2014 NFL Mock Draft: Breaking Down How First Round Will Unfold
We might have just finished the 2013 NFL Draft, but the reality is that it's never too early to start looking ahead to the next batch of talent in college football.
It's not yet known which players will declare for the draft and which will remain another year, and the draft order for 2014 is nowhere near set, either—that's why it's important to remember that this is merely some suggestions about how the season could unfold and what teams will be looking for.
Read on to see a full first-round mock draft for 2014, where I have the Oakland Raiders first on the clock, and the San Francisco 49ers winning the Super Bowl.
1. Oakland Raiders—Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Even with Matt Flynn under center this year, the Oakland Raiders will be in desperate need of some offensive assistance by the time the 2014 draft comes around.
And with the best player on the boards this year the next potential star of the franchise, the Raiders simply can't afford to pass him up. Stick Bridgewater in a preseason training battle with Flynn and see what happens. You never know—it worked with Russell Wilson and Seattle.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Jacksonville may be tempted to take a quarterback here given the talent that is existent in the draft, but like they did in 2013, they'll end up settling for the best player on the boards.
Jadeveon Clowney is a beast off the edge and his quickness and size make for a very potent pass-rusher. Which, in a division that sees Andrew Luck twice a year and some of the league's best running backs as well, is a smart more the Jaguars to make.
3. Arizona Cardinals—Jake Matthews, LT, Texas A&M
The Arizona Cardinals are going to have their offensive line put under the microscope again this year when the defenses of Seattle and San Francisco come to town. And whilst they'll show there's been some improvements, there's still plenty of work to be done for the Cardinals up front.
Whoever their starting quarterback is at the time needs some protection, and I've got Matthews down to have a very strong season with the Aggies—especially now that Luke Joeckel is gone.
Matthews should shift from right to left tackle, and will show himself to be a prolific pass-blocker. Arizona will do very well to land him in 2014.
4. New York Jets—Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It will be interesting to see how Lee fares without Matt Barkley throwing him the ball, but the reality is that this is a seriously talented receiver we're talking about.
Having drafted Geno Smith in 2013—and I think playing him ahead of Sanchez for the final few games of the season—the Jets will be looking to start building their roster and get Smith some weapons—starting with a go-to wide receiver, who by all accounts, is going to be a scarily good prospect.
He might not be Calvin Johnson, but he's definitely at least A.J. Green.
5. San Diego Chargers—Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
There's no hiding the fact that the Chargers need to upgrade their offensive line, and I think that will be particularly noticeable after watching the 2013 season unfold.
Maybe it's part Philip Rivers' fault, but at the end of the day, the line ahead of him just isn't good enough, and San Diego need to fix that as soon as they can.
Taking a very big, strong and promising lineman in Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio is a nice place to start.
6. Kansas City Chiefs—Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I like Alex Smith a lot, but in that division, few players look good—especially when they have to play against Peyton Manning twice a year. And whilst I'm not 100 percent sure Johnny Manziel will look all that much better, it's a pick that they can't afford to pass up if he's still on the boards by this stage.
There should be a lot of hype and momentum behind the man they call Johnny Football, and it would mean big things for the Chiefs' franchise to take him.
If he succeeds, they look brilliant. If not, he can just hand it to Jamaal Charles.
7. Buffalo Bills—Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Having stayed on for his senior year, Kyle Van Noy will come into the 2014 draft with what will most likely be a very strong season behind him. And given the Bills' need at outside linebacker—and the skills that Van Noy provides against both the pass and the run—they'll happily pick him up here.
8. Philadelphia Eagles—Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It might not be a sexy pick from Philadelphia—whose fans will be crying out for some star talent come 2014—but Chip Kelly will make the right move here and shore up his offensive line with another top talent here in Taylor Lewan from Michigan.
Lane Johnson will have had a full year under his belt and with Matt Barkley waiting in the wings, the Eagles will be able to look to the future with confidence again.
9. Cleveland Browns—Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Browns passed on Dee Milliner when they had the chance in 2013, but won't let that happen in 2014—picking up the best corner in the class as soon as they can.
Bradley Roby is a phenomenal talent, and will be a giant in both man and zone coverage. Give him another year of college football to show exactly what he'll do, and I'd be incredibly surprised if he drops this far down the draft boards at all in 2014.
10. Tennessee Titans—Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Titans might have added Delanie Walker over the 2013 offseason, but with the NFL becoming more and more dominated by teams that utilize two tight ends, Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a nice fit here for Tennessee as a top-10 pick.
The more weapons they can give Jake Locker and the less attention they can bring on to Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene is a good thing for Tennessee.
11. Carolina Panthers—Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
I'm not convinced that Carolina has the greatest year defensively in 2013 given the strength of their division, which will lead them to making some interesting moves in the 2014 draft—the first of which being UCLA's Anthony Barr, whose exceptional athleticism and ability makes him a great pick here.
Much like what Miami just signed in Dion Jordan, Barr can rush the quarterback, play the run and even cover a tight end as well if needed. He is a tremendous athlete, and with Luke Kuechly alongside him, the talented defender will be a great pick here.
12. Detroit Lions— Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
With Tuitt emerging as one of the better defensive prospects in the draft this year and the Lions taking on Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers twice a year, Detroit will do well to pick him up outside the top-10 here. Their division rivals are improving rapidly, and the Lions have to try to keep up.
Or least try to slow them down.
13. Miami Dolphins—Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Two Notre Dame players taken off the boards in a row here, and given Miami's improved defense in 2013, this is a great move for the Dolphins to make.
The Dolphins need a three-technique pass-rusher, and whilst Nix might seem like more of a run-stuffer, he's actually got great quickness and athleticism for a big guy, and he can be a monster inside.
14. Dallas Cowboys—Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Dallas didn't nail the 2013 NFL draft in the slightest, and whilst their first-round selection in 2014 might not be the logical move that many are predicting, grabbing Jason Verrett is a really smart decision.
Verrett is simply brilliant in coverage and at breaking plays up. He's a ball-hawk who can use his blistering speed to shut down an offense instantly, and against the likes of Robert Griffin III's deep ball all season, he'll be very helpful for Dallas.
15. St. Louis Rams—Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sam Bradford will have shown in 2013 that he can be a great passer of the football if he gets some weapons around him on offense. Which, in grabbing Sammy Watkins from Clemson, is exactly what the Rams will try to build upon in 2014.
16. Chicago Bears—Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Maybe it's time to accept that Jay Cutler isn't the premier quarterback that he's shown snippets of at times. Maybe it's just the fact he's playing against some prolific pass-rushing defenses in the NFC North and he's unable to succeed because of it.
Either way, with a great young quarterback sitting on the boards in Logan Thomas, look for the Bears to put Cutler on notice and sign the Virginia Tech star up.
17. Indianapolis Colts—Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
After a great first season with Andrew Luck, the Colts' second year won't be as productive, and they'll look to their offensive line as the biggest problem in 2013.
Indianapolis knows they've got a good thing in Luck, and will be desperate to get him some protection—which is exactly what Henderson offers. Big, solid, and he'll be a great fit in the Colts' system, which can only mean good things for 2013.
18. Baltimore Ravens—Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Perhaps the Ravens' slide in 2013 won't be this far down the draft order, but there's little doubting that their 2013 squad is nowhere near what their 2012 team was.
Look for Baltimore to try to fix that by adding some ferocity back into their defense once more. Jackson Jeffcoat is a strong man, and he would be a great addition to the Ravens' front seven in 2014.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers—Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Steelers eventually need someone to take over from Ike Taylor—who is hit-and-miss already—and will be looking for some help in the secondary come the 2014 draft.
Fortunately for them, Fuller is sitting there on the boards ready to be taken, and will help the Steelers defense regain some much-needed strength as a result.
20. New Orleans Saints—C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
Not a lot of teams have needs for 3-4 linemen this year, which should allow C.J. Mosley to fall this far down the draft boards in 2014. The Saints couldn't be happier with that, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them even move up the boards even to nab the Alabama star—that's how good he could be.
Mosley is a stout edge-rusher, who combined with the Saints' latest defensive recruits, will help put some menace and strength back into New Orleans' front seven.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
I really like what the Bucs are doing as an organization at the moment, and with a bit of pressure on him now, Josh Freeman should bounce back with a strong year in 2013—leading to those within the franchise to see the need to protect him for the future, and shore up their offensive line.
Jackson is a prolific pass-blocker who also can provide great space for Doug Martin outside and inside the tackles. He is a complete guard, and he would be a great pick by Tampa Bay after a strong 2013.
22. New York Giants—Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
A three-down lineman at this stage in the draft is almost like a godsend for New York here, who will quickly snaffle up Adrian Hubbard and prepare him for a big 2014.
Hubbard can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt, and given the Giants need to try to stop Tony Romo and RG3 twice a year, he's a smart pick for their front seven.
23. Minnesota Vikings—David Fales, QB, San Jose State
David Fales is a nice fit for many teams in the draft this year, but for a team that isn't 100 percent confident with Christian Ponder (and understandably so), he's a great fit for the Vikings' future—especially given all the young talent they have.
Fales has a great ability to move the ball downfield and has great accuracy to match. He's more than capable of giving it back to the Packers' defense as they have so often done to the Vikings before, which will surely mean big things for an ever-impressive Minnesota team.
24. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins)—Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
It might seem like a draft of hyped-up Alabama prospects, but Hasean Clinton-Dix is the real deal. And for a Rams side that's trying to keep up with the ever-impressive defenses of Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West, he's a great pick here.
25. Houston Texans—Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Matt Schaub isn't going to be around forever, and having already struggled with injuries in his career, the Texans need to have a legitimate No. 2 backup on hand.
T.J. Yates isn't that for Houston, and with Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray continuing his strong success so far, he'll be a great option for the Texans to pursue in the first round here. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins are simply too good to ignore.
26. Seattle Seahawks—Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Russell Wilson's development will be fascinating to watch in 2013, but there's little doubting he'll show his worth again this year—making the need to get weapons around him in 2014 a priority for Seattle.
Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews has nice hands and is a smart player to have around, and will be a nice addition towards the end of the first-round in 2014.
27. Atlanta Falcons— Ka'Deem Cary, RB, Arizona
Adding Steven Jackson is a short-term move by the Falcons. Adding Ka'Deem Cary is a long-term move, and one that could be huge for Atlanta in years to come.
28. Cincinnati Bengals—Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Cincinnati has added some great pieces in over the offseason this year, and they're my pick to have a breakout year in the NFL. When that happens, expect the franchise to do all they can and protect Andy Dalton and his connection with the likes of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert.
Bringing in a premier pass-blocker in Zach Martin would be a great move for the Bengals, and one that Dalton can have great confidence from when inside the pocket.
29. Denver Broncos—Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
The Broncos added Kayvon Webster in the 2013 NFL draft, but their secondary still needs some work and desperately needs some more depth. Given the tackling ability and skills that Aaron Colvin has shown already, he's a very smart pick here.
30. Green Bay Packers—Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Hoffman has the potential to post some big numbers in the NFL when given the chance, with his smart route running and good hands bound to lead to some success—especially when he's got someone like Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
The Packers might not seem like they need another wide receiver, but they do. This is a team that loves four-wide sets and would love to drag some of the double-coverage away from Jordy Nelson out wide. Hoffman fills the need, and helps to make the Packers offense even stronger again in 2014.
31. New England Patriots—Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
What better way to dominate a division than by adding in a guy that is currently stands at 6'8" and weighs 360 pounds? And that's without him bulking up in an NFL offseason.
Add that to the Patriots defensive line, and the AFC will have some big problems in 2014—not that they didn't have enough problems already with Tom Brady and his merry men on offense.
32. San Francisco 49ers—Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Depth, ferocity and talent are found at basically every position in the 49ers' roster at the moment, which makes their first-round pick here a simple "best available" selection in 2014—and what a prospect they'll have scored if they end up taking Purifoy.
Purifoy is a tremendous athlete and could fill in anywhere in the secondary in different roles, depending on what Jim Harbaugh needs from him.
Talk about the rich just getting richer.
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports goodness: Follow @dantalintyre
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?