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
It happened almost by default but all signs point to Blake Bortles separating himself as the top quarterback in the 2014 class. His 6’5″ frame, strong arm, competitiveness and clutch mentality are everything the Houston Texans can want in a new franchise quarterback.
#2 – Atlanta Falcons (from STL) – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Trade yield: Rams get ATL 6th pick, 2nd, 3rd rounders in ’14 and 2nd in ’15
Thomas Dimitroff isn’t afraid of being aggressive to get players he wants. The Atlanta Falcons badly need a pass rusher and Jadeveon Clowney is the most talented in the draft. He’s big, long, strong and freakishly athletic. He also is a perfect fit for their scheme.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Gus Bradley vowed to create the “Seahawks of the South” so it’s only fitting he gets his Russell Wilson. Johnny Manziel mirrors the Seattle star in terms of size, mobility and charismatic leadership. His instinctive playmaking is hard to descripe and exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars need.
#4 – Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Ray Farmer knows his team needs a quarterback, and he needs one that can start right away. Teddy Bridgewater is experienced, intelligence, and has an array of physical talent from arm strength to accuracy. Most questions about him are less physical and more about his somewhat reserved leadership. The Cleveland Browns take that chance.
#5 – Oakland Raiders – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Jared Veldheer is likely coming back so the Oakland Raiders have a chance to really fortify their offensive line. Greg Robinson dominated from the left tackle spot at Auburn but his sheer size, power and length means he could easily shift over to the right and become a force for the Silver and Black.
#6 – St. Louis Rams (from ATL) – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
If the commitment to Sam Bradford is for real then the time has come for the St. Louis Rams to fully invest in his protection. Jake Long was a nice experiment but they need a left tackle who is young, smart, durable and does his best work warding off pass rushers. Jake Matthews is that guy out of Texas A&M
#7 – Detroit Lions (from TB) – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Trade yield: Bucs get DET 10th pick and 2nd rounder, 3rd in ’15
There is no question the fight for Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is bound to pick up late in the top ten. Surprisingly it is the Detroit Lions who make the aggressive play to get him. Putting him across from Calvin Johnson could spell special things for Matthew Stafford in the near future.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
He’s not a tailor-made defensive end but Khalil Mack is a pass rusher. Then again, he’s so much more than that given what he can do tracking down runners and playing coverage. The Minnesota Vikings need somebody like that on the defensive side and Mike Zimmer will find loads of ways to use him.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
His combine performance did him some huge favors. Taylor Lewan is clearly an athlete and boasts the size, length and power to go with it. He played great at left tackle for Michigan but the Buffalo Bills could really help their cause by moving him to the right side across from Cordy Glenn.
#10 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Speed was the primary desire for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on offense. Brandin Cooks may not have ideal size but his combine and game speeds matched up to say one thing: this kid can fly. Throw in a good pair of hands and agility and he’s going to shoot up boards.
#11 – Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Ray Horton is likely bringing the 3-4 defense to the Tennessee Titans so it will be imperative for them to start adding pass rushers from the outside linebacker position. Anthony Barr is a natural fit despite his relative inexperience. His physical upside is off the charts.
#12 – New York Giants – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Improving the pass protection has to be top priority for the New York Giants. Given how many positions struggled up front they will need a player with versatility to play multiple positions. Zack Martin is a standout tackle from Notre Dame with enough athleticism and technique to stay there in the pros but the needed power and girth to excel at guard.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
There aren’t many holes left for the St. Louis Rams to fill on defense, but one of them is a free safety who can lend a hand in coverage. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was a classic center fielder for the Crimson Tide with great range and instincts in coverage that allowed him to read the quarterback and then break to the football.
#14 – Cleveland Browns (from CHI) – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Trade yield: Bears get CLE 26th pick, two 3rd rounders in ’14, 5th in ’14 and ’15
Farmer said he wasn’t afraid to be aggressive for the Cleveland Browns in the first round. His team has a wealth of picks at their disposal and the ability to pursue difference-makers. They swing a deal with Chicago to go get massive 6’5″ Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. Paired with Josh Gordon the Browns suddenly have a pair of twin towers for Teddy Bridgewater to throw to.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
There is too much age and not enough talent in the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary anymore. They need a young defensive back to build around for the future. Justin Gilbert has the size, length and speed to play constant press coverage which he did continually during his time at OklahomaState.
#16 – Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Regaining a dynamic edge on the defensive line is a must for the Dallas Cowboys as they pick up the pieces from a disastrous 2013. Timmy Jernigan is a great place to start. The FloridaState defensive tackle is stout, powerful and commands double teams. He will stop the run for Dallas, allowing them to focus on improving their pass rush.
#17 – Baltimore Ravens – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Ozzie Newsome always sticks to his board and he won’t be able to ignore Darqueze Dennard sitting there. The MichiganState corner is a top ten talent with excellent coverage ability, an elite work ethic and leadership qualities on and off the field. He should help improve the Baltimore Ravens back end.
#18 – New York Jets – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
A solid combine merely affirmed that Marqise Lee is a dynamic weapon at wide receiver. His speed-agility combination, along with good route running skills make him a big play threat. The New York Jets badly need such weapons. Adding Lee could give Geno Smith that go-to guy he didn’t have last year.
#19 – Miami Dolphins – Gabe Jackson – OG – Mississippi State
David Yankey and Cyril Richardson get the hype but it’s turning out that Gabe Jackson might be the most enticing guard in the 2014 draft. He’s big, physical, nasty, and equally good opening running lanes and protecting his quarterback. There really aren’t many holes to his game and that means he can make an immediate impact for the Miami Dolphins.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Dee Ford – DE – Auburn
His late medical scratch from the combine might hurt his stock a little but Dee Ford is still one of the best edge rushers in the draft. The Arizona Cardinals played their best on defense with pass rush coming off the edges. He can give them that presence for the long-term.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
Health concerns have also crept up on Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, which would suit the Green Bay Packers just fine. Mosley exhibited no symptoms last season. He’s an excellent athlete, smart and a great leader on the field. His versatility will add some dynamic skill to that Packers front seven.
#22 – Philadelphia Eagles – Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Getting a presence at the safety position was a must for the Philadelphia Eagles. Calvin Pryor is known more for his tackling and hitting reputation out of Louisville but that belies how much he improved in coverage over the past year. He should become a nice fixture in that 3-4 defense.
#23 – San Francisco 49ers (from KC) – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Trade yield: Chiefs get SF 3rd round pick (94th)
They were bound to move up at some point. The San Francisco 49ers eventually do move up in a deal with Kansas City to get massive FloridaState receiver Kelvin Benjamin. His 6’5″ size and deceptive quickness allow him to either gain separation or win in jump ball situations, something the 49ers need in that NFC West division.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
Get the headlines ready. Andy Dalton is officially put on notice when the Cincinnati Bengals snag Derek Carr with the 24th pick. Indeed it will be a questioned move but facts are facts. Cincinnati has a Super Bowl-ready roster. Carr is taller, faster and has a better arm than Dalton. It’s a risky move, but the timing is right.
#25 – San Diego Chargers – Kyle Van Noy – OLB – BYU
Either finding quality cover men or more of a pass rush off the edge will take center stage for the San Diego Chargers. Kyle Van Noy brings loads of speed to the field, making him an outstanding blitzer but he’s also a headache for quarterbacks in coverage thanks to his instincts and length.
#26 – Chicago Bears (from CLE) – Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
Few had as great a pre-draft process as Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. His explosiveness was constantly on display and game tape showed a young man who knows how to shoot gaps and get after the quarterback. The Chicago Bears defense requires players like him and he should fit in perfectly.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
Losses at cornerback really hampered the New Orleans Saints down the stretch of last season. Bolstered that area should really help their cause. Jason Verrett may be a mild 5’10” but his coverage ability is no joke. He can stick to receivers like glue, is very tough and plays the football better than most corners in the class.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Jordan Matthews – WR – Vanderbilt
Steve Smith is no guarantee to return for the Carolina Panthers, which only makes their need for a wide receiver that much more critical. Jordan Matthews dominated the SEC out of Vanderbilt. He’s big, strong, technically-gifted and faster than people realize. He can step in right away and contribute.
#29 – New England Patriots – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
His combine was cut short but it didn’t take long for Eric Ebron to show that his athletic potential is the reason he’s the best tight end on the 2014 NFL mock draft board. Pairing him with Rob Gronkowski is something the New England Patriots can’t wait to try out. Also if Gronk can’t stay healthy, they have his replacement.
#30 – Kansas City Chiefs (from SF) – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU
Andy Reid has a couple of solid possession receivers for the Kansas City Chiefs but he really could use a dynamic speed threat who’s dangerous with the football. Odell Beckham Jr. flashed that constantly at LSU and then again at the scouting combine. His athletic skill is something Reid can exploit countless different ways.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
The pass rush faded considerably for the Denver Broncos down the stretch and disappeared in the Super Bowl. They have to get more pressure off the edge. Kony Ealy has explosion and athleticism out of Missouri. He will make a very solid compliment to Von Miller who returns from his torn ACL.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama
His combine was largely a disaster. The fact is Cyrus Kouandjio did not look like a starting left tackle. However, his length, size and power give him a great ceiling and a shift to the right side might get the most out of those gifts. The Seattle Seahawks will love to provide him with that chance.
For the second round of the 2014 NFL mock draft, click here.
For the third round of the 2014 NFL mock draft, click here.
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