Hey friends. Welcome to my 2014 NFL Mock Draft Version 5.2. There are no mocked trades in this draft. Instead, I focused on what the teams would likely want to do if they were forced to pick in that situation. Please share all of your thoughts in the comments. Any feedback is appreciated.
1. Houston Texans
Quarterback, University of Central Florida
This is between Bortles, Clowney, and trading down. I don’t think the Texans will be able to find someone willing to trade up to #1. Since Shaub is gone, I think they go with the best quarterback in the draft. The Fitzpatick signing also pushes me to think they will bring in a young quarterback with this pick for an open competition. Plus, this quote from Bill O’Brien after watching Bortles’ pro day convinced me that quarterback will be Bortles.
“I was very impressed. He made every throw I wanted to see, and he showed good footwork.” – Bill O’Brien
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)
Wide Receiver, Clemson
The Rams might have trouble trading down as well. In such a deep draft, early picks will be far too precious. It is also starting to look like Mike Evans will not be available for the Rams at #13. Watkins in the better prospect anyway and will give the Rams the flexibility to let Tavon Austin play in the slot where he can be much more effective.
Previous Pick: OT Jake Mathews
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive End, South Carolina
Mack seems like the better fit at least mentally. Bringing a guy with motivation issues into a team that doesn’t exactly have a lot to play for doesn’t seem like the best combination. But, the most talented guy in the draft, a potential franchise changer, and a position of need falls into their lap.
Previous Pick: OLB Khalil Mack
4. Cleveland Browns
Offensive Tackle, Auburn
Greg Robinson has star potential at left tackle. At right tackle, he will probably be a star on day one. He will also get to learn pass protection technique from one of the best in the NFL. The Browns haven’t given Johnny Manziel any attention leading up to the draft and none of the offensive staff attended the Teddy Bridgewater pro day. Either the Browns are bluffing big time, or they actually are targeting Derek Carr at #26.
Previous Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater
5. Oakland Raiders
Outside Linebacker, Buffalo
Quarterback is no longer an immediate need with Shaub on the roster. They have a solid core of linebackers in Sio Moore and Nick Roach. Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley recently joined the Raiders’ front seven. Adding Mack would give the Raiders great depth in the box and a guy that can eventually become the leader of this defense.
Previous Pick: WR Sammy Watkins
6. Atlanta Falcons
Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Falcons didn’t address the pass rush in free agency, but both Clowney and Mack are off the board. The depth of talent in the draft could scare teams from spending multiple early picks to trade up a couple spots. It will also cost much less for the Falcons to trade into the late first round to take a pass rusher like Dee Ford or Ryan Shazier. With Mathews on the roster, the Falcons will have an insurance policy if Sam Baker goes down again. They could also have a new starting left tackle if he outplays Baker in the pre-season.
Previous Pick: DE Jadaveon Clowney
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh McCown isn’t a long term solution at quarterback and Mike Glennon doesn’t have the trust of the current regime. The real question here is do the Bucs want Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater? Manziel is the sexy pick, but despite a poor pro day, Bridgewater still appears to have a more NFL-oriented game.
Previous Pick: OT Jake Mathews
8. Minnesota Vikings
Cornerback, Oklahoma State
The ideal scenario for the Vikings would be to trade back, collect picks, and make a play at Derek Carr before the Browns can get him at #26. I don’t think the Vikings will take a chance on Manziel not only because he is a risky prospect, but because he isn’t a great fit for Norv Turner’s offense. #8 is probably too early for Carr, so if they cannot find a willing trade partner, the Vikings should address their outside corner need.
Previous Pick: QB Johnny Manziel
9. Buffalo Bills
Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Taylor Lewan or Mike Evans? With both on the board, the Bills can shore up one of two very big needs for their offense. #9 may be a little early for Lewan so Mike Evans has greater value here. The Bills can still address the tackle spot in round 2 with Morgan Moses or Joel Bitonio both being solid prospects expected to be around when the Bills pick next.
10. Detroit Lions
Free Safety, Alabama
The Lions could be looking to trade up if they think Mike Evans will fall off the board before they pick. The Lions brought in both James Ihedigbo (SS) and Joseph DeCoud (FS) for visits last week. They decided to sign Ihedigbo, so the Lions should target HaHa with this pick to play beside him. They also hosted HaHa’s workout, so the interest appears strong enough to take him at #10.
Previous Pick: CB Justin Gilbert
11. Tennessee Titans
Outside Linebacker, UCLA
The Titans signed Wesley Woodyard and its safe to assume he will be playing the middle linebacker spot in their hybrid front. Barr gives the Titans some burst off the edge which they sorely need. His UCLA defensive coordinator is also now part of the Titans coaching staff. If anyone can get the most out of Barr, it’s the guy who helped him become a linebacker in the first place.
12. New York Giants
Offensive Tackle, Michigan
The Giants solidified their needs at corner by signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmund. They signed Geoff Schwartz, but I’m not sure he is the blind side pass protector they are looking for. Taylor Lewan fits their need and allows them to solidify the rest of the line by allowing Justin Pugh and Schwartz to play guard, and moving Will Beatty to the right side.
13. St. Louis Rams
Cornerback, Michigan State
The Rams have to make another minor reach here for a position of need. They need a safety, but Clinton-Dix is off the board and Calvin Pryor’s game is too similar to 2013 3rd round rookie, TJ McDonald. The Rams need more bodies and talent at the corner position after releasing Cortland Finnegan. They may want to trade down from this pick as well since #13 is a little high for Dennard at this point.
Previous Pick: FS HaHa Clinton-Dix
14. Chicago Bears
Calvin Pryor and Aaron Donald are on the board, but the Bears somewhat addressed both positions in free agency. There are also some talented safeties and linemen to be had in the 2nd-3rd rounds. Strongside linebacker and middle linebacker are both needs for the Rams. CJ Mosely offers the versatility to play snaps at either position.
Previous Pick: DT Timmy Jernigan
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tight End, North Carolina
The Steelers signed Lance Moore to a short deal, but that isn’t enough. They wanted to draft a big receiver, but it doesn’t appear to me that any big receivers left are worth the #15 pick. But, who says the big target has to be a receiver? Eric Ebron is the most talented receiving option and had the size and speed that the Steelers want.
Previous Pick:WR Marqise Lee
16. Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
Aaron Donald is still the choice here. The Cowboys signed DT Henry Melton, but there is no guarantee he will be able to recover fully from a torn ACL he suffered in September. They no longer have Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, or Jason Hatcher. Donald gives the Cowboys flexibility to avoid another defensive line musical chairs and a backup plan in case Melton does not live up to his ability before the injury.