Your Everything Guide to the 2014 NFL Draft

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Thursday May 8th is one of the most important days of the NFL calendar year…it is the official start of the 2014 NFL Draft.  It’s not as exciting as a Super Bowl for most people, sick but it’s pretty damn important.

Last year the Chicago Bears were wowed by general manager Phil Emery’s decision to draft Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long with the 20th overall pick. Long quickly became a fan favorite, I mean how could you not love this guy?

The reality of the 2014 NFL Draft is that the Bears could pick up those few missing pieces to elevate them atop the NFC North and get them into the playoffs. It’s HUGE.

I have the opportunity to work this year’s draft from Los Angeles with the NFL, I’ll be helping produce two shows for NFL.com and Draft Xtra in the NFL app on your phones. I can’t explain to others how important this draft class is and how exciting it will be. You’re not watching NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, you’re watching the excitement of teams making their picks and prospects walking across the stage to make their dreams come true. We get to invite another couple players into the Bears family that will help us get better.

What To Watch For:

    • Who will be the 1st overall pick?: It’s never exciting when you know who’s going to get picked first. Like last year, we don’t know which guy will get picked by the Houston Texans at No. 1. There’s a ton of speculation it will be defensive end Jadeveon Clowney but there’s also talk the Texans may go in a different direction. There aren’t top five prospects across the league. What’s that mean? Anything can happen…which is pretty damn exciting.
    • Johnny Manziel’s landing spot: If you’ve seen Sportscenter sometime in the past two and a half months, LeBron James has had to share the ESPN spotlight with Texas A&M quarterback, and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. He’s thrown up dollar bill signs on the field, he hangs with Drake, and may be the coolest prospect the NFL has seen in awhile. Not only that, he’s going to a guy you will want to watch when he’s in the league.

      Johnny Manziel

      Johnny Manziel

    • Red Carpet fashion: Like the NBA, these draft prospects will be bringing their A-game to the red carpet to Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Listen, I can’t wait to see what Manziel and Eastern Illinois standout quarterback and current HAM of the Week Jimmy Garoppolo are wearing. Meet LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr already strutting his NYC draft swag in Instagram:

The Bears have the No. 14 overall pick, and that’s six spots better than last year. There’s no doubt the Bears need help on the defensive side of the ball. So here’s what you should expect from the Chicago Bears:

  • Look for the Bears to address the defensive tackle or defensive back position with their first two picks (1st-round on Thursday and 2nd-round on Friday). I predict the Bears take Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald who would be a great pick and fit our defense. On the other hand, if Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still on the board at No. 14, they may take him. Out with Chris Conte already! No matter what, root for the Bears to get picks up at these positions.
  • Don’t be surprised if the Bears take a linebacker. Yes, we did draft Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene last year but they struggled last year. The Bears may need to move to get a linebacker from a SEC or Big 10 school to bring that kind of experience.
  • Aim for the 3rd or 4th round for the Bears to take a running back. Yes, we have Matt Forte. But we need to have depth at the position and finding a player with a difference change of pace would help out of the offense tremendously. Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas burned Pac-12 defenders but doesn’t seem to be an every down kind of back or go for a ground-and-pound type of guy like UCF’s Storm Johnson. Either way, the goal is to retail Forte as long as possible by giving him a backup posse.

Make sure to get your draft parties together and tune into NFL Network starting Thursday at 6pm CT. NFL.com will also have addition coverage and a live stream of the draft for you enjoyment.

About the author: Heather Pink is a Chicago native that graduated from the University of Illinois and is obsessed with the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks and the White Sox. Heather is currently in Los Angeles working with NFL.com as a Producer, but still does her fair share of sports reporting on the side. Follow Heather on Twitter @heatherpink2 or visit her website at http://heatherpink.weebly.com/

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