After 17 grueling weeks of NFL action, the 2014 NFL draft order has been set for 20 of the 32 teams heading into the league's Wild Card Round.
Here's a quick peek at the "lucky" teams that are slated to pick in the top 10, courtesy of FOX Sports: NFL:
2014 NFL Draft order: 1 Texans 2 Rams (from Redskins) 3 Jaguars 4 Browns 5 Raiders 6 Falcons 7 Bucs 8 Vikings 9 Bills 10 Lions— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 30, 2013
Unlike previous drafts, which have been held in April, the 2014 NFL draft will kick off on May 8 in New York. There's a lot of work to be done by NFL scouts before anyone can realistically project where players will be selected.
However, there's a really good chance a quarterback will be taken No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans. The biggest question is who it will be, with Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville being the heavy favorite for the honor.
Here's a look at the full order:
|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|
Note: The final 12 picks have yet to be officially established. For now, Nos. 21-32 are based on the regular-season records of the teams preparing for the playoffs.
Houston dropped its last 14 games to "earn" the No. 1 overall pick, and it could have easily been 0-16, as pointed out by Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders and Bleacher Report:
I hope history understands just how close Houston came to 0-16.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) December 30, 2013
While Houston's 2013 season was without peer for putridity, the team that enters the 2014 draft with the most question marks is Washington.
Thanks to an exorbitant price set by St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead, who fleeced Washington for the No. 2 spot in the 2012 NFL draft, the team from D.C. will send the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft to the Rams.
St. Louis is in great shape, but Washington must land starters in Round 2 and beyond, and there are many holes to fill on Washington's roster.
Contrarily, a team that appeared to be headed nowhere fast early in 2013 looks to have a bright future next season. Rookie head coach Gus Bradley impressed veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew with his ability to lead, as noted by Chris Burke of SI.com:
He finds a way to find the positive out of negative. There’s been some days — I’ve had bad days, other guys have bad days — he’ll come over and rile you up. One thing about Gus a lot of people don’t understand: I don’t know if there’s a coach or a person that can match that intensity.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be in a great position to land an impact player with the No. 3 pick next May, and it's likely a quarterback will be selected at that spot.
Teams like Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cleveland also need to find starters in the first round in order to emerge out of the pit of mediocrity.
Which team has the best shot at bouncing back with a Super Bowl run in 2014?
For other teams, like Atlanta, Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago, the first round offers a chance at landing a complementary player who can help them get back to the playoffs after a disappointing season.
After the Wild Card Round is concluded on Jan. 5, then we'll know more about where a few of the playoff teams will select from.
Rest assured, speculation will abound as to which teams will unfortunately be among those who are slotted in officially after the first playoff games. Until then, hold on tight, because the playoffs are going to take football fans on a wild and crazy ride.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78