Breaking down the prospects of the 2014 NFL draft has been exhausted. What comes now is figuring out which teams will throw the board into chaos with trades.
St. Louis Rams
This isn’t really a surprise. Though quiet during most of the free agency period, the St. Louis Rams remain favorites to move up and down the board in the first round, especially with the #2 pick. Their needs on the offensive line and in the secondary remain unaddressed so that is likely where they will focus but such needs won’t require such a high pick given that there are three quality tackles available and two pairs of corners and safeties. Somebody should offer a good enough package for them to move down.
San Francisco 49ers
Antoine Bethea was one of the quietest steals in free agency but it didn’t solve the lingering issues for the San Francisco 49ers at cornerback. Nor did re-signing Anquan Boldin eliminate their receiver needs. With five picks in the first three rounds they are probably the best equipped team to move up the draft board to go after a difference-maker at either position. Depending on how aggressive they want to be they could go for the home runs like Justin Gilbert (CB) of Oklahoma State and Mike Evans (WR) of Texas A&M or they go eyeball some mid-first options like Brandin Cooks (WR) of Oregon State or Darqueze Dennard (CB) Michigan State.
Having done a solid job of addressing some needs in free agency at defensive end and then getting back cornerback Charles Tillman, the Chicago Bears have been able to narrow their 2014 NFL draft focus. However, they still have work to do and could really use some extra picks to continue their overhaul. There may be some opportunities to move back with teams like the Jets, Browns and 49ers. Depending on how far they move back they should have some quality options still available like safety Calvin Pryor, corner Kyle Fuller, and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.
Another team that can move up and down in the first round at their leisure. The Cleveland Browns made some solid moves remaking their defense and adding help at running back but they still remain without an established starter at quarterback and their offensive line needs a lot of work, especially if center Alex Mack doesn’t return. With the #4 pick they have the chance to move up or down, up for a quarterback or down for picks and settling on a luxury item like Sammy Watkins or Justin Gilbert. With the #26 pick then they could get that quarterback or reinforce the offensive line with one of the top guards like Xavier Su’a-Filo or David Yankey. The possibilities are quite rich.
New York Jets
The Darrelle Revis saga will not end up get the New York Jets an extra third round pick but they do get a consolation of an extra fourth rounder. Having signed Eric Decker in free agency, they have a real chance to give their anemic offense a jolt by getting a top talent in the first round. One can imagine how could they could be with a Mike Evans across from Decker or Eric Ebron at tight end. Perhaps if they’re thinking aggressively enough they could put together a package to go after Watkins. A lot depends on how the board falls but this team needs just a few more quality additions on the offensive side and they should be serious contenders in the AFC East.
Green Bay Packers
Normally a team that takes a more measured approach to free agency and such, the 2014 NFL draft might see a bit more aggression from the Green Bay Packers. Having retained most of their key free agents and adding Julius Peppers, the Pack are in a good position to go after a defensive playmaker to bring it all together. One area they haven’t upgraded yet is safety. With no guarantee that top options like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor will fall to them at #21, they should have enough ammunition, within reason, to jump up a couple spots to grab one or the other.