NFL Draft 2014: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Picks and Trades

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NFL Draft 2014: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Picks and Trades
Patric Schneider/Associated Press
Johnny Manziel wore black at his pro day. Was that a hint to the Raiders?

At a time when mock NFL drafts are more plentiful than mock apple pies, there are scores of rumors pouring in from actual journalists about what teams might be planning to do. This roundup examines three rumors in depth and offers a prediction for what each team should do. 

Some teams are itching to trade up while others have the pick burning a hole in their pocket, but one NFC East team won't reveal how high up it's willing to move. Its division rivals (and owners of the blurriest NFL offense) are in the market for a wide receiver and checking out just about every pass-catcher over 6'2". And it should come as no surprise that the Oakland Raiders are once again in the market for a signal-caller. 

 

Johnny Football in Silver and Black?

The quarterback carousel continues for the Oakland Raiders after they traded a sixth-round pick for Houston Texans pick-six thrower Matt Schaub in March. Schaub has three 4,000-yard seasons under his belt, but 2014 saw him post the worst passer rating in his seven campaigns with the Texans. With Schaub slated to be the starter, that does not mean the Raiders won't opt for a quarterback with the No. 5 pick.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Raiders were impressed by Johnny Manziel, and they even thought the gregarious young celeb could be described by an adjective rarely paired with his name: "humble."

However, Manziel is far from the only QB on Oakland's radar. As David White of The Fresno Bee reported, they are infatuated with Derek Carr as well:

I hear the Raiders have a massive crush on the former Fresno State quarterback, but not a No. 5 overall pick sort of crush. They're more inclined to trade down and take Carr later, which means the Vikings would have to pass on Carr at No. 8. All Schaub means is the Raiders don't have to take Carr or any quarterback fifth; he buys them time to groom whoever is next.

Clearly, the Raiders have options. No. 5 is high enough that a host of teams would be willing to trade up for one of the top-flight prospects available, whether it be linebacker Khalil Mack, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, tackle Greg Robinson or QB Teddy Bridgewater, to name a few.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Raiders could opt for Manziel at No. 5 or trade down to the middle of the round and hope no one jumps at Derek Carr. However, as White points out, Schaub buys them time as an established starter who could certainly step in for the next couple of seasons. They can wait until later for a quarterback and develop a player like Jimmy Garoppolo, AJ McCarron or Aaron Murray while Schaub starts.

However, the Raiders cannot get too cute with this pick. No. 5 is a chance to take a game-changing player, and I have them selecting one in Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins in my most recent mock draft. He scored 12 touchdowns and went over 100 receptions last season, and he will be the next Tim Brown if the Raiders don't take a yet another QB. Two words: JaMarcus Russell.

 

Philadelphia Eagles Seeking a Pass-Catcher

The Philadelphia Eagles are eagerly pursuing wide receivers in the wake of DeSean Jackson's departure. They understandably have interest in a pair of 6'5" guys and brought in Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin for visits, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Most recently, NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks reported that Eagles coach Chip Kelly had attended Penn State's pro day on April 8, a showcase that included wide receiver Allen Robinson, a 6'3", 220-pounder.  

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Allen Robinson

The NFLDraftScout.com ranking (via CBS Sports) places Robinson as the seventh-best wide receiver in the draft, but he ranks as the 34th-best overall player. That means the Eagles would be reaching for him at No. 22, but he would likely be gone by the time they draft in Round 2. Benjamin will possibly be on the board at No. 22, but not Evans.

The Eagles could also target a receiver later in the draft, as Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes tweeted that Philly was dispatching a coach to watch Rutgers wideout Brandon Coleman, a potential third-round target.

The receiver concerns are really a tempest in a teapot, or at least in a cheesesteak. The Eagles retained Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and they added another pass-catching running back in free agency in Darren Sproles. Young tight end Zach Ertz made some strides last season as well. 

The Eagles got shredded by the pass last year and finished dead last. That's why they should draft a cornerback in Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech at No. 22. They can find a receiver in the second or third round in a draft saturated with talent at the position. 

 

Dallas Cowboys Could Trade No. 16 Pick

According to ESPN's Calvin Watkinsthe St. Louis Rams are looking over hill and over dale to trade the second overall pick, but the cost is too rich even for the Dallas Cowboys' blood: "Multiple sources have said the Cowboys aren't trying to move up from No. 16 to No. 2. However, the sources did say the Cowboys would be willing to make a move up if it were able to obtain an elite player who can fill an immediate hole."

Layne Murdoch/Associated Press

In 2012, Dallas traded up eight spots to land cornerback Morris Claiborne out of LSU at No. 6. After ranking 30th against the pass in 2013, it seems like time to go back to the well, but it won't need a trade to do so. 

I have the Cowboys staying put at No. 16 in my latest trade-laden mock draft and landing a very promising player in Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard to address that leaky secondary.

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