Now that the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine has officially wrapped up, we have seen certain prospects bolster their draft positions, while others only raised questions about their abilities. Needless to say, this shakes up the draft quite a bit.
Multiple prospects are vying for the top position in the draft, while plenty more are fighting for a position within the top 10. After the combine, there have been significant changes in this area. In fact, the entire first-round projections look much different than they did before the combine.
Let's take a look at how the first round of the 2014 NFL draft may shake out now that we have seen most prospects work out in front of league scouts, executives and members of the media.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
There's been plenty of speculation that the Texans will select a quarterback with the first pick of the draft—and rightfully so. However, after Clowney's display of speed and athleticism during the combine, he may be too valuable to pass up.
After running a blazing 4.53-second 40-yard dash at 6'5" and 266 pounds, as well as being a top performer in the vertical jump and broad jump, he solidified his position as a once-in-a-lifetime prospect.
Some talented quarterbacks will be available in the early second round (see: Garoppolo, Jimmy), and the Texans can go ahead and claim their signal-caller then.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Speaking of incredible combine performances, Robinson had one of the best workouts of any offensive lineman. At 6'5" and 332 pounds, he ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash and showcased a brilliant technical skill set.
The Rams are solid on the offensive line, but Robinson would bring an immediate impact and boost a young, explosive offense.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars finally get a reliable signal-caller here. Bridgewater is the most NFL-ready prospect of any quarterback in this year's draft. His decision-making, accuracy and intelligence will be a revelation for a Jaguars offense that has been stagnant for years.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Cleveland gets its guy here with Manziel going at No. 4 overall. On the field, he has a versatile skill set to create yards in many different ways. He has the arm to get Josh Gordon heavily involved and the legs to get himself out of trouble in a tough AFC North.
The only questions about Manziel were regarding his attitude as a leader. So far, he has been saying all the right things. During the combine, Peter King of Sports Illustrated noted an impressive interview between Manziel and the Jaguars:
Manziel went to owner Shahid Khan and shook his hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Khan. I’m Johnny Manziel."
Then to his son Tony Khan, a team senior VP. "Hi Mr. Khan, Johnny Manziel."
Then to coach Gus Bradley. "Hi Coach Bradley, pleasure to meet you. Johnny Manziel."
Then to GM David Caldwell, and then to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. All the same: handshake, look 'em in the eye, refer to them by name. He knew them all. Now, he didn't know the scouts in the room, but he knew five men by sight that he’d never met. "That was impressive," Caldwell said. "He did a really nice job in there. He was prepared for the interview, very prepared."
It appears that Manziel has a new image. He's been mature and professional throughout this process. He is beginning to look and sound like a franchise quarterback.
5. Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Raiders are in the quarterback market as well. Matt McGloin was impressive last year despite coming into camp with very little regard. Despite his solid play, Oakland could still use an upgrade at the position. With the 6'5", 232-pound Bortles on the board, the team will get its big, athletic quarterback of the future.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Matthews drops to No. 6 overall here, not because he didn't have a decent combine performance, but simply because Robinson had a better one. Matthews is still an NFL-ready offensive tackle and will be an immediate upgrade to a Falcons offensive line that was shaky in 2013.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins was already considered the top wide receiver prospect in this year's draft. He solidified that notion after a brilliant combine performance. The Buccaneers have been searching for a legitimate complement to Vincent Jackson, and they'll get a great one here. This offense just became immensely explosive.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
With Jared Allen heading to free agency, the Vikings are in need of an upgrade on the defensive front. Mack is one of the purest pass-rushers in the draft. His speed and agility will allow this defense to continue to apply strong pressure to quarterbacks in a pass-happy NFC North.
9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Bills could use a few upgrades on offense, as they will look to provide EJ Manuel with more weapons. However, selecting a prospect like Mosley to pair with Kiko Alonso would make Buffalo's front seven terrifying. If this team is to keep up with the likes of Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill, adding defensive weapons is the way to go.
10. Detroit Lions: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Lions need help across the board on the defensive side of the ball. They could go secondary here, but adding a great edge-rusher would do wonders as well. Barr has elite speed and can be used either standing up as an outside linebacker or with his hand on the ground as a defensive end. His ability to disrupt a backfield will improve the Lions' entire defense.
11. Tennessee Titans: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Last season, the Titans defense came into its own. The team has a talented front end; however, it could use an upgrade on the back end. Clinton-Dix has great speed and vision that he uses to make decisive breaks on the ball and create many disruptions in the passing game.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
After throwing 27 interceptions in 2013, Eli Manning will be begging for an upgrade along the offensive line. Enter Taylor Lewan. The former Michigan standout proved that he has a great mix of strength and speed at the combine. He is a beast in the trenches, but after running a 4.87-second 40-yard dash, his athleticism shined as well.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams already shored up the offensive line, and now it's time to add more weapons on offense. Tavon Austin looks to have a bright future in the NFL; however, he is best suited as a slot receiver. Evans, standing at 6'5" and weighing 231 pounds, will be the chain-mover and red-zone target that this offense has been lacking.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
After a terrible showing against the run in 2013, the Bears need a serious upgrade on the interior of the defensive line. Donald has a great size-and-speed combination to provide stout defense against the run and an added disruption in the backfield on passing downs.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Steelers are lacking an elite nose tackle who can stand up to the big offensive lines in the AFC North. Nix has the size to fit perfectly in Dick LeBeau's 3-4 base defense. If this defense is going to get back on track in 2014, it will have to start by adding Nix up front in the trenches.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Cowboys couldn't stop much of anything in 2013. They will need significant upgrades all over the defense. Adding Pryor here gives them a much-needed physical presence in the defensive end. He is not only a hard-hitting safety but has excellent coverage skills. He will start immediately.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Ravens shored up the tight end position on Friday, signing Dennis Pitta to a five-year deal. Now, they must continue to provide Joe Flacco with more weapons. Lee demands attention whenever he is on the field and would provide a great complement to Torrey Smith. The Ravens' passing game just got back on track.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Multiple offensive upgrades are needed in New York, and Ebron would be the best option at this point in the draft. The 6'4", 250-pound Ebron showed that he has the speed to stretch the field after running a 4.60-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Whoever is under center for the Jets in 2014 will benefit from his presence.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Kouandjio didn't have the best combine; however, he has experience on a pro-style offense. Once he improves his technique, he will be a valuable addition to an offense line that must keep the surging Ryan Tannehill upright.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carson Palmer had a great year in 2013. The Cardinals went a surprising 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs. However, at age 34, he may not have many years left. Carr had a great showing at the combine, and his mix of a strong arm and athleticism will allow Arizona to continue utilizing the same offensive scheme when it's time for him to step in.
21. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Packers could upgrade the defensive side of the ball here; however, after a great showing at the combine, they may not be able to pass up the rising Amaro. The need at tight end is a strong one for the Packers, and adding a 6'5", 265-pound athlete who runs a 4.74-second 40-yard dash on an offense featuring Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is a solid idea.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Philadelphia needs plenty of help in the secondary heading into the 2014 season. Luckily, the best cornerback prospect in this year's draft is falling to them at No. 22 overall. Dennard is a physical, outside corner who flourishes in man coverage. He can completely take over one side of the field, which will improve the Eagles defense all the way around.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Chiefs are in need of a complement to Dwayne Bowe at wide receiver. In Andy Reid's offense with Alex Smith under center, the shifty Beckham would become a perfect option. His strength is running underneath routes where he can create yards after the catch. He can contribute immediately and help move the chains for Kansas City.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Bengals get exactly what they need here. With starting cornerbacks Terence Newman (35) and Adam Jones (30) quickly aging, Leon Hall's injury issues and Dre Kirkpatrick's inexperience, added depth is a must. Gilbert is a speedy ball hawk who shadows receivers and undercuts routes. He will take over for Newman sooner rather than later.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Chargers offense was resurgent under new head coach Mike McCoy in 2013. However, they still have work to do on the defensive side of the ball. Verrett is a smaller corner but makes up for his size with great physicality and ball skills. He has the versatility to play either outside or in the slot.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Now that the Browns have acquired their quarterback, it's time to get him some weapons. Benjamin has unique size for a wide receiver at 6'5" and 240 pounds. He isn't a burner, but he creates plenty of mismatches against smaller defensive backs. He will be a big, quarterback-friendly target for a team with a rookie signal-caller.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense was a revelation in New Orleans in 2013. A quick transition to this new scheme turned the Saints defensive unit into a top-five squad. Adding Shazier, an intelligent, hard-hitting defensive leader who fits the scheme perfectly, will allow the team's defensive success to continue for the long run.
28. Carolina Panthers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Panthers looked great on both sides of the ball last season. Cam Newton stepped up and showed that he is truly a franchise quarterback. That makes the need to protect him even greater. Martin is a technically sound lineman who has the versatility to play tackle or guard. He will help keep Newton clean.
29. New England Patriots: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
If the Patriots are to stay atop the AFC East, adding additional pieces to their defensive front is necessary. With talented up-and-coming quarterbacks in the division, applying pressure will be increasingly important. Ealy is a talented edge-rusher who can come in and contribute immediately. His versatility makes him a chess piece for head coach Bill Belichick.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
With a dominant front seven already in place, the 49ers have one of the NFL's most formidable defenses. The key to sustained success is to add players who fit the scheme. Hageman is an athletic defensive tackle who projects to play anywhere on the defensive front. That versatility would give the team the youth and depth necessary to keep this defense solid for years.
31. Denver Broncos: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Denver's defense needs to step up if the Broncos are to make another run at the Super Bowl next season. Adding an athletic outside linebacker is a big first step. With Von Miller struggling through injuries and Shaun Phillips (32) aging, Van Noy is the injection of youth that the team needs. He will add depth instantly and become a starter sooner rather than later.
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford
The Seahawks have the NFL's deepest roster. Not many glaring needs are apparent; however, the interior of the offensive line crumbled at times last season. Adding an NFL-ready guard like Yankey would give quarterback Russell Wilson the stability to continue to create success as Seattle's signal-caller.
All combine measurements and results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
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