Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft (1.0)

The first of my two mock drafts is finally here, with this being my "just after free agency" version. My final one will come at beginning of May, right before the actual draft. We see two Texas A&M Aggies taken in the top 5, a little bit of a fall for the best pass rusher to enter the draft since Mario Williams, and three quarterbacks taken within the first 10 picks. 

1. Houston Texans - Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Manziel wants to play for Houston. He is an in-state boy, a Heisman winner, and just the player to turn around a team who needs some consistent quarterback play, along with a healthy team to make a quick bounce-back into playoff contention. Blake Bortles is the name that seems to be thrown around in this spot along with Clowney, but the defense for Houston doesn't need a pass rusher as bad as the offense needs a leader. That is Johnny Football.
2. St. Louis Rams - Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

The Rams need to keep their franchise quarterback up-right. After re-signing Rodger Saffold this off-season and getting left tackle Jake Long from Miami last year, this will be the pick that will solidify the Rams offensive line for the next 10 years. Start him at right tackle for the next couple years until Jake Long is ready to move on, then slide him over to left tackle to protect Sam Bradford's - or the next quarterback's - backside.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -  Greg Robinson, Auburn

While pass rusher here would make sense, especially with defensive-minded Gus Bradley being the coach, the offensive line needs a anchor in the worst kind of way. Robinson is a nasty linemen who will protect your quarterback and will road block defensive linemen and linebackers out of the way in the running game.
4. Cleveland Browns -  Blake Bortles, Central Florida

Brian Hoyer cannot be relied on to be your No. 1 signal caller and the face of your franchise. That is where Blake Bortles comes in. The Browns have plenty of talent on defense and big play makers on offense with a solid offensive line and star offensive weapons in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Bortles can make this Brown team legit contenders for a playoff position.
5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, Clemson

A big-play wide out is exactly what new quarterback Matt Schaub needs to go along with solid cast of No. 2 and 3 receivers in Oakland. While losing Jared Veldheer will sting, this draft is deep with offensive linemen. Picking up a replacement in the second round will probably be the wise course.
6. Atlanta Falcons - Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Falcon fans have been praying to some kind of football God for this to happen in my mock draft. The Falcons need pass rusher in the worst kind of way and to have one of the best pass rushing prospects in the last decade to drop to six is a miracle. A freak of nature and well known for his pass rushing ability, Clowney would be an absolute steal here for the Falcons. While his hustle has been questioned, he was fighting triple teams and nagging injuries last year. He will be a stud for along time in this league.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Khalil Mack, Buffalo

While not the traditional linebacker that the Buccaneers go for in a Cover 2 sense, Mack has great coverage skills. Mack is most known for his pass rushing ability, which will give Lovie Smith's revived defense more weapons as the quarterback will have to look for Mack, either coming hard at him or dropping into Cover 2 coverage. 
8. Minnesota Vikings - Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

After the many failed experiments at quarterback last year, the Vikings finally get their franchise quarterback they have been looking for since Daunte Culpepper. The Ponder experiment is over and the Josh Freeman signing was ill-advised. Bridgewater is a solid passer who will limit turnovers, I don't believe he will set the world on fire with his numbers, but he will do enough to be an above average quarterback in the league in the mold of Alex Smith. 
9. Buffalo Bills - Eric Ebron, North Carolina

EJ Manuel needs weapons in the worst way. C. J. Spiller cannot be the only big-play option for a big play for a team. That is why Ebron is the choice here. He is a tight end in the Jimmy Graham/ Vernon Davis mold as a pure offensive weapon. Fast as all hell, big-bodied, and a play maker will make this offense much better as an upgrade from Scott Chandler.
10. Detroit Lions - Taylor Lewan, Michigan

Detroit's line offensive line over the past couple of years has been much improved and has gotten younger. We continue that trend in this year's draft with the selection of the nasty Taylor Lewan. An in-state product, Lewan will slide into the right side of the line and help solidify the tackle position for a long time in Detroit.

11. Tennessee Titans - Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State

After losing Alterraun Verner to the Buccaneers in free agency, the Titans depth in their secondary is questionable. With the selection of Justin Gilbert, they get the best cornerback in the draft and a great selection to match up with Jason McCourty as both are solid man-to-man cover guys.
12. New York Giants - Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Johnny Football's main receiver down at Texas A&M is a big-bodied, big play threat that will give Eli Manning another weapon on the outside. After losing Hakeem Nicks this off-season replacing, Nicks is a must as this offence is at it's most effective when it has three solid wide outs stretching defences. Between Mike Evans and Victor Cruz, Eli will get back to being an effective quarterback and hopefully limiting his turnovers.
13. St. Louis Rams - Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama

T. J. McDonald was a good start last year to upgrading their safety position, but Clinton-Dix will solidify that position for a long time. A excellent play maker for the Alabama defense, Clinton-Dix will be a ball hawk back there in the Rams secondary and a capable run defender. The matching of McDonald and Clinton-Dix will make the Rams safeties a formidable duo.
14. Chicago Bears - Anthony Barr, UCLA

More of a luxury/ best player available pick then anything, the selection of Anthony Barr is Chicago's way of starting to get younger on defence. Long-time star linebacker Lance Briggs isn't getting any younger. So, Barr can start at weak-side linebacker for the Bears while learning the finer points of the game from one of the best in the business. A solid overall linebacker, Barr is good in run support and coverage. His athleticism is top notch and, at the 14th overall pick, is a steal for the Bears.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

This is another case of starting to replace older stars with younger, high-end players. I have Dennard going to the Steelers. The Steelers defence is getting quite old, so an infusion of young blood is needed. Dennard, a solid cover man for the Michigan State Spartans, can slide right across the field from Ike Taylor and give them a fantastic replacement when they move on from Ike.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

After signing Henry Melton to partially take the sting out of releasing DeMarcus Ware due to cap reasons, getting Aaron Donald would be a coup for the Cowboys. With a hopefully healthy Melton and Donald, the inside pass rush capability of the Cowboys could rival that of the Detroit Lions with their combination of Suh and Fairley. Donald's athletic ability is off the charts for a big man. He would be a start to make up for losing Ware's incredible pass rush capability.
17. Baltimore Ravens - Zack Martin, Notre Dame

Martin has a lot of ability and would be able to play guard or tackle for the Ravens. I have him sliding in at the right tackle spot of losing Michael Oher to free agency this off-season. Martin would be an upgrade over the slightly overrated Oher, who is mostly known for the movie made after his life. Martin would fit along with the hard-working, hard-nose Ravens.
18. New York Jets - Marqise Lee, USC

Michael Vick or Geno Smith still need more weapons at wide out, even with the signing of Eric Decker. Lee, out of USC, is lightning quick and is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He would be an excellent option out of the slot, making it a tough day for whatever nickel corner would be on him that day.
19. Miami Dolphins - Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA

After losing two players from their starting offensive line from last year's team, getting Branden Alberts from Kansas City this off-season was a good start to rebuilding and upgrading their line. Getting Su'a-Filo from UCLA would be an upgrade over Incognito. The UCLA product is a road grader of a run blocker who is quite athletic. Su'a-Filo would be a solid addition to the Dolphins.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Calvin Pryor, Louisville

Matching Pryor with Tyrann Mathieu would make for another elite duo of safeties in the NFC West. Pryor, another gifted athlete, is a playmaker and a big hitter. He is solid in coverage and will give the Cardinals another playmaker to add to their already scary secondary, with the addition of Antonio Cromartie this off-season.
21. Green Bay Packers - Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama

Aaron Rodgers has been hit hard and has had to scramble for his life too much for my liking. Giving him another book end tackle can only help Rodgers and the Packers' offence. A much better run blocker than pass protector, Kouandijo will still be an upgrade to what the Packers currently have at right tackle. He will also help out reigning rookie of the year Eddie Lacy tremendously when running to the right side.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Jason Verrett, TCU

A solid man coverage corner who would probably more suited to a zone coverage type of scheme, Verrett would still excel at corner for the Eagles. Solid athletically, he is one of the quicker corners in this year's draft and can fly around the field. Verrett is an aggressive player who could slide into the No. 2 corner role if he has a good training camp. However, he would be better off suited to play nickel corner his first year and shut down a slot receiver.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Benjamin has the raw talent to be one of the top wide outs in the league down the road. He is still kind of raw as a wide receiver, dropping some passes which should have been caught. But, the Chiefs need high-end potential at wide out with Dwayne Bowe being their only outside threat. Drafting Benjamin would also move Donnie Avery back to the slot role where he would be more effective.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Kony Ealy, Missouri

This is kind of an over kill pick for a team who already has pass rush ability. After losing Michael Johnson this off-season, Ealy would slide right into his spot nicely. A good spot for Ealy to land in, Ealy would be surrounded by talent on the defensive line and would allow for him to show off his pass rush capability. Even if he is only brought in on pass-rushing downs like Bruce Irvin was for Seattle, his first season this would only make the Bengals better on defence.
25. San Diego Chargers - Louis Nix, Notre Dame

A mountain of a man at 6'3 and nearly 330 lbs, this former Fighting Irish would be the perfect nose tackle for the Chargers 3-4 defence. For a big guy, Nix can really move and is quite nimble with excellent strength. Adding him to this defence gives the Chargers a chance to move into one of the better 3-4 defences in the league.
26. Cleveland Browns - CJ Mosley, Alabama

After selecting their quarterback of the future with their first pick, the Browns get the quarterback for their defence. Adding Mosley to the already solid Browns defence gives them an embarrassment of riches. The value of this pick here is undeniably excellent and would make up for the loss of D'qwell Jackson this off-season. With the addition of Karlos Dansby from Arizona this off-season, the Browns linebackers would be a top 3 group in all of football. 
27. New Orleans Saints - Bradley Roby, Ohio State

The Saints need solid man-to-man corners in order to play defensive coordinators Rob Ryan's defense effectively. Roby is the man to do that. One of the best man-to-man corners in this draft, Roby has excellent speed and can get after the quarterback as well. While not the greatest run stopper, he has the potential to get much better at that studying under Rob Ryan.

28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Kind of like a poor man's Steve Smith, who is the man he will be replacing in Carolina. Carolina's desperate need for solid wide outs could lead to multiple wide receiver picks in this draft. Beckham will be the first of at least two picks at the wide out position. A smaller receiver who has a mean streak, Beckham is not as gifted athletically as Smith, but has potential to round into a solid NFL receiver.

29. New England Patriots - Tim Jernigan, Florida State

Solid value for the Patriots here at this pick. I fully expect the Pats to probably trade out of this pick like they usually do, but if they stay here Jernigan is a good value pick. Jennigan would be well-suited as an interior pass rusher for their 4-3 defence and a good replacement to Vince Wilfork when they move on from him in a couple years. Jennigan can really get after the quarterback and would be solid in a rotation with vet Tommy Kelly across from Wilfork.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame

The rich get richer on defence with the selection of Tuitt out of Notre Dame. At 6-6, 300 pounds, Tuitt has some pass rush capability and has the size to play across from Justin Smith at defensive end in the 49ers 3-4 defence. Adding another big cog to the defensive line will allow the 49ers' All-World linebackers even more chances to show off their big play ability, while also adding some more pass rush ability on their defensive line.
31. Denver Broncos - Dee Ford, Auburn

Just what the Denver Broncos: need another high-end pass rusher. Putting Ford into the mix with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller makes this defence absolutely terrifying for opposing quarterbacks. A speed rusher who can get after the quarterback, Ford will be an absolute nightmare playing with Miller and Ware and could put up the best sack numbers of any rookie this year.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

A smaller wide out with agility for days, Cooks can get around the field and make secondaries look silly just tackling air. Adding Cooks, with the addition of a hopefully healthy Percy Harvin, would be terrifying for teams playing the Super Bowl champs with all of Seattle's speed and athleticism at receiver. Cooks is able to return kicks and punts, which would keep Harvin off the field to keep him healthy with little drop off in return capability.

That wraps up the first Sports by Schmucks draft. Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@SportBySchmucks) for the release of the next mock draft. We'll also be live tweeting the first round of the draft.

To see more mock drafts, check out the 2014 Mock Draft database.

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