We are within striking distance of the 2014 NFL Draft. We are so close I can almost hear those cheers and groans of the fans that are lucky enough to attend the event. Here is my first complete first round mock draft for all 32 teams. Feel free to post comments, thoughts, criticisms or ideas in the comment section below. Happy drafting and Go Fins!
1. Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina
I think you can almost (notice I said almost) pencil this one in as a sure thing. Clowney is one scary athlete, and the idea of him lining up opposite of J.J. Watt will have offensive coordinators terrified for years to come. Lookout AFC South, the Texans Defense just got that much better with one pick.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT Auburn
Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher loves having a strong running game, and understands the importance of having a good offensive line. Robinson is too polished and too good to pass up. If the Rams don’t trade down with this pick, they will go with the 6 foot 5. 332 pound bookend to start opposite of Jake Long.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, LB Buffalo
I really don’t think Gus Bradley will go after a QB with the third overall pick, and that is because Jacksonville’s past history drafting QB’s. Not to mention this year’s draft has a plethora of able signal callers. I see the Jaguars bolstering what is already a very underrated defense by adding arguable the best overall defender in Mack, and then going after a quarterback in the second round. Either way, the Jaguars would not go wrong by adding a QB or defensive player with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns: Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida
The Browns will have arguably the toughest decision of the first round, having to decide between Sammy Watkins, the most talented offensive weapon in the draft, and taking a chance on a franchise QB. With Bortles still left on the board, I can’t see the Browns going any other route, especially already possessing one of the best WR’s in the league in Josh Gordon. Gordon still needs someone to throw to, and Bortles has all the physical skills necessary to become a great team leader and NFL passer.
5. Oakland Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson
This is a no-brainer for the Raiders. They have who they believe is a Super Bowl caliber QB in Matt Schaub. It is time to load him up with weapons. After adding Watkins, arguably the most explosive player (Sammy runs a sub 4.45 forty) in the draft, the Raiders will have Maurice Jones Drew, Darren McFadden and Sammy Watkins to compliment Schaub. Not too shabby.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M
Matt Ryan was on his back way too much last season. The Falcons need support on the O-Line and will get an automatic starter in Jake Matthews. This pick just makes too much sense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M
After the meltdown of WR Mike Williams, the Bucs are still searching for a compliment to Vincent Jackson. At 6 foot 4, 230 pounds, Mike Evans is one of the largest pass catchers in the draft, and has incredible hands on top of great size and speed. There is a possibility he could be gone by the seventh pick, but if not, the Bucs will jump at him. Look for the Bucs to also consider a passer or pass-rusher with this pick.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Alabama
The best ball-hawk in the draft, Clinton-Dix would help fix an ailing Vikings secondary. The 6 foot 1, 208 pound rangy speedster has a knack for the ball and even better hands for picking off passes. He would be a Day 1 starter, and would give the Vikings a signal caller from behind the defense. Mike Zimmer loves aggressive secondary players, and Ha Ha is as good as it gets.
9. Buffalo Bills: Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan
Buffalo’s defense is already scary good. Adding a defensive player here would make it even better, but it would also take away from a mediocre offensive line. Lewan is the last of the “Big 3″ lineman, and would instantly upgrade a Bills unit that saw three QB’s injured at different times last season. Lewan would be an instant starter.
10. Detroit Lions: Darqueze Dennard, CB Michigan St.
The Lions are known for their high-powered offense and great defensive front. Their secondary needs improvement. Dennard is arguably the best corner in the draft, and plays with more intensity than anyone I have seen in a while.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB UCLA
Barr is an outstanding defender, and can do it all. While he needs to work on his pass coverage, his ability to track down speedy running backs and get to the QB will make him a top 15 prospect. The Titans desperately need help in the second level, and Barr will pair nicely with Tennessee’s strong front four.
12. New York Giants: Zack Martin, OL Notre Dame
That’s right, I believe Miami Dolphin favorite Zack Martin will be off the board before the Dolphins draft. The Giants also need OL help, and will value Martin’s versatility too much to pass on him. His ability to play both RT and G are tantalizing for a team like the Giants, who failed to make the playoffs due to the grotesque play of Eli Manning behind an incapable line.
13. St. Louis Rams: Justin Gilbert, CB Oklahoma St.
The Rams are rumored to want Clinton-Dix badly. With him off the board earlier, I look for the Rams to target Gilbert, a physical corner who can fill the hole left by Cortland Finnegan.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh
Donald is a big man. He is six foot, 285 pounds of pure strength and tackling ability. He would be able to fill the center of Chicago’s defense nicely, and is an animal at stopping the run.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech
Pitt needs secondary players. They will have their pick at Roby, Fuller and Verrett. Fuller’s speed will entice Dick LeBeau. He ran a 4.49 forty yard dash at the combine.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
At 6 foot 5, 315 pounds, Hageman has the ideal size for a middle-clogging run stopper in the NFL. He reminds me of Paul Soliai, but with better pass-rushing skills. Hageman is a beast and worthy of the 16th overall pick.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Pryor, S Louisville
With Ed Reed gone, it is time to find his replacement. Pryor will more than likely be no where near as good, but he can still play at a high level. He is a heavy hitter and a ball-hawk, which is everything you want in a safety.
18. New York Jets: Eric Ebron, TE North Carolina
Another one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the draft, Ebron will give whoever is calling the plays in New York a viable target to throw to. The 6 foot 4, 250 pound pass catcher is also deceptively fast and will dominate the passing lanes through the seams.
19. Miami Dolphins: C.J. Mosley, ILB Alabama
With Martin and Lewan gone by 19, Miami simply can’t afford to reach for a second round tackle prospect at 19th overall. Mosley is one of the most complete defenders in the draft. He can cover TE’s in the passing game, has great speed to close and tackle RB’s, and can pass-rush. He is too polished to pass up, especially by the Dolphins, whose linebacker core was AWFUL last season.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE Missouri
Ealy is the second best DE behind Clowney, and has an endless motor. The Cardinals pass rush last season was almost non-existent and is aging, and Ealy can help them in that area immediately. He is also an able run-stopper. His youth will be welcomed on an aging defensive line.
21. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Shazier, OLB Ohio St.
Shazier, who has played his fair share of Safety in his football career, would be a perfect companion for Clay Matthews. Shazier is quick, is a very good pass defender, and is an extremely hard hitter. His ability to roam the field and make plays from anywhere make him a scary defender.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Odell Beckham Jr., WR LSU
The departure of DeSean Jackson leaves a hole in the Eagles’ Offense. Chip Kelly loves speed and loves playing fast, and there are few players faster than Odell Beckham Jr. Odell resembles Jackson in many ways, including his speed and great hands. He can also line up anywhere on the field, including the slot. Add in his skills on Special Teams, and the Eagles would be silly to pass up on this premiere play maker.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR USC
The Chiefs had one of the most complete rosters last season. Now, they find themselves severely weakened after Free Agency. One of their key losses was the versatile Dexter McCluster. Enter Marqise Lee. Lee has better hands and size, and the same speed. His ability to play on the outside makes him a match up nightmare for defenses.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Timmy Jernigan, DT FSU
The injury to Bengals Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins last season proved costly. The lack of depth hurt the Bengals down the stretch, and especially in the playoffs. Jernigan is a freak athlete. Not only can he grab nearby running backs with his wide wingspan, but he also has a great tenacity for rushing the passer. He could learn a lot from Atkins and eventually take over his position.
25. San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB Ohio St.
The Chargers’ biggest weakness last year was coming up with stops on defense. Their inability to come up with turnovers on defense was costly down the stretch. Roby has a ton of potential and picked off 8 passes and forced 1 fumble in his career at Ohio State.
26. Cleveland Browns: Brandin Cooks, WR Oregon St.
Having already taken there franchise QB in Blake Bortles, I like the Browns to select one of the faster wide receivers in the draft. Cooks and Josh Gordon together would be a terrifying duo and would stretch defenses off the field. The Browns are very close to breaking through and becoming a consistent force in the AFC North, and Cooks would help.
27. New Orleans Saints: Jason Verrett, CB TCU
The Saints’ secondary continues to get better, especially after the promising season of S Kenny Vaccaro. Verrett could come in immediately and challenge for playing time, if not the starting job.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR FSU
Possibly the weakest wide receiver core in the entire league. It is almost embarrassing. Cam “Superman” Newton desperately needs targets. Benjamin has the height (6 foot 5) and the poise (he caught the game winning TD pass in the National Championship) to be the Panthers #1 target immediately.
29. Houston Texans (via New England Patriots): Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
The Texans make the big move of the day and trade back into the first round and take the most talked about college football player over the last 2 seasons. The Texans get the best of both worlds and get Clowney and Manziel. The Pats also pick up even more picks, and gladly move into the second round.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR Penn St.
The 49ers need receivers for Colin Kaepernick. Robinson has great size at 6 foot 3, 220 pounds and even better route running.
31. Denver Broncos: Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
After adding stud DE Demarcus Ware, the Broncos bolster their front 4 on defense even more by adding the monstrous Nix. Nix is a run-stopping genius, and could play Week 1.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Xavier Su’a-Filo: Guard UCLA
Aside from Zack Martin, Xavier is the best Guard in the draft. The Seahawks need an interior lineman to create holes for Marshawn Lynch. Su’a-Filo can also pass block, and does a great job of getting to the second level to block.