2014 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 1 -16
The worst time of the year has to be the off-season of the NFL. The NFL has been the most popular sport in America for quite some time now so of course when the season comes to an end they instinctively look for the next big moment of the season. That of course would be the NFL Draft. With the draft comes renewed hope that the players being brought into their favorite team will turn the tide or help turn a good team into a great team. Some teams have penchant for drafting really well for their team while others continue to flounder thanks to poor draft decisions. The key to success in the league is to build through the draft, some teams understand that and other teams just do not.
1. Houston Texans - DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The Texans will look at the three top Quarterback prospects but, none of them are worthy of being the first overall pick. The first overall pick should be that of the best player available and the thought of Clowney playing off of J.J Watt is a scary though for opposing offenses. Clowney has character issues going against him but many believe that when he is in a building with pros and competing against the best then he will bring his best. His skill set reminds scouts of Aldon Smith but he might just be better. Pairing him with Watt on an already very talented defense would be a wise decision instead of handcuffing themselves to take on of the quarterbacks in this draft.
2. St. Louis Rams - OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Robinson is one of the top players available and fills an immediate need for the Rams as they will most likely lose Rodger Saffold in free agency. Saffold was angered by the Rams for making a trade to acquire Jake Long last season, so no one expects him to re-sign. Also, Jake Long is injured so offensive tackle is a huge need for the Rams. Luckily, Greg Robinson is a great pick up for them and after his great season at Auburn and his great combine showing he has recieved comparisons to Hall of Famer Larry Allen.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The Jaguars have been in desperate need of a Quarterback for sometime. They have lacked talent at the position for far too long. Drafting Teddy Bridgewater would be raise the competition at the position while also adding more talent. Bridgewater might not be as flashy as the other prospects but he has run an NFL offense making him the most NFL ready Quarterback. Bridgewater would fit this team greatly as he won't hurt them but he'll make enough plays for them to be a capable starter in the league. He has at his disposal a decent run game, decent weapons on the outside as well as a solid offensive line.
4. Cleveland Browns - WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
The Browns for the longest time seem enamored by Johnny Manziel and as of late that has seemingly faded away. It was also widely presumed that the Browns would go quarterback here but over time that has also gone away. They believe they can go best player available here then possibly get Derek Carr in the second round. Going by best player available they would nab the most explosive play maker in the draft, Sammy Watkins. A wide receiver duo of Josh Gordon and Sammy Watkins alongside Jordan Cameron is a formidable group while also very young. Gordon showcased his talent last year and proved that he is a top flight wide receiver in the league while Cameron also has the makings of a top tier tight end in the league. Adding Watkins would complete the offense which already has a decent offensive line. The franchise quarterback could come later in the draft or simply next season.
5. Oakland Raiders - QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The Raiders need help in all kinds of ways, on offense and defense. While I do not think Manziel is the best fit for the Raiders, I would expect the Raiders to take them. Drafting Manziel would improve their offense as well as ticket sales. Manziel would fill a business void but also he would instantly become their best offensive weapon and quarterback.
6. Atlanta Falcons - OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews is the most versatile offensive lineman prospect in this year's draft as he can lineup at any one of the five positions. He also comes from a great football family as his father is a Hall of Famer. NFL teams have had their eyes on Matthews even last year, but he decided to stay one more year at school. Matthews would come in immediately and upgrade the pedestrian offensive line that the Falcons had been putting out lately as the offensive tackle position has been one of it's weakest points for a long time now.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
This is a dream situation for Lovie Smith coming in as the new head coach of Tampa Bay where he is implementing his Tampa 2 defense. For a successful Tampa 2 defense you need an elite defensive tackle (Gerald McCoy), an elite linebacker (Lavonte David), a shut-down corner (Darrelle Revis) and two elite safeties (Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson). The one thing missing from the defense would be that of a pass rusher, as Lovie had Julius Peppers over in Chicago, he now walks in to a situation where he can add one of the best pass rushers in this year's draft. Mack blew people away with his explosiveness in the combine. He and Gerald McCoy would make for a very dangerous duo on the defensive line.
8. Minnesota Vikings - QB Blake Bortles, UCF
Blake Bortles could very well turn out to be the best quarterback of this year's draft and if he falls this far, he would be walking into the best position possible for him. The Vikings already have a staple franchise left tackle in Matt Kalili and the best running back in football, Adrian Peterson. Those are two best friends to a rookie quarterback. With new head coach Mike Zimmer, he will look and almost instantly improve their defense most likely through free agency and again through the draft. Bortles has all the tools for a successful NFL quarterback and would come into a situation that this franchise is starved for a franchise quarterback. In a few years, Bortles could be that guy. In future rounds, I would not be surprised if they look to add a wide receiver for him to throw to as well.
9. Buffalo Bills - OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
It will ultimately be very tempting to draft Mike Evans here who could be the constant go to guy for E.J Manuel but first you need to protect your quarterback. The offensive tackle position has not been a strong suit the past few years for the Bills so Taylor Lewan would be a terrific addition to their team. Lewan compares to Jon Runyan, as Lewan would improve their running game and pass protection. If Manuel is to be given a fair shake as the franchise quarterback for the team, it would be wise to give him some adequate protection up front.
10. Detroit Lions - CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Pass defense has been an after thought over in Detroit over the past few seasons. Everyone knows that Detroit can put up points, but in order for them to make that next step and possibly challenge the Packers for the division then they will need to make some stops on defense. Cornerback has been lacking in terms of talent for some time now in Detroit and drafting Gilbert would do wonders for them. Gilbert is terrific in a bump and run scheme while also rarely allowing separation from his man. He also has terrific ball skills and could be considered a play maker when the ball is in the air. In this division, pass rushing and pass coverage is a necessity. Gilbert would help one of those needs for the Lions.
11. Tennessee Titans - ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
The Titans have lacked a true middle linebacker for some time now. All of that changes with the selection of C.J. Mosley who is both terrific in stuffing the run and in coverage against tight ends. These are two commodities that you absolutely need out of a middle linebacker in today's NFL, especially when running a base 4-3 defense. Of course, the Titans would love to bolster their pass rush but Mosley is too good to pass up and would be a long term linebacker for them. He is so talented that he could play any linebacker position.
12. New York Giants - WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Giants let go of long time wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and if everything goes their way they could replace him with the wide receiver in this year's draft with the most upside. Mike Evans is a monster standing at 6'4 and 230 pounds and with his frame he would remind Eli Manning of his days of throwing to Plaxico Burress. Evans would complement Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle perfectly. Evans, with his big frame, also has plenty of speed as he demonstrated at the NFL combine. This of course would be a dream scenario for the Giants if Evans falls to them.
13. St. Louis Rams - DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Originally with this pick I had the Rams selecting HaHa Clinton-Dix, but with the rumors surrounding the Rams going hard after Jairus Byrd in free agency it made me revise this pick. Jeff Fisher loves to get defensive lineman through the draft and the middle of the line is still slightly suspect. Michael Brockers has held his own but Langford is towards the end of his career and beyond the two of them there is not much talent. Timmy Jernigan could come in from day one and challenge to be a starter on the defensive line. Aaron Donald might be the best defensive tackle prospect in the draft, but Jernigan fits Fisher's scheme better.
14. Chicago Bears - DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
The Bears would be elated if Aaron Donald fell to them as he ranks as the top defensive tackle prospect in this year's draft which fills a huge need for them. Teams were able to run all over Chicago last season in large part due to their weakness in the middle of the defense. It got to a point that it was laughable last season as when you think of Chicago, you think of a great defense. Donald is a superb pass rusher and a solid run defender who plays with a high motor. He is exactly what they need up the middle of their defense and with Henry Melton most likely bolting through free agency, this pick makes even more sense for the Bears.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The Steelers love to nap play makers when they can, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Under Todd Haley's offensive system, Eric Ebron would shine. Ben Roethlisberger also loves to throw the ball down field and down the middle which is again where Ebron would change. Granted, Roethlisberger loves Heath Miller as the two have had a great rapport for quite some time now but the fact of the matter is that Miller is on his last legs. Ebron is also the best player available while also giving their offense more balance. Antonio Brown proved to be a great wide receiver this season but every wide receiver on the Steelers is generally small, thus Ebron would give them a big body to throw to in the red zone.
16. Dallas Cowboys - DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Kony Ealy is the best pass rusher available and would compete to start at defensive end on day one on this team. The Cowboys struggled mightily to get to the quarterback last season and with the talk of possibly releasing DeMarcus Ware, this pick makes even more sense. Ealy has great explosiveness of the line and his size fits the prototype for a 4-3 defensive end. He might not be as fast as you would typically want out of a defensive end but he makes up for it through his technique. Sometimes off the line he gets his pad level too high which in the NFL will always end horribly for him, but under some good coaching he could develop into a very good defensive end.