Week 2 NFL Mock Draft
The order for this mock draft was determined by the Super Bowl odds for all 32 teams provided by VegasInsider.com.
For this first mock draft, I chose to go "all in" in terms of prospects. Obviously, some of these players will choose to return to school rather than declare in 2014. And typically there will be some underclassmen who chose to declare when it would more prudent to return to school.
However, the inclusion of elite underclassmen is always what gives any draft its real strength, so I chose to stack this draft with every top draft-eligible prospect in my rankings.
My philosophy for these picks is more of a "what I would do" rather than a "what teams would do." So tuck this one away for posterity or for a good laugh down the road, but either way, enjoy.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
All other things aside, every great team has great quarterback play. The Jaguars and their loyal fanbase deserve better out of their team. The Jags have wallowed under a mash-up of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne in recent seasons, but it must end.
Teddy Bridgewater finished last season as the top college quarterback prospect and opened this season with a flourish. The game just seems to come so easily for Bridgewater. He's a fluid athlete, but make no mistake—he's a quarterback first.
Bridgewater can make every throw and shows excellent anticipation, and even when he is on the run, he is always looking to make a play with his arm. While I am not ready to anoint Bridgewater as an Andrew Luck-type sure thing, he is very talented and, compared to last year's crop of quarterbacks, much closer to the type of player you go up and get.
Short of a renaissance by Gabbert, this team isn't going to be very good. And if it isn't very good, a pick in the top three seems highly likely. It is simplistic, but without great quarterback play, a team's ceiling is limited. This draft is going to have some tremendous prospects, but when one of those elite players is a quarterback, you just can't pass on him.
2. Oakland Raiders
Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
There could be reason for enthusiasm in Oakland if Terrelle Pryor can turn this team around. But assuming he doesn't, the Raiders will be in line to draft a new potential franchise quarterback. So the choice the Raiders will have to make is the next best quarterback or the draft's best defensive player.
And all the media hyperbole aside, Clowney is a fascinating athletic specimen and has shown flashes that he can be a dominant NFL player. He could be a tremendous draw for a trade with another franchise that would allow the Raiders to move back and draft another of the top quarterbacks.
But make no mistake, Clowney is going to be very hard to pass on. His combination of size and speed is something you only see once in a decade. Oakland may not select him this high, but some team almost certainly will.
3. Buffalo Bills
Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Buffalo Bills are making strides toward being relevant again, including using a first-round pick to select quarterback EJ Manuel in 2013. They also have very talented skill players and are building a solid defense. Adding a franchise left tackle seems to fall perfectly in line with their plan.
Jake Matthews appears to be making a seamless transition to left tackle this season. Many, myself included, believed Matthews was the best offensive lineman on the Aggies roster last year over teammate Luke Joeckel.
Matthews is an elite technician who uses his long frame like a precision instrument to protect the edge. He is almost never out of position and shows very good athleticism mixed with dominating strength. He could protect Manuel's blind side for years without worry.
4. Tennessee Titans
Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
There are some things to really like about the team the Tennessee Titans are building. Their offensive and defensive lines are very physical and imposing. But no matter how many things they do to improve their team, they seem hamstrung with mediocre quarterback play.
For this scenario, Tajh Boyd seems to fit the bill. In some ways, he is similar to Jack Locker in that he's a very mobile quarterback who can make plays with his legs and throw well on the run.
What separates Boyd from Locker are his intangibles. Boyd is a much smarter quarterback with a better grasp of progressions and all the subtle things that go along with it. It's hard to quantify, but Boyd seems to have an "it" factor that Locker lacks in terms of playmaking.
5. Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Anthony Barr, Defensive End, UCLA
It's not often I refer to a defensive player as game-changing, but Barr certainly qualifies. I have Barr graded higher than any defensive end/outside linebacker from the 2013 draft, and he still has so much more room to grow.
Barr's combination of size and speed put him among the best in the nation, but it's Barr's strength and exceptional fundamentals that put him over the top. Draft analysts get caught up in athleticism, and rightfully so, but Barr is so much more than that. He is an excellent football player.
He understands leverage and how to use his hands. Barr may not be a household name yet, but by the end of the season, everyone will understand why he's so great.
The Tampa Bay franchise is in some serious disarray, so it could go any number of directions here, depending on what happens at quarterback. But if it is able to resolve those problems, a pass-rusher here makes a lot of sense.
6. Cleveland Browns
Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden's season got off to a rocky start, and there are already doubters about his ability to lead this offense.
Mariota is a tremendous athlete and quickly developing passer. He's got nice mechanics and shows excellent velocity on his throws. But what makes Mariota special is his athletic ability. In this new NFL, a player like Mariota can be unstoppable.
I expect Mariota to improve greatly throwing the football this year. If he can improve his accuracy and develop a better understanding of reads and progressions, he might not last long in 2014.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Taylor Lewan might be the best all-around offensive tackle in the country in terms of just plain football ability. He's not the most athletic tackle, although he's incredibly physically fit. He's also not going to blow people away with what he does with a stopwatch on him.
But what he does is his job. Every week, every play, every opponent—he just seems to get better all the time. Last season, opposing defenses threw everything at Lewan and he shined. He is a natural left tackle but could start on the right side if need be.
The Cardinals continue to be in dire need of upgrades along their offensive line, and in this case, Lewan would be too good to pass up.
8. San Diego Chargers
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
As tempting as it is to put an offensive tackle in this spot, I instead chose to go with USC wide receiver Marqise Lee. It's going to be tough sledding for Lee this year, because it looks like the USC quarterback situation is tenuous.
Lee is as complete a receiving prospect as I've seen in the past three drafts. He has excellent field speed and sneaky athleticism, but his real strength is, well, his strength. Lee is a powerful football player, whether it's fighting for a catch, working for extra yards or as a run blocker.
The USC prospect is also a polished route-runner who understands how to find spots in zones and is almost impossible to jam at the line of scrimmage. Lee might not have the elite top-end speed of Sammy Watkins, but I'll take his more complete skill set any day.
There is little doubt the Chargers need a wide receiver, and keeping a local hero like Lee close to home would be a huge get for San Diego.
9. New York Jets
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
The New York Jets have invested in quarterback Geno Smith, and now it's time to get him a legit weapon in the passing game. The Jets have a big target in Stephen Hill, so adding a speed threat to go along with him would really improve the passing attack.
Watkins is such an explosive athlete. To contrast with Marqise Lee, Watkins offers a much greater ceiling and more significant big-play potential. While both work well in the short and intermediate routes, Watkins is much better working down the field.
The rub on Watkins is that he's just not been on the field enough. Without a doubt, Watkins will need to stay healthy and out of trouble this year to maximize his draft stock. Assuming he does that, he could represent an excellent value pick here.
10. Minnesota Vikings
Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
The Minnesota Vikings really do need a quarterback ahead of everything else. But with three off the board already, they instead turn their attention to the defense and draft the highest-rated player on the board.
Roby is a little raw and doesn't always show the best technique. However, his speed is elite, and his ball skills are also a huge plus. His draft stock could take a bit of a hit due to some character concerns, but his talent is too much to have him fall too far out of the top 10.
This is the ideal pick for a trade. If the Vikings are sitting at No. 10, I wouldn't be shocked to see them trying to either trade up to get a quarterback, or back in an attempt to stockpile some picks.
11. Carolina Panthers
Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
The Panthers are doing a nice job building their roster around quarterback Cam Newton, on offense. But on defense, their starting cornerbacks—Captain Mummerlyn and Josh Thomas—could be a liability. If one of the top two wide receivers fell to this pick, that would also make a lot of sense.
With both of the top wide receivers off the board, the Panthers instead could turn to the defensive side of the ball. In 2013, the Panthers upgraded their defensive line; this year, it is the secondary.
TCU cornerback Jason Verrett is the top senior cornerback in the country. What he lacks in elite speed he makes up for with superior technique and ball skills. Verrett is a very smart football player, understanding angles, and is able to cover a lot of field. Some might consider this a bit early, but cornerback is typically one of the positions that is drafted a little higher than its true value every year.
12. St. Louis Rams
Louis Nix III, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
The St. Louis Rams have assembled a really impressive defense in the past two seasons. But even with Michael Brockers on the inside, there is room for improvement. The Rams could also consider adding talent at strong safety, but there isn't that type of player in this draft.
Louis Nix III is the top defensive tackle prospect in this class. Because of that, the odds of him realistically falling all the way to No. 12 are pretty long. However, for this exercise, he slips a little and the Rams are more than happy to snatch up this massive Warren Sapp type of player.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers
Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Buffalo
Khalil Mack is one of my favorite players in this entire draft. He is the definition of a complete linebacker. No matter what Buffalo has asked him to do, he has come through. At times, he puts his hand on the ground and rushes the passer; at others, he drops into coverage.
One of the reasons Mack has been so successful is because his motor never stops. I'm sure he will measure out well in the offseason, but no matter what, you know from snap to whistle Mack is going to give everything he has. If there is a player in this draft due for a big jump, it has to be Mack.
The Steelers used a first-round pick on linebacker Jarvis Jones in 2013, but that doesn't change how special a player Mack can be. Pairing him up with Jones would mean the future of the Steelers defense is in place.
14. Indianapolis Colts
Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker, BYU
The Colts are working hard to get their new 3-4 defense up and going. Whether it's a pass-rushing outside linebacker or a defensive lineman, the Colts could do well in this draft to upgrade either or both of those spots.
For all the hype that Ziggy Ansah got last year, his teammate Kyle Van Noy was probably the better football player. Van Noy has a long frame and is quick and smooth off the line. He understands leverage and does a very good job dipping his shoulder and turning the corner.
Van Noy is scheme-versatile and would be a very nice fit either in a 3-4 as a linebacker or in a 4-3 in that left defensive end spot as a pass-rush specialist.
15. Miami Dolphins
Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
Looking over the Miami Dolphins roster, there are no real obvious needs at any single position. There are always spots where depth can be improved, like wide receiver or tight end, but all in all, this team has some good players.
The one spot at which there may be some depth issues down the road is defensive tackle, especially if the Dolphins choose not to keep Randy Starks. This puts a penetrating defensive tackle at the top of the Dolphins' wish list for the 2014 NFL draft.
Will Sutton seems like a perfect fit for the Dolphins in that left defensive tackle spot. Sutton is a bit undersized but explosive off the snap and would be great paired up with the massive Paul Soliai in the middle of that line.
16. New York Giants
C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
Not to labor a point, but the Giants are trying to get by on recycled linebacker talent and need an upgrade. There might be other positions of need as well, but none are greater than linebacker at this point.
Mosley makes perfect sense here—not only is he a great football player, but he's also very scheme-versatile. He can line up inside or outside in the 4-3 and be disruptive all over the field. If the Giants want to get their defense back to prominence, adding youthful talent in that linebacking group is key.
17. Kansas City Chiefs
Stephon Tuitt, Defensive End, Notre Dame
The Kansas City Chiefs are quietly building a very good defense under new head coach Andy Reid. But one area where talent and depth are a little lacking is at defensive end. A big body for the 3-4 seems to be the highest priority at this point.
Notre Dame is one of a handful of college football programs that run a 3-4 defense. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is a pure 3-4 power defensive end and a very talented one. In many cases, 3-4 defensive teams have to draft defensive tackles and convert them to end, but with Tuitt, the Chiefs would have a massive and powerful player experienced with the position and ready to produce.
18. Baltimore Ravens
Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
If there is one thing that is going to hinder this team all year, it is the lack of talent at the skill positions. For all his talent, Joe Flacco needs weapons to throw to if the Baltimore Ravens are to be successful. This is a great wide receiver class, so finding a very good player at this point in the round should not be a problem.
If Jordan Matthews played for any school but Vanderbilt, more people would know who he is. But instead, the top senior wide receiver lives in relative anonymity. That doesn't change the fact that he can play. He's got a big body, huge hands and very good speed. Matthews is the focus of the offense every week and teams still have not figured out how to stop him. Excellent value pick here.
19. St. Louis Rams (From Washington)
Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona
The St. Louis Rams are starting a new era at running back with Steven Jackson headed to the Atlanta Falcons for the 2013 season. The Rams are hopeful Daryl Richardson can fill the void, but that's a tall order.
The Rams have had nearly a decade of Jackson as their feature back, so that is a lot to compare any back to. If the Rams value a running back in this draft high enough, this is the pick to take one.
Ka'Deem Carey is a complete player and one of several running backs in this draft who will be vying for the top spot. Carey has been incredibly productive in his time at Arizona and is poised for another big season. If he can stay out of trouble for the year and works out well, it will be hard not to at least consider him as a mid-first-round pick.
20. Detroit Lions
Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier is a fascinating prospect because he is going to be something different to different teams. Some teams could view him as an edge-rushing defensive end who only plays in sub packages. Other teams might view him as more of a 3-4 rush outside linebacker.
But the Lions need to look at him as more of a pure 4-3 weak-side linebacker who can use his speed and athletic ability to make plays all over the field.
For the Lions, he would offer a serious upgrade in athletic ability at the outside linebacker position, as well as situational pass-rushing ability from the defensive end spot. There is some discussion about the value of Shazier as a first-round pick, but in a league that covets athletes, Shazier will be in demand.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon
Ifo Ekpre-Olomo is a former safety who moved to cornerback in college and has never looked back. He is an excellent mix of instincts, ball skills and hitting. His coverage skills are raw, and at times he gets grabby when caught out of position, but his knack for breaking up passes and forcing turnovers is undeniable.
The Bengals are a little thin at cornerback and safety, so having a player like Ekpre-Olomo who can do both would be an excellent resource. The Bengals could also consider an outside linebacker at this point to eventually replace James Harrison.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, USF
Most are counting on Aaron Lynch making a huge leap this year after his transfer to USF from Notre Dame. Lynch is bigger and stronger this year and has the look of a hybrid type of player who can grow into or out of multiple positions.
For the Eagles, their defense has played much better early on than many expected. However, a big, strong pass-rushing defense end is always a smart pick. If Lynch can put together the year many expect, he will be long gone before the Eagles pick.
23. Chicago Bears
Seantrel Henderson, Offensive Tackle, Miami
The Chicago Bears continue to wade through average offensive tackle play. This means that in 2014 they could once again be targeting an offensive lineman early.
Henderson is a physical marvel, with a level of power and quick feet rarely seen. The problem is his technique and football acumen aren't quite caught up, so at times he looks lost. If he can put together a full season of growth, the sky is the limit for this massive young man.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama
In what is a down class of safeties, Clinton-Dix is at the top. He's got ideal NFL size with excellent speed. His all-around game is very good, but no one characteristic stands out ahead of the others.
The Cowboys have decent talent at the safety spots with Will Allen and Barry Church, but they could definitely benefit from a player like Clinton-Dix. He has solid coverage skills to run with running backs and tight ends, but is also fearless in the run game and a solid tackler.
The Cowboys are thin at both safety and cornerback, and Clinton-Dix could provide depth at both spots.
25. Atlanta Falcons
Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor
It's very strange to see former Rams running back Steven Jackson in an Atlanta Falcons jersey, but it's a reality. The Falcons understood a need and addressed it, but Jackson can't hold up forever. Finding a legitimate replacement for Jackson has to be a top priority. And fortunately for the Falcons, they are deep enough that they can take a shot on one early if they choose to.
Lache Seastrunk is a former Oregon commit and now a junior at Baylor. Seastrunk's game is based on speed, and he reminds some of current Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. The comparison is very fair, and Seastrunk definitely has the raw ability to be that sort of threat in the NFL.
Whether or not he can hold up to being a feature back in the NFL remains to be seen, but he should have a nice chance to show it this season.
26. Green Bay Packers
Cyrus Kouandjio, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
This early in the season, it can be challenging to find any definitive team needs. For the Green Bay Packers, that shouldn't be a problem. Offensive tackle is pretty shaky, and there does not look to be anyone on the depth chart the team can count on long term.
There was a time when Kouandjio was considered an elite prospect, but he has not been as elite as advertised early on. That is not to say he isn't going to be an excellent pro, because I believe he can be. But to this point, he has not played with the quickness and technique required of a franchise left tackle.
In fact, if I were projecting his future in the NFL, he's likely a starting right tackle as opposed to playing on the left at all.
27. New Orleans Saints
Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
The New Orleans Saints have made a fairly successful transition to the 3-4 base defense, but there are still some questions. One of those is just how successful this group of outside linebackers can be.
It would be reasonable to believe that if the Saints can find a potential starter as a pass-rusher on the outside, they will give it strong consideration.
Hubbard is a bit of a mystery as a prospect. At times, he shows tremendous explosion off the line of scrimmage, as well as displaying excellent leverage turning the corner on an offensive tackle.
Then, on other plays, Hubbard looks tentative and, to be frank, a little lost. It is hard to tell the source of his struggles. Some of it could be scheme and some can be just lack of experience. Either way, Hubbard is a player with a real shot to move up draft boards this season or tumble if his play doesn't improve.
28. Houston Texans
Brett Hundley, Quarterback, UCLA
There is usually a lot of grumbling on both sides of the Matt Schaub debate, but regardless of his skills, finding a viable replacement who can be groomed has to be a priority. But this is a good thing, as being able to spend a first-round pick on a developmental quarterback means there aren't glaring needs elsewhere.
Brett Hundley is another redshirt sophomore poised for a breakout season. Hundley is cut from the same mold as other strong-armed, athletic quarterbacks, but he still has a long way to go in terms of his accuracy, and most of this ties to throwing mechanics. If he can get all that together, he might not last to this pick come next April.
29. New England Patriots
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
We have all come to understand that any team with Tom Brady under center will find a way to move the football. Nevertheless, the lack of overall talent among this team's skill players means New England could use an upgrade.
Evans is only a redshirt sophomore, but with all the drama at Texas A&M, don't be shocked if Evans parlays a potentially big season into early entry into the 2014 NFL draft.
He casts an impressive shadow at 6'4" and 225 pounds and shows exceptional speed and athleticism in the open field. Evans' size gives him a strength advantage in going up and getting the catch and would give the Patriots something they do not have among the wide receivers on the roster now.
30. Seattle Seahawks
Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
There is something to be said for depth along the offensive line. The Seattle Seahawks have one of the best left tackles in the league in Russell Okung. Opposite Okung there are some decent players, but no one that really stands out.
So, among the potential needs this team may have, putting offensive tackle near the top makes the most sense.
Richardson is an interesting prospect, because while he struggles at times with his technique and athletic ability, the overall results cannot be denied. He has tremendous size and power and has cut his teeth against some of the best defensive ends in the country playing in the SEC.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Loucheiz Purifoy, Cornerback, Florida
The San Francisco 49ers are an impressive team on both sides of the football. There are very few flaws among any of the units. But if there is a spot where this team could take a shot on a player, it is at cornerback.
The 49ers have their starters in place, but this late in the round, there is a great chance to add a legitimate defensive playmaker.
And that playmaker is Florida cornerback/kick returner/wide receiver Loucheiz Purifoy. When it comes to fascinating athleticism, Purifoy is at the top of the class. He's not the most polished prospect at any position, but the San Francisco coaching staff should be able to pull the football player out of the athlete.
32. Denver Broncos
Marcus Roberson, Cornerback, Florida
Florida defensive backs go back-to-back here at the end of the first round. Most pundits consider Roberson a more polished cornerback, but not quite the overall athlete of his teammate Purifoy.
Roberson has excellent size and has shown some nice big-play ability. Roberson's strength is man coverage, and he does an excellent job. He's got great natural instincts and shows exceptional flexibility and sound fundamentals.
The Broncos don't have a tremendous number of needs, but as an eventual replacement for Champ Bailey, Roberson would be a great pick this late in the round.