Sometimes, it's easy to predict what the team holding the No. 1 pick will do with the first selection. That's not the case in the 2014 NFL draft. Everyone's guessing. There's a chance even the Houston Texans brass hasn't quite decided.
That said, there is reason to believe the Texans will not look to draft their franchise quarterback with the top pick. The team hasn't had much success with signal-callers it has taken early in the draft. Remember David Carr?
There's tons of pressure on rookie quarterbacks to succeed. Perhaps new head coach Bill O'Brien doesn't feel that there is a player talented and mature enough to handle the position and the pressure.
It gets even easier to wait until the second round for a quarterback when there's a player like Jadeveon Clowney available.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If a team is concerned about the value of the quarterbacks in the draft at the No. 1 spot, the next best option is to draft a guy whose specialty is making the opposing quarterback's life miserable.
Clowney is the premier pass-rusher in the draft. Along with J.J. Watt, the Texans could have two of the most dynamic pass-rushers in the NFL.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Tavon Austin is an awesome playmaker and option out of the slot, but the Rams still need a legitimate No. 1 receiver. The team recently signed veteran free agent Kenny Britt. But because he's endured some injuries over the last two years, St. Louis shouldn't feel as though it's set at wideout.
Watkins is head and shoulders above the other receivers in the draft. The Rams would be wise to take him with the second pick.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Lousiville
Despite the fact that Bridgewater didn't have the greatest pro day, scouts know and trust what they saw from him on Saturdays in college.
Pat Donovan of The Benchwarmers podcast chimes in:
Watching some Teddy Bridgewater video while taking in the #Rays game. It's gonna take more than a poor pro-day to un-sell me on this kid.— Pat Donovan (@PatDonovan620) April 5, 2014
Many still believe Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the draft. Count the Jags among the group. They will snatch up Teddy B as their next franchise quarterback.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Whether it's his undeniable talent, commercial appeal or a combination of both, Manziel is the ideal pick for the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns offense needs a spark plug and an exciting presence. Manziel in a Browns uniform would immediately make the team a must-see to fans outside of Cleveland on most weeks.
Aside from that, Manziel's combination of athleticism, toughness and competitiveness makes him look like a future star.
5. Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
It's very possible Bortles could go No. 1 to the Texans, but the Raiders are a more likely destination. Hungry for a quarterback who can push the team to the next level and back to prominence, Oakland would be wise to target Bortles here.
Aside from carrying a frame that is ideal for the position (6'5" 232 pounds), Bortles has been mentored by NFL quarterbacks to prepare him for the pros.
NFL.com's Mike Huguenin writes: "Bortles has worked extensively with NFL backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, and presumably Bortles has worked with [Ben] Roethlisberger on some of the same things, including recognizing coverages, getting into the right protections and just basically learning how to be an NFL quarterback."
He should be as prepared as any rookie once it's go time.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
The Falcons desperately need a pass-rusher. With Clowney likely going off the board at No. 1, Mack is not a bad consolation prize.
He's explosive and dangerous off the edge. He would instantly improve Atlanta's pass rush.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
At one point, it didn't look as if Robinson would be around for the Bucs to draft. But in this scenario, the big man from Auburn is still available and capable of protecting Josh McCown.
Robinson reminds me a bit of the Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Peters because of his excellent athleticism. Tampa Bay could find itself a 10-year starter with this pick.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With Jared Allen gone, the Vikings need an impact pass-rusher who can make plays off the edge. Barr is that kind of player. Capable of playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3, he is the type of defensive prospect who could blossom into a game-changer.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Buffalo has to get EJ Manuel some help.
The assistance has to come in the form of weapons or improved play on the offensive line. We're going with the latter in this mock.
The Bills could opt for Texas A&M's Mike Evans here, but his teammate Matthews is a better value at No. 9. Matthews brings the potential to be on or above Robinson's level as a pass-blocking left tackle.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Lions have two dominant defensive tackles that anchor their defense in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but the team must improve its secondary to get the defense up to elite status.
Gilbert has shutdown corner competitiveness, speed (4.37 40-time) and size (6'0", 205 pounds).
This tweet accurately depicts the swagger he carries on the field:
You need that type of confidence at the cornerback position.
11. Tennessee Titans: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
As a team in need of a leader, the Titans would be wise to draft Mosley. He has led a top-notch collegiate defense over the last two seasons. He possesses the type of instincts you can't teach, and he's been a tackling machine on the collegiate level.
Mosley is the type of defensive player a team can build around.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Ebron has the potential to become an elite pass-catching tight end. That's something the Giants haven't had in years.
Eli Manning could find more consistency with a new security blanket to throw to over the middle.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Clinton-Dix is the best safety in the draft this year. Because this is a position of need for the Rams, it only makes sense the team would take the Alabama standout with this pick.
And because there are other teams with a similar need waiting to pick, the Rams could be breaking hearts with this selection—or be open to making a deal to stockpile more picks.
14. Chicago Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Bears are one of those teams with a real need at safety. Assuming the Rams stick with the script and take Clinton-Dix, it would leave the Bears to look to shore up another hole on their defense.
Chicago had the worst run defense in the NFL last season. The team has already made moves to improve this standing for next season, but taking a beastly tackle like Jernigan would be another huge step toward getting stronger against the run.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame
Pittsburgh was ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing in 2013. The team needs to get back to its physical, run-focused style to return to its days as an AFC power.
A versatile, young offensive lineman like Martin would provide the Steelers with a cornerstone for a unit in need of improvement.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
With a defense as bad as Dallas' was last season, the team can pretty much take the best defensive player available here. Without question, that would be Aaron Donald.
He reminds me of the Cincinnati Bengals' Geno Atkins because of his low center of gravity and motor. He could instantly help the Cowboys defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Joe Flacco and Co. desperately missed Anquan Boldin in 2013. The offense hasn't been the same since he left. Torrey Smith is a burner, but he's most effective when there's another formidable possession-style receiver on the other side of the field.
Evans is a big, physical wideout who can make the tough catches and be a weapon in the red zone.
18. New York Jets: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Geno Smith and/or Mike Vick need more weapons, but the team also needs a cornerback. Without Darrelle Revis, the Jets weren't ever able to play as aggressively without being burned in the passing game.
Dennard is a hard-nosed, physical and competitive young corner. He could help to bring the team back to where it was when head coach Rex Ryan could blitz freely in lieu of Revis' lockdown coverage.
19. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
It's quite simple. Ryan Tannehill was sacked 48 times in 2013. If the Dolphins want to keep him healthy, they had better draft and shore up the offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Although the defense was stout most of the season, the Cardinals still have a need for a top-notch safety. Picking at No. 20, it's unlikely they will find a better value than the hard-hitting Pryor.
As long as he can curtail his on-field aggressiveness to stay off Roger Goodell's radar, he'll be a fine pro.
21. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
With safety as its biggest need, Green Bay will be sad to see both Clinton-Dix and Pryor off the board. The Packers could reach for a prospect like Northern Illinois' Jimmy Allen, but that would be foolish.
Instead, the Pack can take a pass-catching tight end like Amaro, who also fills a need. The team can get more value for a safety later in the draft.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
In order for the Eagles' fast-paced offense to lead the team to a Super Bowl, things on the other side of the ball must improve.
While Philly showed flashes of improvement down the stretch, overall, the defense was a weak link. When an entire defensive unit can stand to be upgraded, the interior line is always a good place to start. Nix III is the type of run-stopping presence who could potentially make all those around him better.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Finding receivers who make plays after the catch is huge for the Chiefs. As long as Alex Smith is quarterback and Andy Reid is the head coach, the team will employ a short- to medium-range passing game.
In that type of offense, dynamic receivers like Cooks can shine.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Because the Bengals lost Michael Johnson in free agency to the Bucs, the team has some need for depth at defensive end. Ealy is an ultra talented pass-rusher who could be boom or bust.
At No. 24, he's worth the risk.
25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
With the 29th-rated pass defense in the NFL, the Chargers would be wise to address their beleaguered secondary.
Roby is an excellent athlete who can play physical in run support, and he's an above-average cover man. That would make him an upgrade over almost every defensive back the Bolts played in 2013.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis Colts): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson is a freakish athlete that not enough people are talking about. At his pro day, he was said to have run the 40-yard dash in as fast as 4.42. He also reportedly recorded a 42-inch vertical leap, per Audrey Snyder of Penn Live.
The guy is a physical specimen who was hugely productive in college. For the last two seasons, Robinson had over 1,000 yards receiving.
Manziel might have a very nice WR tandem in Robinson and Josh Gordon if these scenarios play out.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman is reminiscent of Marcus Stroud. At 6'6", 310 pounds, the former Golden Gopher is massive.
He has immense strength and good quickness off the ball. He'd be an excellent fit for the Saints' 3-4 look.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It's going to be hard to win a Super Bowl with arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Taking Lee or the best available receiver here is a necessity for Carolina. As of right now, the team's receivers are a non-distinguished bunch.
Lee's speed would give Cam Newton a capable and dangerous downfield threat.
29. New England Patriots: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Texas Tech
With all the uncertainty surrounding the tight end position in New England, the team has to look to add a capable pass catcher here.
ASJ has the size, hands and speed to fit in nicely in the pantheon of prolific players at the position in recent Pats history.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Boldin is getting up there in age. Colin Kaepernick needs a burner who can stretch the field to add more depth to the receiving corps.
Beckham Jr. is the kind of athlete the Niners offense has been missing in recent seasons.
31. Denver Broncos: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Denver has targeted a ton of big names in free agency. It's only right the team look at a grunt in the trenches in the first round of the draft.
Su'a-Filo is a monster on the inside. He'd help to provide inside running lanes for Denver's backs and assist in stopping inside pressure in Peyton Manning's face.
The Broncos could have used him in the Super Bowl.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Seattle
Can the Super Bowl champions depend on Percy Harvin to stay healthy? Probably not. Adding depth at receiver makes a lot of sense for Seattle.
Considering Golden Tate left in free agency, Seattle has room on its depth chart. Benjamin's size (6'5" and 240 pounds) makes him an instant target in the red zone and a matchup nightmare for most defensive backs.