Each year, the NFL draft is one of the most perplexing events in all of sports.
Leading up to draft day, teams will do everything they can in attempt to gain the upper hand over competing franchises.
Smoke screens are plentiful, and we're still not sure what these clubs really think about each prospect even though May 8 is just around the corner.
That will continue to be the case.
The information we think to be true may rear its ugly head and provide us with some big surprises when certain teams take the podium.
That's the fun of the NFL draft—we never know for certain what's going to happen until it does.
Based on the information that's available to us at this point, let's take a stab at how the first round of the 2014 NFL draft could possibly shake out.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Clowney is simply a once-in-a-lifetime freakish athlete. Pairing him with J.J. Watt would simply be unfair to opposing offenses. The Texans would be making a huge mistake passing up on such a talented player here.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Rams could go a number of ways here; however, they must draft the prospect who will provide the biggest immediate impact. That would be Watkins. St. Louis has a budding offense but needs additional weapons alongside Tavon Austin. Watkins will be its No. 1 playmaker right away and for years to come.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Jacksonville has plenty of holes to fill. Defensive end is one such position of need. Mack may be one of the safest picks this year. His high motor and elite speed makes him a matchup nightmare for many offensive tackles.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel appears to be a nice fit for Cleveland. His ability to makes plays with his arms and his legs will allow him to survive in a physical AFC North. Now, here's the fun part. On Monday, Adam Schefter tweeted the Browns' interest in Manziel:
On Tuesday, Jay Glazer said the team would not take the quarterback, according to a tweet from Fox Sports Radio:
With so many smoke screens running rampant right now, it's difficult to determine what to believe. That said, this pick just makes sense.
5. Oakland Raiders: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Raiders need to increase the effectiveness of their defensive line. Drafting Donald will go a long way in that department. Stout against the run and agile enough to knife his way though the line, he doubles as a pass-rushing threat up the middle.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Matt Ryan was sacked more times in 2013 than he had been throughout his career. The Falcons will look to change that going forward. Robinson is a technically sound prospect with a great amount of durability. He'll ensure Ryan stays upright for the long haul.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Buccaneers must grab an elite receiver to pair with Vincent Jackson. Pulling the trigger here on Evans would give the team an unstoppable wide receiver duo. With two big, fast targets on the outside, expect Mike Glennon to grow at a huge rate in 2014.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With Mike Zimmer assuming the role of head coach in Minnesota, expect the team's first pick to be on the defensive side of the ball. Zimmer loves pass-rushers, and he'll get a great one in Barr. Quick off the snap and fast around the edge, Barr will lessen the blow of losing Jared Allen over the offseason.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Bills need to add more weapons if they intend to elevate the play of EJ Manuel. Bringing in the draft's top tight end will certainly help. Ebron is capable of stretching the seam and providing a big red-zone target. Manuel and Co. will benefit greatly from his presence.
10. Detroit Lions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Detroit needs some help in the secondary. This team has a budding cornerback crop, but needs a reliable safety behind them. Clinton-Dix has the agility and fluidity to cover plenty of ground in a hurry. He'll play center field and severely limit the big plays against this defense.
11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Tennessee has a nice group up front on its defense. However, this team could use some additional help on the back end. Gilbert is quick and agile. He's fast enough to shadow the league's top-tier receivers, and his ball skills will bring plenty of additional turnovers to Tennessee.
12. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Fixing the offense starts up front for the Giants. Even though the team's need for another offensive playmaker is huge, an even bigger need on the offensive line must be filled first. Matthews has all the tools and durability to be a 12-year starter in the NFL. That's just the stability this team needs.
13. St. Louis Rams: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Rams already grabbed the top wide receiver in the draft, and now they'll shift focus to the defensive side of the ball. Pryor is a physical safety who can play center field, but also cover in the slot in a pinch. He'll serve nicely as another run-stuffing threat when lined up in the box.
14. Chicago Bears: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Bears need to make plenty of improvements on the defensive side of the ball. Charles Tillman has been fantastic for this team, but he's getting a bit long in the tooth. Chicago will grab his replacement here in Dennard. Capable of playing man coverage and reliable off the ball, he'll become a long-time starter in Chicago much like Tillman.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
The Steelers had some big losses in the wide receiver department over the offseason. Antonio Brown needs some help, and the Steelers need some insurance if Markus Wheaton is unreliable. Beckham is a speedy, catch-and-go receiver who will fit perfectly in Todd Haley's offensive scheme.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dallas lost some major pieces up in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason. By selecting Ealy here, the Cowboys get a very promising prospect who can contribute immediately. Ealy's presence will apply significant pressure to opposing quarterbacks and help out a struggling secondary.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Now that the Ravens have acquired Steve Smith in free agency, bolstering the offensive line is the next step. Adding the athletic Lewan to the mix will allow Joe Flacco enough time to distribute the ball to his weapons. A mauler in the trenches, Lewan will also help Baltimore get its running game back on track.
18. New York Jets: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Jets are thin at cornerback. That may even be an understatement. This team needs youth, athleticism and reliability in this department—Fuller brings all of these attributes to the table. Capable of starting immediately, Fuller has the technique to hold up against better receivers and should supplant Dee Milliner as the team's No. 1 option at cornerback.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Miami needs another offensive lineman in a big way. Ryan Tannehill grew in a big way during the 2013 season, and the Dolphins must do everything possible to keep that trend going. Martin served well as a left tackle at Notre Dame but also has the ability to play multiple positions along the offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
The Cardinals offense was fantastic last season. Now, the team must ensure it stays that way for the long run. Carson Palmer doesn't have many years left, and Bortles is a perfect replacement in the Cardinals' vertical passing game. He'll benefit from learning under Palmer and developing his technique for a season or two before taking the reins.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
A rash of injuries and lackluster play plagued the Packers linebacker corps in 2013. This unit needs stability going forward, and Mosley is the guy for the job. Tremendously athletic, Mosley can move laterally nicely and cover plenty of field quickly. He'll be making plays immediately on the Packers defense.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Sure, the Eagles have plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball, but what made this team great in 2013 was its offense. After losing the explosive DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia needs to gain a new weapon. Cooks is every bit the receiver Jackson was for this team and will keep this high-octane offense alive and kicking.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Alex Smith needs some help on the offensive side of the ball, and Andy Reid is just the guy to give it to him. Bringing in Amaro not only gives Smith a coveted security blanket and red-zone target, but it also adds a player who can stretch the seam and take pressure away from Dwayne Bowe.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
With Terence Newman and Adam Jones aging, Leon Hall dealing with constant injuries and Dre Kirkpatrick remaining unproven, it's time to add another cornerback in Cincinnati. Verrett is quick and versatile. He can play outside or inside and will immediately provide much-needed depth before moving into a starting role.
25. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
After an offensive resurgence in 2013, the Chargers must improve along the line of scrimmage to keep it up this season. San Diego has a big need at the guard position, and Su'a-Filo will fill the role nicely. A versatile lineman, Su'a-Filo is stout in pass protection and athletic enough to get to the second level when blocking for the run.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson had a stellar career at Penn State and capped it off with a dazzling pro day. He has the size and leaping ability to go up high and bring down contested balls. He will be a very steady, reliable addition across the field from Josh Gordon.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Saints are suddenly lacking in the wide receiver department. To make matters worse, Marques Colston won't be around too much longer. Adding another receiver to pair with Kenny Stills in the long run is a great idea here. Lee showed flashes of brilliance at USC, and if he can stay healthy, he'll be an offensive staple for Drew Brees and Co. for a long time.
28. Carolina Panthers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn in free agency does not bode well for the Panthers offense going forward. With a dire need for another wide receiver, they'll pull the trigger on Latimer here. A lengthy, chain-moving target, Latimer will give Cam Newton the outside, steadfast deep threat he's currently lacking.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Bill Belichick loves versatile players who can act as defensive chess pieces. That's exactly what the Patriots are getting in Hageman. With the size to play defensive tackle and the agility to play defensive end, he can be moved all over the defensive line to become a matchup nightmare for opposing offenses.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The 49ers need cornerbacks in a bad way. They'll address the position here with Roby. A talented, quick corner, Roby has a great size and speed combination to flourish on the outside in the NFL. He'll become a cornerstone of an already dominant defense.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
It's clear the Broncos are looking to become more physical on the defensive side of the ball this season. Adding Shazier to the mix will give them a vast amount of their desired physicality. Shazier is an intelligent linebacker who is rarely caught out of position. A sure-tackler and natural leader, he'll flourish on this defense for a long time.
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Upgrading the offensive line is key for the continued success of the Seahawks. Yankey is one of the draft's best guards and has the experience to start immediately. An athletic guard, he can get to the second level nicely when blocking for the run and remains stout in pass protection.
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