After months and months of build up the 2014 NFL draft is finally just around the corner and how the first round will actually play out remains a mystery.
This year's draft has proven to be an especially difficult one to peg. While there's usually at least a consensus No. 1 pick at this point in the year there are a number of prospects that could be called when the Houston Texans kick off the festivities on May 8.
From there, things aren't going to be any easier to predict. From polarizing quarterback prospects such as Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater to a loaded wide receiver class, there are sure to be plenty of surprises in the first 32 picks.
What follows is a full list of predictions for what will happen with each of those 32 picks.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Clowney has been viewed by some as the top pick in the 2014 draft as far back as 2011 when he came to South Carolina as one of the most freakish high school prospects in recent memory. Three years of hype has inevitably given critics all the time in the world to come up with reasons that he won't wind up fulfilling that destiny, but the media won't be making this pick, an NFL team will.
What they should see is a prospect with an incredible combination of size and athleticism wkho could team up with J.J. Watt to form the most fearsome pass-rushing duo in the league. In a league where pass-rushing is an incredibly valuable commodity, that's too much to pass up.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
As we learned in last year's draft when three of the first four picks were offensive tackles, teams still value the big uglies early on. In Robinson, Jeff Fisher gets the franchise bulldozer that the team tried to acquire when they signed Jake Long last year.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Want a sure sign that pushing the draft back to May has led some overanalysis of prospects? Look no further than the recent trend of downgrading Teddy Bridgewater.
With an excellent combination of anticipation, accuracy and sound decision-making Bridgewater threw just four interceptions for Louisville last season and lived up to the hype as the top quarterback in the draft class.
After trotting out quarterbacks such as Blaine Gabbert and David Garrard in recent years, the Florida native will be a welcome addition for the Jacksonville fanbase.
4. Cleveland Browns: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Lost in the once-in-a-generation skill set of Jadeveon Clowney is the absolute terror that is Khalil Mack. With the versatility to line up in a variety of positions, the Buffalo edge defender is capable of stepping in right away and being an impact player in new coach Mike Pettine's defense.
Fans will opine for Johnny Manziel here, but Mack represents the much safer option—an important quality for a new regime working for an owner who just cleaned house after one year of failure from the previous regime.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
If the Raiders are set on making Matt Schaub the franchise's signal-caller for any amount of time they're going to need to surround him with weapons to make his life easier. That's where Sammy Watkins comes in.
The Clemson product is an all-around skilled receiver with the size to gain leverage against cornerbacks in jump-ball situations and the athleticism to create separation.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Falcons offense took a nose dive last season as they struggled to run the ball with any kind of consistency and Matt Ryan was forced to run for his life. That's an unmistakable sign that the offensive line is in need of repair.
With Matthews, the Falcons take a tackle who is capable of playing on either side, so the Falcons can take their pick between replacing Sam Baker or Lamar Holmes.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
With the Buccaneers hoping to see more of the upside that Mike Glennon flashed last season at quarterback they'll need to add some weapons to his offensive repertoire. At 6'4", 231 pounds Evans is the type of receiver able to make any quarterback look good.
He was able to bail out a scrambling Johnny Manziel several times in his final season with the Aggies and would make an exceptional insurance option for Glennon when finding open receivers proves difficult.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
It's no secret that the Vikings are in dire need of a quarterback. Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel all tried their hand last season and failed to impress. Fortunately for the Vikings, this scenario leaves them with just one quarterback off the board.
If that opportunity presents himself the pick would most likely be Bortles. While Johnny Manziel has been rated higher by some draftniks, Mike Zimmer was not as enamored with Johnny Football's pro day as other coaches around the leage, per the Houston Chronicle.
“The huddles and the different things and the music. The sideshow stuff,” Zimmer said. “It was a sideshow.”
Zimmer added that Manziel’s decision to wear shoulder pads and a helmet during his showcase was an odd one.
“It was a different workout,” Zimmer said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.”
He added: “This one was a little different in how it was choreographed. People like that or they don’t like that, I don’t know.”
9. Buffalo Bills: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Buffalo Bills featured a strong defense last season, but will need to recover from two major losses this offseason in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and safety Jairus Byrd.
Finding a defensive mind like Pettine may be difficult, but the Bills could take a huge step in replacing Byrd by selecting Clinton-Dix. His blend of physicality and fluidity in coverage makes him the kind of versatile prospect that will thrive wherever he's placed on the field.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Lions have done a lot recently to build a dominant front seven, but they don't have much to be excited about in the secondary. They don't have to look far to change that, though. Darqueze Dennard put together an excellent final season in East Lansing and has the kind of physical style that would fit right in with what the Lions are trying to do on defense.
11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Alterraun Verner was an excellent asset for the Titans defense last season, but he's now a Buccaneer. That leaves a gaping hole in the Titans defense they will likely address with the No. 11 pick. In this case, Gilbert is the best corner available and will go a long way towards making up for the long-term loss of Verner.
12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Giants have been a fairly busy team in free agency. Their offseason signings give them the flexibility to just take the best scheme fit available when they go on the clock at No. 12. Under Tom Coughlin, the Giants have been at their best when they can create pressure with their front four and allow the back seven to drop back in coverage.
While the edge-rushing options are a bit sparse at this point in the draft, Aaron Donald is a rare talent at defensive tackle and would instantly improve the team's pass rush.
13. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Rams appear to be committed to making Sam Bradford the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. That means they'll need to continue to build an arsenal of weapons around him if they want to ensure his success.
Of the receivers outside of the big duo of Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, Beckham is the most polished and complete receiver. That makes him the most likely to make an immediate impact and give Bradford a consistent target, as the veteran QB takes advantage of the extra time he'll have behind Robinson.
14. Chicago Bears: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Yes, D.J. Williams is a solid middle linebacker, so the position isn't the biggest need for Chicago. However, he's 31 years old, and Mosley is the best player at his position by far in this year's draft class. He very well could carry on the Bears tradition of fielding dominant inside linebackers.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Ike Taylor failed miserably as the Steelers No. 1 cornerback last season, so it's definitely a position of need. It's also a position that the team hasn't addressed in free agency. Roby is a risk this high. He regressed in 2013 and fell from preliminary favorite to be the first cornerback off the board.
However, his 2012 tape reveals a player who played at an All-American level. The Steelers coaching staff may believe they can bring him back to that level, which would make him a bargain at No. 15.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Cowboys already added Henry Melton to the interior of a defensive line that struggled mightily last season. Adding Florida State's Timmy Jernigan would give them an athletic upgrade to Nick Hayden and, playing beside Henry Melton, would go a long way toward building the personnel necessary to complete the transition to the 4-3 that was started last season.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Ravens trade for Eugene Monroe turned out to be the answer to one of the tackle positions. He filled in nicely at left tackle and the team locked him up with a long-term deal.
However, with the bevy of pass-rushers that the Ravens see on a weekly basis, it's important that the team has two capable tackles, and Moses can provide the kind of play they will need on the right side of the line.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Many mock drafts will have the Jets taking a wide receiver at No. 18. Even with Eric Decker, receiver remains a position of need. However, quarterbacks Geno Smith or Mike Vick need weapons—regardless of where they line up. Ebron fits the bill. From a size/speed/athleticism perspective, he's reminiscent of Kellen Winslow Jr.
That would be the version of Winslow that caught 82 passes for over 1,000 yards in Cleveland—not the one that Jets fans saw catch 17 passes last season.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The sudden losses of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins offensive line in shambles last season. Bringing former Kansas City Chief tackle Branden Albert into the fold should solve the team's issues at one tackle spot. Martin will offer immediate help on the opposite side, as the Dolphins can give themselves a major boost in the draft.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan is one of the more interesting first-round prospects in the draft. At this time last year, he was competing with Jake Matthews for the title of best tackle in the class. Now, after a somewhat disappointing season on the field and three misdemeanor assault charges it's increasingly difficult to project where he'll go.
While the Dolphins aren't likely to take a risk on a player like Lewan for obvious reasons, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals may roll the dice in hopes that he fulfills the upside he showed in 2012.
21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Packers pass defense was porous last season as it allowed 7.8 yards per pass attempt. That's a trend that will continue if the team doesn't start investing in the secondary. Pryor is the type of rangy safety who will provide the corners help over the top and instantly make this a more cohesive unit.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
With DeSean Jackson gone the Eagles still need to find the receiver who can keep safeties from creeping up to stop LeSean McCoy and company. However, if Barr falls this far, the pass-rush could certainly use an athlete of Barr's caliber.
The UCLA product is not nearly as polished as Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, but his raw athleticism is exciting. The Eagles could use that kind of excitement on the defense to match Chip Kelly's offensive attack.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oklahoma State
Andy Reid had to get pretty creative to find offense outside of Jamaal Charles last season. The running back was the teams leading rusher and receiver with Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery forming a punchless duo on the outside.
Cooks will be able to step in right away and give the Chiefs the dynamic threat that they didn't have last season.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Bengals already added one Horned Frog to their roster this offseason: The franchise signed tackle Marshall Newhouse to protect fellow TCU alumnus Andy Dalton. Here, they could look to Fort Worth to fill their need for a standout cornerback.
Yes, Verrett has some size concerns. At 5'9", 189 pounds he doesn't fit the mold of a Richard Sherman that seems to be the direction the NFL is headed. However, this is still the same league on which LSU product Tyrann Mathieu made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2013.
Verret's tenacity and physicality will be more than enough to make up for his lack of size, and the Bengals are a nice fit.
25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chargers have the unfortunate situation of drafting directly behind a team with similar needs, but in this scenario that doesn't turn out to be so bad. Fuller is right in the same tier as Verrett and offers a bit more size as San Diego would get a defensive back who could contribute right away.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Again, many fans will wait with bated breath to hear Johnny Manziel's name called and again they will likely be disappointed. While Manziel may be the fan's favorite player, he presents the most boom-or-bust option in the draft and it's possible that general manager Ray Farmer and Co. aren't quite comfortable with swinging for the fences here.
The idea that the Browns may take Carr over Manziel isn't exactly a new one, either. The Plain Dealer beat writer Mary Kay Cabot also believes the Browns favor the Fresno State product:
At this point, I do think the Browns would draft Carr ahead of Manziel if both were available at No. 4, but the Browns haven't conducted their private workout with Manziel yet. That will happen in a couple of weeks. I think coaches have some durability concerns about the 5-11 Manziel, but maybe he can blow them away in his private session. He's already won over NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who catapulted Johnny Football to the top of his quarterback list following his superb pro day. I think the Browns like Carr's big arm, and the fact he has experience in both a spread and pro style offense.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Saints have been dangerous in nearly every season of the Sean Payton era by supplying Drew Brees with a full arsenal of weapons. While there are some concerns about the defense, the departures of receiver Lance Moore and running back Darren Sproles means the cupboard needs to be restocked on offense.
Marqise Lee would give Brees an athlete who can both stretch the field and make plays after the catch.
28. Carolina Panthers: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
It's no secret that the Panthers are desperate for wide receiver help. That means they're likely just going to the podium with the top receiver available with their first pick. In this case, that means 6'1", 212-pound Adams, who could be groomed into a long-term No. 1 receiver to replace the departed Steve Smith.
29. New England Patriots: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Ok, before you get out your torches and pitchforks, there is sound reasoning behind why the New England Patriots might just be the place that Johnny Football winds up. First, as much as scouts may love him for the potential that he flashed at Texas A&M, his playing style and penchant for turnovers is legitimate cause for trepidation from coaches and GMs.
That means that the ideal landing spot for Manziel is with a coaching staff that doesn't have to fear for its job if he busts and can offer the quarterback the opportunity to acclimate himself to the pro game at his own pace.
What better place than New England to satisfy those requirements? As ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has pointed out, this isn't an unprecedented scenario:
We’ve had this happen in the past where quarterbacks who were projected to go top-10 slid down. It happened with Aaron Rodgers. He was projected to be the No. 1 pick overall two to three weeks before that draft and he dropped into the 20s. He waited four full years to be the starting quarterback. But Green Bay went that route and look how it paid dividends for them. With [Tom] Brady getting up there now, [who] is the heir apparent? [They] brought in [Ryan] Mallett a few years ago.
Every draft has it's shocking moments. Manziel becoming Tom Brady's protege would certainly qualify for this year's.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
With Mario Manningham gone and the Niners once again looking for answers at wide receiver, San Francisco should be happy with the depth that this class offers at wide receiver. Even late in the first round the team can scoop up a receiver with No. 1 receiver potential, as the 6'3", 212-pound Matthews has the frame to get open against NFL defensive backs.
31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Broncos found out in the Super Bowl that a high-flying offense can be neutralized by a dominant pass-rush. They will likely look to build a devastating pass-rush of their own, and Kony Ealy provides a great value this late into Round 1.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Seahawks have become the league's premier team by doing two things extremely well in the draft—investing heavily in their front seven and consistently taking the best fit available regardless of positional need.
By taking Hageman with the final selection of the first round, they'll be able to do both of those things. At 6'6", 310 pounds Hageman possesses a unique combination of length and strength that would allow him to play multiple positions along the defensive line.
Another chess piece for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to utilize? Yeah, the Seahawks aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
All height, weight and combine information courtesy of NFL.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!