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NFL Draft 2014: Predicting Landing Spots for Potential First-Round Prospects

Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) reacts to a fourth-quarter interception against the Duke Blue Devils in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJune 30, 2016

The NFL draft is still a couple of months away, but with the NFL combine out of the way and players participating in pro days, this seems like a great time to predict which teams a few potential first-round prospects will go to in May.

This year's draft is filled with a ton of young talent. According to NFL.com, there are 98 underclassmen in this year's draft, which is the most ever and up 25 from last year. With so many players declaring for the draft as underclassmen, this year's draft class is one of the deepest in some time.

There are a ton of promising prospects in this draft, so let's take a look at a select few potential first-rounders and predict which team could take them in the draft.

 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

There are few starting-caliber safeties in this year's draft, but one prospect that stands out has to be Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

During his time with the Crimson Tide, Clinton-Dix impressed a lot of people, as he was named a second-team All-American last season despite missing two games due to a suspension. He finished the season with 51 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss, to go along with two interceptions and four passes broken up.

At 6'1'' and 208 pounds, Clinton-Dix has some nice size at the position, but it's his instincts that make him such an exciting prospect. He does a great job of reading quarterbacks and reacting in a heartbeat, showing off his incredible range on deep passes. Along with his ability to make plays in the passing game, he's also not afraid to move into the box and help stop the run.

More than a few teams have a big need a safety in the middle of the first round, but the first team that may take a long look at Clinton-Dix is the St. Louis Rams. While they have a strong front seven, their secondary struggled in 2013, with opposing quarterbacks putting up a passer rating of 94.7 against them.

Rodney McLeod isn't the answer at free safety, so I expect the Rams to take Clinton-Dix with their second pick in the first round.

Prediction: St. Louis Rams (No. 13 overall)

 

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

This year's class of wide receivers is stacked with a ton of talent, but one player who has continued to slowly creep up draft boards is Odell Beckham Jr. out of LSU.

With a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron last season, Beckham was able to shine as a deadly target for Zach Mettenberger. In 2013, he caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging an impressive 19.5 yards per reception.

Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham (3) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While Beckham was considered a fringe first-round prospect at the end of the college football season, he helped his draft stock quite a bit at the NFL combine. He really showed off his speed in the drills, running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 3.94 seconds and the 60-yard shuttle in 10.93 seconds, per NFL.com.

Beckham isn't the tallest receiver at 5'11'', but his impressive speed and agility say a lot about what he could do at the next level. Unfortunately, his smaller frame could hurt his draft stock a bit in comparison to bigger prospects like Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans.

Still, there is a need for a speedy receiver for a few teams picking in the middle to late first round. One team that could be taking a look at Beckham is the Kansas City Chiefs, as they desperately need another receiver. At this point, even Dwayne Bowe hasn't been a terrific weapon for Alex Smith, but the Chiefs could be an exciting team offensively with a slot receiver like Beckham.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs (No. 23 overall)

 

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

As the most popular and polarizing figure in college football since Tim Tebow, everyone wants to know where Johnny Manziel will go. While the consensus at this point seems to be that he'll be taken within the top 10, no one knows for sure which team will take him.

Johnny Football was just as exciting in 2013 as he was in 2012, making plenty of plays with both his arm and his legs. He finished the year with nearly 4,900 total yards to go along with 46 total touchdowns, completing 69.9 percent of his passes along the way.

It was obvious last season that Manziel had progressed as a passer, doing a better job of going through his progressions and becoming an more effective quarterback overall. He's not done improving either, as he's been training all offseason with quarterback guru George Whitfeld, a man who worked previously with Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

As Manziel continues to develop, Whitfeld has had some very good things to say about him. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, this is what the quarterback guru had to say about his pupil:

Not only is he a ruthless competitor, which is on tape and people can see that, I think he's must-see T.V. He can hotwire a program to where the secretaries would come down the hallway high-fiving each other and all of a sudden the grounds crew is replaying whatever he just did.

Those guys only come along every so often in the world of sports. He's game-changer. I've worked with him and been around him more than most, but I certainly would do it.

Manziel is one of the top quarterbacks teams are looking at this year, and I think that he'll be the third one taken behind Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. Still, I don't think he'll stay on the board long, as a team like the Cleveland Browns, who desperately need a signal-caller, will pull the trigger with him on the board.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns (No. 4 overall) 

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