The end of the 2014 NFL Mock Draft season is less than a week away.
Here’s one last shot at how things might unfold on Thursday night at the 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Houston Texans
DE, South Carolina
Clowney remains the pick here. And it’s really not a tough choice. Clowney is a generational talent who could become a very special player. I can’t say the same with confidence about any quarterback in this draft. The thought here is the only other option would be trading the pick, but it would have to be an incredibly enticing deal.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
The Rams have a nice young core, but if they want to compete in the NFC West, they need to figure out how to slow down the Seahawks and 49ers’ defensive lines–two of the best defensive lines in football. Robinson can help in that department.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags can draft their QB in the second round or trade back into the first round later on, so Gus Bradley goes with what he knows best: defense. The Jags can’t afford to miss this early in the draft and Mack will make an impact immediately.
4. Cleveland Browns
QB, Tex A&M
I still think this going to happen. The Browns need a quarterback. Plain and simple. Manziel is their guy. Given his ability to make plays with his legs, he seems like a natural fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense–think RGIII’s rookie season.
5. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders may be tempted to go QB here, but Sammy Watkins is just too special to pass up. Matt Schaub gets a big-time weapon to aid with his transition to his new team.
6. Atlanta Falcons
OT, Texas A&M
Thomas Dimitroff would have loved to see Clowney or Mack drop to this spot, but Matthews should also bring a smile to his face–Matt Ryan’s too. Ryan needs more time to find Julio Jones and Rhoddy White, and Matthews looks like he has the talent to become an elite left tackle in the NFL.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR, Texas A&M
McCown is penciled in as the Bucs starting quarterback. McCown played really well with two big receivers, Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, with the Bears. With Mike Williams traded to the Bills, Smith makes his quarterback feel at home by bringing in another big outside threat to pair with Vincent Jackson.
8. Minnesota Vikings
With a lot of needs throughout the roster, it might make sense for the Vikings to trade down and acquire more picks, however if there are no suitors, Bortles is a solid pick here. The Vikings may be able to mask some of their needs with good quarterback play and most would agree that Matt Cassel isn’t the long-term answer.
9. Buffalo Bills
TE, North Carolina
The Bills get a serious weapon for E.J. Manuel by drafting the best tight end in the draft.
10. Detroit Lions
CB, Michigan State
The Lions have a big need at cornerback and Dennard is as talented as they come. He’s a polished CB who could start Week 1 and make an impact.
11. Tennessee Titans
With the Titans expected to transition to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, adding a legitimate edge rusher makes sense. Why not a freak athlete who was successful in a similar defense at UCLA?
12. New York Giants
Despite being aggressive to shore up their offensive line in free agency, the Giants still need to add talent. Lewan could be a top-tier blindside protector for the rest of Eli Manning’s career.
13. St. Louis Rams
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
There is work to be done in the secondary and Clinton-Dix is the best safety in this draft class. The Rams gave up the highest pass completion percentage and most yards per attempt in 2013, due in large part to poor safety play, which featured primarily undrafted guys for most of the season. Ha Ha has prototypical size, excellent ball skills and top-tier athleticism and could man either free or strong safety spots.
14. Chicago Bears
With Henry Melton gone, the Bears immediately replace him with Donald. Though a bit smaller than your typical 3-tech (6’1″, 285 lbs), Donald is a freak athlete who can get after the QB from the inside–an invaluable asset in a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
CB, Oklahoma State
Ike Taylor is an old man. It’s time bring some youth to the cornerback position. Gilbert is the full package. He’s fast, long, a terrific athlete and has good instincts. Steelers are lucky he’s still on the board here and they don’t hesitate to take him.
16. Dallas Cowboys
DT, Florida State
Adding Melton was a good signing, but he’s coming off a serious injury and the Boys still need to do some work on the defensive line regardless. Jernigan is a powerful DT with a nice burst. He should be able to step in and make an impact at either DT position in Dallas’ defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens
OT/OG, Notre Dame
The Ravens locked up their left tackle, Eugene Monroe, but still need a starting caliber right tackle. The NFL-ready Martin could fill that need immediately, but he could also play any other position on the line if need be.
18. New York Jets
WR, Oregon State
While a bit on the small side (5’10”, 190 lbs), Cooks has the blazing speed and ridiculous athleticism to be the perfect complement to newly acquired WR Eric Decker.
19. Miami Dolphins
C. J. Mosley
I like the Phins going defense here and shoring up their linebacker depth. They spent tons of money on linebackers last offseason and didn’t really get the results they hoped for. Mosley is a terrific inside linebacker with great instincts–he could certainly help.
20. Arizona Cardinals
John Abraham had a great season last year, leading the Cardinals with 11.5 sacks, but the old man (he’ll be 36 in May) can’t do it forever. Time to inject some talented youth. Ealy was an absolute beast for the Tigers at defensive end and has the athleticism to transition to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme–versatility the Cardinals will value.
21. Green Bay Packers
With M.D. Jennings signing with divisional rivals Chicago Bears this offseason, the Packers need to find a quality safety to pair with Morgan Burnett. Pryor has ideal size and athleticism for the position, is explosive against the run and is strong in coverage. He would not only replace Jennings, he’d be an upgrade.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Odell Beckham Jr.
With the departure of DeSean Jackson, the Eagles find a speedy replacement to play outside.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Marqise Lee, WR
The Chiefs don’t have an impact wide receiver on their roster–Dwayne Bowe included. They get an explosive down-field threat in Lee.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals lost a lot of pass rush when Michael Johnson signed with the Bucs. In Ford, the Bengals get a player who can help alleviate that loss while also landing a player with a much higher ceiling.
25. San Diego Chargers
CB, Virginia Tech
The Chargers need to upgrade at corner badly. It doesn’t help that Peyton Manning is in their division. In Fuller, the Bolts get a lengthy, physical corner who hopefully can line up against a team’s top option and be competitive.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)
After landing Manziel, the Browns add the best guard in the draft to help keep him upright and maul in the running game. The Browns could be pretty good in 2014.
27. New Orleans Saints
CB, Ohio State
Adding safety Jairus Byrd to pair with Kenny Vaccaro was a big-time move, but the Saints can’t stop there. Roby is an aggressive corner with good size and world-class speed. He’d give the Saints another quality option in the secondary.
28. Carolina Panthers
WR, Florida State
After losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, Jr. to free agency, Cam Newton is without his top three wide receivers from a season ago. Benjamin would give Newton a massive target (6’5″, 240) who could make an immediate impact in the redzone with potential to develop into a No. 1 option.
29. New England Patriots
OLB, Ohio State
Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins look like a top-tier starting trio at linebacker, but there is basically no depth behind those three. Shazier is easily the fastest LB in this draft class. He ran a 4.38. That is fast for a wide receiver. Shazier would add a quality sideline-to-sideline linebacker to an already talented group but would also indirectly create depth at defensive end–which is another area that needs depth behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. With Shazier in fold, New England could let Collins and Hightower rush the passer from the defensive end spot more often–something they both had success with in college (Collins played almost exclusively at DE for Southern Miss as a senior while Hightower rushed part-time in sub-packages for Alabama).
30. San Francisco 49ers
Louis Nix III
DT/NT, Notre Dame
With the top WRs off the board, the 49ers take the best player on the board and add yet another immensely talented defensive lineman to an already elite defensive line.
31. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a big hole to fill at left guard with Zane Beadles now a Jacksonville Jaguar. With Xavier Su’a-Filo off the board, Bitonio is an excellent backup plan. Primarily a tackle at Nevada, Bitonio projects as a guard at the next level. He plays with excellent technique and has surprising athleticism for his size. A smart player with a mean streak who is ready to play in the NFL; he’ll be a nice replacement for Beadles.
32. Seattle Seahawks
DE, Notre Dame
Pete Carroll understands the importance of pressuring opponents QBs and the success of his team is predicated on it–just ask Peyton Manning. Carroll continues to add disruption to his defensive line by taking the explosive and versatile Tuitt here. He’s stout against the run and can create pressure at basically any position along the defensive line. The rich get richer.
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