This is my first 2014 NFL mock draft. I'll likely post one or two more of these before the actual draft takes place in the spring.
This draft will not factor in trades that could happen which I think we'll see quite a bit of activity between now and then. Obviously, changes will eventually be made as free agency, releases, coaching changes, and other factors will impact how the draft will unfold. Anyway, this is how I have it right now.
1. Houston Texans: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The Texans are a mess at QB with Matt Schaub and Case Keenum last year, and they have to fix it. Not to mention, there's a new head coach which makes this likely that a QB is taken since the position seemingly gets someone every year taken in the top spot. Bridgewater also helped himself with the best statistical game of his career in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They could go with DE Jadeveon Clowney, but I'm concerned about his character issues to be picked No. 1 overall.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): T Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Like I've seen others say, I don't see the Rams staying in this spot. They have another pick at No. 13 anyway, and they're in an excellent spot for anyone wanting to move up. The Rams are likely to address the offensive line(again) at some point, and Matthews is the best available. Someone may move up and take him here, but I think it's more likely we see a team move up to take a QB especially with QB-needy teams in the next 3 picks. Or maybe someone moves up to take Clowney or Barr.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
The Jaguars are rebuilding again, and that almost always means that QB will be addressed. Blaine Gabbert hasn't been what the Jags needed. Chad Henne played well at times, but isn't the long-term answer either. Carr has a strong arm, and played well all year even though he didn't have his best performance against USC in their bowl game. They could take Brett Hundley of UCLA or even Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M here. I see them addressing the WR position as well given the continuing problems that Justin Blackmon has, but I don't see one they could or should take this high. Maybe Clowney goes here, too.
4. Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Personally, I'm one of those who thinks he shouldn't be taken this high. However, it's been reported that the Browns like him and he sure did put on a performance they like in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Manziel doesn't have the ideal size you need, but he's an instinctive player and could develop into a solid QB in the right system. The Browns are actually in a good spot because I can see as many as four QBs taken in the first five picks. Also, if the player they want isn't here, they can take the next best and they still have another first round pick. Or they could trade down, too. They could go WR here, but as of now I have Manziel as I think it's more likely they address that with their other first round pick.
5. Oakland Raiders: QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
Whether or not you believe Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin should be the starter, it's obvious they need to draft one for the future at some point. Hundley has great raw talent, but he still needs some more development. He's a solid playmaker though. As Charlie over at Walter Football pointed out, if they retain Greg Olsen at OC, then that will benefit Hundley or whomever they could potentially take at QB. They could move up for Hundley or another QB they like if they feel another in front of them will take that player.
6. Atlanta Falcons: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA
What the heck is going on here with back-to-back UCLA players being taken here? Well, it's no secret that Atlanta fell off especially on the defensive side of the ball and they need pass rush help as well as youth on the line. Also, this team in recent drafts has taken high character guys which is why I have Barr here and not Clowney. Barr doesn't have a lot of experience at LB after playing on offense before the 2013 season. However, he's shown tremendous ability to get to the quarterback and had his best games of the year against the best competition(Oregon, Stanford, and USC). He's very quick off the snap and can hold up well against the run. Atlanta could trade up and they've moved up before not long ago to grab a player they like(see Julio Jones). I think either way, they go with defensive line help with their first pick regardless of where they pick from.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
I like Clowney a lot and I think he's gonna be great at the next level. But concerns of his character I think are gonna play a factor in his draft. That's unless things change between now and then. That said, I think it's possible that the Bucs may move up to No. 2 to take him. With Lovie Smith as head coach, I think they go defense early and often. Besides, that's exactly what happened in 2004 in his first year as Bears head coach with two defensive lineman taken with their first two picks. This would be an awesome scenario for the Bucs and it still could happen. But don't rule them out moving up to get him either or possibly Barr.
8. Minnesota Vikings: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
They signed Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel in 2013. Both of them started over Ponder at one point which should tell you something. They need a QB. It's possible any of the QBs already taken at this point could end up in Minnesota since it's obvious they're desperate to address the position. Plus as with other teams in front of them, there's a coaching change in Minnesota and we've seen the QB position almost always get addressed first when that happens. Minnesota needs line help on both sides of the ball. Don't rule them out as one of the teams that could possibly move up to No. 2.
9. Buffalo Bills: OT Cameron Erving, Florida State
The Bills are in an interesting spot as they have needs on both sides of the line. Defensive line may be a bigger need, but I think they'll address the offensive line first. Erving is not as experienced as other offensive lineman as he moved to that position in 2012 at FSU. However, his athleticism is noticeable and he can pass protect as he'd done a great job all year making sure Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston stays upright. He can also move a pile on a running play. He's a great raw talent at tackle with big upside for the NFL.
10. Detroit Lions: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
If you watched the last game of the season when the Lions were without Calvin Johnson, then you know it's time they drafted a complimentary WR since they struggled without him. Watkins could go as high as No. 4 to Cleveland. Watkins is an explosive player that can score at any time and has the ideal size and speed you look for in a WR. If he does land in Detroit, he and Johnson will be a very scary 1-2 combo for secondaries across the league. If Watkins isn't available here, then it's possible another WR may get picked in this spot.
11. Tennessee Titans: LB C.J. Mosely, Alabama
The Titans strength is on their defense, but they could use an upgrade at linebacker. Mosely is solid in both run and pass coverage and can tackle in space. The Titans struggled at times to cover tight ends, and Mosely can help in that area as well. Mosely has the speed and toughness to be a strong defender at the next level. The Titans will need to address the offensive line at some point, but I like Mosely in this spot right now.
12. New York Giants: LB-DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Justin Tuck, who led the team in sacks, could be gone from the Giants and someone else will have to fill the void and help Jason Pierre-Paul out on the opposite side. The team needs someone that can get to the quarterback, and Mack can do that. If you paid attention to Mack's game against Ohio State earlier this year, then you know the Buckeyes struggled against him on offense. Mack would be a great asset to the Giants and to JPP on the opposite rushing the quarterback. Mack didn't play against elite competition at Buffalo, but he's got great ability and talent for the next level. The Giants defense took a big step back in 2013, and will be addressing that as well as the offensive line heading into next season.
13. St. Louis Rams: WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Rams do have talent at WR, but they don't have a big target like Evans would bring to them if he does indeed get picked here. St. Louis has a great running game now with Zac Stacey, but still need help and more weapons in a division where defenses rule. Evans is 6'5" and can stretch the field as evidenced by his over 20 yards per catch as an Aggie. The Rams have other areas to address like with their offensive line, but they have to get more production and consistency at the WR as a whole or the offense will struggle again.
14. Chicago Bears: S Ha'sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
If the Bears don't do something about replacing Chris Conte, then I'll be completely shocked. As a Bears fan myself and like many other fans I know, we want this addressed quickly either here or free agency. Dix is by far the most talented safety in this draft with the ability to cover big and fast receivers all over the field. He did sit out 2 games this past season due to suspension, but I think the Bears would overlook that to fix this big problem they have. He has exceptional ball skills and will be a great addition to any secondary who takes him. If I'm the Bears and he's available here, I turn in my draft card immediately to take him.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Pittsburgh's biggest needs are both the offensive and defensive lines. The defensive line is aging and they need more youth up front for the long term. Nix is a tough player that can take on double teams up front, but can still rush the quarterback, too. He's a disruptive force that the Steelers need to free up other defenders to make plays around him as well. The Steelers have a big need for offensive line help, but I think they take Nix here if he's available.
*16. Dallas Cowboys: OLB/DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
Anyway you want to look at it, the Cowboys were a mess on defense. The only person that can get to the quarterback is DeMarcus Ware and that's not a good thing. When Ware isn't getting to the quarterback, this team struggles badly. Beasley is more of a 3-4 type player, but he still can get to the quarterback. If the Cowboys switch back to a 3-4, then Beasley is the ideal fit here. He could still play in a 4-3, but he's gonna have to be a LB at the next level due to being under-sized as a DE. But his pass rush skills would be most helpful to the Cowboys who need someone else who can do that besides Ware.
*17. Baltimore Ravens: OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Michael Oher is one of the greatest stories you'll ever hear, but he could be done as a Raven. The Ravens need help on the offensive line anyway, and Lewan is a good fit for them. He's good in pass protection and he would help keep Joe Flacco on his feet more often which proved to be problematic at times in 2013. He's a good run-blocker and has a big frame though he could get bigger at the next level. He's experienced as a tackle, but still needs to develop more. But he would be a great long-term solution for the Ravens.
18. New York Jets: WR Marqise Lee, USC
The Jets need more weapons on offense for Geno Smith and Lee would be a great big-play WR they could use. Santonio Holmes may not be back and the rest of the WR corps lacks a true No. 1 guy. Lee is vertical threat capable of scoring on any play though his production slipped a little in 2013. However, he had a great bowl game against Fresno State to end the year. He' got great hands, too. If the Jets are gonna take a step forward in 2014, they'll have to get better on offense especially with giving Smith more weapons around him.
19. Miami Dolphins: OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
The Dolphins need for offensive line help is so obvious that it's a wonder QB Ryan Tannehill is still alive after the beating he took in 2013. He took sacks quite often and that has to be improved upon going into next season if they want to take a step forward. Richardson is an athletic lineman and held his own well against some of the top defensive ends in the SEC including Clowney. Richardson would be a great fit for the Dolphins and help their much needed pass protection to keep Tannehill from taking more beatings from defenders.
20. Arizona Cardinals: OT-OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor
The Cardinals need help on the offensive line and that is something coach Bruce Arians would like to see as well. The Cardinals have good skill players on offense, but it's the line that has been a problem especially in pass protection. Richardson is a versatile lineman that can play inside and out. His biggest strength is run-blocking though he does well in pass protection, too. They'll eventually have to address the quarterback position, but Carson Palmer does have something left in the tank. Offensive line help is the bigger need at this point for them.
**21. Green Bay Packers: DT Ra'shede Hageman, Minnesota
The Packers are gonna address the defensive side of the ball and need someone else besides Clay Mathews that can provide a pass rush. However, they also need to address the defensive tackle position especially if they don't bring back BJ Raji. Hageman would be a good fit for them and he does have some pass rush skills. He has shown the ability to dominate at times and holds up well against the run and pass. His stock has risen this year, and he could be gone before the Packers pick. Either way, the Packers will have to address their defensive issues before the 2014 season.
**22. San Diego Chargers: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
The Chargers could stand to upgrade the cornerback spots because they were torched in many games in 2013. But I do think they'll go best available and it's a good argument Dennard is at this point. They could linebacker here or possibly offensive line. Dennard is a great cover corner and has solid ball skills. Dennard shut down Ty Montgomery of Stanford to help his team win the 100th Rose Bowl. He can tackle as well and is a highly motivated player. Dennard is better suited in man coverage, and has the ability to be the great shut down corner he was at Michigan State.
**23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The Eagles need help on defense and could definitely use it in the secondary. Gilbert is a big corner that can match-up to the bigger WRs in the league. Gilbert has great closing speed and athleticism, but can sometimes give up big plays because he does take many chances. However, he can also contribute on special teams which is what he did at Oklahoma State, so he'll help them in two ways. The Eagles are moving back up in the right direction and with a little more help will be a contender again in 2014.
**24. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
The Chiefs made huge improvements under Andy Reid in 2013, and I'm betting they'll address the offensive side of the ball with this pick regardless of how things unfold. Outside of Dwayne Bowe, the team hasn't had the kind of consistent No. 2 WR they need to be more efficient on offense. Benjamin is a big WR at about 6'5" and has great hands. He can beat corners down field and is tough for defenders to bring down. The Chiefs could use a big WR with athletic ability like Benjamin.
**25. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
The Bengals don't have many glaring weaknesses, but they need more consistency at QB. They'll likely be in position to take the best available player and I have Ekpre-Olomu as their guy here. He is under 6 foot in height, but can stay with WRs all over the field. He has good hands and is aggressive going after a ball carrier, but still needs to improve his tackling. He would be a good fit in Cincinnati because he wouldn't need to be rushed into a starting job with them. He could develop into a great corner at the NFL level.
**26. Cleveland Browns(from Indianapolis Colts): WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
As many other teams have done in years past, a WR is taken quite often after a team picks a quarterback before them. Although the Browns have Josh Gordon, they could use someone else to take the pressure and double teams off of him. Robinson is a big, strong WR that can also get down field with speed. He doesn't have many weaknesses in his game, and was a consistent player at Penn State. He's probably the best WR available here and there's no doubt the Browns need more play makers on offense.
**27. New Orleans Saints: DE-LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
The Saints need someone that can pressure the quarterback as they struggled in that area at times this year. Noy is under-sized which likely means he'll have to switch to LB at the next level, but there's no doubt he can get to the quarterback. They also could be losing offensive lineman in free agency, so that could impact how they pick here. They need linebacker and pass rush help, and Noy makes the most sense here for them to upgrade both with one pick.
**28. San Francisco 49ers: CB Marcus Roberson, Florida
The 49ers can use help at corner especially with Carlos Rogers starting to get up there in age from NFL standards. Roberson has good size and doesn't get beat very often in man coverage. He's got great speed and ability to close with solid ball skills. The 49ers are still in good position for the near future and taking a corner such as Roberson will help it even more.
**29. New England Patriots: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
The Patriots need more weapons on offense and could use help at TE given what happened to Aaron Hernandez and the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski. Ebron is the best TE available and he's fast enough to beat the secondary down the field. He's also a capable blocker at the line of scrimmage. He was UNC's leading receiver in 2013, but does need to improve his catching ability as he drops easy passes sometimes. He has great talent and ability to make an impact at the next level. Ebron would be a great fit and weapon for the Patriots should he fall here.
**30. Carolina Panthers: OT Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
Originally, I had Kounandijo going higher than this, and even considered him inside the top 15. However, his performance in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma made me drop him. I know it was only one game, but he struggled to contain Eric Striker as he had three sacks including a sack and fumble that sealed the win for the Sooners. The Panthers will need to address the offensive line as Jordan Gross may be gone and they have to replace him. Kouandijo could still develop into a solid lineman, but that Sugar Bowl game likely hurt his stock and may see him slip further than this in the draft.
**31. Denver Broncos: CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
The Broncos are aging quickly at corner as Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer are at the end of their careers. The Broncos don't have any serious weakness on offense, but they do on defense. I expect them to draft defense early and often. Colvin is a tough corner that can tackle and can change direction well in coverage. He does struggle in press coverage, but does not mind taking on any WR. While the Broncos could use someone to help right away, the fact they have successful corners that can mentor rookies like Colvin has to help.
**32. Seattle Seahawks: DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
The Seahawks will likely go best available at this point. Besides, there's not many weaknesses you'll find on this team. Jernigan is a solid pass rusher in the middle and never gives up on a play. He's athletic since he's gone down field to run down ball carriers, but does need to improve on defending the run since he does get taken out of plays at times. He'll be in a good situation with Seahawks should he go to them.
*-Coin flip determines draft position between Dallas and Baltimore
**-Playoff performance will determine draft position. The order here is based on regular season performance and records.
That's my first 2014 NFL Mock Draft for the 1st Round. As I said before, it'll likely change by the time I do the next one which will likely be after free agency gets going. In the meantime, here's some of my friends and their mock drafts as they have them now:
Adam, Cal, DJ, Fielding, John, Orinda, Peter, Tyler