Every year there is a set of teams that don’t stick to the script. The 2014 NFL draft won’t be any different. Which franchises could do just that?
Jacksonville Jaguars – Need: Quarterback – Surprise: Defensive end
Gus Bradley is a smart man and he has to understand the Jacksonville Jaguars need a change at quarterback. With the #3 pick he should have his pick of almost anybody he could want at that position. However, one thing that must be remembered is Bradley is a former defensive coordinator. His thinking runs through that side of the ball, and with a chance to possibly draft a top pass rusher like Jadeveon Clowney, the question must be asked whether he will be able to pass it up, even for a quarterback? Jacksonville needs a lot of help up front on defense and the running idea may spread that they can find a suitable passer early in the second round. That would certainly create some chaos.
Cleveland Browns – Need: Quarterback – Surprise: Outside linebacker
The same situation holds true for the Cleveland Browns expect theirs is more pronounced. Unlike Jacksonville, they have hold of two first round picks. If they were to pass on a quarterback at #4, they would be waiting again at #26 to solve the quarterback position. In fact they have enough draft maneuverability to move up from that spot if they wish. There is certainly no lack of temptations available to them, particularly at outside linebacker with Anthony Barr out of UCLA and Khalil Mack from Buffalo. Imagine how either of them might look playing across from promising Browns rookie Barkevious Mingo. That could form a dynamic pass rush combination Cleveland could build around for years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Need: Defensive end – Surprise: Quarterback
Lovie Smith is a veteran of head coaching. He had a long run of success in Chicago and hopes to achieve even higher goals with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His team has some talent to work with but clearly need help with their pass rush, especially at defensive end. However, there is the one other aspect of Smith’s tenure with the Bears, and that’s his problems finding stability at quarterback. Already rumors have surfaced about whether Mike Glennon is the answer in his mind. If he isn’t, then suddenly the Bucs become an additional piece on the chess board in the quarterback derby expected in the top ten.
Chicago Bears – Need: Defense – Surprise: Wide Receiver
Speaking of the Chicago Bears, nearly every expert worth their salt is convinced the team will use it’s #14 pick, and maybe its entire draft on retooling the 30th ranked defense in the 2014 NFL draft. However, based on several mock lineups there could be a tantalizing opportunity for the Bears to turn one of their team strengths into a potentially dominant force. Wide receiver is not a need for them by any means. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall both made the Pro Bowl, so it wouldn’t make much sense to draft another one high. But what if that one were, say, a Sammy Watkins or Marqise Lee? Unlike Jeffery and Marshall who bring size their calling cards are speed, acceleration and home run capability. That was one of the few things the Bears offense lacked to a degree in 2013. They said Jay Cutler is their focal point moving forward. What would giving him a lineup like Jeffery, Marshall and Watkins/Lee do to defensive game plans?
Dallas Cowboys – Need: Defensive line – Surprise: Quarterback
Tony Romo had another solid statistical season for the Dallas Cowboys but once again failed to come through when it mattered most. Obviously most of the blame will get directed at the defense, which is no surprise given how awful it was, especially up front. Everyone expected them to reload that area in the early rounds, but there is still that nagging recognition that Romo turns 34 before the draft in May and has taken a pounding throughout his career. Maybe Jerry Jones, unpredictable as he can be, might suddenly realize the time is coming for change.