I-A College Football
 
 
        === Dorm Report: Last-minute NFL Draft primer ===
 
 By Brandon Lawrence, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2014 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday
 night with the first round from Radio City Music Hall. The draft, which runs
 through Saturday, will almost certainly be like every other in history - full
 of unforeseen surprises and interesting moves that make many who analyze the
 event rip their hair out from frustration.
 
 It's projected to be one of the deepest drafts in recent history, with a slew
 of talented college players at almost every position. Like always, there are
 game-changers who will help teams immediately once training camps start.
 
 But rarely does a generational talent come along, let alone multiple in the
 same class. South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo's Khalil Mack, Auburn's
 Greg Robinson and Clemson's Sammy Watkins will have teams stumbling over each
 other so they can get a shot at drafting one of these transformative players.
 
 The first round is teeming with talent and promise, but rarely do things pan
 out the way everyone expects. With that in mind, here's a last-minute NFL
 Draft primer with some first-round concepts and potential shakers that go
 against the norm:
 
 - There's been a lot of speculation that Atlanta may go after Houston's first-
 overall draft selection in order to select Clowney, who will almost definitely
 step into a starting role and become one of the NFL's best edge rushers,
 barring a setback. The likelihood of that trade seems greater than it did a
 few weeks ago, but it's still not imminent.
 
 If Houston sticks with the first overall pick, there's been talk among general
 managers and insiders that Clowney is no lock to be Texas-bound. Former Houston
 general manager Charley Casserly noted earlier this week that Clowney's ability
 to fit in a 3-4 defensive scheme is a big question mark, and that he won't fit
 the Texans' system too well.
 
 It would be one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL if Clowney is paired with
 J.J. Watt on the ends of Houston's defensive line, but sometimes it's all about
 drafting for scheme over best available talent. In which case, Buffalo's Mack
 would be the better fit - able to line up both in the middle and outside of the
 linebacking corps.
 
 Houston doesn't necessarily need to spend the first overall pick on him,
 though, so perhaps the Texans do indeed trade back (not to Atlanta's sixth
 selection, where Mack would likely be off the board), but to the third or
 fourth position instead.
 
 Multiple NFL insiders have reported it's no longer a certainty the Texans use
 the No. 1 pick on Clowney.
 
 - Do you remember a time when the projected top 10 picks in the draft were
 riddled with quarterback selections? You should because that time wasn't too
 long ago. However, now there's a chance only one signal caller is taken in the
 top 10.
 
 The potential is there, although NFL.com's Mike Mayock believes only two
 quarterbacks in this draft class are capable of (possibly) being day-one
 starters. The drop in the average draft position for these QBs has more to do
 with teams wanting a piece of the top-heavy talent at other positions, and the
 fact there are a handful of strong signal callers projected for the mid rounds
 of the draft. And with the QB-needy teams owning high picks in the second
 round, there's a very good chance players like Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr
 and Blake Bortles will be around when, say, Cleveland picks at 26, or when
 Houston is on the clock with the first pick in the second round.
 
 Several sources suggest Minnesota, which owns the eighth overall selection,
 will not take a quarterback, but instead go for a defensive front-seven mover.
 That means the Vikings aren't enamored with any of the quarterbacks projected
 in the first round, but instead like Pitt's Aaron Donald or UCLA's Anthony Barr
 to fill serious defensive voids. Johnny Manziel could be the only QB picked in
 the top 10, but nothing involving quarterbacks should surprise anyone on
 Thursday.
 
 - Trades are near impossible to predict. Unless an insider or outlet has a
 source implanted deeply within an organization, trades are almost never
 predicted correctly in mock drafts. But still, you know they are going to
 happen, and there are a few scenarios at which people can guess.
 
 San Francisco has a myriad of picks the team can ship away to move up in the
 first round, which would make sense for the 49ers, who will want to grab one
 of the top four wide receivers. The 49ers have an aging Anquan Boldin on their
 roster, and lost Mario Manningham back to the New York Giants this offseason.
 
 Receiving talent isn't as deep past Watkins and Texas A&M's Mike Evans, but a
 player like LSU's Odell Beckham or Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin would make
 sense in San Fran. Both can stretch the field and let Colin Kaepernick unleash
 his cannon of an arm.
 
 Another franchise that should be looking to move up for a receiver is
 Philadelphia. No more DeSean Jackson in Philly leaves just Jeremy Maclin
 (coming off a torn ACL in 2013 training camp) and Riley Cooper on the
 outsides, with a lot of "ifs."
 
 Beckham would make sense for the Eagles, but by the time they pick in the early
 20s the LSU product should be off the board, and, according to Peter King,
 adding USC's Marqise Lee would be a "consolation prize" for Philly.
 
 Benjamin, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Indiana's Cody Latimer could still
 be hanging around, depending on how fast these receivers jump off the board.
 But the drop in terms of talent after Beckham is a large one, so the Eagles may
 want to leapfrog up a few spots.
 
 - Don't sleep on the Kansas City Chiefs taking a quarterback in the first
 round Thursday night.
 
 Sure, there are plenty of other areas the Chiefs should address that pose
 immediate concern (wide receiver being the primary need), but Ian Rapoport of
 the NFL Network noted on Monday that negotiations with the Chiefs and current
 starter Alex Smith on a contract extension aren't going that well (he's up at
 the end of next season), in which case Kansas City might want to invest in a
 long-term replacement should things fall through completely.
 
 - The Rams had a pretty private meeting with Manziel at the NFL Combine earlier
 this year, and team representatives flew out to Texas A&M Friday to work out
 the former Aggies starter (among other players like Jake Matthews and Mike
 Evans). Manziel, however, was the focal point of the visit, Chris Mortensen
 reported.
 
 There is some trade speculation floating around involving Sam Bradford, which
 would leave room for the Rams to potentially scoop up Manziel with one of their
 two first-round picks. But Bradford's contract is absurd (he's scheduled to
 count $17 million against the cap in 2014), so a restructure of his contract
 would be necessary.
 
 Mortensen said Manziel is "very much in the picture" for the Rams with the
 second overall pick, and he expects the Browns to take him at No. 4 if St.
 Louis passes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 05/07 09:07:43 ET

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