The 2014 NFL draft will be a fascinating tale of how teams adjust their evaluations.
This previous class brought a great deal of talent along the offensive line and defensive front sevens. Interestingly enough, a similar case will unfold next April with hogs such as Jake Matthews leading the way out of Texas A&M.
Additionally, plenty of top-heavy talent resides in the front seven compared to quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. At the same time, though, football fans are given better Round 1 prospects under center in 2014.
So, to find out how everything begins, let's fast-forward to next draft season.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE (South Carolina)
Oakland needs a true playmaker as the cornerstone of its defense. Jadeveon Clowney offers this potential courtesy of a strong nose for the rock. In turn, his impact allows the Raiders to control up front which takes pressure off the secondary.
2. New York Jets: Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)
With Geno Smith as the long-term answer under center, the Jets have to give him reliable protection. Entire Taylor Lewan, a tackle who brings a strong forte at sealing the edge. Include Lewan's athleticism to run block and New York quickly establishes balance.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Louisville)
Jacksonville has the ground game and receivers to field an efficient offense. Drafting Teddy Bridgewater addresses the most important position to work consistently. Supplying reliable decision-making, Bridgewater can conduct the Jaguars' offensive orchestra to numerous scoring opportunities.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT (Texas A&M)
Arizona gave up 58 sacks in 2012 and ranked last in rushing offense.
Clearly the Cardinals need to keep bolstering their offensive line to improve. Part of that was addressed with Jonathan Cooper in 2013. Continuing with the theme is Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M in 2014.
Acting as the sidekick to Luke Joeckel, Matthews played a major role in Johnny Manziel's Heisman candidacy. Supplying excellent footwork and balance to wall off the edge, Matthews held strong against the best rushers of the SEC last fall.
That makes him a good fit for the NFC West, because it's a division run by defense. And the Cardinals need to control more up front to return to the playoff mix.
5. San Diego Chargers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Alabama)
Philip Rivers' pass protection got a little better with D.J. Fluker. Still, San Diego must stick with the offensive line and land fellow Crimson Tide member Cyrus Kouandijo. He's more of a pass-blocker than Fluker, but also has the physical dominance to smash front sevens on the ground.
6. Buffalo Bills: Marqise Lee, WR (USC)
Buffalo's offense is on the verge of becoming quite explosive. Fielding the ground game with C.J. Spiller to dominate the trenches, adding Marqise Lee completes EJ Manuel's receiving corps. Not only is he capable of stretching the secondary, but Lee is the perfect complement to former Trojans teammate Robert Woods.
7. Dallas Cowboys: Lamarcus Joyner, S (Florida State)
Featuring two standout corners in Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr, Dallas has the pass defense to isolate one-on-one. Factor in the pass rush and turnover opportunities will occur. Opting for safety Lamarcus Joyner just puts another piece together, because he'll make plays on the ball and attack downfield against the run.
8. Detroit Lions: Kareem Martin, DE (North Carolina)
Drafting Ziggy Ansah was key in 2013. Pairing him with Kareem Martin gives Detroit one talented front line of defense. Martin's ability to defeat single-block situations will crash the backfield at first. And once he's established, that easily takes pressure away from Ndamukong Suh on the interior.
9. Carolina Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, CB (Michigan State)
The NFC South remains an offensively high-powered division. Carolina struggled in coverage last year and neglected to address the secondary in this year's draft. Taking Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard helps lock away half the field, and he benefits from the reliable front seven creating turnover opportunities.
10. New Orleans Saints: Anthony Barr, LB (UCLA)
Without an upgraded pass rush New Orleans will not sniff the postseason. Therefore, selecting Anthony Barr helps create backfield havoc to win earlier downs against explosive offenses. Barr's addition also constricts running lanes and contributes to winning the field-position battle.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE (Texas)
The Titans have much potential on defense. Sprucing up the defensive line, however, will counterbalance the run-oriented philosophy of the AFC South. That said, Jackson Jeffcoat knows how to disrupt behind the line and his instincts greatly complement Tennessee's sound group of linebackers.
12. Cleveland Browns: Brad Roby, CB (Ohio State)
Although the Browns added San Diego's State's Leon McFadden in the 2013 draft, fixing this pass defense will take more than a year.
In turn, electing to snag home-state prospect Brad Roby from Ohio State adds great talent and depth to the secondary. For starters, Cleveland ranked No. 25 in pass defense last year. The Browns also gave up 27 passing touchdowns along with a 63 completion percentage.
Despite the AFC North not being a pass-oriented division, Roby's entire skill set will pay dividends. In 2012 he collected 63 tackles and defended 19 passes, which will transition into pro football.
Factor Cleveland's spruced-up front seven and Roby will see even more turnover opportunities.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnny Manziel, QB (Texas A&M)
Philadelphia's best option under center is Johnny Manziel. He fits Chip Kelly's style to a T and the Eagles need a dynamic quarterback. Given their other explosive playmakers, putting Manziel in control becomes a competitive advantage in any game situation.
14. New York Giants: Louis Nix, DT (Notre Dame)
Louis Nix possesses the talent to knife double-teams and collapse the pocket's interior. The Giants need an inside presence of such magnitude because they lacked in this area in 2012. If anything, Nix's contributions prevent blocking schemes from isolating Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Street, WR (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh remains a physical offense; however, the Steelers have to field a more threatening passing game. Hometown prospect Devin Street offers this capability, as evidenced by solid size and leaping skills to win against man coverage.
16. Miami Dolphins: Gabe Jackson, G (Mississippi State)
Miami completed the edges of its offensive line after it brought in Tyson Clabo, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Filling the interior of the line happens with Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson. Now the Dolphins establish balance, but do so with more power to win the battle up front.
17. Chicago Bears: Will Sutton, DE/DT (Arizona State)
Although Chicago ranked No. 8 in rush defense last year it still gave up 4.2 yards per carry. So fixing this with talented youth in Will Sutton takes care of the line of scrimmage. At 6'1" and 288 pounds, Sutton has the athleticism to contribute at defensive end or tackle depending on the game situation.
18. St. Louis Rams: James Hurst, OT (North Carolina)
Back in April, tackle Rodger Saffold had reportedly mentioned a trade according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
That 100 percent included offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, who has informed the club he wouldn’t mind being traded now that Jake Long has been signed to play left tackle. The Long pickup has moved Saffold to right tackle; he’d rather play left.
In short, with Saffold as a potential free agent in 2014 the Rams get an immediate replacement in James Hurst. He can run and pass block effectively, which will keep St. Louis rolling with balance.
19. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Mosley, LB (Alabama)
With James Hurst off the board to help bolster the offensive line, Kansas City redirects to linebacker with Alabama's C.J. Mosley.
Even though the Chiefs brought in fellow Crimson Tide Nico Johnson in 2013, Mosley is a dynamic talent to play inside or outside linebacker. Over the past three seasons for Nick Saban he has defended 19 passes, recorded five picks and made 211 tackles (14 for loss).
K.C. gave up an average of 4.5 yards per carry in 2012 and managed only 27 sacks. Presenting Mosley as part of the linebacking corps and the Chiefs will close running lanes much quicker to win on first down.
Ultimately, Mosley's impact helps stall drives earlier and Kansas City then gains a field-position advantage.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ben Gardner, DE (Stanford)
The Buccaneers have the upgraded secondary to compete for the postseason. But Tampa Bay won't challenge in the NFC without a better pass rush. Ben Gardner has a nose for the backfield and his ability to seek the rock also bodes nicely against the run.
21. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Ed Reynolds, S (Stanford)
The cornerback tandem of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins is among the best in pro football. Complementing them with a safety in Ed Reynolds fields a completed defense. Bringing a great talent for changing the field on turnovers, Reynolds simply enhances one of the NFL's best defenses.
22. New England Patriots: Jordan Matthews, WR (Vanderbilt)
The playmaking ability of Jordan Matthews will get inflated with the Patriots. Tom Brady is backed by a physical ground game and that easily sets up play action. Ultimately, Matthews benefits from man coverage and also capitalizes inside the red zone.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Ryan Shazier, LB (Ohio State)
Ryan Shazier is a versatile linebacker and the Ravens need a sidekick for Arthur Brown. For one, Shazier is reliable in coverage and two, he'll make plays courtesy of the consistent pass rush. As expected, Baltimore remains tough defensively and continues to challenge for the AFC title.
24. Green Bay Packers: Morgan Breslin, DE (USC)
Keeping the focus on suffocating the line, Green Bay adding Morgan Breslin improves its run defense and pass rush. Although the Packers already present a strong rush, Breslin's sense for causing backfield turbulence helps the cheese force more turnovers to get Aaron Rodgers additional possessions.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Murray, QB (Georgia)
Just imagine Minnesota's offense with a bit more explosiveness. This is exactly what Aaron Murray brings to the Vikings. Obviously Adrian Peterson remains the focal point, but Murray works well off play action and will keep defenses honest. If anything, it prevents total isolation of Peterson in a pass-happy conference.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: Ty Zimmerman, S (Kansas State)
Cincinnati's defense needs a safety that will consistently locate the rock. Ty Zimmerman possesses this instinct, which will only benefit more playing behind the Bengals' front seven. As a result, Cincy generates more turnovers and wins the field-position battle.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Kyle Van Noy, LB (BYU)
The Colts have maintained their status as a strong playoff contender. Drafting Bjoern Werner this past April certainly helps field a more capable pass rush.
Still, Indy has to stick on this path with Kyle Van Noy out of BYU in 2014. Last season the Colts recorded just 32 sacks and allowed an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
That will not instantly flip for the better throughout next fall. Taking Van Noy, though, makes greater strides toward improving as he has accounted for 44.5 tackles for loss, 11 forced fumbles and 14 defended passes in three college seasons.
Comprised of great athleticism and a natural sense for finding the ball, Van Noy's core impact simply disrupts the backfield to give Indy's secondary additional turnover opportunities.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Daniel McCullers, DT (Tennessee)
Daniel McCullers brings the size (6'8", 360 lbs) and explosiveness to really impact as a rookie. San Francisco must remain young up front and McCullers will eat blocks and clog multiple gaps. The 49ers then see more production from their 'backers to asphyxiate the line of scrimmage.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Ka’Deem Carey, RB (Arizona)
Steven Jackson is obviously a proven back, but he's also turning 30 years old before this season. Atlanta needs a long-term solution and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey suits perfectly. As a dependable dual threat, Carey's overall talent is a systematic fit for the Falcons.
30. Houston Texans: Jason Verrett, CB (TCU)
With Ed Reed back deep, Houston will force plenty of passing attempts at the intermediate level and on the outside. Therefore, landing Jason Verrett in 2014 shields half the field as he defended 22 passes last fall.
31. Denver Broncos: Brian Blechen, S (Utah)
Denver is on the brink of becoming a complete team. Already having two sound cornerbacks in Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, getting Brian Blechen helps with creating turnovers. Plus, he'll see an incredible number of opportunities thanks to Von Miller and Co. applying quarterback pressure.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Hoffman, WR (BYU)
One minute weakness in Seattle is its deep aerial assault. Opting for receiver Cody Hoffman keeps a secondary on its heels at all times. A by-product of his talent enhances the production of Marshawn Lynch to then set up play-action. He'll never face double coverage and Hoffman's athleticism also brings a competitive advantage inside the red zone.
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