Let's get a jump on the 2014 NFL draft and unveil its forecast, because that helps prepare for the upcoming season.
Given how the 2013 draft panned out, it will clearly impact on how teams approach next April.
Ironically, it has a similar feel of good depth along the offensive line and defensive front sevens. Pass-rushers remain a marketable position and it's always a smart to field a dominant set of blockers.
Fortunately for the sake of electric playmakers, there are greater top talents at quarterback, running back and receiver. Here, we check out where college football's next slate of elite prospects wind up.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE (South Carolina)
A suffocating defensive line is the best thing a team can have after a reliable quarterback. In short, Oakland gets Jadeveon Clowney to smash the backfield and eat up running lanes. His impact controls the trenches and the Raiders slow the offensive onslaught of the AFC West.
2. New York Jets: Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)
Gang Green's future under center is set with Geno Smith. Now it's time to find a pass-protector, and Taylor Lewan is the best of this class. Featuring great size and athleticism to wall the outside, Lewan will also extend running lanes by reaching the second level.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Louisville)
Jacksonville's quarterback situation remains hazy at best. That is no longer the case, though, with Teddy Bridgewater. As a sound decision-maker, Bridgewater also has experience under center and works well off play action. In turn, that becomes a competitive advantage since Maurice Jones-Drew can still slam the rock.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT (Texas A&M)
Sticking with the offensive line is Arizona's best chance to quickly rebuild. Jake Matthews significantly enhances the quarterback protection, which acts as a strong complement to Jonathan Cooper. Now the Cardinals' quarterbacks have time to survey and utilize their athletic receiving corps.
5. San Diego Chargers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Alabama)
In 2012, Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times. Obviously, the pass protection was in dire need of improvement, but the Chargers' best option at No. 11 overall was Alabama's D.J. Fluker.
Although Fluker will certainly help in this area, his specialty is run-blocking. To that end, a force on the edge for pass protection with fellow Crimson Tide tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is the perfect get next draft season.
For starters, he is a better run-blocker than at first glance. That's also unsurprising since the Tide spend plenty of time punching the gut of a defense. Kouandjio, however, is a much better pass-blocker and will set the edge for the pocket.
At the very least, his impact will help generate consistent offensive balance. Now San Diego can run with confidence, while also using a more effective play action to keep control of the tempo.
6. Buffalo Bills: Marqise Lee, WR (USC)
Buffalo is on the brink of emerging as an annual playoff contender. But getting there requires a more explosive aerial assault with Marqise Lee. EJ Manuel possesses mobility and a strong arm, so he'll benefit on play action after C.J. Spiller punishes the trenches. Having Lee simply gives Manuel another deep threat to establish balance.
7. Dallas Cowboys: Lamarcus Joyner, S (Florida State)
Dallas must force more turnovers to help its offense. Already presenting the pass rush and cornerback tandem to counteract high-powered attacks, an instinctive safety is next. That leads us to Lamarcus Joyner, a guy who can bait quarterbacks underneath or help over the top in Cover 1 and 2.
8. Detroit Lions: Kareem Martin, DE (North Carolina)
Even with Ziggy Ansah, Detroit must continue upgrading its quarterback pressure and ability to stop the run. Kareem Martin offers each aspect, as he brings a strong knack for menacing the backfield.
9. Carolina Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, CB (Michigan State)
Darqueze Dennard has defended 16 passes (six picks) for Michigan State the past two seasons. Combine that with reliable tackling and Carolina lands him to spruce up the coverage.
In a division that presents high-powered offenses, the Panthers must improve the pass defense to become playoff contenders.
10. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, LB (BYU)
Kyle Van Noy's talent for pressuring the backfield addresses an exact need for the Saints. New Orleans desperately must improve its front seven, and Van Noy's great ability to create turnover opportunities develops as a competitive advantage.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE (Texas)
The Titans getting a jolt of talent in their front seven will drastically improve their pass rush. Jackson Jeffcoat brings the capabilities for darting around the edge, which is a great complement to Tennessee's linebacking corps. The pass rush then increases and Tennessee's coverage benefits accordingly.
12. Cleveland Browns: Jason Verrett, CB (TCU)
TCU's Jason Verrett had a breakout performance throughout the 2012 season.
He defended 22 passes (six picks) and recorded 63 tackles (five for loss). Additionally, the guy had a key blocked kick in overtime vs. West Virginia that helped the Horned Frogs get another Big 12 victory.
Supplying excellent field awareness and reliable instincts, Verrett's entire skill set will impact pro football from the get-go. Even though he is a bit undersized at 5'10" and 176 pounds, Verrett's physical play and assistance against the run is a competitive advantage.
The Browns have a potential No. 2 corner in Leon McFadden to pair opposite of Joe Haden, but Verrett's abilities are needed to complete the secondary. He can even move to safety to react even more in coverage.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnny Manziel, QB (Texas A&M)
Matt Barkley has potential to be Philadelphia's future under center, but Johnny Manziel fits the Eagles' system better. Given Manziel's mobility and awareness, the NFC East pass-rushers won't be a major factor. In turn, Manziel's underrated passing ability capitalizes as a result.
14. New York Giants: Louis Nix, DT (Notre Dame)
Getting more physical in the trenches is to the Giants' advantage. Louis Nix will help here, because he's a better rusher than given credit. Include the presence of Damontre Moore, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck and New York gets back to dominating the line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Street, WR (Pittsburgh)
The Steelers' ground game gets restored with Le'Veon Bell in 2013. In 2014, Pittsburgh lands hometown prospect Devin Street to capitalize off play action. His size alone helps against Cover 1, not to mention inside the red zone.
16. Miami Dolphins: Gabe Jackson, G (Mississippi State)
Miami's improved passing game is one offensive aspect taken care of. Drafting Gabe Jackson in 2014 just establishes a more physical attack. Balance is ultimately featured and Miami keeps defenses more honest to score efficiently.
17. Chicago Bears: Ryan Shazier, LB (Ohio State)
Chicago's long-term solution at middle linebacker is Jon Bostic. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier on the other hand, possesses dynamic talent to fill anywhere at the second level. Factor his nose for the rock and Shazier will impact immediately.
18. St. Louis Rams: Ed Reynolds, S (Stanford)
Fielding an outstanding front seven and cornerback tandem, St. Louis completes its defense with Stanford safety Ed Reynolds. The man is an excellent playmaker for changing field position, and that instinct alone receives inflated opportunities courtesy of the pass rush and man coverage on the outside.
19. Kansas City Chiefs: James Hurst, OT (North Carolina)
Staying true to its identity, Kansas City opts for James Hurst to remain physically dominant in the trenches. The Chiefs are a strong running offense, so putting Hurst opposite Eric Fisher makes for an even tougher ground game. Plus, this also helps set the edges of the pocket for a more productive passing game.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ben Gardner, DE (Stanford)
Tampa Bay's last defensive area of need is its pass rush.
Managing only 27 sacks in 2012, that indirectly affected the pass defense which ranked No. 32. Entering 2013, the Buccaneers are expected to be much better, although the front line has to generate more pressure.
Factor the explosive NFC offenses such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Detroit and Green Bay, and Tampa needs a rusher in Stanford's Ben Gardner. Just last fall, he compiled 7.5 sacks and defended five passes.
Combined between 2011 and 2012, Gardner has amassed 24.5 tackles for loss. His knack for disrupting behind the line will complement the Bucs' coverage, and then Tampa Bay becomes annual playoff contenders.
21. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Ka’Deem Carey, RB (Arizona)
Running back remains a question for the Rams. That said, 2014's draft needs will be dictated by 2013's late-rounder Zac Stacy. If anything, though, St. Louis electing to snag Ka-Deem Carey from Arizona adds top-talented depth to the position. Carey's also a dynamic back, and personnel versatility is an advantage in the NFC West.
22. New England Patriots: Jordan Matthews, WR (Vanderbilt)
At 6'3" and 205 pounds, Jordan Matthews quickly helps New England's passing attack. Tom Brady will dice up defenses regardless, but Matthews acts as a deep threat outlet when setting up play-action. The end result is sustained balance to win the possession battle.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Greg Blair, LB (Cincinnati)
Baltimore's linebacking corps is not yet completed. Taking Greg Blair presents another dependable athlete at the second level, because he locates the rock consistently. Whether it's against the pass or run, Blair's impact is a strong complement to the Ravens' pass rush.
24. Green Bay Packers: Morgan Breslin, DE (USC)
Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett is on the back end of his career. Therefore, Green Bay keeping with the front line in 2014 maintains a tough run defense. Morgan Breslin enters the equation to help Datone Jones, as well as Clay Matthews for pass-rushing situations.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Murray, QB (Georgia)
Aaron Murray's established talent to launch downfield and work under center is appealing to pro football. Minnesota needs a stronger passing game, and Murray's repertoire allows for a more threatening approach to defenses. He'll also benefit nicely with Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: Ty Zimmerman, S (Kansas State)
Ty Zimmerman is a safety with a wide range of field awareness. Because of that, he can make plays in Cover 1 and 2 and roll down underneath for a blitzing 'backer. The Bengals need to generate more turnovers as well, which gets their improved offense additional possessions to up the tempo.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Barr, LB (UCLA)
Bjoern Werner will definitely help bolster the pass rush and run defense. By the same token, Indianapolis must stick to the front seven in 2014. Anthony Barr is a natural rusher capable of beating single-block situations, along with the tenacity to constrict running lanes.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Daniel McCullers, DT (Tennessee)
The size (6'8", 360 lbs) and power of Daniel McCullers will allow San Francisco to maintain its strength at controlling the line. Interestingly enough, although he'll occasionally draw double-teams, McCullers faces more one-on-one situations thanks to the 49ers' playmaking linebackers.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Will Sutton, DE (Arizona State)
Atlanta has the offense to keep up with any opponent. Possessing a more consistent pass rush will push the Falcons above everyone else. So, welcome Will Sutton to the Dirty Birds, a defensive end who will benefit from the reliable coverage in passing situations. Now Matt Ryan and Co. are provided with even more possessions to score at a higher rate.
30. Houston Texans: Brad Roby, CB (Ohio State)
Ed Reed's presence back deep will force more passing attempts underneath against Houston. Getting Brad Roby in 2014 simply locks away in Cover 2 and 3. Not only will he complement the great pass rush, but Roby's contributions create more turnover opportunities for the rest in coverage.
31. Denver Broncos: Brian Blechen, S (Utah)
Eight of Brian Blechen's 20 career defended passes are interceptions. He has also forced six fumbles for the Utes. Meaning, Blechen's impact to Denver will greatly assist at blanketing coverage back deep and when needing to fill an intermediate zone. Ultimately, Denver is able to blitz more and get physical with Cover 1 and 2 press.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Hoffman, WR (BYU)
Picture Seattle's current offense. It's obviously quite scary, as the Seahawks present unrelenting balance, yet great high-powered potential as well.
Now include the playmaking ability of BYU's Cody Hoffman. In short, Seattle's attack gets amplified to another level. Hoffman has caught 161 passes the past two years and scored 21 touchdowns.
With the Seahawks, his numbers won't inflate, but Hoffman will benefit from Marshawn Lynch. Seattle remains a punishing offense, so Lynch will draw up a defense and then Russell Wilson launches deep on play action.
Hoffman's leaping talent then stretches any secondary, which in turn, also keeps a defense from constantly focusing its attention on Lynch.
Counting his kickoff returning ability (1,259 yards, one score between 2010 and 2011) and Hoffman's dynamics produce as a field position advantage.
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