2014 NFL Draft: A dream pick for each team

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2014 NFL Draft prospect Sammy Watkins participates in a pass catching drill. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, we agonize over which players we would love our team to have, as well as coming up with a list of draft prospects we never want to see our favorite team take. In the spirit of this with the 2014 NFL Draft just a month away, I decided to pick a “dream prospect” for each team. The dream has to be a realistic one, so I’m not going to sit here and list Sammy Watkins as the dream pick for the New York Jets, because it’s pretty much impossible for him to fall outside the top 15 and into the Jets waiting arms at 18.

New England Patriots: Louis Nix

The New England Patriots have needs at safety, defensive tackle, and tight end, and Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro is still usually the Patriots pick at pick No. 29. While keeping Vince Wilfork has mitigated the team’s need for a defensive tackle, they could still use a guy like Louis Nix. I don’t think he’ll fall far enough for the Patriots to take him, but that’s why he’s a dream pick for them. He’d be the perfect heir to Wilfork, and he’s an excellent 4-3 DT who excels at swallowing up blockers in run defense with enough burst to disrupt plays in the backfield on occasion. Amaro isn’t a “dream pick” here, because he’ll realistically be there for the Patriots. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t qualify, because I can’t see him falling that far due to the emphasis on the safety position.

New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr.

Justin Gilbert could have worked here, but I still think the New York Jets have more of a need for a wide receiver. Moreover, I also view OBJ as a better prospect than Gilbert, and the Jets would likely be able to draft a better CB in Jason Verrett at pick No. 18. DB and WR/TE help are the biggest needs for the Jets, and thus I could also see Eric Ebron as an excellent “dream” choice here. That said, I also have OBJ ranked higher than Ebron, because Beckham Jr. has better hands and is a more polished route-runner. He’s arguably the second-best wide receiver in the class, and he, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Kerley would form an excellent wide receiver trio for Geno Smith. If OBJ falls to the 18th pick, then the Jets have to snap him up and go into the 2014 season with massive upgrades at their biggest position of need going into the offseason.

Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan

I would have picked Zack Martin here if the Dolphins were worried about Lewan’s character concerns, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Lewan has major off-field concerns, but he’s also an incredibly gifted draft prospect. He isn’t far off from Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews in terms of ability, and he would be a huge upgrade for the Dolphins at right tackle. He and Branden Albert would form an excellent offensive tackle duo, and I’ve fallen in love with Lewan’s ability to pass protect and run block. Lewan is agile, possesses great technique, doesn’t get beat by speed easily in pass pro, and he is a punishing run blocker. This is a guy who can play at either tackle spot, and the Dolphins will hope that he falls enough for them to take him. If Martin is available, then he would also be an excellent pick for a team that still has huge needs on the offensive line.

Buffalo Bills: Greg Robinson

Ebron looks like the most likely pick for the Buffalo Bills, but I think Greg Robinson would be too good to pass up on. They could use an upgrade at right tackle, especially as far as run blocking goes. Robinson is the best run blocking tackle, and his blend of strength and athleticism has a lot of people drooling at his upside. He and Cordy Glenn would form a ridiculously good bookend of young tackles for second-year pro E.J. Manuel, who now has Mike Williams to throw it to.

Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack

This isn’t realistic at all, but I was having a difficult time coming up with a “dream” pick for the Titans. I don’t think Anthony Barr is going to be a top-ten pick, because he’s too raw to warrant a top-ten selection. The Minnesota Vikings are the only team that make sense as a serious suitor for Barr prior to the Titans pick, and I think they need to take a QB or go in a different direction. I would be beyond shocked if Mack falls outside of the top ten, so chalk this one up as a pipe dream. But could you imagine Khalil Mack as a centerpiece in Ray Horton’s new hybrid 3-4 scheme? Mack is almost the definition of a hybrid, because he can play as a 4-3 OLB, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE, or even a 3-4 OLB. His versatility and athletic ability are a joy for a defensive coordinator, because someone like Horton would be free to mold him. Not only is he effective rushing the passer, but he also has a great motor in run defense.

Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney and then getting a franchise QB in Round 2

It’s too difficult to tab a “dream pick” for the Houston Texans, because they can pick whoever they want with the first choice overall. I feel like Bridgewater is their best option with the first pick, and I can’t see them passing up on a quarterback in the first round. If they do, then they are gambling on there being a QB in the second round. If the gamble pays off, though, it is a huge help for the Texans, because they will be able to get a high-impact, blue-chip prospect in Clowney, who is the best player in the class, and still find a franchise quarterback. The Texans absolute dream of a draft would be Clowney first overall and then Bridgewater at 33.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater is going to be my dream pick for a number of teams, but I could have easily gone with Clowney here. While Clowney is the better prospect, the Jaguars have a much bigger need at quarterback than at defensive end after signing Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, as well as re-signing Jason Babin. At this point, I think Khalil Mack is a better fit for the Jaguars, because he can be a 4-3 OLB for them as well. Anyway, the Jaguars biggest need is at quarterback, and I think they would love to get their hands on Bridgewater with the third overall pick if the Texans don’t take him first. Clowney would make sense for the Jags due to his supreme talent alone, but I wouldn’t want to pass up on Bridgewater if he is available, especially since it likely means another year of Chad Henne starting. Also, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in the baskets of the quarterbacks heading to the draft next year.

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  • Erik Lambert

    Sorry to disappoint you, Joe, but it’s safe to say the majority of Bears fans will wholeheartedly disagree with your “dream” pick for Chicago.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Nix probably doesn’t qualify as a “dream”, and I can totally understand why a Bears fan would rather have Aaron Donald. His pass rushing ability is beyond ridiculous, and he was the most productive defensive player in college football last year.

      • Erik Lambert

        I’m as big a fan of Donald as any but there is a multitude of players the Bears have to pick from. Nix is a run stuffer. I understand our run defense was bad last year but we’ve already made some moves to improve it. We need a dynamic playmaker on defense, regardless of position. I’d be fine with Donald, C.J. Mosley, Justin Gilbert or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

        • DiscountPCRepair SATX

          Bears should taken Clinton-Dix and go DT in round 2 … hopefully Rashede Hagemann or Kelcy Quarles.

          • Erik Lambert

            Hageman won’t be there but Quarles should be. Maybe event Stephon Tuitt if we’re lucky. I have a sneaking suspicion Clinton-Dix doesn’t make it past #13.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            I think any of those four players would be excellent for the Bears, and it’s going to be interesting to see which direction Emery goes. They could use another CB even after keeping Tillman and locking up Jennings, they didn’t make enough upgrades at S, Donald is such a gifted pass rusher that he definitely has to be someone worth taking, and Mosley is such a great, well-rounded LB. I wouldn’t take Quarles in the first two rounds, and I think there’s a solid chance Tuitt slips into the 2nd. What role would he play for the Bears?

          • Erik Lambert

            He is almost the spitting image of Lamarr Houston, whom the Bears already have. He’s 300 lbs but has the speed to play outside at defensive end. So you could swap those two all over the line from one end to the other. Houston is the better run defender so I’d put him at left end and slide Tuitt primarily to three-technique defensive tackle since he’s the more relentless pass rusher. With so much size and strength up front, the Bears would be really hard to run on and still have a consistent pass rush. It’s the perfect hybrid front you’d want.

          • Gary Stewart

            i keep hearing fisher doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that, but he never picked an OT in the first round partly because he had matthews and did not need one, plus he had bud adams playing jerry jones and forcing him to take the like of vince young who had talent but whose level of intensity and desire did not match what fisher wanted. now will they take an Oline in first round maybe not but to all the people that say the rams devalue the safety position seem to forget they got gregg williams to run the defense and williams loves centerfielders so he can let his guys loose to play in your face corner my choices are mack at #2 dix at #13 and let the rams find a cb in the second and give shotty and co the last 9 picks GO RAMS!!

          • DiscountPCRepair SATX

            I’ve been reviewing ALL of the defensive lineman the BEARS already have and players like Houston and Indonje can play end or tackle …

            I am thinking Gilbert in round 1 and Buchanon in round 2.

          • Erik Lambert

            Not at all opposed to that possibility.

  • David A Maupin

    NIX in the second round maybe for the “dream”. Not in the first.

  • Al Martin

    While predicting were rookies will land is fun. I never seen anyone go were they were predicted to go. Except maybe excluding the First pick of the draft.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      No doubt about it, Al. In fact, that’s why it upsets me when non-insiders try and mock players based on where they think that player will go instead of basing it on their own opinion. It’s all about analyzing fits and learning more about prospects through different kinds of mock exercises, rather than saying, “I am the all-wise oracle who knows that the Houston Texans will draft Blake Bortles because Bill O’Brien loves him.”

      To go off of your comment, who would have thought that E.J. Manuel would be the only first-round QB last year? Or how about the Minnesota Vikings drafting three first-round prospects? Or Keenan Allen inexplicably falling into the third round?

  • mnelson52

    Lee would not be my dream pick for KC. He’s not even my favorite receiver in the draft.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Totally fair, but I believe Lee is the best wide receiver who will likely be there for the Chiefs. Brandin Cooks looks like an excellent option to me, Odell Beckham Jr. would be highway robbery if he fell to the 23rd pick, and Allen Robinson could also be an option. Lee’s athleticism, though, would be a huge help to the Chiefs offense, but Cooks’s agility might be even more enticing. Which WRs do you prefer?

  • Jaime Olguin

    I want the Raiders to draft Taylor Lewan so bad , this draft pick would make it all better after losing Jared,
    but I know that he will be gone before the later rounds, and bad part of it all is that his suspention is pending.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Lewan would be a great value for the Raiders if he falls far enough, and it’s not inconceivable for him to fall outside of the first round entirely if his character concerns are big enough. I mean, we’ve seen plenty of prospects slide pretty far due to concerns. The Raiders have bigger needs than tackle after signing Howard and Penn and I think there are too many teams with huge needs at tackle for Lewan to slip past the first, but he could be too good to pass up on if he does fall into their hands.

  • Johnny

    I think you can put Clowney has every teams “Dream Pick”…

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Except for the Rams, because they already have Robert Quinn and Chris Long throwing it down at both DE spots.

      • Johnny

        Yes.. True… But who wouldn’t want Clowney??? Him and maybe a RB and WR will make an immediate Impact in year 1… Only D player to make an impact day 1…

  • David

    The Cowboys particularly Marinelli do not believe in drafting a 1 tech in the 1st round. They passed on Floyd last year for the same reason. The 1 tech is down the todum poll in regards to the importance in his defense.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Who do you think the Cowboys should draft? Donald? They would like to scoop up Clinton-Dix if he fell a bit, yeah?

      • David

        Personally I like Pryor. I think he has as good as range as Dix but hits a lot harder. They could use a center fielder with an enforcer presence. The Cowboys FS’s have like 1 pick in two years. They could then go with a DE in the 2nd round where the value would be much better.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          I actually think Pryor hits harder than Clinton-Dix, though I would take the latter one in a heartbeat if he’s there. DE in round two sounds like a good plan to me.

          • David

            Well and it would cover two huge needs with the right value. Ive seen Pryor and Dix range from 15-20 ranked overall depending whos top 50 you look at.

  • Gordon Guffey

    The Vikings are not going QB in round 1 ~ Not with this bunch of want~a~bees ~ Not one of them is good enough to step up and take the lead ~And after Teddy’s pro day he will be lucky to go in the top 15 and might even fall into round 2 when all is said and done ~

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I would snap him up at 8 in a heartbeat, and I think the only player the Vikings could take over Bridgewater is Khalil Mack if he is still there. I wouldn’t read too much into his pro day, and I think both he and Carr would be great picks for the Vikings. Waiting until the 2nd round is certainly a possibility, but it’s a big gamble for a team with QB as their biggest need. In fact, they don’t have another need anywhere close to QB.

  • 65yt

    Is Watkins getting the same hype that Austin was getting last year? Austin was suppose to be this game changing WR but didnt do much until last few games in the season. My fantasy team sufferd from that hype. Just want to know what you guys think. I know the Rookie year isnt the best time to grade a player.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Don’t worry, I thought Austin was way overrated last year, and there are big differences between his game and Watkins’s game. I can’t guarantee that Watkins won’t bust, but I will say that he’s a much better route-runner than Austin and is a much smarter WR. He’s more than just some fast, gimmicky playmaker, as he made Tajh Boyd look a lot better than he really was. Watkins can win off of just about any type of route, because he can beat defenses with long speed on the outside, contest for jump balls, and get big YAC off of screens. I’d take him over Austin in a heartbeat, and I feel like Austin benefited greatly from his 40 time, which greatly overrated him as a prospect.

      The rookie year is never the best time to grade a player, but I am personally willing to bet on Watkins making an immediate impact.

  • Spencer Davis

    When you say a dream pick for the Vikes, you must be talking about the second round for Teddy Bridgewater. Am I right? You would have been better off putting Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins there. It doesn’t take an expert to realize the “Big 3″ are not worth a top ten pick.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Mack would be an awesome pick for the Vikings there, so I’m cool with that if they really don’t think Bridgewater is worth taking with the 8th pick. I certainly do, because I can’t see him slipping to them in the 2nd.

      • Spencer Davis

        Just because you can’t see a player falling to you in the second round, doesn’t mean you take them prematurely.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Spencer, you have to understand that we have two completely different evaluations of Teddy Bridgewater. I don’t think taking Bridgewater with the 8th pick is taking him prematurely, because I would honestly take him first overall if I were the Houston Texans, or at least 3rd overall if I were the Jaguars. I actually could see Bridgewater falling into the second round, but I couldn’t see him falling to the Vikings second-round pick. He’s well-worth the pick for the Vikings in my view, but you are most definitely entitled to your own evaluation of Bridgewater (that should go without saying). I mean, you aren’t the only one who isn’t a fan of Bridgewater, so it would be premature to take him 8th from your perspective. I should have made it more clear in my previous comment that I am a big Bridgewater fan, as that would have clarified things.

  • Aaron Sisk

    Teddy Bridgewater is NOT the to QB prospect. Did you see his pro day? HE FAILED! Most experts have him going LATE 1st round if at all in the 1st now. Get it together. He’s undersized and his arm strength is not that great. Vikings need defense more than a qb.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      There are more important things than arm strength, such as accuracy, reading defense, understanding protection schemes, and making the smart throw. Bridgewater’s arm strength isn’t bad. I’m fine with others undervaluing him, and if you want to base a player’s grade over their pro day, then go for it. I’ll base my evaluation off of what he did against actual defenses. Most experts have him sliding? That’s not what I’ve seen, and Lance Zierlein recently mocked him 4th to the Browns (2nd QB off the board).

    • Gary Stewart

      bridgewater will be fine he played his pro day without glove on his throwing hand a major mistake when he does the private workouts he will show what showed on his game tape

  • thabear04

    Hmm Usually USC WR dont make it that long into the NFL.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Panthers fans would vigorously nod their heads at this (Keary Colbert, Dwayne Jarrett).

      • thabear04

        Another bust is Pattrick Turner he was great in college & Mike Williams the one Lions drafted not the Ex-Bucs

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Keyshawn Johnson, Lynn Swann, and Johnnie Morton say, “What about us?”

          • thabear04

            I wouldnt say so much on Johnnie Morton he was good but not enough to get his name into the Hall of Fame. Only 624 Receptions 8,719 Receiving yards and 43 TD

  • Daniel Sutter

    Dont think Verrett is a dream pick. Maybe at 6′-6’1″ but at 5’9″ there is maby question marks….

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      But that’s the thing, the only knock on Verrett is his height. I think he could be the next Brent Grimes in the NFL, because he has excellent ball skills, tracks receivers perfectly, knows how to jam and re-route bigger wideouts, has a nice vertical, and is strong against the run. I think Verrett has the full package, but I can understand why you would be leery about his ability to be a shutdown CB on the outside. Just know that top slot corners are valuable (see Chris Harris Jr.).

  • Steve Batchelor

    I agree with you about Sammy being the dream pick for the Bucs at #7…But, I don’t see Sammy being there…There are at least 3 teams likely to pick Sammy before 7…With all of the rumors I have seen flying all over the internet in the last week, I am going to say their dream pick will be Mike Evans…My reasoning is those pesky rumors that I have been hearing about a few teams trading up into the top 6 and stealing Evans. While I believe Watkins is a terrific prospect I believe Evans will be the better pro and would flourish with Vjac on the other side. Reminiscent of the Bears WR’s last year that McCown was throwing to.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I also doubt Watkins will be there at #7, but I tried to dream big for the Bucs. Mike Evans looks like the ideal pick for TB at 7, and he and V-Jax would be similar talented wideouts on the outside for Josh McCown to throw it to. I hope the Bucs also add a top underneath option in the slot later on in the draft, and I think Jarvis Landry would be a steal if he falls to the early 3rd. He’s a big guy, but I think he can play out of the slot.

  • Joshua Jones

    I don’t see Matthews slipping all the way to the Giants unless teams get real QB happy in the top ten.I think a more realistic dream pick would be Mike Evans where the talent alone is just too good to pass up.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I could never see Matthews falling to 12 either, but he actually has in a couple of mock drafts I’ve read. Mike Evans would be a great replacement for Nicks, but I also don’t think he’ll last past the top ten. Still, it’s more likely that he’ll fall than Matthews with much more depth at WR than OT in this class and a higher demand for top OTs than top WRs. Good call, Josh.