NFL Draft 2014: Rounding Up Top Experts' Final Rankings

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 6, 2014

Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles to the outside against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

With pundits having spent the past four months breaking down game film and analyzing combine numbers and pro days, this weekend's 2014 NFL draft is sure to be a blur.

That's right, draft week is finally upon us. But the real fun won't begin until Thursday night. 

Below, we'll take a closer look at what the top experts are predicting ahead of the first round.

What Top Experts are Predicting for Round 1
PickTeamTodd McShayMel KiperCharley Casserly
1Houston TexansJadeveon Clowney, DE, South CarolinaJadeveon Clowney, DE, South CarolinaJadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2St. Louis RamsGreg Robinson, OT, AuburnGreg Robinson, OT, AuburnGreg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3Jacksonville JaguarsSammy Watkins, WR, ClemsonSammy Watkins, WR, ClemsonKhalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
4Cleveland BrownsJohnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&MJohnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&MSammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
5Oakland RaidersKhalil Mack, LB, BuffaloKhalil Mack, LB, BuffaloTaylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
6Atlanta FalconsJake Matthews, OT, Texas A&MTaylor Lewan, OT, MichiganJake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
7Tampa Bay BuccaneersMike Evans, WR, Texas A&MMike Evans, WR, Texas A&MMike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
8Minnesota VikingsBlake Bortles, QB, Central FloridaBlake Bortles, QB, Central FloridaBlake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
9Buffalo BillsTaylor Lewan, OT, MichiganJake Matthews, OT, Texas A&MEric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
10Detroit LionsDarqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan StateOdell Beckham Jr., WR, LSUJustin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
11Tennessee TitansJustin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma StateDarqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan StateAnthony Barr, LB, UCLA
12New York GiantsAaron Donald, DT, PittsburghAaron Donald, DT, PittsburghZack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
13St. Louis RamsOdell Beckham Jr., WR, LSUHa Ha Clinton-Dix, S, AlabamaAaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
14Chicago BearsHa Ha Clinton-Dix, S, AlabamaJustin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma StateCalvin Pryor, S, Louisville
15Pittsburgh SteelersKyle Fuller, CB, Virginia TechZack Martin, OT, Notre DameKyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
16Dallas CowboysZack Martin, OT, Notre DameCalvin Pryor, S, LouisvilleHa Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
17Baltimore RavensEric Ebron, TE, North CarolinaEric Ebron, TE, North CarolinaC.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
18New York JetsBrandin Cooks, WR, Oregon StateBrandin Cooks, WR, Oregon StateOdell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
19Miami DolphinsMorgan Moses, OT, VirginiaC.J. Mosley, LB, AlabamaCyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
20Arizona CardinalsRyan Shazier, LB, Ohio StateDerek Carr, QB, Fresno StateBrandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
21Green Bay PackersC.J. Mosley, LB, AlabamaRyan Shazier, LB, Ohio StateStephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
22Philadelphia EaglesCalvin Pryor, S, LouisvilleKelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida StateLouis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
23Kansas City ChiefsMarqise Lee, WR, USCMarqise Lee, WR, USCMarqise Lee, WR, USC
24Cincinnati BengalsJason Verrett, CB, TCUKony Ealy, DE, MissouriBradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
25San Diego ChargersAnthony Barr, LB, UCLAAnthony Barr, LB, UCLADarqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
26Cleveland BrownsCody Latimer, WR, IndianaKyle Fuller, CB, Virginia TechDerek Carr, QB, Fresno State
27New Orleans SaintsDee Ford, DE, AuburnCody Latimer, WR, IndianaJason Verrett, CB, TCU
28Carolina PanthersJoel Bitonio, OT, NevadaMorgan Moses, OT, VirginiaMorgan Moses, OT, Virginia
29New England PatriotsStephon Tuitt, DE, Notre DameRa'Shede Hageman, DT, MinnesotaRa'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
30San Francisco 49ersRa'Shede Hageman, DT, MinnesotaJordan Matthews, WR, VanderbiltCody Latimer, WR, Indiana
31Denver BroncosXavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLAJason Verrett, CB, TCURyan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
32Seattle SeahawksKony Ealy, DE, MissouriStephon Tuitt, DE, Notre DameJace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Sources: ESPN, NFL.com

 

Todd McShay High on Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel

Sep 7, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) works against the blocking by Georgia Bulldogs offensive tackle Kenarious Gates (72) during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA
USA TODAY Sports

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay believes that polarizing prospects Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel could each hear their name called in the top five on Thursday night.

McShay projects Clowney going to the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall and predicts Manziel will come off the board at No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns. However, he appears much more confident in the Clowney projection, per his latest mock draft (paid subscription required):

I'm not sold on this one, but I keep hearing that Manziel could go early, and Cleveland is a logical landing spot given its need at QB. He's a leap-of-faith pick, as I've said many times in the past few months; he has a rare ability to create, but the team that takes him must be confident that he'll do what he needs to on and off the field to win from the pocket and that he'll be able to stay healthy long term, given his playing style.

But McShay may be onto something as ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted some interesting information on Monday, per fellow insider Chris Mortensen:

McShay also predicts Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack will be top-five picks, projecting Watkins to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 3 and Mack to the Oakland Raiders at No. 5 overall.

Interestingly, McShay only has two quarterbacks coming off the board in Round 1. In addition to Manziel at No. 4, he predicts Central Florida's Blake Bortles will go eighth overall to the Minnesota Vikings. 

 

Mel Kiper in Agreement With McShay?

Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins participates in a pass catching drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Although Mel Kiper and McShay routinely disagree when it comes to the NFL draft, ESPN's go-to gurus appear to be on the same page heading into the 2014 NFL draft.

Kiper and McShay's top five are identical, and seven of their top-10 picks match up perfectly. 

Like McShay, Kiper makes the "best player available" argument (paid subscription required) for Clowney going No. 1 overall and points to Cleveland's need for a quarterback as evidence for why they might take Manziel at No. 4. Kiper also has Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson going No. 2 overall to the St. Louis Rams, Watkins coming off the board at No. 3 and Mack going No. 5 to Oakland.

Kiper agrees with McShay that Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans will go No. 7 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that Bortles will fall to the Vikings at No. 8. 

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Blake Bortles #5 of the UCF Knights throws a pass during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against the Baylor Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Gett
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The two experts also agree on five other prospects in Round 1. Both like Aaron Donald at No. 12 (New York Giants), Eric Ebron at No. 17 (Baltimore Ravens), Brandin Cooks at No. 18 (New York Jets), Marqise Lee at No. 23 (Kansas City Chiefs) and Anthony Barr at No. 25 (San Diego Chargers).

It remains to be seen how Round 1 will pan out. However, it appears that neither pundit will have bragging rights when the dust finally settles on Thursday night.

 

NFL Network's Charley Casserly Snubs Manziel 

While both McShay and Kiper predict Manziel will be a top-five selection this spring, NFL Network analyst and former general manager Charley Casserly couldn't disagree more. 

According to Casserly's latest mock, not only will the Browns pass on the former Heisman Trophy winner, but every other team with a first-round pick will as well. 

Cassely explained his decision during a segment on NFL Network

First of all, I don't see him as a top-10 player...I don't see Jacksonville at No. 3 doing it because I think there's a more valuable player there. Cleveland, I think there'll be a more valuable player there...I don't see Oakland taking a chance...

Casserly agrees with ESPN's experts that Clowney will come off the board first, followed by Robinson. He even projects Watkins and Mack as top-five picks. The big difference is at No. 4 overall, where Casserly believes the Browns will pass on Manziel and add the explosive Watkins.

And instead of drafting a sliding Manziel at No. 26 overall, Cassely predicts Cleveland will take Fresno State signal-caller Derek Carr. 

Although Casserly has a ton of credibility as a former NFL executive, everything is speculation leading up to Thursday night, and once teams begin making trades and shaking up the draft order, it's anyone's guess as to who will wind up where.

However, if one thing is for certain, it's that the storylines will follow the big names like Clowney and Manziel wherever they land this spring.

 

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