After months of speculation, smokescreens, and mock drafts, the 2014 NFL Draft finally begins tonight, in "the city that never sleeps". Many have called this draft the deepest one they've ever seen, brimming with talent at many positions. I believe it may be the most unpredictable one in many a year. There'll be lots of drama and intrigue involved with the first 10 picks in the draft. Will the best quarterbacks fall out of the top ten selections? Will there be multiple trades in the first round? Adding to the uncertainty is the Rams' draft team of Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, who always seem to have a couple of surprises in store for the Rams faithful.
Once a year I dust off my crystal ball, and lay down some predictions on what will occur in the NFL Draft. I lucked out last year, as three of my predictions turned out to be accurate: The Rams trading down the Number 22 pick, the Rams' selection of Alec Ogletree in the first round, and the selection of Eric Fisher first overall. Those results marked the first year I'd actually predicted anything correctly! Let's see if I can improve on those results this year!
Ten 2014 NFL Draft Predictions
- Jadeveon Clowney will be the Number 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite fielding calls from teams wanting to trade up - and their need for a quarterback - the Houston Texans select the highest-rated player in the draft.
- In each of the past two drafts, the Rams have double-dipped [selected multiple players at the same position]. In 2012, they used this strategy at the WR, RB and CB positions. Last year, they double-dipped at the WR position. In this years draft, the Rams will double-dip at both the safety and offensive tackle positions.
- The Rams - under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead - surprised many observers with a few of their selections in the past two drafts. The Rams' selection most likely to surprise us this year? Notre Dame DL Stephon Tuitt in the second round. The Rams have shown interest in Tuitt throughout the off-season. His athleticism, size - 6'6"-306 - and versatility are features the Rams covet in their defensive linemen.
- There were seven trades involving first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. The composition and unpredictability of this years first round will result in a brisk trade market, with eight trades completed involving first-round picks.
- In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys surprised many with the selection of C Travis Frederick in the first round. Who will be this years surprise first round picks? WR Cody Latimer, and OT Ja'Wuan James. Both have seen a meteoric rise in their draft stocks in the last three weeks.
- Which player(s) - for months projected as first round selections - will surprisingly fall out of the first round? QB Teddy Bridgewater and DT Louis Nix III.
- The Rams have been active traders under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. In 2012, the Rams traded down three times. Last year, the Rams traded down once, and traded up twice. In this draft, the Rams will trade down once - sending the Number 2 overall pick to Tampa Bay [Number 7] - and package 3 late-round picks, to move up into the 4th/5th round. Tampa Bay will trade QB Mike Glennon on the first night of the draft.
- Which positions are locks to be selected by the Rams in the first two rounds? If the Rams stand pat and don't trade down, an offensive tackle will be selected in the first two rounds. If the Rams manage to trade down - and acquire an additional second round pick in the process - add cornerback as a lock as well. Safety and Wide Receiver should come into play in the first two rounds, depending on how the draft unfolds. Nonetheless, if the Rams end up with 4 picks in the first two rounds, they will choose a cornerback and offensive tackle with two of those selections.
- How many QB's will be selected in the top ten? The QB's are the most unpredictable position in this draft. The answer could be anywhere from zero to four. I believe two will be selected in the top ten picks: Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.
- The Rams will not select Johnny Manziel - or any other QB - in the first round, nor will they trade Sam Bradford.
From Gregg Rosenthal - NFL.com - regarding the Rams' alleged interest in Johnny Manziel:
"It doesn't pass the sniff test. If the Rams were really interested in making a franchise-altering decision, they would do everything possible to keep it quiet. They would stand by their public affection for Sam Bradford, go about their business, let the Texans take Jadeveon Clowney and grab the Rams' new franchise quarterback at No. 2. That hasn't happened. This all feels too choreographed, too public."
Who Will The Rams Select In The 2014 NFL Draft?
A couple of weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on who I thought the Rams should select in the draft (link). The accompanying chart presents my predictions of who the Rams will select in all 7 rounds:
|St. Louis Rams||Round/Overall Pick||Trade Partner||Round/Overall Selection|
|Trade Down||1.02||Tampa Bay||1.07 - 2.38 - 2016 1st|
|Trade Up||6.188 - 7.226 - 7.241||Jacksonville||5.144|
Round Position Player School 1.07 Offensive Tackle Jake Matthews Texas A & M 1.13 Cornerback Justin Gilbert Oklahoma St. 2.38 Defensive Tackle Stephon Tuitt Notre Dame 2.44 Safety Deone Bucannon Washington St. 3.75 Offensive Line Dakota Dozier Furman 4.110 Quarterback Aaron Murray Georgia 5.144 Outside Linebacker Jordan Tripp Montana 5.153 Defensive Back Dontae Johnson North Carolina St. 6.214C Defensive End Cassius Marsh UCLA 7.249C Running Back Alfred Blue LSU 7.250C Outside Linebacker Howard Jones Shephard
A companion piece tomorrow will explain these pick predictions, and takes a look at the draft tendencies exhibited by Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, during their tenure with the Rams.
There's plenty of drama, intrigue, and anticipation surrounding this years draft. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead have kept all of us in suspense, masterfully working pre-draft strategies to gain every possible advantage. The Rams are in good hands heading into Thursday's opening night of the draft.