NFL Mock Draft 2014: Complete Outlook on Round 1

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Complete Outlook on Round 1
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With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, it is now time for teams to look forward to pro days to get another look at prospects in a workout setting.

Pro days represent a second chance for NFL hopefuls to wow scouts and general managers with their athleticism and commitment to the game. They're just the next piece needed to figure out the draft puzzle.

With the information compiled up to this point, the following mock draft represents my outlook on the first round.

 

1. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

John Bazemore/Associated Press

As NFL on ESPN points out in the tweet below, Manziel's college production speaks for itself.

While there are concerns about his height (5'11") and his attitude, there should be no worries about his competitiveness. There might be bumps along the way, but no quarterback in this draft will have a drastically better career than Manziel—barring injury of course.

Mix that in with his star appeal to a team in desperate need of a face for the franchise, and Manziel should be the pick at No. 1 for the Texans.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Watkins is my early pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has the size (6'1", 211 lbs), speed (4.43-second 40 time), strength (16 reps on bench press) and understanding to make an impact immediately.

Even though the combine is over, Watkins is already back in South Carolina working to improve his craft. He posted this video on Instagram on Friday.

After a solid showing in Indianapolis at the combine and a stellar career at Clemson, the Rams would be smart to draft him at No. 2.

 

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

Clearly, Carr is the Rodney Dangerfield of most draft boards online. Not enough people have him going this high, but there could be a surprise or two coming as it relates to him.

His arm strength and football IQ standout and should be especially attractive to a team like the Jags that needs a leader.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The gap between Carr and Bridgewater is almost non-existent, but someone had to be third and the other fourth. In reality, they could be interchangeable as both possess the type of intangibles that will attract teams.

If the Browns go this route, they should find their quarterback of the present and future.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

All things considered, Robinson might be the most impressive athlete in the draft. For a man his size to have such eye-popping mobility is notable.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller puts the size-speed combination into perspective.

The Raiders could use an anchor on the offensive line to give the run and passing game a boost.

 

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

Few, if any, defensive ends have the explosiveness that Clowney possesses. Because of the premium set on pass rushing, those traits could vault Clowney as high as No. 1 in the draft.

The Falcons should hope that doesn't happen. The team needs an impact pass-rusher in the worst way. Its 59 sacks in two years won't get the job done in today's NFL.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Mike Glennon earned the right to go into camp as the team's No. 1 quarterback. Because of his play, the Bucs can wait until later in the draft to take a quarterback. 

The best move would be to grab a young stud for the offensive line to protect Glennon. Matthews is the best O-lineman left with Robinson gone.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

In a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford, the Vikings can't afford to be the odd team out as it relates to signal-callers.

Drafting Bortles would put them in position to keep pace with the suddenly high-flying NFC North.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB/DE, Buffalo

Bill Wippert/Associated Press

Some who aren't in the know might think that Mack has come out of nowhere to become one of the hottest names in the draft.

As Bleacher Report's Scott Carasik points out, Mack's potential and talent is nothing new to those who have been paying attention.

The Bills would be wise to consider how beastly their pass rush could be with Mario Williams and Mack on each side of the defensive front.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Lions need a cornerback much more than they need a wide receiver...period. ESPN.com's KC Joyner expounds on the idea here (subscription required).

With Calvin Johnson in place, there is no need to take a wideout this high—especially with needs on the other side of the ball.

The biggest area of need is in the secondary. Putting the closest thing this draft has to a shutdown corner with the Lions defense makes the most sense.

NFL on ESPN talks about Gilbert's impressive size and speed combination.

He could potentially impact the team's pass defense and special teams efforts.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA

Barr is the type of explosive presence the Titans defense needs. The unit needs a playmaker offenses have to game-plan for. Barr can be that playmaker if he reaches his potential and finds the right scheme.

 

12. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

While Watkins is my pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year, I favor Mosley to be the top first-year defensive player. He has been the leader of one of the nation's best defenses for the past two seasons.

He has great instincts and a high football IQ. The Giants need youth and leadership on their defense, and Mosley would provide both.

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan

If the Rams didn't have two first-round picks, it would have been wise to take Robinson at No. 2. However, with this pick in place, the team is almost assured of a chance to take an offensive tackle like Lewan, who figures to be a 10-year starter in the NFL.

He's mean, big and nasty. His temperament is perfect for the culture and style Jeff Fisher is implementing in St. Louis.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Chicago had the worst run defense in the NFL in 2013. There are holes throughout the defense, but the biggest need is on the defensive line.

Drafting a run-stuffer like Jernigan would be advisable. Though Jernigan was born and raised and played his college football in a warm climate, per Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, Jernigan enjoys the cold weather.

In an interview during the combine, Jernigan said: "I'm a Florida boy, but I love cold weather. I think I play better in the cold."

If the Bears draft him, he'll get a chance to prove that in the NFL.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Steelers have a situation similar to that of the Giants. They need to add youth to their defense—specifically the secondary. With Gilbert gone in this scenario, Pittsburgh could turn its attention to Dennard.

He's a physical and competitive corner who would be a good fit in the Steel City.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Dallas' defense looked so bad at times in 2013, you had to wonder if it was the worst in the league. The team should simply draft the best defensive player available.

In this scenario, that would be Ealy. At 6'4", 273 pounds, Ealy's frame and athleticism make him a potential difference-making pass-rusher.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

If the Ravens are going to field a complete set of passing options for Joe Flacco, the team needs to add a big, physical possession receiver opposite Torrey Smith.

The team really missed Anquan Boldin last season, but if Evans is drafted here, he would give Flacco a big target to throw to for tough yards and in the red zone.

 

18. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

The Jets offense needs a player who can stretch the field. Geno Smith didn't have a player who could consistently get open downfield. Lee's best attribute is his ability to get deep and make big plays in the passing game.

Taking Lee—or someone like him—could be important in developing Smith long term.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame 

Because Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013, it seems to be a no-brainer that Miami would draft an offensive lineman. It's probably not absurd to think that the Fins might even consider trading up to get one.

If the team stays put, Martin doesn't project as high as Matthews, Lewan or Robinson, but he is the best available at the obvious position of need.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

The Cardinals could be the most dangerous non-playoff team from the 2013 season heading into 2014.

The defense is nasty. Larry Fitzgerald finally has a capable receiver to complement him, and Carson Palmer played well at quarterback last season.

There is still room for improvement on the offensive line, though.

The team gave up 41 sacks in 2013. It was an improvement from the 58 it allowed in 2012, but drafting a 20-year-old mountain of a man like Kouandjio would add depth and upside to the unit.

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

When Ebron ran a 4.60 40-yard dash at the combine, he officially made himself the tight end to have from the first round.

With Jermichael Finley recovering from a serious neck injury and heading into free agency, the Pack should be in the market for a pass-catching tight end. There isn't a better one in the draft than Ebron.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Philly could improve its defense in a variety of spots, but a leader at safety tops the list. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama is a possibility, but Pryor is the player I've placed here for the Eagles.

At 5'11", 207 pounds, Pryor is more physical than Clinton-Dix, and that makes him a better fit as an extra defender against the run.

 

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

Beckham Jr.'s ability to run after the catch should make the Chiefs brass excited. The offense is predicated on short passes, so players with Beckham Jr.'s skill set should be attractive to the team.

He can help mask the fact that Alex Smith doesn't have the requisite arm strength to go deep down the field. 

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Cincinnati doesn't need a lot to take the next step, but adding depth to the secondary would help the team. Injuries to the unit have stagnated the team's play over the last two seasons.

Verrett looked great at the combine and could push the Bengals' current starters at cornerback for playing time.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

San Diego surrendered 4.6 yards per carry in 2013. That needs to improve in 2014. With Jernigan off the board, the Chargers could look at players like Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald, but Nix III figures to be better against the run.

His size (6'2", 331 lbs) and strength should be a definite force in the middle. 

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): David Yankey, OG, Stanford

Assuming the Browns do the smart thing and take a quarterback with their first pick, addressing the offensive line would be the next step toward improving the offense.

The team hasn't ranked higher than 20th in the NFL in rushing since 2009. Yankey is the type of physical interior lineman that is so important to an effective run game.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia

The Saints missed Jermon Bushrod last season. Drew Brees was sacked 37 times, and he looked less comfortable in the pocket than he has in previous seasons.

Moses isn't the type of prospect that is likely to come in and start from day one, but he could increase his playing time by midseason with hard work and dedication.

At worst, he represents added depth at a position where reserves are important.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

With Steve Smith aging and no longer the game-changer at wide receiver he once was, the Panthers must find a new No. 1 wideout for Cam Newton moving forward.

Benjamin is 23 years old, so that could be a deterrent for some teams. However, he is a 6'5", 240-pound target. His presence could make the Panthers even more dangerous in the red zone.

 

29. New England Patriots: Aaron Donald, DT, Florida State

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Donald is a bit undersized at 6'1", but his athleticism is exceptional for a man who weighs 285 pounds. He ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine.

Matt Williamson of ESPN is convinced there isn't a better defensive lineman available.

With that endorsement, it's possible that a team like the Bears could take Donald as high as No. 14.

If he does slip to the Pats at No. 29, he could team with Vince Wilfork in what would be one of the better defensive tackle tandems in the NFL.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Boldin and Michael Crabtree are possession receivers, but the 49ers offense needs to add some versatility.

Cooks' speed could be deadly in the slot. He ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and clearly possesses the game-breaking quickness to be an effective player from scrimmage and in special teams.

 

31. Denver Broncos: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State

At 35 years old, Champ Bailey's career is winding down. He gets burned more often than he makes plays nowadays. Denver needs to get younger at the position.

Having a player like Bailey mentor a prospect like Joyner could be invaluable long term. Joyner is only 5'8", but he's a gamer that teams would be wise to find a spot for.

 

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

The only position on the offense where the Seahawks don't have a game-changer is at tight end. Drafting Amaro could change that. He's not quite as fast as Ebron, but he's not exactly slow. At 6'5", 265 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds.

He could make Seattle even scarier than it already is.

 

All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.

All NFL stat references per Pro Football Reference.

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@BMaziqueFPBR

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