2014 NFL Mock Draft: Full First Round, Week 9 Edition
Week 8 First-Round 2014 NFL Mock Draft
Another week has gone by and I have another mock draft to satiate your hunger for the 2014 NFL Draft, which is only six months away.
This week, I told another look at what the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft could look like. The order underwent a few significant changes, which meant a whole different approach to who went where and why. There were also a few players whose stock has dropped over the last week or so, which reflected in their positioning (or lack thereof) in this mock draft.
There were several different factors I took into account when sending certain players to certain teams. The first factor was need – it’s not typically the best factor in making draft picks, but for the purpose of highlighting teams’ roster holes at this time, need was made a significant part of the equation. The other main factor was stock, which continues to fluctuate throughout the year and can have a drastic impact on where a particular player goes on draft day.
Either way, don’t take too much stock in this mock draft. There are still several months before the real draft happens, and plenty can happen between now and then. Keep in mind, these mock drafts are simply a gauge of need and stock. Oh, and it’s really interesting to imagine some of college football’s stars playing for particular NFL teams.
Here’s a look at this week’s 32 picks and why they make sense – at least in my mind.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
This still makes too much sense, but Bridgewater is quickly losing ground to a certain Oregon quarterback for the top pick. Either way, the Jaguars desperately need a new passer because Blaine Gabbert is a huge bust. Bridgewater would be a tremendous upgrade under center.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Even with their improved secondary, the Buccaneers' pass defense has been hurting without a reliable pass rush. Not only does Clowney fit the "Best Player Available" criteria, but he also adds some excitement off the edge Tampa Bay hasn't seen in some time.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Plain and simple, the Vikings need a new quarterback. Christian Ponder isn't cutting it anymore and Josh Freeman isn't the answer. While Mariota is the second passer to come off the board in this instance, Minnesota might have gotten off better than the Jaguars.
4. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Giants need help across the board, so why not go with the BPA at No. 4? Matthews is a tremendous blocker who has spent this season honing his skills as a left tackle. New York is always in need of better blocking, which is exactly what Matthews would bring with him.
5. Houston Texans: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
No matter how confident the Texans are pretending to be in Case Keenum, they obviously need a better option at quarterback moving forward. Mettenberger has seen his stock soar this season and could find himself a home in Houston if he continues to impress.
6. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Rams haven't gotten much production from the wide receivers they've recently drafted. Tavon Austin has been a flop early on and Brian Quick is already buried on the depth chart. Watkins is a sure-fire sparkplug who can ignite the Rams' offense.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The trade for Levi Brown obviously didn’t pan out, which still leaves the Steelers desperate for help at tackle. Even though Lewan has had a down year, he’s still one of the top talents in the country. He’d immediately step in and provide an upgrade for the depleted Pittsburgh offensive line.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
One of the biggest reasons for the Falcons’ struggles this season has been their lack of a pass rush. Luckily for them, a Top 10 pick could give them an opportunity to draft someone like Barr, who is an elite pass rusher capable of living in the opposing backfield.
9. Buffalo Bills: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Seeing the way Colin Brown has played this season, the Bills need some serious help at guard. While the position is always undervalued, last year proved that teams are willing to spend high picks on the interior of their offensive line. Richardson is an elite talent who can help keep E.J. Manuel healthy.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Especially after trading away Isaac Sopoaga at the deadline, the Eagles could use a dominant nost tackle to fill the void. Nix would be an excellent addition, bringing a fierce force to the interior while helping anchor a defense that clearly has some weaknesses.
11. St. Louis Rams: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
So far in 2013, the Rams’ offensive tackles haven’t exactly been bad, but they’ve been inconsistent. Especially with two first-round picks, they can afford to splurge on extra talent along the offensive line. Kouandjio is a top-tier talent who is still developing his elite skill set, so the ceiling is very high.
12. Cleveland Browns: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
The Browns desperately need a quarterback, even if Brian Hoyer is back by the beginning of next season. They could use their other first-round pick to move up and grab a better passer, but Boyd is still plenty worth the early selection. Anything to unseat Brandon Weeden.
13. Oakland Raiders: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
While the Raiders are enjoying surprising success through the first half of the season, the guard position has been a major concern. Lucas Nix has been one of the worst guards in the league, and an upgrade is desperately needed. Jackson is an aggressive guard who can get the job done.
14. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Jonathan Martin is better suited for the right side and recently-acquired Bryant McKinnie isn’t a long-term option, so the Dolphins need an upgrade on the blindside. Richardson is the best blocker on the board, and is a proven left tackle who is better than anything Miami has available.
15. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mosley has the talent to be a Top 10 pick, but the value of the position will likely watch him slide down the first round. The Titans, though, need help at middle linebacker with Colin McCarthy struggling and Moise Fokou failing to provide a capable replacement. Mosley would be a massive upgrade.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Ravens already have two speedsters in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, but they need a big possession receiver who they can count on in clutch situations. Evans is a physical presence who catches anything in his vicinity and has the instincts to be a dominant force for Baltimore.
17. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
With a quality quarterback now under center, the Jets need to start giving Geno Smith legitimate weapons to work with. Stephen Hill should be a capable contributor if he continues to develop, but adding a sparkplug like Lee who can turn nothing into something should be a top priority.
18. Arizona Cardinals: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
If the Cardinals don’t opt to draft a quarterback in the first round, they definitely need to upgrade the offensive line. Erving is a big, powerful left tackle who has the athleticism to keep edge rushers contained. Put simply, Arizona can’t continue to ignore their pitiful front five.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
And the slide finally ends for Mack, a Top 10 talent who is a steal for the Cowboys at No. 19. He's a well-rounded defender who has the physical tools to develop into a dynamic pass rusher. Dallas needs lots of help along the front seven, and Mack would be a welcomed addition.
20. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
At this point, the Bears can use all the help they can get along the defensive line. They’ve already lost Henry Melton and Nate Collins to season-ending injury, and are starting an end at tackle. While Tuitt is technically an end, he has the size and strength to play the three-technique in Chicago.
21. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
While his 5’10’’, 176-pound frame can be a bit off-putting, Verrett is clearly a talented cover man. The Chargers have lacked quality cornerback play so far this season, which is why drafting a player like Verrett makes sense. His physicality and man coverage skills should be enough to entice an early pick.
22. Carolina Panthers: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
For the last few years, the Panthers have been using a mix of injury-prone runners DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to get the job done on the ground. It's time for a chance of pace, and Thomas would be an excellent complement to the powerful Mike Tolbert.
23. Detroit Lions: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
As if the Lions don’t already boast a dominant pass rush, the addition of Shazier would further their ability to get to the quarterback. Especially in a division where two of the other three teams possess franchise passers, drafting some extra pressure and quality run support seems to make sense.
24. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
There’s no telling how long the Packers could be without Jermichael Finley, who suffered a scary neck injury. They need another playmaking tight end who can be a consistent target for Aaron Rodgers, and Ebron is quickly coming on as an exciting pass-catcher.
25. Cleveland Browns (via IND): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
With a second first-round pick, the Browns can afford to take a risk. They need help at wide receiver with Josh Gordon their only reliable option out wide. Robinson is a proven playmaker who has the size/speed combination to be a quality compliment in the Cleveland passing game.
26. New England Patriots: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Even with the addition of Sopoaga, the Patriots still need more help at defensive tackle. Jernigan is in the middle of big year, and is quickly moving his way up draft boards. If he landed in New England, he should be able to contribute immediately while learning behind Vince Wilfork.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Leon Hall is headed for IR and Terence Newman is an aging talent, so the Bengals clearly need help at cornerback. With that in mind, a player like Roby could be a good fit. Although he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season, he’s a top talent who should be a quality starter at the next level.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
No matter what route they take, the 49ers can’t seem to find a worthy wide receiver to help give their passing game a boost. A.J. Jenkins was a bust, Quinton Patton is injury prone and Anquan Boldin is nearing the end of his career. With Matthews, the 49ers would get a talented, passionate pass-catcher.
29. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
The Saints’ switch to the 3-4 has been a huge success this season, but adding more pieces that fit the scheme will definitely help moving forward. Unless a glaring need opens up later in the year, drafting a pass rusher like Van Noy would be a great move to keep the New Orleans defense dynamic.
30. Seattle Seahawks: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The rich get richer, right? While the offensive line seems to be a need at this point, the Seahawks will be fine when injuries stop crippling the front five. So why not add a disruptive defensive tackle like Hageman who can give them another weapon to work with?
31. Denver Broncos: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Broncos have had some serious issues with pass defense this season. Even when Champ Bailey made it back into the lineup, things didn’t get any better. They clearly need help at cornerback, so drafting a top-talent like Ekpre-Olomu could be just what the doctor ordered.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
With Dwayne Bowe suffering from a down year and no other reliable options on the roster, the Chiefs need to bolster their receiving corps. Coleman has a solid size/speed combination, which makes him a logical player to fill Kansas City’s No. 2 role. There are plenty of other receiver options here, though.