With the 2014 Senior Bowl in the books and the NFL Combine looming on the horizon, this is an excellent time for my first mock draft. To make sure we go through each pick and it’s reasoning thoroughly enough, I’ll go pick by pick in a series format, obviously starting with the Houston Texans. Disclaimers note: I’m not going to be calculating trade possibilities, of which there are unlimited. I’m going to assume each team will use their pick. Also, I’m not trying to predict the order of the draft and who I actually think will go where, but who I would take if I was their GM (in some distant fantasy world).
First I took South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney for the Texans, then Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews for the St. Louis Rams. With the 3rd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do I take for the Jacksonville Jaguars?
The Jags have an unbelievable amount of needs, so really everyone is a viable candidate with this pick. Make no mistake, this team is building from the ground up, on both offense and defense. The 2013 Draft was good for the Jags defensively, as by the end of the season, five rookies were starting on Jacksonville’s defense. Now, the Jags need similar results on offense
It really came down to two prospects in the end: Auburn OT Greg Robinson or Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel. In the end, I’m going with Manziel.
Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert clearly aren’t the long term answers under center, and hopefully I don’t have to explain how important a good quarterback is to sustained winning.
What Manziel brings to the table is exactly what a franchise like Jacksonville needs. He’s got a slight frame, yes, and I am concerned of his long-term durability at the next level, but he’s quite a prospect to build around.
He’s already a leader on the field, carrying a moxie and undeniable joy for the game that’s downright infectious. Yes, he’s made some headlines for the wrong reasons off the field, but he was still a young man who was maturing into a man. He’s very quick, with good feet and excellent mobility, but he can also make some good throws. He doesn’t have a Jeff George-type cannon, but has enough arm strength to make most of the necessary throws. The main asset he employs is his intuit awareness on the field, something that can’t be coached. He just always seems to know where the defense is, even if he can’t see them.
His feel in the pocket will help the line, his mobility will help keep defenses honest and bail him out under fire, and his accurate arm will get the ball to the teams only other offensive weapons (TE Marcedes Lewis and WR’s Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts).
Not only should he help the franchise on the field, but he’ll also help them off it. The Jags have really been struggling the last few years to sell tickets, luxury boxes, jerseys, etc. Manziel would instantly give them a nationally known face for the franchise. He’d put butts in the seats (and more importantly, the suites), and give them more television exposure.
Who else did I consider with this pick? The aforementioned Robinson would be my next choice, to use as a bookend to Joeckel. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater was also a candidate, but I think Manziel is just what this franchise needs.
Clowney, Matthews and Manziel are now off the board. Now who do I take as the GM of the Cleveland Browns?