The 2014 NFL draft was moved to May 8-10, and football fans who have waited patiently since the end of the Super Bowl are growing restless after so much downtime.
With several serious playmakers available in the first round and many more quality prospects who could sneak into the conversation as a smart pick early in the draft, where the top names land will have football fans focused on the latest projections and rumors.
Here is the projected top 10 for the 2014 draft and the hottest buzz surrounding the NFL showcase.
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Blake Bortles||QB||Central Florida|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|10||Detroit Lions||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
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Michael Sam Drawing Serious Interest?
One of the most talked-about prospects in the 2014 draft class is Missouri middle linebacker Michael Sam. As an All-American and one of the best pure MLBs in the draft, Sam is garnering serious attention from teams across the league.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, there are at least six teams considering using a selection on Sam:
The Ravens are among the teams that have displayed the most interest in Sam since the NFL scouting combine along with the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, according to league sources.
There has been plenty of chatter surrounding Sam since he announced that he was gay, but teams are focusing on his on-field talent. With the ability to step up against the run and slide into pass coverage, a team like Baltimore would be wise to add a gifted athlete like Sam.
While it’s hard to see a team reaching to select him in the first round, the pre-draft frenzy surrounding the Missouri star could easily raise his stock and land him with a team in the latter stages of the second round.
Dolphins Leaning Toward Cyrus Kouandjio Over Zack Martin?
The off-field issues for the Miami Dolphins along the offensive line were well publicized, and the franchise continued to distance itself from the situation by signing free-agent tackle Branden Albert this offseason.
With the need for another starting tackle and guard—as well as a need for depth all along the line—Miami is reportedly leaning toward selecting Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio over Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, according to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post:
Although Notre Dame offensive tackle/guard Zack Martin is a popular choice for the Dolphins among those projecting the NFL draft, a source with knowledge of the situation tells the Palm Beach Post that Miami GM Dennis Hickey prefers Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
There is no discounting Martin's raw skill and experience after spending his career under the bright lights of Notre Dame, but Kouandjio has once-in-a-lifetime size that can’t be taught.
While Kouandjio is rough around the edges, his 6’7”, 322-pound frame makes him one of the biggest men in the draft. At the very least, the Alabama standout could play on the right side and clog the pass-rush lane.
Regardless of which lineman the Dolphins choose with their first-round pick, the top priority is the rebuilding of the offensive line. Whether it’s Kouandjio or Martin, Miami just needs quality players.
*Stats via NFL.com.