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), no. 11 Tennessee Titans (Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo), no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama) and no.13 St. Louis Rams (Marqise Lee, WR, USC). With the 14th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Chicago Bears select?
I think help on the interior of the defensive line is arguably the most pressing need, and considering no DT’s have been selected yet, I have my pick of the litter. Timmy Jernigan (FSU), Ra’Shede Hageman (Minnesota) and Louis Nix (Notre Dame) are top interior linemen in the entire draft and I’d be happy with any of them. But the best fit for Chicago here is Jernigan, who’s the best 3-tech of the bunch and best suited for an even front.
Henry Melton was outstanding for us before his injury, but as a free agent who’s coming off major knee surgery, his future with the team is up in the air. Hopefully teams are scared off by his injury and I can re-sign him on the cheap, but I need insurances in case he doesn’t come back or if he’s not as effective as he was prior to the injury. Jernigan could pair nicely with either Melton or NT Stephen Paea, who I’m still waiting on to develop into the monster I thought he’d be.
Jernigan is the kind of guy who can make an impact right away. He’s got an explosive first step and an equally quick punch which allows him to both shoot the gaps and rush half a man. He’s got good lateral quickness and agility to allow him to flow down the line of scrimmage and a relentless motor. He’s still a little raw in terms of pass rushing prowess, but the tools are there for him to be a plus pass rusher from the inside. Versus the run, however, he’s at his best. He anchors well and is effective splitting underneath a double, while also getting good penetration.
There’s a few guys I strongly considered here, all on the defensive side of the ball. Hasean Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama), Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri), Dee Ford (DE, Auburn), Ryan Shazier (OLB, Ohio State), and Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU).
Both Clinton-Dix and Joyner would provide good depth and playmaking ability to an aging secondary, Ealy and Ford would help a stagnant pass rush that’s going to be much worse after I release DE Julius Peppers and his $18 million cap hit, and Shazier would be the heir apparent for Lance Briggs.
With the 15th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Pittsburgh Steelers select?