NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
It’s only September, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start projecting the next year’s NFL Draft. Compared to 2013 the ’14 draft features franchise quality talent and star potential at a number of positions. The 2014 class is especially deep at pass rusher, offensive tackle and even Quarterback. There will be no shortage of immediate NFL impact from this draft class.
Check out who your team could end up with in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Updated September 16
(Order is based on projected standings at the end of the year)
1) Oakland Raiders- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Oakland rebuild is going to take a long time and patience is needed. Clowney is the best player in the draft and while the Raiders need a QB, they aren’t in a position to pass up a sure fire stud like Clowney.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The Jaguars luck out and are able to get their hands on the best QB in the draft. Jacksonville has some nice pieces in place on offense, but they will continue to be an NFL doormat unless they get a real QB. Bridgewater has franchise QB potential and all the skills to take the Jaguars to the next level.
3) Buffalo Bills - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Bills could go in a lot of directions here, but continuing to build a strong offensive line is the best bet. Drafting a versatile and athletic OT like Matthews would allow Buffalo to move Cordy Glenn to the right tackle or inside.
4) New York Jets - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Jets have built one of the better young DL in the NFL. But, the success of Rex Ryan’s defenses are usually built around pressuring the QB. Anthony Barr would be a great fit in the Jets hybrid 3-4 defense. Barr is an athletic freak that is just scratching the surface in terms of potential.
5) Cleveland Browns - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Cleveland could opt for a QB like Mariota in this spot, but I think Brandon Weedon gets one more year with better tools around him. Adding a dynamic and versatile player like Sammy Watkins to a core of Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon makes the Browns much tougher to defend.
6) Arizona Cardinals - Cyrus Kounandijo, OT, Alabama
The Cardinals started the rebuild of their offensive line this year by drafting Jonathan Cooper 7th overall. The team still lacks long term tackle talent. Cyrus Kouandjio and Jonathan Cooper is enough to turn a weakness into a strength.
7) Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
A perfect fit between player and team. Louis Nix is the best pure Nose Tackle to come out in a long time. The powerful and athletic behemoth can plug in the middle and become the centerpiece of the new Steelers defense.
8) San Diego Chargers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby is the best cover corner in the draft and the Chargers can use all the help on the backend they can get. Derek Cox was a nice addition, but the Chargers lack talent and upside at the other corner position. Roby has the chance to be a special player and a shut down NFL corner.
9) Minnesota Vikings – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Mariota is flying up draft boards and could go even higher thanks to the changing NFL game. It’s a copy-cat league and teams are going to try and mimmick the success of RG3 and Colin Kaepernick. Mariota is a sensational athlete with legitimate passing talent. Imagine Adrian Peterson and Marcus Mariota running a zone-read offense.
10) Carolina Panthers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Carolina has started to build a young and talented front seven, but still have major holes on the backend. Their safety play over the last 2-3 years has been suspect and cost them in crunch time. Clinton-Dix is an impact NFL defender and should have teams fighting for the right to draft him. He’s a good fit in Carolina where he can team up with Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei to make the Panters strong up the middle for years to come.
11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers struggle to rush the passer. I don’t see a solution on the current roster, which means it’s imperative they draft a young pass rusher. It could be Tuitt or someone else, but this is an area they will address in the draft.
12) Detroit Lions – CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Lions defense lacks leadership and talent at the LB spot. Mosley can fill both holes as he is a versatile and consistent player that can be counted on each game. Mosley would have been a first round pick if he entered the 2013 draft and won’t fall much further than this in 2014.
13) Tennessee Titans - Louchiez Purifoy, CB, Florida
Purifoy is a bit raw to be an immediate shutdown NFL corner, but with his frame and natural athleticism he will become one with improved technique. The Titans can use help all over the defense and Purifoy is the most talented defender at this point in the draft.
14) Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Besides Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs are severley lacking WR depth and speed. Marqise Lee gives Andy Reid a player similar to Desean Jackson to stretch the field, exploit matchups and take some of the load off of Bowe.
15) Miami Dolphins – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Jeff Ireland had the chance to fill the biggest hole on his team last year and opted to pass on offensive tackles early in the draft. Whether Ireland is around to make this pick next year remains to be seen, but there is no doubt the Dolphins will be targeting Left Tackles and Lewan is a good one.
16) St. Louis Rams - Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
The Rams added an athletic LB last year in Alec Ogletree, but still have a huge hole at the other OLB position. Shazier is every bit the athlete of Ogletree and has much better instincts and overall football technique. The Rams defense would be scary fast and young by adding Shazier to their front seven.