The 2014 NFL Draft is upon us. A record 30 college football players have been invited to the Radio City Music Hall in New York, as anticipation of the always exciting first round gets underway Thursday, May 8 at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time. And while it is very easy for even the average fan to predict that DE Jadeveon Clowney and QB Johnny Manziel will be big money makers on Thursday’s first round, no picks are guaranteed until they are announced. This includes the number one overall selection. That belongs to the Houston Texans this year, and they could stick with Clowney, a virtual lock as a 10 or 12 year dominant defensive presence, they could trade that pick away, or they could do any unpredictable number of things. Along those lines, here are our 4 bold predictions for NFL draft 2014 odds.
The Houston Texans trade away their number one overall draft pick. At least two dozen NFL teams have expressed interest in Clowney. And it is hard to imagine that the other eight teams would not love to have this freakishly talented defensive monster on their team as well. The Texans could swap first-round picks with another team, and probably add a second-round pick this year and a first-rounder next year. That might be too attractive for the Texans to pass up. And since there have been rumors that both Manziel and QB Blake Bortles are on Houston’s radar, by trading down they may get the quarterback they want anyway, as well as some much-needed extra draft picks for this year and next.
There will be at least four first-round trades. This year’s wide receiver draft class is one of the richest in recent memory, and possibly of all time. You can easily see five or six wide-outs going in the first 20 or 25 picks. And with four legitimate future Hall of Fame candidates at offensive line positions predicted to be chosen in the first 12 picks, along with as many as four defensive backs finding homes in the NFL in the first round, many teams may not want to wait and pray that they get the raw talent they desire. Houston will almost definitely see multiple trade offers. And if Clowney does not go first overall, St. Louis in the second overall spot will probably be presented with a trade they cannot turn down. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick, and need help at multiple positions, meaning they will be open to any trade offerings.
Four safeties will be drafted in the first round. With the growing success of the spread offense, running backs are plummeting in value, and multitalented safeties are increasing. A fast safety who is also physical, and can cover tight up on the line or in a zone defense deep, is absolutely critical to defensive prowess in the NFL these days. Get two on your team, and you walk away with a Super Bowl ring like Seattle did last year. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will probably go in the top 18 to 20 selections, but Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward and Washington State’s Deone Bucannon are two excellent safety cover men who will probably go in the first round as well.
No running backs will go in the first round. With four world-class offensive line talents, two or three quarterbacks, a half dozen or more wide receivers and possibly two or three tight ends virtually guaranteed to be drafted round one, this year’s running back class may have to wait. As we mentioned above, the role of the running back in the NFL has been weakened in the pass happy league the last few years. Spread offenses often times use two and three yard passes to tight ends and slot receivers basically as a hand-off with a guaranteed positive yardage gain, limiting carries for RBs. And the last 10 years has seen the explosion of the “running back by committee” approach. Teams are not willing to risk as much money on a running back as they used to, so look for zero running backs drafted in the first round this year.
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