The first round of the NFL Draft will be here in just a couple days and I want to prepare you for what to watch for (without having to watch twenty Pre-Draft specials on TV!). Here are Three Things to Keep an Eye out for in the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. The Johnny Manziel Effect
This year’s class of Quarterbacks are not considered “Franchise Quarterbacks” but there is still many quality and talented signal callers. Texas A&M Quarterback and Trendy Superstart Johnny Manziel is the domino that will affect all the other quarterbacks in this draft. Projections are that Manziel could go as high as the 2nd overall pick all the way down to 26th overall! Many teams are in need of a Quarterback: Jacksonville Jaquars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and the St Louis Rams are considering drafting a QB. Now there are 3 players who are projected as potential 1st round selections: Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater. But there are a slew of guys who project as productive starting Quarterbacks in the NFL: AJ McCarron, Andy Murray, Derek Carr, Zack Mettenberger, Connor Shaw, and Jimmy Garoppolo. So the reality is that there is depth at the Quarterback position in this draft and teams do not HAVE to take a QB in the 1st round, allowing for the potential for Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater to be waiting around while teams load up on talent at other positions.
2. Excellent Depth at Multiple Positions
Extending what is discussed above is the fact that no matter what your favorite team needs, there are multiple players available that project to be successful in the NFL. A team like the New York Giants needs help on the defensive line. You look at the list of Defensive Tackle and Defensive End prospects, I count ten DT’s and fourteen DE’s that could become productive NFL players! So do the Giants have to draft a Defensive Lineman in the first round? No, they can be selective and pick who they think is the best fit for their team. The Tennessee Titans need to draft the Running Back of the future with the departure of Chris Johnson. Looking at the list of Running Back prospects, I see the potential of SEVENTEEN guys who could be productive NFL players. So if your favorite team doesn’t draft a specific need in the first round, don’t freak out, there is depth of talent to go around this year.
3. Draft Position Movement
Every year in the NFL Draft there are teams that trade pick slots to move up and down. This year will be exceptionally interesting because there is a handful of player that are coveted by teams. You have teams like the Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins who have a dearth of picks so they may be open to moving down to accumulate picks in a very deep talent draft. You also have those teams that make an extreme move up or down the draft all predicated on whether a specific prospect is available or was already drafted. For example, when the Atlanta Falcons back in 2011 moved up to 6th overall to select Julio Jones the Falcons gave up a boat load of picks to move up. But the Falcons believed that Jones was worth giving up all of those picks. On the other side of that coin was the San Diego Chargers in 2001 when they traded away the 1st overall pick and with the picks they got in return, they drafted two future Hall of Famers: Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson.