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).
So far, my draft looks like this: no.1 Texans (Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina), no. 2 St. Louis Rams (Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M), no. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M), no. 4 Cleveland Browns (Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville), no. 5 Oakland Raiders (Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn), no. 6 Atlanta Falcons (Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson), no. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA, no. 8 Minnesota Vikings (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State), no. 9 Buffalo Bills (Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan), no. 10 Detroit Lions (Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State) and no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo). With the 12th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the New York Giants select?
I’m going with linebacker C.J. Mosley from Alabama.
There’s a ton of talent on this team, but precious little at linebacker. The linebacking unit has suffered from a dearth of talent for years now, and it’s finally time to add a ‘backer to build around, someone like Mosley.
Mosley is about as rock solid of a linebacking prospect as you get. Almost 6-foot 3, 230-pounds, Mosley has good speed and outstanding play recognition (he’s a Nick Saban disciple, are you surprised?), and is a very smart, heady player. He’s a sideline to sideline linebacker who is a rock against the run and impressively nimble in coverage. Plus, he’s scheme friendly, having played inside and outside in both even and odd fronts, so he affords me some leeway with who I pair him with.
The plan I’ll use for Mosley is to start him off on the weak side, where I’ll really be able take advantage of his cover skills, and plug Jon Beason (who I’ll re-sign to a 3-year deal) back in the middle. Then, after a year or two, I’ll cut Beason and slide Mosley over to the middle.
No, Mosley isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s a necessary one at a good value. It just makes too much sense.
OT is another need on this team, as QB Eli Manning could use an upgrade at LT over Will Beatty. Martin reminds me a lot of OT Justin Pugh (our first round pick last year), only better. Ealy and Ford would replenish some pass rushing depth at DE with Justin Tuck likely moving on. Ebron would be a good value here and it’s always enticing to add playmakers to Manning’s arsenal, but there’s a much greater need at LB. Jernigan was also a possibility here just because of the value, not because we have a dire need at DT.
Clowney, Matthews, Manziel, Bridgewater, Robinson, Watkins, Barr, Gilbert, Lewan, Dennard, Mack and Mosley are now off the board. With the 13th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft (and their second pick in the first round), who do the St. Louis Rams select?