The 2014 NFL draft will come with its fair share of shock and surprises.
For some players, a great performance at the NFL Scouting Combine has increased their stock significantly. Conversely, a poor showing—or a lack of participation—has seen some players’ stocks dropping.
With two months to go before the draft, here’s how the first round currently is shaping up, followed by a closer look at some of the top prospects.
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney (DE)|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson (OT)|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Teddy Bridgewater (QB)|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel (QB)|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Sammy Watkins (WR)|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Khalil Mack (OLB)|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Jake Matthews (OT)|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Blake Bortles (QB)|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Calvin Pryor (FS)|
|10||Detroit Lions||Justin Gilbert (CB)|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Aaron Donald (DT)|
|12||New York Giants||Anthony Barr (OLB/DE)|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Mike Evans (WR)|
|14||Chicago Bears||Louis Nix (NT)|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Darqueze Dennard (CB)|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS)|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Taylor Lewan (OT)|
|18||New York Jets||Marqise Lee (WR)|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Zack Martin (OT)|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Kony Ealy (DE)|
|21||Green Bay Packers||C.J. Mosley (ILB)|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||Dee Ford (DE)|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Odell Beckham Jr. (WR)|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Kyle Fuller (CB)|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Ra'Shede Hageman (DT)|
|26||Cleveland Browns||Xavier Su'a-Filo (OL)|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Stephen Tuitt (DE)|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Cyrus Kouandjio (OT)|
|29||New England Patriots||Timmy Jernigan (DT)|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Brandin Cooks (WR)|
|31||Denver Broncos||Jason Verrett (CB)|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||David Yankey (OG)|
For all the hype that Clowney has generated over his football career, he certainly backed it up with his performance at the combine in Indianapolis last month.
At 6’5” and 266 pounds, the Rock Hill, S.C., native certainly has the size. But he also proved he has top-notch athletic ability, running an incredible 4.53-second 40-yard dash and finishing in the top five in both the vertical and broad jumps among defensive linemen.
A player like Clowney only comes around every so often, making him a can’t-miss prospect at No. 1.
But that’s not where the former South Carolina standout wants it to end.
“I want to be one of the best,” Clowney said, per The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson (via Yahoo! Sports). “I want to be one of the greatest of all times.”
With Clowney, the Houston Texans would be getting a player that can immediately impact the team on defense. Someone who has the size, strength and speed to dominate offensive linemen and get into the backfield to wreak havoc.
Not to mention, pairing him alongside J.J. Watt on the defensive line could create nightmares for opponents. Expect Clowney to capitalize from the attention and double-teams that Watt draws.
Sure, the Texans could really use a quarterback. However, according to The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian and Jeff Howe, the team is interested in acquiring backup quarterback Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots.
Hey, if it justifies taking Clowney No. 1 overall, so be it.
Following a stellar senior campaign at Oklahoma State, Gilbert was already a name to keep an eye on leading up to the draft. His performance during the combine only reasserted that fact.
The Woodlands, Texas, native thoroughly impressed, posting a 4.37 in the 40. In doing so, he became just the eighth defensive back taller than six feet in the last nine years to run a 40 in 4.37 seconds or less.
Gilbert also showed off his strength in the bench press, finishing second among corners with 20 reps.
The Detroit Lions could definitely use some help in the secondary. The team finished No. 23 in the league against the pass (247.0 YPG) and conceded 24 passing touchdowns.
With Gilbert, the Lions are getting a corner that can use his strength and physicality to out-muscle receivers off the line. He also has great vision for the ball and can make plays if the quarterback throws in his direction.
It would be a surprise if Gilbert fell out of the top 10.
Don’t be fooled by the recent news that the Jacksonville Jaguars re-upped quarterback Chad Henne for another two years, per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. The team still needs help under center.
That’s where Bridgewater comes in.
The Jaguars have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. All that’s missing is someone who can lead the team at quarterback.
As Bleacher Report’s Michael Schottey notes, Jacksonville is just one need away from potentially taking it to the next level:
If the Jaguars can hit on a top QB in the draft, I think they’re a year away from playoffs.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) March 8, 2014
No, Bridgewater won’t provide the excitement fellow quarterback Johnny Manziel would likely bring, nor does he possess the size and upside that Blake Bortles boasts. Instead, he gives the Jaguars something they so desperately need: a quarterback that can win, and win now.
More of an old-school, traditional quarterback, Bridgewater’s mechanics are on point. Whether he is in the pocket or on the run, the Miami, Fla., native has the arm strength and accuracy that make him a threat with the ball in his hands.
There’s no doubt that Bridgewater is deserving of being the No. 1 quarterback in this class.