2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pro Comparisons for Every First-Round Pick
Johnny Manziel and an assortment of prolific underclassmen have declared for the 2014 NFL draft—a group of prospects that very well may have more star power than the famed 2012 class.
From Jadeveon Clowney to Sammy Watkins to Teddy Bridgewater, there will be many big-ticket players being snatched up in the early rounds in May.
But who do these prospects compare to at the professional level?
Here is a mock draft along with an NFL comparison for each first-round pick.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers
Teddy Bridgewater is the most refined pocket passer in the 2014 class. He possesses a quick, fundamentally sound delivery and almost always has his shoulders square to his target, even if he's on the run.
His frame (6'3'', 205 lbs.), strong but not tremendous arm strength, pinpoint accuracy and unheralded athleticism make him about as close to an Aaron Rodgers clone as possible.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
NFL Comparison: A stronger, more refined Cordarrelle Patterson
Cordarrelle Patterson went to the Minnesota Vikings in first round of the 2013 draft, likely due to his yards-after-the-catch ability, instant acceleration, violent lateral agility and long speed.
However, coming out of Tennessee, Patterson wasn't deemed to be "polished" in terms of route running or "getting open" as a wideout because of the limited route tree he ran with the Volunteers.
Sammy Watkins wasn't exactly the second coming of Reggie Wayne at Clemson, but no wideout was more explosive after the catch than this Tigers star. He plays bigger and stronger than his listed 6'1'' and 205-pound frame.
When it comes to a bubble and tunnel screen specialist who can also stretch the field with incredible speed, Watkins is the top guy.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
NFL Comparison: Andrew Luck
At 6'3'' and around 230 pounds, Blake Bortles stacks up to Andrew Luck from a size perspective.
But the similarities go far beyond the measureables.
After watching tape, like Luck, the UCF signal-caller comfortably drifts away from pressure in the pocket, runs fluidly on designed runs and flourishes on short-to-intermediate passes.
Bortles doesn't have a huge arm, but his throws rarely, if ever, lose velocity down the field.
He may not be the keen coverage-reader Luck was when coming out of Stanford in 2012, but the Golden Knights quarterback didn't look confused by defenses very often in his collegiate career.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel made a considerable stride as a pocket passer in 2013, an aspect of his game he needed to improve to become a top-tier NFL prospect.
Though he's only 6'0'' and around 210 pounds, Manziel is a magician when it comes to eluding pressure and extending plays downfield, and he also has the ability to tuck it and run.
In the open field, Manziel is deceptively fast, nimble and slippery enough that he rarely takes the huge hit.
Some may question his arm strength, but the Texas A&M stud made a handful of long, accurate throws down the field and lasers down the seam in 2013.
He plays more recklessly than any signal-caller in the class, which speaks to the Tony Romo comparison. For every ill-advised interception Manziel will throw, he'll make a handful of awe-inspiring plays.
5. Oakland Raiders: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Oakland Raiders
NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers
Jadeveon Clowney is the most physically imposing prospect in the 2014 class. At 6'5'' and 275 pounds, he moves like a tight end and has the brute strength of a defensive tackle.
Julius Peppers was quite the athlete when he entered the NFL in 2002, and he has had a fine professional career, compiling 119 sacks with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.
Clowney's burst off the line is eye-catching, and his sculpted frame packs an insanely powerful punch. He can win with a bull rush, speed rush and a variety of pass-rushing moves.
In short, Clowney can disrupt the backfield in many ways, much like Peppers did during his prime.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
NFL Comparison: Joe Staley with more finesse
Watching Jake Matthews is boring.
The 6'5'', 305-pound, "super clean" offensive tackle stymies all types of pass-rushers with a solid anchor and a desirably quick kick-slide.
Matthews is probably better suited to be in a pass-heavy offense than he is in a run-heavy offense, but he didn't prove to be a liability when asked to get downhill in the running game.
It's simple: he's a no-nonsense offensive tackle who won't allow many pressures.
Think Joe Staley.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith-Jason Peters blend
No offensive lineman in the 2014 class is more athletically gifted than Greg Robinson. At 6'5'' and 320 pounds, the Auburn star can move his feet like a safety and doesn't lack power at the point of attack.
He's much better run-blocking and getting to the second level than he is as a pass-blocker, but thanks to tremendous strength, Robinson is rarely overpowered by edge-rushers.
He'll be a favorite for a head coach who wants his left guard moving around on pulls and on screens often.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
NFL Comparison: Matthew Stafford
Derek Carr was blessed with a cannon arm, and he demonstrated sound accuracy during his time at Fresno State.
While he struggles with overly jumpy footwork on occasion, his pure throwing talent and coverage-reading acumen will get him drafted early.
Though Carr doesn't change arm angles as frequently as Matthew Stafford does, both quarterbacks don't leave anything to be desired in terms of arm strength.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
NFL Comparison: A more polished Julius Thomas
Eric Ebron was a do-it-all tight end for North Carolina over the past two seasons. At 6'4'' and 245 pounds, he moves extremely well after the catch and certainly has the overall size to be the "open when he's covered" pass-catcher the Bills need in their offense.
Julius Thomas played basketball in college, and Ebron's agility and open-field running ability can be likened to a small forward.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
NFL Comparison: Leon Hall with a dash of Darrelle Revis
Darqueze Dennard is an ultra-physical, press-man cornerback who's sound against the run.
While the Michigan State star might not run in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash, his aggressive style and hand work make him a similar prospect to Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis when they entered the NFL in 2007.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA
NFL Comparison: A more sleek and quicker Terrell Suggs
Anthony Barr spent time on the offensive side of the ball early in his UCLA career, but he was eventually moved to the defensive side prior to his junior season, and he flourished.
At 6'4'' and 250 pounds, his fluidity is similar to, well, a tight end, and he plays with an extremely high motor, which leads to him making many plays in the backfield.
Terrell Suggs was more of a pure pass-rusher entering the NFL, but like the Baltimore Ravens star, Barr can line up as either a 4-3 defensive end or strongside linebacker at the next level.
12. New York Giants: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo
NFL Comparison: A smaller Jason Pierre-Paul
Supremely athletic with range for days and long arms, Buffalo's Khalil Mack draws the closest comparison to Jason Pierre-Paul, who measured in at 6'5'' and 270 pounds at the 2010 combine.
Mack isn't that big (6'3'', 248 lbs.), yet his game is eerily similar to the Giants standout.
Both use their length to not only get after the quarterback but also to disrupt the offensive backfield, tip passes and force fumbles.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
NFL Comparison: Jason McCourty
A blazing return man and fleet-footed cornerback, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is comparable to Jason McCourty of the Tennessee Titans.
Gilbert is seemingly always around the ball due to his hyper-springy athleticism, and he may very well star as a return man in the NFL.
Though McCourty hasn't been asked to return many kicks as a professional, he was a standout in the return game during his senior year at Rutgers in 2009.
14. Chicago Bears: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
NFL Comparison: NaVorro Bowman after taxes
NaVorro Bowman's inherent strength may stand out when he's sacking a quarterback or thudding a running back just beyond the line of scrimmage, but he initially wins with amazingly quick play-recognition skills and unfair linebacker speed.
The same goes for C.J. Mosley.
He'll show up on the highlight reel with some monster hits in the open field. However, he's also exceptionally smart and absolutely flies to the football.
(Thanks to @RumfordJohnny for the "after taxes" descriptive idea.)
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
NFL Comparison: Marques Colston
Vincent Jackson is the easy comparison for the 6'5'', 225-pound Mike Evans, but after watching film, the prolific Texas A&M wide receiver doesn't appear to have even close to the same type of speed that Jackson did (4.45) when he came into the NFL in 2005.
Marques Colston—another big, "go up and get it" wideout—ran the 40-yard dash a bit slower (4.5) but measured in at a similar height and weight to Evans.
The New Orleans Saints' all-time leading receiver might have been a bit more polished than Evans, but their individual games are very comparable.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
NFL Comparison: Anthony Davis like
Cyrus Kouandjio was a highly touted high school recruit and he played on Alabama's line for the past three seasons.
At 6'5'' and 310 pounds, the Crimson Tide left tackle has prototypical size and he moves well. Kouandjio had a somewhat disappoint 2013, especially when dealing with speed rushers off the edge, but he flashed his brute strength and athleticism in the run game often.
Like Davis, he very well may begin his NFL career on the right side.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DL, Missouri
NFL Comparison: A more powerful Derrick Morgan
Derrick Morgan doesn't get much publicity in Tennessee with the Titans, but he's emerged as fine 4-3 defensive end in the AFC South.
Both Morgan and Ealy play with an abundance of energy and would be characterized as better power-rushers than they are speed-rushers.
At 6'5'' and 275 pounds, it'll be interesting to see where Ealy is slated, position wise, in the NFL.
18. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
NFL Comparison: A supercharged Robert Woods
Marqise Lee is a stunning open-field dynamo, who exhibits desired burst and acceleration after catching the football.
Like Woods, Lee isn't expected to run a blistering 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, but his tape shows fine athleticism and impressive game speed.
Both receivers are similarly sized as well, but Lee is the shiftier and more explosive runner.
19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
NFL Comparison: A weaker Nate Solder
Taylor Lewan is a tall (6'8'') pass-blocking specialist, but he certainly isn't a downright liability when asked to block in the running game.
Solder is similar in size, and like the Michigan standout, he's much more comfortable when asked to protect the quarterback.
With some sound coaching, Lewan could become a road-grading run-blocker, too.
20. Arizona Cardinals: David Fales, QB, San Jose State
NFL Comparison: Jay Cutler
David Fales won't get the publicity of the other top quarterbacks in the 2014 class, but he might have the most impressive arm.
The San Jose State star delivers the football with a quick, over-the-top delivery, and he can make any throw on the field with plenty of velocity.
Fales will make questionable decisions from time to time, almost as if he trusts his arm too much.
Sound like anyone?
21. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
NFL Comparison: A speedier Kam Chancellor
Ryan Shazier could stick as a 4-3 weakside linebacker in the NFL, but his game is most comparable to Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor.
Both players use their athleticism and overall speed to beat backs to the corner and make a mess of the opposition's outside running game.
Neither is particularly proficient in coverage, yet each guy can make plays down the field on their physical skill set alone.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
NFL Comparison: A quicker K.J. Wright
Kyle Van Noy is the ultimate defensive Swiss Army knife: a linebacker who easily drops into coverage, can play on the inside and even provide some edge-rushing contributions.
Though K.J. Wright is one of the lesser known players on the Seattle Seahawks defense, he does it all from his strongside linebacker spot.
In a 4-3 defense, that's precisely where Van Noy would flourish at the next level.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
NFL Comparison: Larry Fitzgerald Lite
Though Jordan Matthews doesn't have the incredible hands Larry Fitzgerald does, both wideouts made an assortment of tremendously difficult catches during their collegiate careers.
Actually, Matthews excels after the catch more than Fitzgerald did at Pitt, and the two receivers are similarly sized and possess well-rounded games.
Matthews won't outjump every cornerback and high-point the football like Fitzgerald can, but he'll make his fair share of contested catches at the professional level.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
NFL Comparison: A more refined Percy Harvin
Percy Harvin was used as a running back in Florida's read-option attack much more than Brandin Cooks was at Oregon State. But from a size, quick-twitch athleticism and speed standpoint, the two receivers are very much alike.
Cooks ran a comparatively diverse route tree with the Beavers and played with a palpable grittiness.
In the open field, the Oregon State star will outrun many defenders and make just as many of them miss with violent lateral agility.
25. San Diego Chargers: Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
NFL Comparison: A bulkier Tyson Jackson
Stephon Tuitt is a mountain of a man at 6'6'' and 312 pounds. While he mainly played defensive end at Notre Dame, he could add some weight and play on the inside in the NFL. However, the Notre Dame star best fits as a 3-4 defensive end.
He's a powerful guy with deceptive athleticism and is someone who won't win with an assortment of pass-rushing moves yet will make plays in the backfield and against the run because of his size and physical nature.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
NFL Comparison: Dwayne Bowe
Allen Robinson is a do-everything wideout with good size at 6'3'' and 210 pounds. Although Dwayne Bowe has become almost strictly a possession receiver in the NFL, he ran after the catch pretty well during his days at LSU.
Not only can Robinson make contested catches by using his large frame, athleticism and strong hands, but he's fluid in the open field and has decent speed.
27. New Orleans Saints: Trent Murphy, OLB/DE, Stanford
NFL Comparison: A more slender, less powerful J.J. Watt
Trent Murphy was a backfield ruiner during his days at Stanford with the Cardinal, much like J.J. Watt at Wisconsin.
The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year measured in at 6'5'' and 290 pounds at the 2011 combine, and while Murphy will likely be in the 6'6'', 260-pound range, their games are strikingly similar.
Both have keen awareness and desired athletic ability for defensive linemen.
Murphy isn't nearly as strong at the point of attack as Watt is, but he'll knock down passes, grab some interceptions and make many tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
28. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
NFL Comparison: Rob Gronkowski
Sure, Zach Sudfeld was dubbed "Baby Gronk" by his New England Patriot teammates during the 2013 preseason, but we all know how that turned out.
In reality, Jace Amaro closely resembles Gronkowski.
They're similarly sized—Amaro is 6'5'' and 260 pounds—and though neither exhibits great side-to-side athleticism, both run very well after the catch and shield defenders with their huge bodies.
29. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
NFL Comparison: Pierre Garcon
Odell Beckham Jr. was a complete wide receiver during his LSU Tigers career. Though not overly intimidating due to size—he's 6'0'' and around 210 pounds—he made difficult catches in traffic and really flourished after the catch.
Beckham isn't a burner, but he's a naturally elusive runner in the open field, much like Pierre Garcon.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
NFL Comparison: Jordy Nelson
At 6'2'' and 215 pounds, Davante Adams has more than adequate size for the wide receiver position. At Fresno State, he made a myriad of catches in which he needed to use his leaping ability to high-point the football.
Despite not being a 4.3 or 4.4 guy, he's a deep threat and can make some defenders miss in the open field after catching bubble screens and slants.
His game is very comparable to Jordy Nelson when he came out of Kansas State in 2008.
31. Denver Broncos: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
NFL Comparison: more raw Eric Berry
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix projects to the strong safety spot in the NFL. He will be good against the run and when asked to blitz off the edge.
Though both he and Eric Berry flashed sound coverage skills in college, the Alabama star could be used as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker in nickel packages at the next level.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
NFL Comparison: A smaller Eric Winston
Though Eric Winston is a towering 6'7'' and Zack Martin is only 6'4'', the two have comparable games.
The Notre Dame captain played guard during his time with the Fighting Irish, but he manned the left tackle position during his senior season in South Bend.
Both Winston and Martin are technically sound run-blockers and are athletic enough to handle edge-rushers.
Don't be surprised if, due to being "undersized," Martin moves inside to guard in the NFL.