2014 NFL Mock Draft: Knee-Jerk Projections for Every First-Round Team
The NFL may be just getting underway, but believe it or not, the 2014 NFL draft is just around the corner, and the preparation has already begun.
Plenty of major college stars such as South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are hard at work at the collegiate level while NFL teams begin to realize where deficiencies lay on their rosters.
The top of the 2014 draft presents some interesting scenarios because while it is a quarterback's league, there are talented non-quarterbacks like the aforementioned Clowney and Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews who could make a push for the top spot.
Here's a fresh look at a 2014 NFL mock with Week 1 of the NFL season wrapping up.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The favorite for the Heisman trophy, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater faces a cupcake schedule this year that will easily make him the top pick in the draft as he puts on a pretty display of passing all season.
Bridgewater has very little wrong with him as a prospect overall, and he is just what the doctor ordered for a Jacksonville team suffering through a Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert nightmare.
2. Oakland Raiders: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Tajh Boyd may not be as polished of a prospect as Bridgewater, but he has the intangibles rebuilding teams look for in a franchise quarterback. With so many holes on the roster, Oakland needs to stick with the mobile quarterback trend. The good news is Boyd is already a better passer than Terrelle Pryor.
3. New York Jets: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The free fall, if it can even be classified as one, is over for the nation's best defensive end. While Clowney is probably the best prospect overall, at the end of the day it is a passing league, and quarterback is the prime position.
Clowney joins a Jets squad that thinks it already has things at quarterback figured out with Geno Smith. Now Rex Ryan's defense (if he's still around) notched the star player it has missed in the trenches.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Boring pick or not, the duo of Levi Brown and Eric Winston are not going to get it done in Arizona for long, especially with the Cardinals missing out on both top quarterback prospects and having to settle for another year with the immobile Carson Palmer.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
NFL fans should be used to shocking picks by now, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Not many saw E.J. Manuel going to Buffalo in the first round last year, and not many will see a project like Marcus Mariota going this high either.
That said, Jake Locker has had more than enough chances to improve himself, and the Titans offense is only going to stay young for so long. Time for a shot in the arm.
6. San Diego Chargers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Much of the attention goes to his counterpart from Texas A&M, but Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan is arguably the best tackle in the country. Philip Rivers continues to get abused in San Diego, and the revolving door known as King Dunlap needs the boot.
7. Carolina Panthers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins is far and away the best receiver prospect in the nation. That works out perfectly because Carolina continues to ignore the fact quarterback Cam Newton has no weapons.
That ends here with the dynamic Watkins coming to town.
8. Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
As much publicity as Chip Kelly's offense gets, it's his new 3-4 defense that needs the most help. Landing the top linebacker in the county to put next to Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans is a great move and building block.
9. Detroit Lions: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Despite the selection of Riley Reiff a year ago, the Detroit Lions offensive line needs some serious work.
What better way to beef up the line than to land yet another talented Alabama offensive tackle? Even if that means shifting Cyrus Kouandjio to the inside, having the best possible players in the trenches is the only way to go in the NFL. Detroit defensively needs help, but protecting Matt Stafford is the top priority.
10. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Cleveland Browns continue to struggle defensively, even after a schematic change. Joe Haden is one of the NFL's best corners, but it is all too easy for other teams to ignore him and pick on the other players at the position. Unlike last year, expect the Browns to pull the trigger on the best one available.
11. Buffalo Bills:, DE, Notre Dame
The Buffalo Bills went offense last year and found the answer with E.J. Manuel, but defensively the team is going to have to win games up front with Jarius Byrd's status in doubt. Adding yet another talented defensive lineman will give the Bills a formidable front.
12. Miami Dolphins: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Defensively the Miami Dolphins are going to have to improve in order to compete in the AFC East, and the new-look defense is not quite there yet. Grabbing the best nose tackle in the draft gives the Dolphins some versatility as to how they build the unit.
13. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
Dwayne Bowe is not going to stay young forever, and the addition of A.J. Jenkins is not going to be enough in Andy Reid's offense to make the passing game a threat. Marqise Lee is that threat and a nice complement to Bowe before taking over.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Tampa Bay has done little to instill confidence in starter Josh Freeman, who is playing for his future with the team in 2013 as he preps for free agency.
It's hard to see Freeman leaving, but bringing on some high-quality competition is not out of the question. David Fales is an intriguing prospect with an NFL body just in need of the proper coaching.
After a Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, Tampa Bay could be headed down the path of grabbing a quarterback.
15. Minnesota Vikings: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Christian Ponder, backed by one of the greatest ever in Adrian Peterson and given new weapons in Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, has more than shown he does not have what it takes. Minnesota will look to start over with Brett Hundley.
16. New Orleans Saints: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
The New Orleans Saints went a long way toward fixing the worst statistical defense in NFL history with the addition of coordinator Rob Ryan and cornerback Keenan Lewis, but the addition of talent is going to have to continue for the Saints to compete. That starts with Aaron Colvin.
17. St. Louis Rams: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Depth is a problem for the St. Louis Rams on the offensive line. A potent offense is finally in place with Jared Cook and Tavon Austin, but the duo of Jake Long and Rodger Saffold doesn't inspire confidence. Youth and talent for the position is what is needed, and Antonio Richardson is a top prospect.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Pittsburgh continues to deal with issues along the offensive line when it comes to injuries, and once again the team will be forced to draft an offensive lineman high in order to preserve Ben Roethlisberger's career.
For the second year in a row, Pittsburgh will hit a jackpot with the top guard prospect in the nation.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
There's a new scheme in place, but all of the pieces do not make a lot of sense. That's especially the case along the defensive line, where better tackle fits are needed. Anthony Johnson is the perfect fit in the middle as the Cowboys continue the transition.
20. New York Giants:
Corey Webster is not exactly a spring chicken in New York, and teams can easily avoid Prince Amukamara completely if he ever develops into the player New York thinks he can be. Adding a playmaker like Loucheiz Purifoy gives the defense, which always touts a strong pass rush, another layer of effectiveness.
21. St. Louis Rams: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas (From Washington Redskins)
Pass-rushers are the name of the game in the NFL in what is now a passing league, so adding more talent in the trenches with a second first-round selection is a strong move for a franchise on the cusp of competing for a championship.
22. Chicago Bears: Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
Chicago is sound in most areas, especially with the emergence of Kyle Long on the offensive line. This, in turn, means the Bears can look to the future and take a top talent.
The top talent here would be Bennett Jackson from Notre Dame, especially with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings not getting any younger. That's one of the league's elite duos and not a bad group to learn from for Jackson.
23. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
James Harrison is on the wrong side of 35, and Rey Maualuga continues to be a question mark in the middle. While safety is an issue, the Bengals need quality linebackers to make plays directly behind an elite defensive line. Ryan Shazier is the only right answer here.
24. Indianapolis Colts: De'Anthony Thomas, WR, Oregon
Andrew Luck cannot have enough weapons. It's as simple as that. Reggie Wayne is advancing in age, and while T.Y. Hilton and others provide nice targets, De'Anthony Thomas is the type of new-breed weapon that can learn more than one position and cause nightmares for defenses.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Landing the best player at a position in the draft despite making the postseason is always a bargain, and Colt Lyerla may be the best tight end to come out in a long time. Zach Miller and Luke Wilson are fine players, but running two-tight end sets with Russell Wilson picking from all three would be ideal.
26. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Green Bay needs help on the defensive side of things at most positions, and now would be a good time to add even more talent. With a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, the Packers can take liberties in the players it selects, so beefing up the safety position here is the way to go.
27. Houston Texans: OLB, Alabama
Make no mistake, the Houston Texans have no issues rushing the passer. It may seem like overkill to grab another linebacker here with Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed in town, but in a passing league, there is no such thing as too many pass-rushers.
That's where Adrian Hubbard comes into play. As one of the most balanced teams in the league and picking too low to warrant a quarterback selection, beefing up with a defender from the Crimson Tide never hurts.
28. New England Patriots: OLB, Buffalo
New England is another team in a position to stock up on defense thanks to a quality quarterback. When Tom Brady retires in a few years, defense may be key for the franchise. By then, Khalil Mack, coincidentally from the MAC, will be one of the better defenders in the league.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Steven Jackson won't last forever, so why not add another special playmaker out of the backfield now? Lache Seastrunk is the best back in the class and is on pace for historic numbers. In the NFL he'll be yet another deadly option for Matt Ryan's passing attack.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
There are plenty of perceived holes in Baltimore, especially after recently giving up seven passing touchdowns to a guy from Denver, but the most important thing should be protecting the team's $100 million man, Joe Flacco. Ja'Wuan James is the smart way to do that with Bryant McKinnie aging fast.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
For a team as deep and talented as the San Francisco 49ers, every pick is a luxury pick. Corner sticks out as a position that could be in need of some insurance and talent in the future, so grabbing the best corner on the board here in Darqueze Dennard displays some long-term thinking.
32. Denver Broncos: A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
It is a foregone conclusion that Denver will be looking to add talent on the defensive side of the ball with the offense in good hands and a fax machine robbing the team of a defensive star. Linebacker is the position of need, especially when it comes to getting to quarterbacks, so expect that to be the move here to close out the round.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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