2014 NFL Mock Draft: Best-Case Scenarios for Every 1st-Round Pick

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Best-Case Scenarios for Every 1st-Round Pick
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After months of preparation by all 32 teams, some squads in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft are hoping for their best-case scenarios to come true.

This year, the NFL draft has been pushed back to May 8, but it feels like it was pushed back a month with how long everyone has been talking about the top prospects. Fortunately, the wait is almost over, and fans will soon find out which prospects their teams will be drafting.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the best-case scenario for teams that are drafting in the first round. The best-case scenario is that each franchise will take the top player available at a key position that it needs to instantly improve its outlook.

 

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

The Houston Texans will have the choice of trying to find a franchise quarterback, take the best player available or attempt to trade out of the No. 1 overall spot. Considering the fact that some solid quarterbacks will be available in the second round, the Texans should take Jadeveon Clowney here.

In terms of size, speed and strength, he appears to be the complete package. Some may question his work ethic, but with Clowney and J.J. Watt on the line, opposing offenses will have a hard time planning against both of them.

 

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

The most likely scenario for the St. Louis Rams is that the team trades down, since the best players available aren't at positions where they have huge needs. However, if the Rams do decide to draft at No. 2, they should take an offensive tackle in the event that Jake Long isn't ready for the regular season.

Greg Robinson was one of the big reasons that Auburn had the best running offense in the country last year. He's an excellent run-blocker with a lot of size and potential to become a blue-chip tackle on either the left or right side, depending on where the Rams need him.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Much like the Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have to decide if they should take a quarterback with their first pick or wait for one down the line. With another dominant defensive player on the board, the Jaguars will have a hard time passing on him.

Few outside linebackers in this draft class have the versatility of Buffalo star Khalil Mack. While he excels as a pass-rusher, he can also help stop the run and even drop back in coverage when needed. The Jaguars lack playmakers on defense, but Mack could change that in a hurry.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

With no quarterbacks off the board yet, the Cleveland Browns could be tempted to wait it out as well, especially since they have another pick later in the first round. They can instead try to find an elite weapon to go along with Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon to give whoever plays under center plenty of targets next season.

In this year's draft, Sammy Watkins is the most pro-ready receiver. He's an elite vertical threat with impressive speed and acceleration, and he can also make plays in the open field to pick up additional yards after the catch.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The Oakland Raiders have a number of needs, and while some may argue that quarterback isn't one of them, Matt Schaub should not be the long-term starter under center for this team. Since no quarterbacks have been taken yet, the Raiders can pick whichever one they want and have him develop until he's either ready to start or to replace Schaub if he struggles.

Johnny Manziel is the ultimate playmaker at quarterback, using his legs to escape the pocket and extend the play. His 6'0", 207-pound size is a concern, especially if he continues to run around at the next level, but his improvement as a passer and his versatility make him worth a top-five pick.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Matt Ryan got knocked around too much last season, and the Atlanta Falcons need to address that quickly if they don't want to have another disappointing year in 2014.

Jake Matthews spent time in college at both left and right tackle, and his versatility shows. He's a strong and powerful run-blocker who is quick off the snap and should have no problem quickly becoming a starter for the Falcons. He has arguably the highest floor of any prospect in the draft.

 

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

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Quarterback may be a possibility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but with Mike Williams now gone to the Buffalo Bills, the team needs another wide receiver to go along with Vincent Jackson.

At 6'5'' and 231 pounds, Mike Evans is big and athletic enough to be a threat in the red zone. He does a nice job of using his size to his advantage and also has the control to make difficult catches. With Evans and Jackson on the roster, the Buccaneers could have one of the best one-two combos at receiver in the league in the next couple of years.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

Whoever is starting at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings next season isn't on the roster, or at least that should be the case. The Vikings need to find a quarterback in the draft, and since only one has been taken so far, the team should pull the trigger on Blake Bortles with this pick.

He has been in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick, and for good reason. He compares to a poor man's Andrew Luck, showing a strong football IQ, pocket presence and mobility to escape the pocket when needed. He doesn't have the strongest arm and sometimes stares down targets, but he has the potential to be a long-term starter.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan 

Even though the Buffalo Bills have one solid offensive tackle in Cody Glenn, they need another to replace Erik Pears. That may mean moving Glenn to the right side of the offensive line, but it could be worth it if they find the right prospect.

For Michigan's Taylor Lewan, this might be the perfect situation. He has been praised for his 6'7'' frame and the raw tools to be special one day, but he's still an unpolished talent. Fortunately, Doug Marrone is a former offensive line coach who could help him blossom into one of the best tackles in the NFL.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

The secondary for the Detroit Lions still needs some help, especially with Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers in the division. The Lions need a defensive back who can make plays on the ball and create turnovers, or else they could be torched in the passing game next season.

Justin Gilbert is the ultimate athlete at cornerback, and he uses that to his advantage. Few opposing receivers will be able to beat him with speed alone, and his ability to return kicks as well will make him a perfect weapon for the Lions on defense and special teams.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Tennessee Titans are expected to make a switch to a 3-4 defense under Ray Horton, and that means that they will need to find another pass-rusher to rack up sacks since they had just 36 last season.

With long arms and explosiveness off the snap, Anthony Barr looks like an exciting prospect as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He still needs to work on becoming a more effective run defender and play in coverage, but it's unlikely he'll be asked to do more than get to the opposing quarterback until he develops in those areas.

 

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

It's been a very busy offseason for the New York Giants, but they still have some work to do before they can be considered a contender in the NFC once again. They could go a number of ways with this pick, but with few options at tight end, they could pick up the top player at the position in this draft.

Eric Ebron is a frightening mismatch in the middle of the field at 6'4'' and 250 pounds. He's a terrific athlete with a large catch radius who will give Eli Manning a new weapon to work with.

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

With their second pick in Round 1, the St. Louis Rams can now focus on their biggest need on the roster. The secondary is a mess right now, and they need someone at safety to start to fix that.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the range and instincts to break up passes from almost anywhere on the field. He's also not afraid to step up into the box and play run defense, making him an ideal fit in the Rams' defensive scheme.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Chicago Bears had the worst run defense in the NFL last season, and that's not going to change unless they bolster the middle of the defensive line with Henry Melton now gone. 

While not the biggest prospect, Aaron Donald could be a powerful presence on the defensive line. He's one of the first players off the snap on almost every play and is able to get under opponents' pads. He's most effective at rushing the passer, and he would likely be an upgrade for Chicago at defensive tackle.

 

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

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Defensively, the Pittsburgh Steelers are aging quickly and need to bring in some younger players. The secondary could especially use some help, which is why they should be looking at a cornerback with this pick.

With wide receivers like A.J. Green and Josh Gordon in the division, the Steelers need an aggressive shutdown cornerback like Darqueze Dennard to play physically and contain them.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Even though the Dallas Cowboys added Melton on the defensive line, they could still use some help in the trenches to assist against the run. Timmy Jernigan out of Florida State will be able to do just that, and while he'll need to work on his technique, the flashes of brilliance he showed last year showcase his upside.

 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville

Despite so many departures before last season, the Baltimore Ravens continued to be a solid team defensively. Still, they could use some help at safety, and adding Calvin Pryor would be a great move.

He can lay down some big hits, but he also possesses great range in pass coverage. Having him and Matt Elam at safety would give the Ravens plenty of defensive versatility and have opposing offenses guessing quite often.

 

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

Even after adding Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford in free agency, the New York Jets could use another weapon to give Geno Smith or Michael Vick some help on offense next season. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. could be the perfect fit as a slot receiver with his explosiveness and ability to make huge plays after the catch.

With Beckham and Decker, the Jets might be able to make some big plays on offense after such a rough year in 2013.

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OG/OT, Notre Dame

This is one of the most logical picks in this mock draft. The Miami Dolphins were a mess without Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito last season, but adding a versatile offensive lineman like Zack Martin, who could excel at either position, would give them some much-needed help in protecting Ryan Tannehill.

 

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

At 34 years old, Carson Palmer's career is coming to an end in the next couple of seasons. The Arizona Cardinals will need to find his replacement sooner rather than later, which is why drafting Derek Carr would be a terrific move. He has elite arm strength, but he needs time to grow. If he backed up Palmer until the veteran retired, then Carr could have a chance to thrive in Bruce Arians' scheme.

 

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

The Green Bay Packers had a disappointing season defensively last year and need to make adjustments. Safety is one of the team's biggest needs, but with C.J. Mosley still on the board, it will be hard for them to pass him up.

He brings the instincts and athleticism that the Packers need in the middle of the defense. A.J. Hawk hasn't been getting it done, and having Mosley along with Brad Jones could go a long way to help out Dom Capers.

 

Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

With DeSean Jackson gone, the Philadelphia Eagles could choose to replace him early in the draft. Instead of looking at a slot receiver to complement players like Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, the Eagles now have to find someone who can consistently play on the outside.

Indiana doesn't usually produce first-round prospects, but Cody Latimer has impressed lately after a solid pro day, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds despite working out with an injured foot, per The Indianapolis Star. He has nice size and impressive quickness, and his pro-day numbers have helped him shoot into the first round.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Dwayne Bowe isn't the same player he used to be, and Donnie Avery isn't a No. 2 receiver. The Kansas City Chiefs need another weapon like Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State. He has blazing speed and impressive agility to make play after play out of the slot. He would open up the offense for Alex Smith in the passing game and Jamaal Charles in the backfield.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

While some Cincinnati Bengals fans will be mad at this pick, it is the best-case scenario. Andy Dalton needs to be on a short leash, and many don't think he's the answer if he can't stay consistent.

Teddy Bridgewater should be drafted higher than this, but because people put so much emphasis on pro days where quarterbacks throw against air, his stock has fallen. He showed countless times on film that he's ready to be an NFL quarterback, and the Bengals would be getting a stealas well as a new starting quarterbackwith this selection.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The pass defense for the San Diego Chargers struggled badly at times last season, and they need some help at cornerback. Jason Verrett is a small prospect at 5'9'' and 189 pounds, but his fluid hips, aggressive mentality and ball skills make him an easy choice for the Chargers.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The Browns took a gamble and didn't get one of the top first-round quarterbacks, but that's all right, as they'll be able to find one with their next pick in the second round. With their second pick here, they can go ahead and add some help on defense.

Kyle Fuller has been another player to slowly climb up draft boards, and his game film explains why. He showed good awareness in zone coverage to break up passes and played with nice balance and fluid hips to stay as close to opposing receivers as possible.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Rob Ryan completely turned the New Orleans Saints defense around in 2013, but the team needs to continue adding players, especially ones who can get to the quarterback. Auburn's Dee Ford could be that player with his burst off the line and balance to get around offensive tackles. Ryan could use him in a number of different ways, and he could be a productive player as a rookie.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Jordan Gross' retirement was a tough blow for the Carolina Panthers, and things didn't get any better after such a quiet offseason where they lost a number of key playmakers, mainly at receiver. Now, the Panthers need to focus on finding a replacement for Gross before they can look anywhere else.

Cyrus Kouandjio might not come in and be the perfect replacement for Gross, but his surprising athleticism combined with his 6'7'' and 322-pound frame will help him go a long way at the next level if he can stay healthy.

 

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

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The New England Patriots could go anywhere with this pick, and they historically do. Still, it's pretty clear that they could use some help on the inside of the defense line, and Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman makes sense here. He is strong enough to push offensive linemen into the backfield, and he can wreak havoc once he gets back there.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

With the situation involving Aldon Smith, the San Francisco 49ers are going to need another option to rush the passer. Kony Ealy is an impressive athlete with nice arm length and burst off the line to become a potentially dominant edge-rusher if he continues to improve. He'll need to work on staying low, but the potential is definitely there.

 

31. Denver Broncos: David Yankey, OG, Stanford

The Denver Broncos appear to be going all in for another Super Bowl run as Peyton Manning approaches the end of his career, adding a number of talented free agents. Still, they could use some help at offensive guard to make sure Manning stays upright and faces as little pressure as possible.

Stanford's David Yankey has nice size for a guard at 6'6'' and 315 pounds, and he uses that size to dominate opposing defenders in the running game. He is an intelligent guard as well, and while he's not the most athletic offensive lineman, his other skills make him a starting-caliber player.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

After such a dominant Super Bowl run, the Seattle Seahawks have a chance to make it two in a row this season. They don't have a ton of needs, but giving Russell Wilson another weapon would be the best move possible, especially if it's at tight end.

Jace Amaro is a frightening matchup out of the slot at 6'5'' and 265 pounds. He attacks the ball while it's still in the air and uses his body to create ideal positioning. He'll have to adjust to Seattle's offensive scheme, but he could be the weapon down the middle that Wilson lacked last season.

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