Most NFL fans have read enough mock drafts to know their Clowney from their Carr by now. Everyone believes they know what will occur when the NFL draft begins on Thursday. There's really no reason to watch the draft because there will not be any surprises, right?
You know better.
[Related: Watch the draft live, 8 p.m. ET]
NFL fans will eagerly watch the three-day event like a person who thinks they know how a movie will end, but then finds out nothing goes as planned. That is because NFL teams do not base their selections on mock drafts. Each squad has its own draft board, which may or may not align with most draft analysts.
The NFL draft cannot, and will not, be placed in a box, and here are five feasible scenarios guaranteed to make the football universe explode this week.
1. Johnny Manziel to Cowboys! Johnny Manziel No. 1 overall! Or anything Johnny Manziel related – The only scenario we have not heard involving Manziel is him being drafted twice. Outside of that, Houston could select Manziel No. 1 overall, he could slip to Cleveland (either pick), or fall outside of the first round (doubtful). The drama surrounding Manziel will be at an all-time high during the draft, regardless of where he ends up. He's clearly the most intriguing player in the draft. And if Dallas owner Jerry Jones somehow drafts Manziel, this spontaneous combustion will make Mel Kiper Jr.’s hair explode.
2. Khalil Mack selected before Jadeveon Clowney – Many observers have labeled Clowney a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player ... the same distinction JaMarcus Russell once had, but never mind that. Few people knew Buffalo had a football team prior to this season, but Mack is arguably the best player in this draft. Clowney seemed to preserve himself last season in hopes of becoming the No 1 overall selection in 2014, but that plan could backfire if Mack is selected ahead of him. There are more than a few rumors that Houston prefers Mack over Clowney, and if Mack goes first overall, the debate won't end for about another decade or three.
3. Teddy Bridgewater slips out of the first round – Is it really possible a bad pro day means more than 9,817 passing yards, 72 touchdowns and a Sugar Bowl win during three seasons at Louisville? If Bridgewater is not drafted in the first round, many will blame his subpar pro day for the slide. Bridgewater will attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall, and nothing is worse than watching cameras zoom in on a young man waiting for a team to select him. Thursday night could be a long one for him, which was inconceivable a few months ago when he was considered a virtual lock as the first overall pick.
4. Sammy Watkins goes second overall to the Rams – Most NFL observers believe Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson will be the second player selected, and either Mack or Clowney will be available too, but there is a possibility St. Louis gives Sam Bradford an outstanding receiver and takes Watkins. Bradford has played with good receivers (Danny Amendola, Brandon Lloyd, Chris Givens and tight end Jared Cook), but has never been given an elite receiver. Before the Rams give up on Bradford, they need to see what he could do with a game-changing wideout, and selecting Watkins (and the Rams did show plenty of interest in Watkins the past few weeks) would shake up the draft.
5. Patriots draft a quarterback in the first round – Yes, we know. The Patriots are known for always hitting in the draft. Draft analysts will remind us of New England’s previous draft success plenty of times, conveniently ignore the troubles of tight end Aaron Hernandez and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and the many busts they've had, as if Laurence Maroney never happened. Anyway, the draft could become very interesting if New England decides to draft Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois or Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage (Or Bridgewater? Imagine the reaction to that pick) in the first round. Tom Brady will turn 37 in August. New England knows the Brady era is nearing its end, and they hosted many top quarterbacks for pre-draft visits. So it shouldn't be a huge shock if the Patriots secure their quarterback of the future, but it would start a firestorm about Brady's future. The only thing better than New England drafting a quarterback would be Brady and Manziel fighting for attention on the same team.