2014 NFL Mock Draft: Full First Round, Pre-Senior Bowl Edition
Mocking the First Round Before the Senior Bowl
It’s that time of year. Mock drafts are running amuck, flying all over the internet as football fanatics everywhere search endlessly for the one that best fits their fancy.
Well that’s what makes the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft so exciting: we have no idea what’s going to happen when the big day arrives.
It’s all a guessing game at this point. With plenty of trades likely to take place on draft day and numerous players set to see their stocks either soar or sink in the next few months, there’s no telling what might go down when the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off on May 8. What we do know, though, is that it’s never too early to make an educated guess.
More importantly, though, these mock drafts give us an opportunity to look at every NFL team’s biggest need while also investigating the stock of particular players – especially those expected to come off the board in the first round. It’s also a chance to imagine some of college football’s top talent fitting onto NFL rosters around the league.
With the 2014 Senior Bowl right around the corner, stock of some of the top seniors in the nation is sure to fluctuate in the next few days. It might not change where they’re drafted in May by much, but it’ll give us a look at who’s hot and who’s not heading towards the 2014 NFL Draft.
Here’s a look at what I think the first round will look like when draft day finally rolls around.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
As questions continue to swirl about Bridgewater’s potential as a franchise quarterback, I’m still a firm believer that he’s the best passer the 2014 class has to offer. The Texans would be wise to grab him at No. 1.
2. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
It’s hard to imagine the Rams not trading this pick, but if they were to use it, they’d likely go with whoever is at the top of their board. Clowney is a freak, and would give them another outstanding weapon on defense.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
As badly as the Jaguars need a quarterback, they might not be sold on anyone available at this point. So instead, they go with arguably the best defender on the board who will upgrade their pass rush right away.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
It appears the Browns are smitten with Manziel as their quarterback of the future. While there’s plenty of reason to be concerned about his NFL future, Cleveland needs a playmaker and he fits the bill.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Another situation where they might not be sold on the available options at quarterback, the Raiders instead bolster their offenses weapons with Watkins, who could be the most dynamic receiver in recent history.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If the Falcons think they’re set at left tackle with Lamar Holmes, they’re wrong. They need a franchise left tackle to protect their franchise quarterback, and Robinson might be the best tackle prospect of the last few years.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
All last season, the Buccaneers suffered from a serious lack of pass rush. Da’Quan Bowers never panned out as a legitimate edge rusher. Ealy has the talent to take his place and make a difference from Day 1.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
If they do only thing this offseason, the Vikings need to add a new starting quarterback to the mix. There are definitely some concerns about Bortles, but he’s a better option than anyone else they have.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Tackle might not be their biggest need, but I can’t imagine Matthews falling any further. He’d be a definite upgrade over Erik Pears at right tackle and gives them extra insurance for E.J. Manuel.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Despite the fact that they have several cornerbacks under contract heading into 2014, the Lions seriously need an upgrade. Dennard is a tough, physical cover man who’s a perfect fit for the Detroit defense.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
If Ken Whisenhunt chooses to switch to a 3-4 defense, this makes perfect sense. Barr is a sensational athlete with raw pass rushing ability, and would make an excellent 3-4 outside linebacker in Tennessee.
12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
It’s time for the Giants to stop feasting on sloppy seconds and find themselves a quality linebacker via the draft. Mosley is a Top 10 talent who would bring leadership and hard work to the New York defense.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
If the Rams are set with Sam Bradford at quarterback, they need to find some more weapons for him to work with. Evans is a dominant player with reliable hands and ridiculous leaping abilities. It makes sense.
14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
After a season that saw their defense fall to pieces, the Bears desperately need a new star defensive tackle. Jernigan is a disruptive force who can collapses pockets and stuff the run. Seems like a great fit for Chicago.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
A poor 2013 season makes me believe the Steelers could look to replace Ike Taylor as the starter. Gilbert is a top-tier talent who has the potential to develop into a shutdown cornerback. This would be a steal.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
With both of their top tight ends headed for free agency, the Ravens could soon have a big hole at the position. Ebron is a dynamic weapon who would give Joe Flacco less of an excuse to underperform.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Seeing as Jason Hatcher likely won’t be back in 2014, the Cowboys need to add a piece who can fill in at the three-tech spot. While Tuitt is considered a defensive end, he has the size, strength and athleticism to fill the gap nicely.
18. New York Jets: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Jets can’t continue to get away with surrounding their quarterbacks with mediocre talent. Robinson is a playmaker who excels at picking up yards after the catch, and would be a great tool for Geno Smith to utilize.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
After the disastrous 2013 debacle along the offensive line, the Dolphins must rebuild. Martin is an outstanding blocker with the potential to be elite, and brings exciting versatility that could be valuable.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
For years, the Cardinals have been looking for a franchise left tackle. Kouandjio still has a lot to prove, but has the physical tools to become elite. He’s a definite upgrade over anyone on the roster right now.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
It wasn’t a good year in 2013 for M.D. Jennings, who struggled mightily in coverage. That could change with the addition of Clinton-Dix, a legitimate Top 15 talent who can play the pass and run equally well.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
There are some people convinced that Verrett is the best cornerback of the 2014 class, and there’s good reason to believe so. He might be a bit short, but he’d be a clear upgrade to a subpar Eagles secondary.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr, WR, LSU
As we saw this season, the Chiefs can’t continue to depend on semi-capable wide receivers when Dwayne Bowe isn’t on his game. Alex Smith needs reliable targets, and Beckham is exactly that.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
James Harrison isn’t going to play forever. The Bengals need extra talent at linebacker, and Shazier is an exciting prospect with the polish to start sooner rather than later. He’d be a great match with Vontaze Burfict.
25. San Diego Chargers: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Chargers failed to get quality play from any of their starting defensive lineman this season. Hageman is extremely versatile and athletic, and could play all three of the spots along San Diego’s 3-4 front.
26. Cleveland Browns (via IND): Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
The Browns have their quarterback of the future, but need a playmaking running back to compliment him. Sims is a do-it-all back who makes highlight-reel plays on the ground and through the air.
27. New Orleans Saints: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Terron Armstead may have shown well in limited time, but the Saints can’t feel secure with him as their left tackle moving forward. Lewan is an aggressive tackle with a mean streak, and has the physical tools to dominate.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
With the majority of their receivers headed for free agency this offseason, the Panthers need some new bodies out wide. Lee is a sparkplug who can become a reliable target for Cam Newton.
29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
An arrest and an injury later and the Patriots are suddenly rather short at tight end. Unless they plan on going into the 2014 campaign with Michael Hoomanawanui (a pending free agent) as their starter, Amaro is a great grab at No. 29.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Teams are looking for the next Richard Sherman, and Jean-Baptiste looks the part. The 49ers are facing some serious turnover at cornerback, but adding Jean-Baptiste to the mix would certainly help the problem.
31. Denver Broncos: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Seeing as Von Miller is unlikely to be available at the start of the 2014 season, the Broncos need a disruptive pass rusher to shoulder the load. Crichton is a strong, high-motor player who can develop into a star.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
The Seahawks bolster their defensive line every offseason, and this one should be no different. Donald is an underrated talent who can be a dominant force along the interior. Seeing as their roster is loaded, why not stockpile talent and help make up for potential free agent departures?