The supposed scheduling conflict that has caused the NFL Draft to be bumped by two weeks has created an unnecessary lull for fans, NFL draft picks and sports writers across the country. We’re constantly pummeling you with content, and fans are always reading about every little detail, and nothing churns the hyperbole machine harder in the world or sports than the potential of a kid who hasn’t even played a minute of professional sports.
None of this should derail how awesome the upcoming draft is going to be. The top ten teams in the draft have their pick of the litter, and there are a ton of game changing talents that could alter the landscape of the NFL for years to come. It’s supposed to be an exciting time for the NFL draft picks, their families and their new fans. Let’s try and be positive about this, shall we?
2014 NFL Draft Details
THURSDAY, MAY 8 at 8:00 PM ET: Round 1
Bucs have one pick, no. 7 overall.
FRIDAY, MAY 9 at 7:00 PM ET: Rounds 2-3
Bucs have two picks, no. 38 and no. 69 overall.
SATURDAY, MAY 10 at Noon ET: Rounds 4-7
Bucs have three picks, no. 143, no. 185 and no. 221 overall.
Teams will have 10 minutes to make their pick in round 1, 7 minutes in round 2, and 5 minutes in rounds 3 through 7.
2014 NFL Draft Order:
|2||St. Louis (from Washington)|
|12||New York Giants|
|18||New York Jets|
|26||Cleveland (from Indianapolis)|
In an effort to do so, let’s look at some of the big names impacting this draft. Nothing infuriates me more than mock drafts, mostly because they’re relatively pointless. Instead, let’s break down the draft with a few major headline-worthy talking points so that you can have an educated conversation with your friends about what’s happening this weekend.
There Are Zero Elite Quarterbacks In The 2014 NFL Draft…But…
Blake Bortles is a bit boring and not nearly mobile enough to survive in the modern NFL.
Teddy Bridgewater has long been one of the most overhyped NFL Draft Picks and has proven NOTHING in his college career. He beat up a bunch of non-ranked teams. Big whoop.
Derek Carr has a huge arm and come from a professional pedigree, but there’s so many unknowns because he never really played against elite defenses.
Tajh Boyd is too short, AJ McCarron doesn’t have the arm but somehow has a reality television show and Aaron Murray has a huge list of injuries despite being the quarterback I like the most.
Which brings me – of course – to Johnny Manziel. In the modern NFL, I think that you need to have a certain edge to you and Manziel certainly has the moxy to back up what he does on the field. People say a lot about his size, his lack of durability and his seemingly ego-centric personality. But when I watch the tape, I see a guy who’s always trying to make plays and win football games. On top of that, Manziel is also probably the best athlete in this quarterback class and boasts accuracy that doesn’t get enough praise. He is some weird cross breed of Russell Wilson’s size, Tony Romo’s instincts (hopefully not all of them) and Tim Tebow’s off-field circus.
So obviously, as a writer and a sports fan, I find the whole Johnny Manziel thing fascinating. It’s largely because I love the idea of a “what if”. What if he’s good? What if he’s dazzling? What’ if he’s so awful that it makes Tebow look good? What if he goes to a team loaded with actual talent and good management, like Houston or Tampa Bay? You can say what you will about other NFL Draft Picks, but Manziel is easily the most tantalizing. I don’t think he’s a number-one pick, but the Browns and Raiders would be moronic to pass up on him.
No player over the past two years of college football has shown a larger will to win than Johnny Manziel. The attack on his personality and off-field stuff is overblown. On the field, I know what I’m getting – a feisty competitive spirit with the mechanics and physical gifts to back it up. What more can you ask for from an NFL draft pick?
Getting Defensive In The 2014 NFL Draft With Clowney, Sam and Mack
Jadaveon Clowney is the number-one pick in the draft bar none. He’s a monster. There’s no other way to write it economically – the guy’s the best defensive line prospect in the past decade (sorry, Suh). Pair him up with Watt and the Houston front-seven? I mean HOLY CRAP how do you line up against that and hope to escape alive? The issues with Clowney’s work ethic are as overblown as Manziel’s diva-ness. When money is on the line, and the idea of his potential doesn’t get him paid anymore, Clowney will produce. Football can sometimes be that simple.
Clowney might not be the biggest defensive impact player on the board. In my estimation, the linebacking workhorse known as Khalil Mack is going to be defensive rookie of the year. Mack is a beast and the only other elite, defensive athlete in the draft. Shoe him in for the Jaguars or – more likely – the St. Louis Rams who need stoppers on defense.
Michael Sam will be drafted eventually but it just won’t happen on the first day. He’s always been projected as a fourth or fifth rounder, and that was before he came out. I think enough scouts and management types will talk to those that were around him at Missouri to know that he’s not a distraction and that his sexuality isn’t a big deal. Sure, some bigots will have a problem with it. You can’t change the homophobic mindset of certain people who don’t want to change, but Sam’s induction in to the NFL will be a hallmark moment for the league in general.
There’s a mountain of hype surrounding Sam as he prepares to enter the NFL.
Sam will also be a solid rotation player in certain defensive schemes despite being billed as “too short”. He was part of the defensive backbone that led Missouri to the SEC Championship Game.
But nothing will be more impactful about Sam’s career than pioneering a culture changing movement for other gay football players and athletes that are scared to be themselves. I know that might not be what Sam wants as an individual, but no player is going to have a larger, long-term impact on this league than Michael Sam…and he won’t even be taken on the first day.
Offensive Lineman Galore In The 2014 NFL Draft
Here’s the truth about the NFL Draft’s first two rounds – the biggest return on investment has come from offensive linemen. Feel free to make your Eric Fisher jokes if you’d like, but the truth is that Fisher – along with most of the linemen taking at the top of the draft – will be playing in the league far longer than their counterparts at other positions. And most of them will be starting.
We’ve seen receivers, cornerbacks, quarterbacks and running-backs all flame out. Don’t be surprised when offensive linemen like Jake Matthews, Louis Nix III, Zack Martin and Morgan Moses continue to draw heavy attention ahead of other big names at the skill positions. When insulating themselves from selecting a bust with their NFL draft picks, scouts and general managers know that offensive linemen are the safest bet. It might not be sexy, but it’s safe.