With the NFL draft approaching, it’s already time to start thinking about the 2014 NFL draft.
While this year’s draft doesn’t have a lot of appealing names to fans, next year is certain to have some exciting players. With names like Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel, 2014 is sure to have yet another exciting draft.
This mock draft takes a look at where teams will likely be positioned in the first round, based on the current situation of their teams. While it’s uncertain who these teams will take in 2013, there are certain players in next year’s draft that would make be solid fits.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Whoever earns the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft won’t have to do much thinking. Clowney was one of the most highly-regarded pro prospects this season, and another year in college will likely make him an even bigger presence on defense. There are still plenty of holes on the Jaguars roster. With the team struggling in a conference with Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub, they need to improve their defense as much as they can for the next few seasons.
2. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Brandon Weeden didn’t appear to be the answer in 2012, but the Browns will likely give him another year to try and prove himself. Unfortunately, a lack of weapons will likely have the Browns abandoning ship late in the season for a chance to get a player like Bridgewater. At 6’3’’, the young quarterback prospect appears to be the most pro-ready passer in next year’s draft. He was an accurate passer for the Cardinals in 2012, completing 69 percent of his passes. With another big season in 2013, Bridgewater could be finding himself as one of the top picks in the 2014 draft.
3. New York Jets – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Rex Ryan isn’t going to last much longer in New York if the Jets repeat their 2012 campaign. Luckily for the Jets, they may finally be able to get rid of Mark Sanchez and add the famous Johnny Football in 2014. With so much talent a playmaking ability, it would be hard for the Jets not to pick Manziel.
4. Oakland Raiders – Marquise Lee, WR, USC
The addition of Matt Flynn brings hope to the Raiders, but the lack of weapons at receiver will limit Flynn’s ability to help out this team. Lee is a true impact receiver that is an overall great prospect, and his presence on this offense would help Flynn out tremendously.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Hate to break it to Cardinals fans, but Carson Palmer is not the long-term answer at the quarterback position. At 33, Palmer is on the decline. A player like Boyd can revitalize this offense that started more than its fair share of QBs in 2012.
6. Buffalo Bills – C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
It’s hard to see the Bills doing much in 2013, especially with Kevin Kolb potentially starting at QB. The linebackers are certainly a weak spot for the Bills. Luckily, the Crimson Tide currently have a great prospect in Mosley. He can rush the passer as well as play in coverage, and could be a great addition to the defense that has a solid front four.
7. Tennessee Titans – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The Titans still need to address the pass rush, and that will hurt them this season. One player to look at is Tuitt out of Notre Dame, who certainly has no problem getting to the quarterback. He finished his 2012 season with 12 sacks, but was overshadowed a lot due to Manti Te’o. With a year to play without that spotlight, Tuitt will shine on his own.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The offensive line was in shambles for the Eagles in 2012, and both Mike Vick and Nick Foles took a beating. Even if the team is able to bring in some protection in 2013, they will still need to add even more next year. Lewan will likely be starting his fourth straight season for the Wolverines, and has the talent and experience to be the starting left tackle for the future of the Eagles’ franchise. By protecting whoever starts at QB, the team will be in a lot better shape come to 2014 season.
9. San Diego Chargers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Chargers are missing a couple pieces to their team, and it feels like they keep moving backwards each year. In order to protect Philip Rivers, the Chargers need to bring in some more protection. With Luke Joeckel gone in 2013, Matthews will be able to stand out for the Aggies and show everyone he is another solid offensive lineman out of the program.
10. Kansas City Chiefs – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The addition of Alex Smith will help this team out a lot, but it still won’t make them the playoff contenders that they want to be. The Chiefs haven’t had a big playmaker at tight end since the days of Tony Gonzalez, but Seferian-Jenkins is looking like a Top 10-caliber prospect in 2014. The former basketball player reminds some of Jimmy Graham due to his athleticism. At 6’6’’, he is a tall guy that could be a great outlet for Smith and help keep the offense moving.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The addition of Darrelle Revis makes this team better, but one player can only do so much. The offensive line still needs to protect Josh Freeman and help him develop into a true franchise quarterback. With the addition of Kouandjio, the Bucs would be in much better shape offensively.
12. Carolina Panthers - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The pass defense is going to take a hit without Chris Gamble as their starting corner, but there are a few big prospects coming out of the secondary next season. Roby was a big part of the Buckeyes’ undefeated season, breaking up 19 passes in 2012. It’s hard not to like this fit in 2014.
13. Dallas Cowboys - Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
The defensive line for the Cowboys is getting old, and they need some youth added to this squad. Murphy was a beast in the tranches in 2012, racking up 10 sacks. Another pass rusher would help keep this defense relevant.
14. Detroit Lions - Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
The loss of Cliff Avril is going to hurt the Lions a lot in 2013. They need to find someone to replace him. The Bulls may not be the biggest program, but Lynch was a big part of the team’s defense in 2012. Look for him to be a big prospect after next season, and for the Lions to like his style of play.
15. Miami Dolphins - Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The offense is looking good for the Dolphins, but the secondary is ugly, and the pass defense is going to struggle because of it. Purifoy is solid in man coverage, and at 6’1’’ he has good size for a defensive back. If the Dolphins beef up their defense, they could very well make a run at the Patriots in the next few years.
16. St. Louis Rams - Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The Rams will likely add some pieces to their offense in the draft this year, but next year they will need to shift to helping the defense. Reynolds was one of the best safeties in the NCAA last season, but decided to stay in school. Another year at Stanford will make him quite an impact player next year.
17. Minnesota Vikings - Cassius Marsh, DT, UCLA
The defensive line is getting old, and something needs to be done about it. Marsh was an explosive player on the d-line last year, racking up 46 tackles and 6.5 sacks. With an inside presence, the rest of the defense’s job will be easier.
18. New York Giants - Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The Giants need pass rushers, and 2014 will provide a number of guys that can do just that. Barr from UCLA had an impressive 13 sacks last year, and excelled at blitzing on pass plays, making him an ideal fit with the Giants.
19. Baltimore Ravens - Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Winning a Super Bowl was huge, but the loss of so many players on defense makes it hard for this team to repeat. They will be happy with any additions to the defense for the next several years. Van Noy is an explosive linebacker off of the edge, recording 22 tackles for loss in 2012. He can blitz as well as get into coverage, so his presence would help the Ravens out quite a bit.
20. New Orleans Saints - David Yankey, OT, Stanford
Drew Brees has a few more years in him, but the Saints will want to keep him upright to extend his career for as long as the can. Yankey has played both right and left tackle, and his versatility will certainly help his draft stock. He was a really solid run-blocker as well, and he could be a real long-term option as a tackle for the Saints.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The loss of Mike Wallace certainly hurts, but don’t expect the Steelers to address that in the 2013 draft. Watkins was a big name during his freshman year, but a suspension his sophomore year slowed him down a bit. Even with that, Watkins will likely be the top prospect at wide receiver next year, and would have a very bright future in Pittsburgh.
22. Chicago Bears – Cyril Richardson, OT, Baylor
Jay Cutler has been banged around enough, but the loss of Brian Urlacher will be the main concern for the Bears in 2013. At 6’5’’ and 335 pounds, Richardson makes a frightening and versatile lineman. He could play as either a guard or a tackle, and that versatility makes him a great piece for the Bears.
23. Indianapolis Colts – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The Colts added a lot of defensive linemen in free agency this season, but a couple of those were short-term deals. A first-round pick in 2014 should go towards an interior presence on defense, and it doesn’t get much better than Nix. His big size of 340 pounds helped him manhandle interior linemen in 2012, and another big year in 2013 will make him a first-round pick.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The offense is looking good for the Bengals, but they are a couple pieces short of a Super Bowl-caliber team on defense. Crichton is a solid pass-rusher that record nine sacks last season. With another year to develop in college, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
25. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
The Rams get another pick from the Redskins in 2014 from the trade that gave Washington Robert Griffin III. With this pick, they could certainly pick up another pass-rusher. Attaochu continues to improve in college, and that makes him a big name in the 2014 draft.
26. Houston Texans – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Even though the Texans brought in Ed Reed, you can’t expect him to play much longer. Clinton-Dix will have all eyes on him with Robert Lester going pro, giving him a real opportunity to shine in 2013. Expect him to be a big player next season, and then expect him to get a serious look from the Texans.
27. Green Bay Packers – Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
Jeff Saturday didn’t do the job in 2012, and Evan Dietrich-Smith likely won’t cut it in 2013. A center is going to be a big need for the Packers after next year, and Stork makes a lot of sense. He was part of that solid line that protected E.J. Manuel last season, and that reputation will go a long way in helping his draft stock.
28. New England Patriots – Deshazor Everett, CB, Texas A&M
The Patriots pass defense certainly improved last season, but it’s a spot you can always continue to improve on. With Everett, the Patriots would be getting a 6’0’’ corner that is quick and athletic on defense as well as special teams. With such an impressive Aggies team in 2012, Everett will get plenty of attention in 2013.
29. Seattle Seahawks – Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
The Seahawks appear to have plenty of weapons and very few holes going into the 2013 draft. With that being said, there interior of the defensive line could use a big impact player. Johnson is a 305 pound athletic defensive tackle that could certainly make this defense even more impressive in 2014.
30. Atlanta Falcons – A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
The Falcons have a lot of good players, but their linebackers are fairly mediocre. The Volunteers had a bad season, but Johnson stood out as an inside linebacker. He finished the year with 138 tackles, getting in on tackle after tackle. A guy with a nose for the ball is someone that will always be welcome on a team, and the Falcons will be happy to have him.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State
The 49ers have plenty of draft picks in 2013, making it hard to predict their needs in 2014. However, a versatile defensive back like Joyner would make a lot of sense. He is an explosive player that was a candidate for both the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy in 2012. As long as he keeps doing what he did last season, Joyner will be a top prospect in next year’s draft.
32. Denver Broncos – Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Peyton Manning only has a few more years left in him, and it’s hard to see him not winning another Super Bowl with all of the weapons he has this year. However, the defense still needs some help in the secondary, especially with Champ Bailey showing signs of age. With Colvin, the Broncos would be getting a solid physical corner that isn’t afraid to make some plays.