Following another exciting weekend of NFL football, only eight teams remain in the playoffs with another four now sealing their fate in the 2014 NFL draft.
After the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs lost in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, all four teams will now spend the next few months deciding who they will draft with their pick on May 8 when the day finally comes.
With all four teams already making the playoffs this year, the players joining these teams will come into a great situation. Both the Eagles and Bengals came in as No. 3 seeds into the playoffs but have weaknesses at different positions that led to them being knocked out early in the postseason.
Here are predictions for every team's first-round selection with the Wild Card Round officially coming to a close.
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater solidified his spot as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft, torching Miami for a total of 447 passing yards, four total touchdowns and zero picks.
But the Houston Texans might be looking to trade out of the No. 1 spot, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reports:
If the Texans keep the pick, Bridgewater is the most talented quarterback in the draft and would fit their needs perfectly with neither Matt Schaub nor Case Keenum getting the job done this season.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Let's make this abundantly clear: I believe, as well as many others like Josh Alper of NBC Sports, that the St. Louis Rams will trade out of the No. 2 pick with a suitor who is more interested in the spot. Whether it's for a team that is in need of a quarterback or another player like Jadeveon Clowney, the Rams will look to trade.
If they do keep the pick, the Rams will look for a safe pick to join Jake Long on the offensive line or pick up Clowney, who is still seen as the best talent in the draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Putting it simply, Blake Bortles was convincing of his high draft stock in the Fiesta Bowl. Bortles threw for over 300 yards, three touchdowns and rushed one in for another score, but threw two interceptions.
According to Joe Schad of ESPN, Bortles will officially be taking his talents out of Central Florida:
Thanks to living up to those lofty expectations, Bortles solidified his spot as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. Without as much polish as players like Bridgewater or even Johnny Manziel, it's easy to see how he could be overshadowed, but Bortles looks like the next in line for signal-callers after Bridgewater.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, and Bortles looks the part. It will be interesting to watch over the next few months to see how Bortles fares in things like the combine and other activities, but for now he is the second-best quarterback in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel has done just about everything in the college game. The most polarizing figure in college football over the last two seasons is now moving on to the NFL and will likely do so in a Cleveland Browns uniform.
With a plethora of talent surrounding him like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, Manziel would flourish in Cleveland as a dual-threat quarterback. The only problem is that he would need a good running back to share the backfield with him, which the Browns will likely look for in the second or third round.
5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Oakland Raiders need help at several positions to say the least. Not only would he be the most talented player remaining, but Anthony Barr is also a player who can join with Sio Moore to form a good young linebacker corps for the future.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jake Matthews is the No. 1 offensive lineman in this year's draft. With the Atlanta Falcons having the talent on their roster to win games, they will likely look to protect Matt Ryan and go with a safe pick. After Ryan was sacked 44 times in 2013, he certainly wouldn't mind shoring up another spot on his offensive line.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Simply put, Sammy Watkins is the No. 1 wide receiver in the draft. He could go to any of the teams drafting ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if they decide to go for pure talent. But with the draft still several months away, he falls to the No. 7 spot in the draft.
Mike Glennon knows Watkins pretty well after playing against him at N.C. State. With a backfield that already includes Doug Martin, an entire stable of backs who got playing time this season and the likes of Vincent Jackson lining up on the other side, Watkins would flourish if he played in Tampa Bay.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Welcome back, Derek Carr.
After word that Brett Hundley will reportedly remain with UCLA for his senior season, according to Derek Harper of CBS Sports, Carr now finds himself back in the top 10.
The former Fresno State quarterback is a player who has the physical tools to make him a good quarterback in the NFL.
Though he fell on several draft boards after a lackluster performance in the Las Vegas Bowl, Carr is still a top-10 pick and is capable of leading an NFL team in the not-too-distant future.
9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Nope, that's still not a typo. Khalil Mack impressed scouts all season with his pass-rushing ability and breaking records for both tackles for loss and forced fumbles in a career.
With an already impressive unit that includes Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and standout rookie Kiko Alonso, the Bills could have one of the best young defenses in the NFL with the addition of Mack.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
While teams like the Packers and Eagles are certainly disappointed after losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Detroit Lions are still trying to pick up the pieces after crumbling down the stretch and ultimately missing out on the playoffs.
The Lions will look to address issues on the defensive side of the ball before looking to the offense. Darqueze Dennard had a good performance to help Michigan State win the Rose Bowl, holding Stanford to just 20 points in the contest. For a defense that gave up 247 passing yards per game, the Lions desperately need a cornerback. Dennard is the guy.
11. Tennessee Titans: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
As I mentioned in my last mock draft, I am officially a believer of Ealy. The man single-handedly dismantled Oklahoma State and came away looking like a surefire top-10 pick. But with teams like the Lions and Bills not needing a defensive end, Ealy will fall just outside of the first 10 picks.
Not only is Ealy a great prospect, but as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report points out, he appears to be a pretty down-to-earth player as well:
Ealy finished with two sacks and six total tackles in the Cotton Bowl, which made his decision to leave nearly perfect timing. With the Titans not having explosive ends on either side of the defensive line, Ealy would come in and immediately make an impact.
With players like Aldon Smith recently coming out of Missouri and lighting up NFL quarterbacks, Ealy could be the next in line.
12. New York Giants: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
With needs at quite a few key positions, it's easy to see how the New York Giants could go with several different choices here. Though they chose Justin Pugh last year and he shored up one position, Kouandjio could come in and fill the void on Pugh's opposite side to protect Eli Manning, who was sacked 40 times in 2013.
13. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
After getting the most talented player in the draft, the Rams will look to add another offensive lineman to add to a line that already includes Jake Long. With Long returning next season, Greg Robinson could start out on the right side, a perfect fit for a rookie.
14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
With the official decision to leave Notre Dame, Stephon Tuitt would be the perfect fit to return the Chicago Bears to a feared defense in the NFL. Joe Schaad of ESPN reported the news on Twitter:
His performance in the Pinstripe Bowl (four tackles, 1.5 sacks) certainly helped his stock, and with the Bears needing to basically restructure at several positions, Tuitt could be a difference-maker.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Just behind his talented teammate, Louis Nix III will make an immediate impact with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh could still look to its offensive line, as I have projected in a few other mock drafts, or other positions, but Nix seems to fit its identity perfectly.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Joe Flacco is in need of another wide receiver who can be physical in the middle of the field and relieve some pressure off of Torrey Smith. Mike Evans fits both of those qualities and is also able to break off highlight-reel plays.
Evans' playmaking ability isn't on par with either Sammy Watkins or Marqise Lee, but he is certainly a dependable target for Flacco.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Look, I like Barry Church, but when the passing defense looks as atrocious as the Dallas Cowboys' did this season, it's hard not to look to add to the secondary. Church played in his first full season this year, and though he finished with 135 tackles, many of them were after chasing receivers down who got past him.
At 6'1", 208 pounds, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has great hands, vision and the ability to read a quarterback's eyes. He would almost certainly improve that atrocious pass defense.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The New York Jets have a lot of holes to fill. With no real threat at the wide receiver or tight end position for Geno Smith or whoever starts next year at quarterback, the Jets will have to go with either Eric Ebron or Marqise Lee.
What Ebron brings to the table is not only a great playmaking ability but also an ability to haul in just about any pass thrown his way. If Smith does retain the quarterback position, he needs someone who can catch just about anything.
With a safety valve like Ebron, the Jets will perhaps look to keep building on offense in later rounds as well.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
Ryan Tannehill was great during the 2013 season. Unfortunately, he was sacked 58 times for a total of 399 yards lost, more than any other player on the season.
In order for the Miami Dolphins to take the next step toward making the playoffs, they will need to keep Tannehill upright. Picking Cameron Erving might not fill the spot that Jake Long left behind, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
With talent at the running back position thanks to rookie Andre Ellington, the Arizona Cardinals need a player who can effectively open up lanes to move the ball down the field. If the Cardinals decide to go with Martin, they will be getting a player who can not only open up those lanes but also do it at an MVP level, like he did in the Pinstripe Bowl.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
With no true defensive tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme outside of 13-year-veteran Ryan Pickett—Josh Boyd, his backup, is a natural defensive end—the Packers will go with one of the nastiest defensive players in the draft with Hageman.
In previous mock drafts, I had the Packers going with tight ends like Jace Amaro and Ebron. But with the desperate need at tackle it appears they will look to fill that void before moving on to the later rounds. With Hageman, the Packers get the second-best tackle in the draft behind Nix.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The Philadelphia Eagles have dominated teams all season with their offense and don't appear to have any true holes on that side of the ball. Their defense, on the other hand, could use some work.
With Vic Beasley sliding down draft boards, the Eagles would be wise to snatch him up and fill one of those holes immediately. Players like Brandon Boykin and Earl Wolff will continue to improve—trust me, Wolff is special—but with Beasley in the front seven the Eagles will have a much better defensive corps.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
In earlier mock drafts, Lee went to the Jets with the No. 18 pick. But with Ebron slowly moving back up the board, the Chiefs have a perfect opportunity to snatch up one of the best wide receivers in the draft.
Lee might have relinquished the throne of the No. 1 wide receiver in the draft to Watkins and could be the third receiver taken, but his talent is still ridiculous. Lee finally returned to form in the Las Vegas Bowl, finishing with seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Fresno State.
With Dwayne Bowe on the roster and Donnie Avery finishing the season with just 40 receptions and less than 600 yards, it's time to look for a receiver who can draw some of the attention away from Bowe. Lee will certainly demand attention with his playmaking ability.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
With a defense that is already one of the best in the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals can afford to start looking toward the future. With 35-year-old James Harrison in his 10th season in the NFL, it might be time to start looking for someone who can take over his spot in the coming years.
Thanks to an already stingy linebacker group that includes Vontaze Burfict, Shazier will be in good company if the Bengals decide to pick him up.
25. San Diego Chargers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
A physical corner who can play man, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is exactly what the San Diego Chargers need. Thanks to an offense that includes Philip Rivers and breakout receiver Keenan Allen, the Chargers made the playoffs.
But if they want to get serious about winning a Super Bowl with Rivers at the helm, ranking last in the AFC in pass defense is not going to get them there.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Adding Allen Robinson to an already lethal receiving corps would certainly make up for trading Trent Richardson. At 6'3", 210 pounds, Robinson would make a great option alongside the likes of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.
While Richardson certainly didn't do anything spectacular with the Colts this season, the loss at the time was shocking for Browns fans. The addition of Robinson would deter attention away from Gordon and add another dynamic receiver for whoever the quarterback ends up being.
27. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The New Orleans Saints aren't a team that has a lot of holes to fill, but with the potential to add a great linebacker prospect to its front seven, it will take it. C.J. Mosley is a 6'2", 238-pound linebacker who has the speed to cover the field and strength to go with it.
28. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
With the crippling loss of Rob Gronkowski yet again for the Patriots at the end of the regular season, they will need to start looking for a replacement. As dynamic as Gronkowski can be when he's on the field, Tom Brady needs a reliable target who will be in every game.
After finishing the season with 1,352 yards, breaking the receiving record by a college tight end, and tallying seven touchdowns for the Red Raiders, Amaro might jump right in with a Super Bowl contender. Even if Gronkowski does play all next season, Belichick would still love to go back to that old two-tight end set that worked so well in seasons prior.
One thing to look for: If Belichick feels he can get the player he wants in the second round, he will trade down. Not exactly breaking news, but it's a thought.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The San Francisco 49ers already have a stacked defense that made Aaron Rodgers look pedestrian, but the rich will once again look to get richer by adding Justin Gilbert. The Gilbert pickup would fit perfectly with not only the mold of the 49ers, but also the NFC West with his toughness and playmaking ability.
30. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
At just 5'10", Brandin Cooks is actually an inch taller than Steve Smith and has the same explosiveness the Carolina Panthers wide receiver had coming out of college.
Cooks has put together two straight seasons with over 1,100 yards, but this season was spectacular mainly because he was able to unseat Marqise Lee as the best receiver in the Pac-12. Maybe not in scouts' minds but certainly in statistics.
The junior hauled in 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also showed he has big-play potential every time he touches the ball, as he rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns for the Beavers.
Filling Smith's shoes in Panthers fans' hearts will be a tough task, but Cooks is certainly another great receiver to add to the stable for Cam Newton.
31. Denver Broncos: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Drafting purely out of need, the Denver Broncos will look to replace Sean Phillips, who is in his 10th year of service. While Trent Murphy likely isn't a first-round pick, Denver has a need at the position and could return to a top-10 defense with a few right choices in the draft.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
With a need on the offensive line and the final draft pick, the Seattle Seahawks will go with Taylor Lewan. Not exactly a splashy pick or one worth noting, but if he can protect the likes of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks fans will be eternally grateful.
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