Now that the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is over and teams have watched the top players individually at their pro days, the excitement and anticipation for the draft has football fans ready for May 8-10.
Here are all the latest predictions for every pick in the first round.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Houston Texans are open to a possible trade for the No. 1 pick, but if the franchise decides to make the selection, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has all the upside needed to be the top player in the 2014 class.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Another year of struggle has indicated that the St. Louis Rams must rebuild their offensive line, especially after the knee injury for franchise left tackle Jake Long. Texas A&M offensive lineman Jake Matthews would be a short-term solution to the lack of depth and the long-term anchor moving forward.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
There are few franchises in the NFL as misguided as the Jacksonville Jaguars. While selecting Johnny Manziel No. 3 overall is a bit of a reach, Johnny Football has the charisma to polarize the NFL and become the face of the franchise.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
After cutting former first-round pick Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, the Cleveland Browns have made it clear that the franchise is taking a quarterback in the first round. With all the tangibles needed to be a star in the NFL, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles would be the smartest pick.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
While the Oakland Raiders have questions across the depth chart, the speed, strength and pure pass-catching skill of Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins will make this an easy decision for the franchise.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
One of the Atlanta Falcons' biggest flaws last season was the inability to rush the passer consistently. With Clowney likely off the board, UCLA’s outside linebacker Anthony Barr will be a more than acceptable consolation prize.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
Whether he lines up at defensive end or outside linebacker, Buffalo pass-rusher Khalil Mack will be the game-changer that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need off the edge.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Minnesota Vikings may have signed Matt Cassel to a new contract, but he is not the future of the franchise. While there may be some doubts surrounding Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, he still has far more upside than any QB currently on the roster.
9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
With so many positions of need for the Buffalo Bills, the team must take the best-player-available approach. If the first round shakes out as predicted, the best prospect available at No. 9 should be Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.
10. Detroit Lions: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
There is no doubting the explosiveness of the Detroit Lions offense, but the franchise must get back to basics and draft an offensive tackle like Auburn’s Greg Robinson who can properly anchor the line moving forward.
11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Tennessee Titans must find a leader on the defensive side of the ball who also fills a serious need. Reaching for Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley at No. 11 may not be ideal for the franchise (trading back is an option), but the prospect is exactly what the franchise needs.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but a lack of protection has made his job difficult. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan would be an instant upgrade and a long-term answer.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
After taking an offensive lineman at No. 2, the St. Louis Rams must add a key player on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert would be the perfect fit for head coach Jeff Fisher’s system.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The biggest winner of the scouting combine was Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. With several teams looking for depth and talent at the position, the franchise willing to spend the highest pick on him will be the Chicago Bears at No. 14 overall.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The rush on defensive tackles will be on when the Pittsburgh Steelers take the educated risk by selecting Notre Dame’s Louis Nix. This is a smart fundamental pick in the middle of the first round.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Since the departure of Ed Reed (and even for a season or two while he was still on the team), the Baltimore Ravens have not had elite play from the safety positions. That should change when the team picks Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at No. 16.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
After watching both Chicago and Pittsburgh take defensive tackles in two of the three previous picks, the Dallas Cowboys must select the best remaining prospect at that position. While Minnesota’s Ra'Shede Hageman is rough around the edges, he has the potential to be the best defensive tackle in this class with the proper development.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The New York Jets signed free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker, but the team still needs more weapons. There are few offensive prospects with as much raw talent and upside as North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Controversy swirled last season for the Miami Dolphins on the offensive line. The need for a complete overhaul started with free agent Branden Albert and should continue with Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Carson Palmer has reemerged as a viable starting quarterback in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. His efforts will have no effect, though, if the team doesn’t do a better job protecting him. Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is the best lineman available at No. 20.
21. Green Bay Packers: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Green Bay Packers have several major needs across the offense and defense. The franchise must get back to basics and take the best defensive lineman available, Missouri end Kony Ealy.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
After getting burned by too many wide receivers in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles will be looking to add a cornerback who can get physical at the line of scrimmage and take away any opposing deep threats. Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard is that player.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
With the future of Dwayne Bowe in question, the Kansas City Chiefs must think about the long-term future of the wide receiver position. If Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin is available at No. 23, he will be dubbed Bowe’s successor.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that will be looking for a wide receiver on Day 1, and the perfect complement to star A.J. Green would be LSU’s Odell Beckham.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
If the San Diego Chargers want to make the postseason again this year, the franchise must secure the back end of the defense. Adding a cornerback like TCU’s Jason Verrett would be the correct move for the long-term betterment of the team.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The Cleveland Browns lost safety T.J. Ward via free agency this offseason and must replace him via the draft. The best safety available in the latter stages of the first round will be Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The New Orleans Saints need a consistent pass rush. With an offseason full of changes, adding an outside linebacker like Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier would be a smart selection at No. 27 overall.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
After cutting veteran Steve Smith loose, the Carolina Panthers are on the hunt for a long-term replacement. When USC wide receiver Marqise Lee falls to the latter stages of the first round, the team will have its answer.
29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The injury to Rob Gronkowski and his inability to stay on the field consistently will force the New England Patriots to pick a tight end in the first round. The best TE available at No. 29 overall will be Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
With Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin taking the No. 1 and No. 2 roles, the San Francisco 49ers need to find a third player to alleviate the pressure. Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks will be exactly what the team is looking for.
31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Denver Broncos have added an array of defenders via free agency—including DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward—but the addition of a defensive tackle like Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan would be a cheap addition with major implications.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
After watching Red Bryant sign with Jacksonville this offseason via free agency, the Seattle Seahawks must bolster their defensive line with a versatile lineman like Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt.
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