NFL Draft Rumors: Breaking Down League-Wide Buzz Ahead of Selection Process

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 17, 2014

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 16:  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a touchdown reception intended for Jameon Lewis #4 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

NFL draft prospects' stock rises and falls and rises again in the weeks and months leading up to the league's annual offseason spectacle. And swirling rumors are a big reason for that.

Here, we'll break down the buzz surrounding some of the 2014 NFL draft's top prospects.


Minnesota Vikings Eyeing Under-the-Radar QBs?

The Minnesota Vikings could potentially snag a franchise quarterback when they find themselves on the clock at No. 8 overall this spring. 

But while Minnesota has already looked into top-tier prospects like Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, recent meetings with Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo and LSU's Zach Mettenberger suggest the Vikings are keeping their options open and aren't settled on taking one of the top guys.'s Ben Goessling reports that Mettenberger's meeting with the team on April 9 went very well, according to a source:

The Vikings are believed to be high on Mettenberger, who threw more than 100 passes at his pro day in an attempt to show the progress he's made since tearing his ACL last fall. The quarterback had dinner with four Vikings officials on Wednesday night, according to a league source, and seemed to click well with offensive coordinator Norv Turner; by the end of Mettenberger's workout, the source said, Turner was calling out the routes he wanted to see Mettenberger throw. The quarterback could be raw in some areas of his game, but he might have one of the stronger arms in the draft, and could be a good fit for Turner's deep passing game. 

At 6'5", 225 pounds, Mettenberger possesses prototypical size and strength for an NFL quarterback. His arm strength is also a positive. However, there are still some question marks surrounding Mettenberger's game. Durability is a concern following last season's torn ACL, and his limited mobility is another negative. 

Jonathan Bachman

But if Mettenberger is able to convince the Vikings that he can hang tough in the pocket and make all of the necessary throws, there appears to be a very good chance Minnesota will take a chance on him. 


Cleveland Browns Targeting AJ McCarron?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23: Former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron works out during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It's not unusual for a team to hold a workout for an NFL draft prospect. However, it says something when that player is asked to return for a visit. 

That's the case in Cleveland with former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, according to a league source via The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot:

Keep in mind that the Browns will pick twice in Round 1 (No. 4 and No. 26) thanks to last September's trade with the Indianapolis Colts.

But it seems unlikely that the Browns would reach for McCarron with the fourth overall pick. Instead, it appears more likely that Cleveland will wait to take a quarterback late in Round 1, much like it did in 2012, when the Browns drafted Trent Richardson at No. 3 overall and Brandon Weeden at No. 22 overall.

With Manziel, Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and others projected to come off the board somewhat early, there's a good chance that McCarron will still be available when the Browns come on the clock for a second time on May 8.


Baltimore Ravens Getting Defensive?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 07:  Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass intended for DaVaris Daniels #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter of the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life St
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It wouldn't be surprising if the Baltimore Ravens drafted a safety in Round 1 for the second straight year in 2014. With the Ed Reed era coming to a close after Super Bowl XLVII and James Ihedigbo bolting for Detroit in free agency, the Ravens have an obvious need on the back end.

Last week, The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson talked to league sources who said the Ravens have recently met with Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, arguably the top safety available in 2014.

Michael Conroy

While Baltimore would no doubt love to get its hands on a defender of Clinton-Dix's caliber, there's no guarantee he'll still be on the board when the Ravens arrive at No. 17 overall. There's always the possibility of the Ravens executing a trade to move up, but it remains to be seen whether Baltimore is willing to go that route.

As Wilson points out, Clinton-Dix's awareness and ability to diagnose plays make him an obvious answer to the Ravens' concerns in the secondary. Not to mention, drafting Clinton-Dix would allow the Ravens to move 2013 first-round draft pick Matt Elam over to strong safety, where he could be more effective as a hard-hitting physical presence.


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter