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2014 NFL Mock Draft 2.0, First Round

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Jan 1, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Central Florida Knights quarterback Blake Bortles (5) against the Baylor Bears during the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Central Florida defeated Baylor 52-42. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that most free agents (that were coveted at all) have been signed, it’s time for another mock draft.

Click here to see my pre-free agency mock.

And without further ado…

1.  Houston Texans

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

1.0  pick: same

Many people have been saying that Blake Bortles’ draft stock has been rising since the combine. Some also say that Bridgewater hurt himself (not literally) in his pro day performance. It’s worth noting that he didn’t wear gloves when throwing, and does during games. After watching him throw at Louisville’s pro day, I don’t see anything that we didn’t already know from watching his game film.

Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the draft, and a quarterback would help Houston more than Jadeveon Clowney would. Think about it this way – what would be more beneficial to the team: taking a defensive end in the first round and then a quarterback in the second, or vice versa? I think it’s the latter. Houston’s struggles in 2013 were mainly due to bad quarterback play, not bad defensive line play. Bridgewater makes a lot more sense than Clowney for the Texans.

2.  St. Louis Rams

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

1.0  pick: traded down with Falcons to sixth overall – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Ultimately, I don’t think the Rams will stay at second overall (they will probably trade down), but for the sake of simplicity and the way I thought this mock will turn out, I have the Rams picking here. St. Louis has a lot of flexibility here, as the team has another top-15 pick. The Rams have some needs they need to address, but there aren’t any glaring needs. They seem content with Sam Bradford as a franchise quarterback.

Quarterback is out of the picture here, and taking the best player available here seems inevitable. So Clowney is the pick. The Rams have one of the best defensive lines in football, and adding Clowney could make it the best by far. The team can address another position with its next pick in the first round.

3.  Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

1.0  pick: traded down with Vikings to eighth overall – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Jacksonville has to take a quarterback here. Chad Henne is not a starting quarterback. He’s probably a top five backup, but not a starter. The best-case scenario for the Jags is for the Texans to take Bortles and for Bridgewater to fall to third overall, but that unfortunately doesn’t happen, at least in this mock.

Bortles is the next-best quarterback right after Bridgewater. He is regarded as the best quarterback by some, and he is a potential franchise QB. Jacksonville has holes in a lot of places, but quarterback is definitely the team’s biggest need.

4.  Cleveland Browns

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

1.0  pick: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

I can’t wait until draft day. I can’t wait to see the reaction, especially on Twitter, when Derek Carr is taken over Johnny Manziel. I don’t usually follow the reports saying that team X wants player Y in the draft, because those can just be completely false to manipulate the competition. But here, I completely understand why the Browns say they want Carr over Manziel – there’s less hype, less drama (for a lack of a better term), and less media attention. Most importantly, I think Carr can turn out to be the better player.

Carr was ridiculously prolific at Fresno State (50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions). He’s a “raw” prospect and has a lot to work on, but I think the Browns would do better with Carr than Manziel.

5.  Oakland Raiders

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

1.0  pick: same

Just like in my previous mock draft, I would definitely want Oakland to take a quarterback here. But after analyzing the quarterbacks in the draft more closely, Manziel really isn’t worth taking this high. Maybe Oakland can get him in the second round at 36th overall. The team just traded for Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, so he’ll probably be the starter while a rookie can sit and learn.

Oakland needs some help on both sides of the ball. It lacks a dynamic player on offense and defense, and Khalil Mack will give the Raiders a potential star pass rusher. Mack is the best pass rusher in the draft other than Clowney. Mack would have the flexibility to play either outside linebacker or defensive end in the Raiders’ system – most likely defensive end, as Oakland runs a base 4-3.

6.  Atlanta Falcons

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

1.0  pick: traded up with Rams to second overall – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

The worst two units for Atlanta last year were the offensive and defensive lines. The team has already tried beefing up both units, and I think the defensive line benefitted more through free agency, which makes this pick an offensive lineman. I didn’t want to have Atlanta pass on a pass rusher, but Clowney and Mack are off the board at this point. Robinson is more “raw” than Jake Matthews, but has a better skillset, so I think the Falcons would go with Robinson over Matthews.

7.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

1.0  pick: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Defensive end remains Tampa Bay’s biggest need even after free agency. However, that can be addressed later and I don’t see the Bucs passing on Matthews if he’s available. Tampa has made some smart signings through free agency and didn’t break the bank, and one of those included signing starting quarterback Josh McCown; protecting him will be a priority. Matthews had an excellent collegiate career; a concern could be how well he transitions into the NFL, but I think this pick will turn out fine.

8.  Minnesota Vikings

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

1.0  pick: traded up with Jaguars to third overall – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

I know the Vikings don’t have a starting-quality quarterback on the roster, but again, Johnny Manziel isn’t worth taking this high – my opinion on the Vikings pick has changed. It won’t be worth trading up for a quarterback. If Carr slips to eighth, I think the Vikings will take him, but he doesn’t in this scenario.

The Vikings have an obvious need at receiver – I really like Cordarrelle Patterson, but I doubt Greg Jennings as a number one target. The addition of Watkins would be a huge help to whoever is starting at quarterback. Adrian Peterson and Watkins can cover up a lot of quarterback liabilities.

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