The attendees for the 2014 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York have been confirmed, with a record 30 top prospects scheduled to be at the storied venue for the first round on May 8.
NFC communications director Randall Liu revealed the complete list of prospective attendees on Tuesday:
The lure of the Big Apple has to be something that weighed heavily on these future pros' minds to make the trip to the draft. However, with only 32 selections available in the first round, it's safe to assume that some of them will go home disappointed Thursday night. Several players have been left behind in the green room before, and the chances of it happening this time around are rather high considering the record number of attendees.
Four quarterbacks will be in attendance at the draft: Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo. While the first three have a strong chance of being selected in the first round, Garoppolo is far from a slam dunk coming out of a small school in Eastern Illinois.
Any one of those consensus top-three QBs could also take an embarrassing free-fall—some draft experts are mentioning Bridgewater as a potential second-round pick, per CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson—which would put a damper on their mood even if they were chosen by the end of the evening. With how important the position is, though, all four of the signal-callers could very well be chosen in the first round.
Whoever is picked first will likely determine how the dominoes fall thereafter, but there are needy teams at the top that could use a fresh face of the franchise.
The Houston Texans own the No. 1 overall pick, but they may not be sold enough on any of the QBs to select one at that spot.
Two supreme defensive talents in South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack are available, and both have the chance to be the first off the board. Each player will be present at the draft as well.
One of the biggest rumors to surface lately with regard to quarterbacks is the prospect of Manziel going to the St. Louis Rams at No. 2 or No. 13 overall. NFL Network expert Daniel Jeremiah noted what he's been hearing about it, per NFL.com's Bryan Fischer:
Take what you will with this, but this is out there. (NFL personnel) are saying there's legitimate interest between the Rams and Johnny Manziel. There's at least buzz in personnel circles saying do not rule out Johnny Manziel to St. Louis. [...] I don't know if that's a scenario where he drops all the way to 13 or if they will have the guts to take him with the second overall pick. I'm just telling you that's out there, and some people believe it's a real possibility.
Sam Bradford has been supported under center in St. Louis, yet the notion that the Rams could take Manziel is only part of what makes the draft so unpredictable and entertaining. It's possible St. Louis could also grab a wide receiver to help out Bradford.
To get an idea of how deep this wide receiver pool is, there are seven wideouts attending the draft. In all likelihood, fewer than seven will be selected in Round 1, but it also wouldn't be shocking if all were first-round picks either.
Clemson product Sammy Watkins is viewed as a cut above the rest, followed closely by Manziel's Texas A&M teammate, Mike Evans. Players such as Indiana's Cody Latimer and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews are far from certain to land in the top 32.
Viewers should feel sympathy for the young men who aren't fortunate enough to hear their name called when they attend the draft, but all 30 names on the list of attendees figure to project rather well in the NFL. All of them are first-round-caliber talents, so it's not as though they won't be selected at some point.
At the very least, attending the draft in person will be an opportunity of a lifetime for all 30 prospects, regardless of whether they hear their name called in Round 1.
For the league, this move is a big win. There will be more stories than ever to report on live from the scene, since the prospects at the draft have lower odds than ever to be chosen. This just adds to the craziness of the marquee event itself, which should help the sport continue to explode with popularity even when actual games aren't going on.
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