After an electric 2013 NFL draft, it's never too early to start looking at the 2014 class, which includes some depth in the front seven and at quarterback.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the hot name at this point and the buzz around the 6'6", 256-pounder doesn't figure to fade down the stretch in the 2013-14 campaign. He's being talked about as one of the best defensive prospects in years.
But there are also quarterbacks such as Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson's Tajh Boyd who figure to make waves leading up to the 2014 draft.
Here's my first 2014 NFL mock draft, complete with analysis.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
It's hard to imagine any team passing up Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 overall when the time comes. He's versatile and incredibly explosive. I can already envision him being a Pro Bowler down the line.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Excuse me I'm not entirely ecstatic about Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Teddy Bridgewater figures to be the top quarterback selected in the 2014 draft. He has a quick release, he's accurate, he has a strong arm and he's mobile.
3. Oakland Raiders: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Raiders seriously need a difference-maker in the receiving corps. Marqise Lee not only "kills" with his speed, he's also a very good all-round prospect.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
After failing to address the outside linebacker position in the 2013 draft, the Eagles would be happy to nab C.J. Mosley in 2014. Equipped with the speed, power and burst to be a handful in the NFL, Mosley would be a wise choice for Philadelphia.
5. Detroit Lions: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
After seeing three offensive tackles already off the board in 2013 before selecting at No. 5 overall, the Lions will likely aim to draft a standout left tackle in 2014. Taylor Lewan is widely considered to be the No. 1 tackle in the 2014 class, with the all-around ability to be a Pro Bowler in the future. And, really, can you blame him for getting beat a couple times by Clowney in the Outback Bowl?
6. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
After failing to address the cornerback position in 2013, look for the Browns to address it in 2014. Bradley Roby could be the No. 1 corner off the board in the 2014 draft. He has an intriguing blend of size and athleticism at the position.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
After failing to land an offensive tackle in 2013, watch out for the Cardinals to look that way in 2014. It's hard to imagine Matthews not being at least the second tackle off the board in 2014. He has an all-around game that screams longtime NFL player. He also has the pedigree.
8. Buffalo Bills: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
The fact that Kyle Van Noy overshadowed Ezekiel Ansah in the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl tells you all you need to know. Van Noy has a chance to not only be a big-time pass-rusher in the NFL, he's displayed the ability to stuff the run. It makes him a catch in most teams' schemes and the Bills still have a hole at outside linebacker.
9. New York Jets: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Despite talk that the Jets would go after the speedy Tavon Austin in the 2013 draft, they didn't draft a receiver altogether. If Clemson's Sammy Watkins is available here, it's hard to imagine the Jets passing him up, especially considering they have a need in the receiving corps.
10. Tennessee Titans: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Is Jake Locker the answer under center for the Titans? I'm not so sure. Let me put it this way: after adding veteran guard Andy Levitre via free agency and Alabama's Chance Warmack via the 2013 draft, Locker better perform this season. Tajh Boyd is a true dual-threat who can excel in the pocket and with his legs. As always, he will be one of those quarterbacks who must answer questions about his size, though.
11. San Diego Chargers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With a need at outside linebacker, the Chargers could go with either Anthony Barr or Alabama's Adrian Hubbard in 2014. Barr is another one of those all-around players who can play in space or stuff the run inside.
12. Miami Dolphins: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins made some very nice moves this offseason, filling some major holes in the process. But there is still a need in the interior. Louis Nix may be a bit of a reach at No. 12 overall at this point, but I expect him to build on a strong 2012 season in 2013. Nix has a solid combination of power and athleticism.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Fales, QB, San Jose State
David Fales' competition (or lack thereof) while at San Jose State may have some teams hesitant to draft him, but his combination of size, footwork, arm strength and mobility project him nicely to the NFL. The Buccaneers may have drafted N.C. State's Mike Glennon in the third round of the 2013 draft, but Fales has more upside. Obviously, I have concerns about current starter Josh Freeman.
14. Carolina Panthers: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
Not only will the Panthers likely need to strengthen the outside linebacker position in 2014, Adrian Hubbard would be a nice value pick in the middle of the first round. Hubbard is just scratching the surface of his potential at Alabama. He has the blend of athleticism and strength to be an asset in the NFL.
15. New Orleans Saints: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
The Saints got big help on the back end with Texas' Kenny Vaccaro in the 2013 draft, but there are still issues at the cornerback spots. Aaron Colvin could be the No. 2 corner by 2014. He's displayed the agility, size and speed to be an impact player in the pros.
16. St. Louis Rams: Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
The Rams have done a nice job of building through the draft the past two years, but they could still use a defensive tackle that can get to the quarterback. Stephon Tuitt only figures to improve upon his 2012 campaign with the Fighting Irish in 2013. Tuitt has the size and quickness to be a solid pro down the road.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Steelers picked up a good value in safety Shamarko Thomas in the 2013 draft. Expect them to address the secondary in 2014. Justin Gilbert possesses the agility and coverage skills to be an instant starter in the NFL.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
After failing to land an offensive tackle to start opposite Tyron Smith in 2013, the Cowboys would be wise to address the position in 2014. Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio would would be a steal at No. 18 overall. With the strength and technique to be a right tackle in the pros, I like the Alabama product in Dallas.
19. New York Giants: Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
The Giants didn't address linebacker in the 2013 draft. Jonathan Brown is a great fit in their 4-3 defense, given his range, athleticism, speed and instincts.
20. Chicago Bears: Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
The Bears were able to address the linebacker positions in the 2013 draft, but there are still some gaping holes in the secondary, whether it be cornerback or safety. With the length and fluidity to be a starter in the NFL, I like Bennett Jackson here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Trey DePriest, ILB, Alabama
The Bengals didn't do much to address inside linebacker in the 2013 draft. Trey DePriest possesses the strength and quickness to be a first-round pick in 2014. He made Alabama's transition from Dont'a Hightower in 2012 almost seamless.
22. Washington Redskins: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
The Redskins were able to come away with a potential steal in Florida State defensive end Brandon Jenkins in 2013, but if Jackson Jeffcoat falls this far, it's going to be hard for Washington to pass him up. If Jeffcoat stays healthy in 2013, he's easily a first-round prospect in my mind, given his strength and quickness.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Vikings found good value with outside linebacker Gerald Hodges in 2013, but Ryan Shazier has more potential at the next level. Shazier doesn't possess great size for the NFL, but he has a nose for the ball and he's incredibly driven to succeed.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
The Colts didn't address cornerback in the 2013 draft. Landing the talented Quandre Diggs in 2014 would be a step in the right direction. Diggs isn't a tall corner, but his combination of size, quickness and fluidity is eye-opening.
25. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OT, Stanford
With a clear need for an impact player at right tackle, the Seahawks would do well to draft a player of David Yankey's caliber. His blend of size, quickness and footwork makes him a first-round pick in my mind.
26. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Barnett, S, Ohio State
Safety was one position the Packers didn't address in the 2013 draft. Landing C.J. Barnett—who projects to be the best safety in the 2014 class—would be a big step in the right direction on the back end. Barnett possesses great size, range and instincts at the safety position.
27. Houston Texans: Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
The Texans could use help in the linebacking corps. Andrew Jackson outshined defensive end Quanterus Smith in 2012, showing the toughness, tackling ability and drive to rise even more in 2013.
28. Denver Broncos: Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
After losing Elvis Dumervil this offseason, the Broncos would be wise to add a high-impact pass-rusher in the 2014 draft. Morgan Breslin surprised in 2012, showing a knack to get to the quarterback and blow up the backfield. If he proves in 2013 that it wasn't a fluke, he could be a first-rounder.
29. New England Patriots: Brian Blechen, S, Utah
The Patriots found a good value pick in Logan Ryan in the 2013 draft. Now they must add some talent to the back end. Brian Blechen still found a way to emerge from Star Lotulelei's shadow in 2012, displaying the hitting ability to stack up against the run and the range to be an asset in coverage.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The Falcons wisely added veteran Steven Jackson in the offseason, but he's obviously not the long-term solution in the backfield. Ka'Deem Carey figures to be the top running back selected in 2014. His quickness and speed are dazzling.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The 49ers did sign Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason, but there's no guarantee that he all of a sudden becomes a star again and there are still questions about Chris Culliver (on and off the field). Darqueze Dennard has the potential to be a starter in the NFL, possessing the coverage skills, size and toughness to find a home with San Francisco.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Ja'Wuan James may be overshadowed a bit by other offensive linemen in the 2014 class, but, make no mistake about it, this kid has starter potential. I like his combination of strength and quickness. Bryant McKinnie is not the answer for the Ravens at left tackle.
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