The 2014 NFL draft could play out in any number of ways, and that is evident when examining the latest expert mock drafts from across the Internet.
Mocks have overtaken the web since before the college and NFL seasons even came to an end, but things are now starting to come into focus with the draft on the horizon. Even with all the information that is out there, however, there is still plenty of uncertainty among those who know the teams and prospects best.
With that in mind, here is the latest look at some of the most high-profile 2014 NFL mock drafts on the web along with trends worth keeping an eye on.
Latest Expert Mock Drafts
|Pick No.||Team||Mel Kiper (ESPN.com)||Bucky Brooks (NFL.com)||Matt Miller (B/R)||Mike Chiari (B/R)|
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney||Jadeveon Clowney||Jadeveon Clowney||Jadeveon Clowney|
|2||St. Louis Rams (via WAS)||Greg Robinson||Greg Robinson||Sammy Watkins||Sammy Watkins|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Sammy Watkins||Johnny Manziel||Teddy Bridgewater||Blake Bortles|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel||Sammy Watkins||Johnny Manziel||Johnny Manziel|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack||Blake Bortles||Greg Robinson||Khalil Mack|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Taylor Lewan||Jake Matthews||Khalil Mack||Greg Robinson|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans||Mike Evans||Mike Evans||Mike Evans|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Blake Bortles||Khalil Mack||Blake Bortles||Teddy Bridgewater|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Jake Matthews||Eric Ebron||Jake Matthews||Jake Matthews|
|10||Detroit Lions||Odell Beckham||Darqueze Dennard||Justin Gilbert||Justin Gilbert|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Darqueze Dennard||Justin Gilbert||Anthony Barr||Darqueze Dennard|
|12||New York Giants||Aaron Donald||Aaron Donald||Eric Ebron||Aaron Donald|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix|
|14||Chicago Bears||Justin Gilbert||Calvin Pryor||Aaron Donald||Calvin Pryor|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Zack Martin||Odell Beckham||Taylor Lewan||Anthony Barr|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Calvin Pryor||Anthony Barr||Kony Ealy||Dee Ford|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Eric Ebron||Taylor Lewan||Zack Martin||Taylor Lewan|
|18||New York Jets||Brandin Cooks||Marqise Lee||Odell Beckham||Eric Ebron|
|19||Miami Dolphins||C.J. Mosley||Zack Martin||C.J. Mosley||Zack Martin|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Derek Carr||Dee Ford||Derek Carr||Kony Ealy|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ryan Shazier||C.J. Mosley||Jimmie Ward||C.J. Mosley|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||Kelvin Benjamin||Kyle Fuller||Dee Ford||Odell Beckham|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Marqise Lee||Brandin Cooks||Brandin Cooks||Brandin Cooks|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Kony Ealy||Ryan Shazier||Kyle Fuller||Morgan Moses|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Anthony Barr||Bradley Roby||Darqueze Dennard||Kyle Fuller|
|26||Cleveland Browns (via IND)||Kyle Fuller||Teddy Bridgewater||Cody Latimer||Xavier Su'a-Filo|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Cody Latimer||Kony Ealy||Davante Adams||Ryan Shazier|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Morgan Moses||Cyrus Kouandjio||Morgan Moses||Marqise Lee|
|29||New England Patriots||Ra'Shede Hageman||Ra'Shede Hageman||Dominique Easley||Stephon Tuitt|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jordan Matthews||Jason Verrett||Allen Robinson||Davante Adams|
|31||Denver Broncos||Jason Verrett||Xavier Su'a-Filo||Ryan Shazier||Jason Verrett|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||Stephon Tuitt||Morgan Moses||Jason Verrett||Cyrus Kouandjio|
ESPN.com, NFL.com, BleacherReport.com
*Mel Kiper's mock draft courtesy of ESPN Insider (subscription required)
*Bucky Brooks' mock draft courtesy of NFL.com
*Matt Miller's mock draft courtesy of Bleacher Report
Biggest Mock Draft Storylines
Jadeveon Clowney Tabbed as Consensus Top Pick
The overarching feeling among talent evaluators seems to be that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the best prospect in this draft, and that thought process is reflected within the expert mock drafts. Clowney is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans in each of the highlighted mocks and it is easy to see why.
Clowney has the potential to be the next Bruce Smith or Reggie White, so Houston may not be able to pass up that type of talent. Even though defensive end isn't a big need for the Texans and Clowney may not be an ideal fit for their defense, teams find a way to make things work with a player of his caliber.
Despite the consensus among all four mocks, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport doesn't rule out the notion that Houston could still trade out of the No. 1 spot if it isn't all in on Clowney:
After discussing the topic with people familiar with Rick Smith, it doesn’t appear #Texans are 100% sold on Clowney. Thus, willing to trade— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 5, 2014
If the Texans do trade down, then one can only assume that the team they strike a deal with would be moving up to select Clowney. Regardless of who ends up selecting at the top of the draft, Clowney is the name that viewers are expecting to hear first.
Pass-rushers are at a premium in the NFL these days, which makes Clowney a very popular man provided there is a belief that he will reach his full potential.
Uncertainty in Quarterback Ranks
Most consider the 2014 draft class to be a strong one in terms of quarterbacks, but nobody seems exactly sure which signal-caller is the best and which NFL teams prefer. All four of the above mocks feature at least three passers going off the board in the first round, with Miller opting for four in the form of Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr.
Bridgewater is a particularly interesting case since he was initially viewed as the No. 1 quarterback, but his status has taken a hit in the wake of a poor pro day. The opinion runs the gamut on Bridgewater with Miller giving him to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 3 while Kiper has him falling outside the first round altogether.
One person who hasn't bought into Bridgewater's fall from grace is NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, who still rates him as the best quarterback in the draft:
My top 5 QB's: 1) Bridgewater 2) Manziel 3) Bortles 4) Carr 5) Garoppolo— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 6, 2014
Three of the four mocks have Johnny Football going No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns with the other linking him to the Jags at No. 3. Also, Bortles is off the board inside the top 10 in each of the mocks as well. Carr is a potential late first-rounder to boot, but it will ultimately come down to what the Browns do at No. 4 and how teams like the Arizona Cardinals feel about taking a quarterback.
It is safe to assume that at least three quarterbacks will be selected Thursday night, but predicting the order and identity of those signal-callers is a crapshoot at best.
Wide Receivers Dominate First Round
Much like the quarterback position, it is unclear how many wide receivers will fly off the board in the first round, but anywhere from five to eight is a safe prediction based on the featured mocks. All four mock drafts have a varying amount of receivers being selected, with Brooks on the low end at five and Kiper at the high end with eight.
Everyone agrees that Sammy Watkins will be the first pass-catcher to go with the St. Louis Rams, Jaguars and Browns all looking like realistic options from No. 2 through No. 4. The freakish athlete is likely coveted by teams throughout the first round, though, so a draft-altering trade up could be in play.
One talent evaluator who has been openly bullish on Watkins is Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
"Sammy's a very talented guy," Mayhew said. "He would fit us; he can make plays. His track record speaks for itself, I think."
It would take a certain amount of ammunition for the Lions to move up from No. 10 into a position where Watkins is a possibility, but the thought of pairing him with Calvin Johnson is enticing to say the least.
Which NFL draft storyline intrigues you most?
Aside from Watkins, all four mocks are in agreement that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are smitten with Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans at No. 7. The likes of Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee are also viewed as likely first-rounders, but their positioning could fluctuate significantly.
Names like Cody Latimer, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams and Allen Robinson could also come into play, but they are certainly borderline. If several of the highly touted receivers in this year's class ultimately pan out, though, the 2014 NFL draft may one day be viewed as the gold standard in terms of wide receiver talent.
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