1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Impossible to predict at the beginning of the season, the Houston Texans are in the driver’s seat to pick number one overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. They are very clearly without a franchise quarterback–not to mention head coach–at the present moment in time. I think the Texans have enough in place to make a playoff run next season, so getting a guy like Teddy Bridgewater to lead this team into the future isn’t a bad deal at all. Bridgewater is one of the best pure pocket passers in all of college football, but he can run when he needs to as well. Sort of a poor man’s version of Andrew Luck.
2. Atlanta Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush, and here they add a kid who doesn’t have to drive too far (or too fast) to get to his new hometown. Atlanta would be a great landing spot for Clowney because I think it’s a good locker room and obviously the Falcons won’t be this bad next year. Their defense needed an influx of youth, and they thought they had enough to get by another year. Clowney is a rare talent who needs to mature a bit, but he’s got all the tools to be one of the most dominant players in the NFL.
3. St. Louis Rams (f/WSH): Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
With Roger Saffold hitting free agency, the Rams can take advantage of a deep class of offensive tackles and protect their top asset, quarterback Sam Bradford, who is coming off of injury. Matthews has been the top offensive tackle since before the season even started, so the fact that his stock hasn’t changed at all is a pretty good indication that scouts like what they have seen.
4. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr is statistically the most impressive quarterback in the draft. He might have the strongest arm, and he can fit the ball into any window. He’s got good athleticism and a competitive fire that you love to see in a QB prospect. In other words, he’s exactly what the Minnesota Vikings need.
5. Buffalo Bills: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr is relatively new to the defensive side of the ball, but you’d never know it. Since moving over to defense, he’s proven to be an elite prospect able to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and rush the passer, constantly flying to the football and causing problems for opposing offenses.
6. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
This would be the most talked about pick in the entire draft. Manziel is a guy who everyone has their eyes on, and certainly the Browns have a need at the QB position. It would be really interesting to see Manziel join a crew that includes Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, both of whom have emerged as top flight targets in the passing game in 2013.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State
The Bucs would love to land one of the top pass rushers here, and they could still try and trade up or take Buffalo’s Khalil Mack here, but I think Erving is a good fit. Mike Glennon has proven that he should at least get a shot to start next year, so the Bucs make a move here to upgrade the offensive line and protect the QB.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
The Jaguars invested in their offensive line with their first round pick in 2013, but it’s clear that they need a quarterback in a bad way. Brett Hundley isn’t the most refined prospect, but he’s got immense potential and could be a steal here at #8 overall. Jacksonville has been winning games of late, so their draft slot continues to move down the board, which could wind up hurting them in the long run.
9. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Raiders need some consistent playmakers offensively, and Watkins can give them that. He’s a deep threat who has speed to burn, and he’d immediately become the Raiders’ top offensive weapon. With Darren McFadden likely done as a raider, this team needs a home run threat.
10. New York Giants: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
It’s always tough to project what the Giants will do, but Khalil Mack is probably the best player available here, and he would add a significant upgrade to the pass rush. He’s been wildly productive for Buffalo, even against top competition when given the opportunity.
11. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Rams get another starter for their improving defense in Ha Ha Clinton Dix, who would pair with T.J. McDonald to give St. Louis a very nice young pair in the defensive backfield for years to come.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Evans is a big, strong receiver prospect who can provide the Steelers with a nightmare matchup on the outside. They have Antonio Brown who has proven to be a very reliable player, but they need more production out of the WR position and Evans could be a huge pickup.
13. Tennessee Titans: Vic Beasley, DE/LB, Clemson
The Titans upgrade their pass rush here with Vic Beasley, who has speed off the edge and can move all over the defense. I think Tennessee could go a number of directions here, but I think Beasley might be the BPA here as well.
14. San Diego Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Dennard is arguably the top cover corner in the entire draft, and that fills a huge hole for the Chargers, who have had poor play from their corners all year. Dennard has been a three-year starter for the Spartans and has been consistently productive and improving.
15. New York Jets: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee is sort of a forgotten man when you talk about this year’s crop of wide receivers, but with the drop off in play at the QB position for USC, obviously Lee wasn’t going to put up as good of numbers. He’s still got great quickness, deep speed, and playmaking ability.
16. Chicago Bears: Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
The Bears need to find a way to shore up the middle of their defense, and getting Tuitt would be a big step forward. The big defensive lineman has been clogging up holes for the Irish, and is projected to be a very effective player at the next level as well.
17. Green Bay Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas A&M
The loss of Jermichael Finley is one of many the Packers suffered in 2013, but even if he is able to come back I think this would be a good pick for the Packers, who would be getting one of the most dominant players we’ve seen at TE in college football in recent years.
18. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The offensive tackle woes for the Dolphins are well-documented at this point. Taylor Lewan has top 10 talent and the Dolphins could come away with a steal here. I think this would be a very logical pick.
19. Detroit Lions: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Mosley might be the best non-pass rushing linebacker in this year’s draft, and the Lions are getting a bargain here. I could see them going after another WR here as well, but Mosley is tough to pass on.
20. Baltimore Ravens: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
The Ravens get a mini Brandon Marshall here. Adams has been extremely productive in just two seasons at Fresno State, and while he’s not as big as Marshall, he’s been a pass catching machine for Derek Carr and Fresno State.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
Dallas upgrades its defensive front by getting one of the hardest working players in the Pac 12 here, Trent Murphy. He’s been very consistent for Stanford, and has great size for a DE in a four-man front. He’d add some needed toughness up front.
22. Arizona Cardinals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
After picking Jonathan Cooper last year, the Cardinals continue to improve the offensive line with Ogbuehi, whom some have said is the most talented of the A&M linemen that are getting picked these last two years.
23. Cleveland Browns (f/IND): Justin Gilbert, CB/RS, Oklahoma State
Gilbert made a bold decision coming back for his senior year, but a great one. He has established himself as one of the premiere playmakers defensively in college football, and would be a great pickup for Cleveland.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The Eagles have a terrible pass defense, and need a guy like this to fall to them in the draft. This is a pretty good year for cornerbacks, and some consider Ekpre-Olomu to be a top 15 talent. He’s 2nd on Oregon this season in both tackles and interceptions.
25. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
This is another player who fits perfectly the culture of the team he’s projected to go to. The Niners need help at cornerback, and Verrett–though undersized–is one of the best in the country and has shut down capabilities. He could start in the nickel as well, and I think this would be a great pickup for the Niners.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Shazier is a dynamic athlete at the LB position, where the Bengals could look to replace James Harrison next offseason and add some depth to their LB group. Cincy doesn’t have a ton of pressing needs, but in looking at available safeties I couldn’t find any to realistically project in this slot.
27. Carolina Panthers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Panthers get a big playmaker at WR here to pair with Steve Smith and give Cam Newton a threat downfield with size and athletic ability. Robinson would be a great fit at the bottom of round one.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Chiefs don’t have many playmakers offensively at the receiver positions. Dwayne Bowe is inconsistent, and Dexter McCluster looks like what he is–a running back masquerading as a slot receiver. I think WR is a top need for Kansas City but so is TE. Ebron is a dynamic athlete at the TE position who would provide a mismatch in the KC offense.
29. New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Patriots will get back Vince Wilfork next year, but they still need to add some more up front. Ra’Shede Hageman has huge potential and could play more like a top 10 talent but falls in the draft because of some inconsistencies.
30. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
The Saints add a guy who can do it all defensively here. Van Noy has great athletic ability, can rush the passer, and can make plays on the ball. He’d be a great pickup for them.
31. Denver Broncos: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The Broncos need to add depth at the DE position, as well as potentially a starter if Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips both leave in free agency. I like Scott Crichton, who is a junior, because he has good size and a quick first step. He has the potential to take over games.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
I think Seattle could look a number of directions with this picks, but I’ll take the flashy route here, giving them a top WR prospect to go along with Percy Harvin and Golden Tate. They have some guys like Doug Baldwin who can occasionally contribute, but Matthews could develop into a top of the line starter.
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