With the 2014 NFL draft fast approaching, teams are continuously looking for franchise-changing prospects who can bolster their rosters for years to come.
The first round of the draft features a plethora of such talent.
Now that the free-agency period has died down, we have a great idea of team needs entering the draft. With the scouting combine and pro days completed, we can also project what each of the available prospects has to offer.
Based on current knowledge, let's take a look at how the first round of this year's draft could potentially shake out.
1. Houston Texans: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Houston may be attempting to trade its first-overall selection; however, for the mock draft's sake, we'll assume the team keeps the pick. If the Texans stand pat at No. 1 overall, Bortles is their guy.
He's been refining his technique over the offseason and looked fantastic at his pro day. Bortles has all of the tools to create early success in the NFL, which is exactly what the Texans—a team with a strong core of talent—need.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
St. Louis already has one dynamic receiver in Tavon Austin. This team still needs another legitimate threat to continue building its offense. Watkins is heralded as the best receiver in this draft. Pairing him with Austin will form a versatile and electrifying duo for the Rams.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Jacksonville has plenty of holes to fill. That being said, the team will take the best available prospect with the third pick. Clowney is an athletic freak who has a skill set that will easily translate to the NFL. He'll provide a formidable pass rush for this team for years to come.
4. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Browns won't pass up on a quarterback here. After years of dismal play at the position, they'll finally look to grab a long-term signal-caller. Manziel is a polarizing prospect who has found a new level of maturity and on-field fundamentals. He looks the part of a franchise quarterback, and that franchise will be the Browns.
5. Oakland Raiders: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Raiders need to revamp their pass rush, and grabbing Mack at No. 5 overall is a great way to get started. Mack is quick off the snap and a blur around the edge. He's difficult to contain for even the most athletic offensive tackles.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Matt Ryan continues to be in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Now that his targets are healthy again, extra protection is needed to ensure his continued success. Robinson is an NFL-ready, technically sound offensive tackle who will protect Ryan's blind side for the long haul.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Tampa Bay already has one top-tier wide receiver in Vincent Jackson; however, the team desperately needs a solid complement. Evans is a huge target and can stretch the field in the same manner as Jackson. This duo will be a nightmare for opposing secondaries.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Vikings need a quarterback, and even though they have been linked to Zach Mettenberger, it will be tough to pass on Bridgewater here. A smart, accurate, decisive quarterback, Bridgewater looks poised for success in the NFL. Reactions to his pro day have been severely overblown, and the team that takes him in this year's draft will be highly rewarded.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
If a team wants TE Eric Ebron, you have to look at Buffalo at pick No. 9 and find a way to get in front of them.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 23, 2014
Buffalo has a bit of a shortage in offensive weapons. With a young quarterback in the fold, this becomes a serious problem. Adding Ebron with the No. 9 pick gives EJ Manuel a big, friendly target who has the speed to stretch the field and become an asset in the red zone.
10. Detroit Lions: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Detroit needs help against the pass in a big way. Selecting an edge-rusher with elite speed is one way to rectify that problem instantly. Adding Barr to the Lions' pass rush will generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks from multiple directions, thus keeping the secondary from remaining in coverage for long periods of time.
11. Tennessee Titans: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Titans defense is coming along in a nice way; however, the team could use some help on the back end. Clinton-Dix has the speed and fluidity to cover lots of ground quickly. His presence in the secondary will severely limit the big plays against this defense.
12. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Although the Giants need a receiver in a big way, passing on Matthews here would be unwise. An NFL-ready tackle with the ability to start for over 12 years, Matthews will be the anchor on an offensive line that has been rather shaky over the past several seasons.
13. St. Louis Rams: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Since there is Aaron Donald talk tonight—here's my final scouting report on him (and other top DTs) http://t.co/eGfQ1UPOQl— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 25, 2014
The Rams already have two elite pass-rushers on the edge. Adding an athletic defensive tackle on the inside next to Michael Brockers could make this defensive line the NFL's best. Donald is agile for his size and can knife his way into the backfield to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks and running backs.
14. Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Adding an aggressive, physical safety will do wonders for the Bears defense. Not only does Pryor have the coverage abilities to play center field or in the slot, but his sure-tackling ways also make him a great defender against the run along the line of scrimmage.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Steelers secondary is aging. Selecting Gilbert here would provide not only an injection of youth but also a player capable of starting sooner rather than later. Great speed, instincts and ball skills make Gilbert a threat to come away with the ball on a frequent basis.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Kony Ealy says he is the best defensive end in the draft http://t.co/LNy31Xaecs— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 23, 2014
After some big offseason losses, the Cowboys need to shore up their pass rush immediately. Ealy is an athletic and versatile defensive end who can play as a down lineman or standing up as a linebacker. He'll get Dallas' pass rush back on track right out of the gate.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Ravens bolstered their wide receiver corps with Steve Smith and now must provide some extra protection for Joe Flacco. Lewan may be the most athletic offensive tackle in this year's draft. He's also aggressive in the trenches and will pave the way to get Baltimore's running game back on track as well.
18. New York Jets: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Jets are in some serious trouble in the cornerback department. Very little depth and a struggling Dee Milliner make up a porous unit. Dennard has a unique skill set that allows him to flourish in man coverage on an island, effectively freeing up the rest of the secondary. Not only will he start immediately, but he'll become the team's No. 1 option.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Adding a capable and versatile offensive lineman is crucial for Miami. Martin handles himself nicely as a left tackle yet has the ability to play guard as well. He will get the nod to start right away and provide much-needed security for the Dolphins.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The Cardinals offense was a revelation in the desert last season. Adding a young, strong-armed quarterback will ensure this team's continued success on that side of the ball once Carson Palmer retires. Carr will have the opportunity to learn from Palmer early, and his strong arm will translate very well in this team's vertical passing game.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
For quite some time, one of the Packers' strong suits was their linebacker corps. That's taken a turn for the worse lately. This team needs athleticism in this area, and Mosley is the perfect fit. A sure-tackler and speedy player, he can cover plenty of ground quickly. This unit will be far better with his addition.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Philadelphia needs a dynamic playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. Jeremy Maclin is constantly plagued by injuries, and Riley Cooper is barely a decent No. 2. Beckham will bring the speed and field-stretching skill set the Eagles lost after releasing DeSean Jackson.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Adding offensive weapons should be the biggest priority for the Chiefs in the draft. Amaro is a huge target with elite speed and can play an immediate role on this offense. He'll fit nicely in Andy Reid's scheme and become a huge factor for Kansas City.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Terence Newman and Adam Jones are in their 30s, Leon Hall is dealing with injuries, and Dre Kirkpatrick is still unproven. It's time to bolster the secondary in Cincinnati. Verrett's agility and speed make him a versatile chess piece due to his ability to play on the outside and in the slot.
25. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
New on SI -- 2014 NFL draft position rankings: UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo is the name to know at guard http://t.co/tjwRm8FfQZ— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 2, 2014
After the Chargers offense lit it up a season ago, it's time to add some protection for Philip Rivers. Su'a-Filo is extremely athletic. He is stout in pass protection and can quickly get to the second level blocking for the running game.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cleveland added some nice additions on its offense over the offseason in Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson. However, the Browns still need a long-term answer opposite Josh Gordon. Cooks has the elite speed and hands necessary to flourish in the NFL. He'll add a dimension to this offense that's been lacking for quite some time.
27. New Orleans Saints: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
New Orleans needs to surround Drew Brees with more talent immediately. Marques Colston won't be around forever, and Kenny Stills is still adjusting to playing in the NFL. Robinson would make a great heir apparent to Colston and would pair with Stills nicely. He's agile and strong and isn't afraid to grab contested balls over the middle.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
USC's Marqise Lee is incredibly intriguing to me. Right there with Watkins going into the year. Turmoil in that program changed things.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 24, 2014
The Panthers need a wide receiver in a hurry after losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn over the offseason. Lee demands attention whenever he's on the field. A home-run threat, he'll provide the field-stretching ability the team lost with Smith's departure to Baltimore.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman appears to be a great fit in the Patriots' defensive scheme. Bill Belichick loves treating versatile players as chess pieces, moving them around the defense to create mismatches. That's exactly what Hageman is. Strong enough to play defensive tackle and quick enough to play defensive end, he'll be a strong factor for New England immediately.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The 49ers have one of the strongest defensive fronts in the NFL. To keep it that way, adding young players who schematically fit the defense is imperative. Nix is the draft's best true 3-4 nose tackle. He'll be a great rotational piece right away and move into the starting role in the future.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Denver has already added multiple players over the offseason in an attempt to bring a more aggressive attitude on defense. Adding Shazier will continue that notion. A very physical and smart player, Shazier will be a stout presence on Denver's linebacker corps. He's a natural leader and can help create chemistry on the field as well.
32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford
If the Seahawks have any weakness, it's on the interior of the offensive line. Yankey has plenty of starting experience and is very athletic. He'll be able to slide into a starting role right away and help keep Russell Wilson clean.