There's nothing that has a greater impact on the NFL than the draft.
This process can set a franchise up for instant and long-term success or set a team back for years. Rest assured, each front office is doing its due diligence to ensure it brings in the best possible draft class.
At this point in the offseason, teams are setting up big boards, analyzing every single prospect and attempting to make the draft work in their favor.
There are plenty of ways to get this done; however, none is more infamous than smoke screens.
Each franchise can hype up or put down any given player in attempt to allow its player of choice to fall into position. At last year's draft, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid put it best:
"Best friends lie to best friends. It's like the Civil War."
Attempting to wade through all of the nonsense is a daunting task. With each team's best interests in mind, let's take a look at how the first round of the 2014 NFL draft could shake out on May 8.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
There's plenty of ongoing debate about how quickly Bortles will adapt to the NFL. The Texans already have a solid core of talented players and desperately need a competent signal-caller to get them back into playoff contention. Based on how Bortles' technique looked at his near-flawless pro day, he certainly looks like the man for the job.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
St. Louis already has two top-notch tackles. However, Rodger Saffold has been plagued by injuries and Jake Long is coming off a serious one of his own. Robinson is technically sound and projects to be a top-tier talent for years to come. He provides instant depth and insurance on the offensive line.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Jaguars are in the market for a quarterback; although, this is a team that has some serious holes to fill. It would be virtually impossible to pass up on the freakishly athletic Clowney here. He's a once-in-a-lifetime prospect, and the Jaguars could easily grab their signal-caller in the second round.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel's new attitude, technique and work ethic suddenly make him look like a true NFL franchise quarterback. He looks passionate and driven—and his stellar pro day certainly didn't hurt, either. Manziel has the elusiveness and arm to succeed immediately on the Browns offense.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Oakland really needs a playmaking wide receiver. The team has plenty of untapped talent at the position but needs a true No. 1 going forward. Watkins is widely heralded as the draft's top prospect at the position and will give the Raiders offense some vast dynamics.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Falcons struggled to consistently apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks in 2013. In a division including Drew Brees and Cam Newton, that's not a good thing. Mack is a versatile edge-rusher who can play 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. He'll be a perfect fit in Atlanta's hybrid defense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With head coach Lovie Smith in the fold, rest assured he'll be wanting to bring some solid linebackers to Tampa Bay. Barr's speed is nearly unmatched. He is almost impossible to contain by offensive tackles off the edge due to his initial burst. He's also versatile enough to drop back into coverage. Barr instantly upgrades this defense in a big way.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Vikings' biggest hole to fill is at the quarterback position. Bridgewater falls right into their laps at No. 8 here. Despite his lackluster pro day, he's still one of the most talented and intelligent quarterback prospects this year—just watch some of his footage from Louisville.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
If EJ Manuel is going to progress as an NFL-caliber quarterback, the Bills must locate more weapons for him. Drafting a big, fast tight end like Ebron is a great first step. Capable of stretching the seam and providing a huge red-zone target, Ebron will give Manuel the chance to shine in 2014.
10. Detroit Lions: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Lions could easily go defense here; however, with Matthews still on the board, Detroit won't be able to pass up the opportunity to get a quality tackle. Detroit has Riley Reiff at left tackle, but he could be better suited on the right side. This will put Matthews at his natural position and give him the ability to protect Matthew Stafford's blindside for years to come.
11. Tennessee Titans: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Tennessee has a young, athletic front seven but could still shore up the back end with additional safety help. Clinton-Dix has great fluidity and the lateral agility necessary to cover plenty of ground playing center field. Also a physical safety and sure-tackler, he'll provide a great boost in run support as well.
12. New York Giants: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
After some key departures in free agency, the Giants are suddenly looking very thin at wide receiver. Evans would provide a great outside complement for Victor Cruz. Giving Eli Manning another huge target and vertical threat to work with is never a bad idea.
13. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Rams have a nice emerging offensive unit; however, they still lack a playmaker on the outside. Beckham has a great combination of size and speed to stretch the field and create yards after the catch. He'll form a great tandem with Tavon Austin.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Chicago made some great additions at the defensive end position but could still use help against the run on the interior of its defensive line. Donald is a gap-stuffing tackle who is also athletic enough to slice his way into the backfield and help generate pressure on the quarterback.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The common term to describe Pittsburgh's defense under Dick LeBeau is physical. That's exactly what Dennard brings to the table at the cornerback position. He's strong enough to reroute receives off of their routes and fast enough to keep up in man coverage. His addition will be a much-needed injection of youth on an aging secondary.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Dallas could go with a pass-rusher here; although, the need at safety is just as big. Pryor is one of the more physical players in this year's draft. He is great along the line of scrimmage in run support but can also remain stout in deep coverage. If needed in a pinch, Pryor can cover in the slot as well. He's the do-it-all safety that the Cowboys need.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Now that the Ravens bolsters their wide receiver corps with Steve Smith, Joe Flacco will need some additional protection to effectively distribute the football. Lewan is a highly athletic tackle who can hold up against the AFC North's great pass rushes. A mauler in the trenches, he can be a huge benefactor in the running game as well.
18. New York Jets: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Jets are severely lacking at cornerback without Antonio Cromartie around any longer. Dee Milliner struggled during his rookie season, and New York will want to bring in some insurance. Gilbert's combination of speed and ball skills makes him a highly coveted prospect who could quickly turn into the Jets' top option at corner.
19. Miami Dolphins: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
What's better than having one game-altering defensive end? Having two. Pairing Ealy with Cameron Wake would give the Dolphins one of the most dynamic pass rushes in the NFL. Ealy is quick off of the snap and aggressive into the backfield. Expect big numbers right away from this future star.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Arizona's offense really came together last season. With Carson Palmer getting up there in age, drafting his heir apparent is crucial to keeping this offense alive for the long haul. Carr's strong arm fits nicely in the Cardinals' vertical passing game, and the young quarterback would benefit from learning under the tutelage of Palmer during his rookie season.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
After a rash of injuries and inconsistent play in 2013, the Packers will be looking to shore up their linebackers corps. Mosley is a dynamo on the field. His quickness and agility allows him to make up plenty of ground in a hurry. He'll be a solid starter for years to come.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
With DeSean Jackson now a member of the Redskins, Chip Kelly's high-octane offense is far less dynamic. Jeremy Maclin continues to struggle with injuries, and Riley Cooper is best suited for a No. 2 role. Cooks has game-altering speed and can stretch the field in the same manner as Jackson. His addition will ensure this offense stays on the right track.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Alex Smith needs more options on the Chiefs offense—especially with Dexter McCluster now departed. Amaro is a huge receiving threat who is used to running a spread offense at Texas Tech. He'll get the Chiefs the tough yards but also stretch the seam and provide an added boost in the red zone.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Bengals need an injection of youth in their secondary. Terence Newman and Adam Jones are in their 30s, and a long-term replacement is necessary. Verrett has the speed and agility to play outside and in the slot. He'll be a great role player initially and move into a future starting position.
25. San Diego Chargers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
San Diego's offense surged last season under head coach Mike McCoy. Philip Rivers finally looked back in true form, and Keenan Allen was a revelation. Protecting Rivers going forward is now a priority. Martin is an incredibly versatile offensive lineman who can play tackle and both guard positions. He's an immediate upgrade in the trenches for the Chargers.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Browns made some great offseason additions in Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins but still needs to keep building on the offensive side of the ball. Robinson had a great career at Penn State. His ability to bring down jump balls and serve as a catch-and-go receiver will be crucial on a team that figures to start a young quarterback in 2014.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It's time to bring in some more ammunition for Drew Brees. After several big losses in free agency, this offense is suddenly thin on playmakers. Lee figures to be an instant contributor. He'll see playing time alongside Marques Colston and Kenny Stills and will eventually become Colston's replacement.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
It was a brutal offseason for the Panthers, in terms of losing offensive weapons. Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn all have new homes. If Cam Newton is going to continue to surge, he'll need more options. Benjamin is a big, chain-moving wide receiver who can bring down contested jump balls and earn his keep in the red zone. Those attributes should make Cam happy.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Defensive line play—especially against the run—wasn't stellar in New England last year. Bringing in Hageman will immediately rectify that problem. Extremely athletic and versatile for his size, Hageman can stuff the run from the interior and rush the passer from the outside. He'll be a great chess piece for Bill Belichick.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The 49ers have a vicious front seven. In order to keep it that way, the team must continue to add youth and talent up front. Nix has the perfect build for a 3-4 defensive tackle. He'll be great as an initial rotational piece and eventually move into the starting position at nose tackle.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Denver has done a great job retooling its defense over the offseason to become more physical. If the Broncos are to continue this trend through the draft, adding Shazier would be a brilliant move. A smart, sure-tackling natural leader, Shazier has the capability to provide stability on the outside for the long run in Denver.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
There really aren't many glaring needs in Seattle. However, shoring up the interior of the offensive line would make a significant impact. Su'a-Filo is an NFL-ready guard who will start immediately and provide a huge upgrade. His presence will certainly help keep Russell Wilson's jersey clean.
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