After a wild BCS Championship battle between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn, the focus for football fans has shifted to the 2014 NFL draft and where each of the top stars will land in the latest mock.
Here is the best-case scenario for all 32 first-round picks in 2014.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Houston Texans have made it clear that the franchise will consider all options with the No. 1 overall pick, including trading it away, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Texans owner Bob McNair said Houston is willing to trade No. 1 overall pick so it can land another QB and a defensive player as well.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 3, 2014
If the organization decides to use the pick, Houston must play it safe and take the most talented player on the board, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Some Texans fans will pull for a quarterback, but there is just as much risk associated with the 2014 class of QBs.
Clowney will be a star in the NFL with the right guidance.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
As if the Washington Redskins dilemma couldn’t get any worse, the St. Louis Rams will use the No. 2 overall pick acquired in the Robert Griffin III trade to further secure the offense line with Texas A&M standout prospect Jake Matthews.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been in a perpetual state of rebuilding for years. Instead of going through the motions once again, the franchise needs to go all-in at No. 3 and take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
There will be questions about how the smaller player translates to the NFL, but with Drew Brees and Russell Wilson as guides, Manziel could blossom into the franchise player Jacksonville has always needed.
4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Brandon Weeden may have been selected in the first round, but he has underperformed for the Cleveland Browns to say the least. If Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is available at No. 4, the franchise will have its new QB of the future.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Oakland Raiders love players who are fast and agile at the wide receiver position, but it will be the physicality that Sammy Watkins brings to the field that entices the franchise into taking the talented prospect.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Atlanta finished 2013 ranked 21st against the pass and allowed 243.6 yards per game to opposing QBs. As the most talented cornerback in the draft, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard will be a perfect fit with the Falcons.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team in search of an identity. With the chance to draft a talented outside linebacker like Anthony Barr, the franchise could find the perfect complement to Darrelle Revis in the secondary.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Minnesota Vikings have three former starters in Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman, and none of them are worthy of building a franchise around. Instead of trying to rewrite history, the team should take the educated risk on a prospect like Blake Bortles and build toward the future.
9. Buffalo Bills: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
With the Buffalo Bills placing confidence in quarterback E.J. Manuel as the starter for 2014, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, the need to draft an offensive lineman like Cyrus Kouandjio becomes the team’s top priority.
10. Detroit Lions: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
After faltering down the stretch, the Detroit Lions must go big with their first-round pick. It may be a reach, but the upside of Buffalo pass-rusher Khalil Mack could result in Detroit drafting and developing one of the next top defensive stars.
11. Tennessee Titans: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Tennessee Titans are a franchise that must get back to basics. NFL games are won and lost in the trenches, and the Titans must address both the offensive and defensive line needs during the draft. Selecting Kony Ealy at No. 11 would be the right move.
12. New York Giants: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Eli Manning had one of the worst years of his career. One of the remedies that the New York Giants could use for the porous play of the offense would be drafting an offensive tackle with as much upside as Auburn’s Greg Robinson.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
While some fans may complain that the St. Louis Rams passed on Sammy Watkins at No. 2 overall, the franchise will select the second-best wide receiver of the 2014 class in Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
14. Chicago Bears: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Chicago Bears were destroyed by almost every running back they went up against, and adding a hard-hitting safety like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama will be a help against the pass and the run.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to rebuild on the defensive side of the ball, and adding a future star like C.J. Mosley is a no-brainer. With an SEC attitude already, Mosley should fit right into the Pittsburgh defensive style.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
The Baltimore Ravens need to get back to basics. In order for Joe Flacco to be effective, he must have time in the pocket. That’s where adding a talented offensive tackle like Florida State’s Cameron Erving at No. 16 makes sense.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Despite having one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys struggled to make an impact with no defensive presence. The need for a complement to DeMarcus Ware will result in the selection of defensive end Stephon Tuitt of Notre Dame.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The New York Jets must look to add offensive weapons if the team wants quarterback Geno Smith to find long-term success. North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is a work in progress, but he has the pass-catching ability to be a difference-maker.
19. Miami Dolphins: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Miami Dolphins need serious help on both the offensive and defensive lines. Expect the team to go with the best player available at a position of need and select Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Arizona Cardinals had a respectable season but will look to improve by adding a more consistent pass rush. If Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier falls to No. 20, the franchise will have the threat off the edge it needs.
21. Green Bay Packers: Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
When quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down injured, it became abundantly clear that the top priority for the Green bay Packers this offseason would be adding depth and talent to the offensive line. That starts with guard Zack Martin.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The biggest weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles this season was the secondary, and adding a heavy hitter like TCU cornerback Jason Verrett would be an inexpensive way of upgrading a position of need.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Head coach Andy Reid will be looking to build the Kansas City Chiefs in his West Coast offense style, and that consists of adding talented tight ends who can catch the ball. Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro fits the bill to perfection.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
After yet another putrid performance by quarterback Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati Bengals could see this as the perfect opportunity to draft the next possible face of the franchise, Fresno State’s Derek Carr.
25. San Diego Chargers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The San Diego Chargers found a gem in rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen, and the team should try its luck again by selecting USC’s Marqise Lee at the tail end of the first round.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Cleveland Browns will be looking to build a franchise with the pick the team acquired dealing running back Trent Richardson, and a defensive tackle with as much upside as Minnesota’s Ra'Shede Hageman is a no-brainer.
27. New Orleans Saints: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The New Orleans Saints need major help on the offensive line, and Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan will be a perfect fit for the schemes they run. Drew Brees will get the protection he needs.
28. New England Patriots: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
There are several key areas of need the New England Patriots must address this offseason, but if Clemson outside linebacker Vic Beasley falls to No. 28, the franchise will have the pass-rush specialist it needs.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The San Francisco 49ers are always looking to improve on the defensive side of the ball. With the Nnamdi Asomugha experiment failing, adding a cornerback like Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert would be a smart plan.
30. Carolina Panthers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Carolina Panthers have one of the best defensive units in football, but the team must add more depth and talent around quarterback Cam Newton to continue being a threat. Drafting Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson is the smart first-round decision.
31. Denver Broncos: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Outside linebacker Von Miller offers the pressure from the outside that the Denver Broncos defense needs, but adding Stanford defensive end Trent Murphy would help against the pass and the rush.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Benardrick McKinney, DE, Mississippi State
The Seattle Seahawks have become one of the most consistent franchises in the league by utilizing its draft picks to the fullest extent. With plenty of upside, Mississippi State pass-rushing defensive end Benardrick McKinney could be another hidden gem for Pete Carroll.