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2014 NFL Mock Draft: How Thursday Will Play Out at Radio City Music Hall

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: How Thursday Will Play Out at Radio City Music Hall
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

As we've all had ample time to think, analyze, forget and rethink all the information regarding the upcoming NFL draft, quarterbacks have slipped a bit in many mocks.

I have not been immune to this process. As you'll see, I still have three quarterbacks going in the top eight, but now just one in the top five.  

Soon it will be time to stop all the speculation. Thursday night's selection extravaganza feels long overdue, and I have a feeling it won't disappoint. Here is how I see it playing out. 

 

1. Houston Texans: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

For all the talk of Jadeveon Clowney going No. 1, it's not going to happen. At least, not as long as the Texans make the first selection. 

He doesn't fit. If the Texans drafted Clowney, their two best defensive players would be a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 end. J.J. Watt's dominance on the end in a 3-4 is key to the Texans' defensive flexibility. 

Sure, Clowney could dominate in the pass rush as a 3-4 linebacker, but why draft a guy No. 1 and then miscast him? That is especially true when there is a talent like Khalil Mack on the board. 

Mack will not only be a force in the pass rush, he is a complete linebacker. 

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney would fit right in on the Rams' 4-3 defensive line. St. Louis could either have a trio of ends featuring Clowney, Robert Quinn and Chris Long, or it could trade Long for draft picks. 

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

The Jaguars are certainly desperate for a quarterback, but this franchise can't whiff on another top pick. So, they will grab the player I feel is the safest pick in this draft.

Greg Robinson is a beast. He has the size and athleticism to be an elite left tackle in this league.

 

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

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The Cleveland Browns haven't had any luck drafting quarterbacks for the last 30 years or so, but Johnny Manziel is an exciting fit.

He has question marks, but there is no doubting his arm talent or playmaking ability. The Browns have some players in place on offense that could form a potentially lethal mix.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Sammy Watkins does not have elite size at 6'1". His explosiveness and ball skills more than make up for that and will allow him to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, though. 

Watkins is a big-play threat to get down the field for long passes or break off a long run after a short pass. The Raiders have solid, young talent at receiver, but Watkins would be the No. 1 they need. 

 

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

There has been a lot of speculation that the Falcons could trade up to No. 1 to draft Clowney. Ultimately, it would cost them too much. The Falcons have several holes to fill, and they could use a franchise left tackle. With the elite talent at the position, the Falcons will be in a good position at No. 6. 

Jake Matthews is not as big a force in the run game as Greg Robinson, but he will excel in the pass game from Day 1. 

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were aggressive in free agency. This allows them freedom with this pick, and in this instance, it allows them to identify their potential quarterback of the future.

With new head coach Lovie Smith looking to put his stamp on the team, the allure of Blake Bortles' talent will be too much to pass on. 

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville 

Perception of Teddy Bridgewater's draft stock is soaring...in the wrong direction. Still, as ESPN's Josina Anderson reports, teams haven't lost all interest in the accomplished signal-caller:

That interest may be planted in the second round, but that is part of the Vikings' conundrum. If Minnesota passes on a quarterback with this pick, teams eyeing quarterbacks slipping in the second round will know they have to jump ahead of the Vikings to get their guy.

The Vikings need a quarterback to build a passing game around. Bridgewater will not fall past Minnesota. 

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Bills need some speed and athleticism on the edge of their defense. Anthony Barr will bring ample amounts of that. 

Barr played just two seasons at linebacker after converting from running back, but his natural ability made him an instant force. He is a bit of a risk, but his ceiling is nearly limitless. 

 

10. Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

C.J. Mosley is a strong athlete and heady player. He will bring consistency to a Lions defense that needs it. Behind the Lions' strong defensive line, Mosley will make a big and instant impact. 

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Taylor Lewan is not a mauling lineman, but he has solid footwork and plenty of athleticism. The Titans have a decent left tackle in Michael Roos, but he is on the last year of his contract and doesn't have as much potential as Lewan

On top of that, the Titans signed Michael Oher to fill a dire need at right tackle, but Oher was less than impressive last season. 

 

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

Eric Ebron needs to improve his catching, and if he didn't have such a limitless ceiling, that might hurt his draft stock. 

Eli Manning is at his best when he can find single coverage down the field. Ebron is going to create that. His ability to exploit the seam will require extra attention from safeties. 

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

The Rams aren't likely to let the first two picks go without drafting a receiver. Last year the Rams spent the eighth pick on receiver Tavon Austin. He was underwhelming but flashed his dynamic potential. 

In any scenario, he is not a true No. 1 receiver. Mike Evans is, and he would team well with Austin. Evans has great hands, he is 6'5" and has solid athleticism. 

 

14. Chicago Bears: Timmy JerniganDT, Florida State

The current Bears defense is a slap in the face to the famed days of the Monsters of the Midway. Chicago is weak up the middle. It needs a few monsters in the middle.

Timmy Jernigan is not the most explosive pick available, but he's the sturdiest. He will provide a strong backbone to the rebuilding defense. 

 

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

With Ike Taylor aging and not as effective as he once was, the Steelers need some youth at the corner position. Darqueze Dennard is not the most athletic corner in the class, but he is the most physical.

As 95.7 The Game tweets, Dennard is proud of his physical play:

Dennard will fit right in with the Steelers' brand of defense. 

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

If the Cowboys want to draft a free safety who can start next year, they'll have to do it with this pick. Calvin Pryor is the most complete prospect at the position and a solid value here. 

Dallas has a need on the defensive line as well, but it can address that need in later rounds. 

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

The Ravens were doomed last year by their offensive line. The running game never got off the ground and the pass protection was patchy. 

Zack Martin is NFL-ready. He may be best suited for guard, but he'll be an upgrade for the Ravens. 

 

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

The Jets added receiver Eric Decker, but that's just the start. At least it should be. This offense is starved for playmakers.

Odell Beckham Jr. has the speed and ball skills to stretch the field and open things up for the Jets offense. 

 

19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

In need of reinforcements along the offensive line, the Dolphins will look to Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Kouandjio appears to be best suited for right tackle or guard, but his physicality will be a nice addition to the trenches.  

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Cardinals need another weapon on their 3-4 defensive line. Aaron Donald is widely viewed as a defensive tackle in a 4-3. At 6'1" and 285 pounds, he doesn't have the length typically associated with an end in a 3-4.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly agrees with me:

With his elite explosiveness and leverage, however, he can be a force at end on the Cardinals line. 

 

21. Green Bay Packers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

Louis Nix III is coming into the draft off of knee surgery. That is a concern, but it doesn't change the fact he is the best nose tackle prospect in this class. 

The Packers must get stiffer in the defensive trenches. 

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is around at this pick, the Eagles' decision will be easy. Last year, this defense was last in pass defense. The Eagles need someone to help lock down the deep part of their defense.

Clinton-Dix has the speed and instincts to do that.  

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Last year, Kansas City's offense got better as the season went on. Their success in the passing game was far too reliant on quick passes to running back Jamaal Charles

The Chiefs need someone to line up opposite Dwayne Bowe who will be a threat down the field. Marqise Lee has the leaping ability and ball skills to stretch the field. 

 

24.Cincinnati Bengals: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Justin Gilbert has the tools to be a shutdown corner. With the Bengals, he wouldn't have pressure to perform right away. He could be groomed to take over for the age-defying Terence Newman. 

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The Chargers wouldn't be thrilled to see the Benglas draft Gilbert, but this draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks. Besides, Kyle Fuller doesn't need to be a consolation prize to anyone. NFL.com passes along what draft guru Mike Mayock thinks of Fuller: 

San Diego badly needs help in pass defense, and Fuller would be an instant upgrade. 

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis): Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Kelvin Benjamin is a lengthy receiver who will provide a great option on third down and in the red zone. He is the kind of safety-blanket receiver who can help a young quarterback develop. I have the Browns taking Manziel at No. 4, but even if they don't, they will be picking up a quarterback somewhere in this draft. 

Whichever signal-caller they select, he will benefit from Benjamin being on the roster.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan ShazierOLB, Ohio State

The Saints made waves by signing safety Jairus Byrd and veteran Champ Bailey. They were strong signings, but this defense still needs to get better in the front seven.

Ryan Shazier is an athletic and physical linebacker. He would bring needed physicality to the Saints rush defense. 

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The Panthers will be on the hunt for a left tackle, but there isn't going to be good value at the position with so many teams in front of them hunting for offensive line help. There will be much better value at receiver, and the Panthers need that.

Brandin Cooks is strikingly similar to the recently departed Panthers receiver Steve Smith. His explosiveness will help open up the field for Carolina. 

 

29. New England Patriots: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU 

In terms of pure coverage skills, Jason Verrett may be the best in this class. He doesn't have size, however, at 5'9". That lack of length may keep him from excelling on the outside, but the Patriots would benefit from Verrett's ability to shut down the slot.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Ideally, the 49ers would pick a speedy receiver, but with the talent on the board in this scenario, they'll choose a solid one instead. 

Allen Robinson has gotten lost in the shuffle of wide receivers in this class, but former NFL player and B/R's own Ryan Riddle reminds us Robinson has great potential. 

Robinson can be a threat all over the field, and his presence will help open up the 49ers offense.  

 

31. Denver Broncos: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Kony Ealy has the length, strength and explosiveness to be a quality pass-rusher. It is hard to see how else he will contribute on an NFL field, however.

No worries. Pass-rushing is such a valuable commodity that he will be selected in the first round by the Broncos. Denver could use the boost in pass rush, and it needs someone who can make an instant impact.  

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Ra'Shede HagemanDT/DE, Minnesota

The Seahawks defense runs the risk of being vulnerable against the run if Seattle doesn't add some big guys in the middle of its defensive line.

Ra'Shede Hageman checks in at over 300 pounds, and he is athletic. His college career is underwhelming, but Pete Carroll and company haven't shied away from this kind of player.

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