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, Texans), Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews (no. 2, St. Louis Rams), Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (no. 3, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (no. 4, Cleveland Browns). With the 5th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Oakland Raiders select?
This was another tight decision, but in the end, I went with Auburn OT Greg Robinson.
There’s legitimate claims to make about Robinson being the second best prospect overall in this class behind Clowney, so being able to add a dynamic and athletic offensive tackle at number five was just too much to pass up. Yes, a true franchise quarterback is also needed, but there’s no QB left on the board worthy of such a lofty pick, and I’ll likely address the issue with my second pick at 36th overall, likely looking at A.J. McCarron (Alabama) or Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois).
Robinson is a heck of an athlete at 6-foot 5, 320-pounds, and has played both guard and left tackle at a very high level in the toughest conference in the country. He’s got unbelievable feet for the blindside and possesses impressive strength. He’s scheme friendly in that he can get to the second level easily and blocks well in space for zone schemes, but also has the natural strength and girth to play in a power-man scheme. Admittedly, he needs to work on hand placement, particularly in pass protection, but that’s not a long-term concern.
Not only is taking Robinson a good deal here from the ever-important value perspective, he’ll also be filling an immediate need at right tackle. Tony Pashos isn’t the long-term answer and might not be back as a free agent. Last year’s second round draft pick, Menelik Watson, is still very much a project at this stage in his development. He’s only been playing organized football for two years now, and while he does boast an impressive athletic skill set, injuries have been constantly nagging his already slow development process.
Plus, Robinson also gives me some security in case I can’t re-sign LT Jared Veldheer to a long-term contract, which is of paramount importance to the franchise. At the worst, Veldheer will be back for another year via the franchise tag, but if for some reason he wants to play for another organization, I want insurance I’ll still have a franchise blindside protector for whichever young quarterback I take in the 2nd round.
But since I’m the GM in this scenario, Veldheer will be getting signed to a minimum 5-year deal, and with he and Robinson I’ll have one of the best young sets of offensive tackles in the league to continue building the franchise around.
Who else was strongly considered here? WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Anthony Barr (UCLA). Watkins would immediately provide a dynamic big play threat to an offense lacking them and Barr would bolster an anemic pass rush.
Clowney, Matthews, Manziel, Bridgewater and Robinson are off the board. With the 6th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Atlanta Falcons select?