By Chris Ross @DraftScout_NFL on March 17, 2014
The 2014 NFL Draft is approaching fast. The event, which takes place May 8-10, is one of the most exciting of the year, as it provides young athletes the opportunity to do what they've waited their entire lives for, to play in the NFL. That said, here is first-round 2014 NFL mock draft.
Yes, the Houston Texans desperately need a quarterback, but South Carolina’s jadeveon Clowney is simply too good a prospect for Houston to pass up on. Clowney is a beast in just about every aspect of his game, and putting him across from J.J. Watt would instantly give the Texans the best defensive end combination in the NFL.
Because of a bizarre circumstance in free agency, the St. Louis Rams were able to retain versatile offensive lineman Roger Saffold, effectively allowing them to wait until later in the draft to address the offensive line. Sammy Watkins is the complete package at wide receiver, and with both Watkins and last year’s first-rounder Tavon Austin, the Rams would have plenty of weapons on offense.
Although the Jacksonville Jaguars resigned quarterback Chad Henne, there is still a massive need at the position. Teddy Bridgewater doesn't have the star potential as some of the other quarterbacks in May’s draft, but he has the accuracy, leadership, and intelligence to become Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future.
The Cleveland Browns haven't had a competent quarterback in a very long time, but with the 2014 NFL Draft possessing several potential stars at the position, this is the year the Browns finally find their answer at QB. Blake Bortles is far from polished, and he needs work on his technique and footwork. but his long-term potential is special.
After losing out on Roger Saffold after a failed physical, the Oakland Raiders continue to have a big need at offensive tackle. Greg Robinson is far and away the best prospect at his position, and with his blend of athleticism, power and potential, Robinson could be the Raiders’ franchise tackle.
While it’s certainly true that the Atlanta Falcons could use a pass-rusher on defense such as Khalil Mack, the fact is, the team needs to focus more on protecting franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. Jake Matthews doesn’t have the elite athletic ability of someone like Robinson or Taylor Lewan, but he does have outstanding technique and polish, and would be an instant stalwart on the Falcons offensive line.
With Khalil Mack available here, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be foolish to pass him up. Mack is a pass-rushing monster, and is an instant impact player. By putting him across from Lavonte David, Tampa Bay would have quite the combination.
Christian Ponder clearly isn’t the answer in Minnesota, and as much as I would love to believe Matt Cassel is above-average, the fact is, he isn’t. Johnny Manziel is as highly polarizing as they come, but there is simply no doubting his playmaking ability, and natural talent. With Adrian Peterson in the backfield, along with Greg Jennings and up-and-coming Cordarrelle Patterson to throw the ball to, Manziel could be a star in Minnesota.
Taylor Lewan, an offensive lineman out of Michigan State is absolutely loaded with potential. As good as Cordy Glenn has been for the Bills over his time in the league, Lewan would be able to step in for Glenn at left tackle, allowing him to play his more natural right tackle position. Lewan would be a fantastic addition to the Bills offensive line, and would do a great job protecting E.J. Manuel’s blind side.
The Detroit Lions have long needed a true no. 1 cornerback, and in Justin Gilbert, the team is getting just that. Gilbert has great speed, athletic ability, and a knack for big plays. Needless to say, Gilbert and the Lions are a perfect fit.
With the Tennessee Titans losing starting cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency, all of a sudden, there is a need at the position. Darqueze Dennard has the potential to become a shutdown corner down the road, and is ready to start from day one.
Jon Beason is a fine player for the New York Giants, but the fact is, the rest of the linebacking core could use some improvement. Anthony Barr is one of the fastest defensive players in the entire draft, and with his athletic ability and potential, he could become a dominant force.
To put it simply, Rodney McLeod hasn’t been very good at safety for the Rams, and it’s time for an upgrade. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is perhaps the best safety prospect available in this year’s draft, and with great cover ability, technique, and potential, Clinton-Dix could become one of the NFL’s brightest, young safeties in St. Louis.
The Chicago Bears desperately need a talent infusion along their defensive line, and in Aaron Donald, the team is getting just that. Despite size concerns, Donald has proven time and time again that he has the talent to dominate.
Far and away the top inside linebacker in this year's draft class, C.J. Mosley has everything a team looks for in their defensive leader. Although the Steelers could also go with a receiver with this pick, Mosley is the right way to go.
Big and loaded with potential, Timmy Jernigan, a defensive tackle out of Florida State, has an opportunity in the NFL to really shine. He has an explosive first step, and the power to have his way with opposing offensive lineman. Although he needs work on his technique and is relatively inexperienced, Jernigan has the natural ability to become a star in the NFL.
Since they traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin, the Baltimore Ravens have lacked a physical target that isn't afraid to go over the middle. Mike Evans, out of Texas A&M, stands at 6-foot-5, and has the hands and toughness to become quite the weapon playing across from the speedy Torrey Smith.
Despite signing Eric Decker to a big free agent deal, the New York Jets still need help at the receiver position. As early as last offseason, Marqise Lee was viewed at a sure top-10 pick, and although he struggled with injuries last season for USC, Lee is still the explosive target he was earlier in his college career, and would provide Geno Smith with another target to rely on.
Last offseason, in the midst of a major free agency spending spree, the Miami Dolphins signed who they thought to be the franchise’s answer at tight end in the form of Dustin Keller. After a season that saw Keller go down with a torn ACL, the Dolphins are now even more uncertain at the position than before. By picking up Eric Ebron, the team is adding a great playmaker with a very high ceiling.
Due to the fact that the offensive line is no longer an issue for the Arizona Cardinals, the team is now able to focus on other needs, such as the pass rush. Ra’Shede Hageman out of Minnesota lacks polish, but there is no denying his obvious physical gifts.
With Jermichael FInley dealing with injuries and ineffectiveness over his time with the Green Bay Packers, the team decided to move on this offseason, effectively creating a need at the tight end position. Jace Amaro isn't quite as complete a player as fellow tight end prospect Eric Ebron, but he is an explosive playmaker with the potential to become a dangerous weapon in the right situation.
To put it mildly, the Philadelphia Eagles need help at outside linebacker. Ryan Shazier is among the top players available at his position, and would have a great opportunity to showcase his skills in Philadelphia.
Although the Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a surprising season and quarterback Alex Smith is looking more comfortable than ever, the offense still needs to add talent in order to truly take the next step. Odell Beckham Jr. is a speedy receiver with a knack for making tough catches, and he could make a lot of noise across from Dwayne Bowe.
In today’s NFL, the nickel cornerback is essentially a starting position. Luckily for Jason Verrett, a cornerback out of TCU, he is a perfect fit in the nickel role. With that said, the Cincinnati Bengals could use some help in the secondary, and the team is getting ball-hawking playmaker in Verrett.
After losing Cam Thomas to free agency, the San Diego Chargers all of a sudden have a hole in the center of their defensive line. Louis Nix III is among the most powerful players in this entire draft class, and when you combine that power with his surprising speed and burst, Nix is a great bet to produce from day one in the NFL.
In this mock, I have the Browns selecting Blake Bortles with their first pick. With Bortles in hand, the Browns focus would automatically turn to making sure they protect their investment. By picking up David Yankey here, the Browns are solidifying the interior of their offensive line, effectively making the entire line better off.
Although he has been overlooked throughout the draft process, Kony Ealy has all the tools to dominate in the NFL. He has the speed, power and versatility that Rob Ryan loves. Ealy could blossom in New Orleans.
Despite releasing top receiver Steve Smith, and not having a surefire starter at the receiver position on the roster, the fact is, the Panthers must address their offensive tackle situation with their first rounder. Morgan Moses out of Virginia is a big guy with loads of potential. By snagging Moses here, the Panthers are solidifying their offensive line for years to come.
In an ideal world for the New England Patriots, Jace Amaro would still be on the board when the team is up to pick. With that said, C.J. Fiedorowicz isn’t a bad alternative. Although he has work to do as a pass-catcher, Fiedorowicz has fantastic blocking ability, and could form a dangerous duo with Rob Gronkowski, provided they both stay healthy.
The San Francisco 49ers have a wealth of great possession receivers, but what the team lacks is a speedster to take advantage down the field. Brandin Cooks out of Oklahoma State might just be the fastest receiver in this year’s draft, and would be a great weapon for Colin Kaepernick to throw to.
Over the last few years, the Denver Broncos have put a lot of focus on their defensive line. The work isn’t done yet however, and with Stephon Tuitt available, the Broncos would be foolish to pass him up.
With this pick, the rich get even richer. The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a convincing Super Bowl season, and with the opportunity to shore up the one position on the roster that is questionable, the Seahawks would have a fantastic opportunity to improve even more.
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