NFL Draft 2014: Riskiest 1st-Round Prospects Worth an Early Pick

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel leaves the McFerrin Athletic Center after pro day for NFL football representatives in College Station, Texas, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider

The 2014 NFL draft is already one of the most exciting sporting events of the year, but the anticipation surrounding where the riskiest first-round prospects will land has football fans ready for the festivities.

With big names such as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio getting mixed reactions from scouts and draft experts, NFL fans care which team selects each player.

Here are the most enigmatic stars of the 2014 draft class and where they will land.


No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Jacksonville Jaguars will likely have the opportunity to draft Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater at No. 3 overall, but the franchise must think about the future and select Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel.

Jacksonville has lacked a face of the franchise for years, and no other prospect has the same combination of upside on the field and mainstream popularity as Johnny Football. The Jaguars must take the educated risk.

The Houston Texans have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. New head coach Bill O’Brien spoke to the media about Manziel's versatility and toughness, via Jeff Reynolds of "If you watch the Ole Miss game, he might have hurt his ankle early on and he came back. And he threw from the pocket in that game. If you watch him, he's going to be able to do a lot of different things. So, yeah, I think he's sustainable."

There is no questioning Manziel’s talents. He racked up 63 passing touchdowns and 30 rushing touchdowns during his two-year career at Texas A&M and also managed to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Manziel’s size and durability are questions considering his penchant for using his legs to make plays, but with his ability to connect with the media and the fans, Johnny Football should be the face of the Jacksonville franchise.


No. 8 Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class, but questions have arisen since the offseason began.

According to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports, many scouts feel Bridgewater failed to show his ability at his pro day:

There will undoubtedly be a rush on quarterbacks leading up to the Minnesota Vikings selecting at No. 8 overall, and if Bridgewater is available, the franchise will have its quarterback of the future.

With Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel all fighting for the starting job last season and none of them earning the position, risking a first-round pick on Bridgewater would be a wise investment for the franchise.

Running back Adrian Peterson is not getting any younger, and adding a QB with as much upside as Bridgewater in the first round could be the instant fix that will launch Minnesota back into postseason contention.


No. 20 Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

The Arizona Cardinals must have found the fountain of youth for quarterbacks. Carson Palmer has reinvented his career with the franchise, and the team is once again moving in the right direction.

Arizona must add depth and talent to the offensive line in the first round, and the best lineman likely available at No. 20 overall is Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

While Kouandjio played left tackle at Alabama, he will likely play the right side in the NFL until he is accustomed to the league and proves he can be a force consistently. He struggled at the collegiate level with blocking effectively on every down.

At 6’9” and 322 pounds, he has all the upside to be a dominant lineman at the next level with the right development. Under head coach Bruce Arians, Kouandjio could blossom into a star.


*Stats via Combine information via official tracker.