2014 DRAFT GUIDE
What to watch for in NFL draft

By BARRY WILNER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-04-25 03:09

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL draft begins Thursday night with the first round, continues Friday night with the second and third rounds, and runs through Saturday, when the final four rounds will be held at Radio City Music Hall. The Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams both went 2-14 last season and had the top two picks, but the Rams traded the second spot to Washington.

Some things to look for in this year's draft:

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AT THE TOP

The first two picks will be quarterbacks: Andrew Luck of Stanford, who will go to the Colts, followed by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor, who is headed to the Redskins.

Luck is considered the most NFL-ready quarterback since Peyton Manning left Tennessee in 1998 for the Colts. Oddly, he will wind up as Manning's replacement in Indy after the four-time MVP was released by the Colts and signed with Denver. Rarely do college quarterbacks call their own plays or have total freedom behind center. Luck did.

RGIII is more of a running threat than Luck and has a stronger arm. He did not play in a prostyle offense the way Luck did in college, but Griffin's skill set and intelligence make him just as attractive as Luck.

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A CRIMSON FIRST ROUND

From national champions to first-round draft picks.

Five members of the Alabama Crimson Tide could have their names called Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, four from the outstanding defense.

Safety Mark Barron and linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Trent Richardson all are highly touted. Richardson is expected to go in the first six picks.

``We want to help them develop as a football player, which means have a great career here, win a championship and see if you can play at the next level,'' Tide coach Nick Saban said.

Alabama has eight players likely to be drafted. The others are nose tackle Josh Chapman, cornerback DeQuan Menzie and wide receiver/kick returner Marquis Maze.

Roll Tide.

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TOP JUNIORS

The first round will be packed with players who had eligibility remaining, including top choices Luck and Griffin. Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, all projected to go in top 10, are underclassmen.

A total of 65 underclassmen, the most ever, applied for the draft. Not all of them will get picked, but some will earn big bucks. Look for other non-seniors to go in the first round, such as Alabama's Hightower and Kirkpatrick, linebackers Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, defensive linemen Nick Perry of Southern California and Michael Brockers of LSU, and guard David DeCastro of Stanford.

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STRONGEST POSITION

Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defensive ends who pile up sacks are the glamour positions. They are not always the deepest positions in the draft.

This year, only three quarterbacks are expected to go in the opening round: Luck, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. The strength in this grab bag of a draft is at cornerback and on the defensive line.

It's possible that four cornerbacks will come off the board in the first 32 picks, beginning with Claiborne. Others to watch for at that position are Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jackson of North Alabama. Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron is another defensive back almost certain to go early.

Defensive lineman likely destined to disappear in the first round are Perry, Brockers, Cox, Quinton Coples of North Carolina, Melvin Ingram of South Carolina, Kendell Reyes of Connecticut, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, Devon Still of Penn State, and Upshaw, who can play linebacker or end.

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SLEEPERS

Five players who could sneak into the first round:

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - At 6-foot-4, 346 pounds, he can clog the middle by himself, but he is incredibly streaky. His workouts showed more talent than his game tapes.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - Experienced receiver with lots of speed and the moves to be a factor from the slot. Excels after the catch.

Cordy Glenn, OT-G, Georgia - Started as a freshman in the SEC, which is impressive. Versatile and durable, outstanding in the run game.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State - A 28-year-old who played minor league baseball before college football. Brings maturity, accuracy and NFL-caliber arm strength and size.

Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State - Has the size to play inside or outside, and he never backs down. Could also be a factor on special teams.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

DeMarco MurrayOct 25 08:28p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray worked out with TE Jason Witten before the team's official offseason program, and he credits the veteran tight end with his increased stamina and [ More ]

Ryan ClarkOct 25 06:42p

Washington Redskins DE Chris Baker (thigh), OT Tyler Polumbus (knee), LB Perry Riley (knee) and OT Trent Williams (knee) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week 8. [ More ]

Edwin BakerOct 25 06:22p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25. RB Edwin Baker was promoted to the 53-man roster in his place.

Tom CrabtreeOct 25 06:12p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25.

Jerel WorthyOct 25 06:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed DE Jerel Worthy to the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 25.

LaMarr WoodleyOct 25 05:02p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) were placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. CB D.J. Hayden (foot) was activated from the Physically Unable to [ More ]

Derrick ColemanOct 25 04:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Derrick Coleman (foot) was placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. The team signed WR Phil Bates to the 53-man roster.

Damian WilliamsOct 25 04:32p

Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan was activated to the 53-man roster Saturday, Oct. 25, after serving his suspension. WR Damian Williams was waived to make room for him.

Jack CrawfordOct 25 04:32p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (thigh), FS Jakar Hamilton (personal), OT Jermey Parnell (chest) and DE Anthony Spencer (knee, foot) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week [ More ]

Doug FreeOct 25 03:52p

Dallas Cowboys OG Doug Free (foot) could return next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Jason Garrett said he hopes Free will be able to practice net week.

Ryan TaylorOct 25 03:02p

The Baltimore Ravens waived TE Ryan Taylor and promoted TE Phillip Supernaw from their practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 25.

Chandler JonesOct 25 02:12p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) could be done for the season with a hip injury he suffered in Week 7. Jones will reportedly miss at least six weeks.

Chris CookOct 25 01:22p

The San Francisco 49ers placed CB Chris Cook (hamstring) and C Daniel Kilgore (leg) on Reserve/Injured and signed S Ray Ventrone to a one-year deal Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerell RobinsonOct 25 01:12p

The Cleveland Browns activated OL Nick McDonald and waived TE Gerell Robinson Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerald McCoyOct 25 01:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has agreed to terms with the team on a seven-year contract extension worth close to $100 million.

Marcus EasleyOct 25 12:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) will work out before the team's Week 8 game to see if he will be able to play, according to head coach Doug [ More ]

Jason TrusnikOct 25 12:42p

Miami Dolphins LB Jason Trusnik could start at middle linebacker in Week 8 if LB Koa Misi (ankle) is not able to play.

Tavarres KingOct 25 12:22p

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed practice squad CB Peyton Thompson to their active roster Saturday, Oct. 25. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived WR Tavarres King.

Calais CampbellOct 25 12:22p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) likely will be a game-time decision for Week 8, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Campbell said his knee felt good during practice and hopes to play.

A.J. GreenOct 25 12:12p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is not expected to play in Week 8, because he has ligament damage under his toe. The team wants to be careful with [ More ]

Shonn GreeneOct 25 12:02p

Tennessee Titans RB Shonn Greene was arrested Friday, Oct. 24, and charged with a handicap parking violation, driving on a revoked/suspended license, reckless driving and resisting stop/halt/frisk.

Sean SpenceOct 25 11:32a

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (knee) should be able to play in Week 8, but it is not known if he will start at inside linebacker. Shazier and LB [ More ]

Aqib TalibOct 25 05:22a

Denver Broncos CB Tony Carter has drawn interest on the trade market prior to the Oct. 28 deadline. CBs Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby have taken away some playing [ More ]

Alan BranchOct 25 05:12a

Free-agent DL Alan Branch (Bills) was spotted in the New England Patriots' locker room but still has not signed his contract with the team. An additional report by Mike [ More ]

Jason KelceOct 25 12:42a

Philadelphia Eagles C Jason Kelce (hernia) is listed as questionable for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals, but he is unlikely to play. He had sports hernia [ More ]

Cullen JenkinsOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) is expected to miss at least a few weeks, so DEs Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka could be asked to play interior [ More ]

Jon BeasonOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants LB Devon Kennard might see more playing time with LB Jon Beason (toe) injured and possibly sidelined a while.

Emmanuel AchoOct 25 12:32a

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) might be able to return for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals. If not, LBs Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews would [ More ]

Luke WillsonOct 24 10:44p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin) will play in the team's Week 8 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Crockett GillmoreOct 24 10:32p

Baltimore Ravens rookie TE Crockett Gillmore will receive the start at tight end in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Ravens appear to have plenty of confidence [ More ]

Golden TateOct 24 10:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate will be facing the league's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Steve JohnsonOct 24 10:08p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson has played only 20 percent of the snaps in the last month, but he's been the team's most effective receiver in that time. [ More ]

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