2014 NFL Mock Draft: What Each 1st-Round Team Will Do

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: What Each 1st-Round Team Will Do
Michael Conroy

In the typical mock draft, uncertainty over picks tends to grow as the round progresses. This year, the uncertainty starts at the top. 

There is no consensus No. 1 pick in this draft. There appears to be decent agreement about which players will be taken in the top five, but the order in which they will go is another story. 

Here is how I see the madness playing out. 

 

1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida 

There are two popular predictions for this pick. One is quarterback Blake Bortles. The other is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

The Texans need a quarterback, but Clowney is the kind of freakish talent who warrants consideration for the top spot. He is not, however, a good fit for the Texans. 

To be clear, Clowney has the athleticism to make an impact in any system, but he is best suited to play an end in a 4-3, as he did at South Carolina. 

The Texans run a 3-4 and have one of the best 3-4 ends in history with J.J. Watt. With Clowney and Watt on the roster, the Texans would have to miscast one of them. It would be downright stupid to spend the No. 1 overall pick on a player and then not put him in the best position to succeed. 

So, mock Bortles and his solid skill set and great size to the Texans. 

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

The Rams have less of a need for Clowney than the Texans do. They already have Robert Quinn and Chris Long expertly handling the edge of the defensive line.

Still, Clowney would be an upgrade over Long, and the Rams could always look to ship Long for draft picks.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Jaguars have to take a long look at quarterbacks with this selection, but, in the end, they won't find one that makes passing on Greg Robinson worth it.

Robinson has an amazing blend of size, explosion and power. Former NFL player Ryan Riddle puts it into perspective better than I ever could: 

The Jaguars will make the smart decision and take Robinson. 

 

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

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One of the more interesting aspects of the upcoming draft is the question of Johnny Manziel's draft value. Manziel was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman, and he's put up astounding numbers in the best conference in college football.

Manziel is also small and not that developed in going through his progressions.

In the end, his arm talent and playmaking ability won't leave him on the board past the fourth pick and the quarterback-needy Browns. 

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

If Manziel somehow falls to the Raiders, I expect him to be the pick. In this scenario, however, Sammy Watkins is the man. 

Watkins is explosive and has great ball skills. He has all the tools to be a legit No. 1 receiver in the NFL. The Raiders have a solid, young receiving corps but could use a pass-catcher with the elite ability of Watkins. 

 

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

Khalil Mack may not last this long, and there is no way he lasts longer.

Mack has great combination of size and explosiveness. He has the tools to be an excellent, well-rounded linebacker, but he gets most of his value as a pass-rusher.

With the Falcons appearing to be transitioning to a 3-4, as Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports reports, Mack is exactly what they need to complete that transition.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M 

Tampa Bay could use a receiver more than an offensive tackle, but it won't find a better talent in this scenario than Jake Matthews. 

Matthews will be a quality pass-blocker right off the bat, and he has the potential to be an elite offensive tackle in the NFL for a long time. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 

Once widely projected as the No. 1 pick, Teddy Bridgewater has seen his draft stock take a hit. The following tweets from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller help explain some of the negative perception regarding Bridgewater:

I get the point the scout is trying to make, but did he not watch all of Any Given Sunday? In just one season, Willie Beamen went from an overwhelmed rookie to an uncoachable egomaniac to a humbled and potent team leader. Sign me up for that. 

At any rate, whatever concerns Bridgewater carries, the Vikings will take the risk and try to land their quarterback of the future. 

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

Anthony Barr has the physical tools to be a top-five selection, but the converted running back is raw. He will need good coaching and experience. 

Still, he is a risk worth taking at No. 9, and his speed on the edge is exactly what the improving Bills defense needs. 

 

10. Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

If this pick becomes a reality, we will have our clubhouse leader for Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

C.J. Mosley is a skilled and athletic linebacker. Behind the Lions' stout defensive line, he wouldn't get much attention from blockers and would be free to make plays all over the field. 

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan 

The Tennessee Titans wisely added right tackle Michael Oher in free agency, but Oher is coming off a suspect season. The Titans needed all the help they can get on the edge of the offensive line. 

The selection of Taylor Lewan would help solidify the group. He could push Michael Roos, who is on the last year of his contract, for playing time at left tackle. The loser of that battle could help ensure the Titans received quality play on the right side. 

 

12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina 

Eric Ebron is so talented that he is almost guaranteed to go in the first round, despite the following stat pointed out by NBCSports.com's Josh Norris:

Despite his issues with drops, Ebron is the smart pick for the Giants. He has the explosiveness to stretch the field. He will require extra attention from safeties, and that will help open things up on the outside for the Giants' vertical offense. 

 

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

Mike Evans is tall and athletic and has great hands. These qualities will allow him to be a factor in the NFL for a long time. They also make him an excellent fit for the Rams. 

His ability to make big grabs in the red zone and on third down will pair well with the explosiveness of Tavon Austin

 

14. Chicago Bears: Timmy JerniganDT, Florida State

The Chicago Bears need help all over their defense. Finding a rock for the middle of the defensive line is a good place to start. 

Jernigan is not the most explosive player, but he is strong and determined. He will be a consistent presence who will help solidify the defensive line. 

 

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

Darqueze Dennard is not the most athletic corner, but he is physical and effective. Check out this stat from Packer Report: 

Dennard is a perfect fit for the Steelers, and he will step in just in time to take the torch from Ike Taylor, who will be 34 at the start of the next season. 

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

The Cowboys have plenty of needs on defense. They will likely consider a defensive tackle here but will opt to wait to fill that position. 

Free safety is another big hole, and Calvin Pryor is an excellent prospect. After Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, there is a big drop-off at the position. That adds incentive to grab Pryor with this pick. 

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

The Baltimore Ravens must bring in an infusion of young talent on the offensive line in this draft. Zack Martin may not make it at tackle in the NFL, but he projects to be a fantastic guard. 

 

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

Despite signing wide receiver Eric Decker this offseason, the Jets are still desperate for playmakers

Odell Beckham Jr. is not the most complete receiver available at this point in the draft, but the speedster is a definite deep threat. This will help the Jets open up the field and spread out opposing defenses. 

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Cyrus Kouandjio is a mauler. I'm not sure he will be able to stick at left tackle, but he is a strong candidate for right tackle or guard.

The Dolphins have to reshape their offensive line, and Kouandjio is a solid option. 

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Cardinals could use another body along their defensive line. Aaron Donald is a great fit. Donald seems to be getting the most hype as a tackle in a 4-3, but he also has the potential to be an end in a 3-4. 

Donald doesn't have ideal length for the position at 6'1", but he will make up for it with his awesome explosion and leverage. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Coming off a down year and knee surgery, Louis Nix III hasn't generated a ton of buzz. Still, his value is undeniable. 

His size and strength make him the best fit for nose tackle in this class. The Packers must get more fierce at the point of attack, and Nix will help them do that. 

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still on the board at this pick, this will be an easy selection for the Eagles. Philadelphia came in last in the NFL in passing yards last season.

Clinton-Dix's speed and instincts will help the Eagles limit big plays in the passing game. 

 

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

After Jamaal Charles led the Chiefs in rushing yards and receiving yards last season, Kansas City will be on the hunt for a receiver.

They do have Dwayne Bowe on one side, but the Chiefs need his counterpart. Marqise Lee is not a true speed burner, but he has good athleticism and amazing ball skills. That will allow him to stretch the field, which will allow the Chiefs to open up their offense. 

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Justin Gilbert is a tremendous athlete, and he has the potential to be a shutdown corner.

The Bengals received quality play at corner last season, but starter Terence Newman was a huge part of that, and he is 35. Some new depth at the position will be welcomed. 

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

There is a deep group of corners in this class, which will lead to some corner-needy teams waiting to address the position. The Chargers do not have that luxury. They were terrible in pass defense last season. 

Kyle Fuller is a strong selection. He is a natural cover corner and will instantly help San Diego's defense. 

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

As you may have noticed, I have the Browns going all-in on offense in this first round. With their first pick, I have them grabbing Manziel

With this pick, I have the Browns making sure Manziel has plenty of weapons. The Browns already have Josh Gordon and the recently signed Nate Burleson at wide receiver. 

Kelvin Benjamin would help complete that receiving corps. Benjamin is a lengthy receiver at 6'5", and he has great hands. 

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan ShazierOLB, Ohio State

Look out for the Saints. The additions of safety Jairus Byrd and veteran Champ Bailey will help solidify a defense that made big strides last year.

Still, this defense needs an increased physical presence in the front seven. Ryan Shazier is a good athlete and is physical in the run game. He is a good value here and a smart selection. 

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The Panthers must increase the legitimacy of their passing game. With this pick, their best path is through small receiver Brandin Cooks.

Cooks is looking up at 6' and isn't 200 pounds, but he is a threat all over the field. Cooks is explosive and strong. He is actually a lot like former receiver Steve Smith.

 

29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Let's go with back-to-back picks of players who are vertically challenged. Jason Verrett is just 5'9", but he is a natural cover corner.

It remains to be seen if his lack of size will keep him from being effective on the outside, but he has the skills to be great guarding the slot.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Allen Robinson is not going to come into the NFL and be a big-play machine. He will be a reliable weapon, however. Robinson runs good routes and has solid size at 6'2" and 220 pounds.

This will help the 49ers offense find consistency by spreading out the defense and giving quarterback Colin Kaepernick another weapon. 

 

31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Kony Ealy has the strength and burst to get to the quarterback in the NFL. I'm not sure he will ever be able to do much else, but there is plenty of value in a pass-rusher. 

His natural ability will make him a threat right off that bat, and that is exactly what the Broncos need. 

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Ra'Shede HagemanDT/DE, Minnesota

The Seahawks need to add some muscle to their defensive line to ensure they don't get too weak against the run. Ra'Shede Hageman will certainly bring that.

Hageman checks in at over 300 pounds and has good athleticism for his size. 

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