and California LB Khairi Fortt (to New Orleans) were notable reaches in the second, third and fourth rounds, respectively, but those pale in comparison to James' selection.

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