The 2014 NFL draft is one of the biggest events on a sports fan's calendar, and the fact that this year’s ceremony is being held on May 8-10 instead of in April has only created more of a frenzy.
Football fans can’t wait to see where the top stars land. Here are the full projections for the entire first round.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Houston Texans are in a win-win situation. If the franchise takes South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall, Houston will have a bona fide star off the edge. If the team trades the selection, the Texans will have a plethora of picks.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Another team that has made blockbuster trades in the first round is the St. Louis Rams. If the team decides to use its No. 2 overall pick, drafting an offensive tackle like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews would add the protection needed to help quarterback Sam Bradford thrive.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Drafting Johnny Manziel is about more than acquiring a franchise quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only is Manziel the kind of player Jacksonville could build a team around on the field, but he is also the kind of personality that would flourish as the face of the organization. Johnny Football should be the face of the Jaguars.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Another team desperate for quarterback help is the Cleveland Browns. With Central Florida’s Blake Bortles likely still available, the organization must fill its biggest need with the No. 4 overall pick. Anything less would be a mistake.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The addition of Matt Schaub this offseason was a solid upgrade at the quarterback position for the Oakland Raiders, but the team must also add a talented playmaker like Clemson’s Sammy Watkins to the equation in order to maximize its potential.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Atlanta Falcons are desperate for a pass-rushing outside presence. Whether the team trades up for Clowney or takes another talented star like Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, Atlanta will be looking to add a pass-rusher with its first-round pick.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Another team looking for an outside linebacker that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the top two options will likely be off the board, Tampa Bay settling for UCLA’s Anthony Barr is a great consolation prize.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
After struggling to find a quarterback that deserved the honor of starting for the Minnesota Vikings, the franchise must address the need in the draft. While many scouts are down on Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota must take the educated risk.
9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Buffalo Bills drafted quarterback EJ Manuel with the intention of making him a franchise quarterback, but he doesn’t have the proper weapons to thrive. If Buffalo truly believes in Manuel, the team should add Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.
10. Detroit Lions: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
As if the Detroit Lions offensive unit couldn’t get any better, the idea of adding a franchise left tackle like Auburn’s Greg Robinson would give the line the anchor it needs and would give QB Matthew Stafford the protection he has been waiting for.
11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Tennessee Titans struggled at times against the run and the pass, and the franchise must get back to basics. The perfect solution would be a middle linebacker like Alabama’s C.J. Mosley who can be the on-field leader the defense needs.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The New York Giants need major help along the offensive line. With Eli Manning struggling with so much pressure in his face, the team must take the educated risk and select a bruising tackle like Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
After adding depth and talent to the offensive line with the No. 2 overall pick, the St. Louis Rams must address the need for help in the secondary. This is a deep class for cornerbacks and safeties, but the best is Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Chicago Bears were gouged by almost every opposing running back they faced last season, and adding a run-stopping defensive tackle is a top priority. The best DT coming out of the scouting combine was Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, and Chicago will buy the hype.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
If Donald is off the board when the Pittsburgh Steelers make the selection at No. 15, the team will be forced to look elsewhere for the centerpiece of a defensive line rebuild. While Pittsburgh will be forced to settle for Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III, he is quite the consolation prize.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Few fans know much about Minnesota defensive end Ra'Shede Hageman, but he has the raw potential to be an instant starter and an impact player in the NFL if he gets picked up by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Not since Ed Reed left the Baltimore Ravens has the team boasted a true leader in the secondary. While Alabama free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is rough around the edges, there is little doubt that his hard-hitting style and football I.Q. make him an instant upgrade.
18. New York Jets: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The New York Jets have several holes to fill this offseason, but the biggest need comes along the defensive line. Whether he lines up as a defensive end or as an outside linebacker, Missouri’s Kony Ealy is an ideal selection at No. 18 overall.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The issues along the offensive line for the Miami Dolphins have been well publicized, but the addition of another new face like Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin would continue the process of changing the culture of the locker room.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer has reinvented himself with the Arizona Cardinals, but the need for protection is still a major concern. If Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is still on the board at No. 20, the team’s pick should be simple.
21. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The loss of tight end Jermichael Finley to free agency was a major blow to the Green Bay Packers, but the team can remedy the issue by adding the best TE prospect in the 2014 class, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles is in the secondary. While the team could easily look to add a safety in the first round, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard is the hard-nosed player who could change the culture of the team.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
As head coach Andy Reid continues incorporating his vision into the Kansas City Chiefs, the thoughts of a talented wide receiver who can maximize Alex Smith’s effectiveness in the West Coast offense will have the organization snagging Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
The Cincinnati Bengals already possess one of the best wide receivers in the league with A.J. Green, but adding a complement on the other side of the field like LSU’s Odell Beckham would add even more firepower to the franchise.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Despite boasting one of the most impressive offenses in the league, the San Diego Chargers struggled at times against the deep pass. Adding a shutdown cornerback like TCU’s Jason Verrett would be a smart fundamental move.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
After the departure of safety T.J. Ward to free agency, the Cleveland Browns must use their second first-round pick to fill the need. The most viable option at No. 26 overall is Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Another franchise desperate for consistent defensive pressure off the edge is the New Orleans Saints. There will be several viable options here, but Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier fits Rob Ryan’s style perfectly.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
After completely dismantling the wide receiver group, the Carolina Panthers are looking to build it from the ground up. That process begins with a consistent pass-catcher like USC’s Marqise Lee.
29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
There is no doubt that Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in football, but his inability to stay off the injury report should have the New England Patriots concerned about his long-term success. Adding a player like Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro would give the Patriots an elite complement or a viable starter, depending on what the situation calls for.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
There have been several off-field issues for the San Francisco 49ers this year, but the team must stay focused on the prize and add a player who fills a fundamental need. With a constant struggle at wide receiver, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks would be an instant upgrade.
31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Denver Broncos boosted the defensive side of the ball with big-name free agents, but the middle of the defensive line is still an issue. With Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan possessing the raw talent to make an instant impact, the Broncos will have their man.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
After watching several key players along the defensive line cash in on the Super Bowl success of the Seattle Seahawks, the team needs to find replacements. One of the smartest additions would be Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
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