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

Jeff DempsOct 22 09:54a

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agents RB Jeff Demps (Buccaneers) and Konrad Reuland (Jets) to their practice squad and released QB Dominique Davis and WR Chandler X. Jones from the practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Jon BeasonOct 22 09:43a

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (toe) said it was 50-50 whether he returns this year and will have to get clearance from a foot specialist to make sure [ More ]

Harry DouglasOct 22 08:53a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot) will not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. Douglas traveled to London with the team and hopes to play in Week 8.

Dion LewisOct 22 03:03a

In their bye week, the New York Giants are working out several free agents. In addition to QB Terrelle Pryor, who was previously mentioned, other free agents include TE [ More ]

Tony FiammettaOct 22 02:43a

The New York Jets invited four players to work out recently, including free-agent FB Tony Fiammetta (Bears), DB Chris Prosinski (Jaguars), CB Johnny Adams (Raiders) and CB Marcus Cromartie [ More ]

DeMarcus Van DykeOct 22 02:43a

The Miami Dolphins brought in five players for workouts recently, including free-agent DB Tommie Campbell (Titans), DB T.J. Heath (Browns), DB Curtis Marsh (Eagles), WR Derek Moye (Steelers) and [ More ]

Dwayne AllenOct 21 10:23p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen said he was not expecting to be as involved in the red zone as he has been this season. He has five touchdowns in [ More ]

Carson PalmerOct 21 10:03p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) threw at team headquarters Tuesday, Oct. 21, and is 'real close' to 100% percent, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Troy NiklasOct 21 09:33p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8, head coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Calais CampbellOct 21 09:23p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) could return for the team's Week 8 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Paul RichardsonOct 21 08:33p

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson caught four passes on five targets for 33 yards in Week 7. Richardson was targeted just once in the team's first five games.

Chandler JonesOct 21 07:23p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21 with a hip injury, according to a source. Jones is expected to miss a month or so.

Jerel WorthyOct 21 06:33p

Kansas City Chiefs DT Jerel Worthy was released Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Marcus ThigpenOct 21 06:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed free-agent LB Mister Alexander (Texans) and RB Marcus Thigpen (Dolphins) to their practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Dominique DavisOct 21 06:23p

Indianapolis Colts QB Dominique Davis and WR Chandler X. Jones were released Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Eric OlsenOct 21 06:13p

New Orleans Saints C Eric Olsen was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Everette BrownOct 21 06:13p

The Washington Redskins re-signed LB Everette Brown to their active roster Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Robert LesterOct 21 06:13p

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent SS Robert Lester (Panthers) and OT Martin Wallace (Browns) to their practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Scott SolomonOct 21 06:03p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Solomon Patton and DE Scott Solomon were placed on no-recall waivers Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Gerell RobinsonOct 21 06:03p

The Cleveland Browns re-signed TE Gerell Robinson to their active roster Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Austin PettisOct 21 06:03p

Cleveland Browns RB Ray Agnew III and DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Denver Broncos LB Shaquil Barrett, Detroit Lions DB Jerome Couplin III, New Orleans Saints LB Todd Davis and St. [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 21 05:33p

San Diego Chargers CB Brandon Flowers (concussion), LB Dwight Freeney (non-injury related), C Richard Ohrnberger (back) and LB Manti Te'o (foot) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21. LB Jeremiah [ More ]

T.J. WardOct 21 05:33p

Denver Broncos CB Omar Bolden (concussion) and LB Steven Johnson (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21. S Quinton Carter (hamstring), CB Chris Harris Jr. (knee), RB Juwan Thompson [ More ]

Devon WylieOct 21 05:23p

The St. Louis Rams signed free-agent WRs Kadron Boone (Eagles) and Devon Wylie (49ers) to their practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Korey ToomerOct 21 05:23p

The St. Louis Rams waived LB Denicos Allen from their practice squad and added free-agent LB Korey Toomer (Cowboys) to their practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Calvin JohnsonOct 21 05:13p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) will only return in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons if he's 100 percent healthy, according to head coach Jim Caldwell. 'It's not [ More ]

Akeem AyersOct 21 04:43p

Tennessee Titans LB Akeem Ayers and a seventh-round draft pick were traded to the New England Patriots in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Jeremy KerleyOct 21 04:23p

New York Jets WR Jeremy Kerley officially signed a four-year, $16 million extension Tuesday, Oct. 21. Kerley will receive $5.4 million of guaranteed money. He has 22 catches for [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerOct 21 04:18p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) will start at quarterback when he's healthy, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt. QB Charlie Whitehurst has filled in for Locker twice this [ More ]

Bene BenwikereOct 21 04:13p

Carolina Panthers CB Bene Benwikere (ankle) will return as the starting nickel cornerback when he's back from his injury, according to head coach Ron Rivera. If Benwikere can't play [ More ]

Martavis BryantOct 21 04:06p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant cut into WR Markus Wheaton's workload in Week 7 against the Houston Texans, and QB Ben Roethlisberger took three 'shot' plays down the field [ More ]

Andre EllingtonOct 21 04:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington had 88 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving in Week 7, and only four players in franchise history since 1960 to have more yards [ More ]

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