The stage is set at Radio City Music Hall.
On Thursday night, the most talented athletes from college football will await their fates in the NFL.
The draft process is a tedious one, and for these prospects the journey to this point has been long and arduous. It's finally about to pay off.
Plenty of rumors regarding the 2014 NFL draft continue to swirl, and teams will surely make big moves in attempt to get their coveted prospects.
For the sake of this mock draft, we'll assume no trades will take place and teams will draft in the current order.
Let's get down to it.
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Should the Texans decide to keep their first-overall selection, Clowney must come off the board first. An athletic freak and possibly once-in-a-lifetime pass-rusher, his tremendous upside is impossible to pass on. Pairing him with J.J. Watt is almost unfair to opposing offensive lines.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Despite having a tremendously talented pass-rushing duo at the defensive end position, Mack brings a great amount of versatility and athleticism to this defense. Possibly the "safest" player in the draft, Mack can do it all. He's a pass-rusher but can also serve well in coverage.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel has become the most polarizing prospect in this year's draft. He's done well for himself over the offseason, putting together a spectacular pro day and impressing during interviews. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle tweeted the Jaguars' interest in Manziel on Wednesday:
Jacksonville finally gets a new face of the franchise here.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Even though Cleveland added Nate Burleson to pair with Josh Gordon, it would be unwise to pass on Watkins here. The draft's best receiver, Watkins has the ability to be a certified stud at the NFL level. A Watkins and Gordon combo? Get your popcorn ready.
5. Oakland Raiders: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
After losing defensive end Lamarr Houston via free agency, the Raiders have some holes to fill along the offensive line. Donald is a stout run-stuffer; however, he has the agility and quickness to knife his way into the backfield to rush the passer from the inside.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times in 2013. That must change immediately heading into next season. Adding Robinson gives Ryan a tremendously talented anchor at left tackle. He'll start immediately and protect the quarterback's blind side for the long haul.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
It's no secret the Buccaneers desperately need a complement to Vincent Jackson. They'll get a great one here in the tall, lengthy Evans. A huge target on the outside, Evans will take a great deal of pressure off of Jackson and give this offense a much-needed spark.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
With new head coach Mike Zimmer in the fold, expect the Vikings to go defense early in the draft. Zimmer loves pass-rushers, and he'll grab one here in Barr. Quick off the snap and lightning quick around the edge, Barr will lessen the blow of losing Jared Allen over the offseason in a hurry.
9. Buffalo Bills: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
While EJ Manuel continues to grow as an NFL quarterback, the Bills brass must ensure he has enough weapons to succeed. Ebron is a huge, quarterback-friendly target who can stretch the seam and become a great red-zone target.
10. Detroit Lions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Lions have a young, developing crop of cornerbacks; however, the team needs a reliable safety behind them. Clinton-Dix has great fluidity and speed, allowing him to play center field and cover plenty of ground in a hurry. He'll limit big plays against this defense immediately.
11. Tennessee Titans: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The Titans are rather stout up front but could use some help on the back end of their defense. Pryor is a versatile safety who can play center field, cover in the slot and defend against the run near the line of scrimmage. He has the potential to elevate this defense to the realm of the elite.
12. New York Giants: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
This offense has plenty of holes to fill; however, it all starts up front in the trenches. With Matthews still on the board here, the Giants will look to bolster their line and protect Eli Manning more effectively. Matthews has the technique to start immediately and will be a long-term anchor on New York's offensive line.
13. St. Louis Rams: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
No matter who's under center for the Rams in 2014, he will need some more weapons. Tavon Austin is a great slot receiver, but St. Louis needs a threat on the outside. Beckham is an electrifying receiver. He has the quickness and agility to stretch the field and create yards after the catch.
14. Chicago Bears: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Charles Tillman has been fantastic for the Bear; although, it's time to find his eventual replacement. Gilbert has great speed which allows him to shadow faster receivers. His ball skills are tremendous and will allow the Bears to continue the trend of producing a high turnover rate.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
If there's any cornerback in this year's draft who fits the Steelers mold, it's Dennard. A physical corner, he can play off the ball and in man coverage. He can be on an island and lock down receivers and free up remaining members of the secondary to move around the field.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dallas suffered some major losses in the pass-rushing department over the offseason. After a terrible defensive showing in 2013, the Cowboy defense must place a priority on adding edge-rushers. Ealy is quick off the snap and fast around the edge. He's versatile enough to play with his hand in the dirt and standing up at the linebacker position.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Adding Steve Smith over the offseason and re-signing tight end Dennis Pitta were great moves for the Ravens. Now, the team must look to the draft to provide additional protection for Joe Flacco. Lewan is extremely athletic for an offensive tackle. He's a mauler in the trenches and will provide stout pass protection and help revamp Baltimore's running game.
18. New York Jets: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Jets are severely lacking in the cornerback department. With very little depth and a Dee Milliner coming off a rookie year in which he mostly struggled, this team needs to add a player capable of making an immediate impact. Fuller is a great cover corner and has the necessary skill set to take the field from Day 1 for the Jets.
19. Miami Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
After a very solid season from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins' next step is to provide him with more protection. Martin handled himself very well at left tackle while at Notre Dame. A versatile and intelligent lineman, he can play multiple positions along the offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Bortles has a very high ceiling and a great amount of potential; however, he'll need some time to develop. With Carson Palmer still in the fold, Bortles will be given the necessary time to adjust to the NFL level and be ready to take the reins once Palmer departs.
21. Green Bay Packers: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Once a strength of the Packers defense, the linebacker position now needs some help. Addressing this need with Mosley will get this team right back on track. Mosley is quick and has great closing speed. He is a sure tackler and will be a staple on this defense for years to come.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
After releasing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles are in need of a speedy, playmaking receiver. That's exactly what they'll get in Cooks—basically a Jackson clone. He's extremely fast and is capable of stretching the field in the NFL. This high-octane offense will pick up right where it left off with Cooks in the fold.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
If the Chiefs are to go deeper into the playoffs, the team will need additional offensive playmakers. Amaro is a big, fast tight end who will be a great complement to Dwayne Bowe and give Alex Smith another much-needed weapon.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
With Terence Newman and Adam Jones now in their 30s, Leon Hall struggling through injuries and Dre Kirkpatrick remaining unproven, the Bengals need to add a cornerback. Verrett is a great cover corner who has the ability to play on the outside and in the slot.
25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Chargers offense took off in a big way under head coach Mike McCoy last season; however, the Achilles' heel of this team was the secondary. Roby brings a big, physical presence on the outside and will help guard against the AFC West's pass-happy teams.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Now that Cleveland drafted Watkins to pair with Gordon earlier in the draft, the team needs to find its next signal-caller. Bridgewater showed a great level of accuracy and decision-making at Louisville. There's no reason to think he won't be able to do the same in Cleveland.
27. New Orleans Saints: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Marques Colston is getting a bit long in the tooth. The Saints need to find his replacement and continue to provide Drew Brees with reliable receivers. Robinson is a strong, lengthy receiver who can make contested catches in traffic. He'll be a great long-term addition to pair with Kenny Stills.
28. Carolina Panthers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn over the offseason was a severe blow to Carolina's offense. This team needs to give Cam Newton an instant contributor. Lee demands attention whenever he's on the field. A good mix of size and speed will allow him to flourish on the outside with the Panthers.
29. New England Patriots: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
New England needs some help on the interior of its defensive line. Selecting Hageman here does two things for this team. He's a great gap-filler against the run and versatile enough to play defensive end in certain packages. He'll be a great chess piece for Bill Belichick.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
San Francisco needs a complement to Michael Crabtree and an additional weapon on the outside for Colin Kaepernick. Latimer is a quick receiver with reliable hands. With Crabtree in the fold as a solid possession receiver, Latimer will make an excellent complement on the other side.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Broncos are looking for physicality on the defensive side of the ball. They'll get it in a big way by adding Shazier. An intelligent, sure-tackling linebacker, Shazier will make an immediate impact. He's a natural leader who can get this defense headed in the right direction.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
One thing the Seahawks must ensure is the health of quarterback Russell Wilson. There's no better way to do that than solidifying the interior of the offensive line. Su'a-Filo is very strong and highly athletic. He is stout in pass protection and can get to the second level quickly when blocking for the run.
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