November 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee (9) catches a first down pass against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Way Too Early 2014 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 1-5

Predicting with an NFL mock draft in August isn’t even worth talking about, but if anything else it provides an excellent control group as the 2013 college season gets underway, offering fans a glimpse of how much things change or how right the experts were.

#1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville

Make no mistake.  Not taking a quarterback in the 2013 draft will come back to haunt the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Leaving their team in the hands of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne was the wrong move as neither has proven anything aside from the occasional glimpses of what they were in college.  Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell won’t error like that a second time.  Teddy Bridgewater is the clear favorite to top the quarterback class for 2014.  He is big, athletic, strong and well coached in all the intricacies of the position including footwork and pocket poise.  The Jaguars take the next step in rebuilding.

#2 – Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina

This is probably the toughest call for GM Reggie McKenzie.  After another failed season the temptation is there to take the next quarterback available.  Yet in this instance he sticks to his guns, moving forward with Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson.  He just can’t let the Oakland Raiders pass up Jadeveon Clowney.  Pass rushers of his ability come along maybe once in a decade.  His freakish physical talent and valuable experience at South Carolina would make him an instant force for the Silver and Black, giving their developing defense some serious bite where they need it the most.

#3 – New York Jets – Marqise Lee – WR – USC

Quarterbacks are useless without weapons or protection.  The New York Jets felt obligated to start a quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith but didn’t bother to think either could end up playing without any true go-to receivers or running backs.  Santonio Holmes still hasn’t returned from his Lisfranc injury and Stephen Hill hasn’t tapped into his enormous potential thus far.  Both those instances can change, but the likelihood is minimal.  The Jets flop big time, Rex Ryan gets fired and the next head coach goes right after the problem by drafting USC star Marqise Lee.  His 2012 season was a one-man show in which he used pure speed and athleticism to carry the Trojans offense.  That is something the Jets have missed.

#4 – San Diego Chargers – Tajh Boyd – QB – Clemson

Yes, write it down.  This means the experiment to revive Philip Rivers has failed.  For all the good things Mike McCoy did in Denver, the San Diego Chargers discover the regression by the former Pro Bowl quarterback had nothing to do with improper coaching.  With that they give full discretion to McCoy to find his own quarterback.  Taking Tajh Boyd comes as little surprise.  The Clemson passer has all the tools from leadership, to athleticism, arm strength and mobility.  His knack for late-game heroics is a bonus and the worries about his height (6’1″) are overblown.  Provided he stays healthy in 2013 there is no reason to think he won’t covet early attention in the draft. San Diego draws that lucky card.

#5 – Philadelphia Eagles – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA

Chip Kelly was perhaps the most exciting hire of all the new head coaches.  His innovative offensive styles can and should produce from the get go for the Philadelphia Eagles.  The problem is it might not be enough to carry a brand new and questionable defense.  Already signs point to problems in the secondary, where they were easily torched by Tom Brady in the preseason.  Logic says they go right after that problem in the draft but instead they offer help in another way, by beefing up their pass rush.  One thing 3-4 defenses have trouble finding is athletes who fit their outside linebacker position.  Anthony Barr fits that mold perfectly.  An emerging rusher, he has drawn comparisons to All-Pro Clay Matthews and is only getting better.  Adding him to the front will give Philly all sorts of extra punch in their bid to reclaim the NFC East.

At least that’s what the NFL mock draft in August says.

Tags: Jadeveon Clowney Marqise Lee NFL Draft Oakland Raiders Teddy Bridgewater

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