By Chris Ross @DraftScout_NFL on May 1, 2014
The 2014 NFL Draft is approaching quickly. With one of the most exciting draft classes in recent memory, there is almost no doubt that this year's draft will be filled with surprises and twists, especially in the first round. With that said, here is my final full first-round NFL mock draft for the 2014 NFL Draft.
With the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans should select South Carolina defensive phenom, Jadeveon Clowney. Despite the team’s need at quarterback, Clowney is the obvious pick here. Across from J.J. Watt, Clowney could become an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.
Although it’s probably unlikely that the St. Louis Rams will keep this selection come draft day, if the team does decide to stay put, I believe Sammy Watkins should be the pick. The Rams have publicly stood behind quarterback Sam Bradford despite injury concerns, and it’s time that the Rams give their quarterback some weapons to work with.
Yes, there is a big need for a young franchise quarterback in Jacksonville, however, the third overall pick isn’t the place to take their franchise quarterback. Khalil Mack, a pass-rushing monster with a relentless motor, is a perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s defense, and is the easy pick here.
The first quarterback off the board is none other than the polarizing Johnny Manziel. Some love him, some hate him, but there’s simply no doubting that when Manziel steps on the field, he has the type of playmaking ability that is rarely seen. In Cleveland, Manziel would have guys like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to throw to, and he has the talent to turn that franchise around.
While the quarterback position could be the focus for the Oakland Raiders here, I just don’t see how the team would be able to pass up on a talent like Greg Robinson at offensive tackle. Robinson has the potential to be a starter for the next 12 years, and would become a stud for the Raiders.
Despite Jake Matthews still being on the the board, the Atlanta Falcons should go with Taylor Lewan over Matthews at the tackle position. Lewan has great potential on either side of the line, and he could be the blind side protector Matt Ryan has lacked.
After the team shipped receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills this offseason, the need for a No. 2 receiver across from Vincent Jackson became apparent. Enter Mike Evans, a big 6-foot-5 receiver with the catching and playmaking ability to shine, and all of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have themselves one of the best receiver combinations in the NFL.
Christian Ponder was an absolute disaster for the Minnesota Vikings over the past few seasons, and as a result, the team is still looking for a franchise quarterback. I've never been a huge Blake Bortles fans, however, his talent is obvious, and he would be stepping into a good situation in Minnesota. Bortles could have the chance to develop into the franchise quarterback Ponder failed to become.
Cordy Glenn is entrenched at left tackle for the Bills, and rightfully so. However, the right side of the line is a different story for the Bills as Erik Pears has looked overwhelmed as a starter. Although Matthews isn’t going to be the first lineman selected in the draft, he is the safest and would give E.J. Manuel some much-needed protection on the right side.
The Detroit Lions don’t seem to be totally sold on Brandon Pettigrew as a starter anymore, and with Eric Ebron available here, the choice should be relatively easy. Ebron runs and catches like a receiver, and while he needs some work on blocking, there’s no doubting that Ebron could be a dangerous weapon in the Lions’ offense.
In 2014, the Tennessee Titans will likely be transitioning to a 3-4 defensive scheme. By selecting Anthony Barr here, the Titans are not only getting a player that is well-suited for the new scheme, but also a player with the potential to become a double-digit sack threat in a few seasons.
Aaron Donald is far and away the most disruptive defensive tackle in the 2014 draft, and the New York Giants could use a player of Donald’s caliber along their defensive line. Donald is an explosive player, with the talent to become a star in the middle of the Giant’s defensive line.
With their second first-rounder of the night, the St. Louis Rams should turn their focus to the safety position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the consensus top safety in this draft class, and could step in right away in St. Louis’ secondary. Clinton-Dix has star potential, and the Rams would be making a wise selection by picking him up here.
Poor safety play has plagued the Chicago Bears’ secondary for quite some time now, and the team should finally correct that problem by picking up Calving Pryor here. Pryor is a hard-hitting safety with the potential to make an Eric Berry-type impact for the Bears.
Ike Taylor’s play fell off in a big way for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, and it’s time the team picks up his eventual replacement. Justin Gilbert is considered by many to be the top available corner in this year’s draft, and with a few seasons of development, he could take over No. 1 cornerback duties for the team.
Despite the signing of Henry Melton in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys should still target defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan here. Not only is Jernigan a great insurance policy in case the injury bug again finds Melton, but he’s also a guy who could develop into the type of player that could give the Cowboys one of the better defensive tackle rotations in the league.
The Baltimore Ravens failed to protect franchise quarterback Joe Flacco as well as they should have in 2013, and it’s important to the team’s future success that they go out and bring in some sort of upgrade along the offensive line. Zack Martin is an extremely versatile offensive lineman, and could step right in and start from day one.
Although the New York Jets went out and signed receiver Eric Decker in free agency, there is still a need for another receiver to play across from Decker, as Stephen Hill hasn’t shown that he can be anything more than a backup in the NFL. By picking up Odell Beckham Jr. here, the Jets are getting a guy who could become a playmaking stud.
Branden Albert was brought in by the Miami Dolphins this offseason to fix their woes at the left tackle position, however, the right tackle spot is still a concern. Cyrus Kouandjio is adept at both run and pass blocking, and if he can avoid injury troubles, Kouandjio is the obvious pick for the Dolphins.
Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger for the Arizona Cardinals, however, by picking up Derek Carr here, the Cardinals have a great plan for the future. Carr has the huge arm to thrive in Bruce Arians’ vertical offense, and he could become a solid starter when Palmer calls it a career.
A legitimate top-10 talent, C.J. Mosley falls mainly due to the position he plays. That said, there is a need for more speed in the Green Bay Packers’ linebacking corps, and the team would be thrilled if Mosley is available here.
With the release of receiver DeSean Jackson earlier this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles effectively created a big need for a playmaking receiver. Luckily for them, Brandin Cooks has elite speed and catching ability, and could be an excellent replacement for the departed Jackson.
Jimmie Ward is a player who has been extremely overlooked throughout the draft process, however, the man has an exceptional amount of talent. Although the Kansas City Chiefs already have Eric Berry on the roster, putting Ward across from him would give the Chiefs one of the most dangerous safety combinations in the NFL.
Losing Michael Johnson in free agency created a pretty big hole along the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive line. However, with the selection of Kony Ealy here, I believe that hole is effectively filled. Ealy isn’t the most polished prospect, but with his natural talent and potential, Ealy could end up becoming a star.
Cam Thomas was a tough player for the San Diego Chargers to watch leave, that said, Louis Nix III is a great value here. Nix is a powerful, athletic player and could give the Chargers even more production than Thomas did.
Earlier in this mock, the Cleveland Browns picked up their quarterback of the future in Johnny Manziel. With this pick, the focus turns toward surrounding Manziel with even more weapons. Marqise Lee was once thought to be a top-10 talent, and could thrive across from Josh Gordon.
A versatile pass rusher, Dee Ford possesses one of the most intriguing skillsets in this draft class. Ford is exactly the type of hybrid rusher that Rob Ryan needs in his defense, and he could become a valuable piece of New Orleans defense.
The retirement of longtime left tackle Jordan Gross put the Carolina Panthers in a tough position going into the draft. Fortunately for the Panthers, Morgan Moses is still available when it comes time to make their selection. Moses certainly isn’t the most polished player out there, but he has the talent to be an effective left tackle very soon.
Rob Gronkowski is an injury risk, and the depth behind him for the New England Patriots isn't exactly inspiring. That said, by picking up Jace Amaro here, the Patriots are not only picking up a player who can act as an insurance policy for when Gronkowski goes down with another injury, but also a player who could develop into a Pro Bowl-level tight end.
Perhaps the weakest position on the roster for the San Francisco 49ers is the cornerback position. However, with the selection of Kyle Fuller here, the team's cornerback woes are immediately taken care of. Fuller is great in coverage and is NFL-ready right now, and he could be a valuable member of the 49ers’ defense.
Von Miller has gotten himself in trouble a little more than the Denver Broncos would like, and the outside linebacker position across from Miller has been questionable at best. Ryan Shazier is a fast, rangy outside linebacker, with the pass-rushing talent to be an excellent player across from Miller. This is an easy choice for the Broncos.
The offensive guard position is easily the weakest spot on the Seattle Seahawks roster right now, however, by picking up Xavier Su’a-Filo here, the Seahawks are picking up an NFL-ready player, and an immediate upgrade in their interior line.
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