It's never too early to take a peek at what the 2014 NFL draft will look like.
With the 2013 NFL draft just days away, this mock draft will focus on the young men who will be making their case for the NFL in 2014.
Players like Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and Jake Matthews are in the mix for top spots.
Obviously, at this time we don't yet know where teams will pick. The order for this mock will be based on where teams stack up before the 2013 NFL season, but we know there will be some surprising teams emerging from mediocrity and some favorites that will fall.
More than anything, this mock will focus on how the players stack up rather than where teams will finish. Certain selections will be highlighted with italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Oakland Raiders—DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Oakland could select one of the top pass-rushers this year, but it's more likely Reggie McKenzie will go with a premier defensive tackle. If Clowney were able to participate in this year's draft, he would be the top pick. Adding him to the team's defensive line to play with Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotulelei would give the Raiders some serious firepower on defense.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
One more year of Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert will finally convince the Jaguars' brass that it must move on and draft another quarterback at the top of the first round.
Bridgewater, had he been eligible for this year's draft, would be the top quarterback selected over Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley and all the rest.
He's a two-year starter at this point who stepped onto campus at Louisville and blew the hinges off his first campaign as a true freshman. Then, he stepped his game up to another level in his sophomore season, completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
He's just the breath of fresh air the Jaguars need.
3. New York Jets—Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Mark Sanchez's contract will no longer be an issue in 2014, and the Jets can cut ties with him with minimum consequence. Manziel will transform New York's offense into an unpredictable and potent attack with his ability to make plays both with his legs and his arm.
4. Arizona Cardinals—OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
There's a chance the Cardinals could select Chance Warmack or a defender with the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft, which would mean the team would miss out on one of the top offensive tackles. Should that occur, Matthews would be an easy pick, as another wasted season would compel Arizona to finally address this position of need.
5. Tennessee Titans—WR Marquise Lee, USC
The Titans need to give Jake Locker as many weapons on offense as they can for him to excel. Lee is a phenomenal receiver who can do it all. If he's still on the board when Tennessee picks, he'll be an easy selection for the Titans.
6. Buffalo Bills—C.J. Mosley, Alabama
The Bills feature a weak linebacking corps behind their loaded front four. Provided this unit is still not as strong as it can be when the 2014 NFL draft takes place, Mosley would be a terrific player to throw into the mix. He can rush the passer and play in space.
7. San Diego Chargers—OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Even if San Diego lands one of the top offensive tackles in this year's draft, the Chargers will still be in need of another. Lewan can play on both sides, and he's a devastating run-blocker who will help Ryan Mathews become a stud in 2014.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—QB David Fales, San Jose State
Josh Freeman is set to become a free agent after the 2013 season. Head coach Greg Schiano reportedly isn't "on board" with Freeman going forward according to Stephen F. Holder of the Tampa Bay Times, and he'll get his chance to draft a player he can roll with going forward in the 2014 draft.
After spending two years at Monterey Peninsula College, Fales transfered to San Jose State and blew scouts away with a breakout 2012 campaign for the Spartans.
A pure pocket passer, Fales possesses an NFL arm and can make every throw on the field with pinpoint accuracy. As a redshirt junior in 2012, he completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 4,193 yards with 33 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
That kind of production has put him on the national radar for the 2014 NFL draft, and he would be the perfect replacement for Freeman, should he have another tough year for the Bucs in 2013.
9. Philadelphia Eagles—OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
The Eagles may end up taking a top pass-rusher this year, but should the team decide to go in a different direction Barr would be the perfect fit in Billy Davis' 3-4 scheme in 2014. A former running back and wide receiver at UCLA, he switched to outside linebacker in 2012, logging 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
10. Cleveland Browns—QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
If the Browns end up picking at No. 10, that means they improved upon their 2012 record. It would also mean that they couldn't do enough on offense to capitalize on their incredible, burgeoning defense, which means Brandon Weeden didn't perform up to expectations. By that time, Weeden will be 30 years old, and Cleveland would be smart to move on with a rookie with more upside.
11. Kansas City Chiefs—TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
The Chiefs should feature a serviceable offense in 2013 with Alex Smith behind center. That said, Tony Moeaki hasn't been the same since he was injured in 2011, and Smith always excelled with a dynamic tight end as his security blanket.
12. Dallas Cowboys—DT Dominique Easley, Florida
An athletic, agile defensive tackle who struggled at times as a defensive end against top-tier offensive tackles, Easely will be a perfect fit inside in Monte Kiffin's defense in 2014.
13. Carolina Panthers—OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
Until the Panthers build a dominant offensive line, Cam Newton and his offense will struggle with consistency. Adding a bruiser like Jackson would give the team a strong running game, which would allow the entire offense to take off in 2014.
14. Detroit Lions—DE Morgan Breslin, USC
The Lions will likely address their offensive line rather than select a defensive end in the first round this year, meaning Detroit will likely still be looking for a dynamic pass-rusher in 2014. Breslin posted 13 sacks last year as a junior, and if he is able to put forth that kind of effort next season he'll be a steal at this point in the draft.
15. St. Louis Rams—S/CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Even if the Rams select a top safety in this year's draft, there's a good chance this team will be in the market for another one in 2014. An experienced, versatile safety like Joyner would be a smart addition to this team.
16. Baltimore Ravens—OT Sentreal Henderson, Miami (FL)
With the amount of talent the Ravens lost after winning the Super Bowl in 2012, this team will likely experience a let-down season in 2013. Joe Flacco will need to have stellar protection throughout his career, and the best thing Ozzie Newsome could do for him is draft a top-flight offensive tackle.
17. Minnesota Vikings—DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Jared Allen is an unrestricted free agent after the end of the 2013 NFL season. When it's time for him to re-sign or seek employment elsewhere in free agency, he'll be 32 years old. Even if the Vikings re-sign him, this franchise would be smart to draft a young pass-rusher early to give him help on the other side.
Jeffcoat has been a productive player throughout his career at Texas, but a torn pectoral muscle killed his season. He had logged four sacks in six games before surgery sidelined him for the rest of the year.
As long as he returns healthy for the 2013 season and shows the same burst, strength and ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks, Jeffcoat will be a nice pickup here for the Vikings in the middle of the first round.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Pittsburgh's defense will need to continue getting younger in the next few years. Van Noy logged 13 sacks for BYU last year, and he'll be a perfect fit for Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme.
19. New York Giants—CB Jason Verrett, TCU
Unless the Giants score with a couple of top cornerbacks in this year's draft, this team will need to address this position in 2014. Verrett logged six interceptions and an astonishing 22 passes defended for TCU in 2012, and if he continues his stellar play in 2013, he'll be a lock as a first-round pick.
20. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Attaochu is a hybrid player who can rush the passer from any position on the field. At 6'3" and 223 pounds, he flies around the field with speed and fluidity. He's gotten better every year at Georgia Tech, and he'll be a big help for the Rams against the top teams in the NFC West.
21. Indianapolis Colts—S C.J. Barnett, Ohio State
With Andrew Luck running the show, the Colts will need to focus on building their defense to complement what he does on the offensive side of the ball. Barnett is an excellent safety who will be a terrific addition to the team's burgeoning 3-4 defense.
22. Chicago Bears—DT Anthony Johnson, LSU
Chicago must continue bringing in young defenders to replace its aging stars. Henry Melton is a young star in his own right, but he would be even more effective with a running mate inside. Johnson would be a perfect fit for the Bears to give them a double threat at the defensive tackle position.
23. New Orleans Saints—NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
The Saints will be in Year 2 of Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme in 2014, and it's likely the team will need to bring in a dominant nose tackle to bolster its front seven. Nix is a massive man who moves well and who can anchor the defensive line.
24. Miami Dolphins—DE Ben Gardner, Stanford
Gardner decided to stick around and play for Stanford in 2013, and it will prove to be a good move for him. He's gotten better every year since 2010, and a big season will put him into the first round in 2014. The Dolphins will need to continue building their front seven, and Gardner would be a perfect fit playing opposite Cameron Wake.
25. Cincinnati Bengals—DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
Just what the Bengals need, right? Another dominant defensive lineman. Sutton was a consensus All-American last year, posting 13 sacks, and he'll be a player who can slide around on the line and play at any position.
26. Green Bay Packers—C Bryan Stork, Florida State
If the Packers don't pick up one of the top centers in this year's draft, the team won't have a choice but to address this position of need in 2014. Stork is the top center available in 2014, and he'll slide into the starting spot immediately to run the offensive line for Aaron Rodgers.
27. Houston Texans—DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
The Texans have J.J. Watt, but he can't continue to do it all on the front line...or can he? It would be better not to test fate, and the Texans would be smart to bring in Hageman—a 6'6" monster of a man who would dominate as a 3-4 defensive end opposite Watt, giving Houston a formidable defensive front.
28. Atlanta Falcons—CB Marcus Williams, North Dakota State
The Falcons are loaded with talented defensive backs, but Asante Samuel is getting older and will be a free agent after the 2015 season. The smart move would be to draft a young cover corner to compete for playing time in 2014, and with any luck, Williams would turn into a starter before the season ended.
29. Denver Broncos—OT Chaz Green, Florida
Ryan Clady was hit with the franchise tag this spring, and it's going to be expensive to keep him in 2014. The Broncos may end up deciding it's a better long-term strategy to draft another offensive tackle and let Clady rake in the cash in free agency. Should they make that move, Green would be an excellent choice as his replacement.
30. Seattle Seahawks—WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Provided Russell Wilson stays healthy, the Seahawks will continue to provide him with offensive weapons to maximize his incredible talents. Matthews was a highly productive receiver for the Commodores last year, catching 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. If he continues to grow as a receiver in his senior season, he'll be one of the top receivers in the 2014 NFL draft.
31. New England Patriots—DE James Gayle, Virginia Tech
The Patriots might be in the market for another defensive end to pair with Chandler Jones in 2014, and they could do a lot worse than Gayle, who is an underrated pass-rusher with strength in the running game.
32. San Francisco 49ers—CB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
By the time the 2014 NFL draft rolls around, it's possible that both Carlos Rogers and Nnamdi Asomugha could be on the outs in San Francisco. The 49ers must continue to restock their secondary with defensive backs, and Everett is a player who fits well with the physical style of play this team requires of its cornerbacks.
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