The NFL Scouting Combine has only muddied the picture at the top of the upcoming draft.
Participation by the top quarterbacks was sparse. Meanwhile, other top prospects like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Buffalo's Khalil Mack put up performances that cement their status as elite prospects.
With every team in the top-five selections, excluding the St. Louis Rams at No. 2, completely desperate for their quarterback of the future, it makes forecasting how the top of this draft will play out a difficult task.
In the end, I still see the top of this draft being quarterback heavy.
Langford's 2014 NFL Mock Draft
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Blake Bortles was the only top quarterback prospect at this combine to throw. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr all passed on the opportunity.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports was impressed with Bortles' throwing performance:
[Bortles] didn't disappoint with the spotlight on him, displaying his smooth set up and release and tossing darts down the field. Bortles' accuracy and footwork on his three-step drops were excellent, showing very good rhythm, timing and precision to rip it with very good target placement. He was a tick late with his seven-step drops and has room to improve his feet and balance in this area, but Bortles was still able to be accurate down the field, especially on deep bucket throws.
In all, ESPN's Pat McManamon was impressed enough to rate Bortles' showing at the combine as a "solid eight, pushing nine" on a scale of 1 to 10.
All of this only cements Bortles as the pick for the Houston Texans.
This franchise is in obvious need of a quarterback, and all signs are pointing to Bortles being the guy.
Bleacher Report NFL Draft Expert Matt Miller reported from the scouting combine that the buzz is indicating Houston takes Bortles:
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina
The St. Louis Rams will definitely explore trading this pick. In the end, I don't see them getting the value they need to make passing on a talent like Jadeveon Clowney worth it.
Clowney is a freak of nature, and he only solidified that at the combine. The Rams already have an excellent defensive line, but that doesn't mean they should pass on Clowney.
His addition would allow the Rams the ability to shop defensive end Chris Long for draft picks or simply have a defensive line with the talent and diversity to give any offensive line nightmares.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater didn't run or throw at the combine, and the way he went about it raised a red flag or two. At least it did for CBS' Dane Brulger:
Teddy Bridgewater Saturday afternoon: "I will be running here. I will run at the combine." Why back out a few hours later?— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 24, 2014
I don't expect this to matter all that much in the end.
Bridgewater is a polished quarterback with a solid arm and mechanics. Plus, his ability to make proper audibles and read defenses makes him the most pro-ready quarterback in this class.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need someone to build around on offense, and Bridgewater's talent and maturity are a good place to start.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel will need to learn to become a more disciplined quarterback, but there is little doubt that his creativity will lead to some big plays.
The Cleveland Browns have some nice weapons in place for a quarterback with wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Manziel would give that passing game the spark it needs to be dangerous.
5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
With three quarterbacks off the board, the Oakland Raiders aren't likely to address that pressing need with this pick.
So, I expect them to turn to defense, where they are badly in need of athletes.
Khalil Mack is certainly athletic. In fact, he's so impressive that NFL.com's Mike Huguenin passed along that prospect guru Mike Mayock went as far as to say this past Friday on Minneapolis radio station KFAN that Mack would be his No. 1 overall selection.
Mack will give the Raiders the pass-rusher they need and allow them greater scheme versatility in their hybrid defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Auburn tackle Greg Robinson may not be on the board this long. Aside from perhaps Clowney, Robinson is the most physically impressive prospect in this class.
The Atlanta Falcons will be ecstatic if he's still on the board. They need to get more physical in the offensive and defensive trenches, and Robinson will certainly help with that.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins is a complete receiver and a dangerous playmaker. He is not a freak-of-nature athlete, however.
That is no slam on Watkins or his potential in the NFL. That is just the reasoning I see him lasting past teams that need a wide receiver like the Rams and Raiders.
The Buccaneers don't have a huge need at receiver with Vincent Jackson and tight end Timothy Wright also proving to be an excellent weapon.
Still, Watkins is a good value, and he will help open up the field and take attention off of Jackson.
Which QB will have the best NFL career?
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
I was disappointed Derek Carr didn't throw at the combine. His arm talent is excellent, and it would be nice to see him itching to display that.
There are questions about Carr's footwork and ability to handle an NFL pass rush. Still, there is no doubting his potential.
There is also no doubting that the Minnesota Vikings need a quarterback.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Kiko Alonso is coming off an excellent rookie season at inside linebacker, but the budding Bills front seven needs help and speed at the other linebacker positions.
Anthony Barr is raw, but he's got the speed and athleticism to make a difference from Day 1. Initially, Barr will be best used as an edge-rusher on passing downs, but he has the skill set to be an outstanding every-down linebacker in any system.
10. Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions have a beastly defensive line but a terribly inconsistent defense.
C.J. Mosley isn't a dominant pass-rushing linebacker, but he is athletic, versatile and well-rounded. His speed and instincts will help bring needed consistency to this defense.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
If the draft plays out like this, the Tennessee Titans have an easy selection here.
They need edge blocking, and Jake Matthews is an outstanding and polished prospect. He will be an instant and longtime starter.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Eric Ebron showed exactly why he deserves to go in the first half of the first round. Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen helps explain:
#UNC TE Eric Ebron (6-4, 250) posted a 4.50 40 time... No. 1 TE in '14 class can be a matchup issue for safeties at the NFL level.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 22, 2014
This is the exact kind of weapon that the New York Giants need to help open up the field. With Ebron's ability to explode up the seam, safeties won't be able to lend as much deep help on the outside.
That will help quarterback Eli Manning avoid an interception or 20.
13. St. Louis Rams: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
One of the reasons I see the Rams holding onto the above No. 2 selection is because this team has a great shot at filling one of their biggest needs with a great prospect with this selection.
Michigan's Taylor Lewan is polished and athletic. He isn't the beast that Robinson is in the run game, but he will help keep heat off of a quarterback's blind side for years to come.
Lewan is a great insurance policy to Jake Long, and he can lock down the right tackle position when Long is able to play.
14. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Louis Nix has the size and power to be a monster in the middle of a defensive line.
This makes him a great fit for the Chicago Bears.
Firstly, he can play competent NFL defense. The Bears have a real lack of players with that skill on their current roster.
Also, finding a centerpiece for the front seven is a great place for the Bears to start their defensive rebuilding process.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Pittsburgh Steelers' biggest need is not at the corner position. Ike Taylor is turning 34, however, and with Cortez Allen and William Gay behind Taylor, Pittsburgh needs more talent in its depth.
Darqueze Dennard is a physical corner and will fit right into the Steelers' system. He is a good value here and a solid pick.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of holes to fill on defense. They desperately need a defensive lineman, but they also need secondary help.
I have Calvin Pryor as the selection because of his value and fit. He is a rangy safety who can make plays all over the field, and he is the best player available here for the Cowboys in their areas of need.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Antonio Richardson's stiffness in movement could leave him out of the first round, but his strength and power make him an appealing prospect.
The Baltimore Ravens must rebuild their offensive line. Richardson will give them a strong body to help bolster the run game.
18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The New York Jets need to take the best offensive playmaker available with this selection. Mike Evans is that guy.
He uses excellent size and ball skills to be a threat all over the field, and he will be a safety-blanket option for young quarterback Geno Smith.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
After a disastrous Sugar Bowl and equally terrible combine (the below tweet from Pro Football Talk helps explain), Cyrus Kouandjio is a risk.
Report: Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio fails some physicals because of arthritic knee http://t.co/6kxZSSo1ET— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 22, 2014
Still, the Miami Dolphins are in a position along the offensive line where they have to make a gamble or two.
Kouandjio has a ton of excellent game film against top competition. If his body holds up, he can be a starter in this league for a long time.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Zack Martin's future position in the NFL is up for debate. The college tackle has concerns, expressed in the following comment from CBS Sports' Rob Rang, about his ability to handle the tackle position. Rang: "Martin does not possess great height, arm length or foot speed."
Then there are those like Mayock who believe he can handle tackle and every other position along the offensive line:
This is all fine for the Cardinals. They need help all over their offensive line.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Ra'Shede Hageman didn't dominate while at Minnesota, but he has the physical tools to dominate at any level.
This tweet from Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller helps highlight the kind of athleticism this 315-pounder possesses:
Ra'shede Hageman's 35.5" vertical jump led all D-tackles. Remember him bragging about being able to 360 dunk. Imagine him on the bball team.— Marcus R. Fuller (@GophersNow) February 24, 2014
The Green Bay Packers must add strength in the trenches, and Hageman's potential makes him a worthy selection.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Philadelphia Eagles have to improve upon a pass defense that finished last season ranked last in the NFL.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a good value and fit. He has solid athleticism and the range to make big plays in the passing game and limit the Eagles' vulnerability against the deep pass.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Kansas City Chiefs can't continue to rely so heavily on Jamaal Charles. He was the team's leading receiver last season.
Marqise Lee will give the Chiefs a weapon opposite of Dwayne Bowe, and his deep-play ability will help open up the field.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Cincinnati Bengals are in a similar position at corner as the Steelers. The position isn't a big need, but it will be if an aging corner can't provide a solid season.
Terence Newman is 35. The Bengals have Adam Jones on one side, but behind Newman is the untested Dre Kirkpatrick.
Justin Gilbert has good size and quickness. He has the potential to be a No. 1 corner.
25. San Diego Chargers: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
With a weak passing defense and thin group of cornerback talent, the San Diego Chargers should be on the lookout for the best corner available.
E.J. Gaines is that guy. He has good size and the skills to play man or zone.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
With the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel at No. 4 in this mock, they should continue to make the offense dangerous with another weapon in the passing game.
At Texas A&M, Manziel enjoyed throwing to lengthy receiver Mike Evans. Kelvin Benjamin would give him that kind of talent in the NFL.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier is an instinctive linebacker with good explosion. CBS' Pat Kirwan helps highlight that:
Take a look@Combine results for explosion..Bench+Vertical+Broad Jump..needs to combine for a # over 70 if explosive. Ryan Shazier had 77.08— Pat Kirwan (@PatKirwanCBS) February 25, 2014
New Orleans can use this kind of athlete in their front seven to boost the pass rush and add needed physicality to the run defense.
28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks is tiny in terms of being an NFL wide receiver. He checks in under six feet. He makes up for his lack of height with solid strength, good ball skills and route running.
Oh, he also has what sportswriter Bryan Fischer points out going for him.
The Carolina Panthers need weapons in the passing game, and in this situation, Cooks would be able to learn from the similarly styled Steve Smith.
29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Cornerback Aqib Talib is a free agent and even if he does return to New England, the Patriots need corner depth.
Jason Verrett lacks size, but he's got the cover skills. He may be limited to nickel corner, but he will provide excellent coverage skills wherever he lines up.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Allen Robinson doesn't have dominating athleticism, but he is a natural pass-catcher with great ball skills.
DraftTV.com's Shane P. Hallam explains:
One thing PSU WR Allen Robinson does real well is track the ball and high point it. If you put him in position to do that, can be real good— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) February 23, 2014
This will play well in San Francisco where wide receiver Anquan Boldin is a free agent and 33 years old.
31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Kony Ealy's athleticism hasn't been in doubt. With numbers at the combine like the one highlighted by NBC's John Norris, his athleticism shouldn't be a concern going forward, either:
273-lb #Mizzou DE Kony Ealy completed the 3-cone drill today in 6.83 seconds. For perspective, that's .12 seconds faster than Sammy Watkins.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) February 24, 2014
The Denver Broncos must quickly improve their defense to capitalize on their current window, and Ealy has the skills to make a big impact in the pass rush.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Marcus Roberson is a physical corner who would look good in the Seahawks' bump and zone defensive system.
Corner is far from the biggest need in Seattle, but the current regime has a history of drafting the best players available for their system, and Roberson is that guy in this scenario.