21 January 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft: 2nd Edition

The Super Bowl is all set between the Seahawks and the Broncos in less than two weeks in the beautiful town of East Rutherford, New Jersey. But that also means that 30 teams are now looking ahead to May 8th and the NFL Draft as they hope to be in the position Seattle and Denver are in now next season. Here's my second mock draft.


*pending playoff results
**pending coin flip

1. Houston Texans - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
While I would not be surprised if the Texans went with Jadeveon Clowney or a tackle with their first pick, I do ultimately think they will go quarterback, and Bridgewater is an excellet quarterback prospect. Sure, he may not be as "hot" as Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, Bridgewater is in my opinion the top quarterback in the draft, and ready for the NFL right now.

2. St. Louis Rams (via Washington) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I do ultimately expect the Rams, who scored with Washington's collapse to get this pick, to trade down to somebody either looking to move up for Clowney or for a quarterback. But if they hold at two, I think they'll make an excellent pass rush combo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn even more potent. Even with the effort questions (fair or unfair), Clowney is a special talent.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
So Blaine Gabbert ultimately did not work out after all, color me shocked. We knew the Jaguars were going to find an answer at quarterback at some point and while it may be intriguing for an excellent defensive coach like Gus Bradley to grab a versatile defensive talent, they would be making a mistake to pass up a quarterback. Bortles has seen his stock rise as the Knights got to the Fiesta Bowl and won, and he just may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft.

4. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I am not one of the skeptics of Manziel at the next level, as I think he can be great in the pros. Sure, he may be a little small, his instincts are amazing, his playmaking ability is excellent and his passing skills are pretty good as well. The biggest questions with him are his maturity, but he is absolutely worth the shot for a team that has not had a franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar. And we already know that Cleveland is smitten with Manziel.

5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Without the top quarterbacks on the board (unless they were to reach for Derek Carr), Oakland is in an interesting spot here and I would not be surprised if Reggie McKenzie would want to move down to stockpile picks. If they stay at five, don't be surprised if they add the number one wideout that they have lacked in the very explosive Watkins.

6. Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
A lot of folks think that Atlanta may just move up to take Clowney given their needs to upgrade their pitiful pass rush in 2013, but it should not be forgotten that their pass protection was subpar as Sam Baker was a mess on the blindside. The Falcons are an offensive team built around Matt Ryan and the passing game, and protection for him is vital. Plus, Matthews just may be the top prospect available.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Lovie Smith is headed to Tampa and while he is a great defensive coach, he needs more playmakers on that side of the ball, particularly in the pass rush which has been a problem spot for the club for years. So I think this pick will come down to Mack and Anthony Barr, with the more-polished Mack getting the nod and he looks like an excellent fit for the defense.

8. Minnesota Vikings - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Would I take Carr with a top ten pick? Probably not, I think he's a talented quarterback with an excellent arm but a little too inconsistent for my taste. But for the Vikings, who are desperate for a franchise quarterback after getting little from the trio of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman in 2013, may just be willing to roll the dice.

9. Buffalo Bills - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
E.J. Manuel struggled to stay healthy as a rookie but when he was on the field, he showed some flashes that he can be a good quarterback in the NFL. Therefore, the Bills should upgrade his supporting cast by bolstering his receiving corps by taking Evans, who will give a small group some much-needed size. He had a brilliant 2013 and would give Manuel a big target in the red zone and elsewhere.

10. Detroit Lions - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Lions have a talented (and expensive) defensive line, but with a cornerback crop that was brutal at times in 2013 that was brutal at times, a talented cover corner like Dennard would be much appreciated to fully unleash the line. Dennard was awesome in 2013 and played a key role for an excellent Michigan State defense that led the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory and he is a physical and fluid corner with the instincts to make plays on the ball even with decent speed.

11. Tennessee Titans - Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Tennessee would be ecstatic if a talent like Barr were to fall to 11 as I project here because they could use some added juice to their disappointing pass rush. Barr is the kind of versatile pass rusher that teams love to employ these days but with his slight frame, he will have to bulk up to play defensive end so he appears to be best fitting in a 3-4 or a 4-3 outside linebacker.

12. New York Giants - Greg Robinson, T, Auburn
There were many reasons why Eli Manning was a turnover machine in 2013, and thus why the Giants were a disappointing 7-9, but one of the chief ones had to be a mediocre offensive line that seldom gave Manning time to make a good decision. Robinson has to develop as a pass blocker but he has all the tools, and his excellence in run blocking could help spark a garbage New York rushing game.

13. St. Louis Rams - Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
The Rams have given Sam Bradford a vote of confidence in that they still believe in him as their quarterback, so I think they will look to upgrade their offensive line with a talented tackle like Lewan who is rock solid with both pass and run blocking, and is coming off a good 2013 campaign. St. Louis needs more depth at tackle as Jake Long has injury issues and Rodger Saffold will be a free agent.

14. Chicago Bears - Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
It has been a while since the Bears had consistent play from the safety position and it was a mess in 2013. In fact, the secondary at large could use some work as Charles Tillman will be a free agent. Dix is the kind of playmaker that teams love at free safety in that he is a good cover guy while also being able to attack in the running game as well.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
The Steelers enjoy many a season with the massive Casey Hampton plugging up holes and running lanes at nose tackle and after they released him after the 2012 season, they did not get consistent play from his replacement Steve McClendon. Plus, McClendon may be a better fit at end and taking an excellent run stuffer in Nix would allow them to shore up the nose and the five technique at the same time.

16. Baltimore Ravens** - Antonio Richardson, T, Tennessee
Both of Baltimore's tackles, Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher, are free agents this offseason and while they could theoretically bring back both tackles, I think at least Oher will not be brought back. Therefore, the Ravens could use a new right tackle and Richardson (who I left out of last week's mock) is one of the better tackle prospects remaining on the board. Richardson has the skill-set to play left tackle and he is a seasoned and talented tackle. He is big but also athletic and is good with the pass and the run.

17. Dallas Cowboys** - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Cowboys struggled to rush the pass all season long, a key reason why they were so often gashed by opposing quarterbacks. Even with DeMarcus Ware on one side, the team failed to develop much of anything opposite him to take advantage of all the attention given to Ware. Ealy has the skills to develop into a threat off the edge either in a 4-3 or if the club moves back to a 3-4 and he was excellent for the Tigers in 2013.

18. New York Jets - Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Geno Smith was a mess in his rookie season and while it is too easy to ignore him and put the blame on his awful supporting cast, his supporting cast was awful and it is a necessity if the Jets think Smith could be the guy that they upgrade the talent around him. I had them going Eric Ebron before but I do think if one of the top wideouts is on the board, the Jetropolitans will look to snatch him up. Lee had an inconsistent season by his standards and expectations but he is a burner on the perimeter that routes very good routes and catches the ball well.

19. Miami Dolphins - Cameron Erving, T, Florida State
The offensive line in Miami was truly awful and caused a lot of problems offensively for the club all season long. Plus, you factor in the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation and thus the Dolphins have to address the line right away and can do that by taking the athletic Erving, who is coming off a tremendous year for the national champions.

20. Arizona Cardinals - Cyrus Kouandijo, T, Alabama
Yet another year, yet again the Cardinals still have needs at offensive tackle, at least opposite the talented Jonathan Cooper because the hole at left tackle was a major problem even as the team tried to scheme around it. The best tackle on the board is probably Kouandijo and he would be a good fit for the club here. He is an excellent athlete with ideal size for the position and is very talented with a high ceiling, but he is raw.

21. Green Bay Packers - C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
Mosley would be a steal at 21 for the Packers in my opinion as there are a number of teams that could take him in May. He is the kind of tackler and leader you love to have in the middle of your defense and he is very good at multiple aspects of the position while possessing few weakness. Green Bay needs some pop at inside linebacker in their 3-4 and Mosley would be a solid fit.

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Chip Kelly's offense just about took the league by storm in 2013, or at least after Nick Foles went under center in the middle of the season. They got key contributions from their wideouts but with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper both being free agents, they may look to take a receiver early in May. And I think Benjamin would be a good fit in Kelly's scheme. Benjamin was the big-play threat for the Seminoles this year and he has the size and speed to be a serious playmaker in the vertical passing game.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Alex Smith is not a great quarterback but with a talented supporting cast can get the job done and then some and with his decent arm, it is key for him to have quality options in the middle of the field. We saw what he could do under Jim Harbaugh with Vernon Davis at tight end and if Ebron is available, I think Kansas City would take him quickly.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert is the kind of athlete you crave to have at cornerback and he has excellent ball skills to boot plus he is an above-average sized player for his position. He was a hell of a player in Stillwater, and can contribute big time in the return game. Cincinnati is stout defensively but they could use some more youth and depth at corner.

25. San Diego Chargers - Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State
The Chargers were never able to fill the hole that Shaun Philips left when he signed with the division rivals in Denver as Dwight Freeney was awful when he was on the field before he went on injured reserve. The lack of a pass rush hurt the team defensively as they were 29th against the pass and 23rd in sacks. Crichton is a disruptive presence off the edge and versatile enough to do so in different spots.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Indianapolis) - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
It truly was awesome what Josh Gordon was able to do for the Browns not just with the garbage at quarterback, but with how there was nothing of note opposite him at receiver. Robinson may not wow you athletically but he is a natural wideout that can get separation and runs well after the catch. He has the experience of playing in a pro-style attack as he excelled under Bill O'Brien and he will help whatever quarterback the Browns take with their first selection.

27. New Orleans Saints - Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
In a passing league, versatile pass rushers are a valuable commodity, and the more you have, the better you are off. Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme was better than expected in 2013 thanks to, among other things, talented pass rushers in Cam Jordan and Junior Galette, who was a revelation. I think the team would be wise to select a versatile guy like Murphy, who may not have the most raw talent but he's physical and he's long and a very productive pass rusher.

28. Carolina Panthers - Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
The front seven for the Panthers was fantastic this past season and was a big reason why they finished the season on an 11-1 run after starting off a mediocre 1-3. That said, the corner position will be a core focus for the team this offseason, especially as Captain Munnerlyn is a free agent. Roberson may not be much of a player against the run, and he is on the skinnier side for a six-feet corner, but he showed some natural man coverage talent in Gainesville and has the size and speed to be a real weapon against the pass.

29. New England Patriots - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Remember when the Patriots had such a feared tight end duo, one that was the envy of the rest of the league? Well Rob Gronkowski continues to suffer injury issues season-in and season-out, and the Aaron Hernandez thing, well, did not work out. So if one of the top tight ends are available late in the first, New England will be on the prowl. Therefore, Amaro is a logical pick as he is a dangerous weapon in the passing game down the seems.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
San Francisco has a boatload of picks so they may move up if they are targeting a specific player, but if they do stay home at 30, they may find an apprentice for an aging Justin Smith with one of the better players on the board in this Notre Dame product. Tuitt is a veteran of the 3-4 and thus fits very well in Vic Fangio's defense. He is a big defensive end, although perhaps a little too big in 2013, and is a powerful player that is quicker than you think.

31. Denver Broncos* - Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Opposite Von Miller, Shaun Philips provided ten sacks but he is on the wrong side of 30 and not a long-term option for the team, plus Robert Ayers is a free agent. For a team that puts up a lot of points, having a strong pass rush is key. Van Noy is small so for him, playing defensive end is probably all but out of the question. What is not out of the question is how talented of a pass rusher he is off the edge and with his speed, he is a real weapon.

32. Seattle Seahawks* - Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
The interior of the Seattle offensive line has left something to be desired, particularly at the guard slots where the team did not get consistent production. Martin had a fine season at left tackle for the Fighting Irish but he projects to be more of a guard in the NFL due to his inconsistency with dealing with speedy pass rushers as well as his excellent run blocking skills.

For even more mocks, check out the mock draft database from Walter Football.
Cover photo via AP Photo

6 comments:

  1. Do you have something against the Vikings at #8.....lol.

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    1. Haha I don't, I just think they're going to overdraft a quarterback to fill their biggest need. We see it just about every year considering how important the QB position is.

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  2. I think he's referring to the fact they're not in your draft...

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    1. Haha oh my goodness, I didn't even notice. My bad folks.

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  3. Greg Robinson---> Auburn, not A&M.

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  4. NFL is fixed! Peyton=SB

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