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
The simple fact of the matter is that in the grand scheme of things, Jadeveon Clowney is the best prospect in the draft. Pairing him with J.J. Watt could do so many things for the Houston Texans defense, even at the cost of a first round quarterback. They forgo trade options and take the South Carolina star.
#2 – St. Louis Rams (from WSH) – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
The loss of Clowney off the board puts the trade-happy St. Louis Rams in a bind. With four quarterbacks still available and no clear front runner they really don’t have the best leverage for a deal. So in this instance they go after the best player for their needs. Greg Robinson lacks experience but his production and physical skill are bordering on elite.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
With Clowney off the board it’s clear the Jacksonville Jaguars will go for a quarterback. Blake Bortles isn’t as proven as others but his physical measurement from size to arm strength coupled with a cool, poised demeanor means he is ideally suited to handle the rebuilding project they have going on offense.
#4 – Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
This may come as a surprise to many. Manziel is considered the best quarterback in the 2014 class. However, the fact is Teddy Bridgewater was very successful at Louisville and he is more physical suited for the position given his height. Outside of that arm strength, accuracy and intelligence are not issues either. The Cleveland Browns bank on this.
#5 – Oakland Raiders – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
One of the harder teams to predict in the 2014 NFL mock draft is the Oakland Raiders. There is any number of ways they could go. In the end they might be best served getting somebody who can play across from left tackle Jared Veldheer. Jake Matthews is an excellent selection with all the tools including the versatility to play on the right side.
#6 – Atlanta Falcons – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
It’s either going to be a tackle or a pass rusher. With Robinson and Matthews off the board the decision is made easy for the Atlanta Falcons. Khalil Mack is a hyper-athletic talent from Buffalo who can get after the quarterback but also excels covering the run and dropping back in coverage.
#7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
The ongoing issues with Mike Williams is leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense in a tough spot at wide receiver. Much as they would like to add a pass rusher, getting another target for Mike Glennon is crucial. Sammy Watkins has the size, speed, explosive acceleration and lower body strength to turn every pass into a big play.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
In a rather big surprise, the Minnesota Vikings find Johnny Manziel falling into their laps. The Texas A&M star is known best for his mobility and instinctive playmaking ability. His arm strength and height aren’t ideal, but he’s a gamer and showed lots of improvement in the key areas such as pocket presence, accuracy and decision-making.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Pass rush was a big key to the Buffalo Bills defense in 2013 while at the same time they would love to get somebody next to Kiko Alonso at linebacker. Anthony Barr could help fulfill both requirements. The UCLA outside linebacker is a prominent pass rusher with great length and athleticism.
#10 – Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Needing a second wide receiver does not compare to the need for a cover corner for the Detroit Lions. Their secondary has given them problems for years and still needs works. Justin Gilbert is highly athletic with good length and speed to mirror receivers downfield. His nose for the football is also a big draw.
#11 – Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
The thing to remember is that with Ray Horton taking over the Tennessee Titans may switch to a 3-4 defense. In such a case they will require athletic corners who thrive in press coverage. Darqueze Dennard was among the best in college at that. He’s smart, dedicated to his craft and confident in his physical ability to shut down receivers.
#12 – New York Giants – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
Adding athletes to the defense is a major priority for the New York Giants, especially at linebacker. There is no guarantee Jon Beason will return from free agency so picking up C.J. Mosley would be a minor coup. The Alabama All-American can do everything asked of him from tackling, to playing coverage to getting teammates in position.
#13 – New York Jets (from STL) – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Trade yield: Rams get NYJ 3rd and 6th round picks
Boasting 12 picks in the 2014 draft affords the New York Jets room to be aggressive if they so wish. Badly needing a difference-maker at wide receiver, they strike a deal with St. Louis to jump up and snag Marqise Lee. The USC star has good size but really sells with speed, agility and a technical-savvy in route running that makes him dangerous.
#14 – San Francisco 49ers (from CHI) – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Trade yield: Bears get SF 2nd (61st), 3rd (94th) and 4th round pick in ’15
Shortly after the Rams swing a trade, the Bears surprisingly pull off one of their own. The San Francisco 49ers, seeing Lee go off the board, use their own vast coffers of draft picks to jump up and grab Mike Evans. They are in serious need of a big, physical and athletic target to challenge those Seattle defensive backs and at 6’5″ Evans is exactly what they’re looking for.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
With the top corners off the board the Pittsburgh Steelers must fortify their secondary another way. Adding a young safety qualifies and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the best available. He’s a classic center field type who covers a lot of ground, reads the quarterback well and can match up with bigger receivers and tight ends.
#16 – Baltimore Ravens – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
With the top receivers gone the Baltimore Ravens instead look to bolster their struggling offensive line. Taylor Lewan is not a premier athlete, but he’s athletic for his size with the strength and nastiness of a front line starting tackle. He can block any type of pass rusher but is at his best when going forward to open running lanes.
#17 – Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
There are a number of defensive tackle options open to the Dallas Cowboys at #17 but the fact is that the most proven of them is Timmy Jernigan. His size, strength and quickness helped him dominate the best competition all season. He eats up blocks, stuffs the run and is deceptively good a collapsing the pocket during a pass rush.
#18 – St. Louis Rams (from NYJ) – Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Though they hoped to get Clinton-Dix, the St. Louis Rams are happy to settle for Louisville free safety Calvin Pryor. If anything he fits the Jeff Fisher style more because in addition to having good size and range his trademark is coming down to deliver some hard shots. He tackles well and has grown considerably in his coverage duties.
#19 – Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
It doesn’t matter where they start. The Miami Dolphins need bodies on their offensive line. Cyrus Kouandjio is a big, lengthy tackle out of Alabama. Though still very young he’s already a proven run blocker but boasts the footwork, quickness and long arms to stonewall pass rushers of every type.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Dee Ford – OLB – Auburn
Bruce Arians doesn’t feel the offensive line is a top priority, which means he may look to add more bite to his pass rush first. Getting somebody who can come off the edge to compliment Calaise Campbell is ideal. Dee Ford is not the biggest but his explosion and speed are tailor made for a 3-4 outside linebacker.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
A lot of turmoil is imminent for the Green Bay Packers defensive front. It’s unlikely they’ll retain everybody. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt can not only help them ease the impact of those losses, his strength, speed and relentlessness will give them an added punch in their pass rush that they’ve searched constantly for.
#22 – Cleveland Browns (from PHI) – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Trade yield: Eagles get two 4th round picks
They didn’t trade up early on but the Cleveland Browns decided to get a little aggressive with their second first round pick. They hand two fourth round choices to Philadelphia for a chance to snag prominent Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin. His power, technique and size make him very versatile, meaning the Browns could plug him in at guard or even right tackle.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Andy Reid loves fast receivers who can create big plays. He has some possession targets in place so he looks to give Alex Smith another explosive option. Brandin Cooks led college football in yards last season and shows up as a game breaker on film. He has the speed to get deep but also the agility and route running to turn short passes into long gains.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
Is defensive tackle a big need for the Cincinnati Bengals? No. Yet having the chance to pair a talent like Ra’Shede Hageman with Geno Atkins doesn’t come around often. Hageman has the size and strength to play nose tackle but is only scratching the surface of his pass rush potential.
#25 – San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Their pass defense was pitiful for most of the year so the San Diego Chargers have to find cornerbacks who can cover. Say what you want about his 5’10″ frame, TCU corner Jason Verrett is a baller. He has the explosive athleticism to glue himself to receivers but even better instincts to cut off passing lanes and steal the football.
#26 – Philadelphia Eagles (from CLE) – Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU
Trading back was a heady decision for the Philadelphia Eagles considering their limited options at #22. A few spots back look much better when they take BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Fast, athletic and instinctive he is a major nuisance in coverage and dangerous coming off the edge in the pass rush.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Here is one writer who thinks the New Orleans Saints will do the unthinkable and not re-sign Jimmy Graham. The fact of the matter is they would have to do too much to find the money. Besides, there are some quality options available in the draft and they are very fortunate to find North Carolina standout Eric Ebron still available.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Wide receiver tops the list of needs for the Carolina Panthers and fortunately they have a good one waiting for them. Florida State standout Kelvin Benjamin has the size at 6’5″ coupled with sneaky speed and quickness to get open and make the tough catches on third down or in the red zone.
#29 – New England Patriots – Jace Amaro – TE – Texas Tech
Aaron Hernandez is gone. Rob Gronkowski is an unknown. Frankly the New England Patriots are really hurting at tight end. That is why is won’t be a surprise when they take Jace Amaro out of Texas Tech. He’s big, strong, fast and was very productive in college. He will present that big target Tom Brady loves to have.
#30 – Jacksonville Jaguars (from CHI) – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Trade yield: Bears get JAX 39th pick and 4th, 5th and 6th round picks
In an unprecedented move, the Bears, having started at #14, strike their second trade and move out of the first round entirely. Meanwhile the Jacksonville Jaguars sense their opportunity. Shortly after getting their quarterback they move up from the second round to grab defensive end Kony Ealy who will fill their large need for a pass rusher.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Marcus Roberson – CB – Florida
Cornerback was a really banged up position in 2013 for the Denver Broncos and it could get worse in free agency. Finding a young cover man who can ease the pressure is needed. Marcus Roberson is not an all-around player but when asked to play tight, physical coverage he is among the best in this 2014 NFL mock draft.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
Sidney Rice is on his way out and Percy Harvin is one hit away from being back on the injured list. The Seattle Seahawks need more talent at wide receiver. Allen Robinson is a big, thick target out of Penn State with explosive leaping ability and excellent hand-eye coordinator to go up and get the football.
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