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2014 NFL Draft: First Round Mock Draft

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2014 First Round NFL Mock Draft

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With the Super Bowl in the books, the NFL offseason is officially underway and the 2014 NFL Draft is right around the corner. As we speak, each and every draft prospect is working hard to improve their chances of having their name called on draft day. The draft is a little bit later this season as it starts on Thursday, May 8 and ends Saturday, May 12.

Right now, teams are talking to all their scouts and watching as much film as possible as they try to fill out their draft boards. The NFL Combine in Indianapolis takes place Feb. 22-25. Prospects with elite athletic abilities will surely stand out at the combine, and you better believe there will be at least one team that will reach on a player based on a misleading combine. It happens every season.

After a ridiculously disappointing 2013 season, the Houston Texans will lead things off on May 8 with the No. 1 pick in the draft. They will be one of many teams in the first round that will consider taking one of the quarterbacks in this deep QB class. The wide receivers, offensive tackles, linebackers and defensive line also appear to be deep positions in the draft while the interior offensive line and defensive backs seem to be rather thin.

Things will certainly change a lot as we get closer to the draft, but there is no sense in waiting. Here is my first round mock of the 2014 NFL Draft. This mock draft is based on which players I believe each team will be selecting in the first round of the draft, not necessarily who I think they should take.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" his Page on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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1. Houston Texans- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Teddy Bridgewater Houston Texans 2014 NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have been a quarterback needy franchise for some time now. Teddy Bridgewater is the most NFL ready QB in this class, and his skills fit new head coach Bill O'Brien's offense perfectly. Taking Jadeveon Clowney and grabbing a QB in the second round will be tempting, but Bridgewater and Houston is a match made in heaven.

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2. St. Louis Rams- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Greg Robinson St. Louis Rams 2014 NFL Draft
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It is very likely that the St. Louis Rams trade this pick to a team looking to grab Clowney or one of the other QBs. That being said, if they happen to hold on to the pick, OT Greg Robinson would make a ton of sense. The Rams are staying committed to Sam Bradford and adding a monster OT to help protect him would be a big help.

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney Jacksonville Jaguars 2014 NFL Draft
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars would love to add a QB here, but they simply cannot let the upside that Clowney has pass them by. He the far and away the most talented prospect in this draft, and the Jaguars are in desperate need of adding a pass rush. If the chips fall like this, Jacksonville needs to take the best player available and look hard at QB in the second round.

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4. Cleveland Browns- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns 2014 NFL Draft
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel has already been linked to the Cleveland Browns many times. Reports are that their front office loves him and are just begging to take him with this pick. Cleveland needs to figure out their QB situation, and I think Manziel would be a perfect fit. Regardless what you think of him off of the field, nobody can deny his play-making skills.

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5. Oakland Raiders- Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Blake Bortles Oakland Raiders 2014 NFL Draft
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Bortles may not be as NFL ready as Bridgewater and Manziel, but he just may have the biggest upside of the three. The Oakland Raiders cannot pass up this opportunity to land a potential stud franchise QB. Bortles has a big arm and a ton of athleticism, but he would probably be better off sitting for a season rather than getting thrown in immediately.

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6. Atlanta Falcons- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Jake Matthews Atlanta Falcons 2014 NFL Draft
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews is the safest pick in this draft, and the Atlanta Falcons would be ecstatic if he fell to them. Atlanta struggled mightily protecting Matt Ryan and opening up holes in the run game in 2013. They have a very talented and explosive offense; they just need to be protected. Adding Matthews would go a long way toward helping that.

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7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

Khalil Mack Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2014 NFL Draft
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can go many different directions with this pick. With new head coach Lovie Smith in town, I would not be surprised to see them go with defense. Also, Khalil Mack could be the best player available at this point. He is a ferocious pass rusher who has a very athletic skill-set. Mack will be able to step in right away and put pressure on the QB.

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8. Minnesota Vikings- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Derek Carr Minnesota Vikings 2014 NFL Draft
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Ponder is obviously not the answer at QB for the Minnesota Vikings, and they simply must find an answer at QB in this draft. Derek Carr really proved himself at the Senior Bowl, and I think he would be a great pick for the Vikings. He has a strong arm and solid athleticism. Carr would be a welcomed addition to a franchise desperate for a QB.

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9. Buffalo Bills- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Sammy Watkins Buffalo Bills 2014 NFL Draft
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Sammy Watkins is the most explosive and one of the most talented players in this draft. That being said, the WR position is deep this year and I do not think teams will be reaching for Watkins. The Buffalo Bills would be ecstatic if Watkins was there for them at the ninth pick. The Bills simply need play makers on offense, and Watkins is the best one in this draft.

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10. Detroit Lions- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Darqueze Dennard Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Led by an impressive defensive line, the Detroit Lions have an incredible front-seven on defense. The secondary, on the other hand, could definitely use some work. Darqueze Dennard is the best cornerback in this draft and would help the Lions in coverage from day one.

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11. Tennessee Titans- Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

Anthony Barr Tennessee Titans 2014 NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is a case of the Tennessee Titans simply taking the best player available. Anthony Barr is an extremely athletic and versatile player who would likely be an immediate contributor as a pass rushing option for the Titans. He can line up in many different defensive spots and would give the Titans a great weapon to add to an already solid defensive unit.

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12. New York Giants- C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

C.J. Mosley New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants could easily consider an OT here to help shore up their offensive line, but I believe C.J. Mosley would be a great pick. Mosley is a great leader on the field and was a three-time National Champion at Alabama. He struggles to shed blocks at times in the run game, but he is so fast and agile that he can avoid them most of the time. Mosley is also good in pass coverage and has great ball skills for a linebacker. He would step in and be a key contributor right away for the Giants.

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13. St. Louis Rams- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Kelvin Benjamin St. Louis Rams 2014 NFL Draft
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are standing behind Sam Bradford as their QB, so they need to do whatever it takes to help him succeed. They took a top OT earlier in the draft to help protect him, and while this may seem like a bit of a reach, Kelvin Benjamin would give Bradford a great receiver to throw to.

At 6-foot-5, 234 pounds, Benjamin is one of the biggest receivers in the draft, and he knows how to use that size well. Benjamin is a monster and has incredible ball skills. He would give the Rams a great red zone target and a guy with the potential to become an elite WR in the league.

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14. Chicago Bears- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Chicago Bears Aaron Donald 2014 NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears were one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run last season and lack of depth at the DT position was a big reason why.

At 6-foot-1 and weighing 288-pounds, Aaron Donald is certainly a little on the small side for a NFL DT. That being said, Donald won every major award that a defensive tackle can while at Pittsburgh. In 2013, Donald won the Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. He was obviously a First-Team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He may not be the biggest, but Donald has a great strength and speed combination to go with a non-stop motor. Donald would be a key contributor for the Bears from day one.

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15. Pittsburgh Steelers- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Zack Martin Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 NFL Draft
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Martin was a four-year starter for Notre Dame who can step in and start immediately at the NFL level. The offensive line was a mess for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, and addressing the position early and often in the draft is a no-brainer.

Martin has great versatility, solid size and is good in both the run game and in pass protection. While he may not have the athleticism to play left tackle at the next level, he has a ton of experience at the position, making trying him at LT worth a shot. Worst case scenario, Martin is a starting right tackle or guard in the NFL for a very long time.

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16. Baltimore Ravens- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Taylor Lewan Baltimore Ravens 2014 NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens struggled to get solid offensive line play all season long. Both Ray Rice and Joe Flacco took many steps back in 2013, and I believe it has a lot to do with their struggles along the O-Line.

Taylor Lewan could easily go before the Ravens pick at 16, but if he is available the pick is a no-brainer. Lewan has the size, strength and athleticism to become a LT in the NFL. He has a lot of upside but the downside is certainly there as well.

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17. Dallas Cowboys- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft
Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys could use help at many different positions, and safety is certainly one of them. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is probably the best safety prospect in the draft and would be an immediate contributor for Dallas.

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18. New York Jets- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mike Evans New York Jets 2014 NFL Draft
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

If Geno Smith is going to become a legitimate NFL QB, the New York Jets simply must give him some weapons to throw to. The Jets probably have the worst WR corps in the league and simply have no play makers on the outside. Mike Evans is a legitimate threat on the outside, and his big body would allow him to make plays in the red zone immediately.

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19. Miami Dolphins- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Cyrus Kouandijo Miami Dolphins 2014 NFL Draft
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have some serious holes on the offensive line, and Cyrus Kouandjio would be an ideal fit for this team. They simply must add to the line in order to protect QB Ryan Tannehill and selecting Kouandjio would be a big step in the right direction.

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20. Arizona Cardinals- Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri

Kony Ealy Arizona Cardinals 2014 NFL Draft
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kony Ealy is a pass rushing specialist who would fit very well in the Arizona Cardinals' 3-4 defense. The Arizona defense was great in 2013, but you can never have too many pass rushers on the outside. Ealy is a versatile and athletic player who could fill many roles for Arizona.

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21. Green Bay Packers- Eric Ebron, TE, UNC

Eric Ebron Green Bay Packers 2014 NFL Draft
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers could use some help on the defensive side of the ball, but if Eric Ebron falls to them I don't think they could pass him up. Ebron has great size and athleticism for a tight end. He used his superior athletic ability very well in college, and I think he would be an incredible weapon for QB Aaron Rodgers.

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22. Philadelphia Eagles- Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Calvin Pryor Philadelphia Eagles 2014 NFL Draft
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles did get much better defensively towards the end of 2013, but they were one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL and need to address that side of the ball in the draft. Calvin Pryor is a ball hawking safety who would be a great last line of defense for the Eagles.

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23. Kansas City Chiefs- Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Marqise Lee Kansas City Chiefs 2014 NFL Draft
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs had a great 2013 season and are set up to make a deep playoff run in 2014. Jamaal Charles was incredible last season, but it would be nice if Kansas City could try to take the load off of him a bit. Marqise Lee was once considered the best WR prospect in this class, and he would be a great option for Alex Smith on the outside opposite of Dwayne Bowe.

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24. Cincinnati Bengals- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Jason Verrett Cincinnati Bengals 2014 NFL Draft
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals struggled against the pass at times in 2013. Adding a potential shutdown corner like Jason Verrett could possibly fill one of the few holes on a solid roster.

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25. San Diego Chargers- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.

Justin Gilbert San Diego Chargers 2014 NFL Draft
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the season, the San Diego Chargers had one of the worst defenses in the NFL. While they did turn things around late, they still struggled to defend the pass throughout the season. Justin Gilbert has big upside as a CB in the NFL and would be a very welcomed addition to the San Diego secondary.

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26. Cleveland Browns- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Jordan Matthews Cleveland Browns 2014 NFL Draft
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I had a hard time deciding who the Browns would select here, but giving their new QB another target would certainly make some sense. Jordan Matthews is a solid WR in this class. He may not have huge upside like some of the others, but I believe he could immediately step in and be productive opposite of Josh Gordon in Cleveland.

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27. New Orleans Saints- Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State

Scott Crichton New Orleans Saints 2014 NFL Draft
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints had a solid defensive season in 2013, but they could certainly use another pass rusher. Scott Crichton would fit like a glove in Rob Ryan's defense and would be an immediate contributor.

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28. Carolina Panthers- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Allen Robinson Carolina Panthers 2014 NFL Draft
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers have very few holes on an impressive roster. That being said, giving Cam Newton more weapons needs to be high on their priority list. Allen Robinson is a big WR with great ball skills. He would immediately help the Panthers become more consistent in the passing game.

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29. New England Patriots- Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Louis Nix New England Patriots 2014 NFL Draft
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Adding Louis Nix III here would be a case where the New England Patriots would take the best player available who also happens to fill a need. Nix is an ideal nose tackle in a 3-4 defense with the athleticism to play all across the defensive line. The Patriots like to mix up their fronts a ton, and Nix's versatility, run stuffing ability and pass rushing skills would be very welcome in New England.

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30. San Francisco 49ers- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Bradley Roby San Francisco 49ers 2014 NFL Draft
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers have a loaded roster, and whoever they take will be icing on the cake. Bradley Roby seems to me like a guy who could shut down slot receivers. He may not be able to line up on the outside right away, but I think Roby would be a nice depth player for the 49ers, defending the slot and playing special teams.

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31. Denver Broncos- Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Ja'Wuan James Denver Broncos 2014 NFL Draft
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Protecting Peyton Manning has to be the number one goal of the Denver Broncos next season. The offensive line was decent in 2013, but they absolutely crumbled in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Ju'Wuan James would help with the Broncos' depth along the line while representing some upside in the future.

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32. Seattle Seahawks- Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State

Gabe Jackson Seattle Seahawks 2014 NFL Draft
Spruce Derden USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks have almost no flaws on their roster and could really just sit back and take the best player available. That being said, they did struggle on the interior of the offensive line at times in 2013, and Gabe Jackson is a great offensive guard prospect who could step in and start right away.