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), no. 17 Dallas Cowboys (Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama), no. 18 New York Jets (Eric Ebron, TE, UNC) and no. 19 Miami Dolphins (Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame). With the 20th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Arizona Cardinals select?
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee.
There’s a ton of needs on this team, but none more pressing than the offensive line. It’ll help that last year’s first round pick, OG Jonathan Cooper (7th overall), is set to start his real rookie campaign after missing all of last year with a broken leg. But aside from Cooper, there’s not much to build around, especially someone who can protect the edge. Could I sign an OT in free agency? Yes, but I’ll be vastly overpaying for him, and we’re not in the best cap situation, especially next year (WR Larry Fitzgerald due to make $23.6 million). So instead, I’m going to address the situation in round one.
Richardson has great size (6-foot 6, 330) with long arms, good footwork and is an absolute mauler in the run game. He’s an above average pass protector, and can be beaten inside with a good counter, so he may ultimately be best suited for the right side, but he’d instill some grittiness that coach Bruce Arians loves. Plus, he’s a hard working player who puts in the time both in the film and weight rooms. In a worst case scenario, and he can’t handle the lightning fast edge rushers of the NFL, I can slide him down to RG, another position he projects well.
Amaro is an excellent playmaker who would help down the seams, and Arians loves two tight end sets. Beckham would provide that deep speed that we keep looking for to complement the possession-type receivers Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and we know how much Arians offense thrives on a vertical passing game. Ford and Murphy would provide that elite edge rushing presence we’re lacking and would be heir to John Abraham. Pryor would bring the size and physicality the secondary needs. He’d be an interesting complement to both FS Tyrann Mathieu and CB Patrick Peterson.
With the 21st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Green Bay Packers select?