NFL Mock Draft 2014: Ideal Pick to Improve Each 1st-Round Team

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2014

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Temple, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Philadelphia.  Central Florida win 39-36.  (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Every general manager, scout and media representative will have differing opinions on players. However, there truly is one perfect pick for every team in the NFL draft.

Whether a squad needs immediate help at one specific position to put it over the top toward a Super Bowl run, or a rebuilding team is looking to draft the best player available, there are plenty of options in this year's class to fill those requirements.

Here is a look at the smartest picks for each team in the first round of the 2014 draft along with explanations for each selection.

1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

The Texans obviously can do whatever they want with the first pick, and many people have discussed the possibility of bringing in Jadeveon Clowney.

While the talented defensive end would be a nightmare for opposing offenses alongside J.J. Watt, defense was not a problem in Houston last year. The unit ranked seventh in the league in yards allowed and could succeed once again next season.

However, the Texans need a quarterback to turn things around offensively not only next year but for many seasons in the future. Michael Silver of believes that means Blake Bortles would be the pick:

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe is also certain about what should be done with the pick:

With plenty of weapons available on offense, Bortles can step into the lineup and have success immediately.

2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Teams certainly will be interested in trading up for this pick, but no matter what the Rams have to upgrade the offensive line. Roger Saffold is returning, but he proved last season that he is better suited at guard.

With Greg Robinson, the Rams would have a mauling run-blocker capable of improving an already solid offensive foundation.

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

The Jaguars need a quarterback at some point. That much is obvious. However, the truth is that next year's team will likely struggle again no matter who is under center.

Instead, the squad can greatly improve with the addition of an elite defender like Clowney, who has the potential to be almost unblockable at the next level. Jacksonville can then take a chance on another quarterback in the later rounds. 

4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

If the Browns do not go for a quarterback with the first pick, they might as well make things incredibly easy for whoever ends up under center.

Pairing Sammy Watkins with Josh Gordon at receiver, along with Jordan Cameron at tight end could make it almost unfair for defensive coordinators. The question will be who to stop, and someone will be open on almost every play.

5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Johnny Manziel might not have the size of a prototypical passer, but the fact is that he is not like any other quarterback who came before him. His unique athleticism and playmaking ability should lead him to success at the next level.

While the Oakland Raiders acquired Matt Schaub for a sixth-round pick, he is not the answer for the future and barely the answer for the present. They need to get a new face of the franchise, and Manziel is perfect.

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

The Falcons need to add a pass-rusher at some point in the draft, but the need to upgrade along the offensive line is just as great.

Jake Matthews is the most pro-ready lineman in the class with his experience on both sides of the line, also playing at a high level in both run and pass situations. He is the type of player you can set at a position and not worry about it for years to come. 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

When the Buccaneers added Alterraun Verner in free agency, it ensured that the secondary would be as good, if not better than last season. Now the only missing piece on defense is an elite outside pass-rusher.

Khalil Mack could be that player to pair opposite Lavonte David at outside linebacker. He can get to the quarterback or drop back in coverage, completing what could become one of the better pass defenses in the NFL.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Once considered the best player in the class, Teddy Bridgewater has seen his stock continue to fall. Most recently, a poor performance at his pro day has teams concerned, according to Mike Mayock, via College Football 24/7:

On the other hand, it is important not to overrate pro days in general. Grantland's Bill Barnwell argues that these showcases are meaningless, explaining that "it’s the pink slime of sports: There’s something vaguely resembling football in there, but it shouldn’t be taken as a satisfying substitute for the real thing."

Barnwell goes on to note that the biggest busts in recent years had great pro days while throwing against no pressure, but they struggled once they had to overcome a pass-rush.

Bridgewater has the passing tools necessary to be an NFL quarterback, but most importantly he has as much composure as anyone in the class. This is what the Vikings need as they look to draft a new franchise player at the position.

9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

After drafting EJ Manuel in the first round last season, the Bills have to give him a chance to succeed by providing some better blocking.

Taylor Lewan might have some off-field issues to clear up, but he is still one of the more talented players in the class with the size and explosiveness to be elite at his position.  

10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

While the Lions had one of the better run defenses in the league this season, teams were able to pass against the unit due to struggles in the secondary.

By selecting Darqueze Dennard, Detroit would add a potential shut-down cornerback who can step in and produce at a high level from Week 1. Justin Gilbert might have more athleticism, but Dennard is better in pass coverage and a smarter pick for a team in need of a help at the position.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

At this point, Anthony Barr might not be a complete player. However, he knows how to get to the quarterback, posting double-digit sacks in each of his last two years at UCLA.

The athletic linebacker can be used exclusively on passing downs at first and develop himself into a more well-rounded player down the line. Either way, he can provide a big help to the Titans. 

12. New York Giants: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

After losing some key players in free agency, the Giants have to remake their offensive line. Aaron Donald cannot solve all the problems, but he can help a lot thanks to his ability to penetrate into the backfield and blow up plays.

Although Donald is a bit undersized for the position, he should be just fine in the 4-3 system.

13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Rogelio Solis/Associated Press

Fans might be clamoring for a big-time wide receiver, but the Rams have other needs after spending an early first-round pick on Tavon Austin last season. Instead, they should attempt to complete the defense with the best safety in the class.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has great coverage skills and the closing speed to get to receivers anywhere on the field. This addition will solidify an already strong unit to compete with the best defenses in the league. 

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

The Bears saw last season how bad things got when Henry Melton got hurt. Now that the defensive tackle is gone to the Cowboys, Chicago needs someone else to clog up the middle of the field.

Timmy Jernigan proved to be excellent in this role at Florida State and should help transform the worst run defense in the NFL.  

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State 

Pittsburgh will want to add a receiver to play opposite Antonio Brown, but that can be found later in the draft. Instead, the Steelers will want to take a chance on a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

Gilbert has unique athleticism that allows him to make up for mistakes with speed and leaping ability. He is also dangerous with the ball in his hands, whether that comes on an interception or in the return game.

With the Steelers looking to get younger in the secondary, there might not be a better option in this class.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Even with the addition of Melton, the Cowboys need another defensive tackle to help complete the switch to 4-3 that was unsuccessful last year. When there are gaps in the middle of the defense, the rest of the unit has no chance of being successful.

Dallas can solidify this spot and provide help to everyone else on the roster as the team hopes to improve upon being the No. 32 defense in yards allowed.

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

With a unique player like Mike Evans, chances are that someone is going to trade up to get him. Whether it is by trade or teams filling other needs, the Ravens would love to select the 6'5" wide receiver.

Even though Baltimore added Steve Smith this offseason, the squad needs a player with size who can go up and get jump balls. At his best, Joe Flacco is completing long passes down the field, and Evans would be perfect to be on the receiving end of those looks.

The Texas A&M star also explained that he would fit right in with the Ravens' mentality. According to Garrett Downing of, Evans discussed possibly going to Baltimore as well as where he thinks he rates in the class:

They’re a big physical team, and I’m a big, physical receiver, so I think I’d fit their scheme real well. 

There are a lot of great receivers in this draft, don't get me wrong, but I feel I'm the best one. I'm a fan of a lot of the other receivers in this draft. I haven't seen a draft stacked like this with receivers in a long time. 

Evans would quickly be able to adjust to the hard-nosed AFC North and provide Flacco with another big-time weapon. 

18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Whether Geno Smith or Michael Vick end up starting at quarterback, the passer will need someone capable of getting open. Eric Decker should make a big difference offensively, but that is still not enough.

Eric Ebron possesses the rare size and speed combination that could make him unguardable once he perfects his route running. The starting quarterback would then have an option who can succeed all over the field, especially in the red zone. 

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

While the Dolphins added Branden Albert to play left tackle, this is still not enough to improve a unit that led the NFL in sacks allowed.

Zack Martin spent most his career playing left tackle, but he is versatile enough to start at pretty much every position on the offensive line. In fact, he likely projects better as a guard due to his shorter arms, which is perfect for the Dolphins to fill a glaring need.

20. Arizona Cardinals: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Karlos Dansby decided to take the money and run with the Cleveland Browns, leaving the Cardinals with 122 tackles to replace on defense. Although C.J. Mosley is not going to be that productive right away, he can certainly help fill the gap.

The Alabama star was a leader for one of the best defenses in the nation over the past two years and knows how to finish tackles when he gets a chance. The solid defense is in danger of faltering, but Mosley will keep it running strong.

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 14:  Calvin Pryor #25 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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

For better or worse, M.D. Jennings is no longer in Green Bay. As a result, the Packers need someone to replace him quickly. Calvin Pryor would be the perfect fit with his speed to cover the entire secondary and his hard-hitting ability to make stops over the middle. 

The Packers could also look to add a center, but that could likely be found later in the draft. 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Eagles secondary was a huge problem last season, but the team made a big upgrade by signing Malcolm Jenkins at safety. Now the club needs to look to add a cornerback to help compete against the elite passing attacks in the NFL.

Although Jason Verrett is a bit on the smaller side (5'10", 189 pounds) compared to others in his class, he has great speed and quickness to handle top receivers. At worst, the TCU player could become an elite slot cornerback, which is extremely valuable in today's NFL.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Even in a down year, Marqise Lee still showed an elite ability to make plays after the catch. If you get him the ball, he has a chance of scoring from anywhere in the field.

This would be perfect for the Chiefs, a team in need of someone to take the pressure off Jamaal Charles and the run game. Quarterback Alex Smith would also be helped out with another player who can take advantage of short passes. 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri

Tim Sharp/Associated Press

The Bengals are in position to grab the best player available, and that happens to be Kony Ealy. The defensive end might have the most upside in the entire class with his physical ability and his knack for getting around blockers.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller thinks the Missouri product compares to Greg Hardy:

Hardy is obviously coming off a career year with the Carolina Panthers and Ealy could be destined for a similar career. Unfortunately, Ealy is like Hardy in that he is relatively raw entering the NFL.

Still, the versatile player has a chance to be successful either at linebacker or defensive end. His athleticism could make him a nice addition to the Bengals at some point down the line.

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

Although San Diego did a good job of hiding it, the defensive secondary was overall one of the worst in the NFL last season. Eric Weddle is great in run coverage, but the rest of the unit struggled mightily.

The Chargers have to upgrade with the best cornerback on the board, which happens to be Bradley Roby. The Ohio State product has great speed and should develop into a quality starter at the next level.

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

After passing on a quarterback with the fourth pick, the Browns have to find their man at this point in the draft. That appears to be Derek Carr, who was called "best natural thrower in draft" by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, according to Mike Huguenin of

Carr might have a tough transition to the NFL after spending time in a spread offense at Fresno State, but he has loads of potential and would be a smart match for the Browns.

27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

The Saints have made incredible strides defensively after being one of the worst in the league two years ago. Thanks to some smart offseason moves, the unit can be even better.

Adding Dee Ford could help complete the transformation as a quick pass-rusher who can cause disruptions by getting to the quarterback. He put together a great career in the SEC, and he should be able to contribute in some way right away for whichever team is lucky enough to draft him.

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

There is no other way around it; the Panthers need wide receivers. It would not be surprising to see the squad draft two or three to help complete a corps that needs a lot of help.

Kelvin Benjamin would be a smart first step thanks to his great size and ability to make catches in the end zone. Although he is a bit raw, he has loads of potential and could be a big weapon for Cam Newton next season. 

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

The Patriots have some holes to fill on defense, but this pick just makes too much sense not to happen. Jace Amaro has the size and speed to make plays all over the field, and he could quickly become one of Tom Brady's favorite targets.

With Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski constantly dealing with injuries, Amaro would become a factor right away in New England. 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the LSU Tigers runs back a punt during a game against the UAB Blazers at Tiger Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Few wide receivers in the class are as skilled with and without the ball as Odell Beckham Jr. He is a great route-runner who can get himself open from the slot, and he can also make people miss with the ball and turn short plays into long touchdowns.

The 49ers could use a dynamic player like this one to help transform what often becomes a stagnant, run-heavy offense. 

31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Next season, the Broncos will have two big-time pass-rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. However the squad could still use versatile players capable of stopping the run or dropping back in coverage if needed.

Ryan Shazier can do it all thanks to his elite athleticism and intelligence on defense. He can make plays all over the field and provide the Broncos with the ability to disguise what is coming.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA

One of the biggest problems that Seattle dealt with last season was a poor pass-blocking offensive line. Even when Russell Okung and Max Unger returned from injuries, the interior line struggled to provide protection for Russell Wilson.

Xavier Su'a-Filo can provide a nice upgrade at guard as someone who can also clear up plenty of space for Marshawn Lynch, whether he needs it or not. 

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