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 – Atlanta Falcons (f/HOU) – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina
Trade: 6th, 37th (2nd), 1st in ’15 picks to Texans for 1st pick
It’s the one trade that makes the most sense. The Atlanta Falcons are one or two players away from getting back to contending. Finding a young pass rusher to build around for the next ten years like Jadeveon Clowney is exactly what they need. He should thrive on that fast track Georgia Dome turf.
#2 – Detroit Lions (f/STL) – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Trade: 10th, 1st in ’15 and DT Nick Fairley to Rams for 2nd pick
This is the most interesting trade considered in awhile. Detroit remains somewhat uncertain regarding Nick Fairley, leading to their not using the option to retain him through 2015. So instead of forking over a load of draft picks, they use him in a package with the St. Louis Rams to go up and get coveted receiver Sammy Watkins.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
It’s still about the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the quarterback in this 2014 NFL mock draft with the brightest future is Blake Bortles. At 6’5″ he has the body for the pros, a good arm, mobility and a sharp mind that helps when the pressure ratchets up a notch.
#4 – Cleveland Browns – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
When in doubt, go with the safe pick. The Cleveland Browns likely wanted Sammy Watkins but that is no longer possible. In that case add some badly needed protection for their quarterbacks is a must. Jake Matthews is the most complete tackle in this class with the strength and athleticism to play on the right or left sides.
#5 – Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Plenty of veteran talent and experience was added to the Oakland Raiders defense in free agency but they still need a young difference-maker to bring it all together. Khalil Mack is another complete football player. He rushes the passer, tackles in the run game and makes plays in coverage. A very violent and dynamic talent.
#6 – Houston Texans (f/ATL) – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
With their extra picks in hand the Houston Texans put their future in the hands of the polarizing Johnny Manziel. He certainly doesn’t lack the confidence to carry a franchise. His rare playmaking skill, mobility and instinct should serve him well provided Bill O’Brien can file down the rough edges to his game.
#7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Mike Williams is gone via trade. Vincent Jackson is 31-years old. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are flirting with disaster at wide receiver. That is why they have to take Mike Evans if he’s there at #7. The Texas A&M product has all the size (6’5″) in the world coupled with good hands and an explosive lower body.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
It’s really hard to argue that the Minnesota Vikings are probably weakest at the linebacker position. They have nobody of note, especially in the middle. Help is also needed on the outside. C.J. Mosley can solve both problems. The athletic, tough, instinctive leader of the Alabama defense can play any position and would be most welcome on that roster.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
What a coup for the Buffalo Bills. In sore need of help to shore up their offensive front, they end up snagging arguably the most talent tackle on the board. Greg Robinson is a dominant run blocker with the frame, athleticism and power to shift over to the right side should that be the desire. E.J. Manuel will be that much better off.
#10 – St. Louis Rams (f/WSH) – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
Getting Nick Fairley in that deal will draw some varying opinions but for the Rams they will eye his steadily increasing sack production and see a physically gifted tackle who can potentially turn their defensive front from really good into dominant. On top of that they still manage to get one of the top blockers in Taylor Lewan to protect Sam Bradford.
#11 – Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Pass rush was a problem for the Tennessee Titans even before Ken Whisenhunt arrived. Now his new 3-4 defense under Ray Horton is building and is in need of someone to go get the quarterback. Anthony Barr is tailor-made for that system. His athletic prowess and pass rush potential make him a perfect outside linebacker to build around.
#12 – New York Giants – Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
Linval Joseph was a tough loss for the New York Giants, as was Justin Tuck. They need more disruption up front if their defense is going to function properly. Aaron Donald is the best interior pass rusher in this draft. He gets off the line so fast and uses natural leverage and quickness to shoot gaps and blow up plays in the backfield.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
If Jeff Fisher is ever going to maximize the effect of his defensive front he needs to ensure his secondary has the playmakers in place to take advantage. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a classic centerfielder at free safety with great speed and instincts to track the football in coverage.
#14 – San Francisco 49ers (f/CHI) – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Trade: 30th, 56th (2nd), 94th (3rd) and 129th (4th) to Bears for 14th pick
The San Francisco 49ers are primed and ready to go get players they want in this 2014 NFL mock draft. Case and point, they strike a deal with Chicago to snare arguably the best cover corner in the class. Justin Gilbert has the speed, length and athleticism to cover any receiver and also adds return ability on special teams.
#15 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
It’s never really hard to recognize “Pittsburgh Steelers” during a draft. Jarvis Jones was that guy in 2013. Darqueze Dennard fits the mold this time. The MichiganState corner thrives playing suffocating press coverage and also plays tough against the run He will make a great addition to that aging secondary.
#16 – Miami Dolphins (f/DAL) – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Trade: 19th and 81st (3rd) to Cowboys for 16th, 229th (7th) and 238th (7th) picks
Zack Martin is the last true Day One starter on the board at tackle. The Miami Dolphins badly need him for their rebuilding offensive line. With Baltimore a threat to take him, the Fins strike a deal with Dallas to go up and get him. It might seem like a heavy price, but in truth Martin is worth it.
#17 – Philadelphia Eagles (f/BAL) – Calvin Pryor – SS – Louisville
Trade: 22nd and 86th (3rd) picks to Ravens for 17th pick
Malcom Jenkins was a nice addition but the safety spot is far from fixed for the Philadelphia Eagles. Calvin Pryor is exactly what they need. His physical presence, ability to tackle as well as blitz is an ideal fit for their defense. The upside in coverage is what makes him worth moving up for.
#18 – New York Jets – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
They get their guy and didn’t even have to move up to do it. The New York Jets sorely lack a talent at tight end. Eric Ebron, athletically is one of the best to come around in a long time. Vernon Davis comparisons might be reaching this early but there is no question he can become a great target for Geno Smith or Michael Vick.
#19 – Dallas Cowboys (f/MIA) – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Defensive end is in serious danger for the Dallas Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are gone. Henry Melton should help on the inside but as of now the edges are razor thin. Kony Ealy alleviates a ton of that pressure. He has the size and strength to play the run and plenty of explosion to find ways to the quarterback.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Dee Ford – DE – Auburn
John Abraham had a great resurgence for the Arizona Cardinals but at 35-years old he’s on his last legs. Replacing his outside pass rush is critical for the Cardinals defense. Dee Ford out of Auburn has the bend, speed and skill to become that player. He wrecked havoc late last season and can easily make the switch to outside linebacker.
#21 – Green Bay Packers – Stephon Tuitt – DE – Notre Dame
Getting more athletic and dynamic up front was a major key for the Green Bay Packers. Julius Peppers was a solid short-term option but they need more help. Stephon Tuitt has the size, strength and speed to play anywhere from defensive end to nose tackle. He creates heat on the quarterbacks and has the long arms to shed blockers.
#22 – Baltimore Ravens (f/PHI) – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Joe Flacco gets his much needed big target to compliment Torrey Smith. Kelvin Benjamin has that rare 6’5″ frame coupled with good speed to force defenses into adjusting. He can go up and get the football or shield off defenders on curl routes. His knack for the big play is something the Baltimore Ravens need.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – LSU
A dose of speed is really a need for the Kansas City Chiefs on offense, especially after losing Dexter McCluster. Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the open field threat who can take it the distance once the ball is in his hands. He also should lend some help on special teams with his return ability.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
Andy Dalton officially gets put on notice when the Cincinnati Bengals pull another first round stunner. Derek Carr is their way of saying it’s now or never because the FresnoState product has what Dalton doesn’t. He has the big arm to make any throw and the athleticism to make plays outside the pocket.
#25 – San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
This is a major victory for the San Diego Chargers. In need of serious help at corner they end up getting the second or third best on the board. Kyle Fuller has good size, plenty of speed and a tough-minded approach that serves him well in press coverage. His added willingness to play the run only makes him more valuable.
#26 – Cleveland Browns (f/IND) – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
Carr going off the board is a disappointment for Cleveland who seemed to really like him. Still, they shouldn’t feel bad about getting Teddy Bridgewater instead. The Louisville star has plenty of physical potential and from a mechanical and intelligence standpoint is ready to start right away if the Browns wish it.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State
If not for his struggles early in 2013 then OhioState cornerback Bradley Roby would be much higher in this 2014 NFL mock draft. Not that the New Orleans Saints are complaining. In need of more help on the back end, they get a chance to pair the hyper-athletic and speedy Roby with Keenan Lewis.
#28 – Chicago Bears (f/CAR) – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
Trade: 30th and 156th (5th) picks to Panthers for 28th pick
Chicago moves back after both Clinton-Dix and Donald came off the board and the 49ers offered a sweet deal for Gilbert. However, they felt compelled to leap frog New England in order to get Ra’Shede Hageman, a physical freak of nature with enormous upside who is a perfect fit for the new defense under construction by GM Phil Emery.
#29 – New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Washington
Rob Gronkowski doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to return, leaving the New England Patriots with a glaring hole at the tight end position. This can’t continue if they wish to win that elusive fourth Super Bowl. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a great physical talent with the size and speed to make plays in coverage but also has promises as a blocker.
#30 – Carolina Panthers (f/CHI) – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
They needed a replacement for Steve Smith and the Carolina Panthers get one. Brandin Cooks may be short of stature but his speed and superb hands make him a nightmare to coral in the open field. He should become a great target for Cam Newton and able to line up almost anywhere on the field.
#31 – Denver Broncos – Ryan Shazier – OLB – Ohio State
The defense was and remains the primary focus for the Denver Broncos heading into the draft. They really could use more help at linebacker and nabbing Ryan Shazier here is a great pickup. His speed and tackling prowess will be most welcome on a largely veteran-laden unit.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Marqise Lee – WR – USC
Yes, Sidney Rice is back and Percy Harvin should enter the season healthy but can the Seattle Seahawks really bank on that? Both haven’t played full seasons in years. Coupled with the loss of Golden Tate and this problem is anything but solved. Landing a talent like Marqise Lee this late would chance that.
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