It’s January and I’m doing my second mock of the 2014 NFL Draft. I know it’s pointless to a certain extent, but for all of those “mock haters” out there, my reasoning for doing a mock is simple – I enjoy it. That, and continuously looking at players and the buzz surrounding them helps us all stay in the loop. And the more in the know we are, the better we can accurately gauge what teams are thinking and inevitably will actually do come May.
With that long-winded “don’t make fun of me for doing mocks” intro out of the way, I wanted to put another mock out to change my top pick and let the trickle down effect scream aloud. After all, I’m been a big fan of Johnny Manziel all along, and felt he was the best pure talent at the quarterback position in this draft class. I do agree Teddy Bridgewater is the safer prospect and arguably more ready to take over the Houston Texans right now, but a lot of things are making me agree with Mel Kiper, that Manziel is shaping up as the more likely top pick.
So, it starts with Johnny Football (for now), as it probably should. But there’s more excitement from there. Read on as I mock this May’s draft with an updated draft order:
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel stays in Texas after Houston realizes he’s the best pure talent at quarterback and also carries the most upside. The Texans already have a defense in place to win now and need small adjustments to make it better. Landing a quarterback who can change a game on his own is what they really need. With Johnny Football, the Texans land a hometown hero and a guy who will keep them in just about every game.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
I don’t project trades in mocks. I’ll probably do some articles later in the draft season specifically addressing draft day trade rumors or trades I think should happen – but not here. I do think it’s likely the Rams trade down from here, but they have two first round picks and it might be wise to make absolutely sure they land a stud impact player. They really could use tackle help, and I still think Matthews is the best tackle prospect in this class.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Clowney could easily go in the top two spots, but I think it’s very possible he falls to three. After all, the Rams have a bigger need at tackle and if a team trades up to the two spot, they could still take Matthews, who I think is the best tackle in the draft. Jacksonville absolutely could jump on Bridgewater or Blake Bortles here, but their pass-rush isn’t good and their coach is a defensive mind. I like Clowney here.
4. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Cleveland appears to be enamored with Johnny Football, but they’re not getting him. They’ll take Bridgewater as a very nice consolation prize. They could also always trade down, as they have a second first rounder.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins is an elite wide receiver and the Raiders really don’t have one. I find it very hard to pass on both Bortles and Derek Carr here, but perhaps the Raiders like a passer they can nab after round one. That, or maybe they bring in Michael Vick or Josh Freeman. Either way, Watkins can step in as a true number one and he’ll be awfully hard to pass up.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Atlanta needs o-line and pass-rush help, and they truly could go either way. I think they’ll protect Matt Ryan ahead of all else, though, so Robinson seems like a great pick.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, DE, Buffalo
Tampa Bay could shock us all by nabbing a quarterback, but Mike Glennon still has upside so they might give him another year. If they do, they’ll chase down some pass-rush help here. It’ll be down to Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Minnesota needs a quarterback and it’s going to be shocking enough if Bortles lasts this long. If he does, his fall stops here.
9. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA
Buffalo prospect Mack would make more sense but Barr actually is arguably more talented. The Bills will be feeling great either way, as both prospects are elite pass-rushing talents.
10. Detroit Lions – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Lions have a stacked defensive line and a potent offense. Corner is their glaring need and they’ve really failed to properly address it for the longest time. Dennard is one of the better corner prospects, so he seems like a fit here.
11. Tennessee Titans – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Titans have talent on their d-line but they really struggled in that department last year. Ealy wouldn’t be their first choice, but he’s perfect for their system and could help right away.
12. New York Giants – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
New York definitely needs help on the offensive line, but I think it’s time to get an elite inside linebacker. Jon Beason was a nice find near mid-season, but they can’t be done.
13. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
St. Louis needs a safety, so I can see Ha Ha Clinton-Dix here, as well as an offensive lineman if the Rams pass on one earlier. They could always throw us for a loop and grab Derek Carr here, but they need a true #1 wide receiver. Evans can be just that.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
The Bears found out how important a steady run defense is last season and losing Henry Melton to injury certainly didn’t help. I think they’d be wise to keep Melton around, but they still need depth. Jernigan is my favorite defensive tackle in this draft and I think he’d be a great fit in Chicago. If a stud defensive end slips, the Bears could consider going that route, too.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Protect Ben Roethlisberger. As long as Big Ben is still in their plans, the Steelers need to actually make sure he’s okay to play. Their o-line has been a disappointment for forever now, and bringing in a stud like Lewan could help a ton.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Baltimore could really use a wide receiver or if Dennis Pitta jets, a tight end. But protecting Joe Flacco has to be first in line. They have two tackles hitting the open market, so getting younger and more talented on the line is a big move.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Dallas badly needs safety help and Clinton-Dix is the best safety in the draft. But this is a Jerry Jones-led team, so they’ll probably draft a kicker.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
New York would love Mike Evans to slide to them, but I don’t see it happening. They could settle for Marqise Lee, but I like them going after an elite tight end prospect, instead. Ebron is a freak athlete with insane upside and Kellen friggin’ Winslow was their main tight end in 2013. That has to change.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are probably done in Miami, while Tyson Clabo dropped off considerably last year. Needless to say, the Fins needs to address the o-line. Martin is more guard than tackle, but one way or another the line needs to improve.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Hey-o! The rocket armed Carr finally comes off the board, and he couldn’t land in a better place. Bruce Arians runs a vertical system and Carson Palmer won’t last forever. Carr also is a fine athlete, so once he hits the field he can keep himself alive behind AZ’s shaky o-line. The best part is he’s probably not ready to be a first year starter, and here he won’t have to be.
21. Green Bay Packers – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Jermichael Finley is a free agent with a neck issue, so he’s not going to be back with the Packers and it’s possible he never even plays again. Green Bay clearly needs a tight end, so the fluid and reliable Amaro could be a perfect fit.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Lee is an explosive burner who was extremely productive in college and projects very well at the next level. With Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper hitting free agency and Lee’s speed fitting Philly’s offense, this could be his ideal landing spot.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Scott Chrichton, OLB, Oregon State
Kansas City probably needs inside linebacker help more than on the outside, but their pass-rush dropped off near the end of the year and they could use some extra depth in their pass-rush.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Cincy is pretty well balanced on both sides of the ball, but they need to find a long-term replacement for James Harrison, who didn’t work out all that well in 2013. Shazier is great in pass-rushing situations and is perfect for the weak side.
25. San Diego Chargers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
The Chargers seem to be fairly set on offense and will likely just add offensive line depth and otherwise focus mostly on their defense. Their secondary has to be their main concern, so they’ll consider themselves blessed when the talented Gilbert falls to them.
26. Cleveland Browns – Ka’Reem Carey, RB, Arizona
The Browns traded away Trent Richardson and really have nothing at running back. I like Tre Mason a little more, but Carey is an insane athlete and might be better suited to be a workhorse at the next level. I’m still not completely sold a running back goes in the first round, but if one does it could be Carey.
27. New Orleans Saints – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
New Orleans definitely needs to keep plugging in talent for their 3-4 on the line and at linebacker, but they also need to improve their secondary. Roberson is extremely talented and seems like a logical fit.
28. Carolina Panthers – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Carolina’s pass defense is actually solid, but they lost Chris Gamble last year and have a lot of no-name talent. Wide receiver is probably something they’d have to trade up for at this point, so if they stick here I like them to grab a corner.
29. New England Patriots – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Pats would probably prefer Ebron or Amaro, but I actually like Seferian-Jenkins in their offense. He’s a mismatch waiting to happen thanks to elite size and athleticism, and after the debacle at tight end this past year, the Patriots can’t afford to have any questions at the position in 2014. Seferian-Jenkins has had some off-field issues and needs to work on his blocking, but his potential is through the roof.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The 49ers would probably like to add a nice wide receiver here after dealing with Michael Crabtree’s absence for most of 2013, but they learned from A.J. Jenkins not to reach for one. Rather, they add to a strength and beef up an already stacked defensive line.
31. Denver Broncos – RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Denver’s defense is pretty talented, but they still could be better against the run. Adding some depth to their defensive line is a must to ensure the defense turns things around next season.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Kyle Van Noy, DE, BYU
Seattle has a ton of talent on defense but with few weak points, I can’t see why adding a luxury would be a problem. They could go wide receiver here, too, but Van Noy is an elite pass-rusher and would be hard to pass up.
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