This is my final mock draft, as in, “Finally, I’m doing a mock draft!” Really, though, a mock draft is just an exercise in how wrong you can be in one article. That hasn’t deterred me, though, as I definitely plan to succumb to that bit of human nature that causes us to ignore our errors and brag about our achievements. Believe me, my grandkids will be hearing about how right I was about the 17th pick in the 2014 draft.
And with that, here you go. Mock away:
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
We live in a football-obsessed country. The NFL has traditionally taken advantage of the fact that their fans would rather be bored to death on the weekend by anything NFL-related than be entertained by most anything else. But recently, they’ve figured out that the same holds true, even if they peel away the only entertaining aspect of the draft: the first round. As boring as watching a professional sports draft may be for anyone with access to news, the first round of the NFL draft is actually fairly watchable. It’s long, but it’s not a chore, and the end is always in sight. Plus, you know what? Something. Something. Clowney. Athleticism. Maybe Trade.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Robert Griffin IV won’t be eligible for at least 20 years, and the Jaguars need a new offensive line. Greg Robinson is a stud, and he makes sense for St. Louis.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Jaguars could use offensive line help. Their linebackers need work, and Khalil Mack will be tough to pass on, but someday they’ll have a quarterback that they want to keep safe. This is how they prepare for that day.
4. Cleveland Browns – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
So much is coming out of the Browns camp right now, which probably means they’re posturing, trying not to look desperate, in hopes of making a trade. Of course, leaking news to Jay Glaser to directly counter ESPN the day before the draft, comes off as a desperation move. With Robinson and Matthews off the board, a trade really makes sense for the Browns here, but taking Watkins would give opposing secondaries fits.
5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
The Raiders need a lot of work, and have a history of draft incompetence, but Mack is a potential franchise player that could represent the start of a changing tide in Oakland.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Falcons need work up front on both offense and defense. Maybe they go Anthony Barr here, or maybe they like Eric Ebron as a replacement for Tony Gonzalez, but I see them taking a tackle, even if Matthews and Robinson are off the board.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The entire Tampa Bay passing game need work, and they can choose from a QB, Ebrom, or Evans here. I see them taking Evans and figuring out the QB situation later.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Johnny Manziel – QB, Texas A&M
If opposing defenses aren’t tired enough after chasing Adrian Peterson around, Manziel will finish them off. Minnesota hasn’t had a quality QB under the age of 39 since the Culpepper days. It is unclear if Manziel will change that.
9. Buffalo Bills – Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame
One of the Bills’ few needs is at offensive line, and Zack Martin is one of the only first round linemen I have pegged as being available at this point in the draft. It’s a match made in limbo.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
If there’s a team that can afford to pass on Donald, it’s the team with Suh and Fairley. The Lions will start to address a porous secondary by taking Gilbert, the lightning quick corner out of OSU.
11. Tennessee Titans – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Tenessee has a roster full of players that aren’t big names, but they get the job done. Barr and Donald are still available, but what Tennessee really needs is a good QB. Bortles is a good QB.
12. New York Giants – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Giants need help with their passing game, but that can be addressed later. Barr will help the pass rush keep them in games so that they don’t need to rely so heavily on Eli Manning.
13. St. Louis Rams – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The draft may be slow, but RGIV still isn’t eligible. Sam Bradford, or potentially somebody else, could really use a big tight end to check down to. Ebron is the best TE of this draft class, and he will make an immediate impact with the Rams.
14. Chicago Bears – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Chicago Bears need a safety in the same way that the Chicago Cubs need two more years of rebuilding. Donald and Mosley could be tempting here, but the bears were too close to the playoffs last season to let the hole at safety continue to fester. Clinton-Dix is a good player that offers an immediate fix.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueeze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Dennard’s physical style will fit in well in Pittsburgh, a city that has seen some great defenses and some mean players. The steelers don’t play in a super pass-heavy division, but you must protect against the pass if you want to advance in the playoffs.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald is exactly what the Cowboys need. If he’s available at 16, Jerry Jones should be doing jumping jacks. Check that, Jerry Jones should be telling his son-in-law to do jumping jacks for him. Dallas has made no secret about wanting to improve their defensive line, but even a player of Donald’s caliber is only the beginning.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Baltimore needs a safety, and Pyror is still on the board, but the Beckham Jr. gives them a very dynamic set of receivers to go along with the Smiths.
18. New York Jets – Marquise Lee, WR, USC
The Jets receivers are lacking, although the addition of Eric Decker helps. Lee can slot in as a threatening replacement for Stephen Hill at #2 to give Geno Smith a boost.
19. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandjio – OT, Alabama
Miami obviously had their share of off-the-field offensive line issues which have led to on-the-field offensive line issues. Kouandjio is a big tackle that held down Alabama’s big, bad offensive line for about 2.5 years. Because of a knee injury that held him out of some time as a freshman and sophmore, he wasn’t able to truly showcase his talent until last season, and he’s likely going to continue to get better.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Carson Palmer is the man for now, but he’s not the man of the future for Arizona. Bridgewater was a great college QB, but he appears to be dropping because teams aren’t convinced his game will translate. The 20th pick is a good place to take that chance.
21. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Ted Thompson generally likes to select the best available player, and it’s safe to say that it has worked for him so far. However, when a team is as close to being Super Bowl contenders, like Green Bay is, they sometimes have to draft for need. Safety is a major need for the Packers, and Pryor should be able to step in and be a quality player with minimal mistakes. Mosley will be hard to pass up, but passing up is precisely what the Packers need to stop.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Let’s be honest here. Most people have stopped watching the draft at this point 10% of the viewership was Packers fans that just flipped the channel, and the 0.5% of Louisville fans that were watching just saw their two guys go back to back. We’ll start seeing local TV ads any time now.
Pryor would be a good looking pick here for the Eagles, but with him off the board, Mosley is too tempting to pass up. Sure, their need is more at outside linebacker than inside, but they should be able to make it work.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Cooks might be the best available player right here, it just so happens that the Chiefs need a wideout to pair with Dewayne Bowe pretty desperately.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby’s maybe not the most technically sound corner in the draft, but he’s so damn fast, he makes up for it. Cincy can put him in to cover ground in zone defenses or pit him against #3 receivers, where he should make a difference, as well as start grooming for an eventually bigger role.
25. San Diego Chargers – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
The Chargers need a guard or two, and they need secondary help. They also need punctuation.
26. Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Hello again. If the Browns are banking on a QB being available at 26, they’ll probably be right. But will it be their guy?
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Ealy is a big man that could fit the outside of their 3-4 defense well. There’s a number of directions the Saints could go with this pick, including Shazier, a cornerback, or even a receiver. Draw a name out of a hat.
28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Wide Receiver can wait. The Panthers’ biggest need is finding a replacement for the retired, Jordan Gross.
29. New England Patriots – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Nix is the big and powerful guy that the Patriots want to supplant Vince Wilfork. I have to think that he’s the Patriots’ ideal pick here.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
San Francisco needs a CB to push Eric Wright out of the rotation, and they’ll need one to eventually take over for Chris Culliver. They should be pleased if Culliver falls to them.
31. Denver Broncos – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Not that the offense needs to get any better, but, much like this prediction, why not?
32. Seattle Seahawks – Ja’Waun James, OT, Tennessee
The Seahawks don’t have a lot of room for improvement, aside from the offensive line. Although Shazier would be a fun fit for this crazy athletic team, James is still a big first round talent.