2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections for Every First-Round Pick

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVApril 10, 2014

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel passes the ball during a drill at pro day for NFL football representatives in College Station, Texas, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider

It's officially crunch time for the 2014 NFL draft.

With less than a month to go until the May 8-10 draft, teams are running out of time to analyze the top prospects in the class and organize their big boards. After months and months of tireless film-viewing, pro days, workouts and interviews, general managers and coaches will attempt to put all of that into seven rounds of selections.

The NFL draft is certainly a marathon, but it all starts with the first 32 picks that set the stage for the draft's final two days.

Let's break out a fresh first-round mock draft. 


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

Michael Conroy

The Texans need a quarterback first and foremost, and nobody knows that better than new head coach and offensive guru Bill O'Brien. But Houston won't be passing on a player who is the best athlete in this class by a mile.

Jadeveon Clowney is a physical freak at 6'6" and 275 pounds, and in the right system he can develop into one of the league's most feared pass-rushers in no time. Playing opposite J.J. Watt might not hurt, either.

O'Brien will be able to find his quarterback somewhere else, but Houston will never be able to have another crack at Clowney, and they will sorely miss out if they pass out on the South Carolina product.


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

Along with a myriad of other problems, St. Louis enters 2014 needing some new pieces up front for the distant future. In picking Greg Robinson, the Rams could get themselves a dominating presence with the athleticism at the tackle spot to be featured in multiple ways. 


3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Jaguars' last top-10 quarterback selection—Blaine Gabbert—flamed out and was traded to San Francisco in March. This time around, with the No. 3 pick and a chance at any of the top quarterbacks, they won't swing and miss like they did with the Gabbert blunder. 

Teddy Bridgewater looked like the consensus top quarterback in this class after the 2013 season, but oh how things change when the actual games stop and scouts, analysts and experts scour over private workouts and numbers. However, if the game tape is any indication, the Louisville gunslinger has a pro-level arm with great mechanics and peak leadership qualities. 


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

Patric Schneider

There are teams that need quarterbacks, then there's the Cleveland Browns. Looking to catch lightning in a bottle, they won't be able to pass up on a Heisman Trophy winner and a player with a name as big as Johnny Manziel.

It looked like Cleveland wasn't fond of Manziel early on as it skipped his pro day, but that mood quickly changed with this tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen: 

If Johnny Football is there, Cleveland won't be able to avoid the prospect of making him the Browns' new franchise player. 


5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Chalk up the Raiders among early-pick teams looking for a quarterback, but the need isn't quite pressing enough for them to pass on a player of Khalil Mack's caliber. This Buffalo star has Pro Bowler written all over him, and it won't take long before he is leading Oakland—and maybe the NFL—in tackles. 


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

No team had less going on up front than Atlanta in 2013. It finished with 77.9 yards per game on the ground, good for dead last in the league. To help start the healing process, the Falcons will pick up a gem in Jake Matthews—a Texas A&M tackle who could have very well gone No. 1 overall last year and only progressed in 2013. 


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

Tampa Bay has Vincent Jackson, but not much else going on at the wide receiver spot after losing Mike Williams and Tiquan Underwood in free agency. Adding Sammy Watkins will stop the bleeding quickly, as the Clemson star is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball and has the skill set to play anywhere. 


8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Mike Zimmer needs his franchise quarterback in his first season as Vikings coach, and he will settle for Blake Bortles. The UCF product isn't Manziel or Bridgewater, but possesses something they don't—a quintessential, 6'5", 230-pound frame that is ideal for playing quarterback in the NFL. 


9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Michael Conroy

The Bills have made strides in many areas over the past few years, but the offensive line isn't one of them. To help in that regard, they will add Taylor Lewan—an offensive tackle from Michigan who has been topping draft boards for years. 


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

Detroit's problems ended on offense with its late-season collapse, but it started with the defensive side of the ball as they ranked 23rd in pass defense. With Justin Gilbert entering the fold, the Lions will receive a cornerback who can step in right away and become a perennial starter. 


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

After losing Alterraun Verner to Tampa Bay in free agency, the Titans need more depth at cornerback and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard could fit right in. Other than having an awesome name, Dennard plays with aggression and a physical style that would go along with Tennessee's hard-hitting defense.  


12. New York Giants: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

After losing Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, New York's pass rush is in peril. The Giants do have a budding star Jason Pierre-Paul, but putting Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy alongside him would take him to the next level. 


13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The Rams may address their need at wide receiver with the No. 2 overall pick, but should they go with the offensive line there, expect them to take the next-best wideout at No. 13. They get relatively good value in that regard, as Mike Evans from Texas A&M is still on the board. His unique size and skill set makes him a deep-ball threat immediately upon entering the league.


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

Phil Sears

Games are won and lost in the trenches, and the Bears haven't won as many games as they would like to in recent seasons—thus why they missed the playoffs. Drafting Timmy Jernigan of Florida State would give Chicago a stallion in the interior to plug the line and open up blitzing lanes for linebackers. 


15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Ever since James Harrison left, the Steelers have lacked having a daunting presence at the linebacker spot who can also rush the passer. Anthony Barr would be an ideal replacement, as a few years of development for the UCLA star should turn him into an elite pass-rusher. 


16. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Dallas sorely needs help on the defensive line, and that will spur the Cowboys to go with Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald with the No. 16 pick. At 6'0" and 284 pounds, Donald isn't massive, but he uses his strength and mobility to make an impact in the trenches.


17. Baltimore Ravens: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

A lack of playmaking wideouts was a huge difference between the 2012 Super Bowl champion Ravens and 2013 version that missed the playoffs. Baltimore still hasn't done much to fix that, so it will look to BCS hero and physical freak Kelvin Benjamin to fill that void. Benjamin has the size to be a daunting outside weapon, and also possesses the speed and pass-catching skills to make opponents pay in the middle of the field. 


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

It's no secret that the Jets need able bodies to throw to, even after signing Eric Decker over the offseason. With a formidable tight end in Eric Ebron, Geno Smith will have an added security blanket as well as a dynamic pass-catcher. 


19. Miami Dolphins: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

August 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers offensive linesman Antonio Richardson (74) celebrates in the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Georgia Dome. Tennessee beat NC State 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-

The Dolphins need new offensive linemen like nobody's business. That will have them reaching to grab Tennessee's Antonio Richardson. He's not a consensus first-rounder, but Richardson is a massive tackle prospect who has all the makings of a perennial NFL anchor.  


20. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Pryor, CB, Louisville

The Cardinals could add some depth to their secondary for what looks to be a promising 2014 run, and Calvin Pryor would be a good fit. His size and physical ability leads one to believe that he could play right away, and at the very least, he can ride the pine while learning behind Patrick Peterson.  


21. Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

When NFL quarterbacks wanted to put up big numbers in 2013, they would call the Packers. To change that Green Bay will focus on the secondary in the draft and that starts with selecting one of the best safeties available. 


22. Philadelphia Eagles: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

After losing Desean Jackson to the rival Redskins, Chip Kelly needs more playmaking options on the perimeter. Marqise Lee has proven to be one of college football's best wideouts over recent seasons and can line up anywhere on the field—making him a great fit in Kelly's elusive offensive scheme. 


23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Alex Smith had virtually nobody to throw to in 2013, and that won't change with one draft pick. But the Chiefs will at least address their glaring need of pass-catchers by grabbing Jace Amaro—an athletic tight end who has all of the tools to develop into the athletic specimen you need at tight end in today's NFL.  


24. Cincinnati Bengals: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

The Bengals had one of the NFL's better defenses in 2013, but even the good ones need help. Adding Dee Ford would be a solid move, as it allows Cincinnati to put more formidable bodies in the trenches and add a dangerous pass-rusher.


25. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Nov 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish nose tackle Louis Nix (1) walks to the sideline in the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Pitt won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego's offense carried the Chargers to the playoffs in 2013. It had little to do with the defense, which ranked 29th in pass defense and couldn't get to the quarterback at all. Louis Nix III specializes in plugging up the trenches and making things easier for his teammates to reach the passer.  


26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

Although they have Josh Gordon, the Browns still need more wideouts to help whichever quarterback takes the reins next. Jordan Matthews could be one of those guys. The Vanderbilt star finished as one of the best wideouts in SEC history and did so on a mediocre Commodore team. 


27. New Orleans Saints: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Rob Ryan brought his unique defensive mentality into New Orleans, and in 2013 it payed immediate dividends. But in order to continue the growth, Ryan could use a signal-caller and a captain on the defense; C.J. Mosley has experience being that type of player, and could develop into a leader with the Saints. 


28. Carolina Panthers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

The Panthers desperately need receivers, and will turn to the draft in order to fill that void. At No. 28, they should be able to get Odell Beckham Jr.—an LSU standout who looks to be an immediate impact in the league. 


29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Vince Wilfork may be returning to New England, but the writing is on the wall that the Patriots will need more defensive linemen soon. Ra'Shede Hageman would be a solid prospect to add to the fold, as the Patriots can develop the Minnesota product over time as Wilfork finishes out his career. 


30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Nov 23, 2013; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Brandin Cooks (7) scores a touchdown against the Washington Huskies in the second half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers have remained as one of the NFL's best teams in spite of a weak receiving corps, which will be boosted incredibly by Brandin Cooks' arrival. The Oregon State wideout is one of the fastest players in the draft and is a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball.  


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

Denver's defense lost Wesley Woodyard over the offseason and will look to fill that spot by grabbing Ryan Shazier. The Ohio State product can develop under Von Miller and Danny Trevathan and eventually become a starter alongside them. 


32. Seattle Seahawks: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

The Seahawks, like most teams at the bottom of the first round, don't need much help. But they won't argue with adding another formidable lineman. Cyrus Kouandjio brings a winning Alabama culture into the locker room. 


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