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NFL Draft 2014: Teams That Can Turn Their Fortunes Around Entirely in April

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 08:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Rams 30-10.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Will GroomsCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2013

With the 2013 season in the books for all but 12 fortunate NFL franchises, the majority of the NFL management community has already turned its attention to the offseason—particularly, the 2014 NFL draft. 

Months of research and analysis climax with three days in April where NFL general managers have the profound opportunity to completely reverse the fortune, for better or worse, of their franchise. 

Three teams that finished in the bottom half of the league in 2013 have the opportunity to do just that with their draft selections. 

 

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams received a king's ransom from the Washington Redskins in 2012 in exchange for their hold on the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, which led to the selection of Robert Griffin III.

Part of the spoils in their deal included the Redskins' first-round pick in 2014. Resulting from the Redskins' putrid 2013 campaign is the second overall pick in the draft for the Rams. 

One player that St. Louis is sure to be thinking hard about is Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews. During his time with the Aggies, Matthews was named a first-team All American in both of his final two years. 

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Jake Matthews #75 of the Texas A&M Aggies waits on the bench during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Matthews will make an excellent addition on the right side to former first-overall pick Jake Long anchoring the tackle spot on the left side. 

The Rams are also in possession of the 14th overall pick in the first round. One player that should be a lock if he falls to 14 is Matthews' teammate Mike Evans.

The Rams have been looking for a big-play receiver for years to revitalize the former "greatest show on turf."

Used as a supplement to Tavon Austin with a healthy Sam Bradford playing quarterback and a solidified offensive line, the sky is the limit for the Rams' offense. 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars' rough 0-8 start to 2013 was salvaged by way of a 4-4 finish in their season's second half. With possession of the fourth overall pick, the Jaguars have the opportunity to completely reinvent themselves by drafting a franchise quarterback.

A franchise that's failed to post a winning record since 2007, Jacksonville doesn't need to take any chances on a high-risk player like Johnny Manziel.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr may be just what the doctor ordered for this struggling franchise.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Fresno State Bulldogs looks to throw against the USC Trojans during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC won 45-20.  (Photo by Eth
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Aside from having a good pedigree by way of his brother David, a former first-overall pick for the Houston Texans, Carr has all the physical tools of an NFL quarterback. His arm strength is off the charts, and his accuracy has vastly improved—particularly on his deep ball.

Carr was the 2012 player of the year in the Mountain West Conference as well as an honorable-mention All American. What sets him apart, however, is his intelligence. 

Carr was named a second-team Capital One academic All American in 2013. He may not be quite on the intelligence level of Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, but Carr excels in a very underrated attribute among NFL quarterbacks. 

 

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are easily the most talented team that possesses a top-10 pick in the 2014 draft. For whatever reason, the 2012 NFC South champions failed to mesh well together in 2013.

Though hindered by the early loss of star-receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons had issues on both sides of the ball—particularly in run defense.

Atlanta ranked second to last in the NFL in 2013 in rush defense, allowing a staggering 2,173 yards. 

A great pick for them would be Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. 

In 2013, Mack recorded 19 tackles for loss for the Bulls—ranking him in the top 15 in the NCAA (via NCAA.com).

He can transform a struggling defense into an elite defense by not only his ability to play, but his ability to lead. 

 

Unless otherwise mentioned, all stats were gathered via Pro-Football-Reference.com

Will Grooms is a student in the B/R advanced sports media program. You can find more of his work at Collegiate Times and follow him on Twitter @w_grooms94.  

 

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