Big NFL Draft Question Marks for Fantasy Football 2014

By Marcella Surra
Marcella Surra

The NFL Draft never fails to produce a multitude of questions, predictions, and surprise. This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars get the third pick in the first round. Will they draft a quarterback, running back, or neither? What about Houston? Are they really going to keep QB Case Keenum as their starter or are they planning on drafting a quarterback with their #1 pick in this year’s NFL draft? Or will Houston draft DE Jadeveon Clowney as many experts surmise? Is there any chance that they’ll draft sensational QB Johnny Manziel? Experts are not always right. When it comes to sports, no one has a crystal ball. Nonetheless, it’s fun to speculate. Let’s get started.

Houston has the number-one pick this year; the St. Louis Rams have the number-two pick as a result of a Washington Redskins trade. Experts predict that St. Louis will select an offensive tackle or wide receiver. Moreover, St. Louis still has QB Sam Bradford and it doesn’t look like they plan to replace their former first-round pick, so it is unlikely that they will choose QB Johnny Manziel in the first round.

Houston gave up QB Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders and currently list QB Case Keenum as their starting quarterback, who had a slow start last season, but bounced back in the last few games when he scored three touchdowns against Arizona and Indianapolis, with no interceptions. Although he lost those games, Keenum showed surprising potential. As a result of this turnaround late in the season, it’s likely that the Texans will keep Keenum as their quarterback. The experts guess that they will select DE Jadeveon Clowney, who has a great combination of size, explosiveness, strength, speed and skill. Also, Clowney has remarkable burst off the snap with lateral swiftness and a multitude of pass rush moves; he might be too good for Houston to pass up.

If the Texans keep Keenum as their quarterback and the Rams select a defensive end, with the third pick, the Jaguars may have a shot at QB Johnny Manziel, who is known for his remarkable maneuverability. He also has large hands and has improved his pocket passing. He broke numerous records in college, which include becoming the first freshman and fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Nonetheless, experts predict that the Jaguars will draft OLB Khalil Mack. However, the experts have been wrong before. If Manziel is still out there by the time the Jaguars get to pick, they may surprise everyone and scoop him up. If they draft Manziel, it would breathe new life into a franchise that has lost hope.

Currently, the Jacksonville Jaguars have QB Chad Henne listed as their starting quarterback. What do we know about Henne? Well, for one, we know that he’s never played a full 16-game season in the NFL; doesn’t make him Mr. Reliable, does it? We also know that he had four lackluster seasons with Miami, where his interception rate rivaled his touchdown rate. At this point, in his less-than-stellar career, we can assume that he belongs in a back-up role. However, does that mean that the Jaguars plan to draft a quarterback in this season’s NFL Draft? They gave up RB Maurice Jones-Drew to Oakland, so they may draft a running back and get themselves a star rookie running back such as RB Dri Archer, 2014’s fastest running back performer at the 2014 NFL Combine.
Currently, the Jaguars have Toby Gerhart listed as their starting running back. Over four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Gerhart proved to be a capable back-up. When starting with 15-16 rushing attempts, Gerhart typically ended up with almost a hundred rushing yards and at least one touchdown. He shows potential as a starter. As a result of Gerhart’s strong performance in Minnesota, it’s much more likely that Gerhart will stay on as a starter with the Jaguars.

The Jags could draft a running back in this season’s draft, but are better off replacing Chad Henne and designating Gerhart as a starter. Most experts predict QB Johnny Manziel going in the first round of the NFL Draft. If the Jags want a better quarterback than Henne, then Manziel is their man. However, they’ll only be able to draft him if Houston chooses to pass him up.

If the Jaguars pick up Manziel, look for RB Toby Gerhart to have a great season. With a rookie quarterback at the helm, there will be plenty of running opportunities for Gerhart and the Jags have not been known to use committee running backs. Hence, keep Gerhart on your list of sleepers.

Although, QB Johnny Manziel is slated to get picked up in the first round of the NFL Draft, don’t mistakenly draft him too early in your fantasy football draft. Every season, a rookie quarterback comes along with swagger and hype. More often than not, these rookie sensations are hard-pressed to live up to expectations. Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III are the exceptions and not the rule.

As a fantasy football manager, keep an eye on the NFL Draft for 2014’s sleeper picks and game changers. The month of May proves to be an exciting time when college super stars’ careers can be made or set back. The first few picks are always the most exciting. This year, the Houston Texans will have the first pick, the Rams will have the second, and the Jaguars will have the third. Who will be the top three picks? Will expert predictions prove accurate or fall short of the mark? Of course, at this point, we can only guess. However, stay tuned for a Post-NFL Draft Analysis of teams and players.