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) and no. 12 New York Giants (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama). With the 13th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the St. Louis Rams select?
This is my second pick in the first round with the Rams (thanks Bob Griffin!), and I’ve already added a pivotal offensive tackle, so there’s a ton of flexibility with this pick. My two biggest needs at this point are probably safety and wide receiver, and as tempting as it is to take the top safety in the draft (Hasean Clinton-Dix, Alabama), I’m going to instead give QB Sam Bradford another weapon, so I’ll be taking WR Marqise Lee (USC) with this pick.
Lee should instantly step into a starters role opposite the lightning quick Tavon Austin, who we spent a top-10 pick on last year. Providing Austin continues his development, Lee is as pro-ready as he looks and Bradford discovers what kind of weapon he has in TE Jared Cook, the pieces are in place for a solid passing attack, certainly one better than 27th in the NFL (what we were ranked in ’13).
Plus, there’s a lot of talent, though still little production yet, from the guys behind Lee and Austin. Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey all have shown intriguing glimpses of tantalizing ability, but are still developing. Even if just one of them takes the next stage in the maturation process and gives us a solid 3rd option, I’d be happy. Plus, if one of them develops enough, I could put them outside on the flanker and potentially move Austin inside to the slot, where he looks best be suited.
Regardless, adding Lee makes sense here. He’s the most pro-ready wide receiver in the draft, in my opinion. He’s a very smooth, effortless route runner who can find the seams in coverages, has elite hands, tracks the deep ball well and is a good enough blocker. He’s not the biggest (6-foot, 200), nor the most physical guy, and he could struggle with separation from more physical corners, but he’s just a natural pass catcher who knows how to get open.
With no major injury concerns and a reputation as a top notch athlete with impeccable intangibles, there’s a lot to like here. He can absolutely help this team win today and tomorrow.
Our offense took a major step forward today in the first round. We added the LT of the future and the RT of now (in Matthews), but I also added the most pro-ready WR in the draft to help a stagnant passing attack. Bradford won’t have anymore excuses with these additions.
Clowney, Matthews, Manziel, Bridgewater, Robinson, Watkins, Barr, Gilbert, Lewan, Dennard, Mack, Mosley and Lee are all off the board. With the 14th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Chicago Bears select?