It's never too early to start looking ahead at the next class of NFL draft prospects.
The 2014 NFL draft is loaded with exciting prospects, and we're beginning to get a glimpse of what next year's draft order will be. For instance, it's a given the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be among the top teams to pick.
The order itself is far from set in stone, however, and this mock draft is more about the players anyway.
Without further ado, here's an early peek at what we might see in next year's first round.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars are 0-8 first and foremost because the team lacks a franchise quarterback. There are plenty of other issues facing this talent-starved team, but the lack of direction on offense is the chief concern.
Bridgewater appears to be this year's version of Andrew Luck—pro-ready, athletic, smart and able to make all the throws. He can step in from the first day of training camp and set Jacksonville's ship on a new course for the next decade.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Whether or not Greg Schiano lasts until next season, it'll be surprising if the Buccaneers don't give rookie quarterback Mike Glennon a chance to prove himself. Tampa Bay is in desperate need of a pass-rusher, making this decision easy.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Josh Freeman may end up as a long-term starter in the NFL, but it won't be with the Minnesota Vikings. This franchise is in the market for one of next year's top signal-callers. Mariota's first-rate athleticism, arm, decision-making and smarts make him a perfect fit for the Vikings.
4. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This is likely a huge stretch, but the Texans would be smart to draft a local hero and Heisman Trophy winner. Manziel's playmaking abilities would give Houston a chance to compete in every game, and his ability to run would open up the rest of the team's currently stale offense.
5. New York Giants: Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
The Giants don't bring the heat like they used to, and at the midway point of the 2013 season, New York ranks second-to-last in total sacks with 10. Barr might be a better fit on a team that features a 3-4 scheme, but he's simply too good to pass up at this point.
6. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Call me crazy, but I'll be shocked if the Rams draft a quarterback in Round 1. This franchise appears to be dedicated to Sam Bradford—for better or worse—when he comes back from his knee injury next year.
Therefore, it makes sense that St. Louis would want to bring in the best offensive tackle in this year's draft to protect its quarterback.
7. Atlanta Falcons: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Atlanta's offensive line has been an area of need for a couple of years now, and the Falcons can't continue to ignore it. Lewan is a punishing run blocker who is athletic enough to match up against speed-rushers on the outside. He'll be an instant upgrade and probably an instant starter.
8. Oakland Raiders: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Dynamic dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor recently got sacked 10 times in a single game by the Kansas City Chiefs. In some circles, this is a clear sign your offensive line needs a bit of work. Oakland will take a top tackle at some point, and Kouandjio is one of the best in the nation.
9. St. Louis Rams: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
St. Louis' secondary is a mess—especially at the safety position. Clinton-Dix is a do-it-all prospect who possesses excellent ball skills. He'd be another great addition to this young and up-and-coming defense.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
Pittsburgh needs to continue the youth movement on defense. Drafting Jarvis Jones was a good first step last spring, and adding a stud nose tackle would be a great way to continue the positive trend. Nix isn't just a run-stuffer, either. He's incredibly agile for a man of his size and is adept at penetrating into opposing backfields.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
By trading for Carson Palmer, Arizona put itself outside of range to pick one of the quarterbacks worthy of top-pick consideration. However, this team needs to make a bold move and take a young signal-caller this year. Hundley could probably use another year of seasoning in college, but his physical attributes certainly translate to the pro game.
12. Cleveland Browns: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
It will shock nobody if Cleveland uses its second first-round pick to move up into the top five in order to draft a quarterback.
If that doesn't happen, however, Mettenberger is a nice fall-back option. He's grown into an impressive player in just one season under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and he'd be a quick study in Norv Turner's West Coast offense.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
The obvious choice here would be to reunite Mariota with Chip Kelly, but Boyd fits his system, too. An accurate passer with the ability to move to both sides on bootlegs, Boyd would be able to step in and help Kelly build his dream offense.
14. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Kiko Alonso turned out to be a dynamite selection by Buffalo last year, and the Bills couldn't go wrong drafting another athletic speedster to add to their burgeoning defense. Shazier is undersized, but he can flat-out fly on the field. He has a knack for being around the ball and would fit in perfectly as a weak-side linebacker.
15. Tennessee Titans: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Tennessee's defense is already scary, and it would become a pass-rushing force with Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack added to the mix.
Mack doesn't receive as much attention as many of the top players in the nation because he plays for a small school. However, his raw abilities rival those of any top pass-rushing prospect, and he already has three interceptions this year—two of which he returned for touchdowns.
16. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Ryan Tannehill is getting pummeled on a regular basis playing behind a horrible offensive line. The Dolphins must fix this problem as soon as possible, meaning a tackle in the first round is almost a given.
17. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Geno Smith has shown signs of being a franchise quarterback, and it is exciting to think about what he can do with some top-notch weapons. Evans' size and speed make him an intriguing pro prospect, and he's proven he can make big plays when it counts.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
How badly do you think Joe Flacco misses Anquan Boldin this year?
In case you don't know the answer to that, he misses Boldin a lot.
The Ravens desperately need to bring in talented receivers to give Flacco some weapons. Lee's stock is down this year, but the talented receiver is still worthy of a first-round pick.
19. Carolina Panthers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Carolina's defensive secondary has played well this year, but adding a top cornerback like Roby would really put this unit among the league's elite. That defense with the potent rushing attack and Cam Newton's improved play could make a deadly combination for 2014 and beyond.
20. San Diego Chargers: C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
San Diego features some impressive defensive players, but the Chargers are still missing that glue that holds other defenses together. Mosley would be that glue. Play him next to Manti Te'o for the next 10 years and forget about it.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Dallas' 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin requires dynamic defensive tackles that are capable of pressing the pocket and disrupting quarterbacks. Tuitt is big enough to play as a defensive end on running plays and as a defensive tackle on passing downs. He also fits the mold of what Kiffin is looking for in his 3-technique tackles.
22. Chicago Bears: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Chicago's cornerbacks are getting older every year. It's time to inject new life into this secondary. Ekpre-Olomu was recently named to the 15-man Thorpe Award Semifinalist list according to Oregon's official site, and he's having a heck of a season for the Ducks.
23. Detroit Lions: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
There's no doubt Detroit is happy with the selection of Ziggy Ansah, but the Lions can't be done adding talented pass-rushers. This team has only registered 13 sacks through Week 8. More help is needed to improve these numbers.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
The Bengals need to be able to pound the rock better. Cincinnati's rush offense ranks No. 25 in the league, averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt. Richardson would help the team to boost those numbers.
25. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Jermichael Finley is a free agent next season, and he's recently suffered two scary injuries. It might be time for Green Bay to look for tight end help elsewhere. The team couldn't ask for a better replacement than Ebron. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com believes he could be the NFL's next superstar at the tight end position.
26. Cleveland Browns (via IND): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Joe Haden needs a running mate in Cleveland's secondary. The Browns already feature one of the NFL's feistiest defenses, but the secondary is still a work in progress. Adding a fiery competitor like Verrett would be a perfect move to get this secondary to the next level.
27. New England Patriots: RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Vince Wilfork's football mortality was suddenly exposed this year when he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. New England must continue to build its defense, and adding a stalwart like Hageman to the interior would give the Patriots another cornerstone in the mold of Wilfork.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The 49ers struck out with A.J. Jenkins, but this team needs to keep looking for another top receiving threat to give Colin Kaepernick the best chance to succeed long-term. Robinson is a highly productive receiver who possesses excellent size, speed and agility.
29. Denver Broncos: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Clearly, the Broncos miss Elvis Dumervil this season. While others have stepped up in his absence, the Broncos could use another wrecking ball to attack the edges, and Murphy fits the bill. He's an excellent pass-rusher with enough speed and quickness to beat slower tackles and the strength to press the pocket against agile tackles.
30. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Utah
Speed, agility and quickness are all prized attributes when scouting 3-4 outside linebacker prospects, and Van Noy is blessed with all three—and then some. He's a veritable ball magnet on the field and will excel in Rob Ryan's attacking scheme.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Quarterback Alex Smith loved throwing passes to tight end Vernon Davis during his tenure with San Francisco, but he's missing that dynamic playmaker in the middle this year with the Chiefs. Seferian-Jenkins is fast and athletic. He catches the ball naturally with his hands. He'd be a terrific fit and an instant upgrade for Kansas City.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
It's hard to gauge what Seattle will do in the draft. No team in the league evaluates its prospects like the Seahawks. However, adding a talented weapon like Matthews to Russell Wilson's impressive corps of skill-position teammates is a can't-lose move.
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