By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on May 12, 2014
The 2014 NFL Draft was solid overall for the Cleveland Browns; they were able to select players who can make an immediate impact during their rookie seasons. Although Cleveland started the process with 10 selections and cut it down to six, key moves were made that will help the team this season on the field, and next year during the draft.
Here is a ranking of the Browns' 2014 draft class from No. 6 to No. 1.
The Browns were looking to add an agile linebacker, and Kirksey certainly fits the bill. His instincts and ball awareness make him a solid choice, but he will need to get stronger if he wants to see playing time in Cleveland. The Browns were in need of adding a WR, even before the situation with Josh Gordon was announced. The Browns appear to have a number of guys who can play at OLB, so it'll be interesting to see how Kirksey fits with the team.
Pierre Desir appears to have a bright future in the NFL. At 6-foot-1, Desir's size and athleticism will enable him to cover the bigger receivers of the NFL. Although taller in stature, Desir isn't extremely physical when it comes to stopping the run, but his ball skills are why the Browns are taking a calculated risk. Despite the small school, Desir was recruited by familiar programs, but academic issues disallowed him to play for an FCS school.
West may not have been a household name leading into the draft, but he certainly turned heads when the Browns elected to draft the small RB out of Towson. Last season, West led the FCS with 2,519 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns. He is a workhorse who may fit nicely in Kyle Shanahan's offense; much like Alfred Morris in Washington. The Browns needed to look at RB with Ben Tate's injury history, and West was the answer.
Bitonio is versatile in that he can play all three positions along the offensive line. He is a smart player who brings toughness to a Browns team that is in need of an overhauling on the o-line. Cleveland will be able to shift Bitonio around the line in case of injury, or in the different offensive schemes run by Kyle Shanahan. Look for Bitonio to make an immediate impact on the field for the Browns.
The selection of Gilbert not only added depth to a cornerback position that had been lacking, but when the Browns traded with Buffalo and moved down from No. 4 to No. 8, Cleveland picked up an additional first-round draft choice in the 2015 draft. Gilbert should compete for the starting role opposite Joe Haden, but his selection will also aid the rebuilding process, making him the second-best draft choice for the Browns in 2014.
Manziel may have some development to do, but his exciting playing style will be a joy to watch when it comes time for him to step on the field. The hope is that it will not be necessary for him to play this season and learn the NFL game from the sidelines, but Cleveland was correct in moving up from No. 26 to select the former Heisman winner. Manziel's jersey has been the top seller among rookies, and he's already helped to sell season tickets.
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