NFL Mock Draft 2014: Breaking Down the Entire 1st Round

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Breaking Down the Entire 1st Round
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The 2014 NFL draft offers the chance for every team to get instantly better, and Round 1 is where teams hope to land the biggest stars. 

This year's draft class, like every one before it, features an elite group of prospects who look like the future stars of the NFL.

Oftentimes, many of the best players end up being picked up in the latter rounds. That said, every player drafted in Round 1 is selected with the expectation of becoming an instant impact player for their new team. 

With that in mind, here's a look at what the first round could look like when Roger Goodell starts calling out names on May 8 in New York. 

 

1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF 

You don't lose 14 games in a season unless you have quarterback issues, and the Texans surely do. Matt Schaub melted before our very eyes in 2013, and he's not going to start another game for Houston unless it's an emergency. 

Russ Lande of SportsOnEarth.com recently reported Houston being interested in either Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, adding: "Although Manziel would obviously be the choice of owner Bob McNair, O'Brien is not sold that Manziel possesses the work ethic and intangibles necessary to be the face of a franchise."

That leaves Bortles, who looks the part of an NFL franchise passer.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Rams will stick with Sam Bradford for yet another season in 2014, but one more disappointing year—injury or not—will likely seal his fate. The team needs to upgrade its offensive line if it ever hopes to keep Bradford healthy, and Greg Robinson has All-Pro potential as an offensive tackle on either side.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State 

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley reportedly fell in love with Derek Carr during Senior Bowl week at Mobile, Ala., according to B/R's Matt Miller.

It's easy to see why. Carr is accurate, possesses good anticipation, is a leader and can make all the throws. Given Jacksonville's need for a quarterback, this is a match made in heaven.

 

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

Cleveland has been high on Johnny Manziel for some time now, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported back in mid-January.

In this mock, the Browns get their wish, and the match does seem to be a good fit. Manziel is an electric playmaker who will be able to get Josh Gordon the ball on a regular basis. 

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 

Due to how much Oakland needs a quarterback, the Raiders won't be able to pass on Teddy Bridgewater at No. 5. Though he's been criticized by some in the media for his size, the talented passer came through time and again at Louisville with big plays when his team needed him to. 

 

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

There's a lot of fans in Georgia who rooted against Jadeveon Clowney in college, but they'd be happy to cheer for him if he were to wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey in 2014.

The talented defensive end would be an instant starter for the Falcons and would immediately boost the team's defensive front. 

 

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

Tampa Bay could be torn about whether to pick up a pass-rusher, an offensive tackle or a receiver here.

Since Watkins is the top player on my board, he gets the spot at No. 7. He'd be a terrific complement to Vincent Jackson and would help Mike Glennon develop into a star. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo

At this point, while the Vikings would love to land a top quarterback, taking anyone left on the board at the position would be a huge reach.

Instead, the team would be smart to bolster its defensive front by selecting one of this year's most dynamic pass-rushers in Khalil Mack out of Buffalo. 

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

It's never sexy drafting an offensive lineman in Round 1, but Buffalo would be foolish to pass on a top-five player like Jake Matthews at this point. EJ Manuel needs better protection, anyway, and Matthews would slide in at left tackle from Day 1.  

 

10. Detroit Lions: Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, Detroit finished among the league's worst in terms of sacks in 2013, despite the fact that Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Ezekiel Ansah are all capable of winning one-on-one matchups on a regular basis. 

Adding another dynamic pass-rusher like Anthony Barr would give the Lions one of the scariest defensive fronts in all of football. The UCLA product racked up 23.5 sacks over the past two years, and he's only beginning to tap into his considerable abilities. 

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

It's quite possible Alterraun Verner will be gone via free agency this offseason. He's going to be looking for a big new deal after earning Pro Bowl honors in 2013, and Tennessee might be better off long term by just drafting his replacement instead of shelling out a king's ransom to keep him.

 

12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan 

Eli Manning will wear a perpetual struggle face if the Giants don't figure out a way to protect him from defensive linemen. Adding Taylor Lewan to play opposite Justin Pugh would give New York two solid bookends with which to build a wall around the quarterback. 

 

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

After landing one of the most exciting playmakers in the draft last year in speedy Tavon Austin, St. Louis could truly make its offense formidable by adding Mike Evans, who, at 6'5" and 225 pounds, is a beast for opposing defensive backs to handle on the perimeter. 

 

14. Chicago Bears: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Tackling was a huge problem for Chicago last year, and the Bears finished the year last in the league against the run as a result.

C.J. Mosley is a wrap-up tackler who also knows how to lead with both words and action. He'd be an instant upgrade for the Bears at the linebacker position. 

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ra’Shede HagemanDT, Minnesota 

It's been years since the Steelers featured a dominant defensive lineman. Casey Hampton used to be that guy, but since he retired, Pittsburgh's defensive line has slowly diminished.

Ra'Shede Hageman, while raw, possesses the physical tools to become a dominant player on the Steelers front line. 

 

16. Baltimore Ravens: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama 

Adding a stud safety like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to play next to Matt Elam would give Baltimore a dynamic duo in the defensive secondary for years to come. Such a combination has worked out pretty well for Seattle, and the Ravens would be smart to follow suit. 

 

17. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville 

Dallas doesn't have a starting-caliber safety on the roster at this point, so it's not a stretch to assume the team will be looking to fill the void via the draft.

Calvin Pryor was a spark plug and a leader for Louisville. He possesses a big enough frame to make big plays near the line of scrimmage and the athleticism and speed to cover the back end. 

 

18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

By the time draft day rolls around, Eric Ebron could be long gone when the Jets pick at No. 18. The talented tight end is a natural playmaker with game-breaking speed and a prototypical frame (6'4", 245 lbs.). He'd become a huge part of New York's game plan early on in his career. 

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

It's hard to know how good Ryan Tannehill will become at this stage in his career. The poor guy was sacked 58 times last season, which was 10 more times than any other quarterback.

Needless to say, Miami needs to improve its offensive line or watch a potential top-10 signal-caller turn into a failure. 

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Rob Housler was not much of a help to Carson Palmer and Arizona's offense in 2013, catching just one touchdown pass all year long. The Cardinals simply didn't have anyone better to throw on the field, which limited the team's ability to press the attack downfield.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech is a tremendous pass-catching tight end who is at his best when lined up in the slot. He'll eventually grow into more of a complete player given time, but his run-blocking skills currently leave much to be desired. 

Amaro would immediately upgrade Arizona's passing attack. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame 

With B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett set to hit free agency, Green Bay must consider replacing both of them through the draft.

Louis Nix is a great player to start the process with, as he's a true nose tackle who would instantly upgrade Green Bay's run defense.  

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State 

With Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper both set to his the free-agent market, it's conceivable the Eagles could lose both players to other teams.

In any case, wide receiver is an area of need for Philadelphia, and Kelvin Benjamin's red-zone capabilities would make him an interesting pairing with the speedy DeSean Jackson.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

The Chiefs did a masterful job offensively with limited resources in 2013—especially at the receiver position.

The draft offers a chance to replenish barren stocks, however, and Odell Beckham's skill set suits Kansas City's scheme to perfection.  

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

With Michael Johnson set to become a free agent, the Bengals will likely look to draft a cheaper replacement.

Kony Ealy out of Missouri is a devastating pass-rusher with Aldon Smith-type potential. He's still learning how to use his outstanding athleticism, speed and strength, meaning his upside is impressive.  

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State  

It was incredible watching San Diego win nine games and get into the playoffs this past year, despite featuring a terrible defensive secondary.

Darqueze Dennard is the best man-to-man specialist in this year's draft, and he's the kind of player that can help turn things around quickly.  

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Cleveland already features one of the league's most impressive defenses, and with Manziel already in place, this pick gives the team a chance to land another top offensive playmaker.

Brandin Cooks was one of the nation's most productive receivers in 2013. He has enough speed to go deep but is also an excellent possession receiver. 

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Timmy JerniganDT, Florida State  

Cameron Jordan proved to be a phenomenal 3-4 defensive end in Rob Ryan's scheme, and the Saints would love to have another player of his caliber lining up on the other side of the line.

Timmy Jernigan is big, quick and mean. He's adept at penetrating into the backfield on both running and passing plays, making him the perfect fit in Ryan's aggressive defense. 

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Carolina will continue to be a contender with its defense leading the way. However, the Panthers won't truly emerge as an elite force in the league without an offense to match. With Steve Smith slowly declining, it's clear that receiving help is needed. 

Marqise Lee is an exceptional athlete who hauled in 29 touchdowns in three years at USC. He'd help Cam Newton take the offense to new heights in the years to come. 

 

29. New England Patriots: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Sure, Bill Belichick has never taken a receiver in Round 1, and it'll be surprising if he does it here. That said, the Patriots need the help—desperately—and Allen Robinson is a reliable receiver who is adept at making big plays after the catch. 

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Trent Baalke must continue to be proactive about bringing in new receivers for Colin Kaepernick to play with.

Jordan Matthews impressed scouts with his physique, strength and quickness during Senior Bowl week. He's a rising star who'll help the 49ers improve on offense. 

 

31. Denver Broncos: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Terrence Knighton provides plenty of "Pot Roast" in the middle for Denver, but there's certainly room for improvement in the spot next to the big man in the Broncos 4-3 scheme.

Aaron Donald is a penetrating tackle who will provide a big boost up the middle on passing downs while holding his own on running plays. 

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Zach Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

Seattle's offensive line wasn't as good this year as it was in 2012—both on passing and running plays. Depth is an issue, as is overall talent, and this is something John Schneider will certainly address through the draft. 

Zach Martin has been rising up draft boards since his impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, where he showed up well against the top pass-rushers on the edge. Martin's versatility will also boost his stock, as he's quite capable of transitioning inside to play guard. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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