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, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) third, the Cleveland Browns picked Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M) fourth, the Oakland Raiders took Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo) fifth and the Atlanta Falcons took Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M) sixth. Who do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select seventh?
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
I know a lot of fans and media are anticipating the Bucs to take a WR here, especially if Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) is still on the board. And that certainly wouldn’t be a bad pick, both from a value and a need perspective. WR Vincent Jackson is a stud but after him it gets dicey, especially now that they’ve traded away the oft-troubled but immensely talented Mike Williams. Still though, this draft is tremendously deep at WR and not OT, where another huge hole lies. An OT in round one and WR in round two will get you a much better value in this draft than vice versa.
Anthony Collins was brought in to play the blind side and should be a big upgrade over Donald Penn from ’13. The other side, however, leaves a lot to be desired as both Demar Dotson and Emmett Cleary are backups at best. Lewan would be a gigantic upgrade and would give HC Lovie Smith a good set of bookend tackles to build around.
Lewan (6-foot 7, 310-pounds) is a tremendous athlete with ideal size. He has good mobility (very impressive 4.87 40-time), agility (7.39 3-cone drill and 4.49 20-yard shuttle), strength (29 reps of 225 on bench) and explosion (30-inch vert). He has the footwork and pass blocking skills to play the left side at a very high level and the strength and run blocking skills to play the right. He’s a smart, heady player who works hard on and off the field and is durable to boot. There’s an awful lot to like here.
Who else could be picked here? Evans, as mentioned before. Odell Beckham (WR, LSU) is another possibility despite being a slight reach here. Blake Bortles (QB, UCF) could a possibility if the staff doesn’t like what is has in Mike Glennon. Eric Ebron (TE, UNC) also shouldn’t be ruled out either. A big time playmaker like Ebron would be a huge upgrade over Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker, and would help take some of the focus off Jackson outside.