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.
|Pick||Team||Todd McShay||Mel Kiper||Charley Casserly|
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson||Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M||Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo||Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida||Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida||Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M||Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina|
|10||Detroit Lions||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State||Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA|
|12||New York Giants||Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh||Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh||Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama||Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh|
|14||Chicago Bears||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech||Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina||Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina||C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama|
|18||New York Jets||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia||C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama||Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State||Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State|
|21||Green Bay Packers||C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama||Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State||Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville||Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State||Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Marqise Lee, WR, USC||Marqise Lee, WR, USC||Marqise Lee, WR, USC|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri||Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA||Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State|
|26||Cleveland Browns||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech||Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Dee Ford, DE, Auburn||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia|
|29||New England Patriots||Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame||Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota||Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota||Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana|
|31||Denver Broncos||Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU||Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri||Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame||Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech|
Sources: ESPN, NFL.com
Todd McShay High on Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel
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:
And @mortreport reports he'd expect the Browns to snap up QB Johnny Manziel with the No. 4 pick if he's still there.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 5, 2014
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?
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.
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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