Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints select Jimmy Garoppolo in the 1st round, Pick 27. Drew Brees will be 36 years old at the end of the season. Garopollo has the following intangibles; quick release, great accuracy, good pocket presence, despite not being overly athletic. Sound familiar? The Saints draft a replacement and groom him for 2 seasons to replace Mr. Brees in 2015 or 2016. Also, Sean Payton is an alumni QB from Garoppolo’s school Eastern Illinois.
Sammy Watkins will be selected by Jacksonville with Pick 3. My thinking is that Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely, and the Jaguars have no starting caliber receiver on this team. Cecil Shorts is good, but not a game changer. While most anticipate a quarterback, I anticipate a draft of WR, QB, WR in rounds 1-3 for the Jags. They already tried an early quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, and I don’t see them getting a guy and surrounding him with duds. Better to get the pieces, and groom a guy behind Chad Henne. My guess for Round 2 would be Derek Carr who they grab before the Raiders. Round 3 would be Jordan Matthews, who seems to be slipping on draft boards due to not “wowing” any scouts. This gives them a play-maker in Watkins, a solid developmental guy who can compete for a starting job in Carr, and a possession guy in Jordan Matthews. Cecil Shorts and Watkins are interchangeable at slot and flanker.
The Cleveland Browns will select Johnny Manziel…with pick 26. The Browns can pass up Manziel at pick 4,and he could slide all the way to 26. The Raiders have Matt Schaub and like Derek Carr, the Jags, aren’t going to get him third (they’re waiting for the best of the four QB’s who drops to the 35th pick). The Vikings have publically claimed to not like the guy and prefer a larger pocket passer. This leaves room for an easy slide to 26 for the Browns to still get their quarterback of the future, and offensive rookie of the year.
Jadeveon Clowney drops to Tampa Bay at Pick 7. Clowney slides from potential first pick, to Tampa Bay. For whatever reason, I don’t see Oakland taking him at 5, and the Bucs without the chance at Sammy Watkins (projected 3rd pick) go to the defensive line, and the lack of pass rush. In a 4 man front with established interior defenders, Clowney has the opportunity to star. Mike Evans doesn’t produce the same difference on offense that Clowney presents on defense. Tampa Bay is ecstatic for this draft slider.
Detroit keeps it in state and drafts Darqueze Dennard Round 1 Pick 10. Some might have this a little bit high, but it depends on who you talk to. Dennard is physical, and equally good against the run and the pass. Detroit has Golden Tate and Megatron, and no use for a receiver at 10. Dennard gives them something they haven’t had in forever, a shutdown type of cornerback to compete with Green Bay for the NFC North crown.
These five picks will shape the rest of the draft as the quarterback search and shuffle stays in full effect. Since no team wants to swing and miss on a first round quarterback, we’ll see a lot of QB’s getting drafted later than what we’re expecting right now. We saw it last year with Geno Smith, and we’ll see it again this year.