NFL Draft 2014: Key Selections That Will Shape Entire 1st Round

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2014

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies argues a call during the the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against the Duke Blue Devils at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Plenty of new coaches looking to put their stamp on their organization. Potential superstars like Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney available to be drafted. The makings of a much stronger first-round class than a year ago.

This year's NFL draft is gonna be fun.

And with several key draft slots littering the first round, the entirety of the draft could be altered based on what a few teams decide to do. Let's take a look at several selections that could truly alter this draft.


What Will St. Louis Do With the No. 2 Pick?

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in action during their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams could draft a quarterback here, but that would signal the end of the Sam Bradford era. That seems unlikely. They could also go with the top player on their board—potentially Clowney if the Houston Texans go with a quarterback, but with Robert Quinn and Chris Long already available, Clowney would be serious surplus to requirements.

That leaves them with two other viable options—they could draft tackle Jake Matthews, or they could auction this pick to the highest bidder.

If Clowney and Manziel are both available at No. 2, this option could garner the Rams another draft bounty like they got from Washington when it selected Robert Griffin III. This pick will be so valuable, it's hard to see the Rams holding on to it.

No matter what, the No. 2 selection will have a huge impact on the rest of the draft.


The Cleveland Browns Will Have Serious Leverage at No. 4 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 21:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Fresno State Bulldogs signals teammates during the team's game against the USC Trojans in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC won
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

By most accounts, there are four stud quarterbacks in this draft—Teddy Bridgewater, Manziel, Derek Carr and Blake Bortles, in no particular order—and five teams in the first 10 picks that will seriously consider drafting one of them (the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings).

Now, it's very possible that the Texans select a quarterback No. 1 overall, the Rams trade their pick to a quarterback-needy team and the Jags make it three in a row at the position. Thus, for any team wanting one of the elite quarterbacks, trading up to No. 4 to ensure the Browns don't draft one and to get ahead of the Raiders becomes vital.

But even if the top of the draft order doesn't become a quarterback extravaganza, a top quarterback, a player like Clowney or the top offensive tackle, Matthews, will probably be available at No. 4.

The Browns may not trade out of this pick—heck, they might move up to No. 2—but they'll certainly receive their fair share of calls from teams willing to move up.


The Minnesota Vikings Have Options

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo b
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At No. 8, the Vikings could hope that one of the top four quarterbacks falls to them. They could also upgrade one of a number of positions on defense. Or they could look to bolster the offense by adding a wide receiver like Clemson's Sammy Watkins.

The latter option is truly intriguing, as four of the next five teams picking behind them—the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and St. Louis Rams—could also target receivers. If Minny starts the run on receivers by taking Watkins, expect Mike Evans and Marqise Lee to quickly get snatched up.

And that could also mean talented tight end Eric Ebron is a top-12 pick. Heck, Minny might choose to pair Watkins with Cordarrelle Patterson as much to keep him away from Detroit as to give itself a truly dynamic pair of young receivers.

Minny's priority should be a quarterback in this draft, but if that doesn't work out, its selection at No. 8 could have major repercussions on the draft board.


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