2014 NFL Draft: Final 2-Round Mock Draft Update
Months of work and preparation have come down to this. The 2014 NFL draft is almost upon us. Every NFL franchise goes into the draft with the hope that its picks are going to be the ones to turn the team around.
Unfortunately, that isn’t how it always works. Teams dedicate tremendous resources into finding the best players, and somehow every year some players fail to live up to their billing. The onus cannot fall solely on the teams, as some prospects simply can’t make the transition.
However, there are instances where teams make picks that make fans and media scratch their heads. But it is important to keep in mind that no matter what, a mock draft is more art than science. Even the most prepared team or analyst can’t account for every variable that could impact a prospect's career.
With the draft right around the corner, it is time for one final update. This time we go with a two-round incarnation and no trades. Obviously, with any mock draft, trades are the great equalizer. They are all but impossible to predict and can sway the flow of a draft in a huge way. This time we are going straight chalk with the picks.
Another important note about these picks: This mock draft is intended to be a prediction. I could do a mock draft, “if I were the general manager” style, but when you figure in personal bias toward players, it can create an unusual outcome.
Nope, this is a projection only. So sit back and enjoy mocking this final mock.
1. Houston Texans
The Pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
This really could happen. The Houston Texans seem to be on the verge of drafting South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
He is a fascinating prospect who has a ceiling as high as any defensive player in recent memory. He is a terror coming off the edge and in college forced teams to commit multiple players to attempt to stop him.
There is sound logic to this pick. Everything you can do to disrupt the opposing quarterback is a good thing. And a tandem of defensive end J.J. Watt and Clowney would give the Texans a formidable duo.
The pick also doesn’t preclude the Texans from drafting a quarterback later. This group has more questions than answers at this point, so Houston could be looking to that second tier of quarterbacks for its future signal-caller.
2. St. Louis Rams
The Pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
With Clowney off the board, the St. Louis Rams have some decisions to make. If they aren’t satisfied with the development of quarterback Sam Bradford, they could target a quarterback here. Or, if the offensive woes are more wide receiver-related, that could be the pick.
However, in the final analysis, the Rams will likely keep things simple and draft Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. Much of the league seems to be enamored with his athleticism, so he is likely the first tackle off the board.
He would fill a need for the Rams, and if he lives up to his billing, he will help Bradford and the offense.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The first quarterback comes off the board with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it is not who you might think. Rather than Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, the Jaguars opt for the splash pick of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. The differences between these players and their games have become tedious.
The bottom line on any of these quarterbacks is style. There is no guarantee any of these guys will be great in the NFL, so it is up to the team to find the package of skills that it likes most and hope they can flourish in its system.
The advantage for Manziel to the Jaguars is that he will bring excitement. This team could do with some flash and big plays, and he promises both. This is still far from an ideal pick, but one I could certainly see happen.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Could the second quarterback come off the board here? No, not so fast. The Cleveland Browns could stand to add a quarterback, but with two first-round picks, there is no panic here. Cleveland has put together a very sound defense, which means the focus can turn to ramping up the offense.
Josh Gordon has developed into one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. The rest of the depth chart is less exciting, so adding Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the mix makes a ton of sense.
Gordon and Watkins would be the most dynamic tandem of wide receivers in the AFC North from the jump and give whomever is playing quarterback a couple of exceptional targets.
5. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
It is hard to forecast what a franchise like the Oakland Raiders will ever do in the draft. Their motto seems to be “expect the unexpected," and they always seem to deliver on that. This year, however, Oakland is going to be staring down too much talent to mess this up. Right?
If Oakland is smart, it will run to the podium and draft Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack as quickly as possible. He is a whirling dervish of intensity and aggression. If he were a zombie, he’d be 28 Days Later and not The Walking Dead.
For all the talk about the attention that Clowney draws from opposing offenses, Mack draws just as much. The fact that Mack can play standing up as a pure 4-3 outside linebacker makes him even more valuable to the Raiders.
6. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
One team that does look poised to at least try and trade up in the first round is the Atlanta Falcons. However, should they fail to make a move, they can always sit tight and see who falls to them. For this scenario, Atlanta would be more than pleased if Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews lands in its lap.
He is a fantastic all-around tackle with a tremendous pedigree and gobs of experience. He is adept in both run blocking and pass blocking, and for a team with so much talent already, getting a player who can come in and contribute right away would be a plus.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed any extra motivation to draft a wide receiver, trading away Mike Williams was it. New head coach Lovie Smith needs to give this team some momentum going into training camp, and adding an offensive playmaker would qualify.
Texas A&M Mike Evans casts an imposing shadow on opposing defenses. With his 6’5” frame, he can overpower smaller defenders. And with some sneaky speed, he will run right past you if you try to play his strength game too much.
8. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
After a bit of a respite, the next quarterback comes off the board to the Minnesota Vikings, who can’t be too confident with Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel as the potential starters. Not to mention this team has some serious talent at the skill positions. Why squander that with poor quarterback play?
How much you like UCF’s Blake Bortles depends on where you see him in two years. He is a little rough around the edges, but his physical gifts are impressive. If you think he can smooth up those edges in a season or two, you draft him and never look back. However, if you aren’t sure if he has capped his talent, this might be a little bit early.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The Buffalo Bills could go in some many directions with this pick. This is a good sign, because while the team can add talent at multiple positions, there are no glaring needs. With that in mind, the Bills can strictly go with the best player available at this point.
And the best available player in this mock draft is UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. Think about it for a minute: Barr opposite Kiko Alonso would be a scary duo. The best thing about Barr is he is so new to the position that he is basically a blank slate. The Bills would be able to groom his athleticism into whatever type of player they want, even a pass-rush specialist if need be.
10. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
It is difficult to think about any team with Calvin Johnson as needing a wide receiver. Nevertheless, the Detroit Lions have failed to find Johnson a proper complement at the position. Until they find a proper partner for him in the passing game, this offense will forever be limited in what it can do.
This is where LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. comes in. He is a hot name right now, mainly because his mix of speed and elusiveness is among the top of this class. He has exceptional hands and can make what appears to be an errant throw into a spectacular play. His style of play would work well with the route tree that Johnson runs.
11. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Tennessee Titans have many needs but only one first-round pick to try to fill them. That’s why they are a prime candidate to trade back and stockpile extra selections in this draft. With a couple of top quarterbacks on the board, Tennessee should be able to find a trading partner, if it chooses not to take a signal-caller.
However, assuming the Titans stand pat, they could do much worse than cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Oklahoma State product is talented and shows more upside than any other cornerback in this draft. Even if the Titans make a move back, he would still be their target to replace Alterraun Verner.
12. New York Giants
The Pick: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The New York Giants can go in several directions with this pick, but bolstering the play of the linebackers is a priority that is up near the top of the list. If so, then Alabama’s C.J. Mosley would be tough to pass up. He is one of the most experienced and productive defensive players in the draft.
His experience means that he should be able to line up at either outside position and be effective. He could easily play inside if needed. If Mosley weren’t the pick here, defensive tackle Aaron Donald or safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would also make sense.
13. St. Louis Rams
The Pick: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
After passing on a quarterback earlier in the round, the Rams draft one here. If it works out that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater slips, it would be tough to see the Rams let him get away. With the collective bargaining agreement structured as it is, if your team needs a quarterback, why not draft one?
The financial risk isn’t what it was when the Rams took Sam Bradford, so there is little risk, but potential for huge reward is high with Bridgewater.
He really is the most talented quarterback in this draft. His ability to digest what the defense is going to do and go through his progressions is rare. He never looks under duress, even when under pressure, and he is always looking to make a play down the field.
14. Chicago Bears
The Pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
One area of need for the Chicago Bears is defensive tackle. They have plenty of talent at end but could use some serious help on the inside. That means Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald is the pick here. He is a disruptive force on the inside, and as long as the team has some consistency on the outside, he should be able to create pressure on the inside.
If the Bears pass on Donald, they could address one of a number of positions. A safety like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama or fellow Crimson Tide defender C.J. Mosley could be the choice. Regardless of the position, it is hard to see this pick not going toward defense.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
For all the talent this team has, it does lack a big wide receiving target. With the top big receiver off the board, the Steelers turn to tight end Eric Ebron instead. He is a huge target with dominating athleticism. He is capable of lining up in the slot or along the line of scrimmage and uses his physical advantage to overwhelm defenders.
Obviously cornerback is still an option with this pick. Ebron gets the nod because he represents excellent value at this point.
16. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys can go in a couple of ways here. They need help along the defensive line as well as at safety. If they opt to go with drafting defensive line help, Missouri’s Kony Ealy or Auburn’s Dee Ford would make a lot of sense.
However, for this scenario, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix makes the most sense. He is rangy and a big-hitting safety who can drop into coverage and run with tight ends and running backs.
17. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
If the Baltimore Ravens are able to get Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan at this point in the first round, they should jump at the chance. He is an excellent run-blocking tackle who operates with a real mean streak.
The Ravens would love to be able to upgrade their right tackle spot, and he would be an opening-day starter at the position. If Baltimore chooses not to go with a tackle here, some long-term help on the defensive line or an additional pass-rushing linebacker would also make sense.
18. New York Jets
The Pick: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The New York Jets have to do their best to surround their young quarterback with weapons. They have a lot of wide receivers, but none of them inspires confidence. If I were Geno Smith, I’d be very excited if my front office got me Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The speedster is elusive in the open field and can create separation from defensive backs. Smith showed in college that if his wide receivers can gain a step, he can get them the football in a position to make a play.
19. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Let this sink in a minute: 58 sacks. The Miami Dolphins allowed 58 sacks in 2013. This was the worst in the league by a fair margin and must be fixed. Notre Dame’s Zack Martin would give the Dolphins a player who can start at either tackle or guard. He is an impressive athlete with tremendous upside.
He has one of the best hands/feet combinations in the draft, and his strength is underrated. He should be able to not only help protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill but also liven up a sluggish rushing offense.
20. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The tumble of Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr finally ends with the Arizona Cardinals. He might not have a more ideal situation to end up in as a rookie. With Carson Palmer on the roster, Carr can sit back and learn for a season or two before stepping in as the starter.
The Cardinals offense utilizes the deep ball a great deal, and that is something Carr excels at. Other positions might help Arizona more in 2014, but Carr as a long-term answer under center makes this a more valuable pick.
21. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Green Bay is in very good shape on offense in 2014. When you have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, you are doing OK. The defense is another story. There are holes all over the place including at linebacker and safety. Something says the Packers would view this pick better spent by adding athleticism and playmaking in the secondary.
So Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is the pick. This might be a little early for him, but there’s little doubt he is the type of player who can help the Green Bay defense right away. He has prototypical size and excellent range in coverage.
22. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Philadelphia Eagles could address multiple spots on defense with this pick. They could even opt for a wide receiver to replace DeSean Jackson if one falls to them. In terms of pure talent, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett would be tough for head coach Chip Kelly to pass up.
His skill set is at least the equal of any cornerback in this group. He takes some criticism because he lacks ideal NFL height, but his ability to make plays more than makes up for any concerns over his size.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
The first real curveball of the first round comes with the Kansas City Chiefs. They are desperate to add a wide receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe, so they take a shot on a player who is having a meteoric rise over the past few weeks.
Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer is a nice player with good size and exceptional speed. The jury is still out if he is really a first-round talent, but at this point it feels like some team is going to take a shot on his potential.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
No player in this draft is harder to slot than Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy.
He could go in the top half of the first round or fall all the way into the second. This time we split the difference a little, and the Cincinnati Bengals snatch him up to replace defensive end Michael Johnson.
Ealy is an underrated player. He has excellent size and can come off the corner to explode to the quarterback. Cincinnati loves big, strong defensive linemen, and he is in that same mold. He can set the edge in the run game and will overpower a tackle to get to the quarterback.
25. San Diego Chargers
The Pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
If we want to talk about value, this pick would qualify. If the San Diego Chargers are in a position to wait until No. 25 to get a starting cornerback and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is still on the board, they’ll strike gold.
He has ideal NFL size, adequate speed and a superior football IQ. He understands coverage schemes well and can excel in nearly any defense. Another plus to Fuller’s game is that he is a willing run defender who shows elite ball skills.
26. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
This is another pick where there could be considerable action on draft day.
If the Cleveland Browns pass on a quarterback early, they could move up from this spot to get one a little later. However, if they miss out completely in the first round, a cornerback would be an excellent consolation prize.
And grabbing a local star makes it even better. Ohio State corner Bradley Roby has elite speed and excels in press-man coverage. Pairing him up with Joe Haden would give Cleveland the talent it needs to bolster the attack with the linebackers.
27. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville
The New Orleans Saints defense is coming together. Having Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro as the starting safeties gives them tons of flexibility up front. This means if the Saints can add another top pass-rushing linebacker, they will be onto something special.
That makes Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith the pick. He'll make a smooth transition to outside linebacker and add an athletic pass-rusher with remarkable fluidity and explosion.
28. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, FSU
Last year, the Carolina Panthers doubled up on defensive tackles early in the draft and had great success. Don’t be shocked if they do something similar in 2014 with wide receivers. Both of their top wide receivers are better suited as backups and are on the wrong side of 30.
Carolina has to go wide receiver here, and FSU’s Kelvin Benjamin is the top player remaining. His game centers on his size advantage. At 6’5”, he can go up and get the contested ball. He would make a fantastic security blanket for quarterback Cam Newton.
29. New England Patriots
The Pick: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Some teams do better than others at making use of versatile talent. The New England Patriots definitely fall into that category. Their coaches love guys who can do multiple things.
Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman is a massive human being who understands how to use all that size. He can play inside as a 3-technique tackle or move outside as a 5-technique defensive end. His ability to move around and still play at a high level makes him quite enticing for New England.
30. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
There is a possibility that the San Francisco 49ers will be without linebacker Aldon Smith for some or all of the 2014 season. If that is the case, a new pass-rushing outside linebacker would move way up on the list of team needs.
If Auburn defensive end Dee Ford happens to fall this far, it would be tough for the 49ers to pass on him. His game is built on that burst off the snap and his speed to the quarterback. He would be an exceptional fit in the 49ers' 3-4 defense as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.
31. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Denver has done a nice job this offseason of adding talent at multiple positions. However, even with the addition of Aqib Talib, adding more talent at cornerback is necessary. Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard takes a slide on draft day but doesn’t make it past Denver.
If he can improve his technique to a point where he doesn’t have to mug wide receivers down the field so much, he can become a very effective NFL starter.
32. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Drafting at the end of the round means things went well. It also means that the Seattle Seahawks don’t have a ton of needs in this draft. With that, Seattle can instead concentrate on adding the best player who can help early.
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro would give quarterback Russell Wilson a huge target in the middle of the field. Amaro’s ability to control between the hashes would help him become Wilson’s security blanket in the passing game. Seattle could opt for a wide receiver here or even a guard or tackle as well.
33. Houston Texans: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
34. Washington Redskins: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
35. Cleveland Browns: Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
36. Oakland Raiders: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
37. Atlanta Falcons: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
40. Minnesota Vikings: Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU
41. Buffalo Bills: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
42. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
43. New York Giants: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
44. St. Louis Rams: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
45. Detroit Lions: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
47. Dallas Cowboys: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
48. Baltimore Ravens: Lamarcus Joyner, CB, FSU
49. New York Jets: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
50. Miami Dolphins: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
51. Chicago Bears: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
52. Arizona Cardinals: Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
53. Green Bay Packers: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
54. Philadelphia Eagles: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
55. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
56. San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City): Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
57. San Diego Chargers: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
58. New Orleans Saints: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
59. Indianapolis Colts: Jeremiah Attaochu, LB, Georgia Tech
60. Carolina Panthers: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
61. San Francisco 49ers: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
62. New England Patriots: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
63. Denver Broncos: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
64. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, G, Stanford