End of the 2014 Regular Season NFL Mock Draft

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End of Regular Season 2014 NFL Mock Draft

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe it? The end of the 2013-14 regular season has passed already. For some teams, major changes are coming with a handful of coaches fired today and they're already focusing on the offseason, but for others, they're still gearing up for the playoffs which start this weekend.

One thing that's very excited to look ahead to, though, is the 2014 NFL Draft. The first 20 picks are locked in (with the exception of a coin flip to decide picks No. 16 and 17, as the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys are technically tied for the 16th spot) and based on their needs, unless they make a major free agent signing, it's pretty easy to guess what area they might address with their selection.

Of course, picking so early, or even the day before the draft, is not an easy thing. Last year, I got one pick exactly right in my mock draft that I put together a couple weeks before the draft: DeAndre Hopkins with the Houston Texans. However, if you just look at position, I got quite a few of the picks right -- just the wrong guy. And that's the tough part about making predictions like these; you don't know how each team has their big board set up and they're all slightly different. You don't know what their scouts are saying, how their interviews went with certain players or how much they value the combine compared to the player's body of work on Saturdays.

So, while getting the player right is important, this mock draft -- especially so early -- will be more accurately compared to the actual results if you look at the positions. For example, I see at least six offensive tackles going in the first round. They may switch spots as bowl games get completed and the combine or pro days make influences, but the teams that are likely to pick up one of them will still more than likely do that just to fill that need, even if the first few guys leading their board aren't available when their slot comes up.

Regardless of the actual results, making educated and well thought-out guesses is just a fun thing to do. Without further ado, enjoy my first 2014 NFL Mock Draft.

Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

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David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

As I was saying in the intro slide, the only pick I got absolutely right last year was Hopkins to the Texans. This year, I expect to get the Texans pick correct once more as they'll make the smart decision and take the consensus No. 1 QB in the draft to fix their signal-caller issue. Teddy Bridgewater can become the center of their franchise for years to come.

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2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams have a tough predicament here. Do they want to reach for a QB, or do they trust Sam Bradford still? I think with the depth at QB in this draft and the fact that Bradford will at least be back next season that they won't take a chance on a quarterback here. While I wouldn't be surprised if they traded this pick, if they don't, they'll take Jake Matthews and have two outstanding offensive tackles in Jake Long and Matthews. The only other player worthy of this pick is Jadeveon Clowney, but they don't need him with two phenomenal, young DEs in Robert Quinn and Chris Long.

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

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Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Jags certainly need a quarterback, but they can wait and take one in the second or maybe even third round this year and still have an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. They'll take Clowney and bring the player with perhaps the most potential in this draft to be a star. They need something to help this team not only improve on the field, but increase their popularity and marketability. Clowney brings that with him.

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4. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While I feel any QB other than Bridgewater in the top 10 is a reach, teams are still going to pick them, especially a team like the Cleveland Browns. They have a solid defense and offensive line, so David Carr seems like the right pick here. They'll put their faith in him as the franchise QB, and my guess is he won't disappoint like the 29-year-old rookie Brandon Weeden did.

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5. Oakland Raiders: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

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John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland has a bunch of issues, and again, quarterback is one of them. So, how much do they like Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor? It's tough to tell, but I think both showed enough that they can fill another need in the first round of this year's draft, and that's why they'll take Cyrus Kouandjio, the second-highest rated offensive tackle in the draft and give their offense a better chance to develop and succeed.

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6. Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many reasons the Falcons struggled so much this season was because they couldn't protect Matt Ryan. The offensive line as a whole took a step back, and adding a potential franchise tackle in FSU's Cameron Erving would obviously help in at least beginning to right the ship.

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7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs could go many different directions that would make sense at this pick, but I think one that would really benefit them is OLB Anthony Barr. He was a running back for the Bruins until making the switch to defense a couple years ago and he has flat-out dominated: 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in 2012, and 10 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles in 2013. Adding him to a linebacking corps that already includes Lavonte David could be amazing.

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8. Minnesota Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

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Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Here's another team that would vastly improve if they had a quarterback. Obviously, their defense was one of the worst in the league this year, but the thought of adding a guy with the potential of Johnny Manziel will just be too good for them to pass up. They need a playmaker who can help Adrian Peterson find some success in the victory department and Manziel can be that guy with his dual-threat ability.

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9. Buffalo Bills: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

One thing is clear after this season for the Bills: E.J. Manuel needs more weapons. Sammy Watkins would be a huge addition to this receiving corps, and could really help Manuel develop with someone who can actually ... You know ... Catch.

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10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions aren't a team with too many holes, just a lot of discipline issues. While that can really only be fixed by a good coaching hire, one problem on the team is their corner play. Darqueze Dennard is the No. 1 CB in this year's draft, and that Detroit secondary could use him badly.

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11. Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all the positional groups on the Titans, the one that is the least impressive, by far, is their linebacking corps. Khalil Mack makes a lot of sense for their 4-3 defense and would be an instant upgrade and starter.

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12. New York Giants: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

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Derek E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, talk about a free fall. The Giants were horrendous this year, and Eli Manning was a major reason why. Of course, his league-leading 27 interceptions weren't all his fault. He was running for his life and playing with really only one dependable WR all year. However, one fix at a time. The smart pick here for New York is an offensive lineman just like in last year's draft. Greg Robinson was the leader of an Auburn O-Line that allowed one of the most prolific ground games in the history of college football to take place. How good is he at pass blocking? There's not too much tape on that, but at any rate, getting the Giants' running game going again would greatly help their passing game.

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13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis' defense has been solid two years in a row, but the offense has been holding them back. After picking up the do-it-all speedster in Tavon Austin last year, adding a true No. 1 and red-zone target like the 6-foot-5 Mike Evans makes a lot of sense in moving this offense in the right direction. If they take Matthews at No. 2 in this draft, they'll have an excellent offensive line, a strong running game, playmaking tight end, Bradford at QB and now a potentially very good receiving corps with this pick.

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14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Pruitt, DT, Notre Dame

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Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

There's no question where the Bears need to go with this pick: Defense, and more specifically, defensive line. Their D-Line was the worst in the league this year by far. They allowed opposing offenses to rush for more than 150 yards per game and couldn't generate even the slightest semblance of a pass rush, thus making the entire defense suffer. While safety remains an issue, there's no doubt in my mind that Stephon Pruitt out of Notre Dame would make a world of a difference for them. If they re-sign Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff and make this pick in the draft, their defensive tackle position will turn from a weakness in 2013 to one of the strongest groups on the team in 2014.

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15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Again, this is another offense that just could not block to save their life in either the passing or ground game. Taylor Lewan is kind of a no-brainer at this point, as the Steelers need all the help they can get -- especially at tackle.

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16/17. Dallas Cowboys: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

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Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

Now, a coin flip at the NFL Combine decides if the it's the Cowboys or Ravens selecting here, but regardless of whether they pick at No. 16 or 17, I see them taking Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix out of Alabama. Their defense is atrocious and they really need a playmaker at safety. Clinton-Dix has the potential to fill this need and maybe even be a premier player at the position for a long time.

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16/17. Baltimore Ravens: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Again, regardless of whether the Ravens pick here or at No. 16, Baylor guard Cyril Richardson will be their pick. Their offensive line was also terrible this year, especially on the ground. I mean, when neither Ray Rice nor Bernard Pierce can average more than 3.1 yards per carry, you know your offensive line blows. Richardson is a monster of an offensive lineman -- absolutely huge at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds. He'll be an instant starter and could help them turn it all around in one offseason.

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18. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Is there a worse receiving unit in the league other than the Jets? It doesn't matter who's throwing the ball if there's no one to catch it, so when a talent like Marqise Lee is available at No. 18, you take it. I don't know that Geno Smith can ever be "the guy," but if they want to draft another QB, they'll have to wait until at least the second round.

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19. Miami Dolphins: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Here is yet another team that needs help protecting the passer. Ryan Tannehill was under fire just about every week this season, and adding Cedric Ogbuehi could at least shore up one of the tackle spots for the Fins.

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20. Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosely, ILB, Alabama

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Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals' defense carried the team to a 10-win season, so one would think offense would be the obvious choice here. However, with Karlos Dansby old and on an expiring contract, perhaps taking the best middle linebacker in the draft would be a suitable replacement to keep that side of the ball dominant. C.J. Mosley and Daryl Washington could eventually become comparable to the likes of Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis.

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21. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame

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Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay has had a piss poor year on the defensive side of the ball, and while they could use a safety, there just aren't really any worth taking here. They could've used Mosley at ILB, but if he's gone like he is here, then taking Notre Dame's Louis Nix is a great option. Nix will be having a knee procedure done, so that will be worth watching, but if healthy enough, the 352-pound tackle could be a big help to the Packers' 3-4 defense.

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22. San Diego Chargers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego could go a few different routes here: offensive line, defensive line, linebacker. But what makes the most sense is CB and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu seems to be the pick at this point. Their secondary needs some help, and he could be man for the job.

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23. Philadelphia Eagles: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With the offense proving to definitely be the team's strong suit this year behind Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and coach Chip Kelly, going defense in the first round is the most logical choice here. Clemson's Vic Beasley comes in the mold of a speedy edge-rusher who can get after the quarterback, something the Eagles didn't do enough of this year. They have big needs in the secondary, but the best pick here is Beasley.

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24. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Having one of the best defenses in the league this year makes the selection here pretty simple for KC. Eric Ebron is among the top three tight end prospects this year and looks to be a great fit for the Chiefs. He's a dependable receiver who can also get physical in his blocking assignments, which will be important for their run-first mentality with Jamaal Charles.

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25. Cincinnati Bengals: David Yankey, OG, Stanford

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cincy has some choices here as they don't have too many holes on this team. David Yankey would be a good fit, though, considering Andrew Whitworth is getting up there in age at guard. He could really help their running game which has struggled the past couple years, which can only open things up more for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

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26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This just wouldn't be fair, but it's the right thing to do for the Browns. Josh Gordon and Allen Robinson could easily become one of the most feared receiving duos in the game if they were to make this pick, and it could really help whichever rookie they draft at QB with the No. 4 pick -- which in this case is Carr. They need a running back still, but they can grab one of them in the second, third or even fourth round and still find someone very productive.

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27. New Orleans Saints: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans has had trouble protecting Drew Brees this year with the departure of Jermon Bushrod. At pick 27, quite a few tackles have been taken off the board already, but Antonio Richardson still has the potential to be a franchise guy. Look for the Saints to pick him up here.

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28. New England Patriots: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady needs more help, that much is clear. With Rob Gronkowski too unreliable because of injuries, another big target would be very beneficial for this team. Kelvin Benjamin is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound receiver from FSU, and he could really help this New England team.

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29. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are a very well-rounded team because of how well they've drafted in recent years, so they could go a few different routes and really just look for the best value. In my eyes, it'll be a WR or CB here, but corner Justin Gilbert seems very likely. He's an athletic DB with great size at 6-foot, 200 pounds, so he'd be great pickup for the secondary.

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30. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

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Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Is there any doubt that the biggest need for the Panthers is WR? With a stellar defense, solid offensive line, good tight end, great QB and more-than-adequate stable of backs, receiver is really the only major hole on this team. They have Steve Smith, but he's nearing the end of his career, and other than that, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. are the only other notable guys. Even so, they're not consistent at all. Jordan Matthews is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver who put monumental numbers the last two years for Vandy to the tune of 201 receptions, over 2,600 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's not afraid of being the No. 1 guy, and soon, Cam Newton is going to need a go-to guy. Matthews should be the pick here.

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31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Denver could surprise here and take a young QB to groom under Peyton Manning for the next couple seasons, but if they want to try and fix the clearly weaker side of the football, taking Ryan Shazier might not be a bad choice. He would likely play ILB for their 3-4 scheme, and he's a terrific run-stopper. He could really help the defense make some strides toward at least being average.

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32. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

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Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ahh, the last pick of the draft. This one is really a no-brainer, Seattle could use a tight end badly as they get almost no production from the position weekly. Jace Amaro or Austin Sefarian-Jenkins are the likely options here, and Amaro has graded out slightly higher by most. He could greatly help an already dynamic offense, and really fill perhaps the only need this team kind of has.

Related:

2014 NFL Playoffs: The Top 25 Players Who Missed the Postseason


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