NFL Mock Draft 2014: Latest Projections and Analysis for First 32 Selections

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 29, 2014

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 14:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The NFL Scouting Combine has long passed, pro days have wrapped up and rumors regarding the 2014 NFL draft continue to circulate.

All that's left is for the Houston Texans to take the podium on May 8.

Despite the available information regarding certain team's draft targets, sifting through the smoke screens is almost an impossible endeavor at this point in the year.

NFL franchises constantly look to gain the upper hand by providing false information in attempts to sway the draft order in their favor. It happens every year.

We do know which prospects will likely go in the first round. Projecting their landing spots, however, continues to baffle even the most seasoned of analysts.

Let's give it a shot anyway.

After determining team needs and assessing what each prospect brings, here's a look at how the first 32 selections of this year's draft could potentially shake out.

1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

The Texans could certainly go with a quarterback here. With such a deep class available, however, it may be too difficult to pass on a once-in-a-lifetime prospect like Clowney. Pairing Clowney's freakish athleticism with the stellar play of J.J. Watt would give this team one of the league's most devastating pass rushes. In today's pass-happy NFL, that will go a long way.

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

St. Louis' offensive line is already bookended by two talented tackles. Although, both have dealt with injuries recently, and that could push this team to strengthen the position early in the draft. Robinson is an elite prospect who could start for 12-plus years in the NFL. He'll bring great depth and versatility to a budding offense.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Despite having the third pick in the draft, the Jaguars get arguably the top quarterback prospect. This team needs stability under center, and Bortles will bring exactly that. He has all the necessary intangibles to flourish in the NFL, and he has been refining his technique over the offseason which resulted in a phenomenal pro day.

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

Cleveland is looking for stability at the quarterback position, and the new mature, technically sound Manziel figures to fit the bill nicely. One of the draft's most polarizing prospects, Manziel has the ability to create yards in the most dire of circumstances. He'll provide the spark this team's offense has been lacking for years.

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Sure, the Raiders could look to revamp their pass rush here. With Watkins on the board, however, they'll go offense. The draft's most electrifying receiver, Watkins will bolster a wide receiver corps in Oakland filled with talented, but inexperienced players. He'll be the No. 1 target for the long run here.

6. Atlanta Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Falcons lacked a pass rush in a big way last season. To keep pace with the suddenly competitive NFC South, adding an elite edge-rusher is key. Mack has a fantastic motor, is quick off the snap and is almost impossible to block by tackles with average athleticism.

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

Tampa Bay needs to get its offense rolling in 2014. The best way to get that done is by adding a complementary wide receiver to take pressure off of Vincent Jackson. Evans is a lengthy, fast receiver who will give quarterback Mike Glennon another huge target to work with. This duo will be a matchup nightmare for smaller secondaries.

8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Vikings need a quarterback in a bad way. They could wait until Round 2, but with Bridgewater falling to No. 8 overall, this becomes a great opportunity to get their answer under center. Bridgewater's stellar career at Louisville will overshadow his lackluster pro day. He's an accurate, intelligent quarterback who can start—and make a serious impactimmediately.

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

This seems like a perfect match. Ebron is a field-stretching tight end who can double as a big red-zone target. The Bills have a young quarterback in EJ Manuel who is still trying to get his feet wet in the NFL. Ebron's arrival will help Manuel's development in a big way, and this offense will get better in a hurry.

10. Detroit Lions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Detroit needs some major help on the back end of its defense. Facing Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler twice each year only adds to the importance of having a great safety. Clinton-Dix is quick and fluid, covering plenty of field in a hurry. His presence of mind would severely limit big passing plays against the Lions defense.

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Titans already have a talented, young group up front on the defensive side of the ball. Adding one big threat on the edge would put this unit over the top. Barr is extremely quick and can serve as a pass-rusher while having the ability to drop into coverage. He'll provide an immediate impact in Tennessee.

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

The Giants need playmakers, but adding weapons would be useless until the team shores up its offensive line. Matthews is a technically sound prospect who has the experience to start at left tackle immediately. This is the first step in getting New York's offense back on track.

13. St. Louis Rams: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Adding a physical safety will benefit the Rams in a big way. The NFC West has become an increasingly tough division, and Pryor's skill set is a perfect fit. He is able to play center field and is quick enough to cover ground in a hurry. A sure-tackler, he'll be a force against the run as well.

14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Chicago really couldn't do much against the run in 2013. Donald is the team's answer to those woes. A physically gifted defensive tackle, Donald has the frame to jam running lanes and the agility to knife his way into the backfield to help generate a pass rush up the middle.

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

Pittsburgh needs an injection of youth in its secondary. Not only do the Steelers get youth with this selection, but they get a game-changing cornerback. Gilbert is fast enough to shadow the league's fastest receivers and has the ball skills to boost the team's takeaway numbers.

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

After losing some crucial defensive cogs during the free-agency period, the Cowboys are in sudden need of pass-rushers. Ealy is an elite talent who is quick off the snap and fast around the edge. He'll be a nightmare for offensive tackles who can't slide outside quick enough.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Now that the Ravens have shored up their wide receiver corps with Steve Smith, focus must be shifted to the protection of Joe Flacco. Lewan may be the most athletic tackle in the draft. He'll add a big boost in pass protection, and his physicality will help Baltimore's running game find its footing once again.

18. New York Jets: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

There aren't many positives regarding the Jets' cornerback situation right now. Dee Milliner struggled during his rookie season, and the team lacks depth behind him. Dennard flourishes in man coverage and will take loads of pressure off the rest of the secondary. He'll contribute right away and quickly move into the No. 1 role.

19. Miami Dolphins: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Wide receiver may not seem like a huge need for Miami. Adding more weapons for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, however, is certainly not a bad idea. Mike Wallace can stretch the field and Brian Hartline is a great possession receiver. If this team adds another versatile threat like Beckham, Tannehill's options will be plentiful and this offense will take flight.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

The Cardinals offense surged in 2013, and adding a quarterback who can keep that trend going after Carson Palmer's career is finished is imperative. Carr's strong arm would fit nicely in Arizona's vertical passing game, and he will do well to sit and learn under Palmer early in his professional career.

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

The Packers need to revamp their linebacker corps. Starting that process with Mosley is a huge step in the right direction. Mosley is extremely quick and agile for his size. He can cover plenty of ground and is a solid tackler. His presence upgrades this defense in a big way.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The dynamics the Eagles lost after releasing DeSean Jackson are quickly regained with the selection of Cooks here. With a great deal of versatility, Cooks can stretch the field on the outside or serve as a catch-and-go receiver from the slot. He'll ensure this high-octane offense continues to surge.

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Amaro has great experience flexed out wide in Texas Tech's spread offense. Andy Reid uses tight ends in a similar fashion, severely reducing the learning curve for this tight end. Amaro will be a great complement to Dwayne Bowe and will give Alex Smith a much-needed additional weapon.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Cincinnati's Terence Newman and Adam Jones are getting up there in age. Dre Kirkpatrick is still unproven, and Leon Hall continues to struggle with injuries. Adding a corner like Verrett, who can play both outside and inside, will give this team the necessary versatility and depth to keep its defense in the upper echelon of the NFL.

25. San Diego Chargers: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers offense was a revelation last season. To keep things going in the right direction, protecting Philip Rivers more effectively is a high priority. Martin served as a tackle at Notre Dame but has the ability to play across the offensive line. He'll ensure the five best players are up in the trenches at all times for San Diego.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

With a young quarterback now in the fold, adding sure-handed offensive weapons is a must. Robinson flourished at Penn State. He is a reliable catch-and-go receiver who has the length and leaping ability to come down with contested balls. He'll make a great long-term complement to the exciting Josh Gordon.

27. New Orleans Saints: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

After an offseason that saw many weapons leave the Saints, it's time to bring some new ones in for Drew Brees. Lee is a game-changing receiver whenever he's on the field. He'll be a great rotational piece early on and an eventual replacement for Marques Colston.

28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The Panthers wide receiver corps is suddenly thin after losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn over the offseason. Adding a big, chain-moving target like Benjamin would make Cam Newton a happy man. Benjamin will serve as a possession receiver and an outside threat who can come down with jump balls.

29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Hageman would be a great fit for the Patriots here. His versatility will be highly coveted by Bill Belichick. Hageman has the size and strength to thrive against the run on the inside and the athleticism and agility to move to a pass-rushing role on the end.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

The 49ers run one of the NFL's most dominating 3-4 defenses. Nix is the draft's most true 3-4 nose tackle and will keep this unit going strong for years. He'll fit nicely as a rotational piece initially and become the team's long-term starter sooner rather than later.

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

Denver began to bring a more physical presence to its defense shortly after its Super Bowl loss. Shazier will bring an immense amount of physicality in addition. An intelligent player, Shazier is rarely caught out of position. He is a sure-tackler and natural leader. He'll step into a starting role immediately and become the glue that holds this defense together.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

If the Seahawks have any weakness at all, it's on the interior of the offensive line. Keeping Russell Wilson clean is of the utmost importance, and Su'a-Filo is just the guy to get the job done. An athletic guard, he holds up nicely in pass protection and moves well to the second level when blocking for the run. Simply put: He can do it all.


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