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2014 NFL Draft: Burning questions for first round -- and beyond

Maybe it's the incredible talent and star power in this prospect pool. Perhaps it's the annual event taking place later than usual. Maybe it's the fact that so much is truly unknown, from the first pick to the viability of available quarterbacks.

It all adds up to the 2014 NFL Draft spawning an extraordinary amount of hype and anticipation.

Just two days before Commissioner Roger Goodell officially begins the proceedings in Radio City Music Hall, the buzz is deafening and wonder abounds. With that in mind, allow me to address nine burning draft questions:

1) Which team has the courage to select Johnny Football?

This is how my CBS Sports Network colleague Rich Gannon phrased it on our draft special last week. What does that mean, exactly? Well, when you draft Johnny Manziel, you change everything. You build your offense around him. He becomes the face of your franchise and the most popular player. The locker room dynamics change. The public perception of your team changes. You increase swagger ... and scrutiny.

With his playing style, slight frame and off-the-field focus questions, Johnny Football isn't for everyone. And he's hardly a sure thing. That's why I would hesitate to take him.

I believe he goes to either the St. Louis Rams or Cleveland Browns. For those two teams, he would provide the desired moxie to play against tough foes in the NFC West and AFC North, respectively. And offensive coordinators Brian Schottenheimer (Rams) and Kyle Shanahan (Browns) both have experience in adapting their schemes to best fit the quarterback.

I would consider the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a sleeper team for Manziel, as general manager Jason Licht wouldn't rule out taking a quarterback on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports."

2) How many quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round?

I think it will be Manziel and Derek Carr (who, by the way, is the safest quarterback in the draft).

The draft is loaded with big-time talent at other positions. Why squander a first-round pick on a risk? Look at what happened in the 2011 NFL Draft ... Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all went in the top 12. In a related story, the coaches who drafted them have all since been fired.

Back on April Fools' Day, I wrote that Teddy Bridgewater would slide out of the first round. I wasn't kidding then and I still believe that prognostication now. He just doesn't have an NFL arm.

Arizona isn't taking a quarterback in the first round. The Cardinals are too smart for that. They'll grab one later on in the draft. And contrary to many mock drafters, I don't see Minnesota going with a QB at No. 8 overall. These are now Mike Zimmer's Vikings -- think Aaron Donald or a cornerback.

3) How many quarterbacks will be drafted in the second round?

We're looking at five to seven. I've already shared my thoughts on Bridgewater. Will Blake Bortles fall out of Day 1, as well? Some very smart people think Manziel slips. Tom Savage is ticketed for Round 2, quite possibly going to the Houston Texans or Oakland Raiders. I think Jimmy Garoppolo gets picked in the second round, perhaps by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meanwhile, Zach Mettenberger can flat-out sling it, and AJ McCarron has Round 2 potential, as well. The Cincinnati Bengals could pick a quarterback pretty early on Friday evening; I touched on the need last week.

4) Who goes No. 1 overall? And is it Houston making the pick?

The chatter is building that Khalil Mack is a legitimate option in the top draft slot. I'm just going to stick with what I wrote a month ago: Don't overthink it, Houston. Jadeveon Clowney is the best player in the draft and thus should be a Texan. He's a freak. Don't trade the pick -- you can't get a player like Clowney by moving down.

5) Who are the five best players in this draft?

Jeremiah: 2014 all-draft team
Forget the draft order -- Daniel Jeremiah puts together a starting lineup with the best prospects at each position. READ

How's this from one of the best executives in the league: "Clowney, Mack, (Sammy) Watkins, (Greg) Robinson and Mike Evans."

No argument here. Evans is the one name that might stand out to some, but I think the sure-handed, big-bodied Texas A&M product is going to be a star. And I think this quintet makes plenty of sense when you examine the draft order, too: Houston selects Clowney, St. Louis grabs Robinson, Jacksonville can't wait to take Mack, Cleveland pairs Watkins with Josh Gordon and Oakland snatches up Evans. Of course, some team could get giddy about Johnny Football, or Jake Matthews might sneak in.

6) Which team is most likely to execute a first-round trade?

The San Francisco 49ers are loaded with talent ... and draft picks. The Niners possess 11 selections, including six in the top 100. That's a lot of ammo for a trade-up. If Evans gets past Oakland, it'd make sense for San Francisco to give up a bushel of picks to get him. And then it'd make sense to project the Niners to play in the Super Bowl.

I also expect the Philadelphia Eagles to burn the phones. And St. Louis Rams GM Les Snead, who loves to be active on draft day, holds pick Nos. 2 and 13 -- I wouldn't be surprised to see him flip either one. As Snead told me on SiriusXM, nothing has been ruled out.

Lastly, I could see the defending champion Seattle Seahawks trading out of the first round.

7) How many receivers will go in Round 1?

Tie goes to the receiver.

When a lot of teams look at their big boards on Thursday night, I think the match of talent meeting need will equal a pass catcher.

Watkins is the best offensive player in the draft. Evans, as stated above, will be a huge difference-maker on Sundays. I love speedy Brandin Cooks (who seems perfect for the New York Jets). Odell Beckham Jr. is going to be a stud. Marqise Lee has next-level talent. And what about Kelvin Benjamin? Jordan Matthews? Cody Latimer? Donte Moncrief? Allen Robinson?

Are you picking up on a theme here? This position is absolutely loaded. And look at the teams in the second half of the first round. "Pass catcher" is on the needs list somewhere for the Ravens, Jets, Dolphins, Eagles, Chiefs, Panthers, Patriots and even the Seahawks.

I've seen talk of six receivers going in the first round. That estimate could be on the safe side.

8) Who is the third-best defensive player in this class?

Assuming Clowney and Mack are the top two, it comes down to Donald and Justin Gilbert. I think either one is in the mix for the Vikings at No. 8. And Gilbert would be perfect for Detroit at 10.



Build your own mock draft:
Make your best guesses here for all 32 picks of the first round of the NFL Draft and you could win a trip to attend the 2014 NFL Kickoff game. Play now ...

9) Is Michael Sam going to be drafted?

Absolutely. And he should, without hesitation. Jason Collins recently became the first openly gay player to take an NBA court, playing for the Brooklyn Nets in February. Sam is the first openly gay player to go through the NFL draft process. These are wonderful, watershed times.

While some see Sam as a player without a position, the reigning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year has a knack for getting to the quarterback. He will be drafted on Day 3. Seattle seems like a fine possibility.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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