2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Picks After Wild Card Weekend
With Wild Card Weekend now officially in the books, it is time to look ahead.
We mean looking ahead at the 2014 NFL draft, of course. With the exception of the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys (whose positioning will be determined via coin toss), the order for the first 24 draft positions is now set.
The other eight teams in our mock will be ordered according to playoff seeding.
For this mock, all draft-eligible players will be considered with the exception of those underclassmen who have already stated their intent to return for the 2014 collegiate season.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
One of the biggest surprises of the 2013 NFL season was the Houston Texans, who began the year hyped as potential Super Bowl contenders and finished with the first overall pick in the draft.
Inconsistent quarterback play was an issue for the Texans throughout the season, and the team would likely look to move on from Matt Schaub and Case Keenum, even if it had retained head coach Gary Kubiak.
Former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is now in charge, and he will undoubtedly want his own guy under center for the 2014 season. With Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater now officially headed for the NFL, it would be a surprise if the Texans picked anyone else at No. 1.
St. Louis Rams (via Trade)
OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
The Rams traded for former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long last offseason, hoping to solidify the left side of their offensive line.
Unfortunately, Long suffered an ACL tear before the season ended and could be unavailable for the start of the 2014 season.
Even if Long is available, a prospect like A&M's Jake Matthews would allow the Rams to lock down the right side of the line and eventually replace Long on the blind side down the road. This is very much the strategy behind the Kansas City Chiefs' decision to select Eric Fisher first overall in 2013, despite having Branden Albert already on the roster.
Thanks to the 2012 trade for Robert Griffin III, the Rams own the Washington Redskin's pick and can select the top offensive lineman with the second overall selection.
QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
It should be relatively clear by now that neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne is the long-term answer at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If Central Florida's Blake Bortles decides to move to the NFL this spring, he very well could be the answer for the Jaguars.
At 6'4" and 230 pounds, Bortles has the size and build that NFL general managers covet. He is also responsible for leading an offense that averaged 34.6 points per game during the 2013 season.
Of course, Jacksonville has more than one hole on its roster. Trading down and selecting a different quarterback is a very sound possibility here.
QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The Cleveland Browns tried three different quarterbacks in 2013, which is a strong indicator that their long-term answer is not currently on the roster (though Brian Hoyer, who was sidelined with an ACL tear, remains a potential option).
Sports Illustrated's Peter King has already reported that the Browns decision-makers are high on Johnny Manziel. If this is true, it makes sense for them to grab him at No. 4 if he is still available.
Manziel is an aggressive quarterback who could allow Cleveland to attack defenses in a way it has been unable to do since the 2007 season.
His polarizing character and status as a former Heisman Trophy winner would also bring some much-needed excitement to the shores of Lake Erie.
QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
The run on quarterbacks continues with the Oakland Raiders looking to get in on the action at No. 5.
UCLA's Brett Hundley has the big arm that Oakland has been searching for ever since it decided to take a chance on JaMarcus Russell way back in 2007.
While Hundley is likely to enter the league with a learning curve, he is much closer to making the transition to the pro game than Russell. Add in his mobility and accuracy, and Hundley appears to be the perfect project for the Raiders to build around.
DE/OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
Barring a trade, the run on signal-callers ends here as the Atlanta Falcons are not in need of a quarterback.
Last offseason, the Falcons added veteran Osi Umenyiora in order to bring some punch to their pass rush.
While the 11-year veteran performed at a respectable level (7.5 sacks on the season), the Falcons are in need of a young player who can bring an identity to the defense for the long haul.
Anthony Barr, who registered 10.0 sacks for the Bruins during the 2013 season, should fit well into this role. He has the quickness and athleticism to reach the quarterback from the edge and the range to cover running backs and tight ends when defending the pass.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Prior to the 2013 season, South Carolina standout Jadeveon Clowney was seen as a potential candidate for the No. 1 overall selection. While some questions now exist about his work ethic, he remains one of the top defensive prospects in this draft.
The new head coach of the Tampa Buccaneers is Lovie Smith, who is as defensive-minded as any coach in the league. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Smith will have final say over the 53-man roster. This suggests that he will also have input on the draft process.
While the Buccaneers already field a stout defensive front, Clowney's potential upside may make him too enticing for Smith and Co. to pass on at No. 7.
QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
Unless the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings decides that Christian Ponder deserves a longer look, the team is likely to look for its signal-caller in the draft.
With a bevy of quarterbacks already off the board, it would be of little surprise to see the Vikings jump on the best available QB with their first-round selection.
While Derek Carr is not the most highly touted prospect coming into the draft (which may have something to do with his relation to brother David Carr), he appears to be one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks in terms of size, arm-strength and style of play.
Even if the Vikings decide that Carr is not ready to start from Day 1, they will have the option of turning to veteran Matt Cassel, who played fairly well toward the end of the regular season, while Carr develops from the sidelines.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Though he showed signs of promise, Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel had an inconsistent and injury-plagued rookie season in 2013.
Manuel should make some strides heading into 2014, but if the Bills hope to see an immediate upgrade in their passing game, they would do well to improve the talent around him.
Adding a dynamic playmaker like Sammy Watkins would certainly accomplish this. Buffalo ranked just 28th in passing offense last season (193.9 yards per game), but a receiving corps consisting of Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and Watkins could quickly transform the unit into a lethal one.
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is lucky enough to throw passes to one Calvin Johnson. What he needs now is a reliable No. 2 receiver and an insurance policy (Johnson missed two games in 2013, both losses).
At 6'5" and 225 pounds, A&M's Mike Evans could be the perfect complementary piece and would provide Stafford with another big outside target.
Pairing Evans with Johnson would also give Detroit a receiver tandem that could rival the duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery of the division rival Chicago Bears.
DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
The Tennessee Titans could go in a number of directions with the 11th overall pick, especially if their new head coach decides that Jake Locker is not the answer at quarterback.
Even if the Titans do decide they need a new signal-caller, the earlier run on quarterbacks means there may not be a legitimate first-rounder still available.
In terms of value, a potentially dominant pass-rusher is right behind quarterback, and the Titans (ranked 21st with 36 sacks in 2013) could certainly use one.
Missouri's Kony Ealy, who had 9.5 sacks this past season, fits the bill. At 6'5" and 275 pounds, he has the size to rush from both the defensive end and linebacker positions, depending on Tennessee's future defensive scheme.
New York Giants
DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson
After amassing just 34 sacks in 2013 (25th in the league), the New York Giants could be in the market for pass-rushing firepower during the draft.
With Clowney, Barr and Ealy off the board, Beasley is the easy choice at No. 12.
Beasley finished the 2013 season with an impressive 13 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss. He is a physical and aggressive edge player who could help the Giants' defensive front return to the attacking form of its 2007 and 2011 championship seasons.
St. Louis Rams
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
The Rams will have an opportunity to select the player they feel best fits their team with their second selection of the first round.
Alabama Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would be a nice addition to the back end of a defense that continually improved as the season progressed in 2013.
St. Louis fields an aggressive and physical defensive front, anchored by defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn. This aggressive front can create pressure and force mistakes. Clinton-Dix is exactly the type of ball-hawking safety who can turn those mistakes into interceptions and scores.
ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Alabama's C.J. Mosley is easily one of the most talented defenders in this entire draft class. However, his role as a hybrid inside/outside linebacker will likely leave him in less demand than the draft's dedicated pass-rushers.
This could work perfectly for the Chicago Bears, who are still searching for a defensive leader who can fill the role long held by Brian Urlacher. Urlacher, of course, is a legend in the Chicago sports world.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jay Norvell recently compared Mosley to another legendary NFL linebacker, Ray Lewis.
There is no question that Mosley will have to prove himself at the pro level, but if he is even half the defensive field general that Lewis or Urlacher were, the Bears will be a very happy franchise.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers just drafted offensive tackle Mike Adams in 2012. No, it is not too early for the team to try drafting another pass-protector to try to make life easier on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Adams has started just 16 games in his two seasons as a Steeler, and he has had virtually no positive impact on the team's ability to protect its quarterback.
Roethlisberger was sacked an alarming 42 times in 2013, which means it is time to roll the dice on another collegiate prospect.
Fortunately, Cyrus Kouandjio appears to be a much safer pick than Adams was two years ago. At Alabama, he helped anchor one of the nation's top offensive lines and could do the same in Pittsburgh.
Baltimore Ravens (Pending Coin Flip)
OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
The Baltimore Ravens may be tempted to select a playmaking receiver or tight end at No. 16 or 17 (depending on the result of the pre-draft coin toss); however, the protection of quarterback Joe Flacco is a more pressing need.
Baltimore traded for former Jacksonville tackle Eugene Monroe during the regular season, but Monroe may not be a long-term solution.
According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Ravens would like to extend Monroe's contract. However, both he and right tackle Michael Oher are pending free agents.
This means that Baltimore is likely to find a hole at at least one tackle position, a hole that A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi has the potential to fill.
Dallas Cowboys (Pending Coin Flip)
DE Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
At some point, the Dallas Cowboys are going to have to find a replacement for nine-year veteran pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware.
Adding a prospect like Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney would allow the Cowboys to both plan for that time (Ware has two years remaining on his contract) and to complement Ware in the meantime.
McKinney projects as a bit of a project as an edge-rusher. His collegiate production does not jump out (he had just 3.5 sacks in 2013), but McKinney could be the type of long, athletic pass-rusher NFL scouts covet.
At 6'5" and 230 pounds, McKinney has a similar build to 2013 first-rounder Barkevious Mingo (6'4", 241).
New York Jets
WR Marqise Lee, Southern California
If New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith is to succeed in his second NFL season, his team is going to have to place more offensive talent around him.
The Jets could target a playmaking tight end, but USC wideout Marqise Lee is also a good fit here because he has the potential to develop into a legitimate No. 1 receiver at the pro level.
He is not the draft's biggest receiver (6'0", 195 pounds), but Lee has shown a natural ability to run precise routes and gain yards after the catch. Despite a down year in 2013 (791 yards, four touchdowns), Lee still projects as a first-round talent who could instantly improve the Jets receiving corps.
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
The Miami Dolphins want the tight end position to play a large role in their offense.
Why else would the team move to sign Dustin Keller last offseason and make Charles Clay an integral piece (69 receptions, six touchdowns) following Keller's season-ending injury?
This is why Texas Tech's Jace Amaro makes sense for Miami. Amaro is an athletically gifted tight end who plays the position almost like an oversized receiver.
Amaro has the ability to attack downfield and would provide an upgrade at the position, even if Keller returns at 100 percent next season.
OT Cameron Erving, Florida State
The Arizona Cardinals traded away disappointing offensive tackle Levi Brown during the regular season, which has left an even bigger hole along the offensive line.
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer proved that he can still play at a high level as long as he receives adequate protection, which was often not the case in 2013. Palmer was sacked 41 times during the season and was frequently pressured into making mistakes.
Cameron Erving played a large role in Florida State's high-powered offense, as he was generally productive in both the run and passing games. He is a natural athlete and should provide an immediate upgrade on Palmer's blind side.
Green Bay Packers
TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The Green Bay Packers already have one of the league's most potent passing attacks (it averaged 266.8 yards per game, even with Aaron Rodgers sidelined for seven weeks).
However, that doesn't mean the Packers shouldn't jump at the chance to add another talented pass-catcher to the mix.
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is exactly that. The 6'4", 245-pound prospect hauled in 62 receptions for 973 yards in 2013 and helped leaf the Tar Heels to a Belk Bowl victory.
With current starter Jermichael Finley's football future in question following spinal fusion surgery, this pairing makes almost too much sense to ignore.
CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Chip Kelly found a way to make the Philadelphia Eagles offense into a juggernaut and helped transform backup quarterback Nick Foles into a potential star.
He also managed to get the Eagles into the playoffs a season after the team went just 4-12.
Now, it is time for Kelly and Co. to turn their attention to the defensive side of the football, especially if the Eagles hope to do better than a first-round playoff exit next season.
Philadelphia fielded the league's worst pass defense during the regular season (289.8 yards per game allowed) and is in serious need of some upgrades in the secondary.
Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert can help improve at least one position, as he has the size (6'0", 200 pounds) and range needed to thrive at the pro level.
Kansas City Chiefs
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
A magical season for the Kansas City Chiefs came crashing to an end Saturday after their wild-card collapse against the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, it is time for the Chiefs to turn their attention to the draft, where playmakers like Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins are waiting to be plucked.
While Seferian-Jenkins is not a household name, he is an athletic freak with the potential to dominate defenders with his rare combination of size (6'6", 276 pounds) and speed.
Seferian-Jenkins averaged an impressive 12.5 yards per catch in 2013 and scored on eight of his 36 receptions. This suggests that he should be able to make an immediate impact in the Chiefs offense, especially in the red zone.
CB Jason Verrett, TCU
The Cincinnati Bengals reached the postseason for the third consecutive year in 2013. For the third straight time, they were handed an embarrassing first-round loss.
After watching quarterback Andy Dalton struggle again in the postseason, Cincinnati may be tempted to bring in a quarterback to compete with him. However, the Bengals still have a solid overall team and will have the luxury of deciding on the best available player instead.
TCU cornerback Jason Verrett provides solid value here, and the Bengals could use some youth in the secondary (Adam Jones and Terence Newman are at the back end of their careers).
Cincinnati spent a first-round pick on Dre Kirkpatrick just two years ago, but he has struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout his young career.
San Diego Chargers
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
The San Diego Chargers will move on in the postseason after a stunning 27-10 upset over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
San Diego dominated the Bengals in many areas of the game but surrendered 334 yards passing in the process.
This was not the first time this season that the Chargers struggled to defend the pass. The team surrendered an average of 268.7 yards per game through the air during the regular season.
Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard fills an immediate need and provides value, something that regular playoff participants strive for in the draft.
Cleveland Browns (via Trade)
WR Odell Beckham, LSU
Much to the chagrin of Clevelanders, the Colts won their first playoff game, so this slot could change.
However, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham can fill a need and provide value at any point at the back end of the first round. He will never be the biggest receiver on the field (6'0", 187 pounds), but Beckham is a solid route-runner with run-after-the-catch ability.
He would provide new quarterback Johnny Manziel with another reliable target and should be a nice complement to the league's top receiver, Josh Gordon.
New Orleans Saints
OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
The New Orleans Saints managed to win their first road playoff game in franchise history on Saturday, which places the team firmly in best-player-available territory.
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier would bring an interesting piece to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense.
While he is a bit undersized (6'2", 222 pounds) to be a legitimate pass-rusher from the outside linebacker position, he is quick, instinctive and versatile. These are traits that fit perfectly into Ryan's aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme.
New England Patriots
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
The New England Patriots found a way to thrive in 2013, despite not surrounding quarterback Tom Brady with the most elite group of pass-catchers.
Adding a wideout like Penn State's Allen Robinson could immediately upgrade New England's receiving corps, which may be without Julian Edelman (pending free agent) next season.
The 6'3", 210-pound wideout hauled in 97 receptions for 1,432 yards with the Nittany Lions last season. It would be interesting to see what he can accomplish with Brady tossing footballs his way.
San Francisco 49ers
CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
The San Francisco 49ers, who won Sunday's playoff game on a last-second Phil Dawson field goal, do not have a ton of holes on the roster to fill.
While it isn't the most pressing need, they could use a little help on the back end of the defense. Cornerback Carlos Rogers is aging at 32, and Tarell Brown is scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason.
Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin is an intelligent, physical corner who could help any team, even one with the talent of San Francisco.
WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Like the rest of the teams drafting at this point in the first round, the Carolina Panthers are fairly close to being a complete team.
Their goal in the draft will likely be to provide quarterback Cam Newton with the pieces needed to continue to develop into one of the league's top young quarterbacks.
Newton has a few veteran targets, like wideout Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen, but the chances of him complaining about adding Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks are slim.
Cooks is an explosive receiver who has the potential to stretch the field at the pro level and could help add a new dimension to the Panthers offense.
DT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
The Denver Broncos earned the AFC's No. 1 seed thanks primarily to the record-setting play of Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense.
This isn't to say that the Denver defense has not played its part, but the unit is far from elite (ranked 19th, allowing 356 yards per game during the regular season).
Adding a big, physical interior defensive lineman like Notre Dame's Louis Nix makes sense for the Broncos here. He has the size (6'3", 357 pounds) and strength to congest the line of scrimmage and free up paths for edge-rushers like linebacker Von Miller.
DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
The Seattle Seahawks may be tempted to look at defensive backs here, but the lure of Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan may be too hard to pass.
Jernigan is an athletic interior lineman who can attack the backfield and rush the passer from the middle. These traits fit will with Seattle's aggressive, attacking defense.
The Seahawks racked up 44 sacks during the regular season (eighth in the league). Adding a capable interior pass-rusher like Jernigan to the equation would make Seattle's defensive front even more intimidating.