No-Brainer Picks of the 2014 NFL Draft
Every year, The Huddle Report tracks the best mock drafts from around the Internet to see whose is most accurate. It’s always an entertaining challenge to partake in and follow, as all the efforts that go into projecting which players land with which teams generally end in futility, with most winners getting fewer than a third of the first-round picks correct.
Predicting what will happen the day of the draft is hard enough, but I’ll give a go at some picks I think are (or should be) no-brainers for teams in Round 1 even though we’re still two weeks out. I think I’ve cracked the case on the top two picks, the Dolphins options to satisfy their offensive line woes and Johnny Manziel’s landing spot.
Here are those picks and a few more to get you primed for mock draft season.
Jadeveon Clowney Selected First Overall
In my opinion, any team passing on Jadeveon Clowney in this draft will regret it in five years. Clowney is a special talent, blessed with a unique combination of size and explosiveness.
That being said, it looks like NFL teams agree. The Houston Texans don’t necessarily need a pass-rusher, but nearly every mock draft has the Texans drafting the 2014 class’ best prospect. The Atlanta Falcons are a prime trade-up candidate, as they have a glaring need at defensive end and have shown a willingness to trade up for a high-profile prospect, as they did when they moved up to nab Julio Jones in the 2011 draft.
Either way, Clowney won’t reach the Rams pick at second overall.
Greg Robinson Selected Second Overall to the Rams
The Rams have been linked to a handful of scenarios as to what they’ll do with their second overall pick. Most recently, their history of trading down makes that an intriguing option for teams looking to move up for a quarterback or an elite talent. Other mocks see the Rams looking to give Sam Bradford more weapons, so Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins is seen as an option for St. Louis.
But with Jake Long returning from injury and a Rodger Saffold/Joseph Barksdale position battle at right tackle for the future not ideal, letting Greg Robinson slip through their hands would be a huge mistake. He’s an elite talent who has the best feet, fluidity and natural run-blocking strength of any offensive tackle in recent draft history.
HaHa Clinton-Dix Drafted by the Detroit Lions
This isn’t quite a lock, but I can’t see the Lions passing on the best safety in this class if he’s available, especially since it’s a weak safety crop this year.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is viewed as the clear-cut top safety by most evaluators, as he can fill the center field role at free safety with his excellent range and ability to make plays on the ball in the air. He's also excellent in run support.
As of now, the Lions boast James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin as their starting safeties. But with few major needs after stocking up on defensive line, linebacker and offensive line talent in recent drafts, the Lions need to get stronger and younger at the safety position.
If the Lions, who pick at No. 10 overall, pass on Clinton-Dix, they might not have another opportunity to land a quality safety prospect in this draft.
Ra'Shede Hageman Drafted by the Steelers
The Steelers have always been a team to stick to their board and draft the best player available every year. They haven’t been afraid to draft character or injury risks in the past, and they’ve had success in finding first rounders that fit their scheme, possess Pro Bowl talent and are great values in the first round.
Ra’Shede Hageman has a remarkable story that SBNation.com did a fantastic job chronicling in their article from November, and it’s this Michael Oher-like story that might give some teams pause while convincing others that he has the drive and desire to grow and develop as a player. Hageman has the talent, length and playing style to develop into a dominant 5-technique player, comparable to the New York Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson.
The Steelers, who let former first-rounder Ziggy Hood walk in free agency this year, could use an upgrade at the position.
Cyrus Kouandjio or Morgan Moses Drafted by the Dolphins
It’s no secret that the Dolphins need offensive line help. After the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga that ended in the departure of both players, the Miami line was destined to be overhauled. After singing Brandon Albert in free agency, the Dolphins still need a right tackle and potentially two new guards.
While guard value usually begins in the second round and beyond, they can find a right tackle at 19th overall to address one of their question marks. Cyrus Kouandjio is a mauling blocker who lacks polish but has tremendous run-blocking upside.
Morgan Moses doesn’t bend as well as you’d like for an offensive tackle, but he has consistently found success as a pass-blocker and has right tackle experience. He also used to be coached at Virginia by current Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
Johnny Manziel Leaving Draft Day a Cleveland Brown
While multiple teams have been linked to Johnny Manziel in the first-round, no team makes more sense for the former Heisman winner than the Cleveland Browns.
With the defensive-minded Mike Pettine taking over in Cleveland, it's unclear whether the head coach would be on board taking the playmaking quarterback. But offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was integral in Robert Griffin’s success as a rookie in Washington, so integrating a plus athlete into his offense won’t be anything new. And new Browns owner Jim Haslam certainly wouldn’t hate the fanfare that would encompass his team upon Johnny Football's arrival.
The question then becomes whether they draft him at fourth overall or bet on him falling to No. 26 overall, where the Browns pick again. That’s still to be determined and may still be up for debate in the Browns war room during the draft, but the Browns are the clear-cut favorite to walk away with Manziel.
Jason Verrett or Bradley Roby Drafted by Denver
The Broncos looked like world-beaters during their playoff run, and the anticipation of the Super Bowl was built upon the league’s best offense against Seattle's “Legion of Boom” defense. But as we all remember, the game quickly turned one sided, and the Seahawks dominated the Broncos on both sides of the ball.
While the Broncos could address offense later in the draft, finding a cornerback to replace Champ Bailey and complement new corner Aqib Talib is a must. They likely won’t reach for one, but if Jason Verrett or Bradley Roby are available, Denver would be unwise to pass on them.
While both have starter upside, Verrett’s lack of great size and Roby’s off-field issues (most recently an arrest for OVI this week) may cause one or both to be available at pick No. 31.
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