The 2014 NFL scouting combine has passed and for those that did not participate, their pro days have likely been finished as well. With the majority of the Free agency period done, it is now a perfect point in time to start discussing the draft once again.
Teams have filled their needs through free agency and their intentions for what decisions they will need to make on draft night have become much more clear. This is just the march edition of the mock draft because plenty can change until May. With that being said, here is my March NFL mock draft:
1. Houston Texans- Blake Bortles UCF QB
Head Coach Bill O’Brien recently said the franchise would address the quarterback situation through the draft at some point. A team that does not have many pressing needs is in need of a franchise quarterback. After watching Bortles’ games, he is the number one quarterback in this draft. He has great arm strength with the ability to fit it into tight windows in the middle of the field. His great arm strength was noticeable in his game vs. O’Brien, especially on a deep back-shoulder throw from the opposite hash. Bortles has potential, I like his mobility. He looks the part with his size and is beginning to remind me of a mini-Ben Roethlisberger.
2. St. Louis TRADE to Atlanta Falcons- Jadeveon Clowney USC DE
The Rams have multiple top first rounders and they can find their needs down the board a slight bit. There will be teams eager to trade up for a talent like Clowney, so St. Louis cannot afford this opportunity to stack more picks for the future. The Falcons continue to beef up their front line with the addition of a physical freak pass rusher. They added to the interior via free agency with the signings of Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai. The addition of Clowney would make a nice defensive line to keep some heat off of the secondary.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
Gus Bradley continues to build his defense reminiscent to the one he left back in Seattle. He upgraded the secondary last draft and this year in free agency the Jags signed plenty of defensive linemen. Mack could go number one in this draft, he is considered to be that great of a defensive playmaker. Add Mack to the mix of this corps with pro bowler Paul Posluszny and this defense will be a force.
4. Cleveland Browns- Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
The Browns did some interesting things throughout free agency, brining in Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby to fill in for the losses of Ward and Jackson. Ben Tate signed a deal to be the teams number one tailback, so Cleveland has gotten better. Their offensive line is already solid, so I don’t see the Browns going with another lineman at four. They are in need of a quarterback, but they could get one toward the end of round one. So why not add the drafts top playmaker on the outside to pair with Gordon. The combination of Gordon, Watkins and Cameron on offense will make life easy for whoever is under center. The Browns are building a nice foundation.
5. Oakland Raiders- Greg Robinson OT Auburn
The Raiders had the most money in free agency and were epic losers. They lost Jared Veldheer to the Cardinals and failed to replace him. Oakland could be a team to take a quarterback here, but you need to have an offensive line in front of him. Rodger Saffold was the big signing they attempted to bring in, but a failed physical sent him back to St. Louis. Robinson is the best tackle in the draft and would be a nice way to start building the offense.
6. St Louis Rams- Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
The Rams gathered future picks for the trade down with Atlanta and they can still fill one of their top needs. They just missed out on Robinson, but getting Matthews at six is a win for an organization that has another selection in the first round. Adding Matthews to the mix would help the team while they wait for Jake Long to recover from a torn ACL.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Eric Ebron TE UNC
One of my favorite players in the draft gets off the board early in the first round. The importance of an impact tight end has grown so much in today’s game and Ebron is the athletic mismatch tight end teams are looking for. The Bucs did a lot of defensive upgrades through free agency so with this top ten selection it seems that they will add weapons for Josh McCown. Pairing Ebron with Jackson and Williams (if healthy) would be a nice corps on the outside.
8. Minnesota Vikings- Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
Coach Zimmer enters his first draft as head coach and needs a spark on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has been upgraded in the draft last year and in this year’s open market. This team needs a QB they can rally behind and Manziel could be the leader. Manziel is a risky pick because there are aspects of his game that make you question if he is an NFL quarterback or not. He has the biggest risk and reward factor of any QB in this draft, if he pays off for you; he is a star in the making. Adding him to the mix of Peterson, Patterson and Rudolph would make for an interesting offense.
9. Buffalo Bills- Taylor Lewan OT Michigan
The Bills need to protect their second year quarterback EJ Manuel and keep him healthy. Bringing in Lewan to protect his blindside would also boost the running game. Lewan is the second best OT in this draft to me, but his recent allegations drop him to being the third tackle selected. I can see the Bills getting Eric Ebron if he drops to here, but if not the offensive line is a need.
10. Detroit Lions- Justin Gilbert CB Ok St
The Lions signed Golden Tate from Seattle, so they are not brining in another receiver. This leaves their tenth selection to fill a defensive need. The secondary is poor in a pass happy division. Gilbert separated himself as the top corner of the draft through his combine workout. Adding Gilbert would be a good start to repairing the secondary. A defense that is good up front will still need more to come to the backend. Ha Ha Clinton Dix could also be a potential selection here.
11. Tennessee Titans- Anthony Barr OLB UCLA
Another one of my favorite players of the draft gets off the board to the Titans. Barr is a pass-rushing monster that also gets after the back in the running game. Bringing in an all around defensive playmaker is something defensive coordinator Ray Horton is going to need. The Titans could also look to add other defensive needs with this pick, maybe selecting the high rising DT Aaron Donald.
12. New York Giants- Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
The Giants offense was a mess last season and Eli had a season to forget. A good way to start fixing that offense would be up front, but with the three tackles gone they also need playmakers. Ebron has been taken off the board, which would be another pick of interest for the Giants, but there are still great options out there. Mike Evans would be replacing Hakeem Nicks and would make for a great piece to compliment Victor Cruz.
13. St. Louis Rams- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix FS Bama
The Rams were flirting with the idea of adding Kenny Vaccaro in last years draft but were unable to. Clinton-Dix would bring a physical style of play to a secondary that is missing that type of play. Cortland Finnegan was unable to bring toughness to the backend, so Ha Ha comes into a nice defense with his tough playmaking skills.
14. Chicago Bears- Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
My favorite player in this draft gets a selection well deserved. Donald entered the draft process at the conclusion of the college football season as a potential first rounder early second rounder. He has torn up the Senior Bowl and Combine to work his way up to this point. Adding Donald to the defensive line with newly acquired Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston would make for a dangerous front. A defense that was so bad at every aspect despite having the well-known “C” on the side of their helmet will be in good shape for next season with this defensive line.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- C.J. Mosley LB Bama
Pittsburgh has needs throughout the defense and starting with a linebacker would be a great first selection. This is the drafts top inside linebacker and Mosley brings a physical game with him. Mosley would make for a good potential leader in the future. The Steelers could go secondary here adding a Darqueze Dennard or even a Calvin Pryor.
16. Dallas Cowboys- Timmy Jernigan DT FSU
The Cowboys were a mess defensively all season and they lost some pieces through free agency. They lost Demarcus Ware to the Broncos and Jason Hatcher to the Redskins. The ‘Boys need to repair their defense and starting up front with Jernigan would be solid. Jernigan stood out all season long for a very fast and physical Florida State defense. His stellar play even translated into the biggest stage against Auburn for the BCS National Championship.
17. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Pryor S Louisville
Baltimore has done an excellent job in free agency retaining key players. With that being said, this team does not have as many glaring needs as one would have thought heading into the open market. James Ihedigbo left for the Lions even though the Ravens were most likely not bringing him back. That leaves a safety spot vacant next to second year safety Matt Elam. Calvin Pryor would be a nice compliment piece to go along with Elam, making for a nice young secondary corps. Zach Martin is also a possibility here even with the recent trade acquisition of Jeremy Zuttah.
18. New York Jets- Marqise Lee WR USC
Rex Ryan needs help in his secondary after the front office failed in bringing in anyone else to help out Dee Millner. With the top 4 DB’s off the board, Rex will look to fill another glaring need. Eric Decker is a good sign for the Jets, but he is truly a number two receiver. Brining in Lee would make a nice one-two combo for new Jets QB Mike Vick.
19. Miami Dolphins- Morgan Moses OT UVA
This is the selection I had Miami taking in my first mock and I’m sticking with it. The consensus pick seems to be Zach Martin, but Moses has tremendous size, which makes him more appealing. What is even better in selecting Moses here is he will be starting at right tackle since the Dolphins signed Branden Albert to anchor the left side. Moses has ties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who recruited Moses to play at UVA. This would be a great selection in attempt to rebuild the offensive line.
20. Arizona Cardinals- Zach Martin OG/OT Notre Dame
Bruce Arians has a chance at some good value picks with the 20th selection in this year’s draft. Adding a safety would be an option, but with both of them gone, getting a player like Martin at 20 is a steal. A great value pick because of the versatility Martin brings you on the offensive line.
21. Green Bay Packers- Louis Nix III DT Notre Dame
The front office decided to bring back BJ Raji for another year after a subpar season. The Packers need to revamp their defense and have attempted to do that thus far. They brought in Julius Peppers, so the interior could use another big body. Nix III is a gap clogger and would be a nice piece to the inside rotation. Could be a future replacement for Raji if the club decides to not bring him back.
22. Philadelphia Eagles- Bradley Roby CB Ohio State
Roby entered the season as one of the top ranked corners and remains amongst the top guys in the secondary. We all know how explosive Chip Kelley’s offense is, but his defense needs more pieces. Adding Malcom Jenkins at safety was big and now they need a compliment piece to the outside. Why not add another Buckeye to the secondary?
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Xavier Su’a-Filo OG UCLA
The Chiefs have had a questionable off-season as they have lost three offensive starters on the line. Alex Smith needs another weapon on the outside, but he needs to be able to stand up straight to throw. Adding Xavier to the interior would be a nice addition as he is considered the drafts top guard. A team that is so dependent on the run, an offensive line need outweighs the receiver need.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Dee Ford OLB/DE Auburn
Mike Zimmer leaves behind a talented defense in Cincinnati. Marvin Lewis has some pressure on him this season since he is yet to win a playoff game with a really talented roster. Lewis will need to replace Michael Johnson, who left to join the Bucs. Dee Ford would be a great replacement to Johnson, who has a similar style of game. Ford made his name known in the National championship and in the Senior Bowl. His stock rise could carry him even higher than this selection, but if he falls here it is a good pick for the Bengals.
25. San Diego Chargers- Kyle Fuller CB VT
In a division where they must de-throne the high scoring attack of Peyton Manning, the Chargers need more help on the back end. Fuller is a good corner with good size and would be a nice piece to go along with safety Eric Weddle. A pass rusher or even a linebacker could also be positions of need with this 25th selection.
26. Cleveland Browns- Derek Carr QB Fresno St
Adding Watkins to the mix with the 4th overall pick still leaves a need at Quarterback. Hoyer was solid last season before his injury, but he will need some competition. Carr is a QB on the rise after his Senior Bowl and Pro day performances. I like Carr as a QB in this draft for several reasons. He has nice touch on the deep ball, good mobility and great pocket awareness. The only thing that is troubling was his style of offense. The offense was predicated on throwing outside screens to backs and wide outs without ever consistently challenging the middle of the field. I like Carr better than Bridgewater despite the style of offense because he can throw the deep ball better consistently and Carr was sick on his pro day and still threw the ball better than Bridgewater did.
27. New Orleans Saints- Ryan Shazier LB Ohio State
New Orleans has needs in the secondary, offensive line and at linebacker. With four of the top corners gone, the Saints will jump at the opportunity of grabbing one of the class’ best inside linebackers. Shazier has versatility at the inside linebacker position and would be a good piece for Rob Ryan to get creative with.
28. Carolina Panthers- Cyrus Kouandjio OT Bama
Losing Jordan Gross to retirement puts a big hole on the left side of the offensive line. Cam Newton is banged up this off-season and will need surgery. A good way of protecting the franchise QB would be to replace a large hole missing. Cyrus would be a great value pick this late into the first round. The Panthers are in dire need of a receiver or two, but this draft is deep and they are most likely to wait on taking wide outs.
29. New England Patriots- Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
In a game of arms this off-season, the Patriots have gained ground on the Broncos after they stole the headlines for some time with their acquisitions. With Browner and Revis solidifying the secondary, the offense becomes the focal point. Gronkowski has not been healthy for a while and the Pats need a sidekick for him like Hernandez once was. Amaro was a highly productive tight end in his time at Tech. He is a reliable pass catcher who will be able to work the seams of the defense.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Jason Verrett CB TCU
The 49ers have to do some repair to their secondary after losing several members to the open market. They brought in Chris Cook, but there is still a need along his side. Verrett is a playmaker at corner, but he does not have great size. Add him to the 49ers defensive mix and his playmaking ability could shine.
31. Denver Broncos- David Yankey OG Stanford
Zane Beadles left Denver and signed in Jacksonville, so the Broncos offensive line needs a fixing. A lesson learned in the Super Bowl, keep Manning upright. Yankey is a powerful interior lineman and would fit in well with the Denver front. Elway took care of the defensive needs for this team through free agency, so interior line is the only direction I can see them going with.
32. Seattle Seahawks- Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State
Percy Harvin can never stay on the field and his impact on the game is too great when he is in there. Cooks is a speed demon just like Harvin, so if Harvin is missing time he is a good fill in player. If you put the both of them in there, how can the secondary keep up?