One thing that you must continue to ask yourself as the 2014 NFL draft approaches: What do teams really think of this year's prospects?
Over the days leading up to the draft, teams will release statements regarding some of the top prospects—some of these will be positive and some negative. Regardless of what these "sources" say, it's easy to speculate that there isn't a single team willing to release its true thoughts on the draft.
Smoke screens are a big part of the draft process. Teams may try to build up hype around one player to affect other franchises' views of how the draft may shake out. This builds anxiety and can sometimes lead to brash moves on draft day.
As of now, all we can do is gather the information available. It's up to you to determine exactly how much you are willing to believe.
Texans to Take Bortles at No. 1 Overall?
One of the hottest topics circulating around draft circles is in regards to what the Houston Texans will do with their first-overall pick. At one point, it wasn't even a certainty that they would take a quarterback; however, that appears to have changed.
According to the official team website's Twitter account, head coach Bill O'Brien is set on taking at least one quarterback in this year's draft:
O'Brien says he brought Fitzpatrick in to compete with Keenum and Yates, and will "draft a QB, maybe two." #Texans— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) March 31, 2014
Sure, the report didn't say when the team would take one, but the prospects at the top of the draft are very promising.
So, which player will they take?
At this point, it looks like the team is leaning towards former UCF standout Blake Bortles, according to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports:
Texans GM Rick Smith spent the majority of the workout talking with HC Kevin Sumlin. Bortles the favorite to go 1, but Manziel def possible— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 27, 2014
Brugler is not alone in his speculation. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle—possibly the team's best source—pegged Bortles to the Texans at No. 1 overall in his recent mock draft, according to a tweet from Tony Grossi of ESPN:
It looks like the draft's first-overall pick is coming to fruition; however, we'll have to wait until draft day to be completely sure.
Raiders in Love with Carr?
The Oakland Raiders brought in former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in free agency, but the team still needs a long-term answer at quarterback.
According to a tweet from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, the Raiders were impressed with former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr after his pro day:
Fresno State source tells me #Raiders met with Derek Carr before his pro day workout today. QB was very impressive throwing, per reports— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 21, 2014
Miller also tweeted a report that the Raiders later developed a "crush" on the quarterback:
Oakland currently holds the No. 5 pick in this year's draft. That may be a bit early to select Carr. The team could certainly look to trade back and select Carr later in the first round, though the Minnesota Vikings could be a threat to select Carr with the eighth pick.
If Oakland is truly dead set on drafting Carr, it must devise a very solid draft-day strategy. Reaching for him could be a mistake, but missing out on him completely could be devastating.
Manziel the Next Matt Ryan?
Yes, that certainly seems like a rather bold statement. Ryan has been so very impressive throughout his NFL career. Although, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Ryan and Johnny Manziel share a very desirable trait:
I speak to @JManziel2 frequently and I'd never question his mental capacity. Rates up there w Matt Ryan in terms of football smarts.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 26, 2014
Manziel has been impressing NFL teams with his newfound maturity and flawless pro day. He looks the part of a franchise quarterback, and this comment from Brandt just increases his hype.
Where Manziel is drafted still remains a mystery. Plenty of quarterback-needy teams are in play for the young signal-caller.
NFL.com's Albert Breer tweeted that two teams already had private meetings with Manziel after his pro day:
The Texans and Jaguars will meet privately with Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel this afternoon.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2014
Brandt tweeted that seven different teams sent their head coaches to watch Manziel as well:
The Browns may be one of the teams that are interested in the quarterback, but they weren't present at his pro day. However, according to another tweet from Breer, there was good reason for the team's absence:
A lot has been made of the Browns' absence here. But I'm told they've got Johnny Manziel scheduled to make a trip to Cleveland in April.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 27, 2014
Currently, there doesn't seem to be a front-runner for Manziel. Although, after Brandt's comment, interest in the quarterback will be at an all-time high.