2014 NFL Mock Draft: Sneak Peek at Next Year's 1st-Round Projections
Unlike this year's draft class, which lacks star power at the top, there are some incredibly dynamic prospects who will be available for the 2014 NFL draft.
Superstar quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel could potentially both leave school early, as could pass-rushing phenom Jadeveon Clowney.
The hype surrounding next year's draft will likely be exponentially more intense than the limited buzz this year's class is generating.
For the purpose of this mock, please don't judge too harshly the order. Nobody can possibly know how the 2013 NFL season will play out, and the order isn't the focus.
Certain selections will be highlighted with italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Oakland Raiders—QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
If Oakland ends up with the No. 1 pick, it will mean neither Terrelle Pryor nor Matt Flynn could get the job done at the quarterback position. It will also mean the Raiders will be in the market for a franchise quarterback.
Given the level of talent Bridgewater brings to the table, it shouldn't be a shock to anyone if Reggie McKenzie opts to take him over Clowney—even if Clowney is the best player available.
As a sophomore last year, Bridgewater improved dramatically in every area compared to his freshman campaign. He completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,817 yards with 27 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
Should he continue to build upon his success and break through with another big season, he'll go No. 1 overall if the team holding that pick need a quarterback. Pass-rushers are certainly valuable players, but no team wins in the NFL without a franchise quarterback.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The Jaguars wouldn't need to think about this pick for long. Clowney is a ferocious pass-rusher who has the size, speed and skill set to become a dominant defensive end in the NFL.
3. New York Jets—Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
If the Jets can't fix their offense in 2013, they'll be due for an upgrade at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez's contract has tied him to the team for this upcoming season, but he'll likely be cut next year if he can't improve.
Manziel blew the hinges off his first year running the show at College Station. He displayed excellent accuracy, a strong arm and made good decisions with the football.
His ability to make plays with his feet as well as his ability to make all the throws necessary in the NFL with accuracy and touch makes him an intriguing prospect at the next level—much like Robert Griffin III.
Furthermore, adding Johnny Football would provide a much-needed boost of morale for this franchise and its fans.
4. Arizona Cardinals—OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
If Arizona lands one of the top offensive tackles this year, Matthews won't likely be the pick here. That said, it seems likely that all three top tackles will be gone before this team picks in 2013, making Matthews an easy pick next year.
5. Tennessee Titans— OLB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley is a dynamic pass-rusher who can also cover in space. He could fit into either a 3-4 scheme or a 4-3 at the outside linebacker position, much like Von Miller when he came out a couple years ago. The Titans will need to continue adding pieces to their defense in the next couple of years, and Mosley would be a smart addition.
6. Buffalo Bills—WR Marqise Lee, USC
At this time, the only receiver on Buffalo's roster most fans are aware of is Stevie Johnson. Assuming the Bills pick up a quarterback this year, it would behoove Buddy Nix to bring in some talented pass-catchers for the young man, and Lee is an elite prospect who would have been the top receiver this year, had he been eligible.
7. San Diego Chargers—OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Philip Rivers still has some good years ahead of him, provided he stays healthy. The best way to keep him healthy is by providing him with excellent protection up front and by running the ball efficiently. Lewan would provide this team with an upgraded ability to do both.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
The Buccaneers made some major moves to bolster a porous secondary, adding Dashon Goldson in free agency and trading for Darrelle Revis. That said, the team's defense will still struggle in 2013 without a consistent pass rush, which is why it's likely Tampa Bay will select a highly rated pass-rusher in 2014.
9. Philadelphia Eagles—QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
It's likely the Eagles will draft a quarterback this year. Should the team make the decision to focus on other areas of need and roll with Michael Vick and Nick Foles in 2013, Chip Kelly will be looking to upgrade. Boyd's athleticism, speed and strong arm make him a perfect fit for Kelly's offense.
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10. Cleveland Browns—QB David Fales, San Jose State
Drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012 was a terrible choice by the Browns. He'll likely struggle again this year, and if he does, Cleveland will be looking for his replacement. Fales is a pure pocket passer who displays phenomenal accuracy and arm strength, and he'll be an ideal player for offensive coordinator Norv Turner to groom.
11. Kansas City Chiefs—TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Tony Moeaki's career in the NFL started out with a bang, but he hasn't been the same since suffering a devastating knee injury in 2011. Seferian-Jenkins has the look of an elite pass-catching tight end, and he'll be a big target for Alex Smith in the middle of the field and in the red zone.
12. Dallas Cowboys—DT Dominique Easley, Florida
The Cowboys will be in the second year of Monte Kiffin's defense in 2014—provided he's still there, of course. After years of drafting players who fit a 3-4 scheme, Dallas will still be looking for big-time playmakers to stock its front seven. Easley is a versatile player who would give Dallas' defense a big boost up front.
13. Carolina Panthers—OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
The Panthers feature some dynamic running backs and a quarterback in Cam Newton who is also capable of breaking off big gains on the ground. Adding a road grader like Jackson would be a big move to help this team consistently make use of all that talent.
14. Detroit Lions—DE Morgan Breslin, USC
The Lions enter the 2013 without a single dominant pass-rusher, and there's a good chance this team will be in the market for one, even if it does address this need in this year's draft. Breslin is a talented young pass-rusher who would have an excellent chance of cracking the starting lineup as a rookie and producing at a high level.
15. St. Louis Rams—S/CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Unless the Rams find a couple of starting safeties in this year's draft, Jeff Fisher and company will still be searching for one or two in 2014. Joyner is an excellent cover man who is just as comfortable deep in zone coverage as he is near the line of scrimmage against slot receivers.
16. Baltimore Ravens—OT Sentreal Henderson, Miami (FL)
If Joe Flacco is going to continue developing into an elite quarterback, he'll need protection up front. Flacco is a stationary target in the pocket, and he needs athletic offensive linemen in front of him to keep him clean. Henderson is such an athlete, and he'll provide Flacco with coverage on the blind side for the foreseeable future.
17. Minnesota Vikings—CB Jason Verrett, TCU
The Vikings are currently retooling their defense with young talent. Harrison Smith is an excellent young safety, but Minnesota must continue adding skilled cornerbacks to compete with the high-powered offenses of the NFC North. Verrett is a ball-hawking corner who has the speed and size to handle NFL receivers.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
Pittsburgh will still be in rebuilding mode in 2014. This is a team that must continue to get younger on the defensive side of the ball, and adding a productive pass-rushing linebacker like Van Noy would help this franchise resurrect its Steel Curtain in the years to come.
19. New York Giants—DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
The Giants are always looking to bring in talented pass-rushers. Even if the team drafts a couple this year, you can be sure it will still be looking to upgrade in 2014. Jeffcoat was unfortunately injured last year, but if he can come back healthy in 2013 and produce like he did before his injury, he'll be a lock as a first-round pick.
20. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Speed. That's what is needed on the defensive side of the ball to defeat the two dynamic quarterbacks the Rams face twice a year in the NFC West.
Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares, and the best way to counter their ability to run for massive gains on any given play is by possessing players who can track them down.
Attaochu is a speedy, hybrid linebacker who moves like a safety. He logged 10 sacks last year and has gotten better every year at Georgia Tech. Adding him to the Rams' front seven would give Jeff Fisher's defense a chance to attack Wilson and Kaepernick, rather than be the one getting attacked.
21. Indianapolis Colts—S C.J. Barnett, Ohio State
The Colts signed LaRon Landry this past offseason, but there's no doubt this team needs to continue adding defensive backs. Barnett is a terrific defender who possesses good ball skills and who has the speed to make big plays all over the field.
22. Chicago Bears—DT Anthony Johnson, LSU
Chicago's defensive roster isn't a portrait of youth. This franchise has too long relied on its veterans to make the big contributions and must get younger before the Bears end up hitting a brick wall in another year or two on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson is a disruptive defensive tackle who would thrive playing next to Henry Melton, provided Melton is still with the Bears in 2014.
23. New Orleans Saints—NT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
A key cog for any 3-4 scheme is a dominant nose tackle. Without one, teams that run a 3-4 defense often get gashed for big gains on the ground up the middle. Nix is a pure nose tackle who could anchor Rob Ryan's defense in the middle.
24. Miami Dolphins—DE Ben Gardner, Stanford
Gardner could have entered the 2013 NFL draft, but he made the decision to stay in school for one more year. His pass-rushing skills will improve this year—as they have every year since he's been at Stanford—and he'll be a nice addition to the Dolphins' front seven.
25. Cincinnati Bengals—DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
Imagine a front four that featured Geno Atkins and his clone. A scary thought, for sure, but if the Bengals drafted Sutton next year, that's exactly what opposing teams will face every Sunday.
26. Green Bay Packers—C Bryan Stork, Florida State
Jeff Saturday didn't pan out as the Packers expected last year, and chances are this team will still be looking for a center in 2014. Stork is the premier center prospect for the 2014 NFL draft, and he would give Rodgers some much-needed protection and stability up front.
27. Houston Texans—DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Hageman is an intriguing prospect who possesses the size and strength to play at any interior position in any defensive scheme. Adding him to play opposite J.J. Watt as a 3-4 defensive end would give Houston's defense a huge boost, both against the run and the pass.
28. Atlanta Falcons—CB Marcus Williams, North Dakota State
Teams in the NFC South can't have enough quality cornerbacks. With Cam Newton, Josh Freeman and Drew Brees coming to play twice a year, Mike Nolan's defense must be stocked with talented defensive backs. Williams, though not from a big school, has the size, speed and skill to become a starter for the Falcons early in his career.
29. Denver Broncos—OT Chaz Green, Florida
It might be too expensive to sign Ryan Clady to a long-term contract next year. He was hit with the franchise tag this spring, and Denver will be hard pressed to give him the money he'll desire as one of the top left tackles in the NFL. Adding a young player like Green would be a smart move to hedge against a potential divorce.
30. Seattle Seahawks—WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
An extremely productive receiver for the Commodores last year, Matthews caught 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. He's just the kind of tough player that will thrive under Pete Carroll's leadership, and he'll become one of Wilson's top targets in no time.
31. New England Patriots—DE James Gayle, Virginia Tech
Adding another defensive end to play opposite Chandler Jones will be a priority for Bill Belichick in the next couple of years. He could certainly do worse than Gayle, who will come into his own as one of the top pass-rushers in college football in 2013.
32. San Francisco 49ers—CB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
By the time the 2014 NFL draft rolls around, Carlos Rogers will be a player the 49ers will likely consider releasing. Furthermore, Nnamdi Asomugha only signed a one-year contract, so the 49ers will surely be in the market for one of the top cornerbacks. Everett is a quick, aggressive cornerback who would be able to compete for a starting spot from the first day of training camp.
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