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NFL Draft 2014: Grading Stanford's NFL Draft Fits

Let's take a look at how well each new Stanford NFL player fits with his team

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to be humbled, step up to the NFL. Everywhere you look, there's a freak of nature trying to take your head off - or take your job.

That's the tough transition from the college game to the pro game that faces the six Stanford players who were drafted and the others who signed as undrafted free agents - these established starters, All-Pac-12 players and All-Americans are all of a sudden fighting for a spot on a team now.

But each player falls into a different situation given the personnel, coaching and scheme of his new team, so let's examine the landing spots for the newest Cardinal in the NFL, handing out the highest marks to those guys who could see time as starters in 2014.

From the archives: Grading Stanford's 2013 NFL Draft fits | Grading Stanford's 2012 NFL Draft Fits

Trent Murphy - Washington Redskins

Murphy was a bit of a surprise as the 47th pick in the draft, but he falls into a pretty good situation in Washington. He won't be a starter unless something strange happens to Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo, who are one of the better pass-rush tandems in the NFL. The best news for Murphy is that he landed with a team that will play him as a 3-4 outside linebacker instead of a down defensive lineman, where he's not quite as effective as a player. Being a second round draft pick (and the Redskins first pick), he's assured of making the team, where he can develop for a while under the tutelage of Kerrigan. Murphy and Washington should both be pretty happy about this fit, even if he won't necessarily be terrifying opposing offenses from day 1. Overall grade: B

Cameron Fleming - New England Patriots

Fleming was a bit of a curious pick for the Patriots, given that they don't need a tackle, but he must have been perceived as the best player available when their pick came up. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer have the tackle spots locked down at the moment, but both players have struggled with injuries over the last few years and the Pats probably wanted a high-quality backup option. I'll be interested to see how much playing time Fleming gets this preseason, and if that playing time will indeed be at right tackle. Overall grade: B

David Yankey - Minnesota Vikings

This was one of the best possible destinations for the two-time All-American. Yankey excelled as a guard during his time at Stanford, and the Vikings needed to add help to their interior o-line. Thankfully the Vikes have a couple of stalwart o-linemen already (Matt Kalil and John Sullivan in particular), so Yankey should be a pretty solid plug-and-play starter due to the fact that he'll be stationed next to other high-quality starters. Minnesota has to be happy that they were able to nab Yankey so late in the draft, and Adrian Peterson should be pleased that they're investing in the guys that pave the way for him. Overall grade: A

Ed Reynolds - Philadelphia Eagles

Philly had a terrible pass defense a year ago - last in the NFL - and they desperately needed safeties, so this was a great fit for Stanford's leader in the secondary. Reynolds probably needs some time to adapt to the pro game, but he should be an instant impact player on special teams, and I have to imagine he'll play quite a bit in dime situations this year. I don't think it's a reach to say that Reynolds can take over as a starter next season, and that there were few better places for him to end up, especially when you consider that Chip Kelly has showed he already likes Stanford guys. Overall grade: B+

Tyler Gaffney - Carolina Panthers

Through no fault of his own, this selection will get the lowest grade among the bunch. Gaffney enters a swollen backfield in Carolina (DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner and Cam Newton) and it's hard to exactly figure out why the Panthers decided they needed another running back. They might be planning to shake up their backfield this year - Stewart and Barner were not very good in 2013 - and perhaps that bodes well for Gaffney, but it's hard to get a read on the situation at the moment. He does fit well with their bruising running style, though. Overall grade: C-

Ben Gardner - Dallas Cowboys

After tearing his pectoral muscle in October last year, it's been a tough road back for Gardner this spring, but the Cowboys were obviously pleased with his awesome pro day. The Cowboys' run defense was pretty dreadful a year ago - 5th worst in the NFL - and if Gardner is healthy he should be able to make an impact. George Selvie had a nice season for Dallas a year ago, but Gardner should be a capable backup if he regains his strength adequately. Overall grade: B

Shayne Skov - San Francisco 49ers

While I'm glad to see Skov get his shot with a good team - and reunite with Jim Harbaugh - this might not be an ideal fit for him. There are just a lot of quality linebackers on the 49ers, even with NaVorro Bowman hurt. But even if Skov doesn't make the final roster out of camp, he should garner some playing time this preseason all while getting to learn from Patrick Willis. But after going undrafted, I have to worry what the market for Skov will be like should he not make the 49ers 53-man roster. Here's hoping he takes someone's job this fall - which he's done several times already in the past. Overall grade: B-

Ryan Hewitt - Cincinnati Bengals

This is a great fit. Hewitt should blend in perfectly with the Bengals offense, and he should have only one guy to beat out at his position. Orson Charles, a converted tight end, was Cincy's primary fullback last year, and Hewitt's definitely a more experienced player at that fullback spot. On top of that, like Charles, he has the versatility to flex to tight end. However, it's pretty clear that Charles was Hue Jackson's guy a year ago - and it might be tough for Hewitt to take his job. Overall grade: B+

Josh Mauro - Pittsburgh Steelers

This appears to be one of the best possible landing spots for the beastly undrafted d-lineman. Mauro's stock appeared to be rising during the draft process, and the Steelers promptly snatched him up less than an hour after the draft concluded. Aside from 2011 first rounder Cameron Heyward and new draft pick Stefon Tuitt, none of the Steelers' other defensive ends really stand in Mauro's way of making this team. He should fit right in as a mauling 5-technique, and I imagine he'll play quite a lot this preseason. Overall grade: A

Devon Carrington - Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers also snagged Carrington pretty quickly, as they're clearly looking to add some help to their average defense from a year ago. The Pittsburgh secondary contains a mixed bag of players, so if Carrington can wow on special teams he might make the roster. Overall grade: B+

Anthony Wilkerson - Indianapolis Colts

Wilkerson said on his Instagram that he'll get a shot with the Colts - probably at their rookie minicamp - and it's a really nice fit. Not only does he knows Pep Hamilton's offense, but the Colts also lost Donald Brown in free agency and Trent Richardson has become the biggest gag in the NFL. I wouldn't put money down on Wilkerson making the team, but it's a good place to start. Overall grade: B+