Mike Mayock's NFL Draft rankings: Johnny Manziel over Blake Bortles

Mike Zarrilli

Mike Mayock has released his first set of draft rankings and there are some surprises on offense.

The 2014 NFL Draft won't take place until May, but Mike Mayock of the NFL Network has already released his position rankings ahead of the combine in Indianapolis.

Mayock's draft rankings are widely hailed for their accuracy regarding which players will transition well to the NFL. He was one of few analysts who highly regarded wide receiver Keenan Allen last year, making him the second-best receiver in the 2013 class behind Cordarrelle Patterson, and he slotted the highly touted Tavon Austin in the third spot. There is also a tendency for several of his other rankings to fall in place with how players are selected on draft day.

This crop of quarterbacks is believed to be the most talented in several years. Four passers are almost assured to be selected in the first round and Mayock isn't buying the Blake Bortles-mania that swept draft boards shortly following the Fiesta Bowl. There have been reports that Houston could be interested in him with the first overall pick, but the NFL analyst isn't buying.

Mayock has Bortles listed as the third-best quarterback in the class, behind Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.

Johnny Football has fluctuated in mock drafts since declaring. Some analysts believe he could be the first overall pick, while others have him sliding deep in the back-end of the first round. Any team selecting him will need to show some creativity, as the Panthers did when they integrated Cam Newton into the NFL.

Sammy Watkins is established as the top wide receiver in the 2014 class but opinions vary wildly from there. Mayock differs from popular belief by making Mike Evans the third best in class, behind Marqise Lee. Many mock drafts have Evans pegged as a top-15 pick, potentially climbing higher based on his performance in the combine.

More will be revealed when Mayock breaks down his scouting process, but this could be a product of favoring athleticism over size as the method for gaining separation.

There's a similarly interesting ranking at tight end, where popular belief is eschewed and Austin Seferian-Jenkins is ranked second overall. The process up to this point has placed two tight ends in the first round: Eric Ebron of North Carolina and Jace Amaro from Texas Tech. Nothing is hard and fast this early, but the divergence is intriguing.

Seferian-Jenkins is a two-sport star, which will interest teams at the next level. It will also draw comparisons to Jimmy Graham, but the 21-year-old is not quite as quick. This means that a lot hinges on the combine in order to match Mayock's lofty ranking.

On the defensive side of the ball there weren't too many surprises. Most of Mayock's position rankings fell in line with what we've seen from other outlets -- not a surprising result given how widely revered Jadeveon Clowney is at defensive end and Khalil Mack is at linebacker.

Remaining questions about Mayock's rankings will be solved when he explains his reasoning for the picks closer to the draft.

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