The 2014 NFL draft order has yet to be set officially since the playoffs will shake things up significantly near the bottom of the draft, but most teams know where they will be selecting, and they have the difficult task of deciding whether to stand pat or trade out of their current spot.
Staying put or even trading down are attractive options this year considering the depth that this draft possesses, but that doesn't go for everyone. Some teams have such obvious needs that they may need to make a drastic maneuver to address them. Being bold is risky, but it is often necessary in order for a franchise to take the next step.
Here are three teams that would be wise to trade up in the first round should the opportunity present itself.
|2014 NFL Draft First-Round Order|
|2||St. Louis Rams (from WAS)|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|12||New York Giants|
|13||St. Louis Rams|
|16||Baltimore Ravens (pending coin flip w/ DAL)|
|17||Dallas Cowboys (pending coin flip w/ BAL)|
|18||New York Jets|
|21||Green Bay Packers|
|22||San Diego Chargers|
|24||Kansas City Chiefs|
|26||Cleveland Browns (from IND)|
|27||New Orleans Saints|
|28||New England Patriots|
|29||San Francisco 49ers|
|NFL.com (subject to change based on playoff results)|
New York Jets
The New York Jets had no business winning eight games in 2013, but head coach Rex Ryan did a great job getting his team to perform well beyond its means. The defense was New York's strong suit, and it will undoubtedly continue to be in 2014. In order for the Jets to truly be competitive, however, an influx of talent is desperately needed on offense. If the organization is willing to give quarterback Geno Smith another year to develop, then it must do everything possible to surround him with some offensive weapons.
It isn't particularly surprising that Smith struggled at times this season since he was throwing to the likes of David Nelson, Jeff Cumberland and Stephen Hill oftentimes. Smith simply didn't have a go-to guy that he could trust, which is a huge detriment to a young quarterback. Luckily, there are several pass catchers in this year's class who can potentially help Smith significantly. Among them is Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, who Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News suggests that the Jets should attempt to trade up for.
Watkins is a top-five talent, but based on the fact that many of the teams picking early in the draft need quarterbacks, he should be available somewhere around No. 10. New York could stay at No. 18 and potentially get USC wide receiver Marqise Lee or Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro; however, Watkins is a true game-breaker. Watkins may not be a sure thing, but he has rare skills that make him less of a risk than the other receivers in this draft. Because of that, Gang Green should go to great lengths in order to get him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After firing Greg Schiano and hiring Lovie Smith as head coach, there is no question that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to enter a new era. It is no secret that Smith is a defensive coach, so it stands to reason that he will want to improve on that side of the ball. The Bucs actually have quite a bit of talent offensively with running back Doug Martin, assuming he returns to full health, as well as wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Also, quarterback Mike Glennon has shown plenty of promise.
The Bucs also have some good pieces on defense; however, they struggled getting to the quarterback with just 35 sacks in 2013. That, in turn, made life more difficult for the linebackers and secondary. Tampa has had plenty of misses in terms of drafting pass rushers in recent years, but that shouldn't deter it from trying again. One obvious prize that the Buccaneers should pursue is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, as he has officially declared for the draft, per SportsCenter.
Clowney entered the season as the consensus No. 1 prospect and pick, but that is no longer the case. Most seem to believe that the Houston Texans will take a quarterback first, and four of the top five teams could easily go in that direction. The division rival Atlanta Falcons would almost certainly take Clowney at No. 6, so the Bucs need to make a move from No. 7 if they want him. The St. Louis Rams are the most obvious trading partner at No. 2, and it would be worth it despite the steep cost.
Everything was gift wrapped for the Miami Dolphins to reach the playoffs this season as they simply needed to beat the Buffalo Bills or the New York Jets over the final two weeks of the season, but Miami looked awful and lost both contests. It seemed like the Dolphins would enter the offseason on a positive note, but there are now plenty of question marks surrounding the team, including its power structure.
According to the Associated Press, general manager Jeff Ireland's seat couldn't be hotter, so he simply can't afford another misstep.
Second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is considered the most likely to be fired, and sixth-year general manager Jeff Ireland‘s job is also in serious jeopardy. Coach Joe Philbin is likely to return for a third season, the two people familiar with the situation said, but that’s not a certainty.
The Dolphins arguably had the worst draft class in 2013, which means they need to have one of the best in 2014 for Ireland to save his job. There is little doubt that the offensive line is Miami's biggest issue based on the fact that quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 58 times.
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews is the best in the draft at his position, but it would be very difficult for the Dolphins to trade up for him from No. 19. With that said, Auburn's Greg Robinson, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandijo, Florida State's Cameron Erving and Michigan's Taylor Lewan would all be great fits as well, so Ireland should go get the one he likes most.
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