Most mock drafts are conducted by a singular person. NFL Mocks wanted to change that by making their next 2014 NFL mock draft a collective effort. The following set of first round selections was played out in a live atmosphere in which a group of five staff writers acted as general managers, picking and trading for their assigned teams as if it were for real. The picks will be displayed below and explained by each writer as to why they made them. Hope you enjoy!
Participants: Erik Lambert, Sayre Bedinger, Joe Wedra, Geoff Zlobinsky and MacKenzie Pantoja
Time limit: 3 minutes
Trades: Can be discussed at any time. Players and future picks are fair game.
Picks: Once a pick is in, it cannot be withdrawn
1. Houston Texans: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Sayre Says: We felt that Manziel has the highest value of any QB in the draft, and at our highest position of need, that was too great a need to pass on. We didn’t expect to be in this situation, but football wise and business wise, this is a great move for us. Manziel is a playmaker and adds a dynamic to our offense that can help us back to the playoffs in 2014.
2. Atlanta Falcons (f/STL): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Trade: 6th pick, 2nd in ’14 and 4th in ’15 to Rams/3rd rounder to Falcons
Sayre Says: In order to make this selection, we struck a deal with the Rams that we absolutely felt we had to make. Clowney is the highest rated player on our board, and when we found out the Texans weren’t taking him, it was an easy move. His athletic ability, explosiveness, and potential warranted the number one spot on our board and probably others, but he fits a huge area of need for us and can help us get back to championship form.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Geoff Says: Mack is regarded by some as the top prospect in the NFL Draft, including NFL Network’s, Mike Mayock. Unlike Jadeveon Clowney, Mack’s personality has never come into question, making his selection a much safer option. While the Jaguars have a hole at quarterback, the Mack was clearly the better prospect and a much safer selection, which is what a rebuilding team is looking for. The Jaguars can/will look to fill their hole at quarterback in the coming rounds.
4. Minnesota Vikings (f/CLE): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Trade: 8th pick, 3rd in ’14 and 6th in ’15 to Browns
Geoff Says: It’s no secret, the Vikings needed a quarterback badly. Adrian Peterson is, arguably, the best back in football, but when a team doesn’t respect your ability to put the ball behind them when they stack the box, Adrian Peterson’s impact is greatly affected. Bridgewater gives the Vikings a quarterback that they can develop, along with players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph, and will allow them to compete in a tough NFC North from Day 1.
5. Oakland Raiders: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Joe Says: I was thrilled when I found that Blake Bortles was going to be available when I selected. The Raiders could have used Sammy Watkins–a pick that I thought I was going to have to make. With all the talent that will be available in later rounds at receiver, I had to take my franchise QB when I could. This was an easy pick.
6. St. Louis Rams (f/ATL): Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
MacKenzie Says: The Rams needed an offensive tackle with Jake Long’s injury. Frankly, I would have taken Robinson even if I hadn’t traded down, and to get the player we wanted with additional draft picks is nice. I probably should have tried to get more for the pick, but I am happy for Robinson. I call Robinson “the Bear of Jordan Hare” because of his bear-like frame and monstrous physical skill set. The potential is unbelievable, physically he’s the second coming of Jason Peters
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
MacKenzie Says: Do I need to explain why I picked Sammy Watkins at 7? Mike Williams basically died last year and I’d love to see Watkins next to Vincent Jackson. Never really had to hesitate here.
8. Cleveland Browns (f/MIN): Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Erik says: When the Cleveland Browns were rumored to have interest in Derek Carr, I didn’t pay much notice because I figured it was a smokescreen. What really caught my attention was when that rumor spread to the Raiders as well. I started to understand that Carr might actually be a legit target. So to be able to move back four spaces, get a 3rd round pick and a 6th in 2015 and still get the quarterback they want is a job well done. The fact is Carr has a lot of doubters since he’s not experienced in a pro-style offense and has a rather thin frame. I see a kid who has probably the best arm in the draft, showed he’s accurate at the Senior Bowl and demonstrated explosiveness in his lower body at the scouting combine. The kid, physically, is the real deal. It’s a question of whether Cleveland puts him on the field before he’s ready.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Erik says: This really was a no brainer for the Buffalo Bills. They had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last season, giving up 48 sacks. E.J. Manuel can’t realize his full potential until that number is brought down significantly. Jake Matthews rates as the best pass protecting tackle in this draft. He is polished, experienced, strong, versatile and still has room to get even better. The best part is he has the athleticism to play on the left or right sides. Since Cordy Glenn played well enough to keep his job on the left side, Matthews could step right in on the opposite end and suddenly Manuel has two bookend tackles under the age of 25. That is how great offenses of the future are built.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (f/DET): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Trade: 24th pick, 2nd in ’14 and 3rd in ’15 to Lions
MacKenzie Says: Honestly, I was indifferent to the idea of trading up, but the Lions were fairly desperate to move down. The 24th pick, the 55th pick, and a 3rd rounder in 2015 for the 10th pick? I’d make that trade any day of the week. I considered going cornerback, but I still have faith in Dre’ Kirkpatrick, and I saw Lewan sitting there, and I couldn’t say no. First of all, as to what I think of Lewan, he reminds me of Nate Solder. Solder has been very good thus far for the Patriots, and, at pick 10, it’s impossible to deny he’s good value. In some ways, left tackle isn’t a need for the Bengals, because Andrew Whitworth still played surprisingly well for the Bengals last year. But, when it comes to 335lbs tackles who have played plenty of guards and will turn 33 next season, the move to guard isn’t a question of if, but when. Make this pick, you’ve got Lewan at LT, Whitworth at LG, Kevin Zeitler at RG, Andre Smith at RT, and Kyle Cook being the one below average (but not terrible) starter at center. That’s an amazing offensive line.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (f/TEN): Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Trade: 15th pick, 3rd in ’15 and 6th in ’14 rounders to Titans
Joe Says: With Pittsburgh, I traded up. Tackles were flying off the board and it made no sense to let a few more teams take the guys the Steelers need. We went with Zach Martin from Notre Dame, thinking that he can play all over and contribute right away.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Geoff Says: Since the Jeremy Shockey days in New York, the Giants have been looking to secure a top tight end to play in their offense. Two years ago it was Martellus Bennett, last year it was Brandon Meyers. Ebron is the best tight end in the NFL draft, and he has nice size for the position, which coupled with his natural play making ability, makes him a very nice weapon for Eli Manning down the middle of the field.
13. St. Louis Rams: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
MacKenzie Says: I love Mike Evans. Honestly, I like him more than Watkins from what I’ve seen thus far. But that is because, by sheer coincidence, I’ve only seen Evans at his best. I’ve seen him against Alabama, Auburn, LSU in 2012, LTU in 2012, and Oklahoma in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. For the sake of balance, I’m not ready to write a scouting report on him until I know exactly what happened in his less outstanding games, like Missouri, but there’s not much he can do that would make me think he’s not worthy of this pick. I’m a sucker for a 6’5 hands catcher, and this guy would be an awesome fit next to Tavon Austin.
14. Green Bay Packers (f/CHI): Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Trade: 21st pick, 3rd and 4th in ’14 and 7th in ’15 to Bears
MacKenzie Says: I couldn’t believe Anthony Barr fell. Just stunned. I had no intention of trading up as the Packers coming into the draft. And honestly, I may have overpaid. The 21st pick, a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder, and a 7th rounder next year for the 14th pick? Maybe a little too much. But if you think it’s too much, you’re looking at it the wrong way. I didn’t trade the 21st pick, a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder, and a 2015 7th rounder for the 14th pick. I traded those picks for Anthony Barr. And for Anthony Barr, I didn’t overpay.
15. Tennessee Titans (f/PIT): Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Sayre Says: Athletically, Gilbert is as impressive as they come. His physical skills and ability to contribute on special teams as a return man intrigued us and we feel like he can start as a rookie. He fills a void if Alterraun Verner leaves, and further satisfies a need for secondary depth if he stays.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Sayre Says: Donald was one of the highest rated defenders on our board, and we’re thrilled to get him here. He is smaller for a DT but packs a punch, and is a phenomenal athlete. We feel like he instantly upgrades our interior pass rush and defensive playmaking ability.
17. Baltimore Ravens: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Joe Says: C.J Mosley was the easy selection here. The Ravens need help in the middle of the defense, and Mosley is from Alabama, a school GM Ozzie Newsome loves to look at when scouting players. Mosley will compete for a starting job in 2014.
18. New York Jets: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
MacKenzie Says: As soon as C.J. Mosley was picked, I tried to trade down. Couldn’t find anyone. I’m not a huge Marqise Lee fan, and, after that, the Jets are expected to cut Antonio Cromartie. Corner is definitely a defensible need. Honestly, I love Jason Verrett. I think he’s the best corner in this draft class. I want to make something clear: that speaks more to what I think of Verrett than Gilbert and Dennard. Jason Verrett has the best film of any corner I have ever scouted. People will question whether he is a good fit in a defense so reliant on man coverage, but Verrett is so much better in man than anybody realizes. Frankly, for argument purposes, let’s assume that the fact that Verrett is a 5’9 corner who will likely be taken in the first round is proof that he has the quickness and instincts to stay with anybody, which happens to be true. The problem is that, no matter how close he stays to his man, he, in theory, should be unable to deflect some passes. Say Calvin Johnson runs a hitch route against a 5’9 corner. Say that corner is glued to his back. No matter how close he is to Johnson, Johnson has longer arms, and he is closer to the football. In theory, the pass cannot be broken up. It is impossible to reach the ball before Johnson. Frankly, the 5’9 corner who can breakup this pass is a Pro Bowler. The only way it can be done is by slashing your arms through the arms of the wide receiver, with impeccable timing as to avoid a pass interference, while making sure you use those arms to wrap up and make sure that, in the event that he catches it anyway, you make the tackle and don’t allow any YAC. Jason Verrett is amazing at this, and that’s why he was so good in man coverage at the collegiate level. His film is as good as it gets. And hey, if he goes to the Jets, you can just make Dee Millner take the taller of the two receivers, e.g., Millner takes Marlon Brown while Verrett covers Torrey Smith. Verrett will be outstanding no matter what team he plays for.
19. Miami Dolphins: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Geoff Says: Last year, the Dolphins offensive line wasn’t that great, but to make the situation worse, two of the most important players on the offensive line, Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin were suspended/left the team mid way through the year. Kouandjio fills a huge need for the Dolphins as they try to rebuild their offensive line to protect their young franchise quarterback.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Erik says: With all of the top tackles off the board my original plan was to go get that edge rusher the Arizona Cardinals need with John Abraham being 35-years old. Yet when I saw Darqueze Dennard still on the board I felt it was a move that had to be made. Having one outstanding corner on the roster makes a good defense. Having two of them makes great ones. Patrick Peterson is already established as one of the best in the game, and Dennard is arguably the best in this draft, especially in press coverage. Coming out of MichiganState he is a natural leader with an outstanding work ethic who uses his length and toughness to glue himself to receivers all the way down field. He’s also able to get his head around and play the football and never gives up on a play. If the Cardinals can still find that pass rusher later on, this defense is going to be very interesting.
21. Chicago Bears (f/GB): Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Erik says: One of the things I’ve learned about general managers is if they’re going to make a bold move, they have to be willing to take the heat. I knew making a trade down to hand Anthony Barr to the Packers would not be very popular. Here’s how I look at it. The Chicago Bears defense is a mess. They need more than seven picks in this draft to fix it. I got a 3rd and 4th with an extra 7th next year to help with that process in what is a very deep class. On top of that, in hindsight, I returned the volley right back to the Packers by getting a high quality pass rusher of my own in Kony Ealy with the 21st pick. Defensive end is probably the thinnest position on the Bears roster, especially if they let go of Julius Peppers. Not to mention the availability of 4-3 ends in this draft are limited beyond the first two rounds. So by getting extra picks and still managing to land a player they would’ve strongly considered at #14, I consider the trade worth it.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Geoff Says: Since Brian Dawkins left the team, what feels like decades ago, the Eagles have never been able to fill his huge shoes. While they have tried multiple different players out at the position and spent multiple draft picks trying to find the next great safety, nothing has worked. Pryor fills a huge need and brings a swagger back to the Eagles secondary that has been missing for a long time. The fans in Philadelphia will love Calvin Pryor for years and years to come.
23. Cleveland Browns (f/KC): Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Trade: 26th pick, 3rd rounder (from MIN) to Chiefs
Erik says: It might seem counterproductive at first look. I traded down in the top ten to get that third round pick from Minnesota only to give it right back before I could ever use it. Honestly this was actually my plan all along. I knew Derek Carr was going to be available at the bottom of the top ten, so I moved down to get those extra picks. Then I waited at #26 to see if an opportunity presented to go back up the board for a quality talent. When I saw Marqise Lee still there at #23, I pounced on the opportunity, sending that third round pick to Kansas City. Lee is no joke, folks. The USC standout is a big play waiting to happen, demonstrating a blend of speed, acceleration, agility and instinct. His passion and thirst for the game will be infectious as well. Putting him across from Josh Gordon was too easy, and I also keep all my original extra picks and still get that 6th rounder for 2015. All in all a successful round in my opinion.
24. Detroit Lions (f/CIN): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Joe Says: I decided to trade back with the Bengals, picking up a 2nd rounder this year and a 3rd in 2015. I picked O’Dell Beckham Jr. with the pick we acquired from Cincinnati. The Lions need another weapon next to Calvin Johnson and I think Beckham can contribute immediately.
25. New Orleans Saints (f/SD): Dee Ford, DE/LB, Auburn
Trade: 27th pick, 3rd in ’14 and 5th in ’15
Geoff Says: While Dee Ford may not fill a huge need for the Saints right now, Ford was far and away the best player available and it was impossible to not select him. With Cameron Jordan on one side and Dee Ford on the other, the Saints could have a deadly defensive line next season.
26. Kansas City Chiefs (f/CLE): Brandin Cooks, WR, OregonState
Sayre Says: To be able to trade down and still get Cooks, we were thrilled. He’s got speed to burn, and some of the most reliable hands in the draft. He will fit perfectly as the Y receiver along with Bowe, and we have hopes he can also play some slot if A.J. Jenkins develops as we expect.
27. San Diego Chargers: David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Joe Says: The team had no other choice but to move down and grab a few extra picks for later. I felt that the talent San Diego was looking for was essentially gone, and the only thing to make the selection worth while was to pick up a few selections in the process. The Saints offered their first and third, including a 2015 5th to move up. This was a no-brainer. Dropped back to 27, I ended up selecting David Yankey from Stanford. He’ll sure up the interior of the O-Line in no time!
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Sayre Says: In a draft filled with receivers, we knew we’d be able to get a top tier talent with our first selection. Benjamin is still raw but he has the frame to be a dominant NFL receiver for years to come. As we transition to the home stretch of Steve Smith’s career, we felt the need to bring in a young playmaker to pair with him and give us additional weapons for Cam Newton to get the ball to.
29. New England Patriots: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
MacKenzie Says: First of all, if I’m the Patriots, I don’t touch Jace Amaro. He’s a good player, but if Gronkowski comes back healthy, Amaro is just an unwise redundancy. I can’t imagine him on the field with Gronkowski for one play. The Patriots have a tight end, but it wouldn’t kill them to go with a guy who is a little bit more like a flex end, like Aaron Hernandez was. The only potential starter flex end in this draft class is horrible human being Colt Lyerla, who isn’t in first round consideration. The main point of the story; the Patriots are in an impossible jam at tight end, since they really don’t know if they need one. I can’t stress this enough; Amaro is a complete waste of a pick if Gronk comes back healthy. I could have gone Louis Nix, but I can’t help but feel his iffy stamina will result in a guy who is a good player when on the field but not on the field enough to be a good player, e.g., Phil Taylor, Linval Joseph, and Dan Williams. I sincerely believe defensive tackle is their biggest need (even if Wilfork comes back healthy, Chris Jones is starting opposite him). I’m not a huge Hagemann fan, and Aaron Donald was off the board. I would have chosen David Yankey if he was available. Alas, I didn’t see a scenario in which I could draft a good player and fill a need, so I took the best player avaliable, Kyle Fuller. Fuller really only has one problem: he doesn’t have the long speed necessary to cover a fly route, and he usually will need help over the top in many coverage. Outside of that, the guy is incredible. Best run stopping corner ever to walk the face of the earth. You want to know how well he can defend the run? The guy had 14.5 TFL’s his sophomore year. I couldn’t do that in a video game. He’s so good at defending the run, VT moved him from corner to linebacker for the 2011 GT game. Seriously, an ACC team decided to play a guy 6’0 190 at linebacker for one game to improve its run defense. I have so many anecdotes about Kyle Fuller’s ridiculous tackling ability, take on skills, and instincts. It’s really hard to put the magnitude of Fuller’s run defense into words. The other thing is, he also has outstanding instincts in coverage. Awesome player.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Erik says: Some fans might be sitting in the chairs wondering how the world the San Francisco 49ers didn’t move up from the 30th pick in this 2014 NFL mock draft. They have a litany of picks after all and could’ve used them. The truth is I had actually tried twice to move up. The first time was a plan to jump to the 12-14 range to get Mike Evans but he was scooped up before I had a chance to offer the deal. The second time was during a trade bid with the San Diego Chargers to seek out Brandin Cooks. Unfortunately the New Orleans Saints were more aggressive. I wasn’t too disappointed since the strength of this wide receiver class is well documented. Jordan Matthews may not be a poster boy for speed but the Vanderbilt wide out has what they want. He’s gritty, tough, competitive, with excellent route running ability and a 6’3″ frame that will allow him to match up with those big, physical defensive backs in the NFC West. Opportunities remain for them to go after players in later rounds.
31. Denver Broncos: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Sayre Says: At this juncture in the first round, we felt like we had a ton of options. Clinton-Dix was the top defender on our board and is the type of aggressive safety we feel like can pair with Rahim Moore and give our backfield some big play ability. He proved as much at Alabama, but the sky is the limit here and we’re reaping the benefits of a deep, talented crop of players. This is a steal.
32. Philadelphia Eagles (f/SEA): Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Joe Says: We traded out to pick up the Eagles second and fourth round selections, including a 2015 sixth rounder. We expect to move up in the second round with the extra picks we received from Philadelphia.
We hope you enjoyed or at least found the first 2014 NFL mock draft with multiple-writers interesting. Plans are for doing later rounds in the days to come. Please stay tuned and feel free to comment. From Erik, Sayre, Joe, MacKenzie and Geoff we thank you!
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