NFL Mock Draft 2014: Latest Projections for Every NFL Franchise

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Latest Projections for Every NFL Franchise
Sue Ogrocki

As pro days bleed into spring games for collegiate teams, each team's stars of the past will instead hear their names called at the 2014 NFL draft.

That's about the extent of what fans know at this point.

It's smokescreen season, as prospects are picked apart and teams do whatever it takes to place themselves in the best possible position. Here's an updated look at who each team should select in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

 

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

It's fun to hate on Teddy Bridgewater, but thus is the life of the best quarterback in the class.

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport helps to illustrate, teams are supposedly all over the place about the Louisville product:

One team that must be the highest on Bridgewater? Houston, a team that needs a new franchise quarterback as soon as possible. Bill O'Brien and Co. would get that and more with Bridgewater thanks to his pro-ready game.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Jeff Fisher and the Rams are a bit of a wild card considering they have two picks in the first round, but the theme early on has to be selecting players who can help continue the progression of Sam Bradford under center. 

To that end, it only makes sense for the team to grab the draft's top receiver. Sammy Watkins is an elite talent who can score from any place on the field. 

In tandem with the likes of Jared Cook, excuses will run for Bradford thin in St. Louis. 

 

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

It's easy to think Jadeveon Clowney will come off the board higher, but Jacksonville actually makes the most sense for him.

It's hard to find a better fit for Clowney, who will play his natural position with the Jaguars and help to alter both the attitude and play of the unit dramatically.

While Jacksonville could use a quarterback, the best possible value given the circumstances is Clowney at No. 3 and a signal-caller in the second round, if they so desire.

 

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

ESPN's Todd McShay hit the nail on the head in regards to Johnny Manziel:

Cleveland, a team that has suffered through decades of a quarterback curse, should be more than willing to take the gamble. Manziel is a risk thanks to his oft-questionable decisions, but his improvisational skills are second to none. 

Surrounded by quality weapons, the gamble might just pay off. The bonus: Cleveland has another pick at the end of the first round.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

Oakland can't afford to take a risk on a quarterback after acquiring Matt Schaub. The league's worst roster is just that, so passing on a talent like Greg Robinson is inadvisable.

Robinson is a tad raw, but he can start right away and provide a boost for the Raiders. In time, he has the ceiling and overall talent to become one of the league's best offensive linemen. That's a big deal for a team that is sure to take a franchise quarterback within the next few years.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

There's a thought that Khalil Mack has what it takes to come off the board even higher, per Fox Sports' Peter Schrager:

That speaks more to Mack's outstanding talent more than anything.

Mack would fit right in with the Atlanta Falcons, a team desperately in need of a hybrid rusher for its hybrid defense. He'll wreak havoc right away.

 

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

Whether it's Mike Glennon or Josh McCown under center, Tampa Bay has to get some better weapons on the offensive side of things.

Glennon is a work in progress, and McCown succeeded last year because he was surrounded by elite weapons and backed by offensive guru Marc Trestman in Chicago.

Lovie Smith can get the ball rolling in this regard with the selection of Mike Evans, a massive receiver (6'5", 231 lbs) who can catch the ball at its highest point.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Minnesota is in an enviable position because it can take a top quarterback in the first round and sit him for a few years if necessary.

Unlike Oakland, the talent in Minnesota can survive this sort of maneuver. Blake Bortles' ceiling is extremely high, so a year spent learning behind Matt Cassel before eventually playing with the likes of Adrian Peterson would suit both he and the Vikings quite well.

 

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

The Buffalo Bills and Eric Ebron have already been linked via a visit, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun:

It's in the best interests of the franchise to give EJ Manuel more weapons, so Ebron is an obvious choice in an iffy position.

The board is strange here for Buffalo, a team with few needs. But if the team grabs the top player at a position of need and improves, what more could fans ask for?

 

10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Like quarterback and wideout, corner is an impossible position to figure out in this class, as a few names could come off the board first.

That said, the safest bet remains on Darqueze Dennard. He's a big (5'11", 199 lbs), physical corner who has a game that translates well to the pros.

Detroit can't ask for much more in the first round at a bad value spot based on needs. Dennard is a nice compromise.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Any time a team can grab a player who compares well to Geno Atkins, the powers in charge will surely jump at the opportunity if the value is right.

That value is here for Tennessee, a team with a few glaring needs but in need of as much help as possible on defense, as the unit is scheduled to undergo a scheme change this season.

Aaron Donald can play well in all facets of the game, but most importantly he provides flexibility thanks to his versatility.

 

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

The rave reviews continue to pile in for Jake Matthews:

Matthews is more than worthy, but his overall stock is diluted by strong depth in the class. His free fall ends thanks to New York, a team that has to do better around Eli Manning in order to help reduce the costly mistakes that killed the team a season ago.

 

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

St. Louis would have taken Matthews if he fell one more spot, but the value simply isn't available at tackle now.

Instead, Fisher can turn his attention to the defensive side of the ball. He'll find Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a player who could fill a glaring need in what is overall a very sound unit. 

Clinton-Dix will be far from perfect as a rookie, but he'll also provide a big upgrade next to T.J. McDonald in what may eventually turn out to be a great pair of safeties once they fully mature.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Chicago can't be too happy that Donald came off the board three picks earlier. As a result, the Bears should take a risk with Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman.

Hageman is a good value at No. 14, but the problem is his film. He simply disappears for drives at a time, but he peppers in major game-changing plays to make up for a lack of consistency.

In Chicago, next to Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen, Hageman will be very productive as a rookie and quiet any doubters.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

This is how wild the cornerback position is in the 2014 class, as illustrated by CBS Sports' Dane Brugler:

Pittsburgh will see the value in taking Gilbert this high. He's going to struggle, like any rookie corner will, but he's insulated from failure thanks to a strong veteran cast that can both soak up playing time and mentor him.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

According to ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins, the Cowboys may want to move up and take a defender:

Multiple sources have said the Cowboys aren't trying to move up from No. 16 to No. 2. However, the sources did say the Cowboys would be willing to make a move up if it were able to obtain an elite player who can fill an immediate hole.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, though. Dallas can stay where it's at and grab a stellar all-around end like Kony Ealy and keep all of the resources it would have sacrificed in a trade. That's the type of smart move that has been missing in Dallas for quite some time.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Tayor Lewan is worth a high pick, but some teams will have reservations, as Brugler points out:

Baltimore won't be one of those teams. The Ravens need a starting tackle and boast a stable crop of veterans who can help ease Lewan's transition.

In time, Lewan will be looked back upon as one of the biggest steals of the 2014 draft.

 

18. New York Jets: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

It's inadvisable for the New York Jets to go anything but offense in the first round with the future of Geno Smith up in the air, but a talent like Kyle Fuller is hard to ignore.

Fuller is a surefire starter right away and can play any corner spot. Also, he not only shows physically against the run, but he holds up well in coverage, too.

For a team that has lost Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in recent years, Fuller would be a welcome sight in a shaky secondary.

 

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

Perhaps the most obvious pick of the round, the Miami Dolphins don't have any wiggle room if quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to stay healthy next season.

Luckily for Tannehill, the Dolphins will grab Zack Martin, who can play at any spot on the line. This insulates the unit from bad play or injury, as Martin can move around and still give the Dolphins the best lineup possible in the trenches.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

The Arizona Cardinals have a couple of needs, but the one at the top of the list has to be grabbing another offensive tackle to pair with Jared Veldheer.

This is too obvious, as Cyrus Kouandjio is a mauling right tackle who has a rather simple transition to the pros in store. He's a force in the running game and holds up well enough as a pass protector, so he'll start right away and eliminate any questions on the right side of the line in the desert.

 

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

The Green Bay Packers are in an enviable position, as they do not have many major needs at a decent spot in the first round.

Thanks to the nature of the league itself, which doesn't place a huge premium on traditional run-stuffing linebackers, Green Bay gets a luxury here and nabs the best inside linebacker in the draft with C.J. Mosley.

Mosley is a beast on the inside and just what the defense in Green Bay needs. His stats will be eye-popping by the time his rookie campaign concludes.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Wideout is apparently a need in Philadelphia now, but it's going to be hard for Chip Kelly and the front office to pass on a safety like Calvin Pryor.

Pryor is rangy and just what the Eagles need next to Malcolm Jenkins. The only real concern is his health, as Pryor's big hits may be a serious issue at the next level when everyone is as big and physical as he is.

 

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

Andy Reid needs another reliable wideout to place in his offense so that Alex Smith can continue to be efficient.

Marqise Lee is the right answer at this juncture, as he has a similar skill set to that of Watkins. He's got reliable hands and a game that will carry over well as a rookie, which is important for a team that looks to be in win-now mode.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

It's easy to knock Jason Verrett for his size (5'9", 189 lbs), but as McShay points out, it matters little:

Verrett fits right in with the Cincinnati Bengals, as he can play limited snaps and learn from veterans like Leon Hall. He would easily be a starter on most teams, but he will get the added benefit of limited play as a rookie in Cincinnati.

 

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

Thanks to his perceived lack of scheme versatility, Louis Nix takes a tumble to No. 25.

The San Diego Chargers could not be happier to nab the No. 1 nose tackle the class has to offer. Nix will be a force on the interior of any line, no matter the level, and the resulting impact of his arrival will be apparent right away.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

There are whispers that Odell Beckham Jr. could wind up much, much higher come draft day, per Mike Huguenin of NFL.com.

But when one takes into account the overall depth of the class, it's a tough sell. There's no doubt Beckham Jr. has a legit chance to be a star at the next level, which is what makes him so intriguing across from Josh Gordon in Cleveland.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

The New Orleans Saints need more pass-rushers to take Rob Ryan's defense to the next level, so it makes sense that the team would grab an elite athlete like Anthony Barr to fill the role.

Barr is one-dimensional, but his ability to get to the quarterback should translate to the pros well enough.

This is especially the case in New Orleans, where he'll be put in the best possible position to succeed on each down.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State 

Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle puts it best in regards to Allen Robinson:

Robinson falls a bit in this mock because of the overall depth, which gives Carolina a major steal. Robinson could easily become a No. 1 in tandem with Cam Newton, although he is stuck in what may turn out to be a run-first offense.

 

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

New England needs more productivity at tight end after Rob Gronkowski, not to mention injury insurance if he Gronk goes down again.

Jace Amaro is a receiver who can line up at any position on the field and be productive. This is especially the case in New England with Tom Brady.

 

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

Brandin Cooks certainly doesn't lack in the confidence department:

Cooks has the look of an elite slot receiver who can also line up at other spots if necessary. 

While he'll be perhaps the third option or worse in the passing offense in San Francisco, he'll still make enough big plays to justify his selection in the first round.

 

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

Denver is in a position of luxury near the end of the first round, as the team continues to ride high in win-now mode.

Ryan Shazier is a suitable pick, as he'll start right away on the inside and also hold up well in pass coverage. He's an instant upgrade in every facet imaginable.

 

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

The Seattle Seahawks can get a bit risky at the end of the round.

Kelvin Benjamin (6'5", 240 lbs) is the pick as the coaching staff looks to add more large targets around Russell Wilson. He's a great red-zone threat and can beat most smaller defensive backs deep, so he would provide a niche element in the Seattle offense that it has missed over the years.

 

Note: All free-agency signing info courtesy of ESPN. All height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com.

 

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