2014 NFL Draft: Latest Projections for Top 1st-Round Prospects

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IMarch 10, 2014

Is Bridgewater the No. 1 QB in the class?
Is Bridgewater the No. 1 QB in the class?Al Behrman/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL draft will come with its fair share of shock and surprises.

For some players, a great performance at the NFL Scouting Combine has increased their stock significantly. Conversely, a poor showing—or a lack of participation—has seen some players’ stocks dropping.

With two months to go before the draft, here’s how the first round currently is shaping up, followed by a closer look at some of the top prospects.

2014 NFL Draft 1st-Round Projections
1Houston TexansJadeveon Clowney (DE)
2St. Louis RamsGreg Robinson (OT)
3Jacksonville JaguarsTeddy Bridgewater (QB)
4Cleveland BrownsJohnny Manziel (QB)
5Oakland RaidersSammy Watkins (WR)
6Atlanta FalconsKhalil Mack (OLB)
7Tampa Bay BuccaneersJake Matthews (OT)
8Minnesota VikingsBlake Bortles (QB)
9Buffalo BillsCalvin Pryor (FS)
10Detroit LionsJustin Gilbert (CB)
11Tennessee TitansAaron Donald (DT)
12New York GiantsAnthony Barr (OLB/DE)
13St. Louis RamsMike Evans (WR)
14Chicago BearsLouis Nix (NT)
15Pittsburgh SteelersDarqueze Dennard (CB)
16Dallas CowboysHa Ha Clinton-Dix (FS)
17Baltimore RavensTaylor Lewan (OT)
18New York JetsMarqise Lee (WR)
19Miami DolphinsZack Martin (OT)
20Arizona CardinalsKony Ealy (DE)
21Green Bay PackersC.J. Mosley (ILB)
22Philadelphia EaglesDee Ford (DE)
23Kansas City ChiefsOdell Beckham Jr. (WR)
24Cincinnati BengalsKyle Fuller (CB)
25San Diego ChargersRa'Shede Hageman (DT)
26Cleveland BrownsXavier Su'a-Filo (OL)
27New Orleans SaintsStephen Tuitt (DE)
28Carolina PanthersCyrus Kouandjio (OT)
29New England PatriotsTimmy Jernigan (DT)
30San Francisco 49ersBrandin Cooks (WR)
31Denver BroncosJason Verrett (CB)
32Seattle SeahawksDavid Yankey (OG)

Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney impressed at the Combine.
Clowney impressed at the Combine.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For all the hype that Clowney has generated over his football career, he certainly backed it up with his performance at the combine in Indianapolis last month.

At 6’5” and 266 pounds, the Rock Hill, S.C., native certainly has the size. But he also proved he has top-notch athletic ability, running an incredible 4.53-second 40-yard dash and finishing in the top five in both the vertical and broad jumps among defensive linemen.

A player like Clowney only comes around every so often, making him a can’t-miss prospect at No. 1.

But that’s not where the former South Carolina standout wants it to end.

“I want to be one of the best,” Clowney said, per The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson (via Yahoo! Sports). “I want to be one of the greatest of all times.”

With Clowney, the Houston Texans would be getting a player that can immediately impact the team on defense. Someone who has the size, strength and speed to dominate offensive linemen and get into the backfield to wreak havoc.

Not to mention, pairing him alongside J.J. Watt on the defensive line could create nightmares for opponents. Expect Clowney to capitalize from the attention and double-teams that Watt draws.

Sure, the Texans could really use a quarterback. However, according to The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian and Jeff Howe, the team is interested in acquiring backup quarterback Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots.

Hey, if it justifies taking Clowney No. 1 overall, so be it.

Justin Gilbert

Following a stellar senior campaign at Oklahoma State, Gilbert was already a name to keep an eye on leading up to the draft. His performance during the combine only reasserted that fact.

The Woodlands, Texas, native thoroughly impressed, posting a 4.37 in the 40. In doing so, he became just the eighth defensive back taller than six feet in the last nine years to run a 40 in 4.37 seconds or less.

Gilbert also showed off his strength in the bench press, finishing second among corners with 20 reps.

The Detroit Lions could definitely use some help in the secondary. The team finished No. 23 in the league against the pass (247.0 YPG) and conceded 24 passing touchdowns.

With Gilbert, the Lions are getting a corner that can use his strength and physicality to out-muscle receivers off the line. He also has great vision for the ball and can make plays if the quarterback throws in his direction.

It would be a surprise if Gilbert fell out of the top 10.

Teddy Bridgewater

Don’t be fooled by the recent news that the Jacksonville Jaguars re-upped quarterback Chad Henne for another two years, per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. The team still needs help under center.

That’s where Bridgewater comes in.

The Jaguars have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. All that’s missing is someone who can lead the team at quarterback.

As Bleacher Report’s Michael Schottey notes, Jacksonville is just one need away from potentially taking it to the next level:

No, Bridgewater won’t provide the excitement fellow quarterback Johnny Manziel would likely bring, nor does he possess the size and upside that Blake Bortles boasts. Instead, he gives the Jaguars something they so desperately need: a quarterback that can win, and win now.

More of an old-school, traditional quarterback, Bridgewater’s mechanics are on point. Whether he is in the pocket or on the run, the Miami, Fla., native has the arm strength and accuracy that make him a threat with the ball in his hands.

There’s no doubt that Bridgewater is deserving of being the No. 1 quarterback in this class.

Unless otherwise noted, all stats, rankings and Combine results are courtesy of NFL.com and ESPN.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on FacebookTwitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.


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