Some teams will begin their playoff journey this week. For everyone else, the playoff means 1 thing: more mock drafts! Version 1.1 of my 2014 NFL Mock Draft features changes to almost 30% of the selections from my Version 1 2014 NFL Mock Draft.
A few draft positions and picks were changed, but no major surprises yet (hint, hint). Most notably, the Cleveland Browns lost again on Sunday and secured the 4th overall selection. The change puts them in the position to draft possibly the best QB in the draft, UCF’s Blake Bortles… Check out the rest of the Version 1.1 Mock Draft below:
1. Houston Texans: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals
This is the most obvious pick it the mock. The Texans need a QB, Bridgewater is the best QB in the draft. It is rumored that the Texans are also looking at Johnny Manziel with their pick. Whoever the Texans do decide to go with, we do know that they want a game-changer type of QB moving forward. The game-manager style of Matt Schaub is a thing of the past for this Texans team. QB Blake Bortles may be a surprise #1 selection here over Teddy.
2. St. Louis Rams (WAS): OT Jake Mathews, Texas A&M Aggies
The Rams want to trade down, as most of their needs are not worth a number 2 pick. I’m sure teams will surely be scrambling to select a QB. (Possibly the Jaguars if they finally realize Blaine Gabbert isn’t very good.) If they can’t find a trade partner, the Rams will probably pick on the offensive line. #2 is a little high for a RT, but if they are sticking with Sam Bradford at QB, or any QB for that matter, they need to keep him upright to have a chance at success.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina Gamecocks
The Jags are nowhere near ready to draft another QB and have plenty of holes to fill. They will get lucky with Clowney, probably the most talented player in the draft, falling to them at #3. Besides, the Jags GM said they would build around Blaine Gabbert. I don’t understand it either, but it makes the Clowney pick make even more sense.
4. Cleveland Browns: QB Blake Bortles, UCF Knights
The Browns will look to land their QB of the future in UCF’s Blake Bortles. Bortles has a strong arm and the ability to scramble (a la Aaron Rodgers) and would be a good fit for the NFL. I have Bortles ranked as the #2 QB on the board ahead of Derek Carr or Johnny Manziel. The Browns will get a steal with Bortles at #4, as he could easily go #1 at the rate he is flying up draft boards. The Browns should target a receiver later in the draft to pair with Josh Gordon or another offensive lineman. Now that would raise the ceiling of this offense by a mile.
Previous Pick: QB Johnny Manziel.
5. Oakland Raiders: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Aggies
Matt McGloin is not the future at QB for the Raiders. He has filled in nicely this year, but looks to be a good backup at best. Johnny Manziel is a pretty good QB option when you ignore the character issues. The guy can flat out fly and his passing has improved significantly over his Heisman year. Oakland is desperate to find their next QB, and Manziel definitely has the skill to be their franchise QB for a long time. The Raiders could also go with Clowney here if the Jags pass him up.
Previous Pick: QB Blake Bortles.
6. Atlanta Falcons: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA Bruins
The Atlanta Falcons were terrible this season after Super Bowl aspirations in the pre-season. The two biggest reasons for their poor season is the rushing attack and the defense. It is far too early to draft a RB, so they will go with pass-rusher Anthony Barr, who happens to also be the most talented guy left on the board. Barr is an ex-FB with a lot of knowledge about offense, and it has translated into very good instincts on defense. Barr could easily go in the top-3, so the Falcons may have to move up to make sure they can pick him.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson Tigers
The Bucs seem set on lanky Mike Glennon as their QB of the future (for now), so they must start surrounding him with more weapons. Sammy Watkins has home run potential on every play and will stretch the defense for Doug Martin and free up Vincent Jackson. Another option here would be TE Eric Ebron, but Watkins has such a huge upside, he might be hard to pass up at #7. This pick will depend on who the Bucs decide to go with as their new Head Coach.
8. Minnesota Vikings: QB Derek Carr, Fresno State Bulldogs
The Vikings should learn not to take the next available QB late in the top-10, but they won’t. From what I’ve seen from Derek Carr, he is maybe the 4th best QB in this draft. His stock fell even more for me after his pedestrian game in the Las Vegas Bowl against USC (the best team he played this season). I would mock him even lower if Hundley or Mariotta came out. The Vikings will not learn from their mistake with Christian Ponder, and reach for Derek Carr with the 8th pick.
9. Buffalo Bills: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina Tar Heels
It may be a little early to take Ebron here, but the Bills need to add some weapons for now-2nd year QB, EJ Manuel. Adding Ebron creates a mismatch for almost any defender in the NFL. Ebron is fast, physical, and can make insane catches in contact. Eric Ebron would make life for EJ Manuel much easier in the open field, and especially in the red zone. Offensive guard is another option here for the Bills.
10. Detroit Lions: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M Aggies
Another receiver to pair with Johnson would make the offense (and Mathew Stafford) much more explosive and consistent. Mike Evans also happens to be one of the top players available. At 6’5″, Evans led the SEC in receiving touchdowns, would add another legit red zone threat, and would be a good compliment for Megatron. Cornerback is another option here.
Previous Pick: WR Marqise Lee.
11. Tennessee Titans: OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo Bulls
The Titans are 20th in the NFL this season in sacks, and gave up 30+ points 5 times. The Titans will benefit by adding another pass rusher. Mack is a physical freak and never stops working to get to the quarterback. Mack would instantly improve the Titans defense with his skill, but more importantly, his attitude.
12. New York Giants: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State Spartans
The giants need some athleticism in the secondary. Prince Amukamara is finally playing better, but the Giants need to shore up that 12th ranked pass defense. Dennard is the top ranked corner in the draft. The Giants could also make a pick along the offensive line, because Eli Manning has been sacked 37 times this season.
13. St. Louis Rams: S HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama Rolling Tide
The safety play of the Rams was terrible this season. They will look for an upgrade to play with TJ McDonald. The Rams will be getting the top safety in the draft in Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix is probably the best defensive player available at this point, although the Rams could also go with a corner here, since Cortland Finnegan has been horrible this season.
14. Chicago Bears: OG David Yankey, Stanford Cardinal
If the Rams take HaHa with the 13th pick, the Bears may need to reach to find a player at a position of need worth a #14 overall pick. The Bears need help on the defensive line, offensive line, and at safety. Whether they keep Jay Cutler or go in a different direction, their QB needs more protection to be successful. For that reason, the Bears will select the best guard in the draft, David Yankey from Stanford. Yankey could solidify the Bears O-line for years to come. The Bears could also reach for DT Ra’shede Hageman.
Previous Pick: DE Stephon Tuitt.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan Wolverines
The Steelers are tied for 25th in the NFL in sacks allowed this season. Big Ben can avoid sacks, but not that many. Somehow the Steelers were able to stay afloat this season despite those sacks allowed and a horrible running game. Adding Taylor Lewan could solve both those issues. Lewan would bring a tenacity and competitiveness that was lacking on the front line this season.
16. Dallas Cowboys: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri Tigers
The Cowboys need some help along the defensive line. They are tied for 26th in the NFL in sacks, and recently switched to a 4-3 defense. The defensive scheme looks much better than the 3-4 of the past few seasons, but they still need to add some personnel to complete the switch. Kony Ealy is a good prospect for the 4-3 DE because he is very athletic and can play the run and rush the passer. Ealy and Demarcus Ware would make a great bookend pass rush duo.