The 2014 NFL draft is a mocker's worst nightmare. There are nearly infinite ways this draft can play out, from the very first pick onward.
I've created and analyzed mock drafts for most of my life, and for the past five years it's actually been part of my job. Never have I had as much uncertainty over the picks as I have this year, though.
Of course, that may mean I wind up with my most accurate mock ever. As I've learned in the world of the NFL draft, certainty does not guarantee accuracy.
At any rate, here is how I see it all shaking out.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden is heaping praise on Blake Bortles. That isn't surprising. Gruden seems to love every quarterback he talks to. Still, Bortles stands out enough to him that he is making it clear he believes the Texans should him:
Obviously, Gruden's thinking has zero bearing on what the Texans will do, but it is easy to see Houston believing in the same line of thinking.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Rams will undoubtedly explore trading down from this pick, but with a deep class of talent, I don't see St. Louis getting the value needed to make the move.
Instead, the Rams will draft athletic freak Jadeveon Clowney and then move defensive end Chris Long for a draft pick.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Jaguars must take a long look at quarterback here, but there are enough question marks on the signal-callers available in this scenario that it would be foolish to pass on Greg Robinson.
Robinson is an elite athlete and a potentially dominant run- and pass-blocker.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Depending on who you talk to, Johnny Manziel will either be the first pick in this year's draft or you won't hear his name called at all in the first round.
In the end, Johnny Football is far too dynamic a talent to fall beyond the fourth pick in the draft. The Browns need a quarterback, and Manziel will add instant excitement to the franchise.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Raiders have some decent talent at receiver with Rod Streater and Denarius Moore. Neither of these guys, however, has the dominant talent to be a quality No. 1 option.
Sammy Watkins does. He is explosive and has great ball skills.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
The Falcons will be ecstatic if the draft plays out this way.
All indications are that they are moving to a 3-4 defensive scheme next season, per Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports, and they still need an edge-rusher with the ability of Khalil Mack.
Mack is far more than a pass-rusher, but it is his ability to get to the passer that makes him worth this pick.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Look out for Tampa Bay next season. The Bucs have a new coach in Lovie Smith, and they have done a great job in free agency so far.
Jake Matthews will be another piece that can help the team make a quick turnaround, as he will be a quality blindside pass protector from Day 1.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater didn't do himself any favors at his pro day.
Although, Bridgewater's stock appears to be falling fast prior to the draft, the Vikings won't let him fall too far. Bridgewater's ability to read defenses and call audibles makes him the most pro-ready quarterback in this class.
That is great news to the Vikings, who must try to salvage what is left of Adrian Peterson's dominance while he is still in his prime.
9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Anthony Barr's size and athleticism is enough to get teams drooling. He is, however, still raw. He needs seasoning to become a complete player.
The Bills need speed and size on the edge of their budding defense, and Barr can definitely bring both of those qualities.
10. Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
This is such a perfect fit that it probably won't happen. That just seems to be the way the draft works.
C.J. Mosley is a quality athlete and a heady player. Put him behind a defensive line like the one the Lions feature, and Mosley will be running free and making plays all over the field.
11. Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Titans signed right tackle Michael Oher this offseason, but they must continue to build up their edge protection on the offensive line.
Taylor Lewan presents good value here, and he has the potential to be an excellent left tackle.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Eric Ebron's size and athleticism won't have him on the board for long. He does not have the most reliable hands, as noted by NBC Sports' Josh Norris:
However, the simple threat of him exploiting the seam will help open up an offense. The Giants desperately need that, as New York lacks weapons to spread out the field.
In theory, Ebron's presence will help quarterback Eli Manning avoid an interception—or 20.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams added a receiver in the first round last year with Tavon Austin. This year, they will help complete their receiving corps with the lengthy Mike Evans.
Evans' length will pair well with the explosion of Austin.
14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Bears have to go defense with this pick, as that side of the ball is aging and ineffective in Chicago.
Timmy Jernigan would be a quality addition. He would bring a strong interior presence that could help solidify the rush defense.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
With an aging Ike Taylor about to turn 34, the Steelers must be on the lookout for corner help.
I have to believe the Steelers love Darqueze Dennard. He is a physical corner with good man skills. He fits the Pittsburgh mold perfectly.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Like the Bears, the Cowboys are desperate for defensive help. They must focus on the defensive line and the secondary.
Calvin Pryor has the range and instincts to help the Cowboys limit big plays. He is a complete player, and he will provide an instant boost to the defense in Dallas.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame
Zack Martin is going to be a quality offensive lineman—the only question is at which position.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock thinks he is equipped to handle any position on the line:
However, his lack of length may prohibit him from being an elite NFL tackle. The Ravens won't be overly concerned with that, though, as they need help all along their offensive front.
18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Signing wide receiver Eric Decker was a great start toward giving the Jets offense some much needed playmakers. But the process is not over, as New York needs someone to pair with Decker.
Odell Beckham Jr. is a strong solution to that problem. His speed will make him an instant deep threat, and it will help keep safeties from focusing on Decker.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Cyrus Kouandjio is a real wild card in this draft. He has a lot of game tape with success against top opponents, but he also has some medical concerns, including some failed physicals at the combine.
Even after signing tackle Branden Albert, the Dolphins need help as they continue to reshape their offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
With good explosion and a 285-pound frame, Aaron Donald could be a wonderful defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. This makes him a strong fit for the Cardinals.
21. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The Packers need to beef up in the defensive trenches. Even though Louis Nix III has dropped some weight, he will still bring the beef.
Despite coming off of knee surgery and a disappointing season last year at Notre Dame, Nix has the talent and strength to make this a strong selection.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
After finishing this past season last in the NFL in pass defense, the Eagles must improve the secondary.
With good athleticism and range, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a good fit. He will limit the Eagles vulnerability to the big play.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Kansas City Chiefs must diversify their offensive attack. Last season, running back Jamaal Charles led the team in both rushing and receiving.
The Chiefs have a No. 1 receiver in Dwayne Bowe, but he is seeing way too much extra attention.
Marqise Lee would help take some of the attention off of Bowe. Lee doesn't have blazing speed, but he has good football speed. He also has amazing ball skills and good leaping ability. This will make him a deep threat and help the Chiefs stretch the field.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
There is a strong chance that Justin Gilbert does not last this long. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller highlighted the kind of attention Gilbert is getting:
This draft is deep on corner talent, however, and that will lead to some teams passing on drafting someone at the position in the first round. The Bengals won't pass on the strong value Gilbert presents, though, as they need an insurance policy for the aging Terence Newman.
25. San Diego Chargers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Unfortunately, the Chargers don't have the luxury of waiting to select a corner. San Diego is desperate for secondary help.
Marcus Roberson is a physical corner with good size. He may not have the speed to be left on an island, but he can provide a good jam at the line and make passing to his side of the field difficult for opposing teams.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
I have the Browns taking Johnny Manziel at No. 4. And with wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns already have weapons in place for Manziel should they draft him.
However, those two are not enough to get the most out of Manziel's elite playmaking ability. Kelvin Benjamin has good length and ball skills, and he will be an excellent option on third downs and in the red zone.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
As next season begins to play out, the Saints' signing of safety Jairus Byrd could very well be looked back on as the master stroke of free agency.
New Orleans must back up that signing with defensive help in the front seven, though. Byrd is a strong tackler, but it would also be beneficial for the Saints to have someone in the front seven who limits the amount of tackles Byrd has to make. Shazier can be that guy.
28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks is a small receiver, but his athleticism will make him a threat all over the field.
29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
New England added cornerback Darrelle Revis, but they also lost Aqib Talib. In other words, this team still needs corner help.
Jason Verrett is an excellent fit, as he has elite cover skills. Although he lacks size (5'9", 189 lbs), which may keep him from excelling on the outside, he will be a wonderful slot corner.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The 49ers must ensure Colin Kaepernick has weapons in the passing game. This will not only help the 49ers' passing offense find consistency, but it will also help open things up for the running game.
Allen Robinson doesn't have the skills to be a dominant receiver, but he will be a reliable one.
31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Kony Ealy is a wonderful athlete, but he may never be a complete defensive end, as he specializes as a pass-rusher. Still, his athleticism will make him an instant impact player in such a role.
The Broncos are eagerly looking for players who can make an instant impact.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The defending champs need help in the defensive trenches if they don't want to be too vulnerable against the run.
Ra'Shede Hageman has wonderful athleticism but a rather light college resume. This won't concern Pete Carroll, though, who has done a wonderful job getting the most out of his players.
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