After an excruciating, longer-than-normal wait, the 2014 NFL draft is on the cusp of beginning, meaning all of the rumors, borderline slander of prospects and other caveats of the lengthy process can be put to bed.
The 2014 class is often hailed as the deepest class in recent memory. On paper, it's much-deserved praise. While we won't know the verdict on that claim until three or more years down the line, it certainly makes for the most interesting draft to date, as that thought process may alter how teams typically approach the big day.
Translation—don't be the fan who misses out on any of the action. Here's the scoop on how to catch every second of the three days.
When: May 8-10
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City
TV: ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network
|Date||Rounds||Start Time (ET)||Channels|
|Thu, May 8||1||8 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN|
|Fri, May 9||2-3||7 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN (7-8 p.m.), ESPN2 (8 p.m.)|
|Sat, May 10||4-7||12 p.m.||NFL Network, ESPN|
Key Points to Monitor
A staple of the draft process, one would think trades take a backseat this year provided the depth of the class.
Why move around and give up valuable picks when a prospect of similar value—especially in the early rounds—will be available if a team stands pat?
Apparently, that isn't popular logic. As Pro Football Talk points out, the Texans allegedly want out of the top selection in a bad way:
Texans, Rams really want to trade down http://t.co/4QyJsQBSRc— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 7, 2014
Of course the team with the top pick wants to move down and grab more picks in a deep class. Jadeveon Clowney is an odd schematic fit, and it's hard to justify taking a quarterback so high in this class. Keep an eye on Atlanta and Buffalo.
But it doesn't stop there. Cleveland, which owns two picks in the first round, may want to move up from No. 26 overall to take Teddy Bridgewater, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com:
The sources said Farmer has had a fascination with Bridgewater since last fall, and would like to land him at No. 26. The Browns have even looked into trading up from No. 26 to get Bridgewater, one source said.
The New York Jets sit at No. 18 but may also be on the move upward in the proceedings, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News:
After Idzik used only about 47% of his available salary-cap space this offseason (excluding the projected rookie pool amount), he must be aggressive this week to fill a few glaring holes on Rex Ryan’s team. To that end, the Jets have told teams that they’re interested in trading up in the first round, according to a source.
There are plenty of other rumblings out there, but it is easy to see that fans of each and every franchise must be on the edge of their seats throughout the process. A plethora of trades may come to fruition, starting with No. 1 overall.
Ask seven different people who the top quarterback is in the 2014 class, and it's almost a guarantee that one will get seven different answers.
UCF's Blake Bortles was on top of the board most recently, as illustrated by NFL Network's Albert Breer:
Doing groundwork on the draft class, and the more evaluators I talk to, the clearer it becomes that Blake Bortles is viewed as the best QB.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 22, 2014
Louisville's Bridgewater apparently wears gloves and has skinny knees, but there are those experts, such a CBS Sports' Dane Brugler and Sports Talk 790's Lance Zierlein, who still believe he is a lock for the first round:
My belief too RT @LanceZierlein Teddy Bridgewater is not getting out of the first round— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 3, 2014
Don't forget about names like Johnny Manziel, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage or LSU's Zack Mettenberger, either.
Is all of the negative talk about the quarterback class smoke? Or is it truly, in tandem with one of the deeper classes overall, that weak? Don't blink, as the unpredictable nature of the position this year will make for the most entertaining draft in quite some time.
The State of the RB Position
The running back is a dying breed, although this year may challenge the NFL in certain ways, as the depth the class touts will either spur a major run early or none until the third day of the proceedings. MMQB's Andrew Brandt offers an apt explanation of the woes felt by each player at the position:
As a former agent, I feel for running backs. There is no position in football that absorbs so much pounding and punishment. And, because of what they put their bodies through, they clearly have the shortest shelf life of any positional group. Indeed, their prime years may well be before they even enter the NFL while playing for free in high school and college.
It's an unfortunate reality of the position, especially with names like Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill as talented prospects who have plenty to offer. Experts such as Kay Cabot see Hyde as the first runner off the board—but in the second round:
In reality, nobody is quite sure who the first back off the board will be. Other talented names like Bishop Sankey, Tre Mason, Terrance West and Ka'Deem Carey have the potential to surprise on draft day.
As the NFL takes a committee approach to the position, the 2014 draft will be a telling sign as to how it is still valued by those in the know. Future draft hopefuls better take notice.