2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Super Bowl Round 1 Projections

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2014

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr looks to throw the ball against Southern California during the second quarter of the Royal Purple Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Cleveland)
David Cleveland/Associated Press

The Super Bowl is right around the corner. This means that 30 of the NFL's 32 teams have already shifted their focus to the offseason. With the Senior Bowl set for Saturday and the NFL Scouting Combine next on the slate, NFL scouts are becoming increasingly busy.

After all, the draft could make or break a franchise for years, depending on how everything transpires.

NFL prospects will remain very fluid throughout this process. This means that these players will continue to slide up and down draft boards due to various reasons. A player with a poor showing at the Senior Bowl followed by a good combine and then a lackluster pro day would certainly be shuffled around big boards across the NFL.

You get the point.

So, for the present time, let's take a look at how things could possibly play out before the bulk of the NFL's offseason gets under way.


1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Texans were contenders for several years before the 2013-14 season. The biggest reason for the team's implosion this past year was quarterback play. Neither veteran Matt Schaub nor newcomer Case Keenum was able to get the job done.

It makes too much sense for Houston to land this year's best quarterback prospect, Teddy Bridgewater. He's an NFL-ready player who has the ability to step in and lead an already solid core of a football team.


2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

The Rams began to build an effective offense throughout the second half of the 2013-14 season. Wide receiver Tavon Austin and running back Zac Stacy performed admirably and look to have bright futures.

One thing remains constant: Whoever is under center must be better protected. Bringing in a stud offensive tackle like Jake Matthews would do wonders for the Rams as they continue to grow and develop on the offensive side of the ball.


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

John Bazemore/Associated Press

It is no secret that one of the biggest weaknesses on the Jaguars for years has been at the quarterback position. Sloppy quarterback play has led to losing records. Losing records have led to disgruntled fans. It's time to buck that trend.

Johnny Manziel is one of the most polarizing prospects to come out of college football in some time. He has the skill set that will allow him to flourish early in a less-than-stellar offense, and his presence should be more than enough to get fans back on board with this team.


4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

The Browns are another team that continues to struggle in the quarterback department. Once again this year, Cleveland will look to find its quarterback of the future early in the first round. The team will have to look no further than Blake Bortles.

After a stellar campaign at UCF and a strong bowl performance, he figures to be one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in this year's draft class. He has the arm and intelligence to contribute as a rookie, and he can get this franchise headed in the right direction.


5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

With the top quarterbacks now off the board, the Raiders will continue to look for offensive help—especially if they are to stick with Matt McGloin at quarterback. This is where a phenomenal talent like Sammy Watkins can make a difference.

Oakland is in serious need of some firepower on the offensive side of the ball. They team has talented players at the skill positions; however, none is a true No. 1 like Watkins. He will become the cornerstone and focal point of the offense for years to come.


6. Atlanta Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Atlanta is in dire need of pass-rushers. It just so happens that one of the biggest freaks ever to play the defensive end position happens to fall to them at No. 6 overall. Jadeveon Clowney is already an NFL-caliber player. His dominance behind the line of scrimmage against the run and pass is devastating.

He is the kind of player who can turn around the dismal Falcons defense without much help.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Many pieces are in place on the offensive side of the ball in Tampa Bay. A budding young quarterback, talented wide receivers and a healthy running back corps are all good indications of things to come. Now, the Buccaneers need help protecting those assets.

Greg Robinson is a workhorse at offensive tackle. Stout against the run and the pass, Robinson will finally allow this offensive line to gain some reliability.


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

Derek Carr was impressive over his college career. He has all the makings of an NFL-caliber quarterback. The Vikings will give him an opportunity to prove that by taking him eighth overall.

Minnesota is still a highly talented football team. Consistent quarterback play is the missing ingredient. Carr has the intelligence to start immediately, which is something that the Vikings need, as the rest of the team is not getting any younger.


9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Khalil Mack is a do-it-all linebacker. This is exactly what the Bills could use on the defensive side of the ball. The team already struck gold last year with the addition of Kiko Alonso, and now the Bills get even stronger by pairing him with Mack.


10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Darqueze Dennard is the epitome of a shutdown corner. He played most of his college career on an island with little safety help over the top. His coverage skills are second to none in this year's draft class, and he will bolster a Lions secondary that needs a great deal of help.


11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Anthony Barr is a pass-rush specialist, and the Titans could use some help in that department. He may not be someone who will contribute greatly in his early career; however, his natural talent gives him the potential to become an elite linebacker after some grooming.


12. New York Giants: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Justin Gilbert finished off a stellar career with Oklahoma State and enters the 2014 NFL draft as one of the most athletic cornerback prospects. The Giants have one great corner in Prince Amukamara but need some help in a complementary role. Gilbert gives the Giants a great cornerback duo for the foreseeable future.


13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Now that the Rams have already bolstered their offensive line, it's time to surround their starting quarterback with more weapons. Tavon Austin looks to have a great future as a slot receiver, but the Rams don't have a true No. 1 option.

Mike Evans has the size, speed and athleticism to become a go-to guy on this offense immediately. He is a big, friendly target for whoever starts at quarterback in 2014 and will be a welcome addition.


14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU

After ranking dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2013, the Bears' first priority should be stopping the run in 2014. The huge frame of Timmy Jernigan will set the team on the right track to do so. His presence in the middle will allow more versatility up front for Chicago going forward.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

One thing remains the same in Pittsburgh: The offense has been let down by the line on numerous occasions. Improvements must be made in run blocking and providing protection for Ben Roethlisberger. A big force such as Cyrus Kouandjio will help Pittsburgh do just that.


16. Baltimore Ravens: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

The Ravens need plenty of help in their wide receiver corps. Their lack of offensive weapons was significantly responsible for their decline in 2013. Marqise Lee has all the makings of becoming the next stud wide receiver to exit college. He would be an instant fit alongside Torrey Smith and would benefit from the strong arm of Joe Flacco.


17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

The Cowboys finished the 2013-14 season with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. This was in part due to the poor play at the defensive end position. Kony Ealy has the ability to plug a huge hole immediately for Dallas and help get the defense back on track.


18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Jets need plenty of help on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver would probably be their first choice here; however, with Lee going a couple of picks earlier, tight end Eric Ebron becomes the player who could instantly contribute and improve this offense.


19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Dolphins have a tremendous amount of talent. They just need to find a way to put it all together. Bolstering the offensive line will be the best way to get that done. A big body like Taylor Lewan will allow the running game to improve and afford more time in the pocket for Ryan Tannehill.


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

Again, this is the story of a team this is so very close to being complete on the offensive side of the ball. Carson Palmer had a solid season, and the Cardinals also have a strong wide receiver group and running back corps. Adding another presence on the offensive line will finally allow this offense to take shape.


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

The Packers need some serious help at the safety position. The secondary was rather lackluster throughout the 2013-14 season, and a big reason was the inconsistent play at safety. Adding Clinton-Dix gives the Packers an immediate starter who can bring some accountability into the defensive secondary.


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU

The Eagles need a strong presence as an outside pass-rusher. Kyle Van Noy will be exactly that for Philadelphia. His versatility allows him to flourish as a defensive end or outside linebacker. The Eagles will be able to use his flexibility to move him around and create mismatches with opposing offenses.


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Kansas City does have some nice weapons at the wide receiver position; however, it does not have a true No. 1 target. Allen Robinson is a tall, physical receiver who can stretch the field and get after contested jump balls. He is just the kind of player that head coach Andy Reid would love to bring in for his quarterback.


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Bengals have one of the deepest all-around rosters in the NFL. However, they could always get a bit deeper at the cornerback position. After a rash of injuries in 2013 and with aging veterans in the secondary, it's time to inject some more youth into the unit. Jason Verrett would make for a great addition and can be groomed to fit the Bengals system.


25. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The Chargers could use a little more athleticism in their linebacker corps. Bringing in a do-it-all type of player like Ryan Shazier would be an immediate upgrade on the defensive side of the ball. Now that San Diego has regained its form on offense, the defense must take a huge step forward for this team to be a true contender.


26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Earlier in the draft, the Browns picked up their quarterback of the future. Now it's time to surround him with more weapons. Cleveland already has a dynamic wide receiver in Josh Gordon; however, it lacks a reliable No. 2. Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he is capable of making the tough grabs and will help take some pressure off Gordon.


27. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

The Saints are desperate for a presence in their linebacker corps. Bringing in someone who will make an impact right away without having to wait for development into a complete player down the road is ideal at this point in the draft. That is exactly what they will get with C.J. Mosley.


28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The Panthers are another team that could use a little more firepower on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver Steve Smith is getting up there in age, and there is no telling how long he will be sticking around. Brandin Cooks is built in a similar manner to Smith, and both players share the same type of skill set. Bringing Cooks into the fold will ease the burden of the eventual loss of Smith.


29. New England Patriots: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

The Patriots need some help along their defensive front. Adding a big body to anchor the middle of the line will be a huge step in the right direction for Bill Belichick's crew. Louis Nix can be a game-changer at the defensive tackle position, and the Patriots will find clever ways to use him.


30. San Francisco 49ers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

The defensive line of the 49ers is getting a bit long in the tooth. The line is still able to perform at a high level but will not last forever. Bringing in Ra'Shede Hageman will inject some youth and versatility to the group. His athleticism and versatility will allow him to play at defensive tackle or defensive end going forward.


31. Denver Broncos: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Broncos suffered some key injuries along the defensive line in 2013. They had a bit of a roller-coaster season when it came to consistency in the trenches. Aaron Donald would bolster this unit by adding stability to an otherwise shaky group.


32. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

The next step for the Seahawks is to add more offensive weapons for quarterback Russell Wilson. A big, pass-catching tight end would be the friendliest of targets for him. That's where Jace Amaro comes in. He is big and physical and can be a stellar red-zone target. He would be a perfect addition for any third-year quarterback.


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