Draft day is still more than three months away, but with the offseason underway and the scouting combine around the corner, it’s not too early to start looking ahead. Before he revealed his newest mock (Insider link), ESPN.com draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. appeared on a teleconference today to discuss the 2014 NFL draft, and plenty of reporters passed along the highlights. Here’s a recap of several of Kiper’s notable comments (all links go to Twitter):
- After talking to people around the league, Kiper believes that Johnny Manziel is the consensus top QB in the draft, at least for now. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s atop every team’s board.
- Wide receivers and offensive tackles are likely to dominate the first round, according to Kiper. However, in addition to being top-heavy, the WR class is also expected to be deep, so a team like the Steelers could land a good player there later in the draft.
- There should also be plenty of cornerback depth in the draft, so clubs like the Steelers and Bears can afford to wait on that position, though Chicago will likely have to address its defensive line in the early rounds, says Kiper.
- Kiper believes Jadeveon Clowney will be picked either first overall by the Texans or third overall by the Jaguars, with both teams in need of a pass rusher to get after Andrew Luck twice a season.
- Whichever of those clubs doesn’t take Clowney will probably draft Manziel, according to Kiper, who foresees the Texas A&M signal-caller going first or third, with Teddy Bridgewater coming off the board at No. 4, to the Browns.
- Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is unlikely to be picked outside of the top five, in Kiper’s view.
- Kiper doesn’t expect any running backs to be selected in the first round this year.
- The Chiefs figure to target receivers, safeties, or defensive linemen in the first round, says Kiper.
- Kiper has the Jets using the No. 18 pick on receiver Marqise Lee, and suggests the club should draft a QB in the middle rounds as an insurance policy for Geno Smith.