The 2014 NFL Draft is now just days away, and the final pick-by-pick mock draft has begun. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable.
Quick recap: the Houston Texans took Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina) first, the St. Louis Rams took Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) second and the Jacksonville Jaguars took Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) third. Who do the Cleveland Browns take at no. 4?
Similar to the Jags, I think Watkins will be the first priority for the Browns and here’s why. But assuming Watkins is off the board by four, as I expect he will be, I expect the Browns to take Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M).
Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo) is the most talented player on the board and would be a good value at four, but with Paul Kruger (in the second year of a $40 million dollar contract), Jabaal Sheard (2nd rounder in 2011) and Barkevious Mingo (1st rounder last year) in the fold, the team will likely go in a different direction.
Manziel’s the best QB in the draft and has the skill set and numbers to back it up. His arm has enough strength to make all the NFL throws, though he probably won’t ever be an elite deep ball thrower. His accuracy is solid when he uses good footwork, and he’s impressive throwing on the run. His mobility is a plus, and his pocket awareness is off the charts.
His knack for making something out of nothing is stuff of legend. He’s a very strong leader, despite what the headlines and media say, and his teammates love playing for him. His work ethic is strong and his fiery competitive spirit is precisely what you want from your team leader.
He’ll be a good fit in OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense as well. Shanahan and WR Josh Gordon would probably wish he had the deep ball of, say, Derek Carr (QB, Fresno St.), but is a better fit in the play-action, zone-blocking, boot-heavy scheme the Shanahan clan is famous for.
There are concerns about Manziel’s frame (6-foot, 207-pounds), and how his playing style will translate to the NFL. Will he constantly battle injuries playing with reckless abandon? Will he still be able to make plays going against guys who are just as fast if not faster than he is? These are legitimate concerns, but the pro’s vastly outweigh the cons here.
With the Browns biggest need taken care of with the fourth pick, they’ll have the luxury of using their second first rounder (thanks Ryan Grigson!) on the best player available. If the Browns choose to take a wild card choice (like WR Mike Evans) with their first pick, expect a QB (like Carr) with their second.