2014 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Latest Projections

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterOctober 28, 2013

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Latest Projections

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    Midway through the 2013 NFL season, and it's already time to start looking ahead to the 2014 draft class.

    If you're a fan of the winless Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the upcoming NFL draft is really all you have to look forward to. You're pinning your hopes of future success on a franchise quarterback, cornerstone left tackle or 10-sack defensive end. Even in October, the NFL draft is huge.

    Taking a look at what the first two rounds of the May draft will look like this early is dangerous, and you, the reader, should know that this is only to show where teams would be drafting currently, what their pre-free-agency needs are and where the top players are projected to be drafted. This is not a prediction of what will happen in May, but a prediction of what would happen if the draft were today.

    With that in mind, I've included top underclassmen (redshirt sophomores and juniors) who are likely to enter the 2014 draft. This is just a prediction, and some of them will definitely return to school rather than enter the draft.

    As for the draft order, it's based on today's NFL standings and adjusted for playoff seeding. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

    There really is no one else to consider here. The Jacksonville Jaguars need a franchise quarterback, and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is as franchise caliber as they come.

    Rated as the second-best quarterback I've scouted since 2002, Bridgewater has all the traits of an elite quarterback prospect. Accuracy, poise, toughness, enough arm strength to push the ball upfield and enough mobility to be dangerous if the pocket breaks down.

    The Bridgwater hype is real, and deserved. He's all you could want as a No. 1 overall pick and face of the franchise.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Pick: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are faced with a dilemma—draft the best player available or go after a young quarterback to build around long term?

    In late October, it's easy to say they should go with beast defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and draft a quarterback later to compete with Mike Glennon. Of course, much of this pick's direction depends on whom the general manager and head coach are. A new general manager could want his own quarterback here, while a new head coach and the return of general manager Mark Dominik would signal a best-player-available approach instead.

    The Bucs can't go wrong, though. Clowney is a once-in-a-decade talent at defensive end and the type of menace defenses are built around. Adding a pass-rusher like Clowney to the Tampa defense, which already features an insane amount of talent, would give the new head coach plenty of ammo to work with while developing Glennon or a rookie quarterback.

3. Minnesota Vikings

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    The Pick: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

    The Minnesota Vikings should have one focus this offseason: Finding a starting quarterback. After trying Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman this season, it's clear the answer isn't on the roster.

    Redshirt sophomore Marcus Mariota will likely be 19 years old when you're reading this mock draft. The Oregon Duck and Heisman Trophy candidate doesn't turn 20 until October 30. 

    What's most remarkable about Mariota is what he's been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. His second season as a starter has shown increased accuracy, timing, anticipation and patience in the pocket. Mariota has gone from a system quarterback to a quarterback who is redefining his system. Mariota isn't great because of Oregon, but rather Oregon is great because of Mariota's ability to tear apart a defense with his arm or legs.

    Mariota isn't a finished product yet, but when he is, there's a good chance he's the best quarterback prospect from the 2014 draft class.

4. New York Giants

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    The Pick: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

    The New York Giants have many holes to fill this offseason, which is why general manager Jerry Reese must simply draft the best player he can. Thankfully, that player can fill a huge need on the offensive line.

    Texas A&M's Jake Matthews currently grades out as my No. 4 ranked prospect and the best offensive lineman in the nation. He's played both right and left tackle in the A&M offense and shown the athletic ability to maul in the run game or slide and protect against pass-rushers. 

    That type of duality is what the Giants are lacking with Will Beatty protecting Eli Manning's blind side. To see this offense return to its full ability, Manning has to be protected. Drafting Matthews is a great step in that direction.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pick: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan

    The 2013 season hasn't been a great one for Taylor Lewan, but the Michigan left tackle is still viewed as a top-15 pick in the upcoming draft. And if a tackle-needy team is selecting in the first five picks, Lewan could see a draft day rise similar to the many tackles drafted early in the 2013 class.

    Last season we saw Eric Fisher make a late-season rise after dominating at the Senior Bowl and showing off the raw power that the other top tackle, Luke Joeckel, wasn't thought to possess. Lewan can have a similar rise if he attends the Senior Bowl and shows off his talents there. 

    The Steelers desperately need help at left tackle, too. A trade for Levi Brown resulted in him playing zero snaps for the team due to injury. Former second-round pick Mike Adams is much better suited to the right side, but right tackle Marcus Gilbert isn't a left tackle prospect. That opens the door for Lewan, who ended the 2012 season as the top-rated tackle returning to college.

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)

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    The Pick: LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

    The St. Louis Rams are still reaping the benefits of the 2012 trade that sent the No. 2 overall pick to the Washington Redskins and netted them quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams have quietly collected picks and added starters and quality depth with smart draft choices.

    Now the team will spend its final first-round pick from Washington, and with it the Rams can round out a defense that's loaded with talent.

    Alabama's C.J. Mosley can play inside or outside linebacker at the next level thanks to his athletic ability and vision. In St. Louis he would likely start opposite Alec Ogletree at outside linebacker but could be viewed as a more athletic option at middle linebacker—especially on passing downs—if the team wanted to replace James Laurinaitis. 

7. Atlanta Falcons

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    The Pick: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

    No one expected the Atlanta Falcons to be bad enough to warrant a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft, but midway through the season the losses are piling up. That could be good news, though, as the Falcons are in position to add a dynamic player to the roster for what should be a much better 2014 season.

    The Falcons defense has struggled without a pass rush this season, and that's where Anthony Barr is at his best. The former running back now spends his time terrorizing offenses off the edge of the UCLA defense. While he's not big enough to play defensive end full time, Barr can be used much like the Denver Broncos use Von Miller. On first and second down he can stand up and play outside linebacker and then drop his hand in the dirt and rush the quarterback on third down.

    When an athlete like Barr is available, you find ways to use him. 

8. Houston Texans

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    The Pick: QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU

    The Houston Texans are in the midst of a very disappointing season, and unless Case Keenum can spark something on offense, there could be major turnover coming in the offseason.

    Keenum, who made his first NFL start at quarterback in Week 7, isn't likely to be the long-term answer at quarterback unless something completely unforeseen happens over the next eight games. If Keenum isn't the guy, and if the Texans continue to lose, it's likely that head coach Gary Kubiak will be looking for work and the Texans will be looking for a new quarterback. 

    Enter Zach Mettenberger.

    The LSU quarterback has had his struggles, but the progress he's made from his junior season to now is remarkable. And at 6'5", 225 lbs, Mettenberger is the picture of quarterbacking. He's strong but also accurate and improving weekly in terms of vision and awareness. 

    Mettenberger isn't on a level with Bridgewater and Mariota, but in a game dominated by quarterback play, it's worth reaching for a player who needs a little work. The Texans can't afford to bury their heads in the sand if Keenum isn't the guy.

9. Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Pick: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

    Head coach Chip Kelly's vaunted offense hasn't gotten off the ground in his first season, largely due to a lack of personnel and inconsistency at quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles will enter the 2014 offseason focused on giving Chip the weapons he needs.

    The team would love to draft a quarterback, but with Bridgewater and Mariota off the board it's unlikely that the front office would value any passers with the No. 9 overall pick. A trade down would be possible, but drafting a dynamic wide receiver is too tempting to pass up.

    The Eagles are poised to lose Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Arrelious Benn to free agency this offseason, which makes adding a wide receiver all the more tempting. And with Sammy Watkins available, general manager Howie Roseman should have an easy decision to make.

    Watkins is special in ways we haven't seen from a wide receiver in some time. Like a more aware, slightly less physical Dez Bryant, Watkins has the speed to beat defenses deep and the power to break tackles and pick up yards after the catch. Unleashed in Kelly's spread-out offense, Watkins could be amazing.

10. Buffalo Bills

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    The Pick: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

    The Buffalo Bills have found surprising production on defense, but we're still looking at a roster that's lacking the talent to beat opponents man-to-man. By adding a local product at outside linebacker/defensive end, the Bills can go from a good defense to a great one.

    Khalil Mack is a one-man wrecking ball for the Buffalo defense. Watch his play against Ohio State and you'll see a man single-handedly keeping his team alive in a game it has no business competing in. Mack can do it all, too. He's big and strong enough to rush off the edge but can equally set the corner and stop the run. 

    Wherever you want to play him—outside linebacker or defensive end—just let him free to attack the ball. 

11. Cleveland Browns

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    The Pick: QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

    The Cleveland Browns desperately need a quarterback, which could make drafting a blue-chip prospect in the first round very tough.

    Every team that needs a quarterback will be trying to trade ahead of the Browns, who may have already played themselves out of the race for the top two quarterbacks by winning three games. But with two first-round picks, we could see the Browns make the move they should have made in 2012 and go up the board to draft a franchise quarterback.

    In a mock draft world with no trades, the Browns would need to pull the trigger on a quarterback with their first selection. Tajh Boyd is the most intriguing option for the team, as he has the downfield arm strength needed in Rod Chudzinski's offense and has the mobility to make plays if Norv Turner ever implements the roll-out portion of his West Coast offense. 

    Boyd will be a player some love and some don't, but he's a worthwhile pick at No. 11 overall. And for the Browns, he offers the hope Brandon Weeden never delivered.

12. Miami Dolphins

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    The Pick: OT Tiny Richardson, Tennessee

    The verdict is in, and the Miami Dolphins badly need help at offensive tackle.

    The 2013 season has proven that Jon Martin belongs at right tackle or offensive guard, that Tyson Clabo is done and that Bryant McKinnie was a wasted trade. That adds up to the team using its first-round pick on a true left tackle who can protect Ryan Tannehill.

    Tiny Richardson is a true left tackle. He may have been abused at times by Jadeveon Clowney this season, but go back to 2012 and you'll see Richardson shut down the beast defensive end prospect. In pass protection and run blocking, Richardson is a major upgrade over anything the Dolphins currently have.

13. Baltimore Ravens

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    The Pick: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M

    What does the Baltimore Ravens offense lack this season? A big, physical wide receiver to draw coverage away from deep threats Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. The trade that sent Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers may help the team's salary cap and long-term health, but the short-term ramifications have been huge on offense.

    Replacing Boldin might be easier than expected if big Mike Evans is still on the board. A redshirt sophomore at Texas A&M, Evans is eligible to enter this year's draft class and is moving himself up boards each week. Evans' size, strength and concentration make him an exciting red-zone and intermediate target for Joe Flacco. With Evans and Dennis Pitta working the middle of the field and Smith and Jones running deep, the Ravens offense would be back to 2012 levels. 

14. Tennessee Titans

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    The Pick: OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

    Starting offensive tackles Michael Roos and David Stewart will both enter the last year of their contract in 2014, giving the Tennessee Titans very little stability at the position. Consider also that backup Michael Otto is a free agent this offseason and adding a fresh face at tackle becomes more of a priority.

    Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio hasn't quite lived up to the unrealistic expectations analysts placed on him this summer, but the left tackle prospect is still a long-term NFL starter. Kouandjio is very similar to Tyron Smith, who played right tackle at USC and then took time to adjust to the NFL but is currently a stud at left tackle for Dallas. Kouandjio may need some time to develop, but once he adjusts to the speed of the game, he has the athletic ability and technique to be a top-tier starter.

15. St. Louis Rams

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    The Pick: OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor

    With the second of their two first-round picks, the St. Louis Rams can focus on adding talent to an offensive line that's been up and down this season. But in Cyril Richardson they can add a plug-and-play guard with the mobility and power to excel in any offensive scheme.

    Coming out of the Baylor offense, Richardson is asked to pull, trap, attack down the line and take on defenders head up. He's a do-it-all guard with rare agility and quickness. Similar in many ways to Mike Iupati of the San Francisco 49ers, Richardson can have an impact much like that of the All-Pro caliber left guard has on the Niners run game.

16. Oakland Raiders

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    The Pick: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame

    It's rare for the Oakland Raiders to be drafting in the middle of the first round and it not being the result of a trade, so we have to give credit to Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen on the job they've done this season. Now they have to keep their hot streak alive.

    The team struck gold with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and they have some young talent worth building around, but by and large their offseason moves should be focused on adding as much talent as possible to the rest of the roster. That means a lot of "best player available" drafting.

    Notre Dame's Louis Nix is the best player on the board, and a fit for the Raiders as they look to fill out the defensive line long term. The team is surviving now with many veterans and short-term contracts at defensive tackle but few prospects for the future. Nix, with his size and quickness in the middle of the line, can step in as a Day 1 starter and long-term fixture anchoring the Raiders defense.

17. New York Jets

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    The Pick: WR Marqise Lee, USC

    The New York Jets have their quarterback of the future in Geno Smith, but they desperately need to add talent around him this offseason. 

    The Jets don't have a great history with USC products, but Marqise Lee could be the man to break the trend. As a premier outside wide receiver prospect, Lee brings the finish and technique that raw prospect Stephen Hill still lacks. While Lee isn't the athlete that Hill is, he's a better route-runner and more likely threat as an intermediate option in the passing game.

    Giving Smith reliable targets, like Lee, will go far in determining his upside. And on the flip side, giving Lee a talented quarterback could unveil talents he wasn't able to show at USC.

18. Arizona Cardinals

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    The Pick: OT Cameron Erving, FSU

    Another offseason, another prediction of the Arizona Cardinals drafting a left tackle. Maybe this year they'll listen.

    Levi Brown was shipped off to Pittsburgh and Bradley Sowell was inserted as the starting left tackle. As you can imagine, this isn't working out very well. And so here we are, once again looking at the Cardinals and available left tackle prospects.

    Cameron Erving was lost in the hype of Menelik Watson on the Florida State line last season, but the big left tackle was outplaying Watson last season and has shown improvement throughout the 2013 campaign. And at 6'6", 320 lbs, Erving has both the reach and power to handle speed and bull-rushers off the edge.

    The Cardinals may be likely to look at a quarterback here, but it would be a reach to consider any of the remaining quarterbacks with pick No. 18.

19. Carolina Panthers

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    The Pick: WR/RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

    The Carolina Panthers have become a playoff contender thanks to Cam Newton, Steve Smith and a defense that's been built up through the NFL draft. To seriously challenge in the NFC South, the offense needs to continue to improve.

    One area where the offense is lacking would be at wide receiver opposite Smith. Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn may have a play or two here and there that make you pause and take notice, but overall neither has risen to the level of being a true No. 2 option for Newton in the passing game. That's where a talent like De'Anthony Thomas can take this offense to a new level.

    Thomas is similar in many ways to Percy Harvin. The Oregon Ducks move him around often, utilizing his speed at running back, as a receiver and as a return man. The Panthers would want to do the same, basically getting the ball to Thomas as early and often as possible. 

    Thomas may not be the most conventional wide receiver, but he's a true offensive weapon anytime he touches the ball.

20. Chicago Bears

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    The Pick: CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

    There will be fans in Chicago who want the team to draft a quarterback here, but it's way too early to give up on Jay Cutler. Especially after seeing how well he was playing in Marc Trestman's offense. Instead of trying to replace a proven commodity with an unproven prospect, the Bears front office should be focused on adding young players to replace the many veterans on defense.

    Cornerback Tim Jennings turns 30 this season, and teammate Charles Tillman turns 33 right after the season ends. Behind them there is no proven depth or up-and-coming starters. General manager Phil Emery should have an eye toward the draft.

    Bradley Roby entered the year as my top-rated cornerback, and he's still holding down that spot, but his overall ranking has slipped some. Roby was exposed by Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis and has struggled in other spots along the way. One bad game won't ruin a draft stock, but Roby hasn't been the dominant player we saw in 2012. At least not yet.

    That doesn't mean he won't step in and be a starter; he definitely has that potential, but his slip down boards could be great news for the Bears.

21. Dallas Cowboys

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    The Pick: OG Gabe Jackson, Miss. State

    There is so much talent on the roster in Dallas, but the problem has been getting maximum production out of the talent. Short of drafting a new head coach, the best the Cowboys can do is look to improve over the weaknesses they do have.

    One such weak spot is on the inside of the offensive line. First-rounder Travis Frederick is playing well at center, but at both guard spots the team could use an upgrade. With Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson on the board, Jerry Jones has an easy decision to make.

    Jackson is a big mauler in the run game, but he's showing good balance and patience in the passing game. With the Cowboys offense geared to a pass-first attack, Jackson's quickness and strength could open the pocket for Tony Romo to step up without being crushed by the defense. As Drew Brees continues to show, when a quarterback can step up in the pocket he can be very dangerous down the field.

22. San Diego Chargers

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    The Pick: CB Jason Verrett, TCU

    The San Diego Chargers have been one of the surprises of the 2013 season under new head coach Mike McCoy. For the team to compete in 2014, it must get better at cornerback.

    Jason Verrett is a little undersized (5'10", 176 lbs), but he makes up for it with physical, aggressive coverage. And unlike many small cornerbacks, Verrett can pack a punch when coming up to play the run or press wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

    Inserting a talented man coverage cornerback like Verrett behind the talented San Diego front seven is a match made in heaven.

23. Detroit Lions

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    The Pick: LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

    The Detroit Lions have quickly bounced back from a disappointing 2012 season, and in the process kept head coach Jim Schwartz off the hot seat. But to take the NFC North away from the Green Bay Packers, the Lions must build a defense that can stop Aaron Rodgers. To do that, they need more athletes with dual-threat ability.

    Outside linebacker Ryan Shazier is a dual threat if ever there was one. Shazier is among the best blitzing linebackers in all of college football with his explosive first step, and in 2013 we've seen him become a well-rounded run defender on the edge.

    For the Lions, Shazier lining up behind Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah is the type of lineup that could start to shake Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

24. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)

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    The Pick: WR Jarvis Landry, LSU

    The trade that sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis gives the Cleveland Browns another first-round pick to play with. Whether they use that as material to trade up and draft a quarterback or sit back and look to add more talent, this second pick will be valuable.

    Since there are no predicted trades here, let's look at the Browns if they hold onto the pick. The team needs help at wide receiver—no matter who is playing quarterback next season—and can't rely on Greg Little and Josh Gordon. Little is talented but inconsistent. And while Gordon has true No. 1 potential, he's one mistake away from a season-long suspension as part of the league's substance abuse program. And even with them both on the roster, the Browns still need help at receiver.

    That's where the best wide receiver prospect in the SEC comes into play. Jarvis Landry has stolen the show in college football's power conference with his speed, agility and playmaking skills. Given Landry's big-play potential, he'd be the perfect threat opposite Gordon with Jordan Cameron attacking the seam at tight end.

25. Green Bay Packers

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    The Pick: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina

    The Green Bay Packers remain one of the NFL's model franchises thanks to the stability of general manager Ted Thompson, head coach Mike McCarthy and a very good stable of scouts and assistant coaches. 

    Looking ahead, the Packers will have a tough decision to make at tight end. Jermichael Finley is uniquely talented, but he suffered a scary injury in Week 7 and his future is very much in question. On top of that, in much less important matters, his contract situation makes it possible for the team to replace him.

    With Finley's future doubtful, drafting an athletic tight end is a priority. Aaron Rodgers loves getting the ball to his tight ends, and in the Green Bay passing scheme so many of the route combinations involve the tight end opening lanes for the wide receivers. By adding an athlete at the position, and Eric Ebron is definitely that, the team can continue to attack defenses with a versatile, fast attack.

    Ebron isn't a great blocker, but the Packers don't need him to be. He's an athlete, and a candidate to play often in the slot as a flex tight end. 

26. New England Patriots

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    The Pick: WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers

    It's almost too easy to connect the dots between the New England Patriots and wide receiver Brandon Coleman. This is one of those draft picks where it makes too much sense not to happen.

    Bill Belichick loves Rutgers prospects. In the 2013 draft alone they added three players from the Scarlet Knights secondary. It's a match made in heaven then that the Patriots need a wide receiver when there's a big, talented one coming out of New Brunswick. 

    Coleman is a fit for what the Patriots need, too. He would add the size they lose with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the field but give them the speed and strength they haven't been able to find with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Not that the four receivers mentioned need to be replaced, but rather that Coleman can be a great complement to what the Patriots already have.

    If the junior leaves Rutgers early, expect his name to be high on the Patriots' wish list.

27. Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Pick: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

    The Cincinnati Bengals have a roster loaded with talent, and most of it is young talent. One area where the team has to get younger, though, is at cornerback.

    Leon Hall is an elite player when healthy, but that's been far too limited in recent seasons. Their next best players are Terence Newman (35) and Adam Jones (30), so a youth movement is needed. The team did spend a first-round pick on Dre Kirkpatrick in the 2012 draft, but to date he's been unimpressive and may benefit best from a move to free safety.

    Focusing on youth, the Bengals should take a long look at Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. A speedy cornerback with the man coverage skills to lock down inside or outside receivers, Ekpre-Olomu has the technique and speed that Kirkpatrick has yet to show in the NFL.

28. San Francisco 49ers

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    The Pick: WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

    The rich get richer. Again.

    With three picks in the top 64 selections, the San Francisco 49ers are once again loaded with options in the draft. And in a 2014 class that looks to be deep on talent, the team is in a great position to add youth at aging positions and fill in holes where previous draft picks failed.

    One such spot is at wide receiver, where A.J. Jenkins was shipped off after one disappointing season with the team. Even the player they received in return, Jon Baldwin, has yet to leave his mark on the field. Even with Michael Crabtree back in the fold next season, the 49ers have to get younger to eventually replace Anquan Boldin.

    Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews has the skills, size and production scouts love. He was already known as a talented pass-catcher and route-runner before the 2013 season, but now he's flashing run-away speed too. If Matthews is on the board, he's a perfect fit for San Francisco.

29. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Pick: DT Will Sutton, Arizona State

    The Seattle Seahawks roster is what an NFL team should look like when scouting, coaching and development all work together. With one of the best front offices in all of football, the Seahawks have been able to identify needs and work to fill holes through free agency and the draft. They'll do it again this offseason.

    Looking at said roster, you might expect to see an offensive lineman drafted here, but the team has good young players like Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie waiting in the wings. Instead of reaching for an offensive lineman, the Seahawks should look at adding even more weapons to the defensive line.

    Drafting a defensive tackle might seem wasteful considering the talent on the roster, but the Seahawks use situational defensive lineman as much as any team in the league. Because of that, spending a late first-round pick on a pass-rushing defensive tackle isn't a waste, but a smart investment.

    Will Sutton may not be a favorite of the national draft media, but his film is impressive. He has short arms, plays too light at times and has struggled with double-teams a bit this year, but he's also a really good football player. Draftniks lose focus of that sometimes when we look at 40 times and arm length, but Sutton defies measurables and simply plays better than most.

30. Denver Broncos

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    The Pick: LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU

    Why would the Denver Broncos draft a player so similar to Von Miller? Because that's worked pretty well for them, hasn't it?

    Kyle Van Noy, at first glance, is a poor-man's Miller. He's a pass-rushing edge defender for BYU, but the more time spent investigating his play, the more I see a versatile linebacker capable of lining up at any spot in the 4-3 scheme the Broncos run.

    Van Noy could step in opposite Miller with Wesley Woodyard in the middle, or he could line up in the middle and be flanked by the two veterans. And with the A-gap blitz becoming more popular in the NFL, finding a MIKE 'backer who can blitz is crucial. And Van Noy can blitz. It's what he does best.

31. New Orleans Saints

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    The Pick: LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama

    The transition to a 3-4 defense has gone well for the New Orleans Saints, but that's a credit more to the coaching than the talent level. Especially at outside linebacker.

    Outside linebacker Junior Galette has played well, but opposite him the team needs a pass-rusher with the size and strength to dominate the edge. Alabama's Adrian Hubbard fits the bill.

    Hubbard hasn't been a statistical juggernaut at Alabama, but that's as much due to scheme as it is an indictment on his abilities. The Crimson Tide defense asks him to spy quarterbacks and contain the edge instead of attacking the backfield—something that affects his bottom line greatly in the box score. But Hubbard has production and potential as an edge rusher, and in Rob Ryan's scheme he could be great.

32. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Pick: WR Paul Richardson, Colorado

    It's really quite amazing that the Kansas City Chiefs would pick last in the first round if the season ended today. It's even more impressive when you look at their wide receiver depth chart.

    Outside of Dwayne Bowe, who has been very inconsistent this season, the team has little established talent. Donnie Avery is a good second option at times, but he's been plagued with drops dating back to his days in St. Louis. Whatever the Chiefs do this offseason, getting better at wide receiver has to be a priority.

    Paul Richardson may not be a familiar name to the non-draftnik crowd, but he's a name to know. With exceptional speed and the concentration to make sideline grabs look routine, Richardson has the big-play skills the Chiefs currently lack.

Second Round

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    The 2014 class is a good one in terms of depth, and that means many of the names drafted in the second round would be first-rounders in a weaker class. Teams who missed out on quarterbacks in the first round will be happy to see Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and Brett Hundley still available. Teams looking for a running back will rejoice when they see the talent passed over in Round 1, too. The second round of the 2014 draft could be the strongest in recent memory if all top eligible underclassmen leave school early.

    Second Round Mock Draft
    1Tampa BayQB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
    2JacksonvilleDE Vic Beasley, Clemson
    3MinnesotaDE Trent Murphy, Stanford
    4PittsburghFS HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama
    5WashingtonDE Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
    6AtlantaDT Michael Bennett, Ohio State
    7HoustonOT James Hurst, North Carolina
    8New York GiantsTE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
    9BuffaloCB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
    10ClevelandRB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
    11PhiladelphiaQB Brett Hundley, UCLA
    12BaltimoreCB Antone Exum, Virginia Tech
    13TennesseeQB Derek Carr, Fresno State
    14St. LouisRB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
    15OaklandOG Zack Martin, Notre Dame
    16MiamiOG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
    17ArizonaOLB Michael Sam, Missouri
    18CarolinaOG Anthony Steen, Alabama
    19New York JetsSS Craig Loston, LSU
    20ChicagoDT Anthony Johnson, LSU
    21DallasRB Marion Grice, Arizona State
    22San DiegoDT DaQuan Jones, Penn State
    23DetroitWR Allen Robinson, Penn State
    24IndianapolisWR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
    25Green BayILB Shayne Skov, Stanford
    26New EnglandCB Marcus Roberson, Florida
    27CincinnatiDT Timmy Jernigan, FSU
    28San FranciscoCB Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
    29SeattleOT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
    30DenverCB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
    31New OrleansILB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
    32San Francisco (f/Chiefs)DE Ben Gardner, Stanford