Oct 12, 2013; Fayetteville, AR, USA; South Carolina Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) runs through a block by Arkansas Razorback offensive tackle David Hurd (69) during the first half of a game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. South Carolina defeated Arkansas 52-7. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Ideal Fits for Top 10 Prospects

Everybody has a theory about where the top prospects will go in the 2014 NFL draft.  So instead, which teams are simply the best fits?

Jadeveon Clowney – DE – Best Fit:  Oakland Raiders

Finding the best fit for a player has nothing to do with which teams want him and mostly to do with scheme fit.  The Oakland Raiders run a defensive scheme tailor-made for Jadeveon Clowney, who much prefers to put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer.  Dennis Allen is a defensive coach, so unlike Steve Spurrier he should be able to reach Clowney on a more personal level.  Oakland hasn’t had a young centerpiece on defense for over a decade.  Everything makes sense for this union.

Khalil Mack – OLB – Best Fit:  Houston Texans

While Clowney is the more talented rusher, Khalil Mack is the better fit for the Houston Texans scheme.  Under Romeo Crennel they will run a 3-4 system where outside linebackers who can rush but also play coverage are preferred.  The position is rather thin for the Texans and in need of help to take some pressure off superstar J.J. Watt.  Mack can do all of that and more if selected by the team.

Johnny Manziel – QB – Best Fit:  Jacksonville Jaguars

It really is a match in every sense of the word.  Johnny Manziel goes to play for coach in Gus Bradley familiar with handling smaller quarterbacks (see Russell Wilson).  He gets to use his flamboyant personality and charisma to invigorate a fanbase mired in years of bad to mediocre football and hopefully help sell tickets.  Best of all Manziel wouldn’t have to deal with near the media attention he would receive playing in a more established market.

Jake Matthews – OT – Best Fit:  St. Louis Rams

Jeff Fisher knows all about what it’s like having a Matthews manning the offensive line.  He coached Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews back in the 1990s, a man who helped Fisher reach the Super Bowl in 1999.  So given the St. Louis Rams needs on the offensive line, it’s only reasonable to think he’d see similar promise in Jake Matthews, Bruce’s son.  The second generation star can play on the left or right sides, is a prove pass protector and good run blocker as well.

Sammy Watkins – WR – Best Fit:  Detroit Lions

The latest 2014 NFL draft rumors are not an accident.  There is a reason Sammy Watkins continues to get linked with the Detroit Lions.  Calvin Johnson has gone years carrying their passing attack on his superhuman shoulders but last year he finally showed signs of wearing down.  Detroit knows he needs help.  The signing of Golden Tate was a start, but Watkins is so much a better fit.  Where Johnson brings the size, he would bring the speed.  Their skill sets compliment each other.  Best of all Watkins would be playing with Matthew Stafford, a quarterback with the arm to take advantage of that speed.

Greg Robinson – OT – Best Fit:  Buffalo Bills

E.J. Manuel and the other quarterbacks for the Buffalo Bills were sacked 48 times in 2013.  That is unacceptable.  Winning teams don’t allow that.  It’s no wondering why the team is in hot pursuit of another quality tackle to pair with Cordy Glenn.  Greg Robinson is their golden goose.  The Auburn standpoint has the length, power and drive to man the right side, where help is needed the most but he also has the versatility to play on the left like he did for the Tigers.  The solutions he offers all line up for the Bills and their needs.

Blake Bortles – QB – Best Fit:  Minnesota Vikings

Few offensive coaches have had better success with big quarterbacks than Norv Turner.  He helped Troy Aikman (6’4″) win his first Super Bowl in 1992 then turned Philip Rivers (6’5″) into a perennial Pro Bowler.  Blake Bortles (6’5″) has a very similar body type and skill set to those two outstanding players and the Minnesota Vikings have never really had one like him.  Their need for a quarterback is well-documented.  Giving Bortles to Turner just seems logical.

Anthony Barr – OLB – Best Fit:  Tennessee Titans

Ray Horton has produced good defenses wherever he goes and they all emulate the greatness of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their “Blitzburg” style.  That means a 3-4 alignment loaded up on pass rushing outside linebackers.  At present the Tennessee Titans have nobody of note on their roster who fit with that style.  Anthony Barr meanwhile might be the most physically gifted outside linebacker in the 2014 NFL draft.  He fits like a glove in the 3-4 scheme given his athleticism and length.  Horton could build the rest of the unit around him.

Mike Evans – WR – Best Fit:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In this case everything fits together from the need of the team to the best destination for the player.  For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their receiver requirements rose considerably when they traded Mike Williams to Buffalo, leaving just the 31-year old Vincent Jackson as their only receiver of note.  Like him, Mike Evans is known best for his size-speed combination.  At 6’5″ he can outfight defenders in the air for the ball but still has enough acceleration to beat them down the field.  Evans could easily learn from Jackson.  On top of that he would inherit a quarterback in Josh McCown who gained great experience throwing to big receivers a year ago in Chicago with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Justin Gilbert – CB – Best Fit:  Cleveland Browns

First impressions would likely raise eyebrows.  How in the world could one think OklahomaState cornerback Justin Gilbert is a top fit for the Cleveland Browns?  Then a little time to examine would reveal the truth.  Gilbert is the most athletically gifted corner in the 2014 class.  He has the length, agility and speed to match up with any receiver he faces and shut them down.  A true cover corner in the making.  Cleveland already has one shutdown type in Pro Bowler Joe Haden.  Anybody with brains will say the only thing better than a shutdown corner is two shutdown corners.  Putting Gilbert and Haden together presents so many possibilities for the Browns and could provide the foundation for great defenses in the future.

Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Anthony Barr Blake Bortles Buffalo Bills Cleveland Browns Detroit Lions Greg Robinson Houston Texans Jacksonville Jaguars Jadeveon Clowney Jake Matthews Johnny Manziel Justin Gilbert Khalil Mack Mike Evans Minnesota Vikings Oakland Raiders Sammy Watkins St. Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennessee Titans

  • gdubb

    I like how you think erik with the Raiders pick

    • Erik Lambert

      Figured you would.

  • Jarod Cook

    I like your pick of Gilbert to the Browns, teams wouldn’t be able to just throw to the half the field that Haden’s not on. Like you say has the skills and potential to be a pro bowl player but he’s not one of the so called “elite” players, and taking him at #4 would be a little bit of a reach. If they can make a trade down a couple of spots to the 8-10 picks and he’s still there would be a great pickup for the Browns. If he’s not other good targets would be WR Evens(if available) or FS Clinton-Dix.

    • Erik Lambert

      I think Evans teamed with Josh Gordon could make any quarterback look elite.

    • Todd Limpert

      Agreed Jarod

  • Matthew

    why do people constantly say that bradley is used to handling smaller qb’s? bradley was not the head coach in seattle – heck he wasn’t even the offensive coordinator. he was the defensive coordinator.

    • Erik Lambert

      It’s about the Xs and Os, Matthew. It’s about knowing which plays better serve what Manziel can and cannot do. Just because Bradley coaches defense doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what those plays are. The head coach has to after all.

      • Matthew

        exactly the job jedd fisch has, not bradley. so the research should be on whether fisch has ever coached this type of player in the past. furthermore, caldwell is the gm, not bradley. while i’m sure they brainstorm together, caldwell is going to choose the player he thinks will best help jacksonville now and in the future. it’s not to say they will or won’t draft manziel, but trying to draw a link between bradley being the defensive coordinator in seattle 2 years ago and russell wilson is lazy journalism.

  • Herman Moore

    Calvin Johnson is faster than Sammy Watkins.

    • mike

      not anymore

  • Fangface

    The most laughable thing I’ve witnessed throughout this pre-draft dead period is watching just about every so called “expert/analyst” predict STL with the number two overall pick would select an OL. If any of them did just a little bit of homework they would find that that would be the least likely of all scenarios. The Rams currently have in Long and Barksdale two players that finished 2013 as the 10th and 12th best player at their respective position. Top 25 overall. Couple that with the signing of Saffold and the Rams only area of need on the offensive line is LG. Mathews looks like he’s going to be a great player but is that really the best use of the number two pick? In the 20 yrs that Jeff Fisher has been a head coach the earliest he’s ever selected an OL is the second round and in 2014 that is not going to change.

    • Erik Lambert

      This is not a mock draft, FF. This is determining which players fit which teams best. Besides, I thought all you Ram fans wanted to trade down?

      • Fangface

        That was more of a general statement after having to listen to same nonsense for the last month. Mathews is a top 10 pick so we’re talking about their first pick. That would put Mathews at LG which is not the worst thing just not the smartest. And yes, most Rams fans would like for them to trade down but that won’t change their strategy. Pass it on..

        • Erik Lambert

          If you say so, Les.

  • John Thomas Hurdle II

    I know people are seeing Kali Mack a fit for Houston. But last year. People forget there is a LB in Texas name Crushing who is a beast as well. So Clowney is the best choice for Houston. Kali Mack should be for Oakland.