2014 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Projections After Wild Card Weekend

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Projections After Wild Card Weekend
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The NFL playoffs are finally underway, and with the college football season almost over, it's time to take a look at an updated 2014 mock draft.

All eyes will be on the Houston Texans and their No. 1 overall pick, but a number of talented players will be looking to make immediate impacts on their respective teams.

Below is an updated mock draft after the Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, breaking down each team's needs and looking at the best fit with each pick.

 

Who should the Texans take with the No. 1 pick?

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1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

While the argument has been made that the Texans shouldn't draft a quarterback until the second or third round, it's hard to pass on Teddy Bridgewater, especially with how the current quarterbacks on the roster played this season.

Bridgewater is a special talent who is already a developed passer.  He's confident in the pocket but can still roll out and make accurate throws when needed.  His touch on the ball and his strong arm mean he has the potential to turn the Texans around in 2014.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Thanks to a trade with Washington, the St. Louis Rams have two first-round picks.  While defensive end really isn't a need for the Rams, they have the opportunity to have one of the most dominant defenses in the league by bringing in Jadeveon Clowney.

A monster on the defensive line, Clowney is a great pass-rusher who can eat up ball-carriers in the backfield.  He's a monster physically, and with how tough the rest of the NFC West is, adding Clowney could make the Rams one of the more intimidating teams in the entire conference.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

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Quarterback is the biggest need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  With a late-season run, they were able to play out of the No. 1 overall pick, but they can still draft a very promising QB in Blake Bortles.

While not the flashiest name in college football, Bortles is going to keep shooting up draft boards, especially after a strong performance in the Fiesta Bowl.  He has a high football IQ and does a great job reading opposing defenses.  He has an underrated arm and isn't afraid to stand in the pocket under pressure to deliver a nice throw.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Cleveland Browns need a game-changer on offense.  Their defense wasn't bad during the season, but the offense seriously struggled without a reliable option under center, with players such as Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Josh Campbell playing quarterback.

Johnny Manziel is exactly what the Browns need.  He's not the most traditional quarterback, but he knows how to carry a team and make plays very few quarterbacks can.  Some are worried about him taking too many hits, but with how much he improved as a passer over the past year, Manziel could be the answer at quarterback the Browns so desperately need.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

With a number of top-tier quarterback prospects already taken, the Oakland Raiders will have to look elsewhere with their first-round pick.  The Raiders will focus on addressing another need instead, and they should consider drafting someone at linebacker to help Sio Moore.

One of the most dominant defenders in his class, Anthony Barr is an explosive outside linebacker who loves to make big plays, especially when rushing the passer.  He's also not afraid to plug up rushing lanes and stop the ball-carrier in the backfield, thanks to his long and athletic frame.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

While the defense was a mess this season, the Atlanta Falcons also need help protecting their long-term investment under center, Matt Ryan.  The offensive line seriously struggled, but Atlanta has a chance to take the top offensive tackle in the draft.

At 6'5'' and 305 pounds, Jake Matthews is the best offensive tackle available.  He has long arms and is quick enough to keep up with even the most athletic pass-rushers.  Matthews played on both sides of the line in college, and he excelled at both positions, showing he can be a versatile player at the next level.

 

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

It appears Mike Glennon is the long-term answer at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and new head coach Lovie Smith will be looking to add weapons around him.  As the top offensive weapons in the draft, Glennon would be thrilled with the Buccaneers taking Sammy Watkins.

A simply explosive player on the field, Watkins is a serious vertical threat against any defense.  His ability to pick up yards after the catch and his ridiculous acceleration will make him a dominant force at the next level.

 

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

Brett Hundley would have been a nice fit with this pick, but according to CBS's Eye on College Football, he will reportedly be returning for at least another year at UCLA:

The Minnesota Vikings will still need a quarterback, however, so they should consider taking Derek Carr with the No. 8 overall pick.  He struggled in his final college game against USC, but Carr has an arm scouts drool over.  He also showed a lot of improvement in reading opposing defenses and standing more confidently in the pocket, which shows he's still improving as a passer.

Carr might not be an immediate fix, but he has some serious upside that could make him a franchise quarterback.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills were able to grab a lot of offensive help in last year's draft.  Kiko Alonso was a big help defensively, but they need to add more pieces to the defense before they can become a playoff-caliber team.

A popular pick with both the fans and the coaching staff would be taking Khalil Mack out of Buffalo.  He's an instinctive outside linebacker who can dominate in all aspects of the game.  He was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year for good reason, and if you saw him play against Ohio State, you know he has a lot of potential.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

The secondary has been a problem with the Detroit Lions for some time.  Luckily for them, this draft class is littered with talented defensive backs, and they will have their pick of a number of first-round-caliber players.

In my opinion, Justin Gilbert is the top cornerback in the draft.  He does a great job accelerating and keeping up with his receivers.  While he isn't the most technically sound player, he has terrific ball skills and has the potential to be the best defensive back to come out of this draft.

 

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

With a few nice pieces to build around in Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty, the Tennessee Titans can focus on adding another strong defensive player.

If C.J. Mosley is available at No. 11, the Titans will be ecstatic.  He's a versatile linebacker who seems to always find the ball and make a play.  He's an intimidating player physically and has played against high-level competition for quite some time, so he's ready to play in the NFL.

 

12. New York Giants: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Eli Manning had a rough season for the New York Giants, but it's not all his fault.  The Giants need to protect their franchise quarterback, and they should draft someone who can play left tackle.

While he struggled to start this year with Alabama, Cyrus Kouandjio is just what the Buccaneers could use at the offensive tackle position.  He has good footwork and a lot of strength, which can help him not only in pass protection but also in the running game, which will help open running lanes for the Giants.

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

One of the bigger needs for the Rams is help in the secondary, and they will be able to pick up one of the best cornerbacks in the draft with their second first-round pick.

While I do think Gilbert is the top corner, Darqueze Dennard is right behind him.  He's a shutdown corner who also isn't afraid to make plays in the running game.  He has awareness and physical traits that make him a pro-ready cornerback as soon as he's drafted.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

The run defense for the Chicago Bears was easily the worst in the league this season.  Even if Henry Melton comes back 2014, the team could still use some help on the defensive line.

At 6'5'' and 303 pounds, Stephon Tuitt is a monster on the line.  He's quick enough to play defensive end, but, with his size, the Bears could easily move him inside and have him play alongside Melton to help turn the run defense around quickly.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers started to turn things around at the end of the year, but they need to make sure Ben Roethlisberger can stay upright in 2014 if they want to make a serious push for the playoffs.

Taylor Lewan is the best option here for the Steelers.  He's a big man at 6'7'' and 315 pounds, but he's still surprisingly light on his feet.  He struggled with technique and penalties in college, but if he can cut down on those, he'll be a big asset for Pittsburgh.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Without Anquan Boldin, the Baltimore Ravens seriously struggled on offense this season.  They need a physical receiver who can be a red-zone threat, and Mike Evans is the perfect option.

Evans finished this season with 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns.  At 6'5'', he's taller than most defensive backs, and he has no problem making big catches in the end zone or acrobatic ones on the sideline.

 

17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A rough ending for the Dallas Cowboys will hurt their fans.  The offense is still in good shape, but they desperately need to find help on defense.

By adding Kony Ealy, the Cowboys would be getting one of the most athletic players in the draft.  He's quick off the snap and can burn by anyone with his speed rush.  By adding a pass-rusher, the Cowboys could then look at help the secondary in later rounds.

 

18. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Geno Smith had a terrible year, but the defense held up. The New York Jets were able to finish 8-8, and Rex Ryan was able to keep his job.  But Smith can't take all of the blame, because he had no real weapons to throw to.

If the Jets want to get the offense going, they'll fix that in the first round by taking Marqise Lee.  While he did have to deal with injuries this year, he's still a great route-runner who is able to create separation with his speed and acceleration.  He's not the biggest player, but he should still be a productive receiver as long as he can stay healthy.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State

It was quite clear by the end of the year that the Miami Dolphins seriously needed help on the offensive line, especially without Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.  It is unclear whether they will return next year, so the Dolphins should add some help, especially at offensive tackle.

Blocking for the likes of EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston, Cameron Erving knows what it takes to block for NFL-caliber quarterbacks.  While he's a strong pass-blocker, Erving's quick feet also help him a lot in the running game, making him a versatile tackle the Dolphins would love to have at this point.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

The Arizona Cardinals had a great year and have a pretty strong roster, but they seriously need help protecting Carson Palmer next year, as the offensive line just couldn't get the job done.

While Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are the two offensive tackles everyone talks about with Texas A&M, Cedric Ogbuehi has started to make a name for himself as well.  He has terrific balance along with some long arms, which will help him a lot at the pro level in pass protection.

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The secondary for the Green Bay Packers is in serious need of some help, especially at safety, because players like M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett simply aren't getting the job done.

If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is available with this pick, the Packers will be cheering.  Clinton-Dix is the best possible fit for the Packers, as he has terrific range at the position and isn't afraid to lay some big hits in the process.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Chip Kelly is likely going to want one of his old college players, while the Philadelphia Eagles are going to need to add help to their secondary.  The team and coach can get the best of both by bringing in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

Ekpre-Olomu has looked like a very impressive cornerback at Oregon.  He's a physical player who is fast enough to keep up with almost any receiver at the next level, and he'll fit right in with the Eagles and their new defensive scheme.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have a few weapons on offense, but they've lacked a dynamic playmaker at the tight end position since Tony Gonzalez.   There are two or three great tight ends heading into this draft, and the Chiefs will be able to choose the one they like the most.

Eric Ebron is considered the best tight end right now.  He's an athletic tight end who's capable of playing on the outside and still presents a mismatch for defenders.  He can make some impressive catches as well as make a positive impact as a run-blocker, so the Chiefs won't have to do too much thinking if he's on the board.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

They arguably have one of the most complete teams in the AFC, but the Cincinnati Bengals are still struggling to get playoff wins.  With this pick, they'll be looking for the top player on the board, and that would have to be Ryan Shazier.

From a production standpoint, Shazier was one of the best linebackers in the league.  He has a high football IQ and can play on either the inside or out, making him a valuable player the Bengals would find ways to get on the field.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The San Diego Chargers have now advanced to the divisional round. While their offense has been great all year, their defense has been unreliable at times.

Drafting a cornerback here would be a good idea.  Jason Verrett has smooth hips and footwork that help him minimize separation between himself and receivers.  He's an all-around solid and aggressive corner who has a good eye for the ball and should be ready to play on Sundays.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

They may already have Josh Gordon, but the Browns should consider adding another weapon to help Manziel as he starts his NFL career.

Allen Robinson would be a nice fit for the Browns here.  He's not the vertical threat Gordon is, but he's a quick receiver who can make sharp cuts in his routes.  He would make a great No. 2 receiver behind Gordon and could help provide some help for the Browns on offense.

 

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

Rob Ryan has completely turned around the defense for the New Orleans Saints, but they need to add some more help rushing the passer if they want to become a truly elite defense in just the second year under their new defensive coordinator.

If they want help there, Vic Beasley is a smart pick.  He's an explosive linebacker who's quick off the snap, but he's very strong and is capable of pulling off a strong bull rush.

 

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

With how often Rob Gronkowski gets hurt, the New England Patriots need a strong Plan B at the tight end position.  When Gronk is healthy, the Patriots will have two tight ends who can make plays, much like they had over a year ago.

Jace Amaro is an athletic tight end who loves to line up in the slot.  He's a strong route-runner who uses his size and strength to knock over defenders while picking up yards after the catch.

 

29. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

While the return of Michael Crabtree has helped the passing game for the San Francisco 49ers, they're still missing a key piece on offense.  Both Crabtree and Boldin are effective players on the outside, but they don't have a slot receiver to make their offense even more versatile and deadly.

Brandin Cooks was the most productive receiver in the country this year, catching 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He's a special athlete who can reach top speed quickly and burn past defenders, and he would help stretch the field for the 49ers.

 

30. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

It's been a terrific season for the Carolina Panthers, but imagine how much better their offense would be if Cam Newton had a legitimate receiver not named Steve Smith.

At 6'3'' and 205 pounds, Jordan Matthews has some great size for the position.  He had 112 catches this past season, and his speed combined with his route-running would give Newton a great target to throw to for the foreseeable future.

 

31. Denver Broncos: Michael Sam, DE, Missouri

Without Von Miller, the Denver Broncos have struggled defensively.  Even with him back in 2014, the Broncos could still use some help rushing the passer.

An ideal fit for their defensive scheme, Michael Sam can play as either a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end, although he's a more natural fit in the latter.  With him and Von Miller making plays in 2014, the Broncos could be putting the pressure on opposing QBs with ease.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor

The Seattle Seahawks have few glaring weaknesses, but they do need help at the offensive guard position.  While it may be a reach to draft a guard this early, some players at the position would make the decision worth it.

One of them is Cyril Richardson out of Baylor.  Their offense was one of the most efficient in the country, and he was a big reason for it.  He's a big guy at 6'5'' and 335 pounds, and he would be able to help open up running lanes for Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

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