Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft is going to be an extension of 2013's college football talent.
It's another slate of prospects led by impressive depth along the offensive line. Also, the defense counterbalances that with appealing pass-rushers to menace the backfield.
There is a slight difference, though, as fans see better players at the quarterback position. Although it's not quite comparable to the 2012 class, it's a step up from what this April offered.
How it all unfolds is what we examine next.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE (South Carolina)
The Raiders will continue in the correct direction by improving the defensive front. Jadeveon Clowney is a complete defender, and he helps Oakland suffocate the line, which also complements the secondary.
2. New York Jets: Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)
The only way Geno Smith will last as Gang Green's future quarterback is with increased protection. So, Taylor Lewan possesses the talent to help there immediately. Include Lewan's run-blocking talent, and the Jets field better balance as well.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Louisville)
Teddy Bridgewater's ability to take what the defense gives will significantly bolster Jacksonville's offense. Obviously that upgrades the passing game, but it also prevents an opponent from constantly isolating Maurice Jones-Drew.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT (Texas A&M)
Jonathan Cooper has the talent to control the interior. Putting Jake Matthews next to him allows Arizona to dominate up front even more. Not only does this enhance the pass-blocking, but Matthews is an underrated run-blocker who creates balance.
5. San Diego Chargers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Alabama)
An offensive tackle with a strong knack for pass-blocking will lead San Diego back on track. Cyrus Kouandijo offers this to a much greater extent than D.J. Fluker. But given Fluker's capabilities, pairing Kouandijo on the opposite side simply walls the edges for Philip Rivers and establishes consistent balance.
6. Buffalo Bills: Marqise Lee, WR (USC)
Quarterback EJ Manuel was a surprise pick in Round 1 of 2013, but with the arm strength to make every NFL throw, drafting receiver Marqise Lee for him to target helps offensive development. Not to mention, he'll be reunited with former USC teammate Robert Woods.
7. Dallas Cowboys: Lamarcus Joyner, S (Florida State)
Dallas still has the front seven to get a pass rush and stop the run. A greater need is a reliable safety to help generate turnovers. Although Lamarcus Joyner hasn't constantly snagged picks or forced fumbles for Florida State, he'll see increased opportunities courtesy of Big D's strong cornerback duo.
8. Detroit Lions: Kareem Martin, DE (North Carolina)
Detroit must continue building along the defensive line to win the immediate point of attack.
Taking Ziggy Ansah in 2013 definitely helped address its dire need for an improved pass rush. At the same time, Ansah will develop as a great complement to Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
Completing the front line in 2014 is North Carolina's Kareem Martin. Just last season, he racked up 15.5 tackles for loss for the Tar Heels. Between the previous two campaigns, Martin has also defended nine passes and collected eight sacks.
Now, he's not going to light up the stat sheet, but the guy brings a motor to smash the backfield. Combine Martin's ability to make plays behind the line with Ansah's presence, and Detroit will suffocate against the run and collapse the pocket from outside in.
The end results will be increased turnovers and better field position for Matthew Stafford's offense.
9. Carolina Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, CB (Michigan State)
Carolina has the offense to make a postseason run, but providing Cam Newton with more possessions must occur from the defense. With the Panthers still struggling in coverage, selecting Darqueze Dennard addresses the secondary to benefit from the front seven's pass-rush and changing field position.
10. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, LB (BYU)
A standout pass-rusher will take New Orleans defense to an incredible level. Kyle Van Noy supplies that and a keen sense for creating turnover opportunities. With the Saints defense dominating the line even more, this just gives Drew Brees and Co. additional chances to run up the score.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE (Texas)
Getting greater depth and talent along the defensive line will give Tennessee an advantage. Already fielding the linebacking corps to rush the passer and fill lanes, adding Jackson Jeffcoat helps win the immediate point of attack. In short, the Titans have a more constant pass rush and capable run defense to assist the secondary.
12. Cleveland Browns: Jason Verrett, CB (TCU)
Cleveland needs another top-tier cornerback to make plays on the ball. Jason Verrett does exactly that, and he is a reliable tackler as well. Given his size at 5'10" and 176 pounds, he can also contribute at safety, depending on how quickly Leon McFadden develops this year.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnny Manziel, QB (Texas A&M)
The style of Johnny Manziel is best suited for Chip Kelly's offense. His overall athleticism allows for a quicker pace, not to mention Manziel's mobility is a great complement to LeSean McCoy. With defenses attempting to contain Manziel, McCoy's impact heightens on plays out of the backfield and in pass protection.
14. New York Giants: Louis Nix, DT (Notre Dame)
Louis Nix is a dominant force in the trenches. Talent like this was the cornerstone of the Giants when they won two Super Bowls over New England. Factored with the current presence of Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, Nix will produce by clogging lanes and collapsing the pocket's interior to help asphyxiate the line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Street, WR (Pittsburgh)
Expect Pittsburgh's offense to significantly improve this season.
For one, Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell is the perfect ball-carrier for this style of attack. He's a bruiser between the tackles, and he will help take immense pressure off Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game.
Giving Big Ben a consistently reliable deep-threat receiver with No. 1 potential occurs next draft season. Hometown prospect Devin Street has caught 126 passes between 2011 and 2012, not to mention he averaged 13.7 yards per reception.
Street's size at 6'4" and 190 pounds is also solid for defeating man coverage.
Additionally, he won't ever face double coverage with Bell slamming up front to keep the front seven occupied. In turn, the secondary will have to also focus on isolating the rest of Roethlisberger's receivers from gaining yards after the catch.
16. Miami Dolphins: Gabe Jackson, G (Mississippi State)
Miami has a slew of running backs in Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller and Mike Gillislee who all have great potential. So, to help assist a better ground game is Gabe Jackson. He helped Mississippi State to remain consistent in the SEC, which only bodes well for a quick transition into pro football.
17. Chicago Bears: Ryan Shazier, LB (Ohio State)
Chicago needs more reliable coverage at the second level. Ryan Shazier offers this ability, as his 12 defended passes and three forced fumbles in 2012 are evidence of this. He's the long-term answer on the outside because Jon Bostic is capable of controlling the interior.
18. St. Louis Rams: Ed Reynolds, S (Stanford)
Ed Reynolds possesses the innate ability to drastically change the field position. St. Louis already has the cornerbacks to isolate in man coverage, as well as the front seven to crush the line. Putting Reynolds in Cover 1 simply allows for more generated turnovers to let the offense take over.
19. Kansas City Chiefs: James Hurst, OT (North Carolina)
Kansas City has an opportunity to field two highly-talented offensive tackles. James Hurst is a tough run-blocker, and he is reliable when setting the pocket's edge. He's great to pair opposite of Eric Fisher and the Chiefs only continue getting stronger.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ben Gardner, DE (Stanford)
An exceptional pass rush is the final missing piece to Tampa Bay's defense.
The Buccaneers have the pass defense to blanket any offense man-to-man. That alone will also give the rushers more time to apply pressure.
To that end, lining up backfield party-crasher Ben Gardner fits another piece together. Gardner has accounted for 24.5 tackles for loss the past two years, 12 of which are sacks.
Factor in the instincts to knock down a quick developing pass play and Tampa's defense is virtually complete. His resonating impact allows the Bucs to bash blocking schemes at the snap, and that puts Tampa Bay into more favorable spots on second and third down.
21. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Ka’Deem Carey, RB (Arizona)
Ka'Deem Carey is a dual-threat back that smashed defenses throughout 2012. Although the Rams have Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy, bringing in more depth at the position will complement the spruced up aerial assault. There are few weaknesses on the Rams, so adding a top-talented back only helps in the defensively-tough NFC West.
22. New England Patriots: Jordan Matthews, WR (Vanderbilt)
The size and leaping ability of Jordan Matthews will emerge as a competitive edge for New England. The Patriots are missing that young No. 1 receiver for Tom Brady, and Matthews establishes balance while maintaining explosiveness.
23. Baltimore Ravens: Greg Blair, LB (Cincinnati)
Greg Blair would serve as a long-term investment next to Arthur Brown at linebacker. Baltimore provides the pass-rushers to monitor the perimeter, so fielding Blair completes the front seven's interior. If anything, he'll assist nicely against the run and benefit in coverage because of quarterback pressure.
24. Green Bay Packers: Morgan Breslin, DE (USC)
Staying with defensive line, Green Bay must draft here to slow the onslaught of Adrian Peterson. In addition, other NFC contenders such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington feature great rushing attacks. Therefore, the Packers focus on the trenches to allow their linebackers and defensive backs to have more playmaking opportunities.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Murray, QB (Georgia)
Zeroing in on Peterson will always be a defense's primary objective versus Minnesota. Opting for Aaron Murray lets the Vikings capitalize downfield on a vulnerable secondary. Given Minnesota's receiving corps, Murray inflates efficiency off play-action to generate impressive balance.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: Ty Zimmerman, S (Kansas State)
Cincinnati's defense will start taking over games when it forces more turnovers. This is where Ty Zimmerman helps, courtesy of dependable instincts to constantly make plays on the ball. Include the Bengals pass rush and opportunities will increase.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Barr, LB (UCLA)
The improved pass defense is a stepping stone for Indianapolis. Complementing Bjoern Werner with Anthony Barr just keeps the Colts headed down the right path. Barr's talent certainly bolsters the pass rush, which in turn helps Indy get off the field on third down and tighten up inside the red zone.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Daniel McCullers, DT (Tennessee)
Featuring an elite group of linebackers, San Francisco's defensive backbone remains along the line of scrimmage.
But given that Justin Smith is aging, the 49ers have to get younger in the trenches. Daniel McCullers of Tennessee is the perfect solution.
First off, the man measures at 6'8" and 360 pounds. His frame will easily clog multiple gaps, limit the extension of running lanes and collapse the pocket's interior. McCullers will also benefit from the 'backers, because the outside pass-rush draws extra blockers to widen the pocket.
A by-product of that puts McClullers in more single block situations to take advantage of. And for a guy his size, recording 39 tackles (5.5 for loss) last season is worth noting—especially in the SEC.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Will Sutton, DE (Arizona State)
The Falcons know how to snag picks because they recorded 20 last season and allowed a mere 14 passing scores. Impressively enough, Atlanta did that without much of a pass rush. Mesh Arizona State's Will Sutton into the equation, though, and his menacing of the backfield will amplify Atlanta's knack for creating turnovers.
30. Houston Texans: Brad Roby, CB (Ohio State)
The field awareness of Brad Roby is an immense complement to Ed Reed in Houston's secondary. Factor the Texans' pass rush, and Roby will lockdown in coverage to win the possession battle. Ultimately, Houston remains AFC title contenders.
31. Denver Broncos: Brian Blechen, S (Utah)
Denver has cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to blanket one-on-one. So, all the Broncos need is a safety to take advantage in Cover 1 and 3. Brian Blechen supplies this capability, as well as the tackling skills to roll down for a blitzing linebacker.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cody Hoffman, WR (BYU)
Seattle nearly possesses a complete team. Marshawn Lynch and the ground attack will definitely continue to punish defenses. Therefore, landing Cody Hoffman provides Russell Wilson with another deep threat on play action. In short, the Seahawks are more high-powered but maintain a physical approach.
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