2014 NFL Draft: Predictions for Hottest Rumors and Buzz Surrounding Event

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

Kelvin Benjamin catches a pass during pro day in front of NFL football scouts at Florida State University on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Colin Hackley)
Colin Hackley

With less than a month to go, the rumors are at a fever pitch in regards to all facets of the 2014 NFL draft.

This applies to teams on the hunt for a trade up or down in the proceedings and the actual destinations of the rookies themselves.

Just go into any potential musings about teams and players with the understanding that they should be taken with a pound of salt, as this is prime smokescreen season with the long wait almost over. Here's a look at the latest, with verdicts on the validity of each.


Philadelphia on the Move?

There is a noticeable void in Philadelphia now that DeSean Jackson is gone. So many have presumed coach Chip Kelly will look to add a wideout in the first round to join Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.

But a trade up from No. 23? That's a tough sell, albeit one ESPN's Adam Caplan says is a real possibility:

Such a move is very costly these days, so Kelly and the Eagles have to truly be in love with a prospect to justify it. The alleged target is Mike Evans, a 6'5" and 225-pound beast who compares favorably to Detroit's Calvin Johnson in more ways than one, as captured by NFL Network's Gil Brandt:

Make no mistake, Evans is worth a high selection, but it doesn't make a ton of sense specifically for Philadelphia. It's hard to imagine Evans escapes the top 10, and Tampa Bay at No. 7 is a very safe bet.

The price doesn't add up, especially when wideout is one of the deepest positions in the draft in an overall class that is stunningly talented. Plus, how many targets would a guy like Evans truly get with so many other weapons on the roster? Is a rookie who only acts as the third option in the passing game worth such a steep investment?

Of course not. Kelly is better off sitting tight and grabbing an Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee or Odell Beckham Jr.

Prediction: Eagles don't move.


Atlanta to Move Up?

The trade-up situation is a bit trickier for Atlanta, the team that holds the No. 6 overall pick.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Falcons were one of the first teams to make themselves known in the trade department:

With the St. Louis Rams, owners of the No. 2 overall pick, presumably on the hunt for a trade down—this really applies to any team in the top five—thanks to the overall depth of the class, opportunities for Atlanta to move up should be ripe.

For the right price, of course. The Falcons have major needs with offensive tackle and a quality pass-rusher being the highlights. As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller illustrates, a move up would ensure Atlanta an elite player that fits either of the needs:

At No. 2, Atlanta would get one of Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews if the staff is set on a tackle and one comes off the board with the first-overall pick. If they want a pass-rusher, either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack will be available if Houston goes the same route at No. 1.

The cost here is worth the investment. Atlanta has an extremely talented roster as is, which may be a few key pieces away from a Super Bowl. One major piece resides at No. 2 overall.

Prediction: Atlanta trades up to No. 2.


Kelvin Benjamin in New York?

Colin Hackley

It's seemingly set in stone that the New York Jets will use the No. 18 overall pick on an offensive weapon. Rex Ryan has to do whatever it takes to ensure second-year quarterback Geno Smith succeeds, because his job likely depends on it.

What weapon is a bit more difficult to determine? Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Kelvin Benjamin is firmly on the radar:

Interesting. One certainly can't teach height. What about good hands? There's a reason Benjamin's stock has fluctuated wildly over the course of the last year. He's ranked as a borderline first-round pick by the experts at CBS Sports, with Rob Rang explaining why Benjamin is boom-or-bust personified:

While his size is problematic for defenders, Benjamin's length makes it difficult for him to sink his hips and explodes out of cuts, making him much better suited to verticals and crossing routes than double-moves, limiting his fit to certain schemes.

Drops too many passes. Allows the ball into his chest too often. Will take his eyes off the ball in an attempt to make the defender miss before actually securing the pass, leading to an occasional ugly drop. Seems to especially struggle with low passes, a problem for many taller receivers.

A risk is the last thing New York needs to take in the first round. Too many jobs rely on the outcome of the pick being able to help turn things around right away. Another project player, such as Stephen Hill, isn't going to cut it.

Instead, New York should grab a Lee or Robinson. Heck, get a tight end like Jace Amaro, who is essentially a possession receiver capable of lining up anywhere on the field.

New York won't gamble come draft day, right? Besides, Benjamin might be on the board when the Jets walk to the podium in the second round.

Prediction: New York takes a receiver, just not named Benjamin.


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