The 2014 NFL draft is going to be an exciting showcase of the top prospects, and fans are clamoring to decipher the latest mock drafts to find out where each player will land in the first round.
Here are the latest projections for the first 32 selections of the 2014 NFL draft.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Houston Texans sit in the driver’s seat for this year’s draft. While their need for a quarterback is obvious after the trade of Matt Schaub, passing on a star defensive end such as South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney should not be an option.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
If Sam Bradford is the quarterback of the future for the St. Louis Rams, the franchise must add an offensive tackle of the future as well. Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews is the smart answer at No. 2 overall.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel is one of the most polarizing figures in the 2014 draft class, and the Jacksonville Jaguars should select the Texas A&M quarterback with the intention of building the franchise around him.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
After the release of former starter Brandon Weeden, the Cleveland Browns must cleanse themselves of that mistake and take a prospect with the raw talent to be a franchise quarterback. Central Florida’s Blake Bortles has that potential.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Oakland Raiders have always had an affinity for speedy wide receivers, but Clemson’s Sammy Watkins is much more than that. Watkins has strength, size and speed to be a force in the NFL and a legitimate weapon for the Raiders.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
After yet another season of struggling to find a consistent pass rush, the Atlanta Falcons must look to a defensive end or outside linebacker to remedy those issues. With Clowney off the board, the Falcons will look to UCLA’s Anthony Barr to fill the void.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Another team desperate for assistance in the pass-rushing department is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Falcons take Barr at No. 6, Tampa Bay will take one of the most athletically gifted prospects in the draft, Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Minnesota Vikings had three starting quarterbacks on the roster last season, but none deserves the chance to be the future of the franchise. Louisville prospect Teddy Bridgewater has the football I.Q. to make an instant transition to the NFL and be an effective weapon. Problem solved.
9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
If EJ Manuel is the quarterback of the future for the Buffalo Bills, the franchise must add players such as Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans to give the sophomore QB a chance to succeed.
10. Detroit Lions: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Detroit Lions have plenty of raw talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the inability to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford will result in the necessary selection of Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
With the entire Tennessee Titans franchise looking to revamp itself this offseason, the defense must find a new leader to take the unit into the future. The need to stop the run and diagnose pass plays will lead the Titans to take Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley.
12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Eli Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and a two-time Super Bowl champion. To return to elite form, the New York Giants must add protection along the offensive line, and Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan is a good place to start.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
After taking an offensive lineman with the No. 2 pick, the St. Louis Rams will add a skill player on the defensive side of the ball with Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Gilbert has the potential to become a star for St. Louis.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Chicago Bears were gouged through the center of the defensive line last season by running backs, and an upgrade at the defensive tackle position is a serious need. The best DT in the 2014 draft is Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The rush on defensive tackles will continue when the Pittsburgh Steelers anchor the defensive line with Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III at No. 15 overall.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
While Dallas Cowboys fans may feel slighted that the defensive tackles they wanted for their team will be taken before this pick, the franchise will be incredibly lucky to fall into the selection of an underrated prospect such as Minnesota’s Ra'Shede Hageman.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens have lacked a leader in the secondary since the departure of Ed Reed, and the defense will find the all-around force it needs patrolling the defensive backfield with Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
18. New York Jets: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The New York Jets are trying to add talented players at every vital position, and that will result in Rex Ryan and the Jets picking the best player available. At No. 18 overall, that would be Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Unless you lived under a rock last season, you know the turmoil the Miami Dolphins offensive line has experienced. The addition of free agent Branden Albert is a good start, and Notre Dame’s Zack Martin is the smart continuation of the rebuilding process.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer has found a career resurgence with the Arizona Cardinals, but the organization must do more to protect him. While Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a rough prospect who needs work, he could easily be a starter on the right side of the line.
21. Green Bay Packers: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Without Jermichael Finley at the tight end position, the Green Bay Packers must find a serious pass-catching weapon, such as North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, to fill the void.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Philadelphia Eagles were beat deep by opposing wide receivers too often last season, and the addition of a physical cornerback such as Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard would add the mentality needed to toughen up the defense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
The long-term future of Dwayne Bowe with the Kansas City Chiefs is uncertain, but Andy Reid is already looking for new weapons for Alex Smith. If Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is there at No. 23 overall, this pick will be easy.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
A.J. Green is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, but the Cincinnati Bengals must add a complementary pass-catcher on the other side to alleviate some of the pressure on Andy Dalton and the entire offense. LSU’s Odell Beckham would be an ideal fit.
25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
A dream run to the postseason was a great story for the San Diego Chargers last season, but the team will not be able to achieve the feat again without securing the back end with a cornerback such as TCU’s Jason Verrett.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The departure of free-agent safety T.J. Ward has left a void on defense. Only a gifted prospect such as Louisville’s Calvin Pryor would be able to step in and fill that void immediately.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier is one of the best pass-rushers left on the board at No. 27 overall, and the need for a legitimate threat off the edge will force the New Orleans Saints to make this selection.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
With veteran wide receiver Steve Smith no longer on the roster, the Carolina Panthers must add depth and skill at the position. USC’s Marqise Lee would be a reasonably priced addition that could blossom into a game changer.
29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in the sport. The issue for the New England Patriots has been his inability to stay healthy, and that will lead to the selection of a potential star in Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The lack of success from every wide receiver not named Michael Crabtree or Anquan Boldin last season has made the need for a pass-catcher a top priority. Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks would be the perfect addition.
31. Denver Broncos: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
After a trip to the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos added several big-name free agents on the defensive side of the ball, but the team needs more. The selection of a defensive tackle such as Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan would be a great move.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The Seattle Seahawks lost Chris Clemons and Red Bryant to the Jaguars via free agency, but the team has the opportunity to replenish those losses by selecting Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt with the last pick of the first round.