NFL Draft Order 2014: Previewing 1st-Round Teams and Top Prospects

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  Tavon Austin (R) of West Virginia Mountaineers reacts with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a jersey on stage after Austin was picked #8 overall by the St. Louis Rams in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radi
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
PickTeam
1Houston Texans
2St. Louis Rams (via Washington)
3Jacksonville Jaguars
4Cleveland Browns
5Oakland Raiders
6Atlanta Falcons
7Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8Minnesota Vikings
9Buffalo Bills
10Detroit Lions
11Tennessee Titans
12New York Giants
13St. Louis Rams
14Chicago Bears
15Pittsburgh Steelers
16Dallas Cowboys
17Baltimore Ravens
18New York Jets
19Miami Dolphins
20Arizona Cardinals
21Green Bay Packers
22Philadelphia Eagles
23Kansas City Chiefs
24Cincinnati Bengals
25San Diego Chargers
26Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis)
27New Orleans Saints
28Carolina Panthers
29New England Patriots
30San Francisco 49ers
31Denver Broncos
32Seattle Seahawks
NFL.com

The top of the 2014 NFL draft class is loaded with tantalizing prospects who will make an immediate impact for their new teams next season.

The order is set for Round 1, but it will not likely stand as teams trade up or down to land players that they covet.

Here's a look at the current order for the opening round of action, which will commence on May 8 in New York City:

There's plenty of speculation about what will happen at the top of the draft because there is a handful of intriguing top prospects who could all go No. 1 overall.

Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles to the outside against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Houston needs a quarterback, which is why many mock drafts have Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater being selected No. 1 overall.

Of the three, Bridgewater offers the best immediate return, according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, via Mike Huguenin of NFL.com: "Mayock said Bridgewater is the 'most NFL-ready' quarterback in the draft. 'I think [UCF's Blake] Bortles can be ready shortly thereafter.'"

Bortles has drawn comparisons to Andrew Luck, thanks to his ideal size, strength and leadership, but he isn't nearly as polished as the Indianapolis Colts quarterback. 

The real wild card at the top is Manziel, who could quickly develop into a superstar or who could become a tremendous bust, depending on how things pan out.

However, there is a defensive prospect that could prompt the Texans to look for a signal-caller after Round 1.

Oct 26, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Clemson Tigers  wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) tackled following his catch by Maryland Terrapins defensive back William Likely (4) at Byrd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The latest buzz coming out of Texas is that Houston is leaning toward pass-rusher extraordinaire Jadeveon Clowney at the top of the draft, as pointed out by Lance Zierlein of Sports Talk 790:

The defensive end out of South Carolina is one of the most exciting defensive prospects to come into the league in years. His extraordinary blend of size (6'5" and 266 lbs), speed (4.53-second 40-yard dash) and freakish athleticism is a package every team would love to land.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson will also see his name called early. He's been compared to A.J. Green and Julio Jones by many media analysts throughout the scouting process and will be an instant-impact starter for the team that drafts him.

“I’m willing to go to any team and try and have that instant impact,” he said at his pro day, as noted by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press

The entire draft class is deep, and stars will be found in every round. 

These prospects who are expected to be drafted early in the proceedings carry a heavy burden of expectations, though, and it's guaranteed they won't all succeed at the next level. 

It's just as common for a first-round prospect to become a bust than it is for them to become Pro Bowlers, which is one of the reasons the draft is always full of drama.

Everyone has an opinion about where players should land, but in the end it's up to each team to draft according to its needs. It will be fascinating to see where the chips fall this upcoming May.