Prior to the 2013 season, the Houston Texans were once one of the favorites in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl. Now, here they are with the top draft pick and a chance to add top talent to their 2-14 team. Houston had many close games in the 2013 season that should have been won. New head coach Bill O'Brien has a choice between Jadeveon Clowney or three QB's: Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles. Sources say that Bill O'Brien doesn't think there isn't much of a drop off anywhere between the top 5-7 QB's on his draft board, which suggests that Houston may wait until later to draft their franchise QB. Excluding the three mentioned above, and also Derek Carr, who I believe will be a first round pick, the Texans have some options on Day 2 depending on the way things lay out. Right now, if it's not a QB here at #1, then it's Clowney. If it is a QB, it is going to be Manziel. I think they go with Clowney, who had a near perfect Pro Day, and lean on their top QB in Round 2 in this year's draft.
The St. Louis Rams won big in the RGIII trade, landing them the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft. Ultimately, the Rams have three options: Pick Jadeveon Clowney, pick an OT (Robinson or Matthews), or trade the pick. My bet would be on a trade, however I don't do trades in my mock draft. While I'm not convinced Sam Bradford is the QB of the future in St. Louis, he must get protection from his offensive line. Pass protection has been a HUGE issue for the Rams, and upgrading with Greg Robinson would be the right choice here at #2. Robinson is the most physical OT in the draft and has great promise coming into the NFL after a tremendous Sophomore season at Auburn.
Gus Bradley and his front office have made some tremendous moves this offseason, leading the Jacksonville Jaguars towards the right direction in 2014. By far the biggest need in the draft is QB for the Jaguars. Similar to Houston, I can see Jacksonville taking either one of the three QB's or the top player available. With all three QB's on the board, as well as Jadeveon Clowney off the list, I think the Jaguars go QB with pick #3. I have them picking my top QB, Johnny Manziel, into a locker that needs some life in it in order to win some games next season in 2014.
Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine has two first round draft picks to work with in the 2014 NFL Draft. Knowing the Browns front office, those could be the only two first round draft picks he has as the Browns' head coach. The only way to satisfy owner Jimmy Haslam is to draft a QB with one of these two picks. However, with what I believe to be Cleveland's top QB prospect, Johnny Manziel, off the board, the Browns decide on a different route with their first of two picks in the first round. Sammy Watkins, considered to be the top WR prospect since AJ Green and Julio Jones in 2011, lines up opposite of Josh Gordon, creating a dangerous passing game, along with the help of a rookie QB, in 2014.
As much as I like to hate on Terrelle Pryor, I don't feel as if he had the opportunity to show what he is capable of doing at QB in this league. However, the Oakland Raiders, a very impatient team, has seemed to move on already and is again in the hunt for a new, young QB. Still here at #5 are Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater. I think they pull the trigger on one of them here with their first pick, hopefully landing them the QB of their future. The Raiders are a now team. While I think Blake Bortles will end up being the better QB prospect, Teddy Bridgewater is the most ready at the moment to take over an NFL team. With the help from others, I think Bridgewater can become a successful QB in this league, and as the QB for the Raiders.
The Atlanta Falcons, another team who failed to make Super Bowl expectations, are stuck here with the 6th pick. A huge need for them is an every down pass rusher. It just so happens that Khalil Mack, viewed as the best pass rusher from the linebacker position, is available here at #6. The Falcons need youth on their defense, and Mack brings that positive energy they need. Mack should disrupt NFC North QB's Cam Newton and Drew Brees, helping guide this Falcons' team back to the top of the division in 2014.
I would love to see Mike Evans, one of my favorite players in the draft, land with a team with an already stud #1 WR. Possible landing spots of such include Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. If Tampa Bay were to make a Vincent Jackson-Mike Evans WR duo, teams would have to leave one or the other in single coverage. That could be deadly to NFC South division rivals, who all lost at least one player from their secondaries this offseason. Evans would come in as a huge redzone threat, with the ability to become one of the league's most dangerous big play WR's soon in Tampa Bay.
Christian Ponder is obviously not the answer for the Minnesota Vikings, nor is Matt Cassel. Josh Freeman was a waste of a signing. Something has got to change in Minnesota's one dimensional offense. They've got the talent with Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph. Now, sitting here at pick #8 in the first round is Blake Bortles, who many people believe to be the best QB in the draft. The Vikings made the playoffs with Ponder as QB in 2012, and you better believe they will be back with a better Bortles in 2014.
The Buffalo Bills would love to upgrade the offensive line to help out a promising offense with now second year QB EJ Manuel, who never managed to stay healthy during the 2013 season. The Bills find themselves at a great spot here at #9, with a top player of need still available in this draft.. I expect Buffalo to either trade up or down in order to get the player they want, but here at pick #9 sits a very talented OT in Jake Matthews, giving them a third option. Matthews, the son of Bruce, hopes to follow through with a Hall of Fame career, just as his father did. I see it as a good fit for both Matthews and Buffalo, who I think will compete with top level teams in 2014.
The Detroit Lions seem to have interest in the draft's two WR's, Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, to pair up with Calvin Johnson in hopes of taking double and even triple teams off him. The problem is, those two are long gone. With the addition of Golden Tate, the Lions can afford to wait on a receiver and instead focus on their horrifying secondary. On the board lies the top CB in the draft, Justin Gilbert. Gilbert has great size, speed, and talents to become one of the best corners in the game. His size should fair well with rival Bears' WR's Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, who Detroit sees twice a year.
The Tennessee Titans lack a dynamic pass rusher, and should focus on bringing one in here in the draft. Anthony Barr, the forgotten top three pass rusher of the draft, would fit perfect if he landed in Tennessee. Not only does Barr fill a need, he's also the best player available at this point in the draft. Barr, who I believe is top ten talent in this year's draft, is a steal here at #11, and should help this Titans' pass rush get back on track in the upcoming season.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how badly the New York Giants need a TE. Brandon Myers left for Tampa Bay in Free Agency. For a few years now, we've heard talk about how Adrien Robinson is going to take over the starting job. That still hasn't happened. The safest bet here is to go with one of the draft's most athletic players, Eric Ebron, and give Eli Manning another weapon to work with the try and fix this Giants' offense up for 2014.
The St. Louis Rams continue to bring in top young talent to the team, this time on the defensive side of the ball, with the selection of HaHa Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix gives the Rams great presence down the middle of the field, in both pass coverage and against the run. St. Louis will be thrilled to add an all around, top talent Safety, one that brings more youth and depth to this Rams' secondary.
The Chicago Bears have lacked quickness and toughness on their defensive line for years not. In fact, last season, they allowed more rushing yards than any other team in the NFL. Sounds like a problem. Luckily, the 2014 NFL Draft's best DT, Aaron Donald, is still available for the Bears here in the mid-first round. Donald brings that quickness and toughness to this Bears' defense, something the this team, which is known for their defense, hasn't had in years in Chicago.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' secondary is old. Very old. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau would be all for adding Darqueze Dennard, College Football's top defensive player in 2013, to this Steelers' squad. Pittsburgh has stayed quiet this offseason, with only a few addition mainly for depth. Dennard would come in as an instant starter for Pittsburgh, bringing in the mentality this defense has had for the years it has been in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys are a mess. After ending up on the loosing end of Free Agency, Jerry Jones and his staff should look towards the draft to fill the needs they lost and missed out on in the first part of the offseason. The biggest signing was Brandon Weeden. That pretty much sums up how Free Agency went for Dallas. After losing DeMarcus Ware and Jarrett Hatcher, major upgrades are in store on the D-Line. Louis Nix III from Notre Dame would do a fine job replacing Hatcher. Still, a replacement for Ware is needed, but the choice of Nix does well for this Cowboys squad that failed to meet expectations early in the offseason.
The Baltimore Ravens do not have the same defensive mentality they had just one season ago, when they won Super Bowl XLVII, which is one of the many reasons they missed the playoffs this past season. Calvin Pryor, viewed by many as the top safety available in this year's draft, would come in and fill a huge need in the Ravens' secondary that has been missing ever since Ed Reed left the team. Pryor would fair nice with last year's first round pick, Matt Elam, making a tremendous, young defensive backfield Baltimore would hope to hold for years.
The Jets have nobody, I mean nobody, to help Geno Smith on offense. The reason he struggled was because he had no one to help him down field to consistently catch a football. New York would love to take one of the top three wideouts in the draft, and it just so happens that Marqise Lee, my 3rd rated WR, is still available at this point in the draft. Lee pairs up with Eric Decker to form a huge upgrade over last years' Holmes-Hill tandem.
The Miami Dolphins lost former #1 overall pick Jake Long to the Rams last season. They soon realized how much he meant to the team, giving up an NFL worst 58 sacks in the 2013 season. The Dolphins must turn to another Michigan OT Taylor Lewan to reduce the amount of sacks given to Ryan Tannehill. Lewan, who has fallen in this mock, is a steal, and drops to an offensive line needy team in Miami, making it the perfect fit for the two to succeed next season.
The Arizona Cardinals lack youth on their Defensive Line. Darnell Dockett is getting towards the age where he won't produce to the highest level. The same goes for John Abraham. Where will this pass rush come from when their numbers decline? Kony Ealy, the second best defensive end in the draft, presents great value and also fills a need for the Cardinals here at pick #20. Ealy has the size and strength capable of making Arizona's defense elite along the likes of division rivals Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers.
Ted Thompson loves to go with the best available player in the draft. That just happens to be CJ Mosley, who fills a huge need at LB. Mosley comes from a great defensive scheme in Alabama, which should translate smoothly into the NFL. Pairing him up with AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews should be interesting, and should make this Packers' defense special in 2014.
Philadelphia released Desean Jackson. Now, they are left with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Another target must step into the Eagles' offense if they want to have the same or better numbers than last year, or Nick Foles and his crew will disappoint. Brandon Cooks is top level talent waiting to break out in his NFL career. Adding Cooks gets this offense back on track for the upcoming season.
Kansas City struggled to get the ball to any one else besides Dwayne Bowe in 2013. Sure, Donny Avery had a few great games, but he isn't the long term answer outside. Bowe, a former LSU grad, and team up with LSU alum Odell Beckham Jr. to create a very dangerous group of WR. Beckham has the speed and physical abilities to become one of the league's best WR's here in a few years, and adds yet another weapon to the Chiefs' offense.
Terrence Newman and Pacman Jones are each nearing their end not only as Bengals but in the NFL. Leon Hall is a solid CB, but is still recovering from an Achilles tear, something he may never fully recover from. Adding depth to this Cincinnati Secondary may be the best choice for the Bengals come draft day. Bradley Roby has the talent to become one of the best CB's in the league, however off the field issues have hurt his draft stock. That shouldn't be a problem for Marvin Lewis and his staff, who have turned many current and former players' careers around in Cincinnati.
San Diego could not keep offenses off the field when they needed it most, mostly because of the Secondary play late in games. The Chargers sit in a perfect spot towards the end of the first round, where they have many options to choose between at Defensive Back. The best CB available right now is Jason Verrett, the TCU standout. Verrett has the ability to create difference making plays, and that's just what the Chargers need in order to get further into the playoffs next season.
The Cleveland Browns will have made a bold move if they choose to await their QB at pick #26. Most likely, a trade to move up is necessary in order to secure a franchise QB in Derek Carr or possibly someone like Teddy Bridgewater, who may slip in the draft come May 8th. But, still here is Carr, ready to team up with a terrific offense in Tate, Gordon, Cameron, and now Watkins as well. If these first few rounds go as planned, the Cleveland Browns are primed to make a run at the playoffs in 2014.
The New Orleans Saints' top priority come draft day should be to acquire a top level pass rusher. The safety duo of Jarius Byrd-Kenny Vacarro is one of the best in the NFL, but won't do much without the help of a push up front. Dee Ford, who's stock has risen after a great Senior Bowl, Combine, and Pro Day, is the top pass rusher available. Ford gives the Saints an option, as the Auburn stud can play both DE and OLB. Either way, Ford gives this Saints' defense a boost in 2014.
Due to the need of OT's in the league, it is a bit shocking that Zack Martin has fallen to this point in the draft. While I don't believe he is a top 28 player, the demand for O-Lineman in this league brings a somewhat of a surprise when guys like Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin slip. Luckily for the Carolina Panthers, Martin fills a need on a desperate offensive line. Martin can play just about anywhere on the O-Line, giving the versatility the Panthers will need moving forward in the future.
Bill Belicheck LOVES Tight Ends. So does Tom Brady. After a full season struggle without Aaron Hernandez and injuries to Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots learned they need depth at TE. Jace Amaro, the breakout Texas Tech star, could come in and fit perfectly alongside Gronkowski and New England's two tight end set. The more targets Tom Brady has, the better and happier the Patriots' organization is. Adding Amaro gets the Patriots' offense back to where it was when everyone was healthy in the 2012 season.
Depth becomes an issue to a secondary like the San Francisco 49ers, where many injuries and exits have happened over the course of the past year. Carlos Rodgers is gone, as is Donte Whitner. Injuries to Chris Culliver and other nagging injuries to the defensive backfield have all but assured me that the 49ers will be drafting DB's early in the 2014 NFL Draft. Kyle Fuller, who ranges on draft boards as the 3-5 best CB in the draft, matches up nicely with this San Fran squad, in hopes to make another Super Bowl run and NFC Title in the near future.
Zane Beadles left the Denver Broncos through Free Agency, leaving a big gap on the Offensive Line. Denver has a few options, including moving C Manny Ramirez to guard, or OT Orlando Franklin into guard as well. I think they keep things the same, and draft the best guard in the draft, Xavier Su'a-Filo from UCLA. Su'a-Filo has great athletic ability for a big man, something Peyton Manning looks for in his offensive linemen.
The Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks dominated teams with their defense this season. The only departure from a starter on that defense came when Chris Clemons left for Jacksonville this offseason. Adding someone like Stephon Tuitt would be a fantastic move for Seattle. Whether he start or develop under Dan Quinn's defensive system, Tuitt is primed to have a great NFL career.
Shout out to my partners at DCProSportsReport, Walter Football, and EatDrinkandSleepFootball. Click on the links below to view their mocks as well as other mocks on their databases.
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