It's never too early to prognosticate about the future, and even though the NFL just had its yearly draft, the 2014 NFL draft will be upon us before we know it.
There are some phenomenal prospects eligible for the 2014 draft—a few of which would have certainly been top picks this year if they had been able to declare.
Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater are the two that stand above the rest, and it's likely they'll go No. 1 and No. 2 next April.
Keep in mind that the order of this mock draft isn't the key. Nobody can predict how teams will finish next season. That said, this mock is focused more on the players than the teams. A few picks will be highlighted in italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Oakland Raiders—DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
After trading for Matt Flynn and drafting Tyler Wilson, it's unlikely the Raiders will be looking at a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. Clowney is a fantastic pass-rusher who will make an immediate impact on Oakland's defensive production.
2. Arizona Cardinals—QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Arizona traded for Carson Palmer this spring, but he'll be 34 in 2014. He's a short-term solution to a long-term problem, and Bruce Arians would love to get his hands on Bridgewater to mold him into the league's next superstar.
A pocket passer with the ability to run when he needs to, Bridgewater is the kind of prospect NFL franchises dream about. He can make every throw with accuracy and touch, is a leader on and off the field with no red flags for character concerns and has yet to tap into his full potential.
Last year, Bridgewater completed 68.5 percent of his passes, threw for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Should he build upon last year's success, he'll surely be the first quarterback taken off the board.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars—QB David Fales, San Jose State
Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne will keep Jacksonville from winning many games in 2013. Don't worry Jaguars fans, there's a savior coming your way.
Fales was a JUCO transfer out of Monterey Peninsula College who put together a dynamite junior season for the San Jose State Spartans. He completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 4,193 yards with 33 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
This underrated quarterback has the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks coming out in 2014, and he's a pure pocket passer who can make every throw with accuracy and finesse—not to mention he can throw a ball through a brick wall if he must.
4. Cleveland Browns—WR Marqise Lee, USC
Josh Gordon and Greg Little are pretty good, but adding an elite receiver like Lee to this team's roster would really open things up. Not only would it give Brandon Weeden a phenomenal group of receivers, but running back Trent Richardson would have much more room to run inside.
5. New York Jets—WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
After drafting Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, there's no chance the Jets will be looking at another signal-caller. Instead, general manager John Idzik should look to provide his quarterback (whoever wins the job) with weapons.
6. San Diego Chargers—OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
The Chargers still have big holes to fill on the offensive line after free agency and the draft. D.J. Fluker is a pure right tackle, and Lewan would step in from the first day of training camp to take over on the left side to protect Philip Rivers' blind side.
7. Buffalo Bills—OLB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley is an elite outside linebacker who will be able to play in any scheme in the NFL. He possesses enough speed and athleticism to become a Von Miller-type player for the Bills and would significantly upgrade the team's linebacking corps.
8. Kansas City Chiefs—NT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
If Dontari Poe comes out and plays up to his potential in 2013, the Chiefs won't need to look for an interior lineman this early. That said, should Poe struggle again, Nix would be a perfect man to plug into the middle of Kansas City's defense to control the line of scrimmage.
9. Philadelphia Eagles—QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
After drafting Matt Barkley in the fourth round, it might seem crazy that the Eagles could be looking at drafting another quarterback—especially in Round 1. That said, Boyd's athleticism and budding passing skills are a perfect fit for Chip Kelly's offense.
10. Tennessee Titans—DE Morgan Breslin, USC
Breslin will be one of next year's premier pass-rushers. He totaled 13 sacks and 19.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in his first season at USC as a JUCO transfer. He has the size, quickness and speed to fly off the edge in a 4-3 alignment and would be a big upgrade for the Titans.
11. Detroit Lions—CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
A player who reminds me a bit of Dee Milliner, Roby is an elite cornerback prospect who plays bigger than his 5'11" frame. He's extremely quick, fast enough to keep up with top receivers in the NFL and has excellent ball skills.
12. St. Louis Rams—OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Protecting Sam Bradford will be the biggest key to St. Louis' offensive success in upcoming seasons. He's a terrific young quarterback who has been beaten up badly in his first few years, but adding a top tackle like Matthews to play opposite Jake Long would fix that issue permanently.
13. Miami Dolphins—DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Tuitt is a stout interior lineman who tallied 12 sacks for the Irish from his 3-4 defensive end spot in 2012. He will be highly valued as a player who can play in any scheme, and he would provide the Dolphins with a big boost up front as a pass-rushing defensive tackle.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—OLB/DE Anthony Barr, UCLA
The Buccaneers loaded up on secondary help this year, but the team still lacks a consistent pass rush. Adding Barr to pin his ears back and rush from the weak side would certainly be a good step in the right direction.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers—OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
The Steelers made a smart move to pick up Jarvis Jones in 2013, but Dick LeBeau's defense could still use another dynamic pass-rusher. Adding Van Noy, who racked up 13 sacks last year, would give Pittsburgh two of the NFL's top young pass-rushers to build around in the years to come.
16. Carolina Panthers—CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
The Panthers landed a couple of defensive studs in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short to solidify the team's front seven. Next year, the focus must be on adding skilled defensive backs to complete the team's defensive unit.
17. Dallas Cowboys—OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Kouandjio was a stud on Alabama's offensive line manning the left tackle position last year, but his three teammates who entered the NFL draft—Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones—overshadowed him. He'll break out with a brilliant 2013 campaign, and there's a good chance he won't be available this late in the first round.
18. Minnesota Vikings—QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The Vikings have a complete team on both sides of the ball and will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North in the next few years. That said, Christian Ponder isn't going to get this team over the top and could potentially be the cause of a few losses in 2013.
Manziel is the most exciting player in college football right now. He makes big plays with his arm and his legs, and if the Vikings were willing to run a read-option offense with he and Adrian Peterson he would shine.
Combined with Kyle Rudolph, Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, Manziel and Peterson would transform the Vikings offense into one of the most dangerous units in the NFL.
19. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Adding West Virginia teammates Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey was a brilliant move by general manager Les Snead, but the team still needs a go-to guy on the outside. Matthews, at 6-3 and 205 pounds, would give Sam Bradford the big target he needs on the perimeter.
20. Chicago Bears—DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
Adding Sutton—a pass-rushing defensive tackle who is a ferocious competitor inside—to play next to Henry Melton would give Chicago a dynamic duo in the middle. An undersized defensive tackle, Sutton is diverse enough to play on the edge, too, in certain situations.
21. Indianapolis Colts—WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Evans is a big receiver, at 6'5" who hauled in 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns last year playing with Johnny Manziel. Reggie Wayne won't be around much longer, and the Colts need to plan for his retirement by stocking the roster with more talented young receivers.
22. New Orleans Saints—CB Marcus Roberson, Florida
Roberson isn't a well-known player at this time, and he only started four games for the Gators last year. That doesn't mean he doesn't have the ability to make a big statement this year, and he possesses the size and speed to make a big impact in the NFL as a cornerback.
23. Baltimore Ravens—WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers
Coleman possesses a huge 6'6" frame, and he's proven to be a capable red-zone target at Rutgers the past two years with 16 touchdowns in just 60 receptions. He's the kind of receiver that fits Joe Flacco's heave-it-up style to perfection.
24. New York Giants—TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins is a highly skilled athlete with prototypical size as a pass-catching tight end. At 6'6" and 266 pounds, he is a player in the mold of Jimmy Graham who can make big plays up the middle of the field and in the red zone.
Seferian-Jenkins has caught 109 passes for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns the past two years at Washington. At this time, he is currently suspended after he was charged with a DUI, but if he can get himself focused on football in 2013 and stays out of trouble, Seferian-Jenkins will be a first-round pick.
25. Green Bay Packers—S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Reynolds led the FBS last year with 301 interception return yards and three returns for touchdowns. He possesses excellent instincts and elite athleticism that will make an excellent addition to the Packers defensive secondary.
26. Cincinnati Bengals—WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
Parker is a big target who caught 10 touchdowns in just 40 catches last year at Louisville. Adding him to play with A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Mohamed Sanu would give Andy Dalton one of the best arsenals of young offensive weapons in the NFL.
27. Seattle Seahawks—TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon
The Seahawks feature a strong offense led by Russell Wilson, and the addition of Percy Harvin will make this team tough to defend against in 2013. Adding a skilled tight end like Lyerla, who can play multiple positions, would be a smart move to put more pressure on opposing defenses.
28. New England Patriots—CB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Purifoy could be the Gators' top receiver in 2013 in addition to being the team's No. 1 cornerback. Bill Belichick is known for drafting players who can play multiple positions, and Purifoy's man-to-man skills as a cornerback would fill a big need for the Patriots.
29. Houston Texans—LB Christian Jones, Florida State
Athleticism and speed are qualities NFL teams are looking for in inside linebackers these days. Jones has both, but even more importantly he is an instinctive player who sniffs out plays before they develop.
30. Atlanta Falcons—OT David Yankey, Stanford
The Falcons feature a rock-solid roster, but if there's one weakness that could cripple this team's chances of living up to expectations it's on the offensive line. Losing Will Svitek to the Patriots was a big blow, and Yankey's ability to play multiple positions on the line make him a valuable addition.
31. Denver Broncos—S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
"Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix is an athletic defender who excels deep in zone and has the toughness to attack the line of scrimmage with force. He's another top defensive back out of Alabama who will make a big impact on the NFL.
32. San Francisco 49ers—DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Jernigan is a 6'2", 298-pound lineman who projects well as a 3-4 defensive end. He can also make big plays inside as a tackle in nickel formations as a pass-rusher. Adding him would be another excellent move to help the 49ers defense stay strong in the years to come.
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