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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Best-Case Scenarios for Each Team

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Best-Case Scenarios for Each Team
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Regardless of how much scouting, research and physical testing is done, the NFL draft is a very inexact science for all parties involved.

Players don't know how well they'll adjust to the professional game any more than scouts, coaches and executives are sure about what players will be around when they're on the clock.

Every team has a Plan A, which is the outcome that it believes would be most beneficial to the team's growth. But unless you're the general manager holding the No. 1 overall pick, knowing whether your top priority still will be available is impossible. 

That being said, in such a deep pool of prospects, every team selecting in Round 1 will have an opportunity to acquire an impact player, even if he is not management's most coveted prospect. 

Here's a look at each NFL team's ideal (and at least somewhat ideal) selection, assuming the prospect is still available. 

 

1. Houston Texans—Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

After the season that Matt Schaub had, it's clear that the Texans are in need of a quarterback, and Teddy Bridgewater is the best available. 

Case Keenum clearly isn't the answer in Houston, no matter how badly the fans want him to be, and Bridgewater will be an upgrade under center almost immediately, assuming the Texans have the top pick. 

As of now, Bridgewater apparently remains unsure of his plans for next season, but one has to assume he'll make himself available given that he's a virtual lock to go No. 1 (via CNNSI.com' Brett Logiurato). 

 

2. St. Louis Rams—Jake Matthews, LT, Texas A&M

For Sam Bradford to truly reach his potential as a quarterback, the Rams need to get him some protection, as this team's season truly came to an end once the former No. 1 overall pick went down. 

Jake Matthews has been a standout at left tackle for the Aggies, so given that they won't be hunting for a quarterback, the All-American lineman is the most sensible choice for St. Louis. 

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars—Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Blaine Gabbert era is effectively coming to a quiet end, as the Jaguars are all but surely taking a quarterback in Round 1. The only question now is which one? 

Derek Carr could be the guy here, but despite all the questions about his character, I think Manziel will be successful at the next level, because above all else, the former Heisman winner simply does whatever's needed to make a play. 

He'll need time to develop, but he's got all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. 

 

4. Cleveland Browns—Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Assuming the two teams likely to take quarterbacks currently slotted ahead of them in the order take Bridgewater and Manziel, UCF's Blake Bortles may have enough upside to convince the Browns to choose him over the rest of this talented quarterback class. 

 

His breakout season launched him into elite company, and his arm and dual-threat abilities will make him too attractive for the Browns to pass on him. 

 

5. Oakland Raiders—Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

At the beginning of the season, Jadeveon Clowney was regarded as arguably the most likely candidate to win the Heisman Trophy as a defensive player for the first time since Charles Woodson. 

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

 

This season didn't change Clowney's status as a top-flight prospect, and despite his somewhat disappointing year, he'll be gone within the first five picks. 

Clowney's size, speed and tenacity (when fully engaged) can't be taught, so he's too good to pass up here. 

 

6. Atlanta Falcons—Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Falcons suffered through one of the more demoralizing seasons of any team this season, as Matt Ryan and company entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations. 

However, the Falcons (who sit within the bottom third of the league against the pass and run) will be getting a big upgrade at outside linebacker in Anthony Barr, who projects to have the ability to serve a number of roles for Atlanta.

Where exactly he'll play remains to be seen, but his combination of skills and physical gifts give him a versatility that few OLBs can claim. 

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

A couple of months ago, one would have to think that the Buccaneers would be in the market for a new franchise quarterback, but Mike Glennon's emergence gives Tampa Bay the flexibility to take a game-changer at another position. 

Sammy Watkins has to be viewed as the best option, as the numerous highlights he provided us with at Clemson showed. 

There's a chance he'll be gone by this time, but if he's not, Tampa Bay should snatch Watkins up. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings—Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

After the three-headed monster the Vikings have had to deal with this season at quarterback, Minnesota will be thrilled if Derek Carr is still up for grabs when it's the Vikings' turn at the podium.

Carr is listed by some to be a likely candidate to go long before No. 8, but the depth of the class and rising stocks of others at his position suggest that there's a reasonable chance he'll be around long enough for Minnesota. 

 

9. Buffalo Bills—Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Bills' rebuild will continue with the selection of Khalil Mack, much to the delight of Buffalo's tortured fans. 

As a University of Buffalo product, Mack's already become something of a household name in the area, but more importantly, he can play. 

He's already begun to draw some pretty favorable comparisons. 

 

10. Detroit Lions—Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The exodus of top-flight talent from Texas A&M to the NFL continues, as big-play receiver Mike Evans is a lock to be taken long before the end of the first round. 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

 

The SEC's leader in receiving touchdowns in 2013, Evans has a penchant for exploding for big games, especially when facing the most elite of opponents. 

This year, Evans registered two games with at least 279 yards receiving, and more importantly, it happened against Alabama and Auburn. 

 

11. Tennessee Titans—C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama 

As a key member of the University of Alabama's vaunted defense, C.J. Mosley's stock has been on the rise, in part due to his track record of showing up and delivering in pressure situations. 

Mosley's smart, fast and excels at getting to the ball, and though he probably could go slightly lower in the order, he'd be an upgrade for the Titans, should they choose to go for a linebacker.

 

12. New York Giants—Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu fits the profile of the Oregon Ducks perfectly, as he's athletic, quick and capable of making game-breaking plays. 

 

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After watching the team turn in one of the most absurdly disappointing starts to a season in team history, the New York Giants need to upgrade at cornerback. Ekpre-Olomu has to be a prime candidate for this pick. 

He's got a physical presence that's somewhat unique among corners, and he'll have a very good chance of starting for the G-men immediately. 

 

13. St. Louis Rams—Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Rams will continue to revamp their offensive protection with their second pick of Round 1 by taking Auburn's Greg Robinson, who has emerged as a dominant force for the nation's top team. 

An elite pass-blocker, Robinson has all the tools to make a difference in the Rams' running game, assuming St. Louis' Zac Stacy is anywhere near as effective as he was during his rookie season. 

 

14. Chicago Bears—Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame

The Bears will be in the market for help on the defensive line, and at this point in Round 1, the Fighting Irish's Stephon Tuitt fits that bill. 

He's projected to go higher in the eyes of some, but in an ideal world, he'll still be waiting for a taker by the time pick No. 21 rolls around. 

 

While Tuitt's 2013 season didn't indicate all he can bring to the table, he's got the physical gifts (size, speed and athleticism) to help the Bears in Week 1 next season. 

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers—Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

As of now, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio is publicly undecided on whether to take his talents to the NFL, but assuming he does, he'd be a worthy addition to Pittburgh's partial rebuilding project. 

He's big, strong and plays with a chip on his shoulder, which fits the Steelers' (at least during their glory days) mentality, and his pedigree while with the Crimson Tide certainly doesn't hurt. 

 

16. Baltimore Ravens—Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

One year after winning the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco's receiving options have looked pretty mediocre this year (although Ray Rice's decline hasn't helped). Part of that is due to the departure of Anquan Boldin. 

The Ravens will finally compensate for his departure by taking Penn State's Allen Robinson.

Robinson's got the sort of vertical leap, size and hands to bail Flacco out when his passes aren't quite on the mark, and that's going to help Baltimore's passing offense get back to where it was a year ago. 

 

17. Dallas Cowboys—Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

One of the most suffocating safeties in recent memory, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is exactly the type of player the Dallas Cowboys need heading into next season. 

In 2013, the Cowboys secondary struggled to stop much of anything, and Clinton-Dix's ball-hawking abilities would help Dallas change that. 

He's proven that he can cover the best receivers college football has to offer, and he'll continue that at the next level. 

 

18. New York Jets—Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

After smashing school and conference records for receiving yards by a tight end with North Carolina, Eric Ebron is arguably the most promising prospect at his position in this crop. 

 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

And, given how badly the Jets need talent in terms of receiving targets, if he's around, it'll be between him and Mike Evans as to who New York takes. 

 

19. Miami Dolphins—Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Florida State's Timmy Jernigan broke out in 2013 with an exceptional junior season for the No. 1 Seminoles, despite not being a regular starter the previous season. 

But once he did get on the field regularly, Jernigan earned First Team All-ACC honors and given his ability to disrupt the pass, he'd fill one of Miami's most pressing needs.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals—Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Cardinals may emerge with one of the biggest steals of the round if Taylor Lewan's available, as the senior offensive tackle possesses every trait required to be successful in the NFL. 

A solid blocker with decent in-game instincts and size combined with a solid 6'7" frame, Lewan should become even better at protecting the quarterback, which will be good for Palmer, who has gotten used to taking a beating. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers—Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Green Bay's aerial offense was depleted with injuries consistently in 2013, and that began long before Aaron Rodgers' devastating injury. 

With a quarterback as good as Rodgers in the fold, having multiple impact receivers in the mix is a big plus. Despite his rather lackluster junior season, Lee is capable of being at least a No. 2 target for the Packers. 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

During his first two seasons as a Trojan, Lee registered a combined 25 touchdowns, and with Rodgers at the helm, he'll soon be putting up big numbers in the NFL. 

 

22. San Diego Chargers—Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Michigan State put together a very impressive 2013 campaign, and one of the main factors behind that was Darqueze Dennard, who has quickly become one of the most hyped corners in this year's pool. 

Outstanding on coverage, Dennard makes up for his lack of size with his smarts and instincts, and even at the NFL level, he's got the mental abilities to read the plays well enough to make a difference.

 

23. Philadelphia Eagles—Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

After spending freely on corners in the past, the Eagles will look to take one of this draft's best in Justin Gilbert, who was among the nation's top ball-hawking threats at the position this season. 

Gilbert, who holds the school record for career pass break-ups, hauled in six interceptions in 2013. With his size and coverage abilities, he's the type of prospect who would aid Chip Kelly's secondary. 

 

24. Kansas City Chiefs—Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

With at least six touchdowns in each of his three seasons with the Huskies, Austin Seferian-Jenkins has established himself as one of the top receiving targets in this year's class, to the point that Peter Schrager of Fox Sports likes him as the top option at his position. 

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

 

He's been productive since arriving at Washington, and given that the Chiefs rely on a short-yardage approach through the air, this is a guy who would compliment Andy Reid's resurgent group.

 

25. Cincinnati Bengals—Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

Heading into the spring, the Bengals have a decision to make at defensive end. If they opt to part ways with Michael Johnson, Crichton is a smart pick here, assuming he heads for the NFL this year. 

If he's available, Crichton's instincts, tenacity and ability to fight his way through tackles make him an attractive prospect, and if Johnson's out, he'll fill that vacancy nicely. 

 

26. Cleveland Browns—Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU

After the Browns address their burning need for a new starting quarterback with their initial first-rounder, they'll give that new QB a worthy target later in Round 1 by acquiring a proven clutch performer in Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin. 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

At 6'4". Benjamin's size and ability to wrestle contested balls out of the air will be of service to Cleveland, especially if the Browns do what's expected and begin next season with an untested rookie center. 

 

27. New Orleans Saints—Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Like Nix, Beasley's name may be called long before No. 29, because after the season the junior had at Clemson, he'll be of high interest to any team searching for help at outside linebacker. 

After leading the ACC (and finishing third in the nation) in sacks, Beasley's got nothing left to prove at the college level, and with the Saints in need of help at this spot, his hard-charging style will be a welcome addition to the defense. 

 

28. New England Patriots—Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Now that we've seen Rob Gronkowski go down with yet another long-term injury, the Patriots have an immediate need for an impact addition at tight end. 

Jace Amaro would absolutely meet that need, as the Texas Tech star was undoubtedly the most dominant tight end in the country in 2013. 

However, what remains to be seen is whether he'll actually be available when the Patriots are called to the podium: 

 

 

29. San Francisco 49ers—Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Nix could end up going far earlier than this, but if he's still bouncing around this late in Round 1, he's a must-draft for the 49ers.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

Like the rest of the Fighting Irish, Nix struggled in the season following the run to the national title game, but his physical capabilities and pedigree are enough to convince teams that he'll be a contributor once he hits the NFL. 

 

30. Carolina Panthers—Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

As Steve Smith continues to age, Cam Newton will need an additional weapon to do business with if the Panthers intend on replicating their 2013 success going forward. 

Matthews would be a nice fit in Carolina, as his size, quickness and ability to find his way to the end zone will grant Newton with one more weapon to put points on the board. 

At Vanderbilt, Matthews demonstrated a penchant for creating sufficient space between him and coverage, and with a run-happy quarterback like Newton who forces defenses to honor the rushing game, Matthews will get his chances with the Panthers. 

 

31. Seattle Seahawks—Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Another key cog of last year's dominant Fighting Irish defense should hear his name called by the end of the opening round, as Seattle would do well to take OG Zack Martin.

Though he was a tackle at the collegiate level, Martin projects to be a guard once he ascends to the NFL, and given his competitiveness, awareness and instincts, he'll be able to transition smoothly. 

 

32. Denver Broncos—Morgan Moses, Virginia, OT

As a member of the Virginia Cavaliers, offensive tackle Morgan Moses has flown under the radar for some time, but as of now, some believe he'll be gone by No. 25. 

Moses has done well against elite competition, as he held fellow first round prospect Vic Beasley to a single tackle and no sacks when the Cavs faced Clemson. 

With Peyton Manning's health the biggest priority of the Broncos for the time being, Morgan is a solid choice at this spot. 

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