Trading has become a regular part of drafts. With that in mind this 2014 NFL mock draft will offer some speculation on how they could impact the action.
#1 – Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
They will entertain the idea of trading down but at the end of the day the Houston Texans can’t put an opportunity to pair a talent like Jadeveon Clowney with J.J. Watt at risk. This tandem could become the most feared in the league for the next five to ten years.
#2 – Cleveland Browns (from STL) – Johnny Manziel
Trade yield: Rams get CLE 2nd and 3rd round picks in ’14 and 3rd in ’15
They made it quite clear earlier in the week. The Cleveland Browns are willing to move up for Johnny Manziel. St. Louis is look to move down, so the two work out a deal and the Browns jump ahead of Jacksonville to get the Texas A&M star. His personality and physical potential should be a welcome boost to the fledgling franchise.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Blaine Gabbert is not a starting quarterback. Repeat. Blaine Gabbert is not a starting quarterback. The Jacksonville Jaguars better have this pasted on their office building somewhere. They need a quarterback in the worst way. Blake Bortles, from a physical standpoint is probably the most built for the pros. Never mind is coolness under pressure.
#4 – Atlanta Falcons (from STL) – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Trade yield: Rams get ATL 3rd round pick
Pass rush was a serious problem for the Atlanta Falcons throughout 2013. They have to find a way to give it a boost. So they move up to the #4 spot to snare outside linebacker Anthony Barr. While not a defensive end by trade, the UCLA star is the kind of talent that can transcend schemes. He lives in the opposing backfield and finds the football wherever it goes.
#5 – Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
He doesn’t solve any one position for the Oakland Raiders, but Khalil Mack is the kind of versatile talent that Dennis Allen could do so much with. The Buffalo linebacker can help their pass rush, fly sideline to sideline to stop the run or drop back into coverage and make quarterbacks pay for not accounting for him.
#6 – St. Louis Rams (from ATL) – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Yes, it’s been well documented Jeff Fisher doesn’t take offensive linemen in the first round. For the record that must change. With the defenses the St. Louis Rams will face in the NFC West, they need a big, physical and athletic talent at tackle like Jake Matthews. He can do everything required of the position and start day one.
#7 – Tennessee Titans (from TB) – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Trade yield: Bucs get TEN 3rd and 5th round picks
Here’s one thing to remeber. For his three-year college career at Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater threw 72 touchdowns (and ran for six more) to just 24 interceptions, and went 30-8 including back-to-back bowl victories. The kid has the arm, accuracy, poise and mechanics of a pro passer. That is why the Tennessee Titans jump ahead of Minnesota to get him.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
He may be the fourth quarterback available but there is enough to the game of Derek Carr to warrant being taken 8th overall by the Minnesota Vikings. He has the ideal height, a great arm and has shown the composure to run a dynamic offense. What he must learn is how to handle a pro-style attack and deal with the reality of more frequent pressure.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
This pick might be a slight surprise but it makes sense. The Buffalo Bills need an upgrade at the tight end position. Eric Ebron has impressed scouts more and more, drawing comparisons to Vernon Davis. He’s big, athletic, fast and has the leaping ability and soft hands to consistency make tough catches.
#10 – Detroit Lions – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Jim Caldwell vowed to get Matthew Stafford straightened out. At the same time he must consider bringing help for Calvin Johnson too. The Detroit Lions need a secondary wide receiver, and they can’t do better than Sammy Watkins. In addition to having breakaway speed, his size (6’1″) and deceptive strength make him a threat to score with each catch he makes.
#11 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from TEN) – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
Lovie Smith built his greatest defenses in Chicago around two superstar linebackers. He already has one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Lavonte David. What he needs now is a man in the middle with range and good intelligence and instincts. Those are all things C.J. Mosley showcased on every play for Alabama.
#12 – New York Giants – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
There is no question problems for the New York Giants started on offense in 2013 and the source was breakdowns on the offensive line. They simply need more talent up front. While guard is more of need, Greg Robinson is way too good of a talent at tackle to pass up. Adding him would allow the Giants to shift others around and improve overall depth.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
Adding a playmaker at safety has been a task for the St. Louis Rams dating back to last year. They finally sit in good position to solve that problem and do so by taking Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix. Big, athletic and boasting good speed and instincts he can cover a lot of ground and should become a ball hawk behind that stout Rams pass rush.
#14 – New York Jets (from CHI) – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Trade yield: Bears get NYJ 3rd round pick
Looking at things realistically, the 2014 NFL draft class is deep at receiver but there are only two legitimate “elite” receivers. Watkins was one and Marqise Lee of USC is the other. His speed, advanced route running knowledge, agility and deceptive strength make him a defensive nightmare. That is why the New York Jets move up to get him.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
The secondary is old and depleted in terms of overall talent. The Pittsburgh Steelers have managed until recently to avoid taking corners early in the draft. They can’t afford that luxury anymore. Justin Gilbert is a big, long cover man out of Oklahoma State with the speed and athleticism to mirror receivers downfield while also playing the football.
#16 – Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
Timmy Jernigan is the more proven prospect but the Dallas Cowboys will soon find that Ra’Shede Hageman has the bigger upside. His physical dimensions rate a ten on the athletic scale. He is big, quick and has the lower body drive to push offensive linemen into the backfield. All he needs is more polish in his technique and some extra mojo.
#17 – Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Anquan Boldin was sorely missed by the Baltimore Ravens. They have a serious need for that big, strong receiver who can make the tough catches. Mike Evans is still very young but already is a 6’5″ monster. He has enough speed and acceleration to gain separation but makes his money with body control and explosive leaping ability.
#18 – Chicago Bears (from NYJ) – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Things really didn’t start to fall apart for the Chicago Bears until they began suffering losses up front on defense. They must rebuild that area first. Kony Ealy is a great player to start with. He boasts enough size to hold up against the run but brings great speed and athleticism off the edge. With Julius Peppers turning 34, this is a necessary pick.
#19 – Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
Not protecting Ryan Tannehill was why the Miami Dolphins missed the playoffs. That must change if their situation is to change. It must start on the left side, preferably at tackle. Cyrus Kouandjio has as much upside as any prospect in the draft. He’s huge, with long arms and great power and enough athleticism to handle pass rushers once his mechanics are refined.
#20 – Philadelphia Eagles (from ARI) – Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Trade yield: Cardinals get 4th round pick
Never shy about being aggressive, the Philadelphia Eagles jump ahead of the safety-needy Packers to seize Calvin Pryor out of Louisville. A gaudy 6’2″, he has great length and range and has proven himself a tone setter who doesn’t fear delivering big hits. His progress is coverage over the 2013 season is why his stock has been on the rise.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
The defense may be in store for some serious changes in 2014 for the Green Bay Packers as a number of their players are free agents. One thing they can’t afford to let slip is the pass rush. That is why they give Clay Matthews some help with Stephon Tuitt. He can play traditional 3-4 defensive end but has the quickness and speed to move all over the place to create havoc.
#22 – Arizona Cardinals (from PHI) – Darqueze Dennard – CB – MSU
Adding an outside pass rusher would be ideal but the Arizona Cardinals get something just as good: a wingman for Patrick Peterson. While not as great an athlete, Darqueze Dennard possesses enough physical traits coupled with an elite mind and work ethic to shut down almost any receiver he faces.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Alex Smith took some big steps forward for the Kansas City Chiefs but the team still needs to give him more weapons. A big receiver could really open some things up for him. Kelvin Benjamin has that rare 6’5″ frame and explosive jumping ability that allows him to go get the football in the air. He’s also deceptively fast for his size.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier – OLB – Ohio State
Adding athleticism and speed to the linebackers is a priority for the Cincinnati Bengals in order to help their pass defense. Ohio State star Ryan Shazier is right up their alley. His speed and tackling ability are both top notch and he has great instincts that allow him to find the football quickly, on the ground or in the air.
#25 – San Francisco 49ers (from SD) – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
Trade yield: Bolts get SF 4th, 5th and 7th round picks
If the NFC championship proved anything, it’s that the size of the Seattle defensive backs are a clear problem for the San Francisco 49ers. They need to get bigger at receiver. So using their large inventory, they swing a deal with San Diego to move up and swipe Penn State standout Allen Robinson. Not only boasting a 6’3″ frame, his powerful lower body grants him quietly good acceleration and an ability to catch the ball at the high point.
#26 – Cleveland Browns (from IND) – Cyril Richardson – OG – Baylor
If the Browns don’t want to find out if Bridgewater can take a hit, their best course of action is to protect him. Guard is a position in need of upgrading and they get a big one here. Cyril Richardson is massive, strong and surprisingly nimble which allows him to get after it in the run game and then stonewall pass rushers.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Terron Armstead looked like he was fitting in nicely at left tackle, so why take Taylor Lewan? He’s a high value pickup first and foremost. Secondly, his technical savvy, nastiness and strength would make an ideal fit at right tackle. That would give Drew Brees a potentially dominant offensive front moving forward.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
Cam Newton did what he could in the playoffs but it was clear the Carolina Panthers need more out of their wide receivers. So they start adding some help by taking Vanderbilt product Jordan Matthews. Though not a great athlete, he is a masterful technician with a 6’3″ body and the hands to make easy or tough catches consistently.
#29 – New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
Lacking production from the tight end position really handcuffed the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. Rob Gronkowski is an unknown quantity with the injuries, so the team goes after some insurance in Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A huge, athletic man he can get out in space to make the catch or stand in line and block.
#30 – San Diego Chargers (from SF) – David Yankey – OG – Stanford
Having collected some extra picks, the San Diego Chargers go after some needed depth up front on their offensive line. The guard position could use an upgrade and they get a good one in David Yankey. A leader up front for a stout Stanford offensive line, he is strong, athletic and rarely has breakdowns in his technique.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Trent Murphy – DE – Stanford
The injuries up front have really given the Denver Broncos problems at times in 2013. Shaun Phillips has kept things afloat following the injury to Von Miller but they need more pass rush off the edge. Trent Murphy led the nation in sacks. He’s not very athletic but he’s big, strong and relentless until the whistle.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU
Percy Harvin continues to struggle to stay healthy. It’s marked his entire career. The Seattle Seahawks can’t afford to trust things will be different in 2014. So they go get Russell Wilson more help. Odell Beckham Jr. is an agile pass target out of LSU who also doubles as a quality return man. His skill set is very similar to Harvin.
To see the second round of the 2014 NFL mock draft, click here.
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