The 2014 NFL draft doesn’t begin until May 8. That’s two full weeks later than past drafts, as the event typically occurs during the last weekend of April. That’s also 14 more days of NFL mock drafts, player analysis and trade rumors.
With this year’s draft only nine days away, rumors and buzz are at an all-time high.
Here are three of the top headlines circulating the Internet regarding draft day.
Falcons Eying Texans’ No. 1 Pick
The Houston Texans need a quarterback. They went from having a 12-4 record in 2012 to a dismal 2-14 a year ago, thanks largely to the struggles of their signal-caller.
Matt Schaub was eventually benched after throwing 14 interceptions, a number of which went for touchdowns, and replacement Case Keenum is not the long-term solution in Houston.
While the Texans could obviously benefit from drafting Jadeveon Clowney and pairing him with All-Pro J.J. Watt to form one of the most formidable pass rushes in the league, ESPN's Ed Werder (h/t Rotoworld's Evan Silva) suggested that the team is hoping to trade down and out of the No. 1 pick.
By trading down, Houston would be able to target a top-end defensive player, while also adding a quarterback in the later rounds that the team believes could become the face of the franchise.
Werder believes the Falcons to be the top suitor for the No. 1 pick, looking to move up from pick No. 6:
According to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora, Atlanta would use the top pick to select Clowney:
The addition of Clowney would bolster a defense that managed only 32 sacks last season, which was tied for 29th in the NFL.
The Falcons have moved up in the draft before. In 2011, the team traded five picks in order to select star wide receiver Julio Jones sixth overall.
AJ McCarron May Be Drafted In 1st Round
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron had a decorated three-year college career, leading his team to back-to-back national championships (2012, 2013).
However, that success didn’t necessarily translate to the NFL draft, as scouts have pegged him to be drafted between the second and fourth round.
Based on McCarron's comments during an interview on The Paul Finebaum Show (h/t AL.com's Andrew Gribble), though, the quarterback has been told otherwise. NFL executives have apparently stated that he will likely be a first-round pick and at the very worst should be one of the top picks of the second round.
Gribble notes that NFL scouts currently rank a number of quarterbacks ahead of McCarron, including Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr.
If McCarron is drafted between picks No. 16 and 35, as he believes he will, he will undoubtedly be selected ahead of some of his peers who are believed to be NFL-readier.
Buccaneers Could Draft Manziel With No. 7 Pick
Apparently, Johnny Manziel has made quite the impression on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who hold the seventh pick in the NFL draft.
According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, the Texas A&M quarterback is “on the short list” of players the team might select with its first-round pick.
The Buccaneers do not have an established, long-term fix at quarterback and drafting Manziel might be a solution. Mike Glennon, a rookie from N.C. State, started 13 games for Tampa Bay last season, throwing for 2,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a respectable quarterback rating of 83.9.
But to increase competition at the position, the team brought in veteran Josh McCown during the offseason. McCown played eight games for the Bears in 2013 as a replacement for the injured Jay Cutler and exceeded expectations with a 109.0 quarterback rating, 13 touchdowns and only one interception.
If management feels that Manziel has more upside than Glennon and McCown with his ability to scramble and extend the play when it breaks down, it won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
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