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 – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Why Blake Bortles over Johnny Football? Simple mathematics. As many plays as Manziel makes, the Houston Texans must realize that Russell Wilson is the exception, not the rule. Bortles has the arm, mobility, accuracy, body and cool head to play against the best. He may not be as controversial or exciting, but he has the bigger upside.
#2 – Cleveland Browns (from STL) – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Trade yield: Rams get CLE 4th, 26th and 2nd round pick in ’15
Having draft ammunition to burn meant the Cleveland Browns were going to make a move at some point. Seeing Johnny Manziel there for the taking they jump up two spots to get him, sending both their first round picks and a 2nd in 2015 to St. Louis. Manziel’s personality, playmaking ability and competitiveness should help revive that franchise.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Ownership let the cat out of the bag but it was always clear the Jacksonville Jaguars had to take a quarterback. With Bortles and Manziel off the board, Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville is the next name up. While his thinner-than-preferred frame and somewhat enigmatic competitiveness are under question the young man is skilled, polished and a proven winner over the past two seasons in college.
#4 – St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Having scooped up extra picks for this and next year, the St. Louis Rams calmly make their first of three first round selections by getting Sam Bradford a much needed blocker up front. Jake Matthews has all the tools from size and strength to technique and nastiness. His experience at both right and left tackle will also be a big help.
#5 – Minnesota Vikings (from OAK) – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Trade yield: Raiders get MIN 8th pick with 2nd and 5th round picks
In need of extra picks, Oakland works a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, who fork over their 2nd and 5th rounders to jump up and grab Jadeveon Clowney. The South Carolina pass rusher is considered the most talented overall player in the 2014 class and might prove a bargain buy for the Vikings.
#6 – Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Forget just a pass rusher. The Atlanta Falcons need a defensive playmaker period. Luckily Khalil Mack can solve a ton of their problems. His good size and outstanding athleticism allows him to be all over the field making tackles, intercepting passes and sacking the quarterback.
#7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Jeff Tedford said the first and foremost thing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need on offense is speed. While a pass rusher would be nice, Lovie Smith must go against his initial urge to get one and wisely scoop up Sammy Watkins. The Clemson receiver is a game breaker with the speed, athleticism and toughness to turn every pass into a touchdown.
#8 – Oakland Raiders (from MIN) – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
With two extra picks in his back pocket, Reggie McKenzie still manages to land a high quality pass rusher. Anthony Barr may have dimmed a little in the eyes of scouts lately, but the UCLA outside linebacker is still one of the best defensive prospects in this 2014 NFL mock draft. He can get after the quarterback and has a knack for producing big plays.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Is Cordy Glenn the guy at left tackle? He seems to have it nailed down but the Buffalo Bills still require help up front. Greg Robinson is a physical beast out of Auburn with the size, length, power and balance the best tackles possess. He could fill in quite well across from Glenn or simply replace him outright. He’s that talented.
#10 – Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
With Watkins off the board the Detroit Lions have to shift their focus to bolstering their secondary. In need of help at corner they go with highly decorated Michigan State standout Darqueze Dennard. While not a physical specimen, the Spartan could be the smartest and most dedicated of the 2014 class. Combine that with good length and athletic skill and it’s no wonder he shut down almost every receiver he faced.
#11 – Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
This is a very tough call for the Tennessee Titans. In the end the need to add some athleticism and playmaking to their defense overrides everything else. C.J. Mosley is too good of a prospect out of Alabama. Like Mack he can do almost anything on the field whether it’s tackle, play coverage or blitz. In addition he’s an excellent leader on the field.
#12 – New York Giants – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Problems really began to surface when the offensive line broke down for the New York Giants. Until they fix it Eli Manning won’t be able to get them back in the title picture. Taylor Lewan is their kind of player: big, physical, nasty and well versed in his jobs as a blocker. He will help open running lanes and hold up well in pass protection.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
To topple the Seahawks, St. Louis knows they’ll have to beat them at their own game. That means building the best defense possible. One area they still lack a playmaker at is safety. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is still not a finished product but he’s already standing out for his ability in coverage, reading the quarterback and making fast breaks on the football.
#14 – New York Jets – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Trade yield: Bears get NYJ 3rd round (80th) and 7th round picks
Why trade up for Marqise Lee is what many New York Jets fans will ask. Yes, it’s true they could hang back for a tight end, but a tight end cannot do what Lee can. That is score every time he touches the football. The sheer speed, agility and route running skills the USC star has makes him a home run threat even more dangerous than Tavon Austin.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Age, injuries and free agency have done their work on the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary. They need an infusion of youth in that unit and Justin Gilbert is a great option to start with. The Oklahoma State corner is supremely athletic, able to stick with receivers on every play and shows a keen instinct for playing the ball and taking it away.
#16 – San Francisco 49ers (from BAL) – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Trade yield: Ravens get SF 2nd (61st) and 3rd (94th) round picks
In an unprecedented move, Baltimore, with just four picks decides to fall back to the end of the first round while the San Francisco 49ers use their large draft repetoire to jump up and grab wide receiver Mike Evans. His 6’5″ frame, good bulk, deceptive speed and explosive leaping ability make him the one kind of target the Niners need to challenge Seattle.
#17 – Dallas Cowboys – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
It’s safety to say teams are likely going to fall in love with Ra’Shede Hageman at the scouting combine. He’s that impressive of a physical specimen at defensive tackle, and the Dallas Cowboys desperately need one. Hageman is a proven run stuffer thanks to his size and strength and his ability to rush the passer has flashed more than once.
#18 – Chicago Bears (from NYJ) – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Where Hageman might have a slight advantage in upside, the Chicago Bears should not feel sad at all for getting Timmy Jernigan. By far the more polished and proven player, he is a force in the middle, able to control blockers with his quickness and strength. Though a dominant run defense first and foremost, he has what it takes to collapse the pocket around a quarterback.
#19 – Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
Ryan Tannehill will never enter the 2012 quarterback draft success story until he gets adequate protection from his Miami Dolphins. Everybody knows they are going offensive line, perhaps repeatedly and this 2014 NFL mock draft is no different. Cyrus Kouandjio is a big, long and powerful run blocker out of Alabama with the athletic skill needed to become a stout pass protector.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Dee Ford – OLB – Auburn
Bruce Arians said tackle is not his top priority, which could mean he’s looking to feed the defense some extra piece. Landing an outside pass rusher to help out the 35-year old John Abraham would qualify. Dee Ford from Auburn has drawn a lot of attention with his speed and explosion off the edge. He’s a natural and would fit well in that system.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
The defense is in store for a reboot with the Green Bay Packers and getting more impact plays out of the safety position is certainly a priority. Calvin Pryor has ideal size at 6’2″ with a hitter’s mentality that makes receivers and runners wary of him. Such a reputation conveniently covers up how good he has gotten in pass coverage.
#22 – Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU
With Pryor and the top corners going off the board, the Philadelphia Eagles shift their focus to landing help at their outside linebacker spots. Another player who has surfaced in the pre-draft process is Kyle Van Noy. While not a pass rusher first, he comes off the edge fast and is a terrific blitzer. On top of that his range and instincts make him dangerous in coverage.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Yes, the defensive collapse doomed the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs but that was due more to injuries than anything. This team needs more out of the receiver position. Kelvin Benjamin brings plenty of physical talent including strength and deceptive acceleration but naturally the big selling point is his 6’5″ frame.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Mike Zimmer is gone but the Cincinnati Bengals must continue their ways on defense. Corner and safety are two big needs so they decide to take Jason Verrett out of TCU. Anybody who looks at his 5’10” frame and thinks he’s an easy target better do their homework. Verrett is an athletic, explosive ball hawk who makes offenses pay for trying to pick on him.
#25 – San Diego Chargers – Marcus Roberson – CB – Florida
Another team in need of corner help after field the 29th ranked pass defense. The San Diego Chargers scoop up an overlooked corner out of Florida in Marcus Roberson. Scouts are wary of him because he’s not much help against the run but in coverage his length, speed and athleticism are huge assets as they were for the Gators.
#26 – St. Louis Rams (from CLE) – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Leave to the Rams to continue landing pass rushers year after year. Already field a terrific tandem in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, St. Louis strikes late when Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy falls to them at #26. Boasting the needed size for the position, Ealy has good strength but makes his money showcasing his burst of the snap and ability to hand fight blockers until he finds a lane to the quarterback.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
This team wins when Drew Brees is protected. Terron Armstead has the left tackle spot nailed down so the New Orleans Saints should supplement that by getting the right side straightened out. Zack Martin is a fast-rising anchor out of Notre Dame. Though not the greatest athlete, his size, power, toughness and technique should make him a success regardless of where he lines up.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
Cam Newton cannot properly assist the Carolina Panthers defense until he has the weapons necessary. Steve Smith is approaching retirement. This team needs help at wide receiver. Allen Robinson is tall, strong target out of Penn State with plenty of explosion in his legs that allows him to go up and get the football and find ways to gain separation.
#29 – New England Patriots – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Aaron Hernandez is gone and Rob Gronkowski can’t be counted on to stay healthy. So it’s no surprise the New England Patriots gleefully pluck up Eric Ebron when they go on the clock. The North Carolina tight end has drawn comparisons to Vernon Davis. Indeed his size-speed ratio rates as rare on athletic charts and he has the hands and route running skill to go with it.
#30 – Baltimore Ravens (from SF) – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
Ozzie Newsome has that knack for creating more picks for his team and still getting a quality player. He does so again when the Baltimore Ravens land Jordan Matthews. Though not the athlete of previous receivers, the Vanderbilt star has the needed big frame they lacked in 2013 and his excellent hands and savant-like understanding of route running will make him a headache for defenses.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Pierre Desir – CB – Lindenwood
Breakdowns in the secondary hurt the Denver Broncos all season, even before what happened in the Super Bowl. They have to get the problem straightened out. Pierre Desir may be from a small school but his fast rise through the pre-draft process is no accident. The kid has every tool, physically and mentally to play with the big boys.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Jace Amaro – TE – Texas Tech
Zach Miller has done a very nice job for the Seattle Seahawks but in order to get more from Russell Wilson they have to adding more receiving potential from the tight end position. Jace Amaro led all tight ends by far in 2013. His size along is an inviting target while his underrated speed lets him beat coverage right away to get open.
To view the second round picks of the latest 2014 NFL mock draft, click here.
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