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).
The following are already off the board: South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney (no. 1, Houston Texans), Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews (no. 2, St. Louis Rams) and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (no. 3, Jacksonville Jaguars). With the 4th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Cleveland Browns select?
This one really wasn’t a hard decision for me, I’m going with Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater.
The Browns have two 1st round draft picks this year, so there’s some leeway to move up or down. Since that’s not an option in this scenario, I’m going with arguably the best QB in the draft with the hopes he can turn into the franchise QB that hasn’t been seen in ‘The Cleve’ since Bernie Kosar was abruptly released in 1993.
Bridgewater may not have the playmaking upside and ceiling that fellow top QB prospect Manziel possesses, but could be the safer long-term option overall.
Not only is Bridgewater a selfless, team-first, natural-born leader that you look for in a QB, but he’s also got an impressive skill set. He’s got above average mobility, throws well on the run, has impressive timing and accuracy and has good arm strength. He’s well coached mechanically, and for the most part, has no durability concerns or lengthy injury history.
This is a safe pick for Cleveland here. There’s already some good pieces in place to help Bridgewater’s transition to the NFL. Josh Gordon has nearly become the best receiver in the world not named Calvin Johnson, and Jordan Cameron has emerged as one of the best young tight ends in all of football. Pair them with a strong offensive line and a stingy defense, there’s not a whole lot missing aside from steady and consistent quarterback play.
What if Bridgewater isn’t ready to play right away? Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are likely on their way out of town but Brian Hoyer has another year left on his deal, so he could potentially be a temporary solution if Bridgewater isn’t aces from the start.
With a big need filled by taking Bridgewater, I now have a more luxurious situation with my second 1st round draft pick (26th overall).
Some other candidates I considered here were Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson), Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) and Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State). Watkins would form an unbelievable triumvirate with Gordon and Cameron, Robinson is too good not to consider here (and can play OT or OG), and Gilbert could form a shutdown corner tandem with Joe Haden.
Clowney, Matthews, Manziel and Bridgewater are now off the board. Now who do I take with the 5th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft as the GM of the Oakland Raiders?