Sep 7, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) points to South Florida Bulls offense during the 2nd half at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 21-6. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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
Is Jadeveon Clowney a need or ideal fit for the Houston Texans? No. Is he a freakish athlete with All-Pro pass rush potential? Yes. Adding that next to J.J. Watt is simply common sense rather than reaching on a quarterback.
#2 – Atlanta Falcons (f/STL) – Greg Robinson – OT – Auburn
Trade: 6th, 37th (2nd) and 1st in ’15 to Rams for 2nd pick
Protecting Matt Ryan isn’t the only goal for the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. Re-establishing the run is almost equally important. Greg Robinson is already a dominant run blocker out of Auburn with the athletic ceiling to become an anchor in pass protection.
#3 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Louisville
His lackluster pro day may have caused some red flags but experts will say game tape tells the story. Teddy Bridgewater is ready to start Day One in the NFL. He’s talented, precise, and an understated leader. Gus Bradley will see a lot of Russell Wilson in him.
#4 – Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
Come on. Is it really that hard to see? Pairing the most complete receiver in this 2014 NFL mock draft in Sammy Watkins with breakout star Josh Gordon makes way too much sense for the Cleveland Browns.
#5 – Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley were very solid veteran additions to the Oakland Raiders defense but now they put it over the top with a youth infusion. Khalil Mack is a versatile, violent playmaking pass rusher who will bring a dynamic punch to the Silver and Black.
#6 – St. Louis Rams (f/ATL) – Jake Matthews – OT – Texas A&M
Having acquired some extra picks, the St. Louis Rams still manage to find Sam Bradford some needed protection. Jake Matthews can step in at left or right tackle right away and excels at keeping his quarterback clean.
#7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans – WR – Texas A&M
Trading Mike Williams almost certainly put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the market for a receiver. Mike Evans should be there at #7 and will give Josh McCown two explosive 6’5″ targets along with Vincent Jackson.
#8 – Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
From a talent perspective there is none better than Blake Bortles in this 2014 NFL mock draft. Does he need a little polish? Yes. That is why the Vikings brought back Matt Cassel but in the long-term Mike Zimmer has his franchise guy.
#9 – Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
E.J. Manuel was sacked a lot last season. If he’s to reach his potential he needs to stay on his feet. Taylor Lewan is a big, nasty, athletic edge blocker from Michigan who can team with Cordy Glenn to bolster the offensive line.
#10 – Detroit Lions – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
The loss of Louis Delmas has left the safety position in limbo for Detroit. While they did add veteran James Ihedigbo, they still need a centerfield type who can make plays in coverage. There is none better than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in this class.
#11 – Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
Switching to a 3-4 defense requires athletic pass rushers at outside linebacker. Anthony Barr has every tool one can ask for to play that position. He is still learning but the upside is absolutely enormous.
#12 – New York Giants – Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
Previous success for the New York Giants has always come by dominating the trenches on offense and defense. The loss of Linval Joseph has left their defensive tackles thin. Aaron Donald is undersized but explosive, quick and adept at finding ways to the quarterback.
#13 – St. Louis Rams – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Clinton-Dix is gone so the Rams look to bolster the secondary at cornerback instead. Justin Gilbert is the fastest and most athletic of the top names. He also has great return skills and should thrive under Jeff Fisher.
#14 – New York Jets (f/CHI) – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Trade: 18th, 80th (3rd) and 154th (5th) picks to Bears for 14th pick
With a bevy of extra picks at their disposal, the Jets are free to move up if the right player is available. Darqueze Dennard is the best cover corner in this draft class. He’s tough, physical, athletic and a perfect fit for the Rex Ryan defense.
#15 – Philadelphia Eagles (f/PIT) – Calvin Pryor – S – Louisville
Trade: 22nd, 86th (3rd), 122nd (4th), 4th in ’15 picks for 15th pick
Malcolm Jenkins fills their need at free safety but the Eagles really could use somebody next to him at the strong position. Calvin Pryor was born and bred for that spot. He comes downhill like a missile, can hit, tackle and blitz with equal effectiveness.
#16 – Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
He’s not as dynamic as Donald but Florida State star Timmy Jernigan is still disruptive and a better run defender. Rod Marinelli will be able to get the most out of him and he’ll make a great partner next to Henry Melton.
#17 – Baltimore Ravens – Dee Ford – DE – Auburn
Having used free agency to take care of the offense, Ozzie Newsome is free to fill up the defense with some fresh blood. Dee Ford has the speed, quickness and strength to become another solid pass rusher at outside linebacker for Baltimore.
#18 – Green Bay Packers (f/CHI) – Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Trade: 21st and 85th (3rd) picks to Bears for 18th and 156th (5th) picks
The loss of Jermichael Finley can be compensated for but the Packers know replacing him won’t be easy. That is why they decide to jump up a couple spots for Eric Ebron. The North Carolina product is a gifted pass catcher with outstanding speed for his size.
#19 – Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin – OT – Notre Dame
Branden Albert filled the left tackle spot but the Dolphins are a long way from solving the offensive line problems. Getting a tough, strong and technically-advanced blocker like Zack Martin would be a tremendous next step.
#20 – Arizona Cardinals – Bradley Roby – CB – Ohio State
In order to bring that defense together the Cardinals need to get somebody opposite Patrick Peterson with lockdown potential. Bradley Roby isn’t quite there yet but he’s very close with great athleticism, speed and length as a cover man.
#21 – Chicago Bears (f/GB) – C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
At first glance linebacker might not be high on the priority list for the Chicago Bears, but at #21 they can make an exception for C.J. Mosley. The kid is a flat out playmaker with outstanding range, versatility and toughness who can become the heir apparent to Lance Briggs or even Brian Urlacher.
#22 – Pittsburgh Steelers (f/PHI) – Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech
Some might view Pittsburgh as “settling” for Kyle Fuller here but make no mistake, the Virginia Tech corner is not to be taken lightly. He’s extremely tough, very instinctive with good size and athleticism to match up in coverage and help in the run game.
#23 – Kansas City Chiefs – Marquise Lee – WR – USC
Andy Reid got a lot out of his receivers in 2013 but he still needs more talent if the Chiefs are going to take the pressure off Jamaal Charles. Marqise Lee isn’t big but he’s agile, quick, sneaky fast and boasts a strong pair of hands to make plays.
#24 – Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri
Michael Johnson was a tough loss for the Bengals and they have to consider finding a replacement early in this draft. Letting Kony Ealy fall to them at #24 qualifies as the instant solution they could hope for.
#25 – San Francisco 49ers (f/SD) – Kelvin Benjamin – WR – Florida State
Trade: 30th and 94th (3rd) picks to Chargers for 25th pick
You can’t teach 6’5″. It’s an elemental truth of pro football. Kelvin Benjamin is a big boy with loads of athletic potential. He is the perfect problem-solver for the 49ers who must deal with those big defensive backs in Seattle.
#26 – Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M
Patience pays off in a big way for the Cleveland Browns. Despite his strong pro day Johnny Manziel still falls out of the top 10 and indeed further down the board into the waiting arms of a franchise desperate for a true performer at the most important position.
#27 – New Orleans Saints – Allen Robinson – WR – Penn State
Another team that needs an infusion of size at wide receiver. Allen Robinson could offer a lot to Drew Brees and the Saints. His big 6’3″, 220 lbs frame for starters coupled with explosive leaping ability and the strength to pry the football out of the air.
#28 – Carolina Panthers – Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State
Steve Smith made his money by being fast, agile and boasting strong hands. Those are the cornerstones of what made Brandin Cooks so good in 2013 for Oregon State. Carolina will certainly see a lot of Smith in him.
#29 – New England Patriots – Louis Nix – DT – Notre Dame
Re-signing Vince Wilfork was the right move for the Patriots but they still need to get younger up front. Adding Louis Nix and giving him a chance to learn from the veteran All-Pro is a terrific long-term opportunity for the franchise.
#30 – San Diego Chargers (f/SF) – Jason Verrett – CB – TCU
It’s a success story for the Bolts as they manage to add an extra pick and still scoop up a true playmaker at cornerback. Jason Verrett gets questioned a lot for his short stature but he is superb in coverage, finds the football and doesn’t shirk his duties in tackling.
#31 – Denver Broncos – David Yankey – OG – Stanford
The offensive line was really exposed in the Super Bowl. The loss of Zane Beadles didn’t help matters so Denver looks to fortify the interior blocking. David Yankey is an athletic big man who boasts strength, agility and leadership intangibles.
#32 – Seattle Seahawks – Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
Losing Red Bryant hurt the Seahawks more than many realize. His presence against the run was huge for them. Adding another athletic big man like Ra’Shede Hageman up front to compliment their pass rushers can only help.