It is now six days until the NFL draft when it begins next Thursday night and the draft buzz is at an all time high. If you are a draft geek like myself, best advice I could give you from about over a week ago until the Thursday night selections, do not listen to one rumor that hits the web. This is the worst part of the draft process when all kinds of rumors of team’s interest are out meant to deceive what their action draft plans are.
Deception is all about what the last few weeks bring and teams try to put out smokescreens to hide their true plan. Whether its rumor of teams trading up or down or if a team really likes a particular player, it is a smokescreen so read into it lightly.
This is my final crack at the mock draft for the 2014 year and I will say this is one of the more interesting drafts I’ve ever had the chance to pick apart. Last year’s draft was trench heavy and now this draft has all kinds of balance with talent. What makes this draft intriguing is any team in the top five can go a certain direction and shake up the outlook for the rest of the way. So here it is, my final shot at the 2014 mock draft, but I am not doing any trades in my mock. I will list potential trades under each pick, but I will pick each selection as the team stands.
1. Houston Texans- Jadeveon Clowney DE USC
This is the top selection and the draft and the most important pick that will change the landscape of the draft. The Texans can go several different directions here, but I don’t see a trade happening due to the amount of picks it will cost a franchise to move up to this selection. I see Houston being stuck here and forced to make a selection.
Do the Texans need a quarterback? Yes! Is there one worth taking number one overall? No! Take the best available player and put him into the mix with a dominant defensive line. I have been on the record for months going back to the college football season saying I would not select Clowney number one overall, but this is a much different situation. The Texans are not your average team that selects this high because they could easily be back into the playoffs next season. If this were a way worse team, the pick would be a lot more of a risk.
The fact that you could pair Clowney and Watt together to chase down Andrew Luck for the next decade makes this very appealing. If Clowney cannot be motivated to play next to the games most dominant defensive lineman and for a good football team, then I couldn’t have seen that coming.
2. St. Louis Rams- Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
Jeff Fisher has never selected an offensive lineman this high ever in the draft and for some reason I see that trend continuing. If I were in this position, I would take Greg Robinson since their prized free agent last season Jake Long went down with an ACL injury during the season.
For a draft that is deep in wide outs, it would shock me if they didn’t go offensive line here. This is what the draft is every year though, complete shock. The Rams feel they need one more playmaker to give Sam Bradford and hey why not go get the best on in this draft? If Sam Bradford cannot make it work this season with Watkins, Austin, and Cook than the Rams will be selecting a QB next year.
This Rams selection is where trade comes to mind especially if the Texans were to select Khalil Mack or a QB. If Clowney is available here, the Atlanta Falcons will be the team to watch out for in a potential trade. Would I be surprised if Mike Evans is selected here instead of Watkins, no! Rams need size at wide out and he could be considered.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Khalil Mack LB Buffalo
Ever since his dominant individual performance at THE Ohio State University, Mack has been on every scouts mind throughout the draft process. Mack has physicality about him that some consider violent, but make him a very attractive prospect this year.
When I think about violent, I think Seattle Seahawks. Since Seattle is not selecting here, when I cannot think Pete Carroll, I think of Gus Bradley. Bradley has taken time to rebuild his defense in a similar mold of what the Seahawks have built.
Bradley is the former defensive coordinator and has upgraded the defensive line this free agency, He has a good linebacker already with pro bowler Paul Posluszny and he needs one more. Adding a talent like Mack to this defense will make the Jaguars fans at least excited for when the defense steps onto the field. Maybe this will be a start to getting that upper deck filled in at the stadium.
4. Cleveland Browns- Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
If Watkins makes it here the Browns will snag the playmaker from Clemson. In this mock draft he is not so let the hype begin with this selection. The Browns could use a spark offensively and with the fan base. This is the most polarizing athlete we have had enter the NFL in some time.
Adding Manziel to an offense that features a good offensive line, Gordon, Cameron and Ben Tate makes this worth a shot. I am a huge fan of Manziel in terms of watching him play from a fan standpoint. When I put on my “scouting” hat, I have my questions about him.
Durability in the NFL might be an issue with him, but I have more questions than that. I had Manziel ranked as my fourth best QB in this year’s class and I stand by that. One thing I will say about this pick, I hate betting against this guy because he does have potential to be a big time star in this league.
5. Oakland Raiders- Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
I know this pick is one of those that you might read and wonder if this is a typo. I mentioned how strange the draft is and this is where it can begin. The Raiders have been mocked selecting the playmaker Sammy Watkins and he is off the board. So if there is interest in a wide out, why wouldn’t the Raiders think about taking the next best one?
Evans has the size of an elite receiver and he is much faster than I thought he would be after watching his games. Oakland wont draft a QB this high because there is not one worth it at this point and they already signed Matt Schaub. Why not add another weapon for their new QB along with James Jones.
If Manziel is available here that could be a possibility. If I were Oakland, I would draft an offensive lineman since Jason Veldheer left in free agency. If Greg Robinson were available here, that would be a nice pick up.
6. Atlanta Falcons- Greg Robinson OT Auburn
The Falcons have their needs with a pass rusher and at protecting their franchise QB. With the consensus number one offensive lineman dropping here, this would be an excellent value pick at six.
Atlanta will be the team to keep your ear to the ground for Thursday night because I still get this feeling they wont be picking at six. They could be on the move and as mentioned earlier, could be for Clowney.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Eric Ebron TE UNC
Best scenario here for Lovie Smith is Mike Evans falling to him at seven, but he is already gone. I don’t feel too much sympathy for him because Eric Ebron is still on the board.
I was big on Vernon Davis back when he entered the draft as I enjoyed watching him play at Maryland so much. Eric Ebron I feel the same way about in this year’s draft. I have made it known for quite sometime that Eric Ebron is my favorite offensive player in the entire draft. I’ve even gone so far as to say he will be next year’s rookie of the year.
This player is special and the Bucs need a tight end to help out their offense. I have seen mocks with a QB selected here and I completely disagree with that choice. They signed McCown in the off-season even though I consider that a stop gap kind of move. McCown is a career backup who had a spectacular year due to having arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL.
Mike Glennon had a nice year last season as a rookie with a lot of his supporting cast going down with injury. I was not big on Glennon coming out of college, but he proved me wrong last season with his play. If I was Tampa, I would give Glennon another shot with Ebron as his new best friend.
8. Minnesota Vikings- Anthony Barr LB UCLA
I really like Anthony Barr in this draft and his stock has been slipping in recent time for some unknown reason. That could be due to the fact he is considered a raw football player because he was switched to a pass rusher just a few years ago. Barr is also questioned as a three down linebacker as well.
Would I select Barr in the top ten? Yes, especially right here. This is the perfect spot for Anthony Barr to be selected because of who is coaching. Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the game and gets a chance at being a head coach.
They selected Rhodes as a CB and Floyd as a DT last draft, so they have a need at linebacker. With Jared Allen gone, there is a void at pass rusher. Barr is the kind of raw player that would flourish under Zimmer because he is used to taking these kinds of players to the next level.
The Vikings need a QB and Bortles could very well be the pick here, but they could use more help defensively while getting a good QB in round 2. A defensive minded head coach could very well take a chance on a talent like Barr at this spot and I would love the selection.
9. Buffalo Bills- Jake Matthews OL Texas A&M
Another Aggie off the board in the top ten and this would be an excellent fit. If Ebron drops here, the Bills will jump on board. This mock draft he is off the board so an offensive lineman is Buffalo’s next need.
EJ Manuel has been battling injury and it is their hope he is the franchise guy. So protecting him is one of their main priorities and Matthews’s figures to be the right selection.
10. Detroit Lions- Darqueze Dennard CB MSU
I really like Dennard as an NFL cornerback from this class. I pay attention to corners when watching college football because it is an entertaining and difficult position to play.
Dennard has the look of a solid corner in this league and Detroit makes too much sense for it not too happen. Bring the Michigan st. kid to Detroit to fix a depleted secondary. The Lions lost Louis Delmas in free agency, so a safety is another position to look out for here.
If the Lions look to go on the other side of the ball, offensive line or Ebron is a possibility. I just don’t see why a wide out would be selected here since Golden Tate was signed in free agency.
11. Tennesse Titans- Blake Bortles QB UCF
Here we go with one of the surprise picks of the first round. Manziel is off the board and Bortles is still there for the taking. Bortles has the look of an NFL QB and new coach Ken Whisenhut has no ties to Jake Locker. Bortles has been compared to Ben Roethlisberger and who used to be his offensive coordinator?
Cornerback is a big need here as well and Justin Gilbert could very well be the selection. If Bortles slips here, I see the offensive minded head coach going for a QB reminiscent of someone he used to coach.
12. New York Giants- Aaron Donald DT Pitt
It has been no secret of how much I love Aaron Donald in this draft. I have been preaching this guys talent back before the Senior Bowl even began. He is my favorite defensive player in this draft and I think will be one of the most impactful players in the league from this draft for many years.
Donald is so skilled and balanced as an interior lineman, but his size is the only part that scouts question. Geno Atkins once has questions about his size as well and look how that turned out.
The Giants need help offensively for Eli Manning, but this draft has help available to them in the later rounds. Losing Joseph and Tuck creates huge voids in this defense and it is time for a repair. New York won its titles with an excellent pass rush and Donald can begin the process of rebuilding the defensive line.
13. St. Louis Rams- Ha Ha Clinton Dix S Alabama
They went offense at number two, so time for the defensive need. A dominant defensive line with a solid line backing corps now needs help on the backend.
The Rams were flirting with the idea of Vaccaro last draft and probably wish they could have landed him after the kind of season he had. It’s ok because now they have another shot at the top safety in the draft. This Rams squad is young and will be fun to watch them play in the most competitive division in the NFL.
14. Chicago Bears- Justin Gilbert CB Ok St
The Bears defense was atrocious last season and that is something very out of the ordinary for this franchise. It is time to build up the defense because the offense is ready enough to make a run in the playoffs.
Adding Gilbert would be a good start to fixing the defensive issue in the windy city. Other names to consider here would be Donald if available, Pryor and Jernigan.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- Kyle Fuller CB VT
A run on cornerbacks after the top ten has begun and it should not come to be a big surprise. Fuller is the complete package and could very well end up being the best on to come out of this draft.
Pittsburgh has needs on defense and pairing him with the aged Ike Taylor would be a good choice. With Lewan still on the board here, it does make for a tough decision to help protect big Ben.
16. Dallas Cowboys- Timmy Jernigan DT FSU
Defense was abysmal last year and it never gave the Cowboys a good chance to win games in the end when they needed it the most. Jernigan would help boost the defensive line after losing Demarcus Ware to the Broncos.
17. Baltimore Ravens- Taylor Lewan OT Michigan
This would be a draft blessing for the Baltimore Ravens if Lewan does in fact drop to this spot; a blessing in so many different ways. I believe Lewan is the second best offensive tackle in the draft, but his allegations make for being the third one selected.
Selecting Lewan and having him start at right tackle in Baltimore would be lethal to other defenses. It would immediately bolster the running game and give Joe plenty of time to play with his new toys.
Knowing how smooth Ozzie can be, Lewan being avalible here could have a plethora of teams calling to trade up. Miami could be a possibility as a trade partner if a talent like Lewan drops to this spot. If Lewan is available here, 17 is a spot to watch very closely Thursday night.
18. New York Jets- Brandin Cooks Oregon St WR
Chris Johnson, Michael Vick and Eric Decker have come over to New York in the off-season in attempt to give this great defense a chance to win games. The offense was awful last season due to the lack of talent all around.
Was Geno Smith the greatest QB as a rookie? No, but lets be fair with assessing his play. He had nothing to surround him in terms of targets or a running game. Winning 8 games as a rookie and how he played down the final quarter of the season is a positive to build on.
Lets be honest though, Vick is getting this starting job if he is healthy. Adding a speedy guy to like Cooks along with a possession wide out like Decker would be a good one-two punch. Jeff Cumberland is a solid tight end as well. If Vick stays healthy and Johnson has holes to run through, watch out for the New York Jets.
19. Miami Dolphins- CJ Mosley LB Bama
No, this is not a mock draft with Zach Martin because that is way too obvious. That would be a good and safe selection, but the best linebacker is still available.
The Dolphins run defense was horrible last year and it is due to the lack of instincts at the linebacker position. Drafting Mosley would force Ellerbe to move back to his natural position and the worst linebacker Phillip Wheeler out of the rotation.
If Mosley is not here, Ryan Shazier is someone not too overlook either. Morgan Moses would be the selection if Mosley is not on the board and if they choose to pass on Shazier. So when watching Miami on the board, do not overlook them taking Shazier or Pryor.
20. Arizona Cardinals- Zach Martin OL ND
Mosley is off the board so time to keep upgrading the offensive line for Arizona. Unless Bortles is somehow still here, I don’t see the Cardinals taking a QB until possibly round two or three.
Adding Martin is a great value because he can play at any position on the line. With taking Cooper last year and having him back in the lineup, this would make for a great offensive line foundation.
21. Green Bay Packers- Calvin Pryor S Louisville
Green Bay has begun fixing the defense because the offense is always prepared for a playoff run. Julius Peppers is in town and they still need help. With the three top corners off the board, the second best safety makes a lot of sense. Reinforcing the backend can fortify their chances for a postseason run.
22. Philadelphia Eagles- Dee Ford DE Auburn
Once again, the top corners are gone even though Roby is still there. He has some off the field concerns and the Eagles still need pass rushers. Ford was on display during the championship and the Senior Bowl.
Ford has all the confidence in the world since he said on the radio he is better than Clowney. If he wants to showcase that, Philly would be the perfect stage to help him back up the talk. Roby still could be in consideration here for Philly.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Marqise Lee WR USC
I last mocked the Chiefs taking Su’a Filo the guard from UCLA because of the holes in the offensive line. They lost three in free agency and they could very well still go in that direction.
I really like Marqise Lee as an NFL wide receiver he just sticks out to me a lot when I watch him. He slips here so it would be difficult for them to pass on him. Lee, Bowe and Avery would make for a good arsenal for Smith to throw to. In a division competing with Manning, the Chiefs will need to score a lot of points to keep up.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Ryan Shazier LB OSU
The Bengals lost Johnson to the Bucs so there is need at linebacker. I don’t see the popularity with the Bengals taking a corner here since they still have Hall and drafted Kirkpatrick. Adding beef to the line backing corps is a necessity.
25. San Diego Chargers- Bradley Roby CB OSU
Another Buckeye off the board and this is a good scenario for the Chargers. Roby is a great talent, but as stated earlier, he has some off the field issues. Playing with a premiere safety behind him in Weddle could help motivate him to keep his act together. In a division facing Manning, corners are a desperate need for San Diego.
26. Cleveland Browns- Odell Beckham WR LSU
They got their QB at four, so time for another offensive weapon. Beckham is a very good receiver that has a game similar to Anquan Boldin. That type of wide out would go nicely with the type of guy Gordon is. Manziel has the weapons, time to see how it all works out. If Watkins goes four, Derek Carr is the player to watch here.
27. New Orleans Saints- Ra’Shede Hageman DT Minnesota
The Saints have a very good secondary now with the addition of Byrd to play alongside Vaccaro. What would make them even better back there would be more pressure up the interior. Hageman would be a good guy to add into the rotation for the Saints defensive line. New Orleans could also look to upgrading the offensive line as well.
28. Carolina Panthers- Morgan Moses OT UVA
This draft is deep with wide receivers and Cam Newton needs a lot of help in that category. Unless a big time guy like Lee, Cooks or Beckham drop to here, they have to pick up an offensive lineman.
Jordan Gross has manned the offensive line for the Panthers for a very long time and his retirement created a big hole. I really like Moses as a tackle in this draft and he would be a great replacement to help out Newton. The running game needs to continue being solid so the offense can continue to thrive. Carolina, draft wide receivers for the next few rounds it is in your best interest!
29. New England Patriots- Dominique Easley DT UF
Another slight surprise here, but I get the feeling the Patriots will pick Easley up. New England has a need at Tight End, but they can get a very good one in the next round or so.
Vince Wilfork made headlines when he wanted to be out of the Patriots organization. He decided to stay, but it is time to prepare for the future. Easley is as good as a defensive tackle there is in the draft, but he is coming off injury. The Patriots can afford to be patient with his rehab since Wilfork is still there.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Jason Verrett CB TCU
Verrett has a lot of talent, but his only issue is size. The 49ers have a dire need at cornerback and this is a chance worth taking. Their defense is so good all around so placing a guy like Verrett into the mix with his talent is a win-win scenario. Could they take a wide out as well? Yes but as I have said many times before, this draft is so deep with them and not corner.
31. Denver Broncos- Xavier Su’a-Filo G UCLA
Denver needs to build the inside of the line due to losses and the Super Bowl beat down. Xavier is an extremely good guard who is very athletic and strong at the same time. Not much else really to say about the defending AFC champs at this point.
32. Seattle Seahawks- Cyrus Kouandjio OT Bama
The final pick is in and the defending Super Bowl champs do not have many holes as we saw in February. They had some offensive line injuries down the stretch so adding depth and a possible starter at the right tackle position would be huge for this team.
Kouandjio is a great talent and would be an amazing value pick for the Hawks at this spot. He has slight medical concerns even though he has never missed time at Bama. He is a talent worth the risk because when healthy he is a very good physical blocker.
There it is, my final 2014 NFL mock draft is now completed. This is a very exciting time for NFL fans and everyone is very anxious to finally see what happens Thursday night. We have waited even longer for the draft than we ever had before due to the two-week extension. It is so close we can almost hear the commissioner taking the stage and giving his good luck hugs to the newcomers. I will write post draft reaction and team grades when the three-day even comes to a close. Good luck to your teams of choice and hope they get what you hope for.