The NFL draft is the most widely followed event of the offseason, with every team getting a chance to turn things around over the course of the weekend. Make sure you do not miss out on the exciting three-day event.
While every draft has its strengths and weaknesses, this year's class features as much depth as we have seen in years. Big-name college stars at the top are looking to take the next step toward successful careers. On the other hand, a number of prospects available on Day 2 and Day 3 are certain to make impacts early in their careers as well.
This will create an interesting draft full of storylines that will last all three days. Here is a guide to ensure you can follow along from beginning to end.
When: May 8-10
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City
TV: ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network
|Date||Rounds||Start Time (ET)||Channels|
|Thur, May 8||1||8 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN|
|Fri, May 9||2-3||7 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN (7-8 p.m.), ESPN2 (8 p.m.)|
|Sat, May 10||4-7||12 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN|
Top Storylines to Watch
Who Will Go No. 1?
A certain level of prestige comes with being selected No. 1 overall. On the other hand, the prospect faces tons of pressure to live up to the fact that he was considered better than everyone else in the class.
While there is no clear consensus as to what the Houston Texans will do with the pick, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney certainly represents a top option. When he was asked about it, the South Carolina product explained why he should be the first player off the board, via David Newton of ESPN.com:
I can pretty much do it all. Anything on defense I can help. I can be a playmaker. I am a playmaker. I've got what it takes, I believe, to go out there and set the tone for the next guy coming up. And to help my team out winning games.
Every team I've ever played with, we've never had a losing season. Never. Before I got there, I watched them lose. Not just here. Back in high school, middle school. I was like, 'Man, that ain't going to be my team when I play on that team.
If the Texans pass on Clowney, they are expected to instead grab one of the top quarterbacks who can be a face of the franchise. This list includes Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and even Teddy Bridgewater.
Meanwhile, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com reported that Houston is still interested in trading out of the top spot, while the Buffalo Bills and the Atlanta Falcons are considering moving up. This creates even more crazy possibilities heading into the NFL draft.
Where Will the Top Quarterbacks Land?
It is hard to remember a draft with more diverse opinions surrounding the quarterback class. While last year's group featured only a few legitimate prospects, there was at least a general consensus that it was weak.
This year, however, no one can seem to agree about who is the best in the class.
Blake Bortles seems to be trending toward the top of draft boards and could be the first quarterback selected, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network:
Doing groundwork on the draft class, and the more evaluators I talk to, the clearer it becomes that Blake Bortles is viewed as the best QB.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 22, 2014
Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel earns the title of the most exciting quarterback in the class thanks to his ability to make plays with his legs. However, NFL Network's Mike Mayock notes that he is also a quality passer:
"He's a better thrower than Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson were when they came out of college." - Mayock on Johnny Manziel.— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 31, 2014
Teddy Bridgewater remains someone to follow throughout the draft. He was once considered the best in the class but has fallen due to offseason workouts. Despite the bad press, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com still has the Louisville passer as his top quarterback:
Updating my top 50 list... No changes with my top 3 QB's. 1- Bridgewater 2- Manziel 3- Bortles— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 1, 2014
With Derek Carr, AJ McCarron, Tom Savage, Zach Mettenberger and more also challenging to move into the first round, teams will have plenty of options.
Which Prospects Will Be Steals in Later Rounds?
Fans love the first day of the NFL draft because of the impact those players are expected to make, but general managers know that a lot of talent is available in the later rounds.
Last season's Offensive Rookie of the Year came in Round 2 in the form of Eddie Lacy, while guys such as Kiko Alonso, Tyrann Mathieu and others also made impacts in their rookie years after being passed over in Round 1.
This year will be no different, as teams will get absolute steals after the first day. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN discussed the depth as a reason this draft will be exciting:
This is going to be a great draft. Uncertainty -- yes. But that's because there are so many really good players + depth at spots.— Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) March 13, 2014
The wide receiver and cornerback class probably stands out as having the most impact players who will be available late. However, the running backs are another group to keep an eye on starting Friday.
For the second year in a row, it seems as though no running backs will be taken in the first round. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller and Chris Simms take a look at the top players available at the position:
Those fans who play fantasy football will be especially interested in players who can make an early impact like Lacy or Giovani Bernard. Other players will come out of nowhere to become Pro Bowlers, so make sure you keep track of all the action through all seven rounds.
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