2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections After Mariota, Mettenberger News
Now that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has decided to stay in school, and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has torn his ACL, projections for the first round of the 2014 draft look much different than they did even a week ago.
However, a handful of quarterbacks very well may be taken before Round 2 begins, and we still aren't even remotely sure where Jadeveon Clowney will land.
Let's take a look at how the most recent quarterback developments will shake up the first round in 2014.
1. Houston Texans (2-10): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Though quarterback is almost always a priority for the teams picking at the top of the draft, Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith cannot pass up the opportunity to place Jadeveon Clowney on the same defensive line as J.J. Watt.
Case Keenum might not be the answer at the signal-caller position, but he's been a good enough fit in Houston's offense that the Texans won't feel desperate to find a quarterback in Round 1.
Also, to many, Clowney is the best overall player in this class.
In a division that features Andrew Luck, the Texans can never have too many pass-rushers.
Clowney and Watt would instantly form one of the AFC's most menacing, well-rounded D-line tandems.
The South Carolina star becomes the defacto replacement for the venerable Antonio Smith at defensive end.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Other quarterbacks, playing at more high-profile, BCS-power schools have been in the spotlight more than Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater this season, but that doesn't mean he's gotten worse as a draft prospect.
From the pocket, Bridgewater is as squeaky clean as they come in the 2014 class, and he's a sneaky good athlete when forced to scramble.
While the Cardinals signal-caller isn't the prototypical 6'5'' strapping pocket passer, he has plenty of arm strength and possesses a quick release scouts will love.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a young, energetic head coach with a defensive background in Gus Bradley, and an up-an-coming personnel guy in GM David Caldwell.
The roster has an abundance of holes, or at least positions in need of significant upgrades, but quarterback is easily the greatest need.
Bridgewater is the super talented franchise quarterback around which the Bradley-Caldwell Jacksonville can build.
3. St. Louis Rams, from Washington Redskins (3-9): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The St. Louis Rams are in quarterback purgatory with Sam Bradford.
Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft, he was the last QB to signed a monster rookie deal under the old CBA, and he's set to make a non-guaranteed base salary of $14.015 million in 2014—and this will be coming after a season in which he tore his ACL.
While Bradford may restructure his contract to stay in St. Louis, general manager Les Snead would be hard pressed to pass on Derek Carr, a much less expensive option with as much natural talent as the incumbent Bradford.
At 6'3'' and 215 pounds, the Fresno State star has an absolute hose and exhibited exceptional command of the Bulldogs' offense during his collegiate career.
He doesn't get flabbergasted by exotic coverages and is relatively refined in the accuracy department.
Oh, and he's much more mobile than Bradford.
4. Atlanta Falcons (3-9): Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
A converted offensive player, Anthony Barr exudes athleticism on the edge of UCLA's defensive front and makes an impact in every phase of the game.
He plays with a desirable blend of speed and power and sets the edge against the run as well as he gets after the quarterback.
The Atlanta Falcons are devoid of a premier pass-rusher—only the Jacksonville Jaguars have fewer sacks heading into Week 14—and would welcome Barr's presence on the outside.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
If Greg Schiano sticks around, he'll likely stay with Mike Glennon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starter going into 2014.
Therefore, the first order of business is getting the former North Carolina State quarterback another outside weapon to complement wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
With the pick of the wideout litter at this point, GM Mark Dominik will snag Sammy Watkins, mainly due to his explosive yards-after-the-catch ability.
Tiquan Underwood will then be able to slip into the No. 3 receiver role, and the Jackson-Watkins duo will draw coverage away from underrated tight end Tim Wright.
Even with Mike Williams on the roster, Tampa Bay needs a receiver who can consistently separate from coverage.
The Buccaneers have the defensive personnel to compete, but the top of this draft is all about adding offensive assets to Glennon's arsenal.
6. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Khalil Mack can do it all.
At 6'3'' and nearly 250 pounds, he's a springy pass-rusher with the ability to bend low around the edge, but he's not timid against the run and has the athleticism to slip through the traffic to make plays on opposing running backs.
Most importantly, he's a turnover-creating machine.
The Vikings are likely to lose Jared Allen this offseason, so Mack will be picked to be his more versatile replacement on the edge of the defensive line.
Think a more polished Dion Jordan.
7. Cleveland Browns (4-8): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel had quite the polarizing two-year stint in college, but in 2013, he really proved to be a viable, top-tier quarterback prospect.
Though somewhat diminutive for his position, Manziel has a deceptively strong arm and demonstrated a great deal of accuracy in his redshirt sophomore season. Also, he's the ultimate improviser who will be able to outrun some defenders at the NFL level.
General manager Michael Lombardi won't be cutting his beloved Brian Hoyer, but Manziel will bring a spark to the Cleveland Browns organization.
Most importantly, he's a gutsy, passionate competitor and has tremendous upside.
This pick will come with controversy, but the Browns must figure out their quarterback situation.
8. Oakland Raiders (4-8): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
A year after former teammate Luke Joeckel went No. 2 overall, Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews goes No. 8 overall to the Oakland Raiders.
While Dennis Allen's team remains unsettled at the quarterback spot, its offensive line needs more talent from tackle to tackle.
Jared Veldheer is an unheralded blindside protector and Stefen Wisniewski is a promising center, but selecting Matthews will certainly help whoever's throwing passes for Oakland in 2014 and beyond.
While Matthews isn't a downright mauler, he's a bit nastier at the point of attack than Joeckel and doesn't lack the foot speed needed to deal with today's hyperathletic edge-rushers.
It's not a sexy pick for Oakland, but it's one that's needed.
9. Buffalo Bills (4-8): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
After picking quarterback EJ Manuel at No. 16 overall in the 2013 draft, the Buffalo Bills then gave him speedy outside targets in Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.
Both young receivers have shown flashes this season, but the team lacks a big-bodied pass-cather who's "open when he's not."
The 6'5'', 225-pound Mike Evans will draw comparisons to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as he boasts the impressive body control and high-pointing ability to be a scary downfield and red-zone target.
Manuel's development will make or break the Bills over the next few years, and GM Doug Whaley will do everything in his power to create an atmosphere conducive to success for the former Florida State quarterback.
With Evans, Woods, Goodwin and Stevie Johnson, Manuel will have quite the receiving corps at his disposal.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7): C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to return to their defensively stingy roots of the Super Bowl years in the 2000s, and they can start by drafting linebacker C.J. Mosley at No. 10 overall.
Dick LeBeau can use him all over the defense, as this Alabama star's game doesn't have a real weakness.
Whether it's on the outside of a 4-3 alignment or as one of the inside linebackers of the 3-4, Mosley just feels like a Steelers pick.
Lawrence Timmons has played well for Pittsburgh, and 2013 rookie Vince Williams has promise as a valuable depth guy.
However, Mosley can step in and make a huge impact from day one.
11. New York Jets (5-7): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Athletic, pass-catching tights ends are en vogue in today's NFL, and Eric Ebron is arguably the best "joker" tight end in the 2014 class.
Assuming the New York Jets don't pull the plug on Geno Smith after one season, Ebron will become his best friend—a seam-running security blanket.
Nothing against Jeff Cumberland, but Ebron's spryness and athletic nature make him a prospect the Jets simply can't pass up at this juncture.
12. Tennessee Titans (5-7): Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
If C.J. Mosley is the No. 1 traditional linebacker in the 2014 class, Ryan Shazier is No. 1A.
This Ohio State standout plays with a rapidness to his game, frequently flying from sideline to sideline, but he isn't afraid to lay the lumber against the run.
The Titans love linebacker Akeem Ayers and coverage 'backer Zach Brown and could use Shazier to man the middle of their 4-3 defense.
Behind Jurrell Casey and Co. on Tennessee's defensive front, Shazier could become a star in his rookie season.
13. San Diego Chargers (5-7): Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
The San Diego Chargers need a tenacious edge-defender to get after the quarterback and plug running lanes.
That's exactly what they'll get with Trent Murphy.
At 6'6'' and 261 pounds, Murphy has a bit of J.J. Watt to his game, as he disrupts the opposing offense in many ways.
Though some teams will see Murphy as purely a 4-3 defensive end, the Chargers will find a way to use him as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 while occasionally letting him put his hand in the dirt as an end.
Think of Murphy as a future replacement for Jarret Johnson, but a guy with more natural pass-rushing ability.
14. New York Giants (5-7): Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame
Stephon Tuitt is a menacing defensive lineman and one versatile enough not to be pigeonholed into one position.
At 6'6'' and a shade above 310 pounds, he can pair with Linval Joseph on the New York Giants' defensive interior and create pressure up the middle.
In "jumbo" packages, Perry Fewell can utilize him on the outside in a Justin Tuck-type role.
The G-Men will hope, with Tuitt on the defensive front, that Jason Pierre-Paul will return to his once elite status on the edge.
15. St. Louis Rams (5-7): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Ultra-physical with good size and speed, Darqueze Dennard is a star on Michigan State's super stingy defense.
With Cortland Finnegan experiment likely over after 2013, the St. Louis Rams need to find a cornerback to pair with Janoris Jenkins in the secondary.
Dennard's the easy choice here.
16. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1): Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
With the future of tight end Jermichael Finley unknown, the Green Bay Packers pick a player many are comparing him to in Jace Amaro.
At 6'5'' and 260 pounds, Amaro runs like a much smaller, lighter wideout.
Though his numbers might be inflated in Texas Tech's wide-open attack, he's a tight end prospect with Finley's size and Jimmy Graham's potential.
The Packers offense will be downright scary with Amaro and Randall Cobb in the slot next year and beyond.
17. Chicago Bears (6-6): Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Shea McClellin isn't the answer at defensive end for the Chicago Bears, and Julius Peppers is entering the twilight of his illustrious career.
That's Vic Beasley.
Though some may believe he'd be a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Beasley can become a dangerous pass-rushing specialist as a 4-3 defensive end in Chicago.
18. Baltimore Ravens (6-6): Marquise Lee, WR, USC
Joe Flacco hasn't been the same without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in 2013.
While that's not hard to imagine, the Baltimore Ravens now realize they need to give their handsomely paid franchise quarterback more receiving weapons than Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown.
Marquise Lee is a explosive wideout who flourishes after the catch and on downfield routes.
He and Smith will strike fear into every safety tandem they face.
19. Miami Dolphins (6-6): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Ryan Tannehill won't ever develop if he's not protected better than he's been in his sophomore season.
Even if Jonathan Martin returns to the team, which at this point seems unlikely, he's not the answer at left tackle.
And although Bryant McKinnie has been an adequate stand-in amidst the bullying fiasco, he's 34 years old.
At this point in the first round, Taylor Lewan would represent fantastic value and could be plugged into the blindside-protector position right away.
He has all the tools to become a sound left tackle, something the Dolphins desperately need.
20. Detroit Lions (7-5): Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Detroit Lions are leading the NFC North due to their explosive offense and a dominant defensive line.
However, they could use an infusion of talent in the secondary.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is an agile corner who plays with tenacity and could slide into a zone-predicated scheme and become a dependable playmaker.
He and Darius Slay would be a fine, youthful tandem on the perimeter of Detroit's defensive backfield.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5): Kyle Van Noy, OLB, Brigham Young
Let's imagine Chip Kelly likes to think outside the box.
Although offense is his specialty, he may very well be intrigued by the versatility that Kyle Van Noy brings to the table.
Many would see this pick as a reach, but for a player with Van Voy's vast array of skills, he'll be a welcomed addition to the Philadelphia Eagles' defense.
22. Dallas Cowboys (7-5): Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Will Sutton's been a well-known name for two years now, and although he may not be having as productive of a season in 2013 as he did in 2012, he's an ideal fit as a one-gap defensive tackle in the middle of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line.
Jason Garrett's team doesn't have to worry about scoring points, it just needs to stop the opposition on a more consistent basis.
Jerry Jones makes this pick in hopes of getting the most out of DeMarcus Ware for as long as possible and as a way to help the underrated Jason Hatcher on the interior.
Also, inside linebacker Sean Lee will greatly benefit from this selection.
23. Arizona Cardinals (7-5): David Fales, QB, San Diego State
Bruce Arians has done an admirable job with veteran Carson Palmer this season, but the reigning Coach of the Year knows the soon-to-be 34-year-old isn't the future of the Arizona Cardinals organization.
David Fales is the perfect quarterback to operate Arians' vertical passing system.
While he doesn't have a Joe Flacco-type cannon, this San Jose State dynamo certainly isn't lacking in the arm-strength department and isn't afraid to try to fit the ball into even the smallest window.
He's not insanely accurate, but as long as he can make an assortment of downfield throws, Arians will love him.
Fales will be the guy for the Cardinals.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4): Shane Skov, LB, Stanford
The Cincinnati Bengals are loaded on both sides of the ball, but they could use an impactful and somewhat multidimensional middle linebacker to place next to Vontaze Burfict.
Shane Skov's been on the radar of many scouts for a couple of years now, as he's been a key defensive contributor on good Stanford teams.
While his 2012 season was a bit of a letdown, he's improved in his senior campaign.
With Skov, Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer gets a linebacker he can move all around the field.
25. Cleveland Browns: From Colts (8-4): Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
After drafting Johnny Manziel at No. 7 overall, the Cleveland Browns take a wide receiver to aid his acclimation to the NFL.
Josh Gordon's emerged as an elite No. 1 wideout, and Greg Little has been a decent complement, but Davante Adams will provide another threatening downfield target for Manziel in Rob Chudzinski's vertical-passing offense.
Cleveland is fine on defense, but now, the Browns are pretty intimidating on the offensive side of the ball with Gordon, Adams and Jordan Cameron.
26. San Francisco 49ers (8-4): Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
As usual, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke loaded up on picks, and he'll take the best player available with his first selection in the 2014 draft.
Jim Harbaugh still wants to employ a power-running offense, therefore Cameron Erving can be groomed to take over the left tackle position as Joe Staley enters the late stages of his career.
While Erving may not start right away, he certainly can be used as a rookie in the 49ers' assortment of jumbo packages.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3): Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Kansas City Chiefs aren't worried about their defense, especially with blitz-package expert Bob Sutton calling the shots.
But the offense needs more matchup nightmares.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins can be that guy for Andy Reid from the get go.
At 6'6'' with plenty of athleticism, he could become for Alex Smith the Kansas City Chiefs' version of Vernon Davis. He will help in the run game as well.
28. New England Patriots (9-3): David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Bill Belichick might be tempted to take Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman here, but David Yankey is too good of a prospect to not select at this point in the first round.
Logan Mankins is probably closer to the end of his career than its prime, and Dan Connolly has been a disappointment in 2013.
Protecting Tom Brady will always be the highest priority for the New England Patriots, and the mauler Yankey will help pave running lanes, too.
29. Carolina Panthers (9-3): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Cam Newton has played the best football of his career in 2013, and coupled with a top-notch defense, the Carolina Panthers are 9-3.
However, GM Dave Gettleman needs to give his quarterback more receiving weapons.
He can start by selecting Jordan Matthews at the end of Round 1.
At 6'3'' and 205 pounds, this Vanderbilt standout can make catches when tightly covered and can eventually slide into Steve Smith's spot on the outside.
30. New Orleans Saints (9-3): Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
With as much as the New Orleans Saints throw the football, the offensive line is vital.
Charles Brown isn't the answer at left tackle, and Terron Armstead might be a year away from locking down that position.
With Antonio Richardson, Sean Payton gets an NFL-ready left tackle with imposing size and devastating strength to protect Drew Brees for many years.
31. Denver Broncos (10-2): Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Denver Broncos don't need offensive improvements in any area, but they could use improvements in the secondary.
Mike Adams will be 33 in March, and Rahim Moore could use a youthful safety mate.
Alabama's Hasean Clinton-Dix has been a disruptive playmaker in the nation's best conference for two full seasons, and he can make Duke Ihenacho a situational defensive back for the Broncos.
32. Seattle Seahawks (11-1): Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
If there's one thing the Seattle Seahawks are desperate for, it's a better offensive line.
Although Russell Wilson's having an Offensive Player of the Year-caliber sophomore season, he faces a ridiculous amount of pressure when dropping back.
Cyril Richardson would be an instant upgrade over guard J.R. Sweezy.
At 6'5'' and 340 pounds, this Baylor standout is a road grader who can be likened to a young Ben Grubbs.
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