2014 NFL Mock Draft: Top Potential Selections for 1st-Round Teams

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Top Potential Selections for 1st-Round Teams
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Wednesday marked the final day of NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., which means the next marquee event on the NFL offseason calendar is May's 2014 NFL draft from New York.

March Madness may have your undivided attention for now, but it's only a matter of time before the collective eyes of the sports universe zero in on the Big Apple, where the first 32 selections will be announced on May 8.

Below, I'll run through the entire first round of the 2014 NFL draft, highlighting the top potential selection for each team. 

*All free-agent signing info according to NFL.com. 

 

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

If the Houston Texans are looking to draft the best player available at No. 1 overall this spring, there's no doubt that South Carolina standout Jadeveon Clowney is their guy. However, if the Texans are drafting strictly on their biggest need, they are likely to select one of the top quarterbacks.

First-year head coach Bill O'Brien is leaving all options open for now, per CBSSports.com's Jeff Reynolds: "All options are open. What is it the end of March? We still have a lot of time. You go back and do re-checks. What fun would it be if you already knew who you were going to pick?"

There's also the possibility that Houston trades out of this spot before draft day. Either way, Clowney would be the top potential selection for the AFC South hopeful on May 8.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington (3-13)): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Rams already have a franchise quarterback on their roster and could definitely use some offensive line help to better protect him. Auburn's Greg Robinson is the total package and would be an ideal pickup at No. 2 overall.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

With Blaine Gabbert heading out West to San Francisco, Jacksonville is without a franchise quarterback. Therefore, expect it to go after local product Blake Bortles, who has prototypical size, athleticism and speed that sets him apart. 

NFL Network reporter Albert Breer adds that Bortles is gaining momentum ahead of draft day:

There's a lot of movement that could occur over the next six weeks, but for now it appears that Bortles is at the top of the list. 

 

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 

While Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel could potentially be a boom-or-bust addition for a downtrodden Browns franchise, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater appears to be a steadier prospect with less bust potential.

Bridgewater's accuracy is one of his strengths, as well as his poise in the pocket.  

 

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

With both Bortles and Bridgewater off the board, Oakland will look to Johnny Manziel to turn things around. There are certainly plenty of question marks surrounding the electrifying signal-caller, but Oakland is likely to fall in love with his playmaking potential.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

Outside linebacker is a huge need for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason, and, for that reason, Buffalo's Khalil Mack makes perfect sense at No. 6 overall.

Mack has been talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick leading up to May's draft, but in this scenario, he falls outside the top five and right into the Falcons' lap.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tampa Bay will need to bolster its offensive line this offseason if the Bucs want to compete for a postseason berth in 2014. Texas A&M's Jake Matthews is the second-best tackle available behind Robinson and brings everything that a team could want to the table. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Like so many other clubs drafting inside the top 10, the Minnesota Vikings are in the market for a quarterback. At No. 8 overall, Fresno State's Derek Carr would appear to be the best on the board.

 

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

It's very likely that a team will select Clemson's Sammy Watkins before the Bills find themselves on the clock with the ninth overall pick, but if we're looking at needs, no team in the top 10 needs to add an explosive wide receiver more than Buffalo.

In addition to his game-breaking speed, Watkins' ability to attack and secure the ball makes him a top-10 talent.

 

10. Detroit Lions (7-9): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is the best cornerback available in 2014, and no team needs secondary help more than the Detroit Lions, who imploded down the stretch last season and finished the year ranked 23rd in fewest passing yards allowed.

Gilbert's combination of instincts, ball skills and ability to support against the run makes him a no-brainer for Detroit.

 

11. Tennessee Titans (7-9): Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

Although the Titans' biggest needs are on offense and in the secondary, you could argue that UCLA's Anthony Barr is too good to pass up for a team in need of bolstering its pass rush. 

Ray Horton is likely to mix things up as he enters his first year as Tennessee's defensive coordinator, and Barr would have a shot to make an immediate impact in a new-look 3-4 scheme. 

 

12. New York Giants (7-9): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Giants have lost some key pieces to the defensive line that propelled them to two Super Bowl victories over the past decade. Therefore, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald makes a whole lot of sense at No. 12. 

Donald boasts unrivaled quickness at his position and can penetrate the pocket to help stop the pass in addition to plugging gaps and shutting down the run.

 

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

With the Rams addressing their offensive line needs at No. 2 overall in this scenario, going after a wide receiver makes plenty of sense, per Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal

Last year, St. Louis selected tiny speedster Tavon Austin in Round 1, so 2014 could see it take 6'5", 230-pound possession receiver Mike Evans, who made Manziel's life a whole lot easier over the past two seasons in College Station. 

 

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Bears will be looking to improve their porous secondary in this year's draft, and with Gilbert off the board midway through the first round, Chicago could go after Big Ten product Darqueze Dennard, whose instincts and recognition skills are second to none.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

In today's pass-first NFL, talented cornerbacks are vital. And with Pittsburgh's vaunted defense only getting older, Ohio State's Bradley Roby would be a smart selection for the Steelers.

Roby boasts prototypical size for the position and is an excellent all-around corner who can make plays in the running game as well.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

In addition to their needs up front on the defensive line, the Dallas Cowboys are desperate for a playmaking safety who can help shore up their secondary. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix knows how to win and has the cover skills and instincts to do the job.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

It's no secret that the Ravens need offensive line help in order to get back to the Super Bowl. Therefore, Notre Dame's Zack Martin is a real possibility at No. 17 overall. Martin isn't the same caliber of tackle as Robinson and Matthews, but his ability to move side to side and fight off pass-rushers with his hands makes him a legitimate first-round talent. 

 

18. New York Jets (8-8): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Adding Eric Decker in free agency was a good start for the Jets, but New York could still use some speed at wide receiver. Enter Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior last season.

 

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8): Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Dolphins have huge needs up front on the offensive line, and that's why UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo would be a great fit for Miami in Round 1, per draft analyst Ben Natan:

Su'a-Filo is a versatile guard who can not only play out of position but also succeed. 

 

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville 

With all of the top quarterbacks off the board at this point, Arizona could look to add pieces to its secondary. In that case, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor could be the guy. Despite taking a backseat to Bridgewater during his time with the Cardinals, Pryor is a first-round talent.

Pryor is known for delivering punishing hits to ball-carriers and providing an intimidating presence on the back end. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Green Bay must address its defense this spring in order to remain a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the years to come. Signing veteran defensive end Julius Peppers helps, but the Packers need to continue to improve up front.

Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman is an underrated prospect but a tremendous athlete who can wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

With the top two safeties off the board, Philadelphia could look to take an outside linebacker to bolster its pass rush and shore up the middle of its defense. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier is an ideal fit at No. 22 overall and could help the Eagles right away. 

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

The Chiefs need more offensive weapons in order to contend with the Denver Broncos and the rest of the AFC's best in 2014. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. may not be as popular as some of the other wide receivers available, but his ability to separate from defenders and make plays makes him a first-round prospect.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With defensive end Michael Johnson leaving town in free agency, Cincinnati must look to draft a young defensive end this coming May. 

Missouri's Kony Ealy is a stud on the edge, has an excellent motor and would offer the Bengals versatility on defense. 

 

25. San Diego Chargers (9-7): Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

San Diego absolutely must address its lack of talent and depth at cornerback this offseason. The Chargers are in the market for a young defensive piece, and TCU's Jason Verrett makes perfect sense given his instincts and cover skills.

Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller is another possibility for the Bolts at No. 25. 

 

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis (11-5)): Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

In this scenario, the Browns select Bridgewater at No. 4 overall, allowing them to bolster their offensive line with the 26th pick they acquired from Indianapolis last September. Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson is a big man with a big game who could help protect Cleveland's new quarterback for years to come. 

 

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5): Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Saints could use help at cornerback and outside linebacker this May, but Auburn's Dee Ford is a stud pass-rusher who may be too good to pass up late in the first round. Ford wowed scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl back in January and has everything you look for in a dominant edge-rusher. 

 

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

With Steve Smith gone to Baltimore, the Panthers need a possession receiver to take his place. Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews is just the man for the job. 

At 6'3", 212 pounds, Matthews has the size, durability and competitiveness to help the defensive-minded Panthers recapture the NFC South crown in 2014.

 

29. New England Patriots (12-4): Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

The New England Patriots need to revamp their defensive line. With plenty of drama and uncertainty surrounding Vince Wilfork's future in Foxborough, it's safe to say that Notre Dame's Louis Nix would be an easy solution to a majority of the Pats' problems up front.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

San Francisco could use another weapon for Colin Kaepernick to get the ball to, and USC's Marqise Lee is just that—a weapon. Although there are concerns about his durability following a nagging knee injury in 2013, his in-game speed is eye-popping, and his sophomore campaign with the Trojans (118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns) highlights his potential. 

 

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Denver collapsed on both sides of the ball in its embarrassing Super Bowl loss to Seattle, but there's no doubt the Broncos must continue to add talent on the back end of their defense. Free agency helped, but Denver is still in need of some depth at cornerback.  

Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller isn't the best cover corner around, but he's a stud in run support and recognizes plays quickly. 

 

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks could certainly use a wide receiver after watching Golden Tate bolt for Detroit in free agency. Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin still has some developing and improving to do before he can become a reliable target for Russell Wilson, but his upside is incredible.

At 6'5", 240 pounds, Benjamin's massive frame has drawn comparisons to Detroit's Calvin Johnson. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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