For fans of 30 of the NFL's 32 teams, thoughts have begun to turn to the NFL draft.
Which quarterback will have the best NFL career?
Fans of the Super Bowl participants, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, are lucky enough to have a matchup to be absorbed in. The rest of us can't help but at least start to think of who our favorite team should draft.
As you will see, I've been thinking about it enough to do a first-round mock.
Langford's 2014 NFL Mock Draft
1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater may not be the most gifted prospect in this class, but by most accounts he is the top quarterback. B/R's Matt Miller is one of many to tab him as such.
Like most years, being the best quarterback will be enough to have him go No. 1 overall.
The Texans have talent on the roster, but after their nosedive season, it is clear this team needs an upgrade under center.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina
Jadeveon Clowney is the most gifted athlete in this class. Although he didn't live up to the hype this past college season, it was still clear he has the elite blend of size and speed that will make him a terror at the next level.
That will be enough to have the Rams select him even though defensive line is already one of the team's strengths.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
The Jacksonville Jaguars have to identify their quarterback of the future. I'm sure defensive-minded head coach Gus Bradley would love to get a defensive player, but this franchise must do what it can to erase the stain of the failure that is Blaine Gabbert. The best way to do that is to draft a competent quarterback.
Although he is raw, Bortles has the kind of accuracy and arm talent that Gabbert does not. Although it is easy to compare the two, that isn't fair to Bortles' talent. Matt Miller agrees:
I've seen this a few times and simply don't get the comparison. RT @thmiga81 Blake Bortles = Blaine Gabbert— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 10, 2014
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel, perhaps you've heard of him?
It appears the Browns have:
You can never trust pre-draft reports. Well, you can trust that the majority of them get out with the intent of setting a smoke screen.
Still, this pick makes a ton of sense, and Manziel would be fun to watch in an offense with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.
5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
In a lot of mocks, the Raiders are projected to go offense. I don't see that happening.
It's not that the offense couldn't use a quarterback or a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie need quick results.
The best way to make that happen will be to draft a young player, such as Anthony Barr, with the ability to get to the passer and make a big impact on defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Atlanta Falcons must get stronger in the offensive trenches so all the time and money they've spent on skill-position players does not go to waste.
The way this mock is playing out, that strategy makes their pick easy.
Jake Matthews is as safe a prospect as there is in this draft.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
With this selection, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will suddenly have a dynamic set of playmakers in the passing game.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Timothy Wright are coming off of good seasons. If that duo had an explosive talent like Sammy Watkins to help divert the attention, quarterback Mike Glennon would have plenty of open options in the passing game next season.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Minnesota Vikings played themselves out of position to get a crack at the top quarterbacks in this draft. That is too bad because Christian Ponder is not the answer.
Although I'm sure Minnesota will be tempted to bring in a quarterback like Derek Carr, the Vikings will turn to a safer pick along the offensive line and bring in punishing tackle Greg Robinson to help make a strong ground game stronger.
9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
C.J. Mosley is a smooth athlete. He covers a lot of ground for someone his size and can change directions well.
This will allow him to play on the inside or outside in the NFL, and I see him as a complement on the inside of the Bills defense to rising talent Kiko Alonso.
Yes, #Bills fans, you should be watching C.J. Mosley tonight. IMO, he's a legitimate possibility at No. 9. He and Kiko = fine LB pairing.— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) January 3, 2014
10. Detroit Lions: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Detroit Lions have a defensive line that can take over games. Unfortunately for Detroit, the rest of the defense likes to give those games right back.
With a nose for the ball and great athleticism, Khalil Mack will help solve the Lions' defensive lapses.
11. Tennessee Titans: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr has fantastic arm talent, but there are ample questions about his ability to handle an NFL rush and make good decisions.
This is why I like Tennessee for Carr. With youngster Jake Locker showing real promise when he is healthy enough to stay on the field, Carr wouldn't have to be rushed into action.
The Titans could try and develop Carr and keep him in the wings should Locker get injured or not perform.
For reasons that NFL.com's Chris Wesseling points out, that will give the Titans some needed flexibility at the position going forward:
If the Titans pick up Locker's fifth-year option, it will run them in the neighborhood of $15 million for 2015. It's quite the conundrum: Locker has a checkered injury history, and there will be an abundance of premium quarterback prospects available at Tennessee's draft slot.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
This is a lofty realty for a tight end, but Eric Ebron's potential to have a huge impact on the passing game makes him worth it.
His athleticism has caught the attention of scouts:
2 players generating a ton of buzz with NFL scouts/execs-- Auburn OT Greg Robinson and UNC TE Eric Ebron.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 15, 2014
Brandon Myers turned in a solid season for the Giants last year, but he is a free agent, and the Giants need someone who can stretch the seam. This will give Eli Manning another option in the passing game and take some of the attention off the receivers on the outside.
13. St. Louis Rams: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Rams have the chance to make a promising young defense downright scary with two first-round picks, and that is exactly what I think they will do.
St. Louis already has two young cornerbacks with potential in Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, but after finishing last season 19th in passing yards allowed, it is clear another upgrade is needed.
Darqueze Dennard has the ability to play in man and zone, and he is widely considered the top corner in this draft.
14. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The aging defense of the Chicago Bears fell apart last season. An infusion of talent is badly needed.
Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt has the ability to dominate, but he is not without his question marks. NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang explains:
Clowney isn't the only highly regarded defensive lineman who struggled under the burden of monstrous expectations in 2013.
After dominating as a sophomore, Tuitt began his junior campaign out of shape (after missing spring due to hernia surgery) and struggled with consistency all season. Highly athletic with the frame to star as either a 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end, Tuitt's upside is just too tantalizing to ignore.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Taylor Lewan held up well last year while playing on a bad offensive line at Michigan. He has all the tools to be a quality starting tackle in the NFL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers must start to build some stability along the offensive line.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
There is no questioning the athletic merit of Cyrus Kouandjio. He has it all. After a terrible Sugar Bowl, however, there are some questions about him being ready for the NFL.
Nevertheless, the junior decided to apply for the draft, and he is still a lock for the first round, especially with teams like the Baltimore Ravens in dire need of help on the offensive line.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Without going back and confirming, I believe this is the third straight year I've mocked a free safety to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round. Dallas can't ignore that need this year, can they?
The pass defense was terrible last season.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the range and instincts to make a big difference in that pass defense.
18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The New York Jets must bring in some playmakers to a stagnant offense.
Mike Evans can make plays all over the field. He is 6’5” and 225 pounds. He also has good ball skills to go with his size.
According to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin via ESPN's Sam Khan Jr., Evans has the kind of work ethic that will help him in keeping that size athletically functional:
It's been a pleasure watching Mike's development as a receiver and a person the past two seasons. Mike was one of the team's hardest workers in whatever he was doing, and it paid off for him on the field.
19. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
In the midst of a run on offensive linemen in this mock, the Miami Dolphins aren't going to find great value in the trenches.
Still, this team is need of new talent among the offensive front five.
Antonio Richardson doesn't figure to be a good value at No. 19:
Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson to enter the 2014 draft, per @BFeldmanCBS. He's in my top 25 right now. Shut down Clowney in '12.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 6, 2013
He is a powerful and massive lineman. He checks in at 6’6″ and 330 pounds. He is a little stiff, but with solid coaching he will improve his knee bend.
Although most places have him mocked more in the mid-20 range, he has shown the kind of athleticism that makes him worth the reach.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Zack Martin had a great career as the Notre Dame left tackle. In the NFL, however, he appears better suited for guard. Rob Rang feels his future is at guard, and he explains why: "Martin does not possess great height, arm length or foot speed."
That shouldn't matter to the Arizona Cardinals. They simply need to take the best offensive lineman available.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Ra'Shede Hageman has the potential to be a star in the NFL. He is 6'6" and comfortably over 300 pounds, and he has great explosion. He could even play end in a 3-4.
The problem is, he wasn't even a star in college.
This raises some red flags, but the Packers are always on the lookout for talent in the trenches.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier has a nose for the ball. He will make tackles all over the field. Although he is not an elite pass-rusher, he can get in the backfield and wreak havoc. He is also solid in pass coverage.
That makes him a good fit in Philadelphia, where the Eagles were dead last in passing yards allowed last season.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Kansas City Chiefs can't just run screens and passes to Dwayne Bowe again all next season. This team has to find another weapon in the passing game.
Marqise Lee is a burner. He will stretch out the defense and give the Chiefs another explosive option in the passing game.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
I believe the Cincinnati Bengals' biggest need is at quarterback. It should be time to throw in the towel on Andy Dalton. I don't know if the club shares the same sentiment, but it won't matter much this deep in the first round anyway.
So, the Bengals will add to an inconsistent defense in their biggest area of inconsistency: the secondary.
Justin Gilbert has the ability to be the kind of corner a team can leave on an island.
25. San Diego Chargers: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
By the end of the season, the Chargers had an offense that had to at least be in the conversation for the most balanced in the NFL.
That helped mask a poor defense and an awful pass defense.
E.J. Gaines will give the Chargers and athletic and physical presence on the outside to help strengthen the Chargers' biggest weakness.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
With the Trent Richardson pick, the Cleveland Browns would be wise to draft someone to line up opposite Josh Gordon.
Not only will that help take defensive attention off of the burgeoning star, but it will be insurance should he fail another drug test and face a year-long ban.
Kelvin Benjamin has fantastic size. He will be an instant threat on third downs and in the red zone.
27. New Orleans Saints: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Jason Verrett's lack of size—he is 5'10", 176 pounds—will limit his draft status, but this young man can cover.
Even if he winds up being too small to play on the outside, he projects to be a strong nickel corner, and he brings surprising physicality:
TCU Jason Verrett kills opponents on the "Cat" blitz off the edge. Repeatedly made plays on that blitzes in '12. Physical dude for his size— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) September 1, 2013
That will help the Saints continue to improve on defense.
28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
From one 5'10" player to another, Brandin Cooks brings his small frame to the offensive side of the ball.
Don't let his size fool you, though; Cooks has explosiveness to play anywhere on the field.
He is actually reminiscent of current Panther Steve Smith. Given Smith's advanced age and the Panthers' need for help in the passing game, that makes this a perfect selection.
29. New England Patriots: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The New England Patriots must get stronger in the trenches and against the run. Sure, their woes in stopping the run this year had a lot to do with injuries, but that shouldn't be an excuse to ignore them.
The ironic twist here is that Louis Nix III is coming off of December knee surgery himself. The Patriots will have to ensure he is healthy, but the training staff will have plenty of experience examining injuries.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Marcus Roberson is a good fit with the 49ers defense. At 6'0", he has good size for the position, and he is not a liability in run support.
Also, the 49ers could use another corner to help complete an already impressive defense.
31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Denver Broncos need help in the secondary, but as it is now, I don't see a value in the defensive backfield.
Kony Ealy is a far better value, and he will help boost a pass rush that fell off the map this past season.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Seattle Seahawks must help the development of Russell Wilson by giving him two things: better pass protection and more weapons.
There is far better value here with wide receiver Allen Robinson than along the offensive line, and the Seahawks can't be content to hope for Percy Harvin to stay healthy and cure their pass woes.