Well, it's about that time. Most NFL teams have had their bye weeks already, and many have gotten their first eight games of the year in. With that, the picture of what they have and what they need is becoming more and more clear.
The NFL season's midway point is always a great time to compile a mock for the following year's upcoming draft. The draft order, once again provided by Great Blue North, is based exclusively on team records and strength of schedule at this point in the season.
There is no more polarizing position in any draft than that of quarterback, and this year is no different. However, it is a very uncommon theme in 2013. Last year, there were a half-dozen quarterbacks being tossed around as potential first-round picks. However, all but one failed to be selected in the opening round come April.
This year it is quite the contrary. Going into the year, the only quarterback anyone wanted to talk about as a first-round pick was Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. However, as the season has progressed, more and more names are appearing as potential top-32 picks.
So, with that, this mock draft update is a "Quarterback-a-Palooza," as every quarterback being labeled as a first-round pick has found their way into the round.
Keep in mind, I don't endorse all these players being selected where they are slotted, but never let it be said that I don't give the reader what they want—and what you have all said is that you want more quarterbacks!
Read on for my latest 2014 NFL mock draft.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
It appears as if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found themselves a starting quarterback in Mike Glennon. With that, their attention can now turn to drafting the best player available.
And of course, the best player available is Clowney. All other potential positions of need take a backseat when you have a chance to draft a player like Clowney. His athleticism would allow him to line up at multiple spots on the Buccaneers defense, causing disruption all over the field.
There is so much uncertainty about the future in Tampa. Clowney is more than just a smart pick; he's a safe one. One caveat to that is, if the Buccaneers could find a buyer for this pick who wants to move up and draft a quarterback, they could parlay this selection into multiple high picks, aiding in the re-building process.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
This pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars seems to be the most foregone of all foregone conclusions. If Bridgewater is on the board when the Jaguars select, it's almost a certainty that he will be picked.
The only real question is, would the Jags move up a spot to get him if other teams are interested, and if not, do they simply select the next-best quarterback? If things hold true, the top of this draft could be very interesting.
But on to Bridgewater. He's a natural athlete and plays quarterback with an almost effortless style and flawless technique. I don't have Bridgewater graded higher than current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but he is much closer than it seems.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Of all the teams within the top five slots in the round, the team who could make the most headway with a single pick is the Minnesota Vikings. With a running back like Adrian Peterson already on the roster, adding the element of a dynamic quarterback would create a rather formidable tandem.
Enter Mariota. The offensive options that come with a Mariota/Peterson combination in the backfield are staggering. Mariota is a fluid athlete and emerging passer who can beat defenses with his arm and his legs.
This Vikings team has been so hampered by the play of their quarterback, and it is hard to watch at times. Just imagine, Vikings fans, running the zone read with Mariota and Peterson. It would be nearly impossible to defend.
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has been a dumpster fire all season long. They have invested high picks into players who just cannot play, and that, along with injuries, have buried this season.
The addition of Matthews makes perfect sense. He's an athletic and technically superior lineman who is nearly perfect in his assignments and plays with a mean streak. He is also a natural left tackle prospect and is accustomed to working with a mobile quarterback.
Obviously, Matthews can't be the only piece of the re-building puzzle, but getting him on the Steelers is certainly part of it.
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The Atlanta Falcons are in a tough spot selecting here. Offensive tackle and defensive end are their top priorities, but with the best players at both sports already off the board, they would have a decision to make: take the next best guy at either position or go in another direction completely.
For this scenario, I go with Barr, who would represent the best value for the pick, regardless of the position. He can line up as a rush defensive end or stand up and play outside linebacker. Some might view Barr as a tweener, but I simply see him as athletic and scheme versatile.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Another team who might have been targeting a quarterback, the Houston Texans, seems to have their future in Case Keenum. Assuming that is true, the Texans can instead look to add a future star along the offensive line in Lewan.
The Texans have a great left tackle in Duane Brown, but on the right side, the level of play has been down since letting Eric Winston leave.
Lewan could come in and start immediately on that right side. While he is a hard-nosed player who plays with a real mean streak that might turn some teams off, the bottom line is that he can play and has built a strong resume.
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
One position that the New York Giants have historically done well with is linebacker. But this year, they have reached for veteran players to try to fill in, and the result has been a disaster. It is time to add some youth to the unit.
Mack might not be the most known prospect in this class, but there might not be a more disruptive defensive player available, including Clowney. If Mack played at a school like LSU, he'd be all over College GameDay and Sportcenter. However, he's instead tucked away at Buffalo, where he goes out every week and continues to make plays.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
There is a really good defense being built by the Buffalo Bills, and a big part of that was the addition of linebacker Kiko Alonso in the 2013 NFL draft. Alonso is lined up inside and seems to just make every play on the field.
So, moving ahead to 2014, why not give Alonso a running mate who can line up at either outside position and share some of the wealth? Mosley is such a fun player to watch because he's more than just a great athlete; he's a very smart football player who brings leadership to a team.
The Bills could make a move here for some depth on the defensive line or at cornerback, but I love the potential of Mosely in that defense so much more.
Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame
When you watch the St. Louis Rams play, there are two spots on defense that stand out as areas of weakness. One is at the safety spot, where a pick this high offers no value. The other is on the interior of the defensive line. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers is a great young player, but the others on the depth chart are just average.
But, if you plug Nix in there at that 1-technique left defensive tackle spot, suddenly Brockers and defensive end Chris Long are free and even the linebackers behind Nix receive cleaner looks because he's taking up a constant double team.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
This is another spot where a pressing need might force the Baltimore Ravens to draft help on their offensive line. Nevertheless, when you have a chance to get a player like Watkins with the 10th pick, that is simply too much value to pass up.
Watkins is easily one of the most outstanding players in all of college football. His ability to get open and what he can once the ball is in his hands is rare. The Ravens offense is floundering this year, so Watkins makes perfect sense here.
Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Drafting an interior offensive lineman is never a flashy pick. However, at times, it is necessary, especially when the team is trying to build an offensive front that will be competitive with the top defenses in the league.
Richardson might be viewed as a reach at this point in the round, but if you strictly weigh out the potential impact he could have, Richardson would be among the top players on any draft board. His athleticism is sneaky for his size, but his game is centered around power and his ability to punish defenders.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
If we can assume that quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be the leader of this football team going forward, it takes the option of selecting a quarterback off the board for the Oakland Raiders this early in the draft. Instead, the team's attention can turn to giving Pryor a weapon, particularly a weapon who has been insanely successful playing with a mobile quarterback.
Evans is a perfect fit for what the Raiders like to do. He's a massive target with great catch radius and fights for the football. He is also a very good blocker and understands how to work back to the football when a quarterback is on the run.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It's unclear who the Philadelphia Eagles will have at wide receiver next season, but it's safe to assume that some of the depth chart will get thinned out. That would leave a substantial hole at a starting spot opposite DeSean Jackson.
Lee has seen his stock slip a bit this season due to poor quarterback play and some injury concerns, but he is still a nice value pick here. He's a hard-working receiver who isn't afraid to make catches in traffic or block if need be. Also, be on the lookout as to just how fast Lee times out at the combine.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
It's been a revolving door at starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns this season, and the unfortunate part is that none of them are very good. This team has some nice pieces in place as far as skill positions go, so it only makes sense for them to draft someone who can deliver the football.
Boyd is a rather polarizing figure in the draft, as most either love him or hate him as a prospect. I think Boyd can be a very good starting quarterback in the mold of New York Jets rookie Geno Smith. He's a smart player and an exceptional leader on the field who always finds ways to make plays.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
I shudder to even talk about the Miami Dolphins and offensive linemen, but unfortunately, it has to be done. With all the uproar going on, it's almost a certainty that this team will need to replace two starters at the end of the season, one of which being a starting tackle.
Richardson has continued to develop this year, and the more I watch him, the more I like him as the third-best tackle in this class. He's a solid pass protector and strong run-blocker. He's also finisher and is not afraid to stick his nose in there and play a little mean at times.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
As much as folks might want to prop up quarterback Jake Locker as the answer to this offense, it's just not working out. Tennessee has been more than patient with the young signal-caller, but his development appears to have peaked. It is likely time to move forward and start fresh.
Mettenberger has made huge gains this season in his game. His mechanics and arm strength have improved immensely, but the biggest change I have seen is in his leadership and maturity. Going back to his time at Butler County Community College, Mettenberger has really grown up and appears to be ready to take that next step.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The quarterback train keeps on rolling with a stop at the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are still another team that suffers due to poor quarterback play. They have great skill players and a strong defense but no one to lead the offense.
I realize that Manziel's style, both on and off the field, won't appeal to everyone, but from a purely football perspective, Manziel is exciting and dangerous with the football in his hands. His pure quarterbacking skills might be less than ideal, but if a team wanted to build an offense around what he does well, he can definitely be successful.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Admittedly, the Chargers are a hard team to read. There are spots on defense that could benefit from more depth, and it's always good to add more skill players, so a wide receiver or tight end could be the pick here as well.
Nevertheless, in the final analysis, value dictated that a left tackle prospect was the safe bet here and the best use of this selection. Kouandjio has been solid, albeit not spectacular, this season. However, he is a player who has the potential to develop into a very valuable starting left tackle.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
When going over the Green Bay Packers depth chart, the two spots that seem to stand out the most are tight end and defensive line. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the return of starting tight end Jermichael Finley, and the defensive line is a concern because of age and a lack of depth.
In the end, the value of the tight end pick wins out. Seferian-Jenkins is a supreme physical specimen who can be unstoppable in the passing game. The biggest knock on Seferian-Jenkins this year is his lack of production, but this has mostly been due to his number of targets being down and the struggles of his quarterback.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Chicago Bears are another team with a lot of young talent on their two-deep depth chart, so the future looks solid. However, one spot where I don't see that is at cornerback, where Charles Tillman is getting older and there isn't much behind him.
Getting Roby this late in the round is really a steal. He's an experienced player with solid instincts and elite speed on the field. There isn't an elite cornerback in the year's class, but in terms of overall game, Roby is very good.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Now that the New York Jets have their quarterback in place, it is time to get him some weapons. The running game is emerging and looks solid, but the wide receivers could certainly use an upgrade.
Matthews is one of the most underrated prospects in the nation. With so little around him at Vanderbilt, he still finds a way to make big plays. His all-around game is as good as any prospect in the country, and he would quickly become Smith's favorite target.
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
The Dallas Cowboys could certainly go with a hybrid defensive end/linebacker type of player at this spot. But in terms of value, filling in depth at defensive tackle compared to the other players on the board is the better decision.
Johnson might be the best all-around defensive tackle prospect in this class. He is a very smart and explosive player who LSU uses all over the front seven with great success. Johnson would also be a very good fit in the 4-3 base defense the Cowboys are running. He would be an excellent value pick here.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
For as good as the front four the Detroit Lions have been, their ability to succeed is hampered by lack of production from the defensive secondary. Darius Slay has the look of a future starter, but beyond him, things are more shaky.
Ekpre-Olomu is a converted safety who has turned into a physical and ball-hawking cornerback. He's a little small, but he makes up for it with impressive athleticism and instincts when the football is in the air.
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
After focusing heavily on the defense in the 2013 draft, the Carolina Panthers can now turn their attention to the offensive side of the ball in 2014. Quarterback Cam Newton is too talented not to have players around him to make big plays.
You might not have gotten a chance to see Richardson play, but as the end of the regular season approaches, he should really start climbing up draft boards. Richardson plays on a bad Colorado team, and no matter what defenses try to do to stop him, they have no answers. He's special with the football in his hands and can be used in a variety of ways.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
It may seem terribly cliche to give Sutton to the Cincinnati Bengals considering that the most common comparison made to Sutton is Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins. However, the fact of the matter is that injuries, including the one to Atkins, could push defensive tackle up to a much greater point of need for Cincinnati.
Sutton is having a down year, primarily due to increased weight and the increased number of double teams that he is seeing. But make no mistake, in the right scheme, Sutton can be an explosive pass-rusher up the middle as well as a run-stuffer.
Sutton is one of my favorite players to watch, and I think he just needs the right team to get the most out of his potential.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
For all the weapons the San Francisco 49ers have, their wide receiver corps is lacking. The 49ers also need some help in the defensive secondary. But in terms of value of the players available at both spots, I would lean toward wide receiver.
Coleman is yet another underrated and talented wide receiver prospect in this group. He's a step below the very top of this class, but he is still worth a shot at the end of the round.
The big plus to Coleman's game is his size. At 6'5" and 220 pounds, he casts an imposing shadow on defenders and can use his body to make the tough catch.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
The transition the New Orleans Saints have made to a 3-4 defense has been tremendous. They have displayed an attacking style and lots of high risk/high reward schemes. Part of the success of a scheme like this is having great pass-rushing outside linebackers.
Van Noy would be an instant upgrade to either outside linebacker position, but he would most likely be starting at right outside linebacker early on. While the strength of his game is as a pass-rusher, there's no denying that Van Noy is athletic enough to stand up and drop into coverage, and he is also strong enough to fight through traffic and stuff the run.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
After getting their new starting quarterback with their own first-round pick, the Browns find themselves back on the clock with the pick they got when they traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts this season. Some might argue that they need to replace Richardson with the selection, but I disagree.
Instead, the Browns should look to add a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Grodon and compliment tight end Jordan Cameron. Beckham is a fast-rising prospect who could see himself go much sooner by the time the actual draft rolls around. He reminds me a lot of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, and he should have an immediate impact in the NFL.
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
When looking at the Patriots, it seems that the easy pick here would be to take a defensive tackle, where they are currently giving two rookies heavy rotation on the inside. However, it was for that reason that I instead chose to look to the secondary and add some depth to the cornerbacks.
With the Patriots already developing some young tackles, there's no need to add in another. Instead, they can add Verrett, who's' a veteran cornerback that has faced high-flying passing offenses a ton during his career at TCU.
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
It may seem redundant to add a pass-rusher to a team that already has linebacker Von Miller. Nevertheless, it makes perfect sense to add a player who can do similar things in order to compliment Miller very well.
Shazier is better every time I watch him play. He is dynamic, explosive and has the look of a linebacker who can do a little of everything. This late in the round, Shazier is a nice value pick, even if he would be starting the season as part of a rotation.
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
When the Seattle Seahawks made the trade to bring in wide receiver Percy Harvin into the mix, it was assumed they would be reaping the rewards of that this season. However, as we head into week 10, Harvin has yet to see the field. Then, when you add in Sidney Rice going on injured reserve, wide receiver could be a sneaky pick here.
Landry isn't quite where his teammate Odell Beckham is in terms of development, but I think his ceiling is actually higher. They have comparable size and quickness, and while Beckham might have better hands, Landry is a more explosive player.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
There are some tangible benefits to having the last pick in the first round. It means you have won the Super Bowl and that your team is pretty good across the board. From a draft standpoint, that means a team can reach a little, if you will, and take a shot at a player they might not need right away.
So, the quarterback fire sale in the round comes to a close with the Fresno State quarterback. Carr has a cannon for an arm and has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country. The Chiefs are winning in spite of their offense at this point, so why not roll the dice on a player who could make them much better down the road?