#1 – Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
A quarterback may seem like the logical choice, but with a deep class in 2014 and the first pick in the second round, the Houston Texans take arguably the most talented pass rusher in Jadeveon Clowney in the past decade to pair with J.J. Watt.
#2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Mike Glennon seems to have the quarterback position in hand. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers then must think about giving their loaded defensive tackle position some help in the pass rush. Anthony Barr of UCLA is the best available.
#3 – Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Matt Ryan has had a knack throughout his career to avoid pressure with a quick release but he’s never truly had a bookend tackle protecting his blind side. Jake Matthews would change that. He’s big, powerful, naturally athletic and comes from deep football bloodlines.
#4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Amazingly after two-straight wins the Jacksonville Jaguars still manage to get the best quarterback on the board with the 4th pick. Teddy Bridgewater has everything required of a franchise quarterback from the arm, the mobility and especially the intelligence.
#5 – St. Louis Rams (from WSH) – Cameron Erving – OT – Florida State
It’s still not clear if the St. Louis Rams are fully committed to Sam Bradford next year, but until then it’s more likely they will shore up other problem areas. Bolstering the pass protection is one. Cameron Erving may not rate second on many boards, but he has the most athletic upside and has shown lots of improvement in 2013.
#6 – Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
Another slight surprise. The Minnesota Vikings buck the majority of big board by taking FresnoState quarterback Derek Carr. It makes sense in a way. He has the elite arm, good mobility and leadership. Above all though he is the most experienced.
#7 – Buffalo Bills – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
The defense needs more help for the Buffalo Bills and they will likely look for the best prospect on the board, regardless of position. That is, ironically, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. His playmaking talent is becoming a hit with scouts. Pairing him with Kiko Alonso could have huge benefits.
#8 – Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Despite holding two first round picks, the Cleveland Browns remain patient in their pursuit of a quarterback. It pays off here. Johnny Manziel is an immensely talented Heisman winner who is smaller in stature, but that’s not as big of a deal in the NFL. He can be a stud if he stays out of trouble.
#9 – Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
The quarterback situation is still unsettled but the Oakland Raiders simply don’t have enough weapons on offense anyway. Sammy Watkins is a superb blend of good size and breakaway speed with the hands to make tough catches and the strong lower body to make plays after them.
#10 – San Diego Chargers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Pass defense remains an ongoing problem for the San Diego Chargers. Strengthening their cornerback position is a priority. Justin Gilbert doesn’t rank first on most boards yet, but his outstanding blend of size, speed and natural ball hawk ability will change that.
#11 – New York Giants – C.J. Mosley – OLB – Alabama
Pass rush is a big need for the New York Giants but they also could use more speed and athleticism at linebacker. Alabama star C.J. Mosley is a gifted athlete who can move sideline to sideline, drop into coverage and rush the passer with equal successs.
#12 – New York Jets – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Is Geno Smith the quarterback of the future for the New York Jets? They won’t know that for sure until he’s better armed. Marqise Lee has battled injuries in 2013 but his physical talent is hard to ignore. He can turn any pass he catches into a touchdown and is almost impossible to cover one-on-one.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
Having gotten offensive line help, the Rams are able to knock out another need in the first round. Safety remains a weak position for them. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is the best in the class by far. A classic center fielder, he has the speed to cover the entire field and excels at reading quarterbacks before the ball is out.
#14 – Green Bay Packers – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Cornerback is certainly an area the Green Bay Packers could go, but with uncertainty surrounding the future of tight end Jermichael Finley, they opt for a replacement. Eric Ebron is a big, athletic kid from North Carolina in the mold of a converted basketball player. He can get down the field quickly and has the hands to make tough catches.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
It’s amazing that he’s fallen this far but the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t complaining. Taylor Lewan is one of the most well rounded left tackles in the 2014 class. He can play nasty when run blocking and has enough athleticism to handle pass rusher at left tackle, an area that has bothered Pittsburgh for years.
#16 – Tennessee Titans – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
With Clinton-Dix off the board and still no clear idea about the quarterback position, the Tennessee Titans could look for help on their defensive line. Stephon Tuitt is a class “tweener,” fast enough to play outside at defensive end but big and strong enough to move inside to defensive tackle. He would help their pass rush in several different ways.
#17 – Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
The Bears need someone on the interior that can make plays, and while Hageman presents something of a risk, he’s been a beast at times and has huge potential at the next level. At #17 overall, this is a great spot to pick up a defensive tackle with the talent level of Ra’Shede Hageman.
#18 – Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
This is a very talented offensive tackle prospect that isn’t getting near the hype he should. Even as just a junior, I think Kouandjio has just as high of a ceiling as any OT in this year’s draft class if not higher. He is still developing, but the former top prep prospect has turned into a heck of a college football player, and he shouldn’t fall past a tackle needy team like Miami.
#19 – Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Mike Evans is a big-bodied receiver who has reminded a lot of people of Vincent Jackson, the star receiver for the Buccaneers. Evans has been dominant at times this season, and consistent. It would be a bit surprising to me to see him on the board yet at this point, but the Ravens certainly wouldn’t complain.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals - Vic Beasley – DE – Clemson
One of top pass rush prospects in the country, Vic Beasley would fill a huge void in terms of rushing the passer for the Arizona Cardinals. That was an area they didn’t address until late in last year’s draft, so getting a guy like Beasley here is a huge value.
#21 – Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
This could be a bit of a reach for Dallas here, but they’re certainly not immune to that. Jernigan is a very talented defensive lineman that would give the Cowboys a much needed boost up front defensively.
#22 – Philadelphia Eagles – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Who would have thought a couple of months ago that the Eagles would be this far down the list in a mock draft? Certainly not me. Either way, they get a guy in Darqueze Dennard who plays on one of the best defenses in college football, and is quickly rising to a top CB status heading into the 2014 draft season.
#23 – Detroit Lions – Davante Adams – WR – Fresno State
Adams has been dominant in his two years of college football, despite the fact that he’s been playing in a Fresno State offense that might inflate his stats a bit. Physically, he is rock solid at 6’2″ 210 pounds, and he has strong hands with the ability to make plays after the catch. The Lions don’t have to keep getting along with Kris Durham along with Calvin Johnson, nor do they need to keep worrying about injuries completely derailing their offense at the WR position.
#24 – San Francisco 49ers – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – CB – Oregon
The 49ers need an upgrade at CB, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (early favorite for most awful name to spell on a keyboard) fits the bill here. He’s had a strong season and is considered a top 20 prospect by some. This would be a solid move for San Francisco.
#25 – Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier – LB – Ohio State
The Bengals have a great defense, but it could get even better as scary as that is. With James Harrison taking one of the OLB spots, there is a chance that one could open up this offseason and Shazier is a guy who has no business falling this far, but he’s not a pass rushing LB which aren’t overly valued on draft day. Shazier is a special talent who would be a great add for Cincy.
#26 – Cleveland Browns (f/Colts) – Ka’Deem Carey – RB – Arizona
Carey is emerging as the best back in this class if he declares, which seems likely. He can do everything, and he can carry a full load. The Browns may hesitate to take a RB in the first round, but Carey is a special talent. They need talent on offense, and this certainly helps.
#27 – Kansas City Chiefs – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
The Chiefs get one of the most talented and productive CBs in the country here with this pick, upgrading their secondary and continuing their quest to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR- Vanderbilt
Matthews is a steady WR prospect who would add a ton to a Carolina offense that doesn’t have a consistent threat outside of Steve Smith or Greg Olsen in the passing game. Cam Newton has progressed well in his third NFL season, so adding another WR could be great for the Panthers.
#29 – New England Patriots – Jace Amaro – TE – Texas Tech
Getting back that second TE option is critical for the Patriots, who are really missing the play of Aaron Hernandez. Amaro is one of the best tight ends in the country with good athletic ability that could be just what the doctor ordered for their offense.
#30 – New Orleans Saints – Kyle Van Noy – LB – BYU
Van Noy is a jack-of-all-trades LB prospect who can move around in defensive schemes and provide the Saints with a valuable weapon in Rob Ryan’s defense.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Trent Murphy – DE – Stanford
Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips are impending free agents, and the Broncos are almost certain to spend a lot of time and money upgrading the DE position this offseason. Murphy fits nearly exactly the mold of what the Broncos are looking for in a young prospect, and he would add some more grit and toughness to a defense that has struggled with injuries in 2013.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – David Yankey – OG – Stanford
The Seahawks don’t have a ton of needs at this point, but they could upgrade the interior of their offensive line. Yankey is one of the best in the country, and certainly one of the top on the board at this point. This is a good spot for him to land with a Super Bowl contender.
This completes the first NFL Mocks 2014 NFL Mock Draft.