The 2014 NFL draft order is slowly taking shape after Week 17 finalized the first 20 picks.
The 2014 draft will not begin until May 8, but we now know where all but 12 teams will pick, and better yet we already have a strong idea as to how the top teams will act.
For example, we know the Houston Texans will likely look to address the quarterback position. Houston worked hard to obtain the No. 1 pick, and the definition of hard in this case is losing 14 straight.
With veteran Matt Schaub and youngster Case Keenum clearly not the answers, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater or Fresno State's Derek Carr seem to be the favorites to be first off the board and team up with a new head coach.
After Houston, things are a bit more interesting. Here is a look at the full order:
|2014 NFL Draft Order as of Dec. 30|
|2||St. Louis Rams (from Redskins)|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|12||New York Giants|
|13||St. Louis Rams|
|18||New York Jets|
|21||Green Bay Packers|
|22||San Diego Chargers|
|24||Kansas City Chiefs|
|26||Cleveland Browns (from Colts)|
|27||New Orleans Saints|
|28||New England Patriots|
|29||San Francisco 49ers|
Perhaps most intriguing of all is the St. Louis Rams. Jeff Fisher's team finished the year with a 7-9 record, but hold the No. 2 overall pick thanks to the trade that landed Robert Griffin III in Washington with the Redskins.
Those Redskins wound up benching RGIII for the final few games of the season and lost eight in a row. After the team's 20-6 loss to the New York Giants in Week 17, Mike Shanahan told the media, per the team's official site, how he felt about the outcome:
You always want to compete and you’re disappointed when you lose. It’s not a fun profession when you lose. To be in this situation is something I haven’t experienced before so I’m very disappointed.
No kidding. Washington goes 3-13 on the year and gets nothing to show for it.
Meanwhile, the Rams are on the cusp of being a competitive squad, will get a healthy Sam Bradford back next year under center and will have the No. 2 player off the board in 2014. That could be anyone from Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Then there is Jacksonville at No. 3 overall, which did its best to play itself out of the No. 1 spot with four wins in five weeks starting in Week 10.
After losing its final game by way of a 30-10 outcome against the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars are likely in the mood for the top quarterback prospect available. After all, the team is on the right path already, per kicker Josh Scobee, via the team's Twitter account:
But perhaps most interesting of all is the Cleveland Browns, a team that sits in the No. 4 spot after a 4-12 season. The Browns are in for a major overhaul after coach Rob Chudzinski was given the boot, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
This opens the door for a few options, but all signs point to a quarterback being the pick. Think about it—the defense under coordinator Ray Horton is great, and the offense has a star receiver in Josh Gordon, who had 1,646 and nine touchdowns in 2013—after missing the first two games of the year.
Running back is out of the question given the devalued nature of the position, and the old adage that links a new head coach to a new franchise quarterback consistently rings true.
Could Cleveland, after jumping the Oakland Raiders for the No. 4 spot, take a polarizing figure such as Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel?
Perhaps, but with Oakland rounding out the top five, do not be surprised if 2014 is once again the year of the quarterback. As it stands now, as many as four signal-callers could come off the board in the first five picks.