NFL Mock Draft 2014: Where Each Team Will Go with 1st-Round Pick

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Where Each Team Will Go with 1st-Round Pick
Patric Schneider

Get ready for the return of the NFL to Radio City Music Hall.

On May 8, the nation's top prospects will hear their names called, signaling the final part of their journeys on the long road to the NFL.

When their names are called, however, is a different story.

The draft is a fluid process, and team strategies change frequently—prospect selection order and trades can severely alter a team's big board, changing the draft's ultimate outcome.

For the sake of this mock draft, we'll go ahead and assume that trades won't be taking place and predict how the entire first round could potentially shake out when draft day rolls around.

 

1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

After losing their final 14 games of the 2013 season, the Texans find themselves with the No. 1 pick. That's not all bad, as the team still has a solid core of players and needs very few pieces to get back into the mix. Bortles showed significant improvement during his stellar pro day, and he has all the intangibles to find success in the NFL. Houston has no chance of passing on him here.

 

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

Who do the Rams go with here?

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How could the Rams pass up on Jadeveon Clowney? It's simple really. Rodger Saffold has a bit of an injury history, and Jake Long is coming off an ACL tear. Robinson is the best offensive lineman in this year's draft. He provides long-term stability, reliability and depth for a budding offense.

 

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

The Jaguars get a steal here. Clowney may turn out to be one of the best defensive end prospects in recent memory. His size and athleticism make him an absolute freak of nature (in a football sense). This team needs a quarterback but can grab a nice prospect in Round 2. Passing on Clowney here would be foolish.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The fact that the Browns weren't at Manziel's near-flawless pro day doesn't matter one bit. The team will bring him in for an individual session and get all of the information it needs then. Johnny Football has shown a mature attitude and refined skill set since last season ended. He looks every bit the part of a franchise quarterback, and that franchise will be Cleveland.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Oakland may not be looking for a quarterback this early; however, with Bridgewater still on the board, those plans change. A highly intelligent and decisive quarterback, he has the experience to lead the team immediately. Matt Schaub has just taken on a backup role.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Atlanta struggled to bring down opposing quarterbacks in a big way last season. That's a huge problem when you're in the same division as Drew Brees and Cam Newton. Mack is a versatile pass-rusher who can play with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 scheme or as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

The Buccaneers just got better. After trading Mike Williams, the team needs a complement for Vincent Jackson. It just so happens that Tampa gets the best wideout in this draft class. The electrifying Watkins will form a formidable duo with Jackson, leaving plenty of secondaries in the dust.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Mike Zimmer loves defensive playmakers. He gets a great one here in Barr. Great instincts, quickness off the snap and impressive speed are what make him such a force. Suddenly, the loss of Jared Allen doesn't seem so bad.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

The Bills need playmakersEJ Manuel's development hinges on it. A big, quarterback-friendly tight end would go a long way for this team. Luckily, Ebron is still available at No. 9 overall. Capable of stretching the seam and being a valuable target in the red zone, he will be welcomed with open arms on Buffalo's offense.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

We all know that the NFC North is a pass-happy division. When a team within that division has lackluster safety play, it generally winds up getting torched quite frequently. That was the case for the 2013 Lions. Adding Clinton-Dix, a physical safety who has the speed to play center field, ensures that 2014 does not become the sequel.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Tennessee has a couple of promising young receivers in Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter; however, both are still unproven. Evans looks every bit the part of an elite NFL receiver. If one of the two aforementioned players doesn't work out, he would be great insurance. If they both do, this would become one great wide receiver corps.

 

12. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

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The Giants need help across the board on the offensive side of the ball. It all starts up front in the trenches. Protecting Eli Manning is a huge priority, and Matthews could be the safest bet in this year's draft. His solid fundamentals and reliability could make him a 12-year starter in the league.

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Beckham has been soaring up draft boards due to his extensive experience, blazing speed and reliable hands. He is a home run threat on the outside and will provide a perfect complement to Rams slot receiver Tavon Austin.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

To shore up its defense, Chicago needs two things: pass-rushers and gap-stuffers. The team landed two great edge-rushers in free agency in Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. Now it's time to get that stout interior presence. Donald has great athleticism for his size, which allows him to plug holes and knife his way through the line to wreak havoc in the backfield. He'll pair nicely with Allen and Houston.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Pittsburgh needs an injection of youth in its secondary. Not only do the Steelers get younger by signing Dennard, but they immediately get better. He is physical on the outside and can jam and reroute receivers effectively. He brings plenty of athleticism and will improve Pittsburgh's entire secondary.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

If the Cowboys are going to contend in the NFC East this season, shoring up the defense's back end is necessary. After Dallas gave up a plethora of passing yards in 2013, selecting Pryor makes plenty of sense. He can contribute by playing center field, covering in the slot and protecting against the run.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Terrell Suggs isn't going to be around forever, and this pick gives the Ravens a good chance to groom his heir apparent. Ealy is a pass-rushing specialist who can play as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. If the Ravens intend to keep their solid pass rush intact, Ealy is their guy.

 

18. New York Jets: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

If the Jets are to stop the likes of Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill this season, an additional cornerback is a necessity. Gilbert has a great skill set. With enough speed to hang with faster receivers and good ball skills, he'll start right away and become the team's top option at the position.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Tannehill took a giant leap forward last season. If he is to continue that trend, the Dolphins must surround him with a stout offensive line. Lewan may be the draft's most athletic tackle, and he's a mauler in the trenches as well. He's just the guy that Miami wants watching its quarterback's back.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

What do the Cardinals need in a quarterback? A strong arm for their vertical passing game, experience and a high ceiling. Carr has all of these attributes. Carson Palmer is still a viable starter, and Carr would do well to learn under him for a season before taking the reins.

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

The Packers could go a couple of different ways here, but the absence of Jermichael Finley was very apparent last season, and the team will want to address that need immediately. Amaro is familiar with the spread offense and should be able to contribute as a rookie. Surrounding Aaron Rodgers with additional weapons is never a bad idea.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

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The Eagles' wide receiver situation is murky right now. Jeremy Maclin continues to fight with injuries, Riley Cooper is a No. 2 at best, and options are limited thereafter. Cooks has the dynamic playmaking ability that is needed on this high-octane offense. He'll allow Philadelphia to continue lighting up scoreboards.

 

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

Kansas City needs another weapon for quarterback Alex Smith, and the team gets it here by selecting Lee. Requiring plenty of attention on the field, he'll pair nicely with Dwayne Bowe by sharing the pressure. Lee's speed allows him to create yards after the catch, which is a necessary attribute in this offense.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

With Terence Newman and Adam Jones now in their 30s and Dre Kirkpatrick still unproven, adding another cornerback is essential for the Bengals. Verrett's shiftiness and speed make him a candidate to play outside or in the slot. He adds great versatility to an already stout defense.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers offense came alive last season under head coach Mike McCoy. If the team is to continue that trend in 2014, protecting Philip Rivers is a must. Martin can play tackle and both guard spots. His versatility and experience will allow him to make an impact right away.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Browns' biggest need after quarterback?

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A position of need that is severely overlooked for the Browns is cornerback. The team hasn't had a viable complement to Joe Haden, and that must change. Roby showed flashes of brilliance while at Ohio State and should be capable of contributing sooner rather than later.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Marques Colston may not be around much longer, and the Saints are severely lacking in the wide receiver department right now. Benjamin is a big, chain-moving receiver who will give Drew Brees an additional weapon and become the heir apparent for the aging Colston.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Carolina can use a boost on its defensive line. The team could use an additional pass-rusher and some help on the interior next to Star Lotulelei. Hageman is a versatile and athletic defensive tackle. He can play on the interior or as a defensive end. Carolina gets a big boost here.

 

29. New England Patriots: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Brandon Spikes is gone, and the Patriots could use some depth in their linebacker corps. Mosley is a natural leader and has the athletic ability to play various positions along the defensive front. Bill Belichick loves having chess pieces like that, and he won't hesitate to grab one in Mosley.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

San Francisco has one of the most ferocious front sevens in the NFL. To keep it that way, adding some more youth and depth is a must. Nix is a true 3-4 nose tackle and will give the 49ers a great rotation up front.

 

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

Denver has some nice edge-rushers on the outside; however, the team needs some more sure-tackling linebackers. Shazier will bring a high level of physicality to this defense and will flourish into an on-field leader just as he did at Ohio State.

 

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

Seattle doesn't have many pressing needs; however, the team's biggest is probably at the guard position. Luckily for the Seahawks, the draft's best guard falls to them at No. 32 overall. Su'a-Filo has extensive starting experience and will provide an immediate upgrade.

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