NFL Mock Draft 2014: What Every Team Should Do with 1st-Round Pick

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: What Every Team Should Do with 1st-Round Pick
Associated Press
Jadeveon Clowney at his pro day.

Just over a month stands between us and the 2014 NFL draft.

Mock drafts change frequently this time of year, but it seems like this year's NFL prospects have been involved in one of the more fluid classes in recent memory, as the predicted No. 1 overall pick has changed on multiple occasions.

NFL teams have multiple decisions to make between now and the draft, and they better make the correct ones. Making an unwise selection in the first round is a great way to set your franchise back a few years.

Here's what every team should do with their first-round pick.

 

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney is too good to pass up at No. 1.

Imagine a pairing of J.J. Watt and Clowney on either side of the defensive line for the better part of the next decade; that's something new head coach Bill O'Brien should salivate over.

Quarterback is a clear area of need, but there are guys that can be taken early in the second round to compete with Case Keenum.

 

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

The St. Louis Rams could very well trade this pick to another team that is interested in guaranteeing itself the player it wants. Should the Rams keep the pick, however, look for them to grab tackle Greg Robinson.

Robinson is a freak athlete for a tackle, and he can fill an immediate hole at either tackle position for the Rams. Sam Bradford needs some protection to stay on his feet, and Robinson can help.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Jacksonville desperately needs a quarterback that can shape the future of the franchise. Blaine Gabbert failed to do so, and the next man up for the job will likely be Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater is ready to step in and take the reins of this team. The training camp competition with Chad Henne should just be a formality, as this will be Bridgewater's team from the start. His accuracy, pocket presence and ability to see the field make him a smart choice for a team in desperate need of stability.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

The Cleveland Browns are in a great position to build one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are already in place as quality receiving options, and Ben Tate is now in the fold as a versatile running back.

Adding Sammy Watkins into the mix would simply be unfair.

Sure, the Browns would still be without a quarterback if they made this pick, but they have another pick later on in the first round to address that issue. Watkins is too good to pass up here.

 

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

Johnny Manziel is scheduled to meet with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday and Monday, per Adam Schefter:

Manziel would likely sit under Matt Schaub for a season or two to learn the nuances of the NFL, but it's also reasonable to believe he'll come in during his rookie year if Schaub struggles to improve the Raiders offense.

Oakland is a good situation for Manziel. He would have a veteran running back in Maurice Jones-Drew and minimal expectations to live up to. This is a safe pick for Oakland.

 

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

Jake Matthews isn't Greg Robinson, but he's close.

Matthews flashes outstanding technique and is versatile enough to play either tackle position. The Atlanta Falcons struggled at times to keep Matt Ryan comfortable in the pocket, and this pick represents both an immediate and long-term fix. This is a no-brainer for Atlanta.

 

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

Khalil Mack has impressive speed off the edge and the instincts necessary to get to the quarterback or bring down the ball-carrier.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to continue to build their defense in order to keep themselves in games. The offense won't put up a ton of points, so low-scoring games on defense are going to be crucial moving forward. Mack would certainly help champion that philosophy.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Blake Bortles has fallen a bit here when compared to most other mock drafts, but it's really more of a result of other prospects rising up the board. Bortles has perhaps the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft, and the Minnesota Vikings will be lucky to scoop him up here at No. 8.

Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are not long-term answers anymore. Bortles might sit for half the season to get acclimated to the NFL, but expect him to be under center and leading the Vikings offense somewhere around Week 10.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

EJ Manuel will be the happiest guy in Buffalo with this selection. The young quarterback still needs more weapons to throw to, and Mike Evans (6'5", 231 lbs) will give him an immediate threat on third down and in the red zone.

Evans is a big, physical receiver with great leaping ability and soft hands. He's a tier below Sammy Watkins in terms of talent, but then again, Watkins looks to be in a league of his own.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Justin Gilbert is an NFL-ready corner that doesn't need to be eased in to action. While the Detroit Lions might not want to pair him against the best wideouts of the NFC North just yet, Gilbert certainly has that type of potential.

He is a great coverage guy that has the instincts to deflect passes and step in front of routes to intercept passes. With no shortage of speed to burn, Gilbert could also be used in the return game.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

With nobody slotted next to Jason McCourty in the secondary, the Tennessee Titans are in need of a quality corner to step in right away. Darqueze Dennard is their man.

Once thought to be the No. 1 overall corner in the draft, Dennard has slid in recent mocks. That being said, he's still a great coverage guy and plays physically near the line of scrimmage. He'll be a quality corner in the NFL.

 

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

The New York Giants' free-agency overhaul appears to be nearly complete, but the interior of the defensive line has gone largely untouched. General manager Jerry Reese can improve that area in the draft by taking Aaron Donald.

With several holes still to be filled, it would be understandable for Reese to look at a tight end, linebacker or offensive lineman at No. 12. However, the talent of Donald is simply too good to pass up here.

 

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

The Rams could use a little more physicality on defense—especially in the secondary. While Ha Ha Clinton-Dix isn't the hardest-hitting safety in this class, the Alabama product can lay crippling hits because of his closing speed on ball-carriers.

He plays the ball well in the air and has very good instincts. He'll be an immediate starter for the Rams if this is the pick that is made at No. 13.

 

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

Timmy Jernigan is both absurdly quick and strong, and there were multiple times this past season that he was the best defensive player on the field for Florida State.

He takes plays off from time to time—which obviously isn't ideal—but Phil Emery and the Bears coaching staff will make sure he's in the right mindset every time he steps on the field. Jernigan has a load of potential, and he might prove to be a steal at No. 14 a few years down the line.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled against the run and shown inconsistencies in their pass defense over the last several seasons, so bringing in someone who can command double-teams and make plays because of his strength is ideal.

Notre Dame's Louis Nix III is a big body (6'2", 331 lbs) that can bring some toughness back to the Steelers front line.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

Alex Gallardo

DeMarcus Ware is no longer in the fold, but the Dallas Cowboys have an opportunity to bring in somebody with a similar style of play at No. 16.

Anthony Barr is versatile enough to play outside linebacker and defensive end, plus he has the speed to get off the edge and around offensive linemen. It will take some time for Barr to adjust to the NFL, but he's a safe pick for the Cowboys here.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Every quarterback loves a tight end that can make plays. Eric Ebron is this class' top tight end because of his ability to stretch defenses and make tough catches in traffic.

Flacco excels when he has a reliable third-down option, and Ebron can be that guy. Ebron will also give Flacco a reliable short option on passing downs because of Steve Smith's ability to stretch defenses.

 

18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Michael Conroy

Eric Decker is not enough to change the offense of the New York Jets, but bringing in Odell Beckham Jr. alongside him would make a noticeable difference. Geno Smith needs quality targets, and a duo of Decker and Beckham would be a nice start.

The Jets should also pick up a tight end in the later rounds who can split snaps with Jeff Cumberland, but there's no tight end worth taking here—unless general manager John Idzik wants to trade up.

 

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

Multiple holes exist on the offensive line of the Miami Dolphins, and drafting the class' most versatile lineman who can play almost anywhere from Day 1 would be a huge move. Zack Martin can play anywhere on the line but center, making him an ideal fit.

Martin will help provide stability to a line that surrendered far too many sacks last season. Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes of potential, but he can't win games from his backside.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Kony Ealy is a monster off the edge with speed and power to burn. The Arizona Cardinals boast a physical front unit, and Ealy would only help to make that unit even more intimidating.

He has the potential to be a defensive anchor in the future, both as a pass-rusher and a run-stopper. His ability to get off the edge is impressive, but he also has the technique and awareness to get inside of linemen as well.

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois

While most analysts are focusing on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward has quietly moved up draft boards. The Green Bay Packers are in need of a playmaking safety, and Ward fits the bill.

Ward is best known for his skills in coverage. He can line up with other receivers and also provide help in the secondary when corners lose a step on their assignments. Ward can also play the run, and this versatility will make him an asset in Green Bay.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

The Philadelphia Eagles will hope that the Bradley Roby of 2012 is the one they get at No. 22—not the Roby of 2013.

Despite numbers that weren't all that impressive this year, Roby showed off his great footwork, speed and strength this past season at Ohio State. The Eagles' secondary needs some help, and Roby is both an immediate and long-term solution.

 

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

Quarterback Alex Smith needs another weapon to play alongside Dwayne Bowe. Jamaal Charles is capable of gaining yards both on the ground and in the air, but his potential to rip off big runs will grow even more if the Kansas City Chiefs take Marqise Lee at No. 23.

He can stretch defenses like few others in this class. With the secondary paying mind to Lee, Charles only needs to break past the first line of the defense before he hits the open field. Lee would also see plenty of targets in a Chiefs offense that lacked secondary targets last season.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Cincinnati Bengals boast a strong defense that is nearly Super Bowl-caliber. The only real hole is alongside Leon Hall in the secondary. A group of older veterans and under-performers currently occupy the role, but Jason Verrett would bump them all to the sidelines.

He can play up near the line of scrimmage, but he excels in coverage. The Bengals aren't far away from a potential run at the Super Bowl, and fixing a small hole on the defense is a good first step.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Michael Conroy

Without a legitimate lockdown corner, it's hard for a defense to control the tempo of a game. The San Diego Chargers have potential on defense, but they lack said corner. Kyle Fuller can come in and be that guy right out of training camp.

Fuller had a nice career at Virginia Tech and is at the tail end of the top tier of corners in this class. He could feasibly become the top overall corner in this class when we look back five years from now, though. If that ends up being the case, then the Chargers will have received a major steal at No. 25.

 

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

Here's that quarterback the Browns so desperately need.

Derek Carr threw 50 touchdowns last season at Fresno State and has a big-time arm. That arm will be showcased often on an offense with weapons like Cameron, Gordon and, potentially, Watkins. His footwork when pressured needs some work, but that's nothing some NFL coaching can't fix.

 

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

Rob Ryan's defense was very good last season, but there's room for improvement on the defensive line. If Dee Ford comes in and plays to his potential immediately, then this Saints defense will be great.

Ford offers a unique blend of size (6'2", 252 lbs), speed and power that makes him a terror coming off the edge. He has a motor that doesn't stop once he enters the backfield, and quarterbacks won't love taking hits from him. This is a great pick at No. 27 for the Saints.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Unfortunately for the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton can't run the ball every time or throw it to himself. 

With no quality receiving options on the roster, the Panthers must take a wideout or two in the draft. The 27th pick will offer them the chance at taking Brandin Cooks, a player NFL.com's Gil Brandt has compared to Wes Welker:

If Newton gets a target anything like Welker at No. 27, then he'll be very pleased.

 

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

Jace Amaro has the potential to be one of the NFL's next great tight ends, and there's no better home for him than New England. Tom Brady loves tight ends and knows how to utilize them in his offense.

Rob Gronkowski is the clear starter at tight end, but the Patriots run multiple two-tight-end sets. Also, Gronk's propensity for getting injured will give Amaro many opportunities to succeed.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State

Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are quality wideouts, but they don't compliment the arm of Colin Kaepernick. That being the case, the San Francisco 49ers would be wise to grab a deep threat at some point in the draft. 

The No. 30 pick will give them the chance to grab Davante Adams from Fresno State, and that's a chance they should capitalize on. He might be a bit buried on the depth chart at first, but Boldin is getting older and Crabtree isn't always on the field, and Adams will make his presence felt when given the opportunity.

 

31. Denver Broncos: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Middle linebacker is one of Denver's lone areas of need. C.J. Mosley has fallen out of favor because of injury concerns, but he's a top talent and is by far the best inside linebacker in the class.

Denver can plug him into the defense immediately, where he'll be able to learn from guys like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. It's a great situation for Mosley.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The defending champion Seattle Seahawks need to fix their issues at wide receiver. Percy Harvin is a huge injury risk and both Golden Tate and Sidney Rice are gone.

With Kelvin Benjamin available at No. 32, Russell Wilson will be happy to know that he has a wide receiver that will grow with him for the next decade. Benjamin is a big (6'5", 240 lbs), versatile receiver that can make plays all over the field.

 

All height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com/draft/2014.

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