NFL Mock Draft 1.0
NFL Mock Draft 1.0
Super Bowl 48 is over, and so is any resemblance of the 2013 NFL season. The 2014 season is now underway as teams begin their plans to put themselves at the end of the season with a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
The first part of the offseason is the college draft analysis. With plenty of showcase events like the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, teams start to put their draft boards available, either through best player available or through team needs.
My first mock draft focuses more on needs than best player available, as more work needs to be done to consider who are the best players are out of a deep player pool.
Trades also can't be put into consideration just yet as the process is still just starting.
This time of year is still a great time for NFL fans, as they too have their own plans as to what their favorite teams should address, either through free agency or in May's NFL Draft. Many questions have arose for many teams.
Who should go No. 1? Is it Johnny Manziel, Jadaveon Clowney or even a player from out of nowhere? How many quarterbacks will go in the first round? And finally, which players will be steals, drafted way below what their talent level suggests?
I will try to answer some, if not all, of these questions through my first of two mock drafts (the second and final one will come out after the NFL Scouting Combine). Some teams will have already addressed some of their needs through free agency, making some of these picks irrelevant.
Some picks will be no-brainers, while some may have you thinking long and hard about, but one things is for certain, draft debate goes in plenty of different directions. Here now is my 2014 NFL mock draft version 1.0.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Dee Ford, Defensive End, Auburn
Defensive Line is a very deep position for the Seattle Seahawks, yet teams can't have enough pass rushers.
Michael Bennett is expected to get a big-time contract this offseason and could leave the team.
Auburn's Dee Ford, who came on late in the year, starring for the BCS runner-up Tigers might just be too good to pass up.
Ford wouldn't have to start right away and can be developed and learn along one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL.
31. Denver Broncos: Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
The Super Bowl runner-up Denver Broncos have plenty of needs this offseason.
One of these is wide receiver. With Eric Decker likely out the door in free agency, the Broncos need look no further than Penn State's Allen Robinson.
Robinson is a tall receiver like Decker, who already has experience playing in a pro-style offense under new Houston Texans' coach Bill O'Brien at Happy Valley.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers
Needing some youth in their secondary, TCU's Jason Verrett would be a good addition here that could help the 49ers' defense become even better in 2014.
29. New England Patriots: Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame
The New England Patriots' problems in recent years has been their defense. The inability to get any pressure on the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning contributed significantly to yet another AFC Championship game loss for the Patriots.
While New England is unlikely to keep this pick and trade down like they normally do, if they decide to stay at 29, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt is a smart and versatile player capable of being a contributor in the Patriots complex defense.
Tuitt doesn't have to play right away and can develop properly, but Tuitt is a good pass rusher and an effective run defender.
28. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
The next step for the Carolina Panthers is to be more explosive on offense.
Aside from Steve Smith, there are not many other threats in the passing game.
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews would be a great fit for the Panthers. Matthews is a tall receiver with a big frame who can make some tough catches in traffic and sustain an up-and-coming Carolina offense on third down.
27. New Orleans Saints: Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
With all of the injuries that the Saints endured last year in the secondary, Roby is an excellent cover corner who could step in right away and replace an aging Jabari Greer and start alongside underrated corner Keenan Lewis.
26. Cleveland Browns: Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma St.
The Cleveland Browns will address defense with their second first-round pick.
Although their defense was not the problem last year, the Browns need a big-time rookie who can play alongside Pro Bowler Joe Haden. While Buster Skrine was an admirable fill-in player for the Browns, he is nowhere near the level of Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert.
With the tandem of Gilbert and Haden, the Browns pass defense gets even better in 2014 than in 2013.
25. San Diego Chargers: Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
San Diego's offensive line started to play well down the stretch, but the unit still needs a major upgrade.
The Chargers addressed the right side of the line last year with D.J. Fluker. Now, the Chargers need to upgrade their left tackle.
King Dunlap, while a good player, is not a franchise left tackle. In Tennessee's Antonio Richardson, the Chargers would get a starting left tackle from Day 1 and protect Pro Bowl quarterback Phillip Rivers' blindside.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Darqueze Dennard, Cornerback, Michigan St.
Cincinnati Bengals' defensive backfield, while good in the regular season, has plenty of questions to address this offseason.
With Terrence Newman and Adam Jones getting up there in age, Leon Hall coming off an injury, and Dre Kirkpatrick still an inconsistent player, the Bengals select Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard at 24, which is a steal for Cincinnati.
Dennard's physicality and ability to make receivers work hard is perfect for a blue collar division in the AFC North.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida St.
Florida State's wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin would be a welcome addition to a team desperate to find outside offensive playmakers.
In Benjamin, the Kansas City Chiefs get a similar player to Dwayne Bowe, a tall physical receiver who excels at run after the catch. Benjamin's height (6-foot-5) would help struggling pass offense with a still questioned quarterback in Alex Smith.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington St.
Philadelphia Eagles' secondary was made up primarily of other players' discarded pieces. While Cary Williams had a solid season from the Baltimore Ravens, safety Patrick Chung from the New England Patriots struggled all year for the Eagles.
Washington State's Deone Bucannon might be a reach here for the Eagles at safety, but Bucannon is one of the rising players in this year's draft and is worthy of a selection here in the latter half of the first round.
21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville
Free safety has been a long neglected need for a struggling Green Bay Packers' defense.
The defense hasn't been the same since the loss of Nick Collins, a former three-time Pro Bowler. M.D. Jennings is not the answer as a starting safety.
Louisville's Calvin Pryor is a playmaker who can be effective in both pass coverage and a thumper in run coverage.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandijo, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Kouandijo would be an immediate upgrade over Bradley Sowell, and Bobby Massie at left tackle and is quite frankly a steal 20.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, Offfensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins' offensive line was already a question mark to begin the season. Now they are an even bigger mess.
Both starters Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito are not likely to return to the team. Notre Dame's offensive tackle Zack Martin is versatile enough to play both guard and tackle, and would upgrade both positions should he be a day one starter.
18. New York Jets: Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech
With zero offensive weapons to speak of, Amaro is versatile enough to be an inside receiver who can catch passes in the middle, or could go outside and create matchup problems.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
The Dallas Cowboys' defense wasn't so "Doomsday" in 2013, repeatedly giving up big plays in the passing game and getting torched to the point that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli replaced Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator with Kiffin remaining on the staff.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald provides some inside pass rush and run-stuffing that could pair nicely with Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher or could fill in for Hatcher should he choose to leave in free agency.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
The Baltimore Ravens' offense struggled mightily to stay on the field last year. With an inconsistent running game and numerous receivers missing valuable time, quarterback Joe Flacco had a subpar year.
Should Texas A&M's wide receiver Mike Evans be available at 16, Baltimore should waste no time in snatching him up. Evans can be a big wide receiver in the mold of Anquan Boldin, who can make tough catches in traffic and be Flacco's security blanket on third down.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
The Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line was absolutely atrocious last year. Former second-round pick Mike Adams was benched at left tackle and became a backup tight end while Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was injured in Week 1.
Pittsburgh solves one half of this problem by selecting Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
Lewan would be the first true bona fide left tackle that the Steelers have had since Tunch Ilkin some 30 years ago.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally gets some form of protection from his blindside with this "Michigan" man.
14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, Defensive Tackle, Florida St.
With the purging of defensive tackles that happened in Chicago with injuries decimating this part of their defense, Florida State's Timmy Jernigan can step right in and be a fixture in the middle of a porous run defense in 2013.
Jernigan is not the most elite pass rusher for a defensive tackle, but as a run stuffer and big body in the middle, Jernigan doesn't have to be an elite pass rusher with the Chicago Bears having plenty of skilled pass rushers.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
With their second first-round pick this year, the St. Louis Rams need a secondary upgrade that could play with former third-round safety T.J. McDonald.
Alabama's Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix would be the best pick here. Clinton-Dix has experience playing in a pro-style defense and has both the ability to be effective as a pass defender and is a good player in run defense.
12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
Mosley's presence would give the Giants some much needed youth and athleticism to a corps that lacks both.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Texas A&M's Jake Matthews was the best offensive tackle in the draft for most of the season and is the most pro-ready player out of this year's group.
The Tennessee Titans' edge protectors are starting to get up there in age, with Michael Roos and David Stewart both reaching their mid 30's.
Matthews could be groomed to be either of their replacements and any great offensive line starts on the edges.
10. Detroit Lions: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
The Detroit Lions find their true No. 2 receiver for the first time since Mike Furrey in 2006.
Lions fans will scream about another former wide receiver at USC selected 10th overall in Mike Williams, but Lee has zero character concerns and is a more pro-ready receiver than Williams had.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
Not only is Ebron good in the middle of the field, but he is athletic enough to play on the outside and create some matchup problems.
If the team wants to develop players around E.J. Manuel, the Bills should start with a legitimate tight end.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, Quarterback, Central Florida
The Minnesota Vikings' quarterback dilemma last year failed to allow the Vikings to reach back-to-back postseason appearances.
Minnesota can alleviate this disaster by selecting Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
Bortles' upside and mobility would give the Vikings an added dimension to their struggling offense.
Gone are the days of mediocre quarterback play in Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell and Josh Freeman.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, Defensive End, Buffalo
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line already has two first-round picks starting, the Buccaneers could use another pass rusher.
Buffalo's Khalil Mack is the pick here, as the former Bull can give the Bucs an edge rush that Da'Quan Bowers has failed to produce and compliments the more run-stuffing defensive end Adrian Clayborn, giving the Bucs defensive ends who excel at different things.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
Robinson could start out at right tackle replacing Lamar Holmes and Ryan Schrader, or start right away at left tackle, moving Sam Baker to the bench.
5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, Defensive End, UCLA
Barr's quickness off the edge would be much needed with quarterbacks
Alex Smith, Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers facing the Raiders in the same division.
4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
In Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, the Browns get the most accurate quarterback in this year's draft.
With the circus that was Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell at quarterback last year, Bridgewater gives the Browns a much-needed improvement at the game's most important position.
Bridgewater will be able to produce right away with receivers Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron already in place.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadaveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
Clowney is not only the best defensive player in the draft, but also the best player in the draft.
Although the Jaguars desperately need a quarterback, the Jaguars go for the best player available, which in turn will be Clowney.
2. St. Louis Rams: Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
The St. Louis Rams, who have long needed a franchise wide receiver since the days of Torry Holt and "The Greatest Show on Turf" should select the best wide receiver in the draft in Clemson's Sammy Watkins.
Watkins gives the Rams an added dimension in the passing game, a big-play receiver who can turn a five-yard catch into a 70-yard touchdown just like their prior first-round pick Tavon Austin.
Watkins' presence will finally allow former first overall pick Sam Bradford to show, with some actual skill players around him, that he can be a franchise quarterback.
1. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
The polarizing quarterback has excelled in the best conference in college football making plays that no one has ever seen before.
Given the mediocre quarterback play last year in Matt Schaub and Case Keenum, Manziel would be a welcome addition to Houston who give the franchise a boost from last year's 14 consecutive losses.
Just missing the cut:
Derek Carr, quarterback, Fresno State
Louis Nix III, defensive tackle, Notre Dame
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, LSU
Ra'Shede Hageman, defensive tackle, Minnesota