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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Likeliest Moves for Each Team in First Round

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Likeliest Moves for Each Team in First Round
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While there are no certainties during the NFL draft, there are some very likely landing spots for a number of prospects who will be waiting to hear their names called on May 8.

The first round of the NFL draft is where teams will try to find players that can come in and have an immediate impact on the team. While that doesn't always work out, a fair amount of players wind up becoming reliable starters or even Pro Bowlers at their respective positions. 

Teams will be either drafting for key needs or picking the top prospect on their respective boards, so let's take a look at the most likely picks each team will make in the first round.

 

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

There are two directions the Houston Texans can go with the No. 1 overall pick. They can either draft one of the talented young quarterbacks, or they can bring in Jadeveon Clowney, the dominant defensive end out of South Carolina. At this point, both scenarios seems almost equally likely, but the Texans would be smart to draft Clowney and look for a quarterback with their second-round pick.

The combination of size, speed and strength that Clowney brings is extremely rare to see at defensive end. He's an athletic monster who can rush the passer as well as stop the run. With him and J.J. Watt on the defensive line, opposing offenses will have a hard time planning around both of them.

 

2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

If the St. Louis Rams don't trade the No. 2 overall pick, which they very well might, they will most likely try to find another offensive tackle to help protect Sam Bradford as he attempts to return from a torn ACL.

After declaring for the draft, Auburn's Greg Robinson has continued to climb up draft boards, and he's now arguably the top prospect at offensive tackle. He was a top-tier run-blocker for the Tigers last season, and he should be able to play on either side of the line, which is good news in the event that Jake Long isn't ready to play Week 1.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

It's going to be very hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to not take a quarterback in the first round. The team hasn't had a legitimate starter for a while now, and it's time that they find a player under center that can try to make them a competitive team once again.

Based off of what he did this past season at Central Florida, Blake Bortles looks ready to become the face of an NFL franchise. Along with his athleticism, Bortles has excellent pocket awareness and the ability to read the field better than most young quarterbacks. The Jaguars will need to continue to bring in talent around him, but Bortles appears to already have the intangibles teams want in their starting QB.

 

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

Once again, the Cleveland Browns will be looking for a long-term answer at quarterback after releasing both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell this offseason. Cleveland quarterbacks almost seem to be cursed, but the Browns are hoping that they can finally find the one this year.

While some may believe it's a risky pick, few should be surprised if the Browns decide to take a chance on Johnny Manziel. While some seem to knock Manziel as being a run-first quarterback, he's actually improved quite considerably as a passer since winning the Heisman trophy, doing a better job going through his progressions and making more impressive throws.

No one knows for sure what Manziel will do at the next level, but the upside is there, and the Browns may be willing to take a chance on him.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

After adding Matt Schaub, the Oakland Raiders probably won't be looking for a quarterback in the first round. Instead, they'll probably be looking to add another weapon to go along with James Jones and Denarius Moore to give Schaub some reliable targets to throw to.

Sammy Watkins looks like he has all of the tools to be a No. 1 receiver. He's the ultimate vertical threat given his acceleration and quick footwork at the line of scrimmage to burn by defenders. With the ball in his hands, Watkins can make big plays, and that's what Oakland's offense needs.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

If Khalil Mack falls to the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth pick, they'll probably be sending in their pick in a few seconds. The Falcons were able to add some solid players on defense, but they still need an edge rusher that can get to the quarterback with ease.

Coming out of Buffalo, Mack is that and more. While he does a good job rushing the passer, Mack is also a threat against the run and when he drops back in coverage. With his athleticism, Mack is a rare talent at outside linebacker who could fit Atlanta's scheme perfectly.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

It's hard to guess where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go with their first-round pick, but now that Mike Williams has been traded to the Buffalo Bills, the team may want to find another wide receiver (h/t James Walker of ESPN.com).

At 6'5'' and 231 pounds, Mike Evans does a great job using his size to his advantage. He has excellent body control and can make tough catches, and playing alongside Vincent Jackson would give Tampa Bay one of the more intimidating duos at receiver in the league.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Timothy D. Easley

The Minnesota Vikings have some talented players on offense like Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson, but they lack a legitimate starting quarterback to take pressure off of their running game. That should change after the NFL draft, as the Vikings will most likely be taking a QB early.

A rough pro day might have hurt Teddy Bridgewater's draft stock, but that doesn't mean he's a bad prospect. Looking back at his game film, Bridgewater showed the arm talent and ability to escape the pocket when needed to make him a successful quarterback in the NFL.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Coming off of a rookie season where EJ Manuel failed to stay healthy, the Buffalo Bills need to find another offensive tackle to go along with Cordy Glenn to ensure that their starting quarterback can stay upright while also helping in the run game.

Playing at both right and left tackle in college, Jake Matthews looks like the best fit here. He has long arms and a strong upper body to stay engaged with opponents, opening up running lanes or protecting the passer. Overall, Matthews might be one of the safest picks in this year's draft, and he could make a big difference offensively for the Bills.

 

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

When you play in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, you're going to need as much help in the secondary as you can get. The Detroit Lions gave up 246.9 passing yards per game last season, and they'll need to get that number down a bit if they want to win their first division title since 1993.

The Lions could either take a cornerback or safety here, and Justin Gilbert is the best option at either of the positions with this pick. Gilbert has excellent ball skills and had no problem proving that after picking up seven interceptions last season, thanks to his athleticism and quick feet.

With his aggressiveness, Gilbert has the potential to be one of the most productive defensive backs in the league in the near future.

 

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

With Alterraun Verner gone, the Tennessee Titans need to find another cornerback to play opposite of Jason McCourty. Fortunately for them, there will be plenty of defensive backs to choose from.

After Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard might be the best cornerback in this draft. Along with an aggressive mentality, Dennard has fluid hips and great awareness to keep from being burned against even the most deceptive receivers. Although he likely won't be as good as Verner coming into the league, Dennard could continue to improve into a consistent starter in Tennessee.

 

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

Losing Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph has created some pretty big holes on the defensive line for the New York Giants this offseason. Fortunately, this team has been very busy adding players at other positions in free agency, and they could find at least one replacement early in the draft.

Aaron Donald isn't a big prospect at defensive tackle, but his ability to rush the passer in the middle of the defensive line is impressive enough for him to be worth a first-round pick. The Giants struggled to get to the passer last year, but adding Donald as a three-technique defensive tackle should help them out.

 

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

The St. Louis Rams have a strong front seven on defense with players like Robert Quinn and Chris Long, but their secondary could use some work right now. 

Replacing Rodney McLeod with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would be a good start toward fixing the secondary, and according to Daniel Jeremiah from NFL Network, it seems unlikely that the Rams pass up on the former Alabama free safety.

With his range and instincts, Clinton-Dix is this draft's best safety, and the Rams won't have to think too long with their second pick if he's still on the board.

 

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

After giving up 161.4 rushing yards per game last year, it's no secret that the Chicago Bears need help on defense, especially now that Henry Melton is gone.  In order for the team's run defense to improve, the Bears need to find someone on the inside of the defensive line.

With the No. 14 pick, the best option for the Bears is Florida State's Timmy Jernigan. While still developing, Jernigan could take over games last season with the Seminoles by plugging up rushing lanes and eating up running backs in the backfield. If he can do the same thing in the NFL, the Bears will be thrilled with this selection.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

It was a disappointing season for the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, and while they have needs in a few areas, adding help as well as youth in the secondary will go a long way.

Kyle Fuller isn't as big as Dennard or Gilbert, but he has the right mentality to play corner. His ability to anticipate throws and break up passes, as well as the ability to blitz when needed, could make him a valuable asset. While Fuller may not be ready to start on the outside right out of college, he should be able to play in nickel and dime packages as he continues to develop.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

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The Dallas Cowboys need to find players to replace DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher on the defensive line. Adding Henry Melton helped a bit, but they need to find someone that can rush the passer on the outside.

If the Cowboys want to find someone with a ton of upside, Kony Ealy is their guy. While he might need to bulk up a little more, Ealy's athleticism is hard to ignore. He bursts off the snap with ease and is capable of getting by offensive linemen with a number of moves. He'll need to work on staying down low, but Ealy has the potential to rack up plenty of sacks in his NFL career.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville

Now that the Baltimore Ravens have added Steve Smith, it doesn't look like they need to worry about adding a wide receiver with their first-round pick. Instead, they should focus on adding another safety to play alongside Matt Elam in the defensive backfield. 

The first thing people notice when watching Calvin Pryor is his ability to deliver huge hits. Pryor isn't afraid to lay people out, but his ranginess and instincts help him a ton in pass coverage, and the duo of him and Elam at safety for Baltimore could be a big help.

 

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

If Geno Smith is going to have any chance of being the long-term option at quarterback for the New York Jets, he's going to at least need some reliable players to throw to. Adding Eric Decker will help a bit, but the team could still use another playmaker.

There are few receivers in this draft class as deadly in the open field as Odell Beckham Jr. coming out of LSU. With explosiveness off of the snap and quick feet, Beckham can make sharp cuts and create tons of separation, giving the Jets something they didn't have in 2013.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Without Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphins seriously struggled protecting Ryan Tannehill last season. Adding Branden Albert will help, but the Dolphins still need plenty of talent in front of their signal-caller.

Taylor Lewan is a monster on the offensive line at 6'7'' and 309 pounds, but he also has the quick feet and balance to keep in front of athletic pass rushers. He'll need to work on his technique, but having Albert and Lewan on the offensive line would help turn things around in a hurry for Miami.

 

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

Right now, the Arizona Cardinals should be pretty happy with their roster, as they don't have many glaring needs. If the team is thinking long-term with their first pick, the Cardinals should consider drafting an eventual replacement to Carson Palmer who, at 34 years old, won't be playing much longer.

While Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater get most of the attention, Derek Carr might have the strongest arm in this draft class. He can make throws to almost anywhere on the field, he just needs to work on reading defenses and making adjustments. Spending a couple of seasons behind a player like Palmer will help a lot with that, and it would be interesting to see what Carr could do down the road.

 

21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

General manager Ted Thompson has been known to find plenty of value in the draft, almost always sticking to the board rather than taking players based on positional needs. Thompson will likely do much of the same this year and take a player like Alabama's C.J. Mosley to help out the middle of the defense.

Mosley's instincts stand out above all else, as he's able to find the ball carrier with ease to make big plays. Combine that with his impressive athleticism and you have an inside linebacker who's ready to play at the next level.

 

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

With DeSean Jackson gone, the Philadelphia Eagles need a new threat at wide receiver to help stretch the field with their speed. Fortunately for Chip Kelly and the rest of the team, there's a player that can do exactly that still on the board.

Brandin Cooks is almost always the fastest player on the field, exploding off of the snap. He can reach top-end speed with ease and make sharp cuts with his excellent footwork. At 5'10'' and 189 pounds, Cooks would make a nice fit in the slot, but given his set of skills, he could probably still effectively play on the outside as well.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Alex Smith had a solid first season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he needs someone else to throw to that isn't coming out of the backfield. While they could look for a receiver with this pick, they could also try to pick up a pass-catching tight end like Eric Ebron to create serious mismatches.

During his time at North Carolina, Ebron showed off an impressive catching radius, using his size to his advantage. Along with being 6'4'' and 250 pounds, Ebron is also fast enough to make big plays down the middle of the field, giving the Chiefs another weapon to help their passing game.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

As Adam Jones and Terrence Newman begin to reach the end of their careers, the Cincinnati Bengals need to consider bringing in another cornerback to make sure they don't miss a step defending the pass down the road.

Jason Verrett is only 5'9'', but he's probably one of the most impressive corners to watch when the ball is in the air. Verrett's awareness and reaction time to make plays on the ball should help him be an immediate contributor in the league.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

A late-season surge helped the San Diego Chargers get into the playoffs, but they're going to need a better performance from their defense if they want to make it to the postseason again in 2014. Adding some help in the secondary could make that happen.

The Chargers won't find a better option at cornerback available than Bradley Roby with this pick. Roby is probably the fastest cornerback in this class, and he likely won't have a problem keeping up with NFL receivers. He can make the instant transition as a nickel corner, but the upside is still there for him to possibly become a long-term option in San Diego.

 

26. Cleveland Browns: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

If the Browns take a quarterback like Manziel with their first pick, adding another weapon for him to throw to will make their offense much more interesting to watch in 2014.

The next best option on the board is Marqise Lee. While injuries slowed him down this past season, Lee is a terrific route-runner with the burst and solid hands to play on the outside. With Lee, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, whoever plays quarterback in 2014 for Cleveland likely won't be able to blame his weapons.

 

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

Rob Ryan did a fantastic job turning the defense for the New Orleans Saints around last season. They were able to add Jairus Byrd in free agency, but now the Saints need an edge rusher before they can become a truly elite defense.

A strong Senior Bowl performance helped launch Dee Ford into the first-round discussion, and for good reason. He's quick off the line and is able to get low to get around the corner on his way to opposing quarterbacks. Ford is the ultimate speed rusher that the Saints could use right now, and he'd fit well in their scheme.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

It came as a surprise to many that the 33-year-old Jordan Gross retired after 11 seasons in the NFL, and now it leaves a huge hole for the Carolina Panthers to try and fill. 

Zack Martin lacks the ideal measurables that most NFL scouts want to see for offensive tackles, but he makes up for it by showing a lot of toughness and great technique. If he does end up struggling at offensive tackle, the Panthers could move him to offensive guard, where he could end up being an even more valuable asset.

 

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

Predicting what Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will do in the draft is one of the hardest things to do every single year, as they've gone all kinds of directions with their picks in the past. 

One pick that would make sense is for the Patriots to bring in tight end Jace Amaro. The offense struggled last year without their duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Amaro is a terrific tight end in the passing game; he could fill in while Gronk gets healthy and then make a solid No. 2 tight end once he comes back.

 

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

The San Francisco 49ers need another wide receiver to go along with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton. There are a few other needs as well, but taking one of the many talented receivers in this class is probably the best move they could make.

During his time at Fresno State, Davante Adams proved to be an ideal possession receiver for Carr to throw to. He has nice length and soft hands to make difficult catches that most receivers struggle with. His athleticism and vertical leaping ability will help Adams pick up his fair share of touchdowns in the red zone as well.

 

31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

As Peyton Manning approaches the end of his career, the Denver Broncos have gone all-in for another Super Bowl run, adding key pieces on both sides of the ball. They don't have a ton of needs, but the Broncos could consider adding an offensive guard to help bolster their offensive line.

Xavier Su'a-Filo has played both offensive tackle and guard while at UCLA, but he projects best on the inside. He has terrific upper-body strength and quickness off the snap to latch onto defenders and open up running lanes or keep them from getting to the quarterback.

 

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

Bob Leverone

Even if Percy Harvin is healthy for the 2014 season, the Seattle Seahawks are going to need another option to throw to after Golden Tate left to go play for the Detroit Lions. 

Kelvin Benjamin is a completely different receiver than Russell Wilson is used to throwing to with the Seahawks. Benjamin is a huge target at 6'5'' and 240 pounds, and he could make plenty of plays in the middle of the field or in the red zone to help the Seahawks add another dimension to their offense.

 

 

 

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