2014 NFL Draft: First-Round Mock Draft 1.0
2014 NFL First Round Mock Draft 1.0
As the 2014 NFL Draft gets closer and closer, the hype surrounding the event continues to grow. Teams are looking over their boards once again, trying to find the players they know they are going to aim for. As fans, we become our own brand of draft scouts.
The 2014 NFL draft class is one that is loaded with talent, especially toward the top of the draft. Guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater have been praised as franchise-changing talents for a while now, but as time has gone by, other players have emerged as spectacular prospects.
While the 2013 NFL draft lacked a ton of recognizable talent, this year's class is filled with big-name guys as players like Johnny Manziel, who have been in the public eye for a while now, are littered throughout this class.
One of the best parts of the NFL draft is the uncertainty surrounding every pick, and this year is no different. What will the Houston Texans do with the no. 1 overall pick? Will the St. Louis Rams stay put, or once again trade for future picks? The truth is, nobody knows the answers to those questions right now, and that's what makes the draft process so much fun.
One of my personal favorite parts of the draft process is seeing mock drafts leading up to the real deal. With that said, ladies and gentlemen, here's a look at how the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is going to play out.
1. Houston Texans -- Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing prospect to enter the draft since Tim Tebow. The difference is, Manziel backs up all the hype with his spectacular play. Born with a natural ability to make plays, Manziel is almost impossible to stop, and he should be the clear choice at the top for Houston.
2. St. Louis Rams -- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Let's just pretend that the St. Louis Rams keep this pick instead of trading it away. The team has to decide whether or not they are committed to QB Sam Bradford; if so, the team absolutely has to figure out a way to protect him better. By picking up Jake Matthews, the team is getting a guy that can step in right away on either the left or right side of the line and provide solid protection for the next decade.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Personally, I'm not too high on what Blake Bortles brings to the table. With that said however, the Jacksonville Jaguars desperately need some sort of hope at the quarterback position, and if they believe Bortles has the potential to become a franchise quarterback, then they shouldn't hesitate to scoop him up.
4. Cleveland Browns -- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
There was a point in time when Teddy Bridgewater was almost universally considered to be the best quarterback in this year's draft. Now however, it appears that Bridgewater's stock has fallen a bit with the emergence of some others at the position. With that said, Bridgewater has the potential to be a very good starter in the NFL, and the Cleveland Browns could certainly use somebody with that sort of ability.
5. Oakland Raiders -- Derek Carr, QB, Fresno St.
The Oakland Raiders are in a tough position this year as far as the draft is concerned. The team already has two young quarterbacks already in Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, but while both of those players has shown promise, Derek Carr is the right choice for Oakland here. Carr has a total cannon for an arm, and if anyone can take advantage of the Raiders' speedy receiving corps, it's Carr.
6. Atlanta Falcons -- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Atlanta Falcons had a rough season last year, going from Super Bowl favorites to bottom-feeders. One big reason for this decline is the fact that without a pass rush, the Falcons' defense is almost hopeless. By picking up Clowney, not only are they getting absolutely incredible value, but they are also picking up a player that can change the face of the entire defense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Last season, the torch at quarterback was passed on from the mediocre Josh Freeman to then-rookie Mike Glennon. Glennon had himself a surprisingly solid season, and now it's up the the team to make sure they surround him with the proper pieces to be successful. By adding Greg Robinson to the line, they are picking up a guy that could become one of the best tackles in the league in a few years.
8. Minnesota Vikings -- Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Ideally, the Minnesota Vikings would want a quarterback here sitting at no. 8 overall, but with most of the top signal callers gone, Minnesota has to go with another need in Anthony Barr, an outside linebacker out of UCLA. Barr has fantastic potential as a pass rusher, and he could thrive right away in Minnesota's defense.
9. Buffalo Bills -- Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
During the 2013-14 NFL season, Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel surprised many by playing pretty solid football when he was out on the field. However, in order for Manuel to succeed, the team needs to continue adding talent around him, and that's where tight end Eric Ebron comes in. Ebron is a younger replica of Vernon Davis, and he would quickly become one of Manuel's favorite targets.
10. Detroit Lions -- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
It seems like the Detroit Lions have needed help at the cornerback position forever, and this is finally the year that the team needs to address the issue. Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State isn't the fastest guy, but when he is on the field, Dennard has the ability to shut down whichever receiver he is covering. Dennard is exactly what Detroit needs.
11. Tennessee Titans -- Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Buffalo's Khalil Mack is one of my favorite prospects in this year's draft, and it's easy to see why. The guy is a monster -- think Von Miller, but only better. Tennessee could use another pass rusher and in Mack, they are getting a great one.
12. New York Giants -- Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Last year, the New York Giants surprised many by taking guard Justin Pugh with their first-round pick. This year, the team should again go after offensive line help, only this time in the form of tackle Taylor Lewan. Eli Manning isn't getting any younger, and the Giants need to start protecting him better. Lewan is a great building block.
13. St. Louis Rams -- Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
First off, if Sammy Watkins lasts this long in the draft, then something went seriously wrong, because Watkins is easily one of the best playmakers we've seen over the past few years. A combination of Watkins and Tavon Austin could be a very dangerous duo in St. Louis.
14. Chicago Bears -- Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
As the Chicago Bears' defense continues to move on from the Brian Urlacher era, the team needs to add some serious help to the defensive line. Louis Nix III is a great pass rusher, and has potential as far as stopping the run in concerned. The Bears need someone like Nix.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Last offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost receiver Mike Wallace in free agency, creating a void at the position. Say what you will about Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but the team needs to infuse some excitement into the receiving core, and Marqise Lee is the way to do it.
16. Baltimore Ravens -- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Since the Baltimore Ravens traded top receiver Anquan Boldin, the offense simply hasn't looked or felt the same. Texas A&M's Mike Evans is similar to Boldin in a few ways, and he is just the type of receiver that Joe Flacco and the Ravens' offense need to regain their success.
17. Dallas Cowboys -- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Dallas Cowboys are entering a draft in which the team needs to make sure that they are drafting smartly and avoiding mistakes. Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald is slightly undersized, but he is one of the top pass rushing defensive tackles in the draft. He could fill a big need in Dallas.
18. New York Jets -- Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The New York Jets' rookie quarterback Geno Smith had a rough go of it in his first season. However, it's not too late for Smith as the Jets simply need to give him a fair chance to be competitive by actually giving him some passing targets. Jace Amaro is one the top tight ends in this year's draft, and would provide Smith with a great, young security blanket to target.
19. Miami Dolphins -- Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Last season, the Miami Dolphins' offensive line was not only in shambles both on the field, but off it as well. Now, however, with a bullying scandal ready to be put behind them, the team needs to take a look at rebuilding the offensive line in order to give young quarterback Ryan Tannehill time to throw. Zack Martin can play either tackle spot for Miami, and while his potential isn't crazy, Martin could become a solid NFL lineman.
20. Arizona Cardinals -- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Speaking of teams with offensive line problems, the Arizona Cardinals desperately need an offensive tackle. Cyrus Kouandjio out of Alabama isn't a perfect prospect by any means, but he is a huge step up from anything else the Cardinals have right now and could eventually become a good starter.
21. Green Bay Packers -- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Green Bay Packers' defense is simply a mess. Unless the team starts doing something about it now, it's only going to get worse. Ra'Shede Hageman isn't ever going to be an elite defensive tackle in the NFL, but he will at the very least shut down opponents' running games while occasionally taking down the quarterback. It's not perfect, but it would be a start for Green Bay.
22. Philadelphia Eagles -- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
The Philadelphia Eagles have a pretty desperate need at the safety position as of right now. With the selection of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the team would not only be picking up a player that knows how to handle the pressure of playing the best, but also a player that has an exceptional amount of talent. Clinton-Dix is a ball hawk, and he would fit right in.
23. Kansas City Chiefs -- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida St.
The Kansas City Chiefs took major steps forward last season with new coach Andy Reid at the helm and quarterback Alex Smith leading the way at quarterback. However, the team is missing a big receiver on offense, one that isn't afraid to get physical and go up for jump balls. Kelvin Benjamin would provide Kansas City with an excellent red zone target and a reliable jump ball winner.
24. Cincinnati Bengals -- Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
Ever since letting cornerback Jonathan Joseph go in free agency a few years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary has need some help. The Terrance Newman experiment didn't work out, and now it's time for the team to take a look at prospects in the draft. Justin Gilbert is a physical cornerback that isn't afraid of contact and is willing to go for any ball. In other words, Gilbert is a perfect fit for the Bengals.
25. San Diego Chargers -- Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio St.
Going into last season, Bradley Roby was universally considered to be the best corner in this year's draft. Fast forward to now, and you see a totally different player -- one that doesn't seem to give as much effort and gets beaten way too much in coverage. San Diego desperately needs a corner, but they have to be careful about which version of Roby they are getting.
26. Cleveland Browns -- C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
After spending their first pick on a quarterback, the Cleveland Browns must look to the other side of the ball with the 26th overall pick. By grabbing C.J. Mosley here, the Browns are getting a tremendous value pick and a player that can contribute right away.
27. New Orleans Saints -- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
While he doesn't quite get the same sort of national attention as teammate Michael Sam, Missouri's Kony Easy might actually be the better prospect at this point. He can play either defensive end or outside linebacker, and Ealy would no doubt provide Rob Ryan with another reliable pass rusher to help continue making New Orleans' defense into a solid unit.
28. Carolina Panthers -- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
If you feel like the Carolina Panthers have been searching for a second receiver to compliment Steve Smith since forever, don't worry. It has taken the Panthers entirely too long to find a viable option beside Smith, but with their pick, they must absolutely snag a receiver this year.
29. New England Patriots -- Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Last season, when the New England Patriots lost Vince Wilfork for the season due to an injury, it was obvious that the team didn't have a clear backup plan in place. However, with the selection of Stephon Tuitt, New England can rotate both Wilfork and Tuitt, then eventually when Wilfork retires, Tuitt can take over smoothly without a problem.
30. San Francisco 49ers -- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Carlos Rogers is on his way out in San Francisco, and the team really needs to start looking into its future in the secondary. While they are set for now at safety, the team needs to take a look at the cornerback situation and make an easy decision. It's time to fine a young corner to groom. Jason Verrett is still a little raw, but he is loaded with potential and can fill in right away in nickel situations.
31. Denver Broncos -- Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
Forced to go much of the season without star linebacker Von Miller, the Denver Broncos found out just how hard life is with only one true pass rusher. Dee Ford is a bit of a "tweener" at the next level, but there is no denying his pass rushing skills. Denver could use Ford in a variety of different situations, and he is a perfect fit for the Broncos.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
The Seattle Seahawks have become very well known for taking risks in the first round over the past few years and allowing their players to be themselves so long as it doesn't affect the team. Sam needs an atmosphere like the one Seattle provides, and it's not out of the question to think that Pete Carroll is thinking long and hard about him.