NFL Mock Draft 2014: Selections to Improve Each 1st-Round Team's Biggest Flaw

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Selections to Improve Each 1st-Round Team's Biggest Flaw
John Bazemore/Associated Press

One of the stock phrases commonly bandied about on draft day is "best player available." Some players are too good to pass up, but the primary consideration for selecting a player out of college is team need. Here are all 32 picks for the first round, and each one addresses that team's most glaring flaw.

 

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

Johnny Football playing for the Houston Texans. What could be more iconic? Johnny Manziel will just have to make sure he doesn't start a consecutive-games streak of pick-sixes like the last guy who had this job.

 

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

It's all Aggies in the top two! The Rams need to keep Sam Bradford upright, as he's coming off an ACL tear. Jake Matthews has football in his blood, and if he's anywhere near as good as his Hall of Fame father, Bruce, the Rams will have the Redskins rethinking their trade of all those draft picks for Robert Griffin III

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina 

Sure, Jacksonville needs a QB, but a wealth of solid options will be left in the second round. The Jags finished last in sacks last season, and physical freak Jadeveon Clowney would help change that deficiency.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Teddy Bridgewater can fling it around, and the Browns desperately need someone who can do that well. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron can't throw the ball and catch it at the same time. 

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Sammy Watkins oozes talent, so he should be able to step right in and produce immediate results like an A.J. Green or Julio Jones. The Raiders have spent plenty of picks on wideouts, but Watkins would be their best receiver since Tim Brown.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Falcons tied for 29th in sacks last year. Khalil Mack would give them a well-rounded linebacker who can get after the QB as well. Think of him as a younger Brian Orakpo.

 

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

The Bucs gave up 47 sacks last year, tied for sixth in the league. They also ranked dead last in passing yards, so giving the signal-caller more time in the pocket would help.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Blake Bortles is dripping with potential, but he may need the most work of the top three quarterbacks. Those three are something of a pick 'em, but with so many teams in need of a QB, they will all be gone in the first 10 selections.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

The Bills gave up more sacks than all but three NFL teams last season. In a draft rich with offensive linemen, they should avail themselves of one of the elite tackles.  

 

10. Detroit Lions: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

The Lions' whole reason for existing seems to be for Matthew Stafford to throw touchdowns to Calvin Johnson. Zack Martin can help bolster that effort, and he brings plenty of seasoning from five years at an excellent school. 

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

The Titans produced solid results with their pass defense last season thanks to a pair of very physical cornerbacks. However, they hauled in only 13 interceptions, which tied them for 22nd. Adding the best safety in the draft would give them a potent threat in center field who can also make plays in the run game.

 

12. New York Giants: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Giants rarely spend high picks on linebackers. That needs to change. The last time the G-Men had a fearsome linebacking corps was the early '90s, but Barr could help rewrite recent history. 

 

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

Mike Evans is 6'5", so he could be the go-up-and-get-it receiver as the No. 1 option. He would make for an excellent foil to Tavon Austin's straight-line speed.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Bears were pretty far from being the Monsters of the Midway last season, as they gave up a preposterous 161.4 rushing yards per game, the worst mark in the league, plus 22 TDs on the ground. Aaron Donald would help plug that gaping hole in the middle.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

As Troy Polamalu's luscious locks begin to gray, the Steelers will need to address the position with a youth movement. Though Polamalu turned in a strong 2013, he is not as fleet of foot as he used to be, which changes how he can be used. As Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated and The New York Times tweeted, "Polamalu's career will be extended by his ability to play LB in dime. He did that regularly last year, less field to cover." 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the talent to be an immediate replacement on standard passing downs, and he's stout in run coverage as well.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

As Dennard told reporters at the Spartans' pro day, via Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News, "My mind-set really is, when you line up against (a receiver) one on one, pretty much is I'm going to beat you or you're going to beat me. And if you put me in a fight, I'm not going to lose. When I line up on the receiver, I'm trying to whoop him." 

The Cowboys gave up 287 passing yards per game last season, which was third worst, so Dennard's tenacity would address a glaring need.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC

The Ravens should still be kicking themselves for letting Anquan Boldin go so easily. The Ravens scored just 19 TDs through the air last season; only six teams had fewer. Landing this pass-catching tight end would give them a promising red-zone target.

 

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

The Jets managed just 13 passing touchdowns in 2013, ranking dead last. Peyton Manning threw more than four times that many scores. The Jets released Santonio Holmes, so they need a quality wideout desperately.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

The Dolphins offensive line is in upheaval, and the league-worst 58 sacks they allowed last year is just one of the reasons for that. They must bolster that unit.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

The Cards yielded 29 passing TDs last season. Only five teams gave up more than that. Justin Gilbert is a well-sized corner at 6'0" and 202 pounds, and he would help bolster the Cardinals' improved defense. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State 

The Packers defense permitted opposing teams to rumble for 125 yards per game against them. Worse still, the 116 first downs they gave up on the ground were more than 28 other teams. Putting Timmy Jernigan in the middle would help address that.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

For all the talk about Philadelphia's "blur offense," opponents got to run a bunch of plays against the Eagles. Philly's defense got torched for a league-high 290 passing yards per game. 

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

C.J. Mosley might not last this long, as he has the talent to make an impact as soon as he hits the field. K.C. allowed 4.5 yards per rush last year, and the team needs help in the middle.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Jason Verrett is only 5'9", but he possesses blazing speed. Picking up a talent on his level would be a boon for a stacked Cincy defense, and cornerback is the only position on that side of the ball that could obviously use more depth.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

The Bolts allowed the fourth-most passing yards of any team last season, and their underwhelming cornerbacks were the main reason. This draft offers a number of excellent corners worthy of the first round, and San Diego will opt for one of them. 

 

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

Josh Gordon played out of his mind last season, but the wideouts after him are nothing to write home about. Since I have Cleveland taking Bridgewater at No. 4, they should add another receiver for him to work with.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Drew Brees is one of the best players in the league, and the Saints are hoping he can lead them to another title before the sun sets on his impressive career. Opting for a tackle will help keep him upright and intact. 

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

For many seasons now, the Panthers have had Steve Smith at wide receiver and a host of forgettable options after that. Per ESPN.com, sources have told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Carolina is shopping Smith, so it needs a quality young wide receiver pronto.

 

29. New England Patriots: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

One thing that crushed the Pats in the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos was the inability to create a pass rush on Peyton Manning. Adding an elite defensive end from a top-notch SEC defense could have Peyton on his back the next time those teams meet.

 

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

The 49ers have some solid receiving options, but they still ranked 30th in passing yards last season. Brandin Cooks' excellent quickness helps him get separation, and he can be a threat both down the field and working in the slot. 

 

31. Denver Broncos: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

The Broncos have their offense covered as long as they're not playing the Seattle Seahawks. Defense must be Denver's focus. If Nix lasts until their pick, they would love to have him in the middle of their line.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford

After you win the Super Bowl, your immediate goal is winning another Super Bowl. Despite Russell Wilson's ability to scramble, he doesn't have the happy feet that some mobile QBs do. A stout guard would help keep Wilson's jersey clean.

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