Week nine is almost in the books and the 2014 NFL draft order has taken on another considerable shift. How will this affect the players taken in the first round? Here are the first mock 15 picks.
#1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
For the time being a new team has taken over the top spot in the draft order. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have something going with Mike Glennon at quarterback. So they go the obvious route by bolstering their struggling pass rush with can’t-miss defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
#2 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcus Mariota – QB – Oregon
Losing the top spot shouldn’t scare the Jacksonville Jaguars unless they foolishly start winning games. TampaBay won’t go quarterback, which should give them pick of the litter. Having spent time with Russell Wilson in Seattle, expect Gus Bradley to eye the more athletic option. Marcus Mariota is all that coming out of Oregon.
#3 – Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Starting three different quarterbacks pretty much proves the Minnesota Vikings have no answers for what’s eating their passing offense. So they decide to start fresh. Teddy Bridgewater is hardly a “settlement.” He’s athletic, big and plays quarterback the right way with intelligence, poise and accuracy.
#4 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Giving up 55 points in New England pretty much said it all. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is starving for young game changers. To that end they grab one. Anthony Barr is a perfect fit for their outside linebacker spot. He’s active, instinctual, fast and lives in the opponents backfield.
#5 – Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Finding another weapon or some help on defense are possibilities, but the Atlanta Falcons may never have a better chance to give Matt Ryan a franchise left tackle. Jake Matthews has all the tools including the background. There is scarcely a defender he can’t block, which is why he remains the best offensive lineman in the 2014 NFL draft class.
#6 – Houston Texans – Louis Nix III – DT – Notre Dame
Case Keenum seems like he’s make a strong case as the future option for the Houston Texans at quarterback. He still has a ways to go, but if he does stick his team should think about improving their run defense. Louis Nix is a massive nose tackle with the ideal athleticism and quickness to eat up double teams, allowing J.J. Watt to roam free.
#7 – New York Giants – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
It doesn’t matter where they find it, the New York Giants need help on defense. An area that has become a serious liability is linebacker, which is why they traded for Jon Beason. By taking Khalil Mack they get a gifted athlete who thrives in coverage and against the run but also lends a huge hand rushing the passer.
#8 – Buffalo Bills – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Though a receiver with size seems more preferable, the Buffalo Bills cannot in good conscience pass on Sammy Watkins. His all around talent is undeniable from good size to explosive speed and acceleration. He is yet another weapon for E.J. Manuel to utilize for the Bills offense.
#9 – St. Louis Rams – Brett Hundley – QB – UCLA
Sam Bradford is too inconsistent and can’t stay healthy. Kellen Clemens is a career backup. In other words the St. Louis Rams need answers at quarterback. Brett Hundley is no guarantee to declare in 2014 but his overall physical abilities along with solid development at UCLA make him one of the best long-term options in the class.
#10 – Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Losing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have proven not as painful to the Baltimore Ravens as losing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Joe Flacco needs better targets, and preferably bigger ones. Mike Evans is a 6’5″ beast out of Texas A&M, able to routinely outleap and outmuscle defenders for the football while retaining good enough speed.
#11 – St. Louis Rams (from WSH) – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
Another area in dire need of help for the Rams is run defense. With Nix gone to Houston, another way to get it is at safety. St. Louis is certainly weak in that area. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix has his red flags but his athletic potential, size and natural instincts make him a solid pick.
#12 – Oakland Raiders – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
There is the chance the Oakland Raiders go for a quarterback to replace Terrelle Pryor or more defensive help, but they could really give their offense an assist by improving up front. GM Reggie McKenzie likes upside picks, and Cyrus Kouandjio has more as a left tackle than even Jake Matthews. What he lacks is experience and consistency.
#13 – Philadelphia Eagles – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – CB – Oregon
Nick Foles may have the starting quarterback job locked down under Chip Kelly. This means upgrading the defense is moving towards top priority for the Philadelphia Eagles. If they can’t land a pass rusher, then a corner is the next best thing. Kelly coached Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at Oregon, so a reunion between the two makes too much sense.
#14 – Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
The quarterback-by-committee approach from the Cleveland Browns has found some unexpected success but the team knows they need a franchise player. He’s not the first choice but there’s no denying Johnny Manziel can play. His mobility and instincts are huge assets. Rob Chudzinski could work wonders with him.
#15 – Miami Dolphins – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Bryant McKinnie at least stopped the bleeding for the Miami Dolphins offensive line but that won’t stop them from going after help early. Taylor Lewan is still on the board for some reason. He’s a big, strong tackle out of Michigan with experience and sound fundamentals. Next to Matthews he is probably the other tackle who could start day one. Ryan Tannehill would love that.