2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pick-by-Pick Evaluation of the 1st Round

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Pick-by-Pick Evaluation of the 1st Round
RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

The 2014 NFL draft is fast approaching, as Roger Goodell will call 32 players to the podium in the first round on May 8. 

By that time, teams will have made the majority of their free-agent decisions, and they'll be looking to fill their rosters with future stars through the draft. 

Still to come for the prospects, the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, pro days and individual workouts offer a chance to move up the board as the draft approaches. 

With so much still up in the air around the league and in draft war rooms, it's impossible to come up with an accurate mock draft at this point in the proceedings.

That said, it's always fun to try.

 

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Many mock drafts have Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 to the Texans, but John McClain of the Houston Chronicle continues to be perplexed by the notion:

While it's fun to imagine the havoc Clowney could wreak with J.J. Watt, Houston won't win without a quarterback. 

Teddy Bridgewater has gone well under the radar nationally since the end of the season, but he's still the top-rated quarterback in this year's class. He'll show up well in interviews and on the practice field, proving his status once and for all before the draft begins. 

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Houston's decision to take a quarterback will help the Rams assemble one of the scariest defensive lines in the NFL by selecting Clowney. With him, Chris Long, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers, St. Louis will terrorize opposing offenses on a weekly basis. 

 

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

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Johnny Manziel recently said he'll make Houston pay if the franchise doesn't select him No. 1 overall, per McClain: "It would be the worst decision they've ever made. I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."

With Jacksonville, Manziel would have a chance for revenge twice a year, as he mentioned, and he'd become an instant star. His confidence is just what the doctor ordered for the Jaguars—a franchise that's been mired in mediocrity for the past handful of years.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

With Bridgewater and Manziel already off the board, the Browns must either reach for one of the other top signal-callers or take the best player available. In this mock, the team will take the best player available.

Sammy Watkins paired with Josh Gordon would give Cleveland one of the league's most exciting young duos at the receiver position, and there are quarterbacks to be had later in the draft. 

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo

There's speculation swirling that Oakland could look to this year's pool of veteran quarterbacks while attempting to find the quarterback of the future, per Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area. With this in mind, it makes sense for the Raiders to land one of this year's top pass-rushers at the top of the draft, and Khalil Mack looks to be a future terror off the edge. 

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Matt Ryan must be taken care of if Atlanta's high-powered offense is going to live up to expectations in 2014. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising if the Falcons elect to draft an offensive tackle in Round 1, and Jake Matthews is this year's top prospect at the position. 

 

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

Soon-to-be second-year quarterback Mike Glennon showed promise in his rookie campaign, but he was also the victim of poor offensive line play. The Bucs allowed Glennon to be sacked 40 times in 13 starts, which is why an offensive tackle should be the team's first priority this offseason. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

With Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota's offense is ready to succeed, provided the team lands a competent signal-caller in 2014.  

B/R's Ryan Lownes (also with DraftBreakdown) compares Blake Bortles to Jake Locker in a recent scouting report, noting his greatest strength:

At this time, his bread and butter is attacking the short-to-intermediate range, but he possesses the arm to stretch the field. Possessing considerable upside, several teams are sure to view him as a potential franchise quarterback.

The Vikings desperately need one of those, which is why it'll be shocking if this team selects a non-quarterback with this pick. 

 

9. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Kiko Alonso was a revelation for the Bills last year, but this team shouldn't stop building its linebacking corps with young studs. Adding C.J. Mosley to the crew would give Buffalo one of the most formidable front sevens in the league.  

 

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

Despite Detroit's best efforts, the Lions were abysmal at sacking opposing quarterbacks in 2013, finishing the season with the league's No. 28 rank (33). Adding pass-rusher extraordinaire Anthony Barr, who logged 23.5 sacks the past two years at UCLA, would help improve upon those dismal numbers. 

 

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

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Nobody knows if Alterraun Verner will be back with the Titans next year. According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, the team isn't expected to use the franchise tag on the soon-to-be free agent, which could result in his departure via free agency.

Adding this year's top cornerback, Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State, would certainly soften the potential blow. 

 

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

There's no way New York can rebound from last year's debacle without first and foremost improving its offensive line. Eli Manning was crushed last year on seemingly every passing down, and his career won't withstand many more seasons like he suffered through in 2013.

Taylor Lewan must improve his discipline on the field, but he's ready to step in from Day 1 on either the right or left side of the line to make an instant impact on both running and passing plays.  

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Sam Bradford still has the trust of the Rams' brass, and he'll be back for another crack at it in 2014 after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season. Bradford needs all the help he can get to succeed, though, and St. Louis would be smart to add another top receiver after drafting Tavon Austin last year. 

 

14. Chicago Bears: Ra’Shede HagemanDT, Minnesota 

The Bears finished the season with the league's third-worst defense, and much of the team's struggles had to do with a lack of depth and talent up front. Adding a people-mover like Ra'Shede Hageman would certainly help Chicago in this area of need. He's still quite raw, but Hageman's potential to develop into a superstar will entice a team to draft him high. 

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Heath Miller isn't the same player he used to be, and at the age of 31, he's not likely to return to his zenith. Adding a playmaking tight end like Eric Ebron would give Ben Roethlisberger's passing attack a necessary shot in the arm.  

 

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

It's been a while since Baltimore selected this high in Round 1, and the Ravens could go in a number of different directions with this year's pick. However, the idea of pairing Matt Elam with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on the back end of Baltimore's defensive secondary is highly attractive. The two young playmakers would give the Ravens a huge edge against tight ends and slot receivers in the years to come. 

 

17. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Anthony Spencer is likely long gone after surgery last year, and DeMarcus Ware might not be far behind, meaning Dallas' stalwart pass-rushers must be replaced. Kony Ealy looks like a potential dynamo as a 4-3 defensive end. His ability to combine speed with power makes him a formidable foe from the get-go, and he possesses the highest of ceilings. 

 

18. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

New York's defense is beginning to look amazing again, but the team's offense was as wretched as ever last season, thanks in large part to a shocking lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Mike Evans showed incredible pro potential the past two years at Texas A&M, and he'd quickly become Geno Smith's favorite target if drafted by the Jets. 

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports the Dolphins could be forced to play with an entirely new offensive line in 2014: "There’s a growing belief around the league that the Dolphins will be without a single offensive lineman on opening day 2014 who was the Game 1 starter in 2013."

After Ryan Tannehill's 58-sack season, this could potentially be excellent news for the young quarterback. Cyrus Kouandjio is a rock-solid player who would help protect Tannehill, and his ability to pave running lanes would help boost a mediocre rushing attack. 

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Rebuilding Arizona's offensive line is a continued work in progress for general manager Steve Keim. Jonathan Cooper will be coming back after suffering a season-ending leg injury in his rookie campaign, and the Cardinals would be smart to add Zack Martin to boost the impact even more. Martin could slide in immediately at right tackle. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Safety play was embarrassingly poor for Green Bay last year, which prompted B/R's Zach Kruse to highlight the position as the team's greatest offseason need:

After an offseason of standing pat at the position, Thompson now needs to pick a safety high in the 2014 NFL draft or get active in free agency. No longer can the Packers sugarcoat the deficiencies of the position, hoping for development from the group of safeties already on the roster.

The top safeties in free agency will cost the Packers a pretty penny, which is why it's more likely the team will address this need via the draft. And thankfully for Packers fans, there's a good one available in this mock.

Calvin Pryor brings the entire package to the NFL. He has plenty of size (6'1" and 210 lbs), speed and athleticism to keep up with the top tight ends and receivers in the league. Even better, he's instinctive and smart. 

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

There wasn't a defense in the league that played more poorly against the pass than Philadelphia's in 2013. Needless to say, adding talented defensive backs couldn't hurt the Eagles. Darqueze Dennard is a feisty man-to-man specialist who loves defending the pass. His run-stuffing skills could certainly use a touch-up (see Stanford tape), but this kid can cover in space. 

 

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

Andy Reid would love to see tight end Eric Ebron fall in his lap, but he'll be just as happy to land a top receiver this year. Odell Beckham is an excellent receiver who makes miraculous plays look easy. He'd be a perfect complement to Dwayne Bowe on the perimeter for Kansas City.  

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Geno Atkins needs a quarterback-hunting partner at the defensive tackle position, and Aaron Donald out of Pitt is that guy. The two of them together would cause an amazing amount of destruction to opposing offensive lines. 

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame

Only three teams gave up more rushing yards per attempt last year than San Diego, which allowed 4.6 yards on average. This is a pathetic number for any respectable 3-4 defense to have posted, and it showed a lack of leverage in the middle. Adding Louis Nix out of Notre Dame to plug up the middle would allow Manti Te'o and Donald Butler to flow to the ball without having to take on as many blockers.  

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

After skipping on a passer with their first pick, the Browns would likely jump at the chance to land Derek Carr here at the bottom of Round 1.

Carr showed excellent leadership and ability during his tenure at Fresno State, and he impressed coaches and scouts alike at the Senior Bowl. He's mature and possesses the arm to get the ball to Cleveland's talented playmakers

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan ShazierOLB, Ohio State  

Ryan Shazier has the speed and quickness to have a Von Miller-type impact in Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense. He'd be an instant upgrade on the weak side, where his freakish athleticism would shine like a polished diamond. 

 

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

Cam Newton will become one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks if Carolina starts providing him with offensive weapons in the passing game. Brandin Cooks was one of the nation's most productive receivers at Oregon State last year, and he'd be a great fit playing with Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell

 

29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Tom Brady was a passing wizard when he had two talented tight ends roaming the field in 2012, but he struggled without them last year. So why not give him the tools he needs to succeed once again? With Jace Amaro lining up opposite Rob Gronkowski, he'd have them. 

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

With news coming out of Northern California that Anquan Boldin and the 49ers are engaged in efforts to re-sign the veteran receiver, via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, San Francisco shouldn't be in too big a hurry to land a receiver in Round 1. 

Instead, the 49ers can concentrate on building up depth on their defensive line. Stephon Tuitt is a natural 3-4 defensive end who would be able to ease into action for the 49ers playing behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. 

 

31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Offensive line could be in play here, but defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan shan't fall any further in this mock draft. Plug him in next to Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton and watch offensive lines collapse from the inside out—the perfect complement to Von Miller's speed on the edge. 

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU

Seattle hasn't been shy about adding defensive players, regardless of whether or not the team already has talent at the position. So far, the strategy is working. Kyle Van Noy is a special pass-rusher who'd be cheaper to sign than the team's veteran free agents this year and beyond. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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