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), no.13 St. Louis Rams (Marqise Lee, WR, USC), no. 14 Chicago Bears (Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU), no. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers (Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame), no. 16 Baltimore Ravens (Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama) and no. 17 Dallas Cowboys (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama). With the 18th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the New York Jets select?
Far and away the biggest needs on this team are tight end and receiver, so this was a total toss up between Eric Ebron (TE, UNC) and Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M), and in the end, I’m going with Ebron. The primary reason? This receiver class will have first round talent still available in round two, and there’s also a decent free agent market as well. Not only that, Ebron is essentially a wide receiver anyway.
Ebron has lined up out wide, in the slot and on the line with his hand in the dirt- he’s that versatile. He does a good job finding holes in the coverages underneath and has the speed to stretch the seam. He has very strong hands that he uses to pluck the ball from the air, rarely relying on his chest, and does a good job high-pointing the ball while using his size to box out. He’s a fluid athlete that simply makes plays. He’s the perfect complement for a maturing young QB because of his immense versatility and athleticism.
His blocking needs some work, but that should eventually come along. Besides, you’re not drafting a tight end in the first round because of his blocking skills, you’re taking him for his playmaking skills.
With Ebron, we finally have that matchup nightmare, a guy who’s too big for most safeties to and too fast for linebackers to cover.
Who else was strongly considered here (besides Evans)? Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU), Jason Verrett (CB, TCU), Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville), Zack Martin (OT, Notre Dame) and Morgan Moses (OT, Virginia). Besides adding help in the passing attack, adding help to stop the passing attack is probably the second highest need, especially since I’m about to cut CB Antonio Cromartie and his $15 million dollar cap hit. Help on the offensive line will also be a priority moving forward in this draft, and I like the versatility that Moses and Martin provides by being capable to play both inside and out.
With the 19th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Miami Dolphins select?