Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 NFL MOCK DRAFT - Round 1

Winter has passed, spring is sprung, and the football off-season is over.
Well, sort of.  

Colleges are running spring games, Free Agency is past, and it's time for the Draft.  

I threw together a couple of rounds of what I think teams should do.  As always, I don't spend much time with what I think they will do, because you just can't predict the moves on draft day or some of the odd choices we have seen. 

So, here is my Mock for round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft.



1. HOUSTON TEXANS: Jadeveon Clowney DE

The Texans have shown that, as an organization, they value the trenches before the skill positions in the past. If you accept this last season as an abberation, their recent history has shown significant dividends from that approach.  

Now the fun part, they already have one of the top D-Line performers in the league with J.J. Watt.  I know there are concerns about Clowney's attitude and work ethic, but if Watt can rub off on him at all, these 2 give the potential for a dominant unit on the defensive side of the ball.  There are quarterbacks that will be available in later rounds that have just as good a chance to be long term starters as the top few.

2. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Jake Matthews OT

They picked up Jake Long to step in at Left Tackle, but there are questions about his performance at that position while he was in Miami.  Combine that with his recent injury history, and there is just no way that the Rams should pass up Matthews as a bookend.  With these 2, if all goes to plan, the Rams would be set at O-Tackle for the next half a decade.

We know Jeff Fisher wants to run the ball, and you need a quality O-Line to do that.  Matthews and Long are a good place to start.

3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Greg Robinson OT

If we assume that the new regime in Jacksonville is going to build their squad in the same mold that Seattle used, then we know they are going to want to start from a physical rushing attack on Offense.  If you are going to run, you need to have maulers up front, and Robinson is the best of those in this year's draft.  

4. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Teddy Bridgewater QB

The Browns have missed a few time on Quarterbacks, but those used picks don't removed the need for an answer.  Bridgewater looks like he is the best of the bunch this year, and certainly as Pro-Ready as any coming out.  The Browns have some pieces with a couple of decent young receivers, a solid O-Line, and a very good receiving Tight End.  If Teddy ballgame can come in and distribute the ball, the Brown may be staged for a significant improvement.

5. OAKLAND RAIDERS: Anthony Barr OLB

The Raiders have made a lot of interesting moves this offseason.  Bringing in players like Justin Tuck gives them a shot to be much better this year, but those moves were all short-term moves.  They need to plug in some long -term stars, and Barr has the potential to be just that.  

He is a rangy linebacker with good strength and great speed and agility.  Plug him in as a day 1 starter.


6. ATLANTA FALCONS: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins TE

With Tony G. finally hanging up his cleats, the Falcons fine themselves with a sudden gap at Tight End and on the medium routes that they need to fill.  Seferian-Jenkins is a unique athlete at 6'7" who is a polished receiver coming in with the bulk to still be useful as a blocker.  

7. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Taylor Lewan OT

Lewan is kind of the lost guy in the talk about this draft, but it wasn't that long ago that he was be lauded for lining up and handling Clowney and just about anybody else he played against.  

With the Bucs being drastically thin at Tackle, he can come in an start on the right side day 1, and hopefully save Lovie Smith's new team from being hamstrung along the Offensive front like his old team was. 

8. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Aaron Donald DT

The Vikings are in a position where they have to take the best player available because they need help everywhere.  Aaron Donald was the most disruptive interior line on the defensive side of the ball last year.  He is a low Center with a great first step and double-team demanding strength.

He will make the rest of the Viking's defense better.

9. BUFFALO BILLS: Sammy Watkins WR

Watkins was the star of one of the most explosive offenses in the country.  He is as well round receiver with decent size and great speed, with after catch skills which rival some of the better running backs in this draft.  

The Bill have been trying to find a running mate for Stevie Johnson for a few drafts and Watkins should be that guy.  I am also betting that EJ Manuel won't mind seeing him on the same sideline, rather than as a rival when they were in the ACC.

10. DETROIT LIONS: Darqueze Dennard CB

The Lions have the best D-Line in the league, and have had for a few years.  What they have not had is the talent on the back end of the defense for them to have a truly dominant squad.  

Dennard was the leader on an excellent Spartan defense and should fit in with the talent in Detroit with his tight man-to-man skills.  He is best used when he can press and focus on taking away the early route tree, which should work well with the pressure that the Lions can generate with their front 4.  Of course, he does run a solid 4.5 40, so he's not exactly a bum against the deeper routes, especially if he is allowed and able to reroute the receiver.

11. TENNESSEE TITANS: Blake Bortles QB

The Jake Locker Experiment has not been successful.  It's time to move on, and Ken Whisenhunt is going to want his own guys.  Bortles is a tough, smart QB, who has a better arm than he is given credit for.  He has plenty of talent and all the leadership you could ever want.  Flat out, this kid knows how to win games and lead a team.  The Titans could use a strong presence in the locker room.

12. NEW YORK GIANTS: Khalil Mack ILB

Mack is a beast at middle linebacker.  He is big and fast, and is a real force in box and rushing the passer while going sideline to sideline.  He is not great in coverage, but he is one hell of a middle linebacker, and should keep the Giants from having to bring their safeties down to help....you know, so they can perform in coverage.

13. ST. LOUIS RAMS: Mike Evans WR

The Rams have wasted a good chunk of Sam Bradford's career by building a roster with a distinct lack of weapons.  Last year, they added speed with Tavon Austin.  Now, they need to add a traditional#1 kind of wide receiver who can be the go-to red zone and keep ball threat.  Noone in the country does this like Mike Evans.  You don't believe me?  Watch a Johnny Football highlight and more often than not, Evans will be catching the ball.

14. CHICAGO BEARS: Justin Gilbert CB

The Bears are a good team, but some of the positions which have been strengths for them recently have not aged well.  They need to continue to hold up on the outside because Green Bay and Detroit aren't going to stop throwing the ball anytime soon.  Justin Gilbert has the body and talent to be a stud at any level.  He has good size and the speed to run with anybody.  He is one of the few corners who will have the talent to have a chance against Megatron.

15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Marquiese Lee WR

Lee was the top rated Wide Receiver coming into this season, but some injuries and inconsistent QB play hurt him a bit.  He is a steal at this point and fits a big need for the Steelers with Emmanuel Sanders going to Denver.

16. DALLAS COWBOYS: Dee Ford DE/OLB

The Cowboys were eviscerated by Free Agency this year and have some serious holes on their defensive line.  Dee showed what he could do against top competition at Auburn.  He is a handful one-on-one who is just as productive against the run as he is against the pass.  He has good size for a linebacker, and can move down as a rush end on passing downs.

Simply put, the Cowboys need talent on defense, and Dee is a stud.

17. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Kony Ealy DE

Ealy is that rare specimen, a Defensive End who played in a 3 man front in college.  He is big and agile, with the ability to play either OLB or DE, which is just the kind of player that the Ravens have made hay with in the past.  Look for them to move him around the formation to find the best matchup like they did with Terrell Suggs.

18. NEW YORK JETS: C.J. Mosley ILB

The Jets have some nice young players on their retooled defense, but they need a quarterback for that side of the ball.  Mosley is the top-rated ILB in this draft.  He is physically talented and has been coached up by one of the most detailed and focused football coaches of our generation.  He will be ready to play early for whoever is lucky enough to have him.

19. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Eric Ebron TE

The Dolphins need weapons.  They need guys who will take some pressure off of their young QB.  Tannehill is not Brett Favre, he needs to have talent around him that will allow him to just run the offense and be smart while he continues to develop.  What better way to help him along but to give him a big Tight End who can turn the smart play into the big play?

Ebron is a stud at Tight End, especially in the passing game.  He would make Tannehill's life a whole lot easier.

20. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Louis Nix NT

If you are going to run a 3-4, you have to keep your linebackers clean.  Nosetackle is a key position, and Nix has the look of a prototype Nose Tackle.  He is big and strong, with a consistent motor.  He will be a perfect fit in the desert.

21. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Kyle Van Noy OLB

The Packers have been an unbalanced team for several years with their offense carrying the load.  They have lost key members of the offense to free agency and it's time to find some balance.

Van Noy is a playmaker who was all over the field for BYU showing success in all phases of the game, with particular ability in coverage.

22. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Timmy Jernigan DL

Jernigan is a physcial specimen who played inside for the Seminoles, but who projects as a 5 technique (D-End) for the Eagles.  He has the kind of talent to demand double teams which will let the backers roam free in the Eagles' scheme.

23. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Cyrus Kouandjio OT

With Branden Albert taking his talents to South Beach, the Chiefs need a second Offensive Tackle.  They should be able to move Eric Fisher to the left side, but they will need someone to step in on the right side.

For most of last season, Kouandjio was regarded as the best O-Tackle in college football as he led the way for the Alabama offense.  There are some concerns about his pass blocking technique after Dee Ford caused him some trouble late in the season, but he is a road grader who will open gaping holes in the running game.  Their Chiefs are a running team first, and they need to protect that ability.

24. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Christian Jones LB

The Bengals have a stocked roster and can truly take the best player available.

Christian Jones is a long athlete who is used to leading a pro-style defense at FSU.  He played all over the field for the Noles, and will give great flexibility and depth to a very good defense in Cincy.

25. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: LaMarcus Joyner CB

Joyner played all over the defensive backfield during his time in Tallahassee.  He has the skill and talent to cover as well as anyone in the country at either corner or safety, but he did his best work from the slot.  He is physical in run support and is reminiscient of the Honey Badger as a blitzer.

The Chargers need to plug holes in a few places on their defense, but Joyner is the best player available that fits a need.

26. CLEVELAND BROWNS: Stephon Tuitt DL

Tuitt is a long athlete that has the protypical body to play End in a 3-4.  He played in the scheme in college and was dominant in nearly every game Notre Dame played.  The Browns need an upgrade at that position and Tuitt should be able to step directly into the rotation.

27. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Ryan Shazier OLB

Shazier is a tremendous athlete who runs like a wide receiver.  He was regarded as a team player at Ohio State, who played within the scheme.  That, combined with his superior physical ability makes him an intriguing option for NFL teams.

The Saints need to continue to improve on defense to give their team more balance, and a stud on the edge of their 3-4 would be a nice start.

28. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Odell Beckham Jr. WR

The Panthers have one of the best young Quarterbacks in Cam Newton, but they need to give him some weapons now that Steve Smith has left town.

Beckham is a game breaker who can turn a short pass into a highlight-reel play.  Look for him to look large in offense and special teams as a rookie.

29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Brandin Cooks WR

Cooks made noise when he volunteered to take DeSean Jackson's place as a deep threat for the Eagles.  The question is, can he do it?  Yes, I think he has a chance to have that kind of player.  Cooks was tremendously productive as the primary weapon on Oregon State's offense, and when you combine that with his 4.33 speed, he has a shot to be special.\

He is just what the Patriots were missing last year, a receiver with the talent to keep defenses honest.

30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Jason Verrett CB

The Niners have a great defense, but cornerback has been a position that they have had trouble filling.

Verrett is a very talented corner, who would be in the top half of the first round if he was 6 feet tall.  His aggressive style would be a perfect fit for the Niners' D.

31. DENVER BRONCOS: RaShede Hageman DT

Hageman is a bit raw, but he is an impressive specimen who has the potential to draw double teams.  The Broncos need to improve against the run if they are going to have a balanced team, and a quality DT would be a nice piece to that puzzle.  Pairing a young talent like Hageman with Terrance Knighton with Demarcus Ware and Von Miller on the edge would make the front 7 for the Broncos a monster to deal with.

32. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Kelvin Benjamin WR

The Seahawks have built a team by finding unique talents and exploiting their opponents by utilizing those talents.  Benjamin has the size of a Tight End with the skills of a wide receivers, and is the kind of player that you can move around a formation to cause matchup nightmares.

The Seahawks need a go-to reciever, and with Benjamin's height, he is always open.  Russell Wilson will be happy to have a red-zone threat like this.
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