The Super Bowl is over. And with that, it’s officially onto the 2014 NFL Draft. That’s right, all the mocks we’ve already pushed out and the many hundreds to come are suddenly no longer a waste of time.
At least, they don’t feel like they are.
Not much has changed at the top spot from what I’m seeing, as the Houston Texans look to draft a signal caller and I see them taking the top talent at the position. For my money, that’s Johnny Manziel. Love him or hate him, I see him going to Houston and it may take a while before I’m convinced otherwise. In fact, I may never budge.
But I’m pretty flexible just about everywhere else. Also, I’m expanding this mock into the second round. It’s time to start talking about some of the other underrated talent, while also taking a look at teams without first rounders (Colts and Redskins) might do in round two.
With that, here’s my latest mock of the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. Houston Texans – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Johnny Football is unorthodox and has some question marks, but he’s a true gamer and carries more upside than any other passer in this draft. Houston doesn’t need “safe” at quarterback. They need a guy that can and isn’t afraid to lead them into the fire. To me, that’s Manziel.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
I don’t mock trades, but I do believe the Rams trade this pick. As we get closer to the draft we’ll have a better idea as to what the possibilities are, while the actual trade could go down before the draft goes live. For now, I’m just mocking the best available player here. Clowney to the Rams is a major luxury, while the Falcons, Buccaneers and Raiders could all trade up to nab him, too. Jake Matthews is probably the other likely pick at this spot.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Like Manziel staying in Texas, why not keep Bortles in Florida? I love his size, arm and athleticism, but personally don’t love all the hype. I feel he’s a tad overrated and a little stiff in the pocket. With that said, he’s played well against some stiff competition and put UCF on the map in 2013. He could do the same for the Jags in a couple of years.
4. Cleveland Browns – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Cleveland could get cute and trade for Kirk Cousins or take a passer in round two, but here’s to hoping they finally get a legit franchise passer. Bridgewater doesn’t ooze upside, but he’s probably the safest quarterback in this draft. It doesn’t sound all that sexy, but it’s not a bad thing.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Oakland needs a quarterback as bad as anyone, but with the top three passers gone, they’d reach for Derek Carr here. That could still happen, but if this is how it goes down I think they’ll sit tight and wait until round two to get their quarterback. Here they can get arguably the most talented player in the draft. That’ll do.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M
Atlanta needs help on both lines and they could also add a play-maker on offense – specifically at tight end. This high up, though, they’ll aim for improvement in the trenches. Unless they have a shot at Clowney, I expect them to protect Matt Ryan by getting the best left tackle in the draft. If they opt for pass rush, Khalil Mack would also be a realistic option.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo
Tampa Bay could make a splash for an elite receiver, tight end or upgrade over Mike Glennon at quarterback. Or they could address a need and beef up their pass-rush with the best available defensive end. Considering Lovie Smith is a defensive guy, I’ll roll with Mack. Anthony Barr is also a legit candidate here.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Minnesota is like a lot of the teams inside the top-10 in that they will at least strongly consider upgrading at quarterback. They could also just opt for the best available talent, but I think they need to make a splash. Unless Manziel or Bortles falls here, Carr looks to be that splash. His big arm and athleticism will be a nice fit in a vertical Norv Turner system.
9. Buffalo Bills – Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
Buffalo will look at adding an offensive play-maker or drastically upgrading their pass-rush. Eric Ebron or Marqise Lee are logical picks here, but Barr will be too good to pass up.
10. Detroit Lions – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Detroit could go corner here, too, but they need to finally get Calvin Johnson a legit running mate at wide receiver. Lee is a burner who will help take some of the defense’s focus off of Megatron.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Tennessee looks to shift to a 3-4 defense, so getting the right pieces in place on defense has to be key. They have a new coaching staff, so quarterback can’t be ruled out, either, but Mosley is a good leader and athlete to help control the middle of the field. Tennessee could also go after a proper 3-4 OLB here, as well.
12. New York Giants – Greg Robinson, T, Michigan
Eli Manning wasn’t protected very well last year. I think the Giants still have enough talent to just take the best available talent, while taking a running back here (which they need) is a huge reach. Robinson might not fall this far, but if he does the G-Men better pounce.
13. St. Louis Rams – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Rams need a true go-to #1 wide receiver and if they don’t take one at 2 (or wherever they trade down to), they should take one here. Then again, they also have serious issues at safety still, so that’s another route they could go.
14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Chicago’s run defense turned sour last year and they need to get back to being a tough defense. They have issues across the board on their defensive line and Henry Melton is hitting free agency, so adding an active defensive tackle will be a necessary move.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Pittsburgh continues to age in the secondary. They need help at safey and corner, so take your pick. Dennard is just the most complete corner, so he makes as much as sense as any other defensive back here.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan
Baltimore needs to land another impact player for their passing game, but if Mike Evans and Marqise Lee are both already gone as I’ve mocked here, look for them to turn their focus to the offensive line.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Dallas really needs safety help, as has been the case for years now. However, their run defense has turned to mush and they lack any depth inside on the line. Nix could change that in a hurry.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
I can definitely see Ebron going a lot earlier. If he’s still here, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed not to snatch him up. He’s the complete package for the next level and is a light years upgrade over what they had in 2013.
19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
It’s no secret Miami’s o-line was in shambles in 2013. This draft needs to be heavily about patching it back up. If they don’t spend this pick on a tackle I’ll be shocked.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Trent Murphy, OLB/DE, Stanford
Arizona could do a lot of different things here, which makes me think they’ll just trade down. I can see them taking their quarterback of the future, reaching for a running back, or adding talent to an already aggressive defense. They’re pretty stacked on defense, but the right pass-rusher could put them over the top. Murphy was insanely productive in college and is strong in pursuit.
21. Green Bay Packers – Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
Green Bay needs to fix their run defense – and defense as a whole. If a stud tackle slips to them they’ll consider it, but I doubt they get away from defense in the first round. Hageman is perfect for their 3-4 system and upgrading their front line is probably their biggest priority right now. They could also consider getting an impact safety or OLB, but this move is probably the best.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I’m not entirely sure HaHa lasts this long, as he seems to be the draft’s most complete safety. There is major need at safety, too, but other needs and available talent could push him down to Philly. That’s fine by them, as they badly need to upgrade the last stop in their defense.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Benjamin is raw and probably could have used one more year of college ball, but he’s super explosive and should benefit from Andy Reid‘s scheme. Kansas City lacks a guy who can take the top off of defenses and they get that potential with Benjamin here,
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
James Harrison isn’t a full-time player or a long-term answer on the weakside. Shazier is. Cincy also needs safety help, but I think Shazier is too perfect of a fit to pass up. Being a Buckeye doesn’t hurt, either.
25. San Diego Chargers – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
San Diego could add onto their offensive or defensive line or get another pass-rusher, but they need to repair their secondary. I think that’s the first move and a guy as talented as Gilbert could help them do that.
26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts) – Zack Martin, T/G, Notre Dame
Cleveland could pair a wide receiver with Bridgewater here, but why not beef up the offensive line? Martin is extremely versatile, so they can probably plug him anywhere they need him.
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
New Orleans could make a splash with a wide receiver here, but their transition to the 3-4 isn’t complete yet. Consider them one step closer if they can nab pass-rusher Ealy here.
28. Carolina Panthers – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Wide receiver is clearly a common pick and a big need, but I don’t see Carolina drafting one just to draft one here. The right guy needs to slide here. If that doesn’t happen, look for them to add some more talent to an increasingly scary looking defense.
29. New England Patriots – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Patriots felt the loss of both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski at times in 2013. They need to make sure Tom Brady has guys to run that offense. Amaro is a poor blocker and slightly soft, but he has great hands and size. He’ll fit in nicely in New England’s pass-happy scheme.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
San Francisco wins with ball control offense and suffocating defense. While they could chase down a top corner prospect here, I like them to just keep improving a strength by getting even more talented on the defensive line.
31. Denver Broncos – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Champ Bailey is a shell of his former self and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is going to be a free agent. Denver needs to get the best corner they can here.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Seattle is probably going to let go of Sidney Rice, while Golden Tate is a free agent and Percy Harvin is never healthy. Adding a talented wide receiver to a still fairly one-dimensional offense will only make them that much better.
33. Houston Texans – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Houston still has some spots they can address on defense, but making sure their o-line is up to snuff is probably as good a move as any – especially with their new investment in Johnny Football.
34. Washington Redskins – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Pryor is a hard-hitting, instinctive safety that I still don’t believe will fall out of the first round. The way this mock unfolded, though, he slides right to the team that arguably needs him the most. Washington needs a ton of help across the board, but safety might be their biggest problem area.
35. Cleveland Browns – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cleveland didn’t grab a receiver in round one, so here is Bridgewater’s new #2 guy. Greg Little just isn’t cutting it anymore.
36. Oakland Raiders – Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Oakland needs to grab a new quarterback eventually, and if Mettenberger makes it to round two, I really think he’s the guy. He’s your prototypical passer that probably would be a first round lock if not for an ACL injury.
37. Atlanta Falcons – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins has some character issues that could have him slide, which the Falcons probably won’t mind at all. Just as Tony Gonzalez exits into retirement, Atlanta gets an athletic play-maker to come in as his replacement. It’s the ideal pick here in round two, while a pass-rusher would also make sense.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Tampa went for pass-rush help in round one, so here they’ll get another weapon for Mike Glennon. Tight end is another area the Bucs could aim to upgrade on offense via the draft.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Maurice Jones-Drew is done in Jacksonville and they don’t have a true starter on their roster right now. Carey can be that next franchise back.
40. Minnesota Vikings – Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
Minnesota needs to add some youth to its linebacking corps. Borland isn’t the best athlete, but he’s instinctful and a sure tackler. He’d compete to start right away and his stock is still rising.
41. Buffalo Bills – Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Buffalo has no answer at tight end and Scott Chandler is hitting free agency, so adding some talent to increase competition is a move they’ll have to make. Niklas is more athletic than Chandler and can block, making him a solid upgrade.
42. Tennessee Titans – Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State
If the Titans don’t do it in round one, they’ll need to go after a pass-rusher in round two. They have talented pass-rushers but we can’t know for sure if their current guys will make the transition to 3-4 OLB. Adding some young talent that fits their scheme right away is a good idea.
43. New York Giants – Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
New York can’t count on David Wilson (neck) and Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis are both headed for free agency. Brown will probably be back, but the Giants still need help in the backfield. Mason is a tough runner with underrated speed and would be an excellent addition to New York’s offense.
44. St. Louis Rams – Dion Bailey, S, USC
St. Louis got a little better at safety in 2013 but they still aren’t where they need to be. They’ll consider adding a stud safety in round one, but if they don’t the better get their man in round two.
45. Detroit Lions – Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Detroit passed on corner help in round one, so now they turn back to their secondary here and grab the talented Purifoy.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers – David Yankey, G/T, Stanford
The Steelers always seem to have one of the shakiest offensive lines in football. They didn’t add any talent to their o-line in round one, so I like the strong and versatile Yankey here in round two.
47. Dallas Cowboys – Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State
The Cowboys get their safety. Joyner isn’t as balanced as Clinton-Dix or as menacing as Calvin Pryor, but he’s a proven play-maker. His experience at corner helps him at the next level and he should be able to slide this far due to size concerns.
48. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Baltimore didn’t reach for a receiver with Mike Evans and Marqise Lee gone, but they get their man in Matthews here. He’s not the burner or athletic freak teams covet, but he’s flat-out solid. Fundamentally, he might be the best receiver in this draft.
49. New York Jets – Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Landry has solid size and can make tough catches. He really showed growth last year with LSU and is the type of prospect the Jets will want to take a chance on. A good showing at the combine could keep him from falling this far, though.
50. Miami Dolphins – Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Miami continues to turn their offensive line around. Jackson is insanely talented, but has had weight issues. That could have him slide just enough for the Fins to snatch him up.
51. Chicago Bears – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby is one of the more balanced corners in this draft and is a burner who makes big plays. He might fall due to character issues, though, while he’s also been an inconsistent performer in man coverage. Still, his upside is off the charts and Chicago needs more talent at corner.
52. Arizona Cardinals – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Arizona doesn’t have much behind Carson Palmer and at almost 34, he’s nearing the end. Garoppolo doesn’t have a huge arm, but he looks comfortable in the pocket and is accurate and athletic. If he can show his arm is bigger than the tape suggests, his stock could rise even further.
53. Green Bay Packers – Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn
Green Bay needs to keep making strides on defense, so adding the soaring Ford looks like a good selection. Ford is a tad under-sized, but could be an absolute terror opposite Clay Matthews in GB’s aggressive 3-4.
54. Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Van Noy, DE/OLB, BYU
Van Noy is arguably one of the most underrated prospects in the entire draft. Excelling in pass-rushing and adequate elsewhere, Van Noy is seemingly everywhere at once. He simply makes plays and fits Chip Kelly‘s 3-4 perfectly. He could go a lot higher in round two.
55. Cincinnati Bengals – Craig Loston, S, LSU
Cincy needs safety help and Loston is one of the best left on the board at this point – if not the best. He could even go a little higher thanks to his instincts and play-making ability. However, some inconsistency and average speed could cause him to drop a bit.
56. San Francisco 49ers – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
A one-cut back with good size and power, there are few backs that fit what the 49ers do better than Hyde. He’s not exactly necessary with a stable of backs in San Francisco, but Frank Gore is aging, Kendall Hunter lacks size and Marcus Lattimore can’t be completely countedon. It’s a bit of a luxury back, but one the Niners will have a hard time passing on.
57. San Diego Chargers – Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
San Diego needs to keep getting better on defense. Their outside pass-rush still could use some juice and Attaochu is full of upside thanks to his ideal size and athleticism.
58. New Orleans Saints – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Marques Colston and Lance Moore are aging and losing their effectiveness, so the Saints may want to think about adding more size and speed to their passing game. Adams has both, while the fact that he faced weak competition could still let him slide to New Orleans.
59. Indianapolis Colts – Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Easily one of the more underrated wide receivers in this draft, I think a strong Senior Bowl showing could help propel Abbrederis to the second round. A strong showing at the Combine would only secure him a spot here. Indy needs more wide receiver talent with Reggie Wayne rehabbing a knee injury and a bunch of inconsistent players filling out the roster. Abbrederis has solid size and speed and can even help in the return game.
60. Carolina Panthers – Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Carolina needs to get some more help at wide receiver. Steve Smith is aging and Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are free agents.
61. San Francisco 49ers – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Sticking with the trenches, look for the 49ers to keep adding to strengths by getting a potentially stud guard here in round two. San Francisco also needs to think about a long-term backup quarterback and some wide receiver help.
62. New England Patriots – Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
LeGarrette Blount might price himself out of New England and Stevan Ridley has ball control issues. Look for New England to make sure they’re set at running back with the talented Sankey.
63. Denver Broncos – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Denver had injuries across their defensive line and needs more meat up front to make their run defense even better. They were a top-10 unit overall last year, but they want to keep it that way. Bringing on Donald will help make sure they do.
64. Seattle Seahawks – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Brandon Browner is suspended for most of 2014 and is going to be 30, so he’s nearing the end of the line in Seattle. The Seahawks haven’t seen a major drop-off in play, but they need to look to the future and keep their secondary strong.
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