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 – Oakland Raiders (from HOU) – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Trade yield: Texans get OAK #5 pick, 2nd in ’14 and 1st in ’15
The thing to remember is the Oakland Raiders have a ton of salary cap space. So they will be able to knock out several roster needs in free agency before the draft even begins. That will afford Reggie McKenzie to be aggressive. Imagine if the Raiders could pair Lamarr Houston with Jadeveon Clowney on the same defensive line. The potential would skyrocket.
#2 – Cleveland Browns (from STL) – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Trade yield: Rams get CLE 2nd in ’14, 2nd in ’15
Have doubts surfaced recently about whether Teddy Bridgewater is worth a top five pick? Yes. Is it valid? No. The thing is the question marks about the Louisville quarterback are based around aspects out of his complete control like the level of competition he plays and his rather slender frame. The fact is he has the arm, height, mechanics and brain of a starting quarterback. So the Cleveland Browns move up to get him.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Gus Bradley is a defensive mind and he is not willing to fix the quarterback position until his defense is ready. Pass rush remains a key need and Anthony Barr has the athleticism and versatility to become a key cog for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has the frame to add weight for defensive end if required or he can fill in at the all important LEO linebacker position that Bradley brought over from Seattle. Either way, Barr will add bite to their rush.
#4 – St. Louis Rams (from CLE) – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
It wasn’t the ridiculous haul of 2012 but the St. Louis Rams still got some quality draft selections for moving down. At the same time they are able to fill a key need. Greg Robinson is not the most experienced left tackle in this 2014 NFL mock draft, but he might be the most talented. He is already a dominant run blocker and showed just how good his pass protection can get late in the college season for Auburn.
#5 – Houston Texans (from OAK) – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Though they gave up Clowney in the deal, the Houston Texans got some much desired draft currency and still manage to get the quarterback they need. Blake Bortles has become a popular name among coaches and scouts. He is not a polished product but he has not just the height but the bulk of a pro quarterback. Arm strength is not lacking, nor is mobility. His accuracy is good as well. On top of that Bortles has shown clutch qualities that will certainly intrigue the Texans when they get him under center.
#6 – Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Getting a pass rusher is a need for the Atlanta Falcons but Jake Matthews is simply too good of a prospect for them to pass on. The Texas A&M left tackle has loads of experience, physical pedigree, durability and the versatility to play on the left or ride side. He brings power, balance and nimbleness to the position. Matt Ryan has never had a true blindside anchor. That changes here.
#7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Mike Glennon appears to have the confidence of the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff, which means Lovie Smith is likely to address some issues on defense in order to get that unit straightened out. The primary problem is the pass rush. It wasn’t good enough in 2013. A true disruptor at defensive end would solve so many problems. Kony Ealy boasts the size, strength and burst off the snap required in a 4-3 alignment. He plays with leverage and has a repertoire of moves at his disposal to beat blockers.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Fans continue to argue that the Minnesota Vikings need defensive help more than a quarterback. The key is they have enough cap space to solve some of those problems in free agency. A chance to take a difference-maker like Johnny Manziel doesn’t come around often. So they make the pick. The Texas A&M quarterback is brash, confident, athletic and has the natural playmaking instinct. His arm strength and height aren’t ideal but he has already found ways around those problems.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
C.J. Mosley may not be the first choice for the Buffalo Bills at linebacker with this pick but there is a very important reason they take him. Leadership. Mosley has all the required athleticism, speed and versatility to make plays but what separates him is the experience of commanding a defensive huddle like he did at Alabama. The game has slowed down for him. He’s never out of position and knows how to get teammates lined up right. The Bills need somebody like that next to Kiko Alonso.
#10 – Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Jim Caldwell is an offensive guy but he may notice that a lot of the problems that continue to plague the Detroit Lions rest in the defensive secondary. The cornerback position is a primary source of those issues. Darius Slay was a nice addition but he needs help. So the team goes after another cover corner and they get a really good one in Justin Gilbert. Boasting good size and ideal athleticism, he has the burst to stick with receivers downfield while also boasting the key attribute of tracking the football in the air.
#11 – New York Jets (from TEN) – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Trade yield: Titans get NYJ two 3rd round picks and 3rd in ’15
Sensing the moment, the New York Jets swing a deal with Tennessee Titans to move up. Geno Smith desperately needs weapons and getting an elite receiver would be a boon for the team. Sammy Watkins certainly qualifies. At 6’1″ he has enough height to play outside but it’s his explosive and strong lower body that is the real draw. Not only can he beat defenders deep, he has the agility and acceleration to take a short pass and turn it into a long touchdown. The Jets need it and Watkins will provide it.
#12 – New York Giants – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Jon Beason solved some problems at linebacker for the New York Giants but they are still lacking at the position in terms of speed and athleticism. Khalil Mack is an premium pickup. Not only does he track ball carriers extremely well, it’s his ability to both rush the passer and drop into coverage that will draw the Giants to him. His presence will make Beason that much more effective and allow the team to focus the remainder of the draft on upgrading around Eli Manning.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
As much as they’d like to move down again the St. Louis Rams run the risk of missing out on the best safety in the draft, which is a player they need as well as want. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is a tall, rangy center fielder out of Alabama. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry, can read the quarterback and track the ball in the air. His instincts are a big strength and he’s also not above delivering a good hit now and again.
#14 – Miami Dolphins (from CHI) – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Trade yield: Bears get MIA 3rd and 4th round picks
Can the Titans and Ravens, both of whom need help at offensive tackle be expected to not address the position? That is a gamble the Miami Dolphins are not willing to take. They swing a deal with Chicago to jump up and grab Michigan standout Taylor Lewan. While not a premier athlete, he’s got enough athleticism combined with a solid power base, balance, experience and a nasty streak to anchor the left side for Ryan Tannehill.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
At some point talent must overtake agenda. He may not be the absolute perfect fit, but Darqueze Dennard has the ability to play tough, press coverage among the best corners in the 2014 class. He’s a tireless worker, intelligent and never out of position. The Pittsburgh Steelers need young players like him to reload their aging secondary. It’s good pick that can pay off immediately.
#16 – Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
The thing to remember about this Dallas Cowboys defense is that it works best when it gets a consistent interior pass rush from the defensive tackles. With Jason Hatcher leaving it’s imperative the team addresses it. In terms of physical appearance, Aaron Donald might not look the part but the Pitt defensive tackle is an absolute animal once the ball is snapped. He beats blockers with quickness, explosion and leverage. He’s ideal for the three-technique spot and Dallas will be glad to have him.
#17 – Baltimore Ravens – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
No loss was more telling for the 2013 Baltimore Ravens than wide receiver Anquan Boldin. His size, physicality and hands were sorely missed by Joe Flacco. The front office must look to get a receiver with similar traits to compliment Torrey Smith. Mike Evans is still very young and not polished, but the 6’5″ receiver out of Texas A&M is already a physical load to handle for defensive backs. He can go up and get the ball, battle for position and retains the acceleration needed to get separation.
#18 – Tennessee Titans (from NYJ) – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
Seems like the decision to move back was a good one because the Tennessee Titans still manage to get a quarterback. Jake Locker is a officially put on notice when his team selects Derek Carr. Questions remain about the Fresno State passer, but there is no questioning his arm. A good week at the Senior Bowl likely restored some of his stock and the ever confident young man has the tools to succeed at the pro level.
#19 – Philadelphia Eagles (from CHI) – Dee Ford – DE – Auburn
Trade yield: Bears get PHI 4th round pick in ’14 and 5th in ’15
Chicago again surprisingly chooses to move back. This time they strike a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles who jump ahead of the Packers and Cardinals to seize Senior Bowl MVP Dee Ford. Indeed the young man is shaping up as one of the best pass rushers in the 2014 NFL mock draft. He’s explosive off the edge and can beat blockers both with speed and a deceptively powerful bull rush.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU
Though the Eagles robbed them of Ford, the Arizona Cardinals have a very good fall back plan to supplement their outside pass rush. Another Senior Bowl standout in Kyle Van Noy from BYU demonstrated an excellent blend of athleticism, speed and elite level instincts that allowed him to track the ball on the ground or through the air. He comes off the edge fast and is a problem particularly when blitzing.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Safety was once a cornerstone of the Green Bay Packers defense but lately it has fallen on tough times. They must look to add somebody on the back end who can play coverage but also is willing to come downhill and play tough against the run. Calvin Pryor demonstrated both abilities quite often for Louisville. His 6’2″ frame is hard to miss and he has the range to cover the entire field while reserving the toughness to deliver shots to ball carriers.
#22 – Chicago Bears (from PHI) – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Many mock drafters have projected the Chicago Bears taking Timmy Jernigan, but that was always at #14. In this instance not only do they still get the Florida State star defensive tackle, they’ve also hauled in four extra picks by moving down. Jernigan is a massive but quick lineman who excels at eating up blockers and stuffing the run. He has plenty of upside to get better rushing the passer as well, making this pick one of high quality for the Bears.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
How profoundly fortunate Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs are. Marqise Lee has the talent to go in the top ten but due to how the boards fell and his own injury history, the USC star fell to them. Indeed his thin frame is not idea but once the game tape gets turned on and teams see his explosive speed, athleticism and deceptive toughness they will understand why this might become the steal of the draft.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Losses at cornerback hampered the Cincinnati Bengals down the stretch and with Mike Zimmer gone they can’t count on the ability to elevate discarded veterans like in seasons past. Jason Verrett is undersized according to the primary doctrine, but he is perfect for the Bengals. He maintains a speed and agility that allows him to play man coverage but also the instinct and explosion to cut off passing lane and take the ball away.
#25 – San Diego Chargers – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
Protecting Philip Rivers was and remains top priority for the San Diego Chargers. Getting a talent like Cyrus Kouandjio so late in the first round doesn’t happen often, if ever. While the Alabama left tackle struggled late in the season, his sheer physical ability is impossible to deny. Besides that, it must be remembered he is only 20-years old. The upside is nearly limitless for him given the size, strength, long arm and nimble feet he has.
#26 – San Francisco 49ers (from CLE) – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Trade yield: Browns get 49ers 4th and two 7th round picks
Fighting fire with fire will be the theme ahead for the San Francisco 49ers. Their mission in 2014 will be all about toppling the Seahawks. To do that they must find a way to match up with their big defensive backs. Such will likely require bigger wide receivers, and Kelvin Bryant is a perfect start. The Florida State product stands 6’5″ with a big, strong frame and sneaky quickness and speed that allows him to gain separation.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
Another Seahawks victim were the New Orleans Saints, another team that is lacking size at the receiver position. They mirror the 49ers by addressing it. While not quite the physical specimen as Bryant, Penn State receiver Allen Robinson was far more productive in college. He has a well built 6’3″ body with good hands and dynamic leaping ability that allows him to go up and get the ball, typically in the red zone.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
Cam Newton did some amazing things for the Carolina Panthers in 2013 but it’s clear his ability to rely on Steve Smith at receiver is drawing to a close. He needs more weapons on the outside. Jordan Matthews won’t win any foot races but the Vanderbilt star didn’t build his game that way. He uses a solid 6’3″ frame, eidetic understanding of route running and terrific hands to consistently find ways to get open and make the catch. He’s sturdy, dependable and a nice target.
#29 – New England Patriots – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
This is no great surprise. The losses of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski robbed Tom Brady and the New England Patriots of much of their offensive explosiveness. Unfortunately it showed up at the worst time in Denver. The team will act quickly to rectify it. Eric Ebron is an athletic mismatch out of North Carolina. His stats won’t tell the story but his potential in a proper offense is limitless due to his remarkable blend of size, speed and hand-eye coordination.
#30 – Cleveland Browns (from SF) – David Yankey – OG – Stanford
Having gotten some draft currency in their deal with San Francisco, the Cleveland Browns look to bolster the protection for their new quarterback. David Yankey is overlooked at times coming out of Stanford but the guard has all the tools. He is big, strong, physical and displayed intelligence and leadership during his time with the Cardinal. He would make a perfect addition between Alex Mack and Joe Thomas.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Stanley Jean-Baptiste – CB – Nebraska
Big cornerbacks are all the rage across the NFL thanks in large part to Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib. The Denver Broncos recognize this trend and look to jump in by taking Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska. While still not quite a hot ticket on draft boards, the kid flashed loads of potential at the Senior Bowl. He can match up with any receiver, big or fast and showed he can also take away the football.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
Russell Wilson is not a big quarterback, so logic dictates the Seattle Seahawks do their best to get him big targets to throw to. Tight end was a position that didn’t provide much production for the passing game, so an upgrade would be warranted. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is right in their back yard. He’s huge both in height and bulk, is a capable blocker and shows the speed and athletic skill to get open down the field and make plays.
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