NFL Mock Draft 2014: Last-Minute Projections for Round 1 Prospects

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NFL Mock Draft 2014: Last-Minute Projections for Round 1 Prospects
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The highly anticipated wait is almost over.

The first round of the 2014 NFL draft kicks off on Thursday night. While prospects await their professional fates, NFL executives are shoring up big boards in attempt to get that one player who is capable of bolstering the franchise for years to come.

Some teams will make a huge splash in the draft, coming away with a plethora of untapped talent. Others, however, will wind up wondering what went wrong.

Of course, we may have to wait a couple seasons in order to fully realize the impact of these incoming prospects, but it's never too early—or too late—to determine each player's potential landing spot.

There should be plenty of trades throughout this year's draft, but for the sake of this mock, we'll assume every team stands pat and go from there.

 

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

Clowney is simply a once-in-a-lifetime freak athlete. Pairing him with J.J. Watt seems unfair to opposing offenses. With a blistering pass rush coming from all angles, the Texans will be well on their way toward righting the ship and getting back into playoff contention.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Watkins is highly touted as this year's best receiver, and for good reason. He has the physicality and skill set to flourish immediately and produce along the same lines as Julio Jones. The Rams offense needs an outside threat, and grabbing Watkins here is their best bet. Paired with the shifty Tavon Austin, Watkins will allow the Rams to implement matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.

 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo

Jacksonville has plenty of holes to fill, and if they aren't truly intent on selecting a quarterback here, Mack should be their guy. His athletic ability is off the charts, and he could easily become as much of an early factor as Clowney.

 

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

A quarterback finally comes off the board here. Manziel has looked and acted the part of a franchise quarterback over the offseason, and he'll be rewarded by becoming the first signal-caller selected in this year's draft. With a versatile skill set and budding leadership qualities, the Browns' quarterback quandary will finally be solved.

 

5. Oakland Raiders: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

After losing Lamarr Houston in free agency, the Raiders could use a boost along their defensive front. Barr has a great amount of speed off the edge and gives plenty of offensive tackles fits. Pass-rushers are at an all-time premium in today's NFL, and the Raiders would be making a great decision by going defense early.

 

6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

After a horrid showing from the Falcons offensive line last season, a big change is needed to protect Matt Ryan efficiently. Robinson is an NFL-ready tackle with flawless technique and possesses the longevity to protect Ryan's blindside for years to come.

 

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

Tampa Bay needs a big receiver to complement Vincent Jackson. This is where Evans comes in. A sure-handed receiver with the ability to stretch the field, create yards after the catch and move the chains, Evans will give the team's aerial attack the boost it desperately needs.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

The pass-rushers Minnesota may have been coveting are now off the board, and that's all right. This team has a giant need at the quarterback position, too, and Bortles is still on the board. He may need a bit of time to develop, but his upside is huge. A little patience could pay huge dividends for the Vikings here.

 

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

This is simply a perfect match. The Bills need an offensive playmaker to help with the development of EJ Manuel, and Ebron needs an offense that will allow him to stretch the seam and utilize his speed. Both parties will come away happy here.

 

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

When you have a bad secondary and play Aaron Rodgers twice a year, that is not a good combination. The Lions need safety help while they develop their young cornerbacks, and Clinton-Dix is a rangy safety with great fluidity who can cover plenty of ground in a hurry. That's just what Detroit needs heading into the upcoming season.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Tennessee is slowly building a very solid front seven. However, a couple pieces are still needed in order to field a dominant unit. Donald is an athletic tackle who can stuff running lanes and knife his way into the backfield. He'll flourish next to the stout Jurrell Casey and improve the defense's overall production.

 

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

Eli Manning and Co. would love to forget last season and improve immensely in 2014. Matthews would give the team the necessary left tackle it sorely needs. A technically sound prospect, he'll give Manning the protection he needs to ensure this team's offense gets back on track. 

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

St. Louis already grabbed one of the best offensive playmakers in the draft with the No. 2 pick. Here they will grab one of the best defensive prospects. Gilbert is an exceptionally quick corner who can shadow the fastest wide receivers. He has great ball skills, which leads to plenty of takeaways and more on-field time for the Rams budding offense.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

The Bears need help in a few departments on the defensive side of the ball. They had a nice offseason, as they bolstered the pass rush in a big way by signing Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen. Now, they will look to the draft in order to solidify the secondary. Pryor has decent range in coverage, but he will also use his physicality to help defend against the run up at the line of scrimmage.

 

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Beckham may be the most explosive wide receiver in this year's draft. His skill set is something Pittsburgh would love to have across from Antonio Brown. With Markus Wheaton still being unproven, Beckham would provide a nice amount of depth and insurance.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

After a major upheaval along the defensive front over the offseason, the Cowboys need to add some pass-rushers via the draft. Ealy is a great prospect for Dallas. He's versatile enough to play in either the 4-3 or 3-4 base defense, as he quick off the edge and a solid tackler. He'll find his way onto the field from Day 1.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Baltimore made a great move by bringing in Steve Smith to bolster its wide receiving corps. However, the move won't make much of an impact unless the team improves its offensive line. Lewan is a very athletic tackle who has the strength to deal with some of the league's better pass-rushers. A mauler in the trenches, he'll help the Ravens get their running game back on track as well.

 

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

The Jets are severely lacking in the cornerback department right now. Dee Milliner struggled in a big way last year, and New York doesn't have much depth behind him. Dennard is a physical corner who is capable of flourishing in man coverage. Not only will he start immediately, but he'll become the team's No. 1 option.

 

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

It's well known that the Dolphins need an offensive tackle. Martin handled himself nicely as a left tackle while at Notre Dame, but he also possesses the unique ability to play multiple positions across the offensive line. His addition will ensure Ryan Tannehill remains upright.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Arizona already has a very capable secondary featuring Patrick Peterson. Adding another speedy corner will allow this unit to ascend into the realm of the elite. Verrett is shifty and has the versatility to play outside or in the slot.

 

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

The Packers need to revamp their linebacker corps after a lackluster 2013 season. Mosley will be a great fit and a steal at No. 21 overall. With great speed and range, Mosley can cover plenty of field in a hurry. A sure-tackler, he'll bring the stability to the Packers defense the team has been lacking.

 

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

Philadelphia's high-octane offense took a step backward in terms of athleticism upon the release of DeSean Jackson, and a playmaking, field-stretching receiver is needed. Cooks is that guy. He'll be a great complement to Jeremy Maclin and allow the Eagles offense to pick up right where it left off.

 

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

Kansas City's offense was a revelation under Alex Smith and Andy Reid last season, but a lack of playmakers is still apparent. Amaro is comfortable playing out of the slot and stretching the field up the seam. He'll also become a valuable red-zone target and a great complement to Dwayne Bowe.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

With an aging, injured and unproven group of cornerbacks, the secondary is quickly becoming the weakness of a stout defense in Cincinnati. Roby would bring a much-needed injection of youth, speed and athleticism. The Bengals still have enough capable players to allow Roby the opportunity to learn before being tossed into the fire, too.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

Mike McCoy revamped the Chargers offense in a big way last season. As a result, Philip Rivers looked back to his previous form, and Keenan Allen was a revelation. Protecting Rivers is now a priority. Su'a-Filo is strong and athletic. He's stout in pass protection and quick enough to get to the second level when blocking for the running game.

 

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

Now that the Browns have a young quarterback in the fold, it's time to surround him with weapons. Josh Gordon has been stellar in Cleveland, and Robinson would be a perfect complement to him. A strong receiver, Robinson isn't afraid to make receptions over the middle. His leaping ability allows him to come down with contested jump balls as well.

 

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

Marques Colston is getting up there in age, and Kenny Stills is still developing, so it's time to get Drew Brees some more weapons. Lee demands attention whenever he is on the field. He'll be a game-changing receiver for the Saints, and he will serve as Colston's eventual replacement.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

After losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn over the offseason, the Panthers must provide Cam Newton with some weapons. Latimer quickly rose up draft boards due to his combination of size (6'2", 215 lbs), speed and great hands.

 

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

New England struggled against the run for the majority of the season in 2013. Adding a component like Hageman will not only solve that problem, but given Hageman's athletic ability he'll help with the interior pass rush as well. A versatile player, Hageman can play either tackle or end, making him a great chess piece for Bill Belichick.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

The 49ers are in desperate need of a cornerback, and they'll get a great one here in Fuller. The former Virginia Tech standout has great size (6'0", 190 lbs) and has the length necessary to blanket taller receivers. Fuller has versatility and can play both cornerback and safety in a pinch.

 

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

It seems as though the Broncos' mantra on defense is "physicality." Shazier brings an extremely physical presence to the defense. His sure tackling and leadership ability will make him an instant starter and a big contributor.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: David Yankey, OG, Stanford

If the Seahawks need to improve anywhere, it's on the interior of the offensive line. Keeping Russell Wilson clean is the team's top priority, and adding an elite guard prospect is the answer. Yankey has a great deal of experience and is very stout in pass protection. He'll start right away and instantly make this team better.

 

All height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com.

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