Football withdrawal is rough. Perhaps that's why the NFL draft has become such a highly anticipated event.
This year presents us with an interesting start to the draft. There is no clear-cut player for the No. 1 spot. While putting together a mock, it becomes quickly clear that there are almost infinite directions this draft can go.
Here is the current direction I see it going in.
Langford's 2014 NFL Mock Draft
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Blake Bortles is gaining a lot of momentum as the prospective No. 1 pick.
The Texans almost have to go quarterback with this pick. This team still has some talent on offense, but that isn't going to do them much good if they don't have a quarterback who can spread the field.
Bortles has the arm and size to do that.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina
I've received complaints about mocking Clowney to the St. Louis Rams on the basis of the defensive line already being the Rams' strength. That point is valid, and it is one people have used to surmise that the Rams will trade down.
I'm not buying it. Why pass up on the opportunity to draft someone as dominant as Clowney? Then, if the Rams want to spread the wealth around on their team, they could trade Chris Long for draft picks.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Which QB will have the best NFL career?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a defensive-minded coach in Gus Bradley, and I'm sure he would love to go defense with this pick. The Jaguars' huge, gaping hole at quarterback dictates Bradley will go in a different direction, however.
Teddy Bridgewater is the most pro-ready quarterback in this class. He's already displayed an elite ability for handling audibles and reading defenses. This is a solid pick for Jacksonville.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This could be a potentially dynamic pairing. The Cleveland Browns already have some exciting playmakers in place with wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Throw in the dynamic ability of Johnny Manziel, and the Browns will have the makings of an explosive offense.
5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Oakland Raiders were a bit unlucky. They appear to be too low in the draft to grab one of the top-three signal callers, and this team must identify its quarterback of the future.
In a video with B/R's very own Adam Lefkoe, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that there is only one quarterback the team would draft in the first round anyway:
So, with Bridgewater already off the board, this team will fix its gaze to defense. Anthony Barr will give this team the pass-rusher they desperately need, and it will allow them to greater utilize their 4-3/3-4 hybrid defense.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Auburn tackle Greg Robinson has been rocketing up mocks. That's not a shock; he and his Auburn teammates didn't enter the season with the highest profile, but they closed out the year on the biggest stage.
In the national championship game, no player was as physically dominant as Robinson. Now, it appears as if he will be the first offensive lineman off the board:
Auburn OT Greg Robinson now listed #2 ahead of Jake Matthews. http://t.co/S4C8KBQY27— EagleDamnWar (@EagleDamnWar) January 30, 2014
This works out well for the Falcons, as this team must get stronger in the trenches.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Buccaneers began to show some promise on offense last season as quarterback Mike Glennon grew into his starting role.
With wide receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Timothy Wright, Glennon already has two good options. Throw the explosive Sammy Watkins into the mix, and that is a potentially dynamic passing attack.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr is hard to place in mocks. His arm talent is fabulous, and it could have him going off the board sooner than No. 7.
His footwork leaves something to be desired, however, and there is the fear that he won't be able to hold up against an NFL pass rush.
He is still a good fit for Minnesota. His arm would immediately help the Vikings open up the field and free up room for running back Adrian Peterson.
9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
With Kiko Alonso coming off of an excellent rookie season at inside linebacker, the Bills very well may shy away from C.J. Mosley. I don't think they will, however.
Mosley's cover skills and range will help solidify a budding Bills defense.
10. Detroit Lions: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Detroit Lions must get more consistent on defense. The quickest route to that path will be drafting a linebacker like Khalil Mack. He will clean up behind the Lions' strong defensive line.
Mack is a well-rounded linebacker with the ability to penetrate into an offensive backfield. Mack is not a true speed rusher, but he atones for that with solid ball skills. He had three interceptions this past season.
Mack is a disciplined defender. That is exactly what the Lions need.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The rise of Greg Robinson, the slightly less-than-ideal-size of Jake Mattews and four quarterbacks going off the board leaves Matthews on the board until No. 11.
The Titans will not object. This team needs tackle help.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Giants were a disaster last season. They have lots of holes to fill. I chose tight end Eric Ebron here because there is no other single piece that would help get the team's passing offense back on track.
Ebron has the athleticism to be a major threat down the seam. He will command serious attention from opposing safeties. That will help open up things on the outside for the Giants' vertical attack.
13. St. Louis Rams: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
I have the Rams going defense at No. 2 and then first-round double-dipping here. After all, as we just saw, defense wins championships.
St. Louis has Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson to give them a talented and young starting duo at corner, but the Rams ranked 19th in pass defense last year, and inconsistent play from the corners was a big part of that.
Darqueze Dennard has the talent and size to be a shutdown corner.
14. Chicago Bears: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
There needs to be a disclaimer for defensive tackles/3-4 defensive ends in this draft. Until the combine, it is hard to sort out the top talent at this position.
We have Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame as well as Ra'Shede Hageman from Minnesota. All three have wonderful bodies and frames for the position, but teams will be interested in seeing what kind of shape they are in at the combine.
For Nix, he is coming off of knee surgery. If he is to be the first defensive tackle off the board, teams will need assurance that his knee issues won't hinder him.
If that is the case, he is a great fit in Chicago. The Bears need all the help on defense they can get.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line got drastically better as the season wore on last year.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert showed the potential to be the long-term answer at his position, but he is also under contract for just one more season and due for a big raise.
I mention that even though Taylor Lewan projects as a left tackle, because his addition would give the Steelers an upgrade over Kelvin Beachum on the left side. Furthermore, Beachum could slide to the right side if Gilbert does not return following next season.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens have to revamp the offensive line. It would be wise for them to attack that in free agency and the draft.
Both of the starting tackles from last season are free agents, and it is likely only one returns.
My guess is that the Ravens will lock up left tackle Eugene Monroe and then draft Cyrus Kouandjio and put him on the right side. Kouandjio may have been a complete disaster in the Sugar Bowl, but he is strong, moves well and had a wonderful career at Alabama.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
I'm so tired of mocking a free safety to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round, year after year. I would give up on the endeavor, but after the pitiful effort the Cowboys' pass defense turned in this past season, I just can't.
Calvin Pryor has range, instincts, and he isn't afraid to tackle. This is giving him a rapid ascent up draft boards, and ESPN's Mel Kiper believes he has overtaken Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton Dix as the top safety on the board for some teams:
Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher are both free agents, and they discuss their future in Baltimore: http://t.co/vR3DuBxZYw— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 30, 2013
18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The New York Jets need playmakers. Mike Evans is not an explosive playmaker, but his size allows him to be a threat all over the field.
That will also allow him to be a safety blanket for quarterback Geno Smith as he continues (or starts?) to develop.
19. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Momentum ... RT @MelKiperESPN: Don't assume Clinton-Dix of Bama is a lock to be the top safety taken. Calvin Pryor is ahead for some teams.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) February 4, 2014
The Miami Dolphins will begin to revamp their offensive line with the massive and powerful Antonio Richardson.
There is concern over his ability to consistently get the knee bend needed to be effective, but he can be a real monster in the run game.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Zack Martin's future in the NFL is probably not at tackle. After all, this comment from CBS Sports' Rob Rang is not something teams look for in a tackle: "Martin does not possess great height, arm length or foot speed."
He does have everything needed to be a wonderful guard, however, and the Cardinals need all the blocking help they can get.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
As I mentioned above, the combine will be important for Ra'Shede Hageman. He will want to come to Indianapolis in fantastic shape and ready to impress.
He has all the athleticism to do just that. The problem is that his resume is a touch light.
There is nothing he can do about his lack of production now except prove to NFL teams that he has the work ethic to improve.
The Packers haven't shied away from taking project linemen before, and Hageman would be a good fit for them this year.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
After checking in dead-last in the NFL in pass defense, the Eagles will be on the intense lookout for help in that area.
Ha Ha Clinton Dix has all the physical tools teams look for at free safety. He has good range and instincts. His ability to play the deep ball will be an instant help to the Eagles.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Kansas City Chiefs must find another weapon in the passing game. Running back Jamaal Charles led this team in receiving yards last year.
Marqise Lee needs to polish his routes, but he has the athleticism and ball skills to stretch the field.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Terrance Newman is 35. He is coming off of a wonderful season, but due to his age, it is getting difficult to count on him.
Dre Kirkpatrick is waiting in the wings, but I don't see the Bengals banking on him. They will bring in Justin Gilbert and hope he transitions into the shutdown corner his size and speed suggests he can be.
25. San Diego Chargers: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
The San Diego Chargers must upgrade the corner position in any way possible. E.J. Gaines has solid size and good coverage skills.
He is a decent value at No. 25 and fills the Chargers biggest need.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
If the draft plays out like this, the Browns will be fun to watch.
I already had them taking Manziel at No. 4, and the addition of the lengthy and clutch Kelvin Benjamin would give Manziel the kind of rangy target he enjoyed at Texas A&M with Mike Evans.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Saints made big improvements on defense last season, but they still can't be content on that side of the ball.
Ryan Shazier has a nose for the ball. He has the athleticism to get to the passer, but he will be most valuable sealing the edge and adding tackling to the run defense.
28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
You don't have to watch film on Brandin Cooks for long to notice his similarities with current Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith.
With Smith in the twilight of his career and the Panthers in desperate need for help in the passing game, this is a strong selection. Cooks can step in and learn from Smith while taking the torch in the process.
29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Aqib Talib is a free agent this offseason, and even if the Patriots do re-sign him, the team still needs help in the secondary.
Jason Verrett may end up being best suited for the slot anyway. He is 5'10" and 176 pounds. While his size creates a question mark, his coverage ability creates none.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The San Francisco 49ers must upgrade the passing game. Allen Robinson is a polished receiver who will give Colin Kaepernick a consistent option.
This figures to be especially vital since wide receiver Anquan Boldin is 33 years old and an impending free agent.
31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Denver Broncos must get stronger in the trenches to keep from getting embarrassed should they make the Super Bowl again.
Kony Ealy has the strength and length to be a dominant pass-rusher. This will help ease the strain on Denver's vulnerable secondary.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
The Seahawks are not in need of a cornerback, but this team has been fairly consistent in drafting the best player available that they feel fits into their scheme.
The physical Marcus Roberson will fit right in.