2014 NFL Mock Draft: Sensible Selections for Every NFL Franchise

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Sensible Selections for Every NFL Franchise
Patric Schneider

On May 8, all the speculation will be over. The world will know what the Houston Texans will do with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Talk has centered around everyone from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Perhaps the Texans management hasn't even decided who it will take. 

There are cases to be made for both players, as is the case with nearly every draft quagmire. This mock focuses on the picks that would make the most sense for each team.

 

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

*All prospect height, weight and combine numbers per NFL.com

 

1. Houston Texans (2-14): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Patric Schneider

The Texans may not take Manziel No. 1 overall. However, if they pass on him, the team will forever be haunted by the what-if scenario.

Manziel has critics and detractors at every turn, but he has a huge heart and he's a leader. Those are two attributes you can't teach. Aside from that, he has a star quality that the Texans organization needs.

 

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

Now that the Rams have signed Kenny Britt to team with Tavon Austin, its need for a No. 1 receiver may have been filled. The signing at least allows the team to address other needs with the No. 2 selection.

Robinson is a beastly and athletic left tackle who has a chance to become the best from this draft class.

 

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

Rick Scuteri

Yes, the Jaguars re-signed Chad Henne, but there is no way the organization can consider itself set at the position. Perhaps the Jags don't want to grab a quarterback this early in the draft, but Bortles' upside is almost too much to pass on considering it's a position of need.

ESPN Monday Night Football's Jon Gruden paid Bortles a pretty good compliment in this video:

Also, he played his collegiate ball in the state. The Jags need as much as help as they can get connecting to the locals. Taking Bortles makes sense on multiple levels.

 

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

When it comes to poise, football IQ and accuracy, Bridgewater is unmatched in this year's draft. Keep this in the proper perspective, but the guy completed 71 percent of his passes in 2013. At one point, he was considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall, but he has slipped a bit in some experts' eyes.

The Browns would be getting a sharp, intelligent winner to lead their offense in the near future.

 

5. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Derek Carr and other quarterbacks will be on the board, but Terrelle Pryor deserves another chance to lead the team. Oakland would be better off targeting a player who can protect Pryor and open up the running game.

Matthews is barely beneath Robinson as it pertains to left tackles in the draft.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons (4-12): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Clowney has plenty of supporters...

and haters...

Where's the truth? Probably somewhere in the middle. Clowney says in the interview below that he wants to be talked about forever.

There is no doubt he has the most talent, but people won't be satisfied with anything less than domination from him. That's a bit unfair, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, the Falcons desperately need a pass-rusher, and that's exactly what Clowney is.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Josh McCown had a great season in Chicago last season, but he didn't suddenly turn into Joe Montana at age 34. His success had a lot to do with a quarterback-friendly scheme and the Chicago Bears' A-list of offensive weapons.

If the Bucs want to see McCown have similar success, they had better find him another wide receiver to pair with Vincent Jackson. Watkins is the most dangerous receiver in the draft, and he should give the Bucs instant credibility on offense.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1): Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo

So the Vikings just allowed Jared Allen to walk in free agency. He signed with the rival Chicago Bears and will likely haunt them twice a year for two or three campaigns.

Minnesota's pass rush doesn't have to suffer for long. Mack is a player who some experts like even better than Clowney. NFL.com's Mike Mayock was one of them.

The Vikings may have the steal of the draft if they could grab Mack at No. 8.

 

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Patric Schneider

With Buffalo "all in" with EJ Manuel, they must also be committed to finding him solid receivers. Evans is huge at 6'5", and he is an excellent red-zone target and downfield threat. That's what Manuel needs at his disposal to take the next step.

 

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

The Lions' defense needs a player in the secondary who can help to add some balance to the unit. The team has been strong upfront, but the play on the last level of the defense has been lacking.

Gilbert is the best cornerback prospect in the draft. He has the size, speed and swagger to play the position at a high level.

 

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

There are few—if any—players in the draft more physically gifted than Barr. He has electric playmaker written all over him.

The Titans' defense is devoid of that type of presence. Drafting Barr to play as either an edge-rushing outside linebacker or a defensive end would give the team a player the opposition has to account for.

 

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

Getting younger has to be the primary objective for the Giants' defense. Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald is a little undersized at 6'1", but he possesses a motor and athleticism that is reminiscent of the Cincinnati Bengals' Geno Atkins—another undersized defensive tackle.

Donald could make an instant impact in New York.

 

13. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

The Britt signing will allow the Rams to target both of their primary positions of need. Clinton-Dix is the best safety in the draft. He's been a part of a top-notch unit in college, and he could help to get an increasingly impressive Rams roster to the next level.

 

14. Chicago Bears (8-8): Ra'shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Ann Heisenfelt

Chicago has already added major pieces to its defensive line, but the defensive tackle position is still an area of need. Do the Bears still need a free safety? Yes, but they can find an upgrade there in the second round.

Hageman has the potential to be a force against the run and a better-than-average pass-rusher from the tackle position.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Pittsburgh has to get younger in the secondary. Dennard is a hard-nosed press corner whose style fits in nicely with the Steelers' mystique. 

At 5'11" and a solid 199 pounds, Dennard has the strength to match up with the NFL's big receivers.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

With one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2013, the Cowboys can take the best defensive player available. There's some freedom in that pitiful state.

Ealy is a superb athlete at 6'5" and 278 pounds. He obviously has the size to play defensive end, but he has the agility to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Dallas would be wise to make him their first-round selection.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Lewan is a beastly offensive tackle who possesses the on-field mean streak teams covet in an offensive lineman.

A receiver would be great for the Ravens in this spot, but with Evans and Watkins gone, Lewan carries more value for a team that could also stand to upgrade at tackle.

 

18. New York Jets (8-8): Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Whether it's Michael Vick or Geno Smith under center, a pass-catching tight end like Ebron could be the most important offensive weapon the Jets add this offseason.

At 6'4" and 250 pounds, Ebron ran a 4.6 40-yard-dash. That would have been impressive for a tight end with a little less bulk. He could help open up a Jets offense that looked poor in 2013.

 

19. Miami Dolphins (8-8): Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

Ryan Tannehill was sacked 48 times in 2013. If the Fins want to have him spend more time on the field than he does on the trainer's table, they need to upgrade the offensive line.

Martin is a heady player, but at 6'4" with 32 7/8" arms, he may ultimately be a guard. No matter, the Dolphins need help at almost every position on the O-Line.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA

The best pure guard in the draft is Su'a-Filo. He's mobile for a man who's 6'4" and 307 pounds and a force on inside runs. He also possesses the mobility to pull to plow a path for his halfback.

The Cardinals have weapons in the passing game for Carson Palmer. Shoring up the power run game should be the team's next move.

 

21. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1): Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

Green Bay's run defense was lacking in 2013. The team ranked 25th in the NFL against the run. Louis Nix is probably the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the draft. At 6'2" and 331 pounds, he possesses the low center of gravity that could make him an anchor in the middle of the defensive line.

 

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

Michael Conroy

After Shazier's 4.36 40 time at his pro day, Shazier just about cemented himself as a first-round pick in the draft. He was already a fringe first-rounder, but the explosion he showed on the field matched the clock during his 40 run.

The Eagles have a need for a safety, but Shazier's athleticism will be too much to pass up.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

With an offense predicated on short passes, the Chiefs need players who can rack up yards after the catch. There may not be a more dynamic receiver in the draft after the catch.

Cooks ran a 4.33 40 at the NFL combine. He could also become a weapon for the Chiefs on special teams. Kansas City doesn't figure to be a high-scoring team in 2014. It could use a big-play weapon like Cooks to give it some punch.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

The Bengals don't have a wealth of holes on their roster, but the secondary is a spot where the team could stand to add some depth. Reggie Nelson is 30 years old, and he'll be a free agent after the 2015 season.

This late in the first round, the Bengals can afford to take the best player available, and that would be Pryor.

 

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

Verrett's tenacity and speed help to overcome less-than-ideal measurables at corner. He stands just 5'9", but he's a ferocious competitor with 4.38 speed and a 39" vertical leap.

The Chargers' secondary was less than spectacular in 2013. Verrett could become an instant starter for the 'Bolts in 2014.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis, 11-5): Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Alex Gallardo

The Browns would have found their quarterback early in the first round. With this pick, they could grab him another weapon to throw to. Obviously, Josh Gordon has established himself as a No. 1 receiver, but a speedster like Lee could make Cleveland's aerial attack dangerous.

 

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

After signing Jairus Byrd, the Saints' defense is starting to look fierce. Adding an edge-rusher to their 3-4 scheme could make them all the more dangerous.

Ford is a pass-rusher who has flown under the radar while most scouts talk about Clowney and Mack. He had 10.5 sacks for the national title runners-up in 2013.

 

28. Carolina Panthers (12-4): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

After allowing Steve Smith to walk away, the Panthers have a serious need for a receiver. You could make the argument that it's serious enough to trade up to take Watkins or Evans.

If Carolina stays put, taking Benjamin makes sense. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, he would be an instant weapon in the red zone for Cam Newton and co.

 

29. New England Patriots (12-4): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Tom Brady can't play forever. If a student of the game with Carr's arm strength slips this far, the Pats would be crazy not to take him. The thought that he'd be able to sit and learn from Brady early in his career makes this a lot like the Packers' situation in 2005.

The Pats could only hope Carr becomes the Aaron Rodgers to Brady's Brett Favre.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers (12-4): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Auburn

Anquan Boldin is long in the tooth. The Niners have to look to add youth to their receiving corps. Beckham has tremendous run-after-the-catch ability. As a slot receiver, he could give San Francisco a much-needed target underneath the coverage.

 

31. Denver Broncos (13-3): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Roby's athleticism has teams excited. Pairing him with the newly-signed Aqib Talib could give the Broncos an awesome cornerback tandem.  Beyond the Talib signing, the Broncos also brought T.J. Ward into the fold to bolster the secondary.

Building the third level of the defense is a smart move in today's NFL.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks (13-3): Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington 

Giving Seattle a pass-catching tight end seems almost unfair. Seferian-Jenkins is 6'5" and 262 pounds. He's equally adept at blocking as he is at receiving.

In an offense that already has Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, ASJ could make Seattle even scarier than it already is.

 

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