The free agency period is slowing down and the 2014 NFL draft is the next big thing for football fans to get excited about. The 2014 NFL draft will begin on May 8th and will conclude on May 10th. With that being said, i’m going to take this time to formulate my first round 1 mock draft of the year.
We still have about a month and a half until the actual draft, so things are bound to change. Also, I will not be making any trades in this Mock Draft. I feel as if those moves are way too unpredictable for me to try and predict.
Let’s jump right into it!
Houston Texans | Pick 1 | QB | Blake Bortles | UCF
I was really, really close to giving the Texans Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick. There’s no doubt in my mind that the combination of Clowney and Watt would give the Texans one of the best pass rushes in the league. I just think that landing a franchise quarterback is more important than having a great pass rush (Only 3 out of the past 10 Super Bowl wins came from quarterbacks that weren’t drafted in the 1st round).
For the longest time I had Teddy Bridgewater in front of Blake Bortles as the best quarterback in this years draft. After watching video from both of their pro days, I no longer believe that. I really liked how Bortles performed and he has turned me into a believer. I think the Texans snag Bortles at number one.
St. Louis Rams | Pick 2 | WR | Sammy Watkins | Clemson
I think that there is a very good chance that the Rams trade out of this spot, but they won’t be doing that in this mock.
Adding a player like Sammy Watkins would provide Sam Bradford with another playmaker. Watkins possesses good size and would compliment the small and speedy Tavon Austin very well. Having two legitimate weapons on the outside will be crucial to Sam Bradford returning to his previous form.
Jacksonville Jaguars | Pick 3 | DE | Jadeveon Clowney | South Carolina
There’s a strong chance that the Jaguars go with a quarterback here, but I would rather see the Jags take Clowney with the 3rd pick. Clowney has the potential to become one of the best pass rushers in the league and I think that Gus Brady, who is a defensive minded coach, recognizes that. I feel like he also recognizes that this year’s group of QB’s could be considered boom or bust players.
Cleveland Browns | Pick 4 | QB | Johnny Manziel | Texas A&M
The Browns took care of their running back needs by signing Ben Tate in free agency; the same cannot be said about the quarterback position. There are rumors that the Browns, and Raiders, are interested in trading for Matt Schaub, though. Personally, I hope that they stay far, far away from Schaub. One way that they can do that is by drafting Johnny Football.
It’s definitely a risky pick, but at this point, the Browns need to take some risks. If Manziel is able to play at a high-level, the Browns could finally start being competitive again. I like Manziel with the Browns because they have a solid defense and young playmakers on the offense. Manziel would also benefit by having Joe Thomas at left tackle to protect his blind side.
Oakland Raiders | Pick 5 | OT | Greg Robinson | Auburn
The Raiders can go any number of ways with this pick, but after losing Jared Veldheer, their starting left tackle, to free agency, it would baffle me if they didn’t select an offensive tackle with this pick. They drafted Menelik Watson in the second round last year, but he went down with an injury. Luckily for the Raiders, this year’s draft is loaded with offensive tackle talent.
Oakland could draft any one of the top 3 tackles and it would be a good pick. Greg Robinson from Auburn is my favorite, though. Robinson is an extremely powerful tackle and the Raiders would benefit from his presence on the offensive line.
Atlanta Falcons | Pick 6 | OLB | Khalil Mack | Buffalo
Khalil Mack is better suited to play as a 3-4 OLB, but I believe that he has the skills to play as a 4-3 defensive end, too. Mack absolutely terrorizes opposing offenses and is a difficult blocking task to give to an offensive lineman. Because of his high motor, Mack might be a safer pick than Clowney.
There’s a good chance the Falcons pick a tackle here, though.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Pick 7 | OT | Jake Matthews | Texas A&M
The Buccaneers did very well in free agency and improved their football team in a lot of areas. Despite letting Revis walk, I believe that their defense has improved. Bringing in Josh McCown at quarterback is also an upgrade for their offense; protecting him will be key to Tampa Bay improving.
Jake Matthews would give the Bucs an absolute stud at the offensive tackle position for the foreseeable future.
I could also see Tampa Bay going wide receiver here. Maybe Mike Evans?
Minnesota Vikings | Pick 8 | QB | Teddy Bridgewater | Louisville
Yes, Bridgewater had a weak pro day, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings desperately need a quarterback. Throughout his collegiate career, Bridgewater showed excellent decision-making skills. He threw 74 touchdowns to only 24 interceptions, that’s a 3 to 1 ratio!
Having Adrian Peterson to lean on in the run game would benefit Bridgewater during his transition into becoming a pro quarterback. He would also be teamed up with solid pass-catchers in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph.
In my opinion, out of the top 10 teams drafting, Minnesota is the best fit for Bridgewater.
Buffalo Bills | Pick 9 | TE | Eric Ebron | North Carolina
Earlier this year, I predicted that Ebron would get selected by the Bills in the draft. I’m sticking with this decision. They have a slew of young receivers behind Stevie Johnson and a couple of good running backs in their backfield. Adding a player like Ebron to E.J. Manuel’s répertoire would be great for his development.
Detroit Lions | Pick 10 | CB | Justin Gilbert | Oklahoma St.
With the addition of Golden Tate in the free agency, the Lions have sured up their passing game. They could probably use another receiver for their offense, but this draft is deep enough at the position that they can snag one in the second or third round. With their receiving needs semi-under control for the time being, it’s almost a no-brainer that Detroit will add a defensive back.
It will most likely come down to choosing between Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Justin Gilbert. If i’m Detroit, i’m taking Gilbert. He’s the best cornerback in the draft and he would help stabilize Detroit’s shaky secondary.
He’s not only a good cornerback, though. Gilbert also possesses great speed and return skills. Combine these attributes with his good cover skills and you have yourself a top 10 draft pick.
Tennessee Titans | Pick 11 | CB | Darqueze Dennard | MSU
Like the Lions, there is a possibility that the Titans opt to select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with this pick. I think they’ll grab Darqueze Dennard, though. After losing Alteraun Verner to free agency, the Titans are in need of a cornerback. After missing out on Gilbert to the Lions, the Titans would be wise to draft Dennard at number 11.
New York Giants | Pick 12 | DT | Aaron Donald | Pittsburgh
The New York Giants had a very strong free agency this offseason. They added a pair of good corners to help their passing defense. If New York wants to further bolster their pass defense, I think it would be smart of them to add an interior lineman who can pressure the quarterback. The addition of Aaron Donald to a defense that already sports JPP would be scary.
A good pass defense starts upfront. Adding Aaron Donald to their front 4 would be a home run for the Giants.
St. Louis Rams | Pick 13 | OT | Taylor Lewan | Michigan
Thanks to a strong combine, Taylor Lewan has seen his stock sore as of late. After taking Sammy Watkins at number 2, the Rams should look into protecting their quarterback. After going down with an ACL injury last season, i’m sure that Sam Bradford wouldn’t mind the extra protection.
If the Rams wind-up taking Lewan, they will be getting a big, fast tackle that can help protect Bradford for the foreseeable future. Pairing Lewan up with Jake Long would give the Rams one of the top tackle tandems in the league. Lewan also has the skills required to replace Jake Long at the left tackle position (whether it be due to injury or eventual retirement/release).
Chicago Bears | Pick 14 | S | Ha Ha Clinton-Dix | Alabama
The Chicago Bears have had themselves a pretty decent offseason. Most of their ventures into free agency were to sign some very necessary defensive players. I think that the Bears will continue to build their defense in the draft, though. The biggest question is whether or not they’ll opt to select a defensive tackle or a safety.
With Aaron Donald off the board, I have the Bears nabbing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama. Yes, they picked up a couple of safeties in the free agency, but none of the players they signed are as good as Clinton-Dix.
Pittsburgh Steelers | Pick 15 | WR | Mike Evans | Texas A&M
The departure of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers thin at wide receiver. Bringing in a talent like Mike Evans would make perfect sense. Pittsburgh has long been in need of a strong, big-bodied receiver. Evans fits that bill.
Evans would give Big Ben another toy and would seemingly be great in the red zone.
Dallas Cowboys | Pick 16 | S | Calvin Pryor | Louisville
The Cowboys have a glaring need at safety. I’m sure they would have loved to have Clinton-Dix fall to them, but that just isn’t the case in this mock. Calvin Pryor is the second best safety in the draft and his physical game would immediately improve the struggling secondary in Dallas.
The Cowboys could end up picking a defensive lineman here, though.
Baltimore Ravens | Pick 17 | OLB | Anthony Barr | UCLA
Ozzie Newsome is notorious for taking the best available player; so selecting Anthony Barr at 17 would make sense. Barr is talented, but raw. If coached correctly, he can become a top linebacker in the NFL. The Potential is surely there.
I think that Barr falling to 17 is something that would benefit both parties.
New York Jets | Pick 18 | WR | Marqise Lee | USC
If Geno Smith (or Michael Vick?) is going to succeed next season, the Jets are going to have to surround him with some more talent. The Eric Decker signing was a good start, but it was just that, a start. Marqise Lee could be the player to help round out the receiving corps.
If Lee didn’t miss time due to a knee injury last season, there’s a chance that he’s the 2nd wide receiver taken instead of Mike Evans. So at 18, the Jets are getting a good deal. They’re also getting their quarterback a weapon; something he really, really needs.
Miami Dolphins | Pick 19 | OT | Zack Martin | Notre Dame
The Dolphins absolutely must fix their offensive line. Drafting Martin to play opposite of Branden Albert would be taking a big step in doing so. Martin isn’t quite as good as the 3 tackles taken ahead of him, but he doesn’t have to be. Albert will be manning the left tackle position so Martin will be able to slide over to right tackle.
Being able to play right tackle should help Zack Martin ease into his NFL career.
Arizona Cardinals | Pick 20 | DE | Kony Ealy | Missouri
The signing of Jared Veldheer in free agency has solved Arizona’s problem at left tackle. With that out of the way, Arizona can shift their focus to the defensive side of the ball. I was torn between cornerback and defensive end, but ultimately decided on defensive end (though I think they’d snag Darqueze Dennard if he’s still available).
Kony Ealy is a very capable player and has the ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. In my opinion, Arizona’s pass rush is the only thing that is keeping Patrick Peterson from being the best cornerback in the league.
Better pass rush = Easier day for the secondary.
Green Bay Packers | Pick 21 | ILB | C.J. Mosley | Alabama
C.J. Mosley would inject Green Bay with youth at the inside linebacker position. Mosley is a smart, polished inside linebacker that brings instant talent and playmaking to the table. He finished with over 100 tackles last season and is also capable of getting to the quarterback (He had 4 sacks last season).
Mosley would be a good addition to the defense in Green Bay.
Philadelphia Eagles | Pick 22 | WR | Kelvin Benjamin | Florida St.
If the rumors are true and the Eagles do end up trading Desean Jackson, they will be in the market for a wide receiver. Kelvin Benjamin would be a great substitution. Benjamin is huge, like Calvin Johnson huge! When it comes to body size, Kelvin Benjamin is pretty much a clone of Megatron. They’re both 6’5″ and 240 pounds.
Benjamin is a great player to have for jump ball situations. It’s almost like he levitates to the football when he goes up for it. I believe that Benjamin is an underrated prospect and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the third receiver taken in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs | Pick 23 | WR | Odell Beckham Jr. | LSU
The Chiefs could go with a cornerback here, but I think that Beckham Jr. is too good to pass up. Beckham Jr. brings good route running and electric return skills with him. With Dexter McCluster gone, Beckham Jr. could seemingly slide into that role. I’m sure Andy Reid would find some interesting ways to use him.
Cincinnati Bengals | Pick 24 | DE | Dee Ford | Auburn
Michael Johnson bolted in free agency and that leaves the Bengals in need of a defensive end. Because of the injury to Leon Hall, they could also go cornerback here. I have them going with a defensive end, though.
Dee Ford would be a good replacement for Michael Johnson.
San Diego Chargers | Pick 25 | CB | Kyle Fuller | Virginia Tech
When your team plays Peyton Manning twice a year, it’s good to have corners that are capable of playing man coverage. Kyle Fuller can do that, as he possesses the skills to lock up receivers at the line. Injuries slowed Fuller down during his senior season, but he can be a very good corner if he stays healthy.
There’s also a chance that the Chargers snag a defensive tackle here. Louis Nix III would be the best solution if they went that route. Nix is a prototypical nose tackle and would be an enforcer in the trenches.
Cleveland Browns | Pick 26 | G | X’avier Su’a-filo | UCLA
There’s always a chance that the Browns take a wide receiver here, but it would be smart of them to add to the offensive line…especially if they take a QB with the 4th pick. Nothing is worse than watching a rookie quarterback getting sacked over and over and over and….well you get the point. Adding Su’a-filo to a line that already sports Joe Thomas would be great.
The best way to maximize an investment in a young quarterback is by protecting them. Drafting Su’a-filo at 26 would do just that.
New Orleans Saints | Pick 27 | CB | Jason Verrett | TCU
Jason Verrett is solid in coverage and fast enough to keep up with the speediest of receivers. He’s also very quick and fluid in his breaks. His quickness makes me think that he would be best served covering small, elusive receivers. With the amount of teams rolling out 3 wide receiver sets on a regular basis, having a player like Verrett to cover the opposing teams slot receiver is a must.
Verrett would further strengthen the now strong secondary in New Orleans.
Carolina Panthers | Pick 28 | WR | Brandin Cooks | Oregon St.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article about some of the players that the Carolina Panthers should target in the NFL draft/free agency. Rest assured, Brandin Cooks was one of the names on the list. Cooks doesn’t offer up good size, but the speed and versatility that he brings to the table more than make up for it.
Brandin Cooks would be an excellent weapon for Cam Newton and the Carolina offense.
New England Patriots | Pick 29 | NT | Louis Nix III | Notre Dame
Vince Wilfork wants out of New England. If the Patriots grant him his release, nose tackle will automatically become a position of need. Louis Nix III would fit that need very well. Down 20 pounds from his former playing weight, Louis Nix III is a 331-pound nose tackle that could warrant being double-teamed.
I like Louis Nix III over Jernigan here because of the scheme. Nix III has the size and weight you want in a nose tackle and that’s what the Patriots would need if Wilfork leaves. Nix III has the talent to be a day 1 starter and I think that he would be a good replacement for Wilfork.
San Francisco 49ers | Pick 30 | DT | Timmy Jernigan | Florida St.
There’s always a chance that the Cowboys or Bears nab Timmy Jernigan and he never slides past the 20’s. If Jernigan is still available at number 30, the 49ers will welcome him with open arms. Jernigan would be a great player to have when Justin Smith is no longer around.
Jernigan would flourish in San Francisco. Great pick for Jernigan and San Francisco.
Denver Broncos | Pick 31 | G | David Yankey | Stanford
So far this offseason, the Denver Broncos have done a lot to strengthen their defense. They also took care of the hole left by Eric Decker when they signed Emmanuel Sanders. With other holes on the team patched up, the Broncos should look to improve their offensive line. David Yankey offers good speed and strength and in addition to playing guard, he has had experience playing left tackle.
Drafting Yankey would add youth and depth to the Denver O-line.
Seattle Seahawks | Pick 32 | DT | Ra’Shede Hageman | Minnesota
Ra’Shede Hageman is a beefy defensive tackle that would help bolster the defensive line for the Seattle Seahawks. He’s a good player with a lot of upside and would be a good value pick at number 32. If Pete Carroll can get the most of Hageman, it’s an absolute steal.
-end mock draft
With the ‘first round’ in the books, I want to hear your thoughts! What do you think about the picks? And what would you change about the mock draft? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below.
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