NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
After 7-8 months of preparation and build up here is my last attempt at predicting the unpredictable. Like most years this draft is incredibly fluid throughout the first round. As we stand right now nobody has a grasp on what will happen at the first pick let alone the 31st pick. This final mock is based on what I think will happen tomorrow night, while taking into account some rumblings I am hearing as we approach the first pick.
*If you haven’t done so yet, please check out my 2014 NFL Draft Guide. If your an NFL Draft fan this is a resource you need to have on draft night.
1. Houston Texans - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Really the only selection. Despite all the smokescreens and inuendo about trading down, the Texans stand pat to take the best pass rusher to enter the draft in a long time. If the Texans over think this and pass on Clowney it will come back to haunt them.
2. St. Louis Rams (via Wash) – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Every year St. Louis is always in need of an Offensive Tackle and Robinson has legitimate All-Pro potential. While he’s underdeveloped in some areas his overall skill-set is unmatched by the other OT in this draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The biggest mystery in the entire draft. I’ve had Manziel going to Jacksonville since back in February and I’m not going to back off my prediction now. If he doesn’t go here, Manziel will slide no further than Tampa. Either way Johnny Football is moving to Florida in 2014.
4. Cleveland Browns – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Doesn’t fill a huge need, but I continue to hear Cleveland is targeting a WR at #26 and a QB at the top of the 2nd Round. This is an example of taking the best player available and Mack is a damn good one.
5. Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
This pick could very well be Mike Evans, but with Sammy Watkins slipping out of the Top 4 GM Reggie MacKenzie opts for the more dynamic playmaker. This selection isn’t too difficult, but if MacKenzie screws this draft up, it’s likely his last in Oakland.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Atlanta has two huge holes Offensive Tackle and Pass Rusher, whether they trade up or not they can fill that need with a very good player. Matthews is a plug and play Offensive Tackle that can play either side, providing stability to a brutal unit.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Tampa would pick Manziel if he’s here, but with him long gone they opt for his A&M teammate. By pairing Mike Evans with Vincent Jackson create a huge, athletic, and tough to cover tandem, while taking the pressure of Jackson’s shoulders.
8. Minnesota Vikings - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald could fit with just about any 4-3 team in the entire draft. Early in the process I heard Minnesota is looking for high character, blue-collar kids. Now that Mike Zimmer is the Head Coach, he’s looking for his own Geno Atkins and Donald is a spitting image.
9. Buffalo Bills - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Rumors swirling that the Bills are trying to trade into the top two. This isn’t a franchise in a position to give up future assets to win now. By staying put at #9, the Bills can guarantee themselves one of the top tackles and adding Lewan to play the Left Side means Cordy Glenn can play his natural position.
10. Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Lions are a tough team to mock for. They could go in a number of directions, but Ebron himself said he thinks he’ll land in Detroit. While Detroit would love to trade up for one of the top two Wide Receivers, but if they can’t they’ll settle for matchup nightmare that is Eric Ebron.
11. Tennessee Titans – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Anthony Barr’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. His stock has dropped a little bit and he falls into the laps of the Titans. This franchise is always looking to supplement their pass rush and Barr is the most dynamic pure rusher in the draft.
12. New York Giants – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Despite the selection of Justin Pugh last year, the Giants OL remains in a state of flux. Martin can play any position on the line and can provide immediate help on a line that is turning over.
13. St. Louis Rams – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
If the Rams can come out of the first round with the top rated Left Tackle in the draft and the top rated CB in the draft it’ll have to be considered a major victory . This pick could go in a number of directions including wide receiver or safety. The allure of adding a starter at two premium positions is too much to bypass for St. Louis.
14. New York Jets (via Chicago) – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Beckham Jr. is one of the most sought after players in the entire draft. There is a very good chance a team moves up to select the LSU receiver and the Jets are in the best position to make a move for his services. By adding Odell Beckham the Jets give Geno Smith another target to throw incompletions to.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Steelers CB position is pathetic. There is no other way to put it. Their #1 guy is in his mid-30s and they have no young talent to speak of. Kyle Fuller is my #1 CB in the draft and an all-around cover guy that excels in just about every type of coverage. On top of that he is a fearless run defender which is a rare trait in today’s game.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Outside of Sean Lee that Cowboys have no talent or depth at the Linebacker position. Shazier is a rare athlete that runs like a Wide Receiver and hits like a truck. He’ll immediately add speed, range, and a dynamic quality that is sorely needed on the Cowboys defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, SAF, Alabama
If you can name the Ravens starting Safety next to Matt Elam your a better man than me. Clinton-Dix is the best Safety in this year’s draft, an all-around player that will pair with Matt Elam to form a very formidble tandem going forward.
18. Chicago Bears (via NYJ) – Calvin Pryor, SAF, Louisville
The Bears gain a few extra selections by trading down with the Jets and still get the player they covet. If the Ravens Safety situation is bad, then Chicago’s is even worse. Pryor brings a physical edge and will provide much needed stability in the middle of their secondary.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Miami) – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
I’ve heard Cleveland linked to Cooks in recent days and to get their man they need to leapfrog a few teams. Cooks is the fastest receiver in the draft and when lined up opposite Josh Gordon provides the Browns next QB with two dynamic playmakers.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Bortles is almost impossible to place in the 1st Round. I think he’s a late 1st Round talent, but it’s difficult to find the proper landing spot. Whether Arizona picks him or another team moves up to get him, this is where his range begins.
21. Green Bay Packers - CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama
Mosley is a great fit for Ted Thompson and the Packers. A smart, steady, and reliable defender. Mosley can plug and play next to AJ Hawk, providing the Packers with a steady playmaker in the middle of their 3-4 defense.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Philadelphis is enamored with a number of different receivers. I’ve long heard him linked with the Eagles and if the board falls this way I think he’s the guy. A perfect combination of size and speed, but needs some time to become an NFL route runner.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
If Lee falls to the Chiefs their fans should be thrilled. While he battled injuries and struggled the past year and a half, he’s still a dynamic playmaker. Outside of the overpaid, overrated Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs have little talent at Wide Receiver. Adding Marqise Lee to that unit quickly changes that.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby is a picture perfect Bengals draft pick; ultra-talented with multiple character red flags. The Bengals secondary is getting very old, very fast and can use an infusion of speed. On pure talent and athleticism alone no Corner in the 2014 NFL Draft can come touch Bradley Roby.
25. San Diego Chargers - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Anemic. That’s the one word that comes to mind when I look at the Chargers CB depth chart. While I’m sure they’d love to get their hands on the dynamic Bradley Roby, they have to settle for the slower, but more physical Dennard.
26. Miami Dolphins (via Clev) – Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
The worst kept secret in the entire draft. Is this a smokescreen or legitimate interest? I’ll take the latter. At least in this scenario the Dolphins trade down and acculumate extra draft picks in the process. They are in desperate need of a Right Tackle and Ja’Wuan James started for four seasons in the SEC. He’s a very good player, but this is a little reach.
27. New Orleans Saints – Marcus Martin, OC, USC
Quick, name me the Saints starting Center as of today. I bet you can’t do it. Martin was invited to attend the draft in NYC, meaning it’s likely he’s selected in the top 40 picks. He’s the consensus top Center in the draft and only 20 years old. The sky’s the limit for this kid and while this is a little bit of a reach, he won’t last much longer.
28. Carolina Panthers – Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
One of my favorite players in the entire draft. He’s smart, versatile, and athletic. Bitonio can play almost any position on the line and would project as a Left Tackle in Carolina. If one of the top WR falls to this spot, Carolina could jump, but a Left Tackle will be harder to find in later rounds.
29. New England Patriots – Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
I’ve had Easley projected to New England for a long time now and I’m not backing off the prediction. The interest in Easley is real and even though it’s a bit of a risk, they have to take him in this spot. The Patriots are looking for versatility on their defensive line and there is no Defensive Tackle more versatile than Easley. The Patriots got solid contributions from young players last year out of necessity, but they can’t go another season with Joe Vellano, Chris Jones, and Sealver Siliga manning the middle. If you look at the Patriots front seven almost every player on the front plays a singular, defined role. They lack players that can rush from multiple positions, they lack a DT that can play End or Tackle, they lack a Tackle that can play NT/1/3, and they lack at Tackle that can play 5-Tech/3-Tech. This is a huge need. If Easley is gone they could opt for a Tight End like Jace Amaro and as always a trade down is possible. If the Patriots get offered a 2014 2nd Round pick and a 2015 1st Round pick, I’m trading down regardless. No matter what happens tomorrow night, it will be fun to watch.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The 49ers are rumored to be moving up for a Wide Receiver. For the second year in a row they have a huge cache of draft picks, but they better get a better return on their investment this year. Whether Verrett goes to San Francisco or another team, I think he goes in this area and becomes an immediate starter at Nickelback.
31. Denver Broncos - Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Su’a-Filo isn’t a sexy pick, but he’s a good bet to be a ten year starter in the NFL. The Broncos lost Zane Beadles in free agency, not only does XSF fill that void, he’s an upgrade. Denver could take a cornerback like Jason Verrett or make a move for a Linebacker like Mosely.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Seahawks are a logical trade down candidate as they have few glaring holes and the holes they do have can be filled in the second round. The Right Tackle position is an understated need, as of right now Michael Bowie is their starter. Moses played most of his career on the right side before moving to Left Tackle as a Senior. If they opt to go defense a combo DE/DT like Stephon Tuitt makes sense.
Best Players to Fall Out of the 1st Round: Louis Nix III, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Ra’Shede Hageman, Stephon Tuitt
Tags: 2014 NFL Mock Draft