The draft is now upon us and its time to make my final predictions on who will get taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. I will be presenting my mock draft of the entire first round.
#1 Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney is a type of player that only comes along every so often. Clowney can be top notch defensive presence for any team.
In 2012, the Colts selected Andrew Luck, who was also considered a can’t miss prospect, and he jumped right in to be the face of the franchise. Luck has shown what he can do in the league, but if the Texans pick up Clowney, who can defiantly rush the passer with his tremendous athleticism, he’ll cause real trouble for for quarterbacks. With he and J.J. Watt both rushing the quarterback they can cause havoc to anybody especially Luck being in the same division as the Texans in the AFC South.
#2 St. Louis Rams – Sammy Watkins
He’s a great athlete who can really catch the ball and is big enough and fast enough to go deep, yet also tough enough to go through the middle of the field. He’s not afraid of contact and fights for extra yards, and quick enough to always make the first tackler miss.
The Rams haven’t had a number one receiver for a few years, and drafted Tavon Austin in last year’s draft but he’s isn’t the answer for the Rams at that number one spot. The Rams are lacking in a true outside wide receiver and Watkins would solve that problem and really help the offense and quarterback play from Sam Bradford.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel
Mr. Johnny football is the smallest quarterback in the draft but is the most exciting to watch. He’s the fastest quarterback in the draft and can make defenders miss and still keep his eyes down the field. He’s very elusive and has a similar playing style as Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger- keeping the play alive and making things happen when it looks like a dead play.
Had a lot of success due to having a big receiver in Mike Evans who he could just throw it up to if he was in any trouble. He won’t have that in Jacksonville with Justin Blackmon being suspended indefinitely from the NFL, but is good enough to come in and play at a high level.
#4 Cleveland Browns – Greg Robinson
Best O-lineman is still on the board so why not go in that direction. He can come in and start on the right side and solidify the offensive line. Doesn’t really have any flaws in his game; a day one starter.
#5 Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack
At this point it seems Mack has slipped in the draft. He’s the best linebacker in the draft and the second best pass rusher behind Clowney. Good body size, speed, and ability to succeed in the NFL. Can plug him in at the strong side linebacker position and help that defense be a power house.
# 6 Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews
The second best tackle in the draft behind Robinson can also be a day one starter. They have Sam Baker at left tackle and Gabe Carimi on the right, a former 1st round pick in 2011. Carimi hasn’t lived up to being that first round pick but still has potential. Matthews is one of the best tackles in the class and can come in and play the right side while Carimi can give good depth on the offensive line.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans
The Buccaneers just got rid of their second receiver in Mike Williams and can replace him with Mike Evans, a tall receiver with quality speed to play opposite of Vincent Jackson.
Evans was Manziel’s favorite target at Texas A&M and was a sure-handed receiver for the Aggies. At 6-foot-5, 231 pounds with a 4.46 forty, Evans has the potential to go up and grab the ball from smaller defensive backs and is built to take a hit if thrown to in the middle. Can be a great receiver in the league.
#8 Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles
The Vikings are in a need of a quarterback. Christian Ponder hasn’t been the answer at quarterback since he was taken high in the draft back in 2011. Time to go in another direction with another quarterback with Bortles. Bortles is a big quarterback who loves the game of football. He’s shown he can play in the big games against quality competition and has a willingness to compete. Good accuracy and arm strength as well.
#9 Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan
Lewan is another great tackle in the draft and is the best available prospect still left on the board. Played left tackle at Michigan and is too good to play inside at guard. Can start at the left tackle spot and they can move Cordy Glenn inside to play guard where he played at during college at Georgia with 34 starts.
#10 Detroit Lions - Calvin Pryor
No longer having Louis Delmas at safety, the Lions need a replacement. They signed James Ihedigbo from the Ravens, but he’s old being 31, so his stay with the team will be short. The Lions really need help in the back end of the defense and Pryor would be able to come in and learn from an experienced player and soon take over the position when the season gets underway. Pryor is more of a physical safety who can still cover but is more of playing inside the box guy.
#11 Tennessee Titans – Eric Ebron
What’s a quarterback’s best friend? A tight end and Ebron is the most talented one of the class. Ebron plays like a wide receiver but its built like a linebacker. Good speed, is dangerous after the catch and can always be hard to tackle due to his big size. Can come in and help Jake Locker who still is being questioned as the starting quarterback for the Titans.
#12 New York Giants – Zack Martin
Martin will be the fourth offensive lineman taken in the draft and will be an automatic starter. He’s can start at the guard position and help in the run game which was 29th in the NFL. Giants need o-line help at both tackle and guard but the top three tackles are off the board and Martin even though is to short to play tackle is a really good lineman.
#13 St. Louis Rams – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The Rams selected Watkins with the number two pick and come back to select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix is the best safety in the draft and would be a good pairing with T.J. McDonald. Clinton-Dix would make the secondary a lot better with his ball skills which will be put to good use with the superior pass rush the Rams possess.
#14 Chicago Bears – Justin Gilbert
The Bears need help at the defensive back position and get one with Gilbert. Gilbert is 6 feet, 202 pounds; a big defensive back that can help the Bears’ secondary. He will get good playing time working in with Charles Tillman and also Tim Jennings and Marc Trestman can move them around if need be. Also, the Bears could move him to play the safety spot, another position they need, or put him in at corner and move one of the other two corners to safety helping their secondary a great deal.
#15 Pittsburgh Steelers – Odell Beckham Jr.
The Steelers are really thin at the receiver position with the lose of Mike Wallace in 2013 and Emmanuel Sanders this year in free agency. Beckham has good size, being 6 feet and having break away speed. At LSU he made plays at the receiver position and also as a kick returner. Good route runner and can make guys miss. Third best receiver in the draft but just as good as the first two.
#16 Dallas Cowboys – Anthony Barr
The Cowboys just lost their best pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware and can replace him with another quality pass rusher in Barr. Barr is new to the linebacker position and is still learning the position, but has shown to be a great pass rusher with raw potential. Barr will be looked at as being the replacement to Ware who is one of the best pass rushers in the game today, but if he can learn how to play the position better through coaching, he can be a solid pickup.
#17 Baltimore Ravens – C.J. Mosley
Mosley is the best middle linebacker in this year’s draft and doesn’t have many flaws in his game. Played in one of the best conferences in the SEC and learned from a great coach in Nick Saban. Would be the successor to Ray Lewis and has the ability and skills to come in and start to be the new face of the franchise for the Ravens defense.
#18 New York Jets – Brandin Cooks
Cooks will be another addition to the Jets new receiving corps playing next to Eric Decker who the Jets signed in free agency. Cooks is faster than Decker and will add more speed to the offense with the pickups of Michael Vick and also Chris Johnson in free agency. This offense can be explosive with the acquisition of Cooks.
#19 Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio
The Dolphins picked up Brandon Albert this off-season to play the left side but pick up another lineman to address the other side of the line with Kouandjio. He’s huge at 6-foot-7 and has a lot of upside.
#20 Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Shazier
Shazier is a freak who can play every position at the linebacker spot. Can rush the passer well and is a tackling machine. Would come in and compete for a spot at any of the linebacker positions.
#21 Green Bay Packers – Aaron Donald
The best defensive tackle and really the best player still on the board. Small at the defensive tackle spot at 285 pounds but can provide a pass rush up the middle with his strength and speed. Size can be an advantage to getting lower than his opponent to get to the passer and also a problem; can also be the replacement to B.J. Raji if he doesn’t play well.
#22 Philadelphia Eagles – Timmy Jernigan
Big body and can make plays in the back field. Can cause problems for offensive lineman by out muscling them and can move side to side to find the football.
#23 Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee
Would have been the best receiver in the 2013 draft if he came out last year, but was a sophomore. Had a hard time getting the ball in college due to the departure of Matt Barkley and the poor quarterback play at USC. Still a good receiver, but not good numbers in junior season and will be the fifth receiver off the board after being considered the best last year. Will come in with a chip on his shoulder.
#24 Cincinnati Bengals – Darqueze Dennard
Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury, Terrence Newman is 35 years old and entering final year of his contract, and Adam Jones is 31. The Bengals back end of their defense is old and needs to get younger. Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick will be their best corners this season.
#25 San Diego Chargers – Kyle Fuller
San Diego needs a cornerback; the Chargers were ranked 29th in pass defense and showed that they need help in the secondary. Fuller will come in and get playing time, helping the Chargers’ secondary.
#26 Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr
The Browns need a quarterback and they get a quarterback on the rise. They picked up a O-lineman with their first pick and now have somebody under center who will control the offense. Robinson, their first pick, will help Carr to avoid going through the same struggles his older brother went through when he was drafted first overall in 2002. Plus, Carr comes to a pretty talented team.
#27 New Orleans Saints – Jason Verrett
Verrett is small cornerback at 5-foot-9, but his athleticism will help him overcome that. He runs a 4.38 forty and has a 40 inch vertical, so even though he’s small, Verrett has the leaping ability to play bigger than he is. Good ball skills and plays bigger than his size.
#28 Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin
The Panthers are short on talent at the receiver position and Benjamin will give Cam Newton a big receiver to throw the ball to. Benjamin can go up for the ball and knows how to use his size. Not very fast but a good receiver and will get his catches playing against smaller corners.
#29 New England Patriots – Louis Nix
Vince Wilfork is coming off of injury and may be difficult for him to get back to his dominant form. Nix is not as big as Wilfork, but is still big and can take the load off of Wilfork coming off of injury and be the replacement in the upcoming years.
#30 San Francisco 49ers – Stephon Tuitt
Doesn’t have to come in and play right away- can back up Justin Smith for a couple years. Can learn and add more depth to the defensive line.
#31 Denver Broncos – Kyle Van Noy
Doesn’t need to play right away, take position of need who can play on special teams for awhile.
#32 Seattle Seahawks – Ra’Shede Hageman
If the Seahawks don’t trade this pick can take a defensive lineman that can learn and be part of a great defense. Need to work on some parts of his game, kind of a raw talent.