2014 NFL Mock Draft: Mapping out Best Selection for Every Team
Just three weeks into the season, some fans already have good reason to look ahead to the next draft (I'm looking at you Jacksonville Jaguars followers).
At any rate, some fans—yours truly—are always looking forward to the draft.
With both the college and pro football seasons far enough along to evaluate amateur players and the needs of the teams in the NFL, I finally have enough information to put together a mock that arrives with a little certainty.
After having said that, watch none of these picks come to fruition. Still, that doesn't change the fact that I made them with confidence. Take a look, and let me know what you think.
Note: The focus of this mock is finding a good fit for each team and not projecting how the 2013 NFL season will play out. So to take my opinion on the draft order out of the equation, I simply went to ESPN's standings and blindly followed that order.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars horrendous offense and the complete failure of Blaine Gabbert make this selection a no-brainer. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is following up an excellent sophomore season with an even better season this year. He also has all the tools NFL teams look for.
2. New York Giants: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
This pick seems like a natural. The Giants have had their greatest success in their recent run when they've had dominant defensive ends. While Jadeveon Clowney's season isn't living up to the massive hype that accompanied it, there is still little doubt he will be an elite NFL player.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Steelers offensive line is destroying this team. There have been no holes for backs and Ben Roethlisberger isn't getting the kind of time he needs to succeed.
Jake Matthews is clear front-runner to be the first offensive lineman off the board.
4. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Christian Ponder has been given enough time to prove he is not the answer, and I'm sure there are plenty of Vikings fans who feel it's been more than enough time.
Marcus Mariota is a quarterback on the rise. He has all the physical tools to be an elite quarterback.
5. St. Louis Rams via Washington: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Rams have a talented young defense, and they won't pass on the chance to add to that.
Anthony Barr is a powerful and explosive linebacker with a natural ability to get to the passer. His addition would give the Rams a frightening pass rush.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Tampa Bay is going to be in line for a major reshaping at the end of this season, and I have to believe that after they fire Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers' priority will be to identify their quarterback of the future.
7. Cleveland Browns: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
The current Browns regime doesn't seem very high on quarterback Brandon Weeden, and with two picks in this first round, a quarterback is an obvious option.
I was torn between mocking Johnny Manziel or Tajh Boyd here, but I see the Browns leaning towards the bigger Boyd.
8. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
The Bills defense has looked improved from last year, but that unit is still very much a work in progress. C.J. Mosley will be a nice addition and help divert attention from Mario Williams.
9. San Diego Chargers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The San Diego Chargers have to give Philip Rivers another big-time weapon. Marqise Lee is a complete receiver, and his speed and ball skills would make him a nice target for Rivers, who loves to go deep.
10: Arizona Cardinals: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Cardinals have to fix their offensive line. They should address it in the draft and free agency. Taylor Lewan is a strong tackle and well worth the No. 10 selection.
11. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Raiders need playmakers on defense. This team has done a nice job of getting to the quarterback with blitzes, but it is in dire need of natural pass-rushers. Mack can get to the passer in a hurry. He is also well rounded enough to handle playing outside linebacker in the Raiders 4-3.
12. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
As long as Aaron Rodgers is at his peak, the Packers offense is going to be just fine. Green Bay must continue to bring in talent on the defensive side of the ball to help balance this team.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would team with Morgan Burnett to give the Packers a strong pair of safeties.
13. Carolina Panthers: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The Panthers defensive line has turned into a force. That is helping to mask a poor secondary. However, with the Falcons and Saints in the same division, the Panthers secondary will be exposed at some point.
Loucheiz Purifoy is a physical corner with the ability to lock down opposing wide receivers.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Eagles have to upgrade their defense. However, Chip Kelly must also select his quarterback of the future.
Johnny Manziel would be an excellent fit for Kelly's system, and the pairing of those two would make for a lot of excitement.
15. St. Louis Rams: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
In this quarterback-rich class, the Rams may be tempted to take a signal-caller. In the end, I think they'll try to keep developing Sam Bradford and continue to build upon their young defense.
16. San Francisco 49ers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III could very well go higher than No. 16. However, with Notre Dame's defense slipping from last year, Nix's draft stock will fall a bit. The 49ers won't be complaining.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Falcons have to revamp their defense. Bradley Roby has all the tools to be a shutdown corner, and he would provide an instant boost to a struggling secondary in Atlanta.
18. New York Jets: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
What better way to help a young quarterback grow than by giving him an elite tight end to work with? Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the complete package at tight end, and he would instantly become a favorite target of Geno Smith.
19. Cleveland Browns from Indianapolis: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Browns used their first first-round pick on a quarterback. So why not use the second on bringing in a talented receiver to grow with him?
Sammy Watkins has had a bit of an up-and-down college career, but he is definitely a playmaker with a high ceiling.
20. Tennessee Titans: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
With a quality interior offensive line but aging tackles, the Titans would be wise to look at an edge-blocker here.
This draft is not as loaded with elite tackle prospect as last year, but there is good value at the position here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Bengals will continue to build on their young core of offensive playmakers. A.J. Green needs someone opposite of him to take command some attention.
Matthews doesn't have the most elite natural ability, but he has good hands, runs solid routes and plays with good game speed. This is scouting report is similar to one that I'm sure was once written about one of his relatives, Jerry Rice.
22. Houston Texans: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Houston Texans are vulnerable to passing attacks when opposing offenses can give the quarterback time to throw. It is imperative the Texans bring in some more players who can cover.
Jason Verrett can do that. This youngster has the tools to be a No. 1 corner in the NFL.
23. Detroit Lions: Morgan Breslin, OLB, USC
With the talented defensive line of the Lions, linebackers are going to have lots of space to make plays. Morgan Breslin would be a Rookie of the Year candidate playing behind the Lions defensive line. He is an explosive player.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU
Timmy Jernigan is a nice fit for the Ravens. He has the size to play on the inside of the line and the quickness to play end in the Ravens 3-4.
25. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
The Dallas Cowboys transition to the 4-3 has gone fairly well. However, this team could still use more big bodies for the interior of the defensive line.
Anthony Johnson has the strength and explosion to fill that role.
26. Kansas City Chiefs: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
There should be some nice value selections at wide receiver towards the back of the first round. The Chiefs would be wise to capitalize on that. Paul Richardson needs to add some bulk, but he is a natural and explosive receiver.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
The Seahawks can never seem to have enough athletes on defense. Aaran Lynch certainly fits the Seahawks mold. He is a good athlete with versatility and he likes to play aggressive.
28. New England Patriots: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
The Patriots defense is still a work in progress, but it has been getting younger and faster. With Kyle Van Noy, it would also be getting far more dangerous.
Van Noy is a natural pass-rusher and would be an instant force on passing downs.
29. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
The surprise Dolphins have been receiving better than expected play from the offensive line. That said, this team would be wise to identify long-term solutions in the trenches.
Richardson has the size and strength to handle the right side and pair with Jonathan Martin to give the Dolphins nice bookend blockers.
30. New Orleans Saints: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
The Saints defense has been much improved so far this season. However, New Orleans shouldn't be content on that side of the ball.
Young defensive lineman can make a quick impact and New Orleans must be in a win-now mode.
31. Denver Broncos: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
The Broncos have had no problem withstanding the injury to cornerback Champ Bailey in the first three weeks of the season. Still, Denver should be on the lookout for someone to take his place as the aging legend is firmly in the twilight of his career.
32. Chicago Bears: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
With the Bears offensive line finally performing up to standards, the Bears will be free to start adding some offensive weapons.
Eric Ebron needs to refine his receiving skills, but he is big and fast. He could be a monster down the seam, and would bring a nice dimension to Chicago's offense.
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