It took an extra two weeks to get here this year, but the 2014 NFL Draft is finally upon us! A huge thanks to all of our readers for sticking with us through all 13 volumes of our Draft Digest posts. I know it may have felt grueling at times, but thankfully it all finally becomes reality live from Radio City Music Hall, and all our questions will finally be answered!
So let’s dive in. Until now, we’ve really just been reporting what the other experts are predicting for the draft. Today, I get to make five predictions of my own! (And I won’t lie, I’m kinda nervous…)
1. The Packers will address the defensive side of the ball in Round 1.
I know, this isn’t really a stretch, but it still needs to be addressed. Sure, the Packers need a tight end to fill the void left by Jermichael Finley, but they’re not quite high enough in the draft order to get the coveted Eric Ebron (North Carolina). And taking any other tight here would be much too soon. As a result, the Packers will select linebacker C.J. Mosely from Alabama. This is a guy that would fit great into Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme and could really wreak some havoc with the current linebacking corps.
2. A total of four quarterbacks will be drafted in R0und 1.
Manziel (#3 to Jacksonville), Bortles (#8 to Minnesota) and Bridgewater (#26 to Cleveland) are all locks to get chosen on Thursday night. However, a surprising team will snatch up a play-caller in Round 1 as well. Look for the Tennessee Titans (Pick #11) or the Arizona Cardinals (Pick #20) to join the QB game. Teams like the Texans, Raiders and Buccaneers will wait until Round 2 or beyond to choose their QBs.
3. The St. Louis Rams will trade out of the #2 spot.
With Sam Bradford recently proclaimed as THE quarterback in St. Louis, the Rams aren’t looking for a quarterback with their number two overall pick. Instead, they really should be shoring up their offensive line to keep Bradford’s ACL’s intact for seasons to come. As a result, they will welcome the highest bidder for the number two pick and score a handful of additional picks in later rounds. They’ll then use their number 13 pick to grab an offensive tackle like Greg Robinson from Auburn.
4. The Packers will draft a quarterback in Round 5.
With Mike McCarthy stating he wants four quarterbacks going into training camp this summer, that means the Packers will have to either draft a quarterback this week, or snatch up an undrafted free agent once the draft concludes. While either options are possible, I believe that the Packers will draft David Fales from San Jose State.
5. No Running Backs will be taken in Round 1.
With so many teams in need of quarterbacks, wide receivers, offensive linemen and defensive players, look for the first running back to come off the board in Round 2, possibly to Tennessee (Pick #42). With Shonn Greene as their current #1 on the depth chart, they must try to fill the hole left by former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.
Phew! Now that I mustered up enough courage to make those predictions, let’s move on and see what else the Packers should be addressing during this year’s draft.
Safety: This is a huge area of need for the Packers. Since Ha Ha Clinton Dix (Alabama) and Calvin Pryor (Louisville) will most likely be gone by the time the Packers are on the clock at #21, this is a position the must address on Day 2. Look for them to grab Jimmie Ward (N. Illinois) or Terrence Brooks (Florida St.).
Linebacker: The addition of Julius Peppers downgrades the team’s need for an outside linebacker, and drafting C.J. Mosely in Round 1 of the draft will address the need at inside linebacker. Look for the team to pick at least one other player at these positions in the late rounds.
Center: With Evan Dietrich-Smith departing for Tampa Bay, and last year’s unproven draft pick J.C. Tretter not having seen the playing field to date, the Packers could address this position in Round 3 or 4. Luke Bowanko (Virginia) played both guard and center in college, and has visited the Packers this off season.
Tight End: This will be an interesting position to watch during this year’s draft. Even though the Packers resigned Andrew Quarless this off season, look for team to upgrade at the position during this year’s draft. Stud prospect Eric Ebron (North Carolina) will most likely be snatched up in the Top 10, so look for the Packers to choose Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) or C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa) somewhere in the middle rounds to battle Brandon Bostick for playing time in 2014.
With that, we’ll see you on the other side. Enjoy the draft everyone and, as always, GO PACK!