2014 NFL Mock Draft: How Each Team Would Act Based on Value Alone

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: How Each Team Would Act Based on Value Alone
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

In reality, the 2014 NFL draft will be composed of picks made by franchises on the hunt for some semblance of need and value.

But what if need completely goes out the window?

Value, sometimes referred to as "best player available" is an approach many teams use to great success. Those teams often hit need in the process, but it's a prevailing thought that it is silly to pass on a talented prospect because that position on the roster is already filled.

Let's take a look at a mock where value is the name of the game. It won't be perfect—no mock even comes close—but it certainly creates some intriguing fits.

 

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

Look, Jadeveon Clowney is a tough sell in Houston from a schematic standpoint because he's accustomed to playing with his hand in the dirt.

He'll get to do that in patches with Houston, but he may have to stand up in the 3-4 alignment. That makes for a risky endeavor, but based on value, Clowney is far and away the top prospect this year. 

The dream of Clowney and J.J. Watt gets realized based on value, and Bill O'Brien can still go get himself a quarterback in the second round or higher if he chooses to trade back up.

 

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

Not far behind Clowney is Greg Robinson, an offensive tackle who is a bit iffy in pass protection, but—this is hyperbolic, but true—touts a ceiling that possibly flirts with Hall of Fame potential.

When asked by NFL.com's Marc Sessler which team has shown the most interest in him, Robinson had a telling answer:

In terms of value, the Rams can't do much better if they stand pat. Jason Smith nightmares aside, Robinson is something the entire front office in St. Louis can agree on with two picks in the first round.

 

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

Quarterback seems the logical choice given the board, but Jacksonville's pursuit of best value lands the front office Khalil Mack.

There have been rumblings that Mack is worth the No. 1 overall pick, so a few picks later seems about right for the pass-rushing monster who hails from a small school but possesses a big game.

Mack can play any spot in the Jaguars' alignment and creates a ripple effect on the rest of the unit, not to mention he becomes the face of a franchise in desperate need of answers.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

While he may have skinny knees and wear gloves, Teddy Bridgewater remains the best quarterback in the class thanks to his cerebral play and ability to move defenders with his eyes (sounds like Aaron Rodgers coming out, no?)

As Sporting News' Eric Galko opines, Bridgewater still has a shot at being the first off the board:

Bridgewater is the signal-caller of choice for Cleveland, as his pro-ready game meshes well with the likes of Josh Gordon.

 

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

Like it or not, the quarterback position remains most important in the NFL.

Johnny Manziel isn't that far behind Bridgewater thanks to his freestyle play, which may go a long way in solving the quarterback curse in Oakland.

This style to create on the run helps Manziel overcome a shoddy overall roster, which in turn gives way to improvement over the years as the problem under center is solved.

 

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

It's quite amusing how little has been said about Jake Matthews in recent months.

He's by far the more surefire prospect in the class due to his NFL pedigree and all-around game that will allow him to play effectively as a pro at any spot on the field.

Matthews takes his talents to Atlanta in a value-based scenario, with a team that could use an upgrade in the trenches in front of Matt Ryan.

 

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

Smoke screen or not, Mike Evans' stock has been on the rise for quite some time, as illustrated by CBS Sports' Dane Brugler:

Evans has a semi-rare combo of size and speed to bully corners on the edges, meaning he's a welcome addition in Tampa Bay with one of either Josh McCown or Mike Glennon under center.

Lovie Smith sure won't complain about having another player like Alshon Jeffery to work with, especially across from Vincent Jackson.

 

8. Minnesota Vikings: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Opinions wildly vary on Blake Bortles, but given the value placed on the position at the pro level, it is not a shock to see him off the board so high.

Bortles has a redshirt vibe to him, meaning he probably needs to sit out a year, hold the clipboard while somebody else is thrown to the wolves and develop more in a number of areas.

He gets just that in Minnesota, a team that kept Matt Cassel around for a reason.

 

9. Buffalo Bills: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

There is a prevailing thought that Sammy Watkins may not be the first wideout on the board, one that makes more sense considering the league's infatuation with bigger receivers.

Watkins remains one of the best overall players in the class and lands in a great situation in Buffalo. In tandem with Stevie Johnson, the Clemson product will help get the most out of EJ Manuel while sparring with others for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

 

10. Detroit Lions: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

Aaron Donald is past due in this sort of mock, with the only reason he falls out of the top nine being the importance of other positions around the league.

There is a reason folks like Rotoworld's Josh Norris are mocking Donald to go in the top five:

Donald is a rare talent in the Geno Atkins mold who teams must simply make room for regardless of talent already on the roster. This is the case in Detroit, where Donald would pair with Ndamukong Suh and wreak havoc.

 

11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA

This will stir up some controversy.

Anthony Barr's stock has been all over the place on the path to the draft, with many lobbing criticism his way thanks to his status as a former running back with limited moves as a pass-rusher.

But that one thing Barr does well, paired with alarming potential, makes him one of the more attractive options in the class. He lands in a sweet spot in Tennessee, where his status as the missing piece in a schematic change may get all the credit if successful.

 

12. New York Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Any other issues aside, Taylor Lewan's stunning skill set may allow him to be the best tackle from the class when all is said and done.

Just look at some of his numbers, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post:

Those are impossible to ignore, as is Lewan's stunning upside that simply needs some technique refinement. All things considered, New York gets a massive boost in front of the oft-erratic Eli Manning.

 

13. St. Louis Rams: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

At some point the top tight end has to come off the board, especially considering the disparity between Eric Ebron and the rest of the class.

Ebron is an elite prospect as a result of his uncanny speed for the position, which will allow him to both stretch the field and break big plays after a short gain.

Tight end isn't the biggest need in St. Louis, but Ebron's addition allows the staff to pair him with Jared Cook in two-tight end sets and treat Sam Bradford like Andy Dalton.

 

14. Chicago Bears: Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Rinse and repeat for the safety position, as Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix has distanced himself from the rest of the class as the process has dragged on to its much-awaited conclusion.

Chicago needs help in the trenches, but a new member of the secondary won't hurt, either.

Clinton-Dix's rangy play is an upgrade in that regard, as linebacker and safety play last season in the Windy City was simply putrid.

 

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

Value falls right into place for Pittsburgh at No. 15, as the front office needs to upgrade on a unit that features an aging Ike Taylor. That front office has shown an inordinate amount of interest in Darqueze Dennard, per Brugler:

So it's understandable why Colbert and Tomlin traveled to East Lansing for Dennard's pro day and have shown so much interest in the Michigan State cornerback. The star of the Spartans' "No Fly Zone," Dennard was the Jim Thorpe Award winner in 2013 with 14 passes defended and four interceptions. He lacks track speed, but has enough wheels, allowing very little separation with his read/react quickness and smooth body control.

Dennard is an upgrade in every sense and, as an added bonus, gets to learn from the veterans on the roster while playing limited snaps. As the best corner in the class, he can be considered a bit of a steal at No. 15.

 

16. Dallas Cowboys: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

There are those in the NFL draft community such as Phil Simms who are most confident in Derek Carr above anyone else, per SiriusXM NFL Radio:

Given the weight of the position around the league and his overall game, there are not many prospects more important than Carr this year.

In Dallas, Carr would get to sit for a year or two and develop, which is nothing but a good thing as he comes from a quarterback-friendly offense primarily out of the shotgun.

 

17. Baltimore Ravens: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The Baltimore Ravens already have Steve Smith on deck, but adding a player with a similar skill set to complement him and Torrey Smith couldn't hurt.

That's where Brandin Cooks comes in, as he is easily the best slot receiver in the class and provides another deep element for the offense led by Joe Flacco.

In tandem with Smith, the Ravens would be set for quite some time in the receiving corps.

 

18. New York Jets: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Pro-ready cornerbacks are difficult to find, and the best of all in that regard this year may very well be Kyle Fuller.

Fuller's violence against the run is a great bonus, but it is his skills in coverage that set him apart from the rest of the pack. He'll struggle less than most rookie defensive backs do as a result. 

Rex Ryan understands his cornerbacks and will see the value in Fuller. It's a poorly kept secret that his secondary is essentially in shambles.

 

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

Value dictates that the Miami Dolphins still get their guy at No. 19 overall.

Zack Martin's ability to play any spot on the line at a high level is a major plus for the Dolphins, an organization that has to do whatever it takes to improve the worst line of all from a season ago.

Martin gives the team options in this regard. He's a bit iffy as a tackle but has a bright, lengthy future as an interior piece.

 

20. Arizona Cardinals: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh

Again, the overall importance of the quarterback position is far too integral to ignore, and risks at the position are not that big of a deal given the depth of the class and the team-friendly rookie wage scale.

To that end, it makes sense Tom Savage is held in such high regard. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has one such example:

Bruce Arians knows his quarterbacks, so his taking Savage to develop behind Carson Palmer is no shock. In fact, it's a calculated move in a deep class that may pay dividends down the line.

 

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

Yes, interior linebackers have dropped in status significantly in the NFL in favor of quality pass-rushers.

That does not change the fact C.J. Mosley is one of the best interior, sideline-to-sideline enforcers to hit the NFL level in quite some time.

Green Bay understands the value of having a game-changing presence in the middle after having to deal with Brian Urlacher all those years. Mosley is just that for the Packers.

 

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

At some point Justin Gilbert has to come off the board based on his upside, with his rookie struggles sure to be a detriment in terms of value.

Gilbert is by no means a bad player, but he'll have some issues as a rookie. Philadelphia is fine with this long-term maneuver to improve what was a rather mediocre secondary last season.

Chip Kelly quietly did a stellar job building the unit a year ago, and Gilbert is merely the latest quality addition.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Odell Beckham Jr. is making a late surge in terms of draft stock, as captured by ESPN's Rich Cimini:

It's a bit late for that to be entirely believable, though. There is no question Beckham Jr. is one of the top players in the class, but his passing the likes of Watkins and Evans is a bit much at this juncture.

Instead, Beckham Jr. brings his explosive special teams play and overall sound game to Kansas City, where Andy Reid will surely put all of the above to great use.

 

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Jason Verrett is similar to Fuller in a lot of ways, but his size (5'9", 189 pounds) is something most will knock.

Not Cincinnati, where the staff will understand the value of a quality slot corner who can line up well with the speedsters of the league and prevent big plays.

As an added bonus, Verrett brings a violence to the run the Bengals are used to seeing thanks to the likes of Leon Hall. Fit and value are married nicely as a result.

 

25. San Diego Chargers: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame

It's about time the best 3-4 nose tackle in the class came off the board. San Diego has no issue with this, as the playoff roster is in severe need of a space-eating tackle to clog lanes.

Louis Nix does so with relative ease, which will allow linebackers like Manti Te'o more room to work.

The San Diego defense was quietly sound last year but gets kicked up a notch with an elite prospect in the trenches.

 

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis Colts): Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Opinions vary wildly on Marqise Lee, as noted by CollegeFootball 24/7:

Regardless, there is only so much allotted time for a wideout with Lee's skill set to sit on the sidelines in this draft.

Lee is similar to Watkins in a lot of ways, although injury and drop issues were a real problem at USC last season. But Cleveland is alright with these woes as it gives Lee a legit shot to shine across from Gordon.

 

27. New Orleans Saints: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Ryan Shazier is similar to Mosley in that he won't get a lot of attention come draft day as he's not a head-turner as a pass-rusher, but the rest of his skill set is something NFL squads absolutely need.

Rob Ryan understands this, not to mention the value he is getting so late. Shazier can move sideline to sideline to prevent the run and has enough speed and athleticism to drop back into coverage.

In the confines of Ryan's amoeba defense, a hard fit is hard to find.

 

28. Carolina Panthers: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

The best strictly interior lineman in the class can only fall so far.

Martin may be more versatile, but Xavier Su'a-Filo is a mauler who excels in all areas. As an added bonus, his fit in Carolina has plenty of angles to look at, as captured by Norris:

Su'a-Filo has a long career in front of him no matter where he lands, but that's especially true in front of Cam Newton.

 

29. New England Patriots: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Again, value has a way of meeting need in a perfect marriage for those lucky—or smart—enough to make it happen.

That's the case at No. 29, where the New England Patriots get a prospect who is similar in a lot of ways to Aaron Hernandez and can do what he was able to do on the field in tandem with Tom Brady.

Of course, his name is Jace Amaro, and his landing in New England has been one of the more consistent pairings of the entire process. That doesn't change.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

San Francisco is very much on the hunt for another wideout, and Cody Latimer is very much on the rise as he has been for the past two months.

Per NFL Network's Gil Brandt, the two have been known to associate this offseason:

Latimer is going to be a top commodity come draft day, and his physical style on the outside fits well with most teams, but especially in San Francisco.

 

31. Denver Broncos: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU

It's easy to forget about Kyle Van Noy in the hoopla surrounding the likes of Barr, but he's easily one of the best pass-rushers in the class and won't make it out of the first round.

Van Noy brings more to the table than just a great pass rush, but that is what will get him the highlights at the next level as he lines up across from Von Miller and wreaks havoc.

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Much has been said about the drop issues put on display by Kelvin Benjamin at the collegiate level, but his ceiling is simply too difficult to pass up near the end of the first round.

This is especially the case for Seattle, a team in a position of luxury that would love nothing more than to add another deep threat after the departure of Golden Tate. Again, the teams near the bottom find a way to make need and value work. Imagine that.

 

Note: All free-agency signing info courtesy of ESPN. All height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com

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