Should Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater Go No. 1 in 2014 NFL Draft?

It’s fun to speculate who’ll go no. 1 in the NFL Draft. Sometimes there’s a can’t-miss quarterback prospect like Andrew Luck, Eli Manning or John Elway, and it can take a lot of the speculation out of it because you know they’re a lock. Why? Because more than likely if you’re picking at no. 1 overall, you probably don’t have a franchise quarterback.

The golden rule of the NFL Draft? You never pass on a franchise QB unless you already have one.

So what about the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft? Who’s going to go number one overall (to the Oakland Raiders, let’s not kid ourselves)?

Well, it’s really just a two-man race right now between South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, and this may be the year to break the mold.

Clowney is not a normal prospect. There’s been some physical marvels coming out of this position in the last decade (Mario Williams, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt, etc.), but Clowney is actually on a pedestal above them, at least in terms of ceiling. Now, I’m not going to inundate you with his scouting report, because you can find that here. I’m just talking draft positions here, and trying to piece the Raiders’ mentality together.

Let’s look at needs. Do the Raiders need a defensive end?  Oh, you bet they do. In fact, aside from Lamarr Houston, the Raiders need a new defensive line as a whole. The pass rush this year should be utterly atrocious, and with the heavy emphasis offenses are placing on passing these days, putting pressure on the QB is at an all-time high.

Clowney would step foot on the field and already be the best player on the defense, and would be the best pass rusher they’ve had since Derrick Burgess put up 16 sacks in 2005. He would be the most physically gifted defensive player they’ve had since Ted Hendricks. Even if the Raiders direly needed a QB (and they still might), it’s too hard to pass on the best defensive prospect since Lawrence Taylor.

What about QB? Don’t the Raiders direly need a QB? A few weeks ago, I would’ve emphatically been jumping up and down yelling yes. Though after seeing a little bit of Terrelle Pryor, I can’t help but be slightly intrigued.

Ever since Pryor came out of tiny Jeannette, Pennsylvania as the no. 1 player in the country in 2008, everyone has been salivating over his physical skills.  At 6-foot 4, 233 pounds (wait, wasn’t he 6-foot-6 at Ohio State? Weird) and running a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash, you can’t help but be intrigued.

Now that Pryor has been in the league for a few years, gotten some experience, matured and grown up a little, he seems to be intent on taking advantage of his current opportunity.

Would Bridgewater be an upgrade over Pryor? More than likely, though it will be interesting to see how Pryor plays the rest of the year (he had a solid Week 1 outing, going 19-of-29 for 217 yards, one TD and 112 yards rushing, not bad for a first start).

If Pryor continues playing like he did against a solid Indianapolis Colts defense, it’d be hard to imagine the Raiders looking for another QB, especially in the first round, especially at first overall, and especially when Clowney is on the board.

Another thing to consider is this: this year’s QB crop isn’t like the 2013 class where there was a vast shortage of top-tier guys. This year’s crop is deep, and there will be plenty of talented passers left in the second and third rounds, so even if the Raiders pass on a QB in round one, they can find one later.

The bottom line is this: even if the Raiders were bent on finding a starting QB, I still would be surprised to see them pass on a physical talent like Clowney. Would it totally blow my mind to see them take Bridgewater anyway, even considering Clowney and the presence of Pryor? No, because Bridgewater looks to have all the makings of an excellent NFL QB and is a terrific leader.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Pryor plays the rest of the year and how the top two guys on everybody’s board (Clowney and Bridgewater) finish out their 2013 seasons.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.

Related: 

Taylor Lewan Scouting Report
Shayne Skov Scouting Report
Colt Lyerla Scouting Report 


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