While anybody can put together a mock of the 2014 NFL draft, few have the gravitas of ESPN's guru Mel Kiper Jr.
Kiper is one of the biggest names in draft prognostication, and when each one of his mocks comes out, it's a big day for football fans.
On Tuesday, he unveiled his fifth edition, which you can view on ESPN.com (subscription required). Here's a look at each of the 32 picks.
|Mel Kiper Mock Draft 5.0|
|1||Houston Texans||Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson|
|4||Cleveland Browns||Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M|
|5||Oakland Raiders||Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Blake Bortles, QB, UCF|
|9||Buffalo Bills||Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M|
|10||Detroit Lions||Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State|
|12||New York Giants||Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh|
|13||St. Louis Rams||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama|
|14||Chicago Bears||Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina|
|18||New York Jets||Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State|
|19||Miami Dolphins||C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State|
|21||Green Bay Packers||Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||Marqise Lee, WR, USC|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri|
|25||San Diego Chargers||Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA|
|26||Cleveland Browns||Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech|
|27||New Orleans Saints||Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia|
|29||New England Patriots||Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt|
|31||Denver Broncos||Jason Verrett, CB, TCU|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame|
Perhaps the most surprising first-round pick from Kiper was one he didn't make at all.
Conspicuous by his absence was Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was also missing in Kiper's fourth mock draft (subscription required), which covered Rounds 1 and 2.
In his last edition, the ESPN guru had the Cardinals QB going 33rd overall, so perhaps that's where he'd fall once again.
Looking at those who did get into the first round, Kiper's top nine picks remained the same. The highlight of that top nine is Jadeveon Clowney going first overall. This isn't much of a surprise, as it's looked like for the past month or so that the Houston Texans would opt for the South Carolina star, despite whatever concerns some scouts might have that he's "spoiled" and "lazy."
Another notable pick is that, once again, Kiper predicts Blake Bortles will go to the Minnesota Vikings, ahead of Bridgewater. A few months ago, this would have seemed crazy.
However, The MMQB's Peter King made the case that Bortles was the best fit for Minnesota, with one scout telling King back in the fall:
If you can be patient with Bortles, and he decides to come out, he’s going to give you a good return on your investment. He hasn’t played as much football, as much high-level football, as most of the other guys he’d be competing with. But two or three years down the road, he’s going to pay off.
Where Kiper's newest edition first differed from his last was with the Detroit Lions. Previously, he had them taking Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. This time around, it's LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.:
If their board looks at all like mine, I think both corner and safety (both needs) could be a slight reach here and (A) they really do need another receiver, and (B) Beckham could develop into a star here, even with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate around. He's explosive with the ball in his hands, but you don't have to simply force easy catches, because he's a very good route-runner and will create space.
Putting Beckham together with Calvin Johnson could give the Lions one heck of a 1-2 combo in the passing game. There's no question, though, that the Tigers wideout would be a gamble for Detroit, especially with so many talented cornerbacks on the board.
While Kiper's mock draft is sure to change between now and May 8, don't expect to see too many radical differences. Prospects don't have many chances left to impress teams and scouts and shoot up the draft board.
Although it's almost impossible for Kiper to nail all 32 first-round picks perfectly, his most recent mock serves as a great blueprint for how Day 1 will unfold, considering his track record of success with his predictions.
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