Getty: Joe Robbins (5 combine photos) :: Scott Halleran (Clowney, Evans) :: Kevin C. Cox (Robinson) :: Andy Lyons (Bridgewater)
Getty: Joe Robbins (5 combine photos) :: Scott Halleran (Clowney, Evans) :: Kevin C. Cox (Robinson) :: Andy Lyons (Bridgewater)

It’s Draft Week … Finally

The uncertainty of the 2014 draft is only rivaled in magnitude by the walkup, which mercilessly comes to an end in three days. Whose name will Roger Goodell call first at Radio City? It's the Texans' secret, and they're not telling

My meandering T-minus-three-days draftapalooza column (attaway to sell the column, King!) includes an eye-opener from Mike Mayock, predictions from the cognoscenti, separating fiction from fiction [cq] on Johnny Manziel, a rundown of places I think I think I know something about, a way to make a four-day draft sound almost tolerable, and the hottest name in the draft.

My mock draft runs Tuesday on The MMQB. Until then, here’s what I know now:

Ten things, from 1 to 32.

From the top of the first round to the bottom, here’s what I’m hearing:

No. 1, Houston. The buzz about a trade-down or Khalil Mack to Houston instead of Jadeveon Clowney won’t die. The Texans are doing a good job of sending mixed signals to the GM community, that’s for sure. Mack’s in the dark, which is to be expected. I can’t see Atlanta mortgaging the farm on any player, so if the Texans want to trade down, the return likely won’t be a ransom.

Nos. 2 and 13, St. Louis. I sense the Rams like Greg Robinson at two—over Sammy Watkins and Jake Matthews. A St. Louis contingent went to Auburn on Thursday to work out Robinson; no negatives surfaced. More mystery about 13. The Rams really like Johnny Manziel, and if he were there at 13 (which is unlikely), they would consider picking him. His workout for the Rams on Friday in Texas, with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer running the show, was impressive, as was the 80-minute post-workout session in the meeting room with Schottenheimer and coach Jeff Fisher, among others. One other piece of knowledge I got confirmed Sunday: Rams GM Les Snead recently went to Texas Tech and met at length with coach Kliff Kingsbury—Manziel’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at A&M in 2012—and came away thinking Manziel could adjust to life well as an NFL passer. Does that mean the Rams will take Manziel if he’s there at 13? I am still dubious. But I can tell you the Rams like him a lot.

No. 3, Jacksonville. A peer of GM David Caldwell said Sunday he knows a big Jag priority will be to play it safe with this pick. Sammy Watkins or Jake Matthews … quite safe.

No. 8, Minnesota. The Vikings are more inclined than ever to get their quarterback out of a bottlenecked group of passers at No. 40 in the second round. Vikes want a front-seven disruptor—defensive tackle Aaron Donald comes to mind—more than anything else up here.

No. 11, Tennessee. Hadn’t heard quarterback and the Titans in round one until Sunday. Now I hear: corner one, quarterback two.

Odell Beckham's return skills, in addition to his ability at wide receiver, make him a first-round lock. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Odell Beckham’s return skills combined with his ability at wide receiver make him a first-round lock. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

No. 20, Arizona. We’ve been hearing a lot about quarterback here, and with the unpredictability of the QB market this year, it’s entirely possible the Cards could take a Derek Carr. On the other hand, Arizona’s not far away from competing in the NFC West, and is the best use of their draft currency to take a quarterback they’ll likely redshirt this year behind Carson Palmer?

No. 22, Philadelphia. Keep hearing they want in on the prime receiver action, and the receiver they want could be LSU’s Odell Beckham, who can play outside, inside in the slot and as a returner. But the Eagles would have to trade up, and GM Howie Roseman is doing his due diligence, talking to at least two teams in the mid-round neighborhood, when Beckham would likely go. But the cost could be too rich for the Eagles’ blood. They may have to settle for Marqise Lee, who would be some consolation prize.

No. 24, Cincinnati. Bengals like Teddy Bridgewater. They couldn’t. Could they? Well, if you’re Cincinnati, and you’re seriously thinking about making Andy Dalton the center of the franchise and paying him $17 million a year, you might be asking the question about whether Dalton’s worth it.

No. 26, Cleveland. Time to get a quarterback, right? Not so fast. GM Ray Farmer has asked at least one team low in the round about trading back into the first round from Cleveland’s second-round slot. That leads me to think Cleveland wants to get ahead of Houston, another obvious quarterback hotspot, and get a passer with a third first-round pick. That leads me to …

No. 32, Seattle. Think about the advantages of picking, saying, 35th instead of 32nd if you’re the Seahawks. Every dime is going to count going forward because of pricey vets like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman who must be re-signed. Last year, the difference between the 32nd pick (safety Matt Elam) and 35th pick (tight end Zach Ertz) was $350,000 per year. Not a huge sum, but when you add a $1.4 million total difference between 32 and 35 to the fact that the Seahawks might be able to get a low-fourth-round pick for moving down three slots—and you remember how good Seattle’s been in the later rounds of drafts—you start to think John Schneider has to be thinking about this too. That’s if Cleveland would do a deal low in round one. But it’s intriguing. All Seattle would lose is the ability to add a fifth-year option by keeping its first-round pick. I think the advantages of saving $1.4 million and adding a mid-round prospect outweigh the edge of the fifth-year option.

* * *

Four men look into the crystal ball. 

I asked Mike Mayock, Todd McShay, Mel Kiper and Gil Brandt, “When round one is over Thursday night, tell me a story line or two that will surprise people.”

Mayock: “I’m going to give you this one: [Nebraska cornerback] Stanley John-Baptiste slips into the first round. He’s what today’s NFL is all about. He’s too long [6-3 and 213] and moves too well for this not to happen.”

“I think Johnny Manziel will go in the top five, but not number one,” Gil Brandt says. “And I think Khalil Mack gets picked ahead of Jadeveon Clowney.”

Kiper: “If I predict something that would shock me now, then it probably won’t be too shocking when it happens. But there could be as many as eight wide receivers in the first round—and no running backs. Although if this was 1988, [Ohio State running back] Carlos Hyde would have a top-15 grade. The real shock would be no quarterbacks going before 16, but I really don’t think that’ll happen.’’

McShay: “I’ve got [Ohio State linebacker] Ryan Shazier going ahead of [more noted Alabama linebacker] C.J. Mosley. I just updated my mock draft today. I’ve got Shazier going to Arizona at 20, Mosley to Green Bay at 21. Shazier is lean, but he can fly.’’

2014 Draft

For all of The MMQB’s draft stories, from Greg A. Bedard’s tape breakdowns of top prospects to Andrew Brandt’s front-office/agent insights and Peter King’s draft-related Monday and Tuesday columns, go to our 2014 NFL Draft hub. 

Brandt: “I don’t think Teddy Bridgewater falls to the second round. I think Johnny Manziel will go in the top five, but not number one. And I think Khalil Mack gets picked ahead of Jadeveon Clowney.”

* * *

Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin is this week’s Hottest Guy in the Draft. 

Mayock surprised me the other day by saying he thought Martin will come off the board “between nine and 13 … He’s too good. He’s too safe. He’s about as safe a player as there is in this draft.” Mayock told me Sunday he saw a Notre Dame practice last summer in which Martin had to be shifted from his usual spot, left tackle, to guard because of an injury, and when he watched the tape of the practice, “It looked like he’d been playing guard for years.’’ I know one team in the top 10 seriously considering him.

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212 comments
Kretyanews
Kretyanews

The Rams have the time and the position to look at everybody.  They are in the cat bird seat for this one.  The more time, the more speculation.  Drives analysts crazy.

http://kretyanews.com

 

Mr.MurderMurphy
Mr.MurderMurphy

It's still Rock n' Roll to me..... wooo!

The draft pushback seriously compresses player development time, this might be a year that B plan Free Agents bring the team along even faster.


If the Rams go QB whoever it is gets compared to RGIII forever. Do you pressure a kid that much or get sure safe pick or trade back and play it safer?

Anaximandar
Anaximandar

I do not like the draft being pushed back 2 week, and I don't think I'd be a fan of 4 days of drafting.  I was thinking that, as a fan, I wouldn't mind the draft being spread out a bit more.  What if they had Round 1 of the draft the 3rd week of April, Round 2/3 the 4th week, and the rest the first week of May?  I know I'm pretty up to speed on all the first/second round quality players.. but with a week of media coverage in between each draft day, the story would shift to start analyzing the later round players. I would greatly enjoy the story shifting to other players for a time and all the speculation that would go along with that.

RandallAllen
RandallAllen

"The [Redskins] story’s not going away"   That's because it's a media-created, media-driven story.  I'll keep saying this until it's old: my wife is Cherokee and she doesn't care about the name of the Washington NFL team.  Her mother--God rest her soul--became a fan of the team PRECISELY because of the name of the team.  Finally, when Red Mesa (AZ) High School--which is located in the heart of the Navajo Reservation--changes the name of its teams from the--you guessed it--Redskins, then we can talk about the Washington NFL team changing its nickname. Until then, it's not an issue!

hayhowesq
hayhowesq

@RandallAllen  Oh come on. The media couldn't drive a story if no one was paying attention. And, as the stories have made clear not all minorities agree with your wife. The fact she thinks the way she does, is no reason to stop covering the story.

daveg2011
daveg2011

Please no more on those red sox....enough already!!! Where were all these "fans" before they actually won a series???

Mike26
Mike26

@RickHendrick  And now they've gone from nice fan base story to overindulgent greedy corporation with lazy players....it's another reason why people have left MLB.

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

Hi Dave, Your inference that Red Sox fans are bandwagoners couldn't be further from the truth. All of New England suffered with each losing year, loving our Sox through the 86 year drought.

Many fans, including my father, lived a full life and died without seeing the Red Sox win a World Series, and when they finally did it in 2004, my tears flowed for him and for all lifelong Sox fans who couldn't be there.

   So to answer your question, that's where we fans were.


RickHendrick
RickHendrick

 Thank you for the piece on Gary Smith. I recall with great fondness the Thursday arrival of my Sports Illustrated, circa 1964, when a twelve year-old sports nut could settle in and read several beautifully written long form stories. Each issue was solid gold to me, and I kept them neatly stacked on a shelf, where I could peruse them again and again.

  I met Frank Deford at his brother in law's house in Kennebunkport (interrupting him as he was banging away on a huge upright typewriter, but he couldn't have been more gracious) in the summer of '68, and for this sixteen year-old, it was better than meeting the president.

gary41
gary41

The Rams have the time and the position to look at everybody.  They are in the cat bird seat for this one.  The more time, the more speculation.  Drives analysts crazy.  

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