NFL scouts are working overtime from now until the 2014 NFL draft in May to determine which players their respective teams should target.
It's a grueling process, but it's the one that pays off the most when building a franchise into a contender.
There are hundreds of prospects to choose from, but only 32 of them will be selected in Round 1 when the draft kicks off in New York City on May 8.
Here's a look at where the top players could land.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Texans undoubtedly need a quarterback, but the big question on everyone's mind is who it will be.
Doing work at the combine, B/R's Matt Miller has discovered from a high-ranking source within the Texans organization that Blake Bortles would be the guy if the draft were held right now.
It makes sense. Bill O'Brien loved Bortles in college, and the signal-caller possesses all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Long may not ever be the same after shredding his knee last year, and the Rams must get younger at the offensive tackle positions. Jake Matthews is a plug-and-play starter on either side of the line from the opening day of training camp. He's already polished, and he'll only get better with pro coaching and an NFL strength and conditioning department.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Assuming Jadeveon Clowney blows up the combine like he expects to, then he's a lock as a top-five pick. The Jaguars could certainly use a quarterback here, but the team's defense could also use a cornerstone player like Clowney to anchor the defensive line for the next decade.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
New Browns general manager Ray Farmar recently had some good things to say about Johnny Manziel, as noted by Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, via Cleveland.com:
He's a good football player. That's what Kyle [Shanahan] recognizes, that guys that are exciting to watch and can play football, that's positive. The really good ones are easy to spot. The guys that jump off the tape, those are the fun ones and those are the days that you sit in the film room and wish you could watch two more games.
There's been chatter about the Browns loving Manziel's game for the past couple of months, and nobody will be surprised to see him land in Cleveland.
5. Oakland Raiders: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Raiders need a quarterback who can bring stability to the offense.
Of the top passers in this year's draft, Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville fits that bill the best. He's accurate, a good leader and, most importantly, well-versed at running a traditional pro-style offense from behind center.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan needs explosive pass-rushers to be able to do everything he wants to do schematically with the Falcons. Khalil Mack is lighting in a bottle where pass-rushing is concerned, and he'd boost Atlanta's anemic pass defense in a big way next season.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If Mike Glennon is going to develop into the franchise quarterback for the Bucs, then Tampa Bay must get serious about boosting its offensive line.
Auburn's Greg Robinson possesses the athletic potential to develop into an All-Pro left tackle, and many, including Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com, believe he's the better long-term prospect:
Don't be surprised if #Auburn Greg Robinson goes before Jake Matthews. His ceiling is as high as anyone in entire draft. Incredible prospect— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) January 27, 2014
8. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The NFC North is loaded with top receivers and quarterbacks, which is why Minnesota should seriously consider drafting Justin Gilbert in Round 1. He's an athlete on par with Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals who would boost Minnesota's secondary considerably, playing opposite of Xavier Rhodes in the years to come.
9. Buffalo Bills: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Depending on how Sammy Watkins runs at the combine, he could go considerably higher than this when the draft kicks off in May. However, in this mock he's still on the board when the Bills pick, and there's no better way to boost offensive production than by adding a top-flight receiver to the mix.
10. Detroit Lions: Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
Like Minnesota, Detroit must contend with some potent offenses a couple times a year. The Lions haven't been strong against the pass for years, and with Gilbert already off the board, the team should help its secondary by adding pass-rusher Anthony Barr, who racked up 23.5 sacks the past two years at UCLA.
11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Tennessee's defense needs more physicality and athleticism up front. C.J. Mosley out of Alabama can give the Titans both, and he's capable of playing any linebacker position on the field.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Giants offensive line has been putrid the past couple of years, and last year's group was the worst yet. While offensive tackle Justin Pugh showed promise, he's better suited to stay on the right side of the line.
Taylor Lewan is an experienced left tackle who is athletic enough to make a huge impact both protecting Eli Manning on passing downs and making running lanes for the team's backs.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams have publicly been committed to Sam Bradford since he tore his knee to shreds last year. Adding Jared Cook and receiver Tavon Austin was a good first step to helping Bradford transform St. Louis' offense, but they're not enough.
Mike Evans has the physical abilities to become a dominant perimeter receiver, which is a position of need for the Rams. With him demanding double-teams on the outside, Austin and Cook will have more room to maneuver underneath.
14. Chicago Bears: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Last year, the Bears ranked dead last in total sacks with just 31 all season long. Julius Peppers is clearly declining, and there isn't another dominant pass-rusher on the team who can own the edge. Kony Ealy out of Missouri is a natural 4-3 defensive end who can step in immediately to boost Chicago's production up front.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
ESPN's Scott Brown recently highlighted a major development for Pittsburgh's offseason plans:
"Kevin Colbert acknowledged what had become apparent in recent weeks: Emmanuel Sanders won’t be among the in-house free agents the Pittsburgh Steelers try to sign before March 11."
Sanders is expected to play somewhere else next year, meaning the Steelers will likely be looking to replace him through the draft. Marqise Lee out of USC is a talented, athletic receiver who does damage after the catch.
He'll fit right into the starting lineup opposite Antonio Brown, making Sanders nothing but a distant memory.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Cowboys allowed 287 yards and over two touchdowns per game through the air last year, largely due to the fact that there isn't a single starting-caliber safety on the current roster. Louisville's Calvin Pryor has leapfrogged over Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the eyes of many analysts, and it's quite possible he'll end up playing for Jerry Jones this summer.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Wide receiver Torrey Smith needs a formidable teammate to take pressure off him when the Ravens pass the ball. Joe Flacco loves letting it rip, but too often last year Smith was double-covered. Adding a physical receiver with deep speed like Kelvin Benjamin would give Flacco two excellent options, forcing teams to choose whom to double.
18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
If Geno Smith doesn't get some help in the form of receiving weapons, then there's no way he'll succeed with the Jets. Odell Beckham is a highly confident and capable downfield receiver who specializes in making spectacular catches. He's a player Smith would quickly learn to trust, which is something he had no experience with as a rookie.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
It's not a secret that Miami's offensive line situation is a bit messy. Ryan Tannehill was sacked a league-high 58 times last year, and he'll not develop properly if under similar siege in the years to come.
Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama isn't as fluid as the top offensive tackles, but that didn't stop his fellow teammate from 2012, D.J. Fluker, from thriving with the Chargers last season.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Head coach Bruce Arians loves to attack defensive secondaries offensively, but that can be difficult without adequate protection for the quarterback up front. Arizona's offensive tackles are mediocre—at best. Adding a top pass-protector like Morgan Moses out of Virginia would help the Cardinals immensely in 2014.
21. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Imagine how amazing Green Bay's offense would be with a player like Vernon Davis running routes in the middle of the field. That's what the Packers would be getting (albeit in a slightly slower package) in Eric Ebron from North Carolina.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Philadelphia's defense was just starting to get into the swing of things with defensive coordinator Billy Davis last year, but the team could still use a few key pieces up front to evolve into a dominant unit. Ra'Shede Hageman is a prototypical 3-4 defensive end prospect who would become a cornerstone player for the Eagles within two years.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Alex Smith surprised his doubters by having a terrific first season for the Chiefs last year. He'll do even better in 2014 with a top tight end at his disposal, however. Jace Amaro is a Jimmy Graham-type tight end who was primarily a slot receiver at Texas Tech—the perfect fit in Andy Reid's pass-happy offense.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Darqueze Dennard's slide down the board comes to a screeching halt, as the Bengals would be only too happy to add this year's top man-to-man corner. He'll potentially go much higher than this when the draft occurs, should he post an impressive time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
25. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Melvin Ingram looks like a promising young pass-rusher, but the Chargers need another one to become truly dangerous against the pass. Ryan Shazier brings freakish speed and quickness on every play. His ability to get around offensive tackles makes him a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in San Diego's 3-4 scheme.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Defense wasn't a problem for the Browns last year, so it won't be surprising if the team picks an offensive player twice in Round 1. Adding Allen Robinson to play with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron would give Manziel all the help he needs to succeed as a rookie in 2014.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Kenny Vaccaro was phenomenal last year as a rookie for the Saints. But the team still needs to add another safety after releasing Roman Harper, and you can't go wrong pairing Vaccaro with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama. The two of them would be interchangeable, giving Rob Ryan an incredible advantage schematically.
28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Adding another receiver (or two) to Carolina's roster is imperative to ensure Cam Newton continues developing into the franchise quarterback he's capable of becoming.
Brandin Cooks was one of the nations's most productive receivers last year. He's ready to step into the lineup with Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell immediately to boost the team's passing production.
29. New England Patriots: Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
Nobody knows if Vince Wilfork will return to full health after tearing his Achilles tendon last year. It's the kind of injury that can doom a career, and the Patriots must hedge against the possibility by drafting Louis Nix. Even if Wilfork returns to his full capacity, Nix would be a huge addition who would turn New England's run defense into a veritable brick wall.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Drafting cheap, yet effective, weapons for soon-to-be-rich quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a top priority for general manager Trent Baalke. Kaepernick will need a contract extension soon, and he's going to be expensive to keep.
Jordan Matthews would be a terrific fit on San Francisco's roster. He's big, quick and aggressive when going for the ball. And if the 49ers can re-sign Anquan Boldin, then Matthews would be the perfect man to replace him after he's gone while taking over as the third receiver in the meantime.
31. Denver Broncos: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Terrance Knighton needs a playmate in the middle of Denver's defensive line. With two dominant tackles who can do different things, the Broncos would be much more formidable on defense. Aaron Donald is a quick pass-rushing defensive tackle who would complement Knighton's raw power to perfection.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame
It's hard to find any weakness on Seattle's Super Bowl-winning roster. However, the team's offensive line fell into disrepair a few times last year, and there's plenty of room for improvement.
Adding a versatile lineman like Notre Dame's Zach Martin—who can play all over the line—would be a smart move to keep the team's offense running like a well-oiled machine in 2014.
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