2014 NFL Draft Predictions
Due to the extension of this year's NFL Draft, many analysts and sports columnists have been flooding the internet and airwaves with their predictions and are at Mock Draft version #2,845. It's getting obscene, and the amount of times they keep second-guessing themselves gets infuriating. Rather than putting up with their nonsense, I decided to do a little research of my own and create my own mock up for the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
The one thing a lot of these "analysts" will do is not take into consideration trades. I, on the other hand, am not a pussy like they are. Every year, there are trades – some shocking, others not – and the amount of information regarding what teams want to do with their picks seems pretty obvious. Reading the tea leaves, I decided to decipher them myself and see how I hold up to these so called "experts".
Mostly, it's just for fun, but mostly, it's to tell Mel Kiper Jr. to shove it.
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
With the needs Houston has, and the long drop from first to sixth, where a coveting Atlanta resides, it’s too expensive a pick for the Falcons to get their man without giving up the farm. Plus, Clowney on one side and JJ Watt on the other? Dominant! Rumor has it the Texans coaching staff is more fond of Khalil Mack, saying he better fits their scheme, so perhaps they go that route. But Clowney is the overall #1, and unless Buffalo or Atlanta give up a king's ransom, this is their best bet.
2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Rated the most dominant offensive lineman in the draft, and they have needs at Safety and Offensive Tackle. Their pick is realistically too expensive to trade down, and while Jeff Fischer likes the splashy players, this gives tremendous run support for Zac Stacy and protects Sam Bradford to determine if Bradford is their franchise QB in a make-or-break season.
If Khalil Mack ends up in Houston, and Clowney somehow lands here, St. Louis will be ELATED. I guarantee they strike a deal with Atlanta from here, since Robinson or Matthews will most definitely be available at Pick #6.
3. *TRADE* Atlanta Falcons (from JAX) – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
With Clowney off the board, Atlanta must get an elite pass rusher before Oakland does, and this is the most affordable option. Jacksonville doesn’t want to draft a QB this high after signing Chad Henne, and while I could see the Jaguars taking Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack for themselves, they prefer picking up draft picks to help their other needs.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Kyle Shanahan is very familiar with the undersized, mobile QB. They’ve been playing the “we don’t want a rookie QB” act a lot lately, which I think is simply a smoke screen to throw people off the scent and make them feel better if he gets taken before their pick.
5. *TRADE* Buffalo Bills (from Oakland Raiders) – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
This is Buffalo’s dream scenario. They have been coveting Watkins since the end of the season, and despite acquiring Mike Williams from their trade with TB, they need a playmaker for EJ Manuel without giving up too much. This way, he only costs first and second round picks (maybe a third or a future draft pick), and Oakland gets the additional picks they’re seeking without dropping too far, since Mack was taken off the board.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (from ATL) – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
They get the man they want who will be the face of their franchise as someone who goes for wins, not flashy commercials like Johnny Football. Henne is a great backup QB, but is mobility in the pocket and leadership is what the new ownership is after.
Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if they take Manziel and Cleveland takes Watkins and later drafts a QB with the 26th pick, but I feel things would have to change for this to occur: Houston would have to go Khalil Mack instead of Jadeveon Clowney (which has been rumored), St. Louis, in turn, trades down with Atlanta, Jacksonville stays pat at #3 and takes Manziel, and then Cleveland takes Bortles/Watkins + QB in the 26th. That would be the alternate universe I could see happen. (but for sake of argument, let's just stick to Plan A, shall we?)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Adding another option for Josh McCown to throw to and alleviating coverage pressure on Vincent Jackson is always a good idea.
8. *TRADE* New York Jets – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Knowing Oakland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have WR needs, and now seeing Mike Evans go to Tampa Bay pushes the Jets to snag their complimentary piece to an aging Eric Decker and gives their QB investment, Geno Smith, more options than they ever gave The San-chise. Plus, we all know the Jets are good for a ridiculous move up, right?
9. Oakland Raiders (from BUF) – Taylor Lewan, OT, Texas A&M
Whoopsie! They were totally banking on Evans, or at least Beckham Jr., being around, but now it’s becoming chaos! So now, they draft for a need, and this is a big one. His stock has been on the rise, and Oakland always seems to get the public’s perceived “hot ticket item,” not always the BEST player, and knowing he’d probably still be around by now.
10. Detroit Lions – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Despite having major defensive needs at CB and S, they’ve been infatuated with drafting a complimentary piece to Calvin Johnson, and Brandin’s speed and ability to get separation from coverage, while also being incredibly durable, gives Matthew Stafford the one-two punch he’s needed in the passing game. (Sorry, Ryan Broyles.)
11. Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
One of the only picks I’m absolutely sure of. With Alterraun Verner’s departure for Tampa Bay, this is a major hole for Tennessee that easily gets filled with the best CB in the draft.
12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
So many of their Defensive Line have departed, resulting in a MAJOR need. Despite his small size, that gets answered here.
13. St. Louis Rams – HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
I don't understand how most experts think this won't happen. With two of the next three teams needing a Safety, STL could fear their man getting taken by Detroit or NYG. However, Detroit always seems to make unconventional picks in the first round, and the Giants need major defensive line help, so I think this falls nicely for the Rams. Hands-down the best Safety in the draft, and while he needs to work on his angles and coverage protection, he's a great, physical run stopper and has a ton of upside.
14. Chicago Bears – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
I’m sure they’d prefer Clinton-Dix, but Pryor is excellent in run support and fits the stereotypical Bears defense mold with hard hitting, powerful strikes.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Steelers have immediate needs at WR and CB, and history has shown they typically take WRs later in the draft. They tend to go for hard hitters, and with Fuller rising on many teams’ draft boards, as well as depth at WR this draft, this pick makes sense.
16. Dallas Cowboys (from PHI) – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Cowboys have glaring needs at Safety and Defensive Line, especially with DeMarcus Ware going to Denver, and after seeing Aaron Donald go to the Giants, they are in no hurry, with Hageman still on the board, who has been rising on draft boards and reportedly fits better into Dallas’ 4-3 scheme. I could possibly see them trading down from this pick, too.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
Ozzie Newsome just breathed a sigh of relief after dodging a minefield of teams interested in someone who is easily a top ten talent. If Ebron goes sooner to, say, the Lions or Giants, I could see them trading down from this pick and going for an OT.
18. Minnesota Vikings (from NYJ) – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Minnesota is not sold on the Matt Cassel story, so here they go again, drafting another early first round QB. Teddy Bridgewater had a terrible pro day, and his arm strength has been questioned, but with Greg Jennings, Corderelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph to throw to, plus Adrian Peterson in the backfield, he doesn’t need to go deep.
19. *TRADE* San Francisco 49ers (from MIA) Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
SF needs to jump ahead of the countless other teams ahead of them who need a quality CB to grab an instant starter in Gilbert, and with so many top WRs taken, they can address that need later in the draft. Meanwhile, Miami desperately needs offensive line help, and this gives them additional picks to use elsewhere to protect their prized investment, Ryan Tannehill.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Having so many of their Linebackers lost to free agency, this fills an immediate need. Though he’s tremendously small for a linebacker (237 lbs), he’s got more Safety qualities and plays sideline-to-sideline very well.
21. Green Bay Packers – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
With the top two Safeties and top five WRs taken, Green Bay decides not to reach and address their other glaring need: linebacker. Mosely has the typical character of Packers players, better fits their defensive scheme, and will be a very productive run stopper.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
It’s been rumored the Eagles were interested in moving up to snag the perfect replacement for DeSean Jackson, since GB and AZ have a lot of WR departures, so if they want to get their guy, perhaps they make a deal with Dallas. However, this scenario also seems likely. Chip Kelly should be very familiar with Lee, and he’s practically DeSean v2.0 (in many, many ways)
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Seems injury-prone, but the Chiefs are in eager need to line up somebody opposite of Dwayne Bowe. While he lacks separation, he fits best into Andy Reid’s West Coast type system and is good at catching in traffic and picking up YAC.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
With a lot of age and injury to their secondary, the Bengals will want to get younger here, and Verrett’s work ethic and toughness will work out perfectly.
25. San Diego Chargers – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Chargers have way more pressing needs, like at CB and DT, but going for Roby in the first round would be a huge reach. This gives the Chargers a great pass rusher to develop behind Dwight Freeney.
26. Cleveland Browns – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
You get your franchise QB, and now you give him another option to throw to. While he’s not very elusive, he’s got a big frame and huge hands that can snatch a ball in traffic – a nice complimentary piece to Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
With Will Smith’s departure for New England, the Saints have a clear hole at a pass rushing defensive lineman. Plays well in a 3-4 and very versatile in coverage and a much-needed big hitter with a great team-focused personality. I could theoretically see them moving up to draft a WR, as well.
28. Carolina Panthers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Despite a multitude of holes, including WR, OL, S, and CB, the Panthers are ELATED at the plethora of offensive line help they can receive this late in the draft with an NFL-ready tackle in Matthews. Despite average bulk and arm length, great work ethic, very scrappy, and incredibly durable tackle who is used to defending a mobile QB.
29. *TRADE* Houston Texans – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Houston has been eager to trade back into the first round to secure their QB – by drafting a player in the first round, you secure the ability to exercise the player option in the athlete’s fifth year – and they get their guy. They probably spent a lot to get here, and this pick is a bit of a reach, but considering their other QB options, and how hyped he's become over the past few days, they need it. Plus, New England NEVER drafts in the first round, and after acquiring Will Smith, their need to draft here is eliminated. Has great intangibles, a very quick delivery and can get the ball down field, but lacks accuracy and needs to work on his footwork.
*NOTE* I could also see the 49ers making a massive trade deal here with the Patriots to get back into the first round and draft a WR/CB, depending on what they did with the other move they made.
30. Miami Dolphins (from SF) – Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
With plenty of Offensive Linemen available, Miami was in no hurry to pick one up after seeing Baltimore – the only other competitor for O-Line help – go for a Tight End. Too short and short arms for LT, but will probably play Guard as a result of picking up Branden Albert. Durable and has a lot of experience already, playing through the whistle every play.
31. Denver Broncos – Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The Broncos need an offensive lineman to start right away, and Moses has that ability, especially at Left Tackle. HUGE athlete – 6'6, 314 lbs! – shows great awareness, knows his blocking assignments, and plays with a lot of aggression. However, got injured at his pro day and has a history of small, nagging injuries.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
He's been linked to Seattle for quite some time, and despite a vast injury history, he is a tall freak combination of size and speed. Has the stereotypical Seahawk “project” written all over him: weight issues, suspension issues due to lack of motivation, ejected for “targeting” a QB, but he’s an aggressive playmaker (when he wants to be) and a can play multiple D-Line techniques.
33. New England Patriots (from HOU) – Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
New England has been linked to Bucannon, since they feared Clinton-Dix and Pryor wouldn't reach them at #28. Extremely effective run stopper with great tackling ability and has your typical size and speed for a safety, but has disciplinary issues. While that may be something to monitor, they’ll appreciate his raw talent, as well as his above average route recognition.
34. Washington Redskins – Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech
They semi-filled their LB need in free agency with Akeem Jordan, and they have Perry Riley, but they need someone who has the same competitiveness and work ethic London Fletcher had. They get that with Attaochu. Freakish build and fairly speedy, flexible athlete that is a great replacement.
35. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Cleveland needs someone to play opposite Joe Haden, and they get that with Roby. TONS of off-the-field issues, which is concerning, but at #35, it’s not a reach. He’s a gambler and gets caught very often, but he plays bigger than his size and makes it extremely difficult for receivers to get separation.
36. Oakland Raiders – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
The fact that he has fallen this far says a lot: he’s got a lot of ability, but it really needs to be harnessed. I don’t think Oakland is the team to do it, but they love taking chances on players, especially ones who are as charismatic and outgoing as Nix III. They more so need OLB help, but he’s kind of the best on the board, and they could possibly trade down at this point, too.
37. Jacksonville Jaguars (from ATL) – Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada
I could see Jacksonville trading down at this point, but the ability to double down with two early second round picks doesn’t hurt. Now they have their much-needed protection for their rookie investment.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
The Bucs need offensive line help, and adding this durable, solid player is perfect. Played a lot at LT and LG, so he’ll protect McCown well with great versatility, but he’s going to need to work on his game against defensive stunts and recognizing blitzes.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kevin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Rookie QB Bortles got his protection, and now he’s going to need someone to throw to. Not very consistent and is slower than average, but he’s a big playmaker and has great height and leaping ability to go with his big mitts.
40. Minnesota Vikings – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Jared Allen is gone, and while Minnesota needs to address their secondary, the prospects at #40 would be reaching. Instead, they get great value here with a quick-handed, strong, low center of gravity edge rusher, who, despite his lack of size, has a great motor and will be great in rotation.
41. *TRADE* San Francisco 49ers (from OAK thru BUF) – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
The advantage of having 12 draft picks… SF didn’t get their WR in the first round, and they have a compensatory 3rd round pick, so the move up makes sense. They get a speedy, tough WR with great leaping ability, physical route running ability, and very good ball skills.
42. Tennessee Titans – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Chris Johnson is gone, and with Shonn Greene in the backfield, the Titans could use a more well-rounded Running Back. This is where Hyde comes in. A tough, physical runner and power back while also possessing the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. And an excellent pass protector, (which CJ2K never was).
43. New York Giants – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Eli needs some targets, with Hakeem Nicks and Kevin Boss gone. Has some maturity issues, but has a good work ethic and a huge frame. Not the fastest and not great in pass blocking, but is tough and will be adequate – he’s better as a pass catcher.
44. St. Louis Rams – Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
This is where trading down in the first round would’ve been helpful in getting more picks, since Benjamin and Adams are gone. However, they still get a great playmaker who is a good route runner and is insanely fast down the seams. He’s tough and competitive and has good focus in traffic with the ability to create space and get a lot of YAC.
45. Detroit Lions – Jimmie Ward, S, Nothern Illinois
CB talent at this point is still a reach, but Ward should help immediately in their secondary. Not ideal height for the position, but quick and good top-end playing speed. He’s got good overall ball skills and can cover effectively while strong in run support.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers –Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Emmanuel Sander’s departure means they need to address WR before the pickings get slim, and Richardson essentially is Emmanuel Sanders v2.0 – thin frame with average strength, but excellent quickness and speed to stretch the field.
47. Dallas Cowboys – Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Dallas would probably have loved to address the issue at Safety, but they have a need on the Offensive Line, so this will fill in nicely. He has decent speed and quickness, but his build fits more with a Guard than a Tackle, which is the Cowboy’s need. Does a good job reading plays pre-snap, but needs to work on picking up stunts and blitzes.
48. Baltimore Ravens – Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
How the Cowboys passed on him here, I have absolutely no idea. He is extremely versatile – can play a hybrid CB/S position – and matches up extremely well with Matt Elam. They can use him in multiple packages and he shows very high aggression.
49. *TRADE* New Orleans Saints (from MIN thru NYJ) – Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
New Orleans lost wide receivers to free agency, and with the run on WR, they need to make a move. While Bryant is far from perfect with A LOT of dropped passes on his resume, he’s got a lot of raw talent and ability to make the big plays. He can make acrobatic catches and catches in traffic, so he’s a project worth taking a chance on.
50. Miami Dolphins – Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
It’s hard to pass on such a talented Tackle who dropped this far in the draft, despite having already drafted Zack Martin, but Ryan Tannehill was sacked FIFTY-EIGHT TIMES. That means serious attention needs to be brought to an offensive line that has changed a lot since the start of the 2013 season, and this is a great piece.
51. Chicago Bears – Stan Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Huge size and speed with long arms and leaping ability, similar to Dick Sherman. A work-in-progress as he’s slow to recognize plays and ball location, but has a lot of raw potential that fits the Bears’ schemes and helps them get younger at the position.
52. Arizona Cardinals – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Carson Palmer is getting up there, and having addressed the offensive line last year, now’s a great chance to draft your future QB to learn under Carson Palmer before getting thrown into the NFC West. Very humble and strong work ethic. Will have to transition to the pro-style offense after playing in a spread offense, but that seems useful in the NFC West. Quick release and good pocket mobility, but needs to work on ball protection and tone down the gunslinger mentality a bit.
53. Green Bay Packers – Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Green Bay needs safety help, but with the WRs left, they need to fill gaps left over by the numerous departures. They get a tough athlete with big mitts who is fearless in the middle and can make the tough catches necessary. Fairly slow and not the best route runner, but he is a tough competitor and very durable.
54. Philadelphia Eagles – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
What a steal at this point in the draft! Trent Cole is getting up there in years, and this gives the Eagles a physical pass rusher who is good at stopping the run, as well. A little short for the position and has a history of injuries, but a very speedy edge rusher with great closing speed.
55. Cincinnati Bengals – Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
This might be a reach at #55, but the Bengals have a huge need at Offensive Line and won't be able to tend to this until it's too late. They get an immediate starter who is HUGE (6'6, 309 lbs) with great leadership ability. Durable, gets into position and knows his blocking assignments, and picks up most blitzes and stunts (great to know vs the Steelers and Ravens, no?). Referred to as a "blue collar blocker", but needs to work on his aggression and a killer instinct.
56. Oakland Raiders (from SF) – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Oakland has a need at WR, and they get a big guy who may not open the field up with the vertical game, since his top-end speed is lacking, but he gets after the ball when it’s put up in the air to contests passes. A raw talent that is plenty capable for making plays.
57. San Diego Chargers – Marcus Martin, C, USC
I’m sure they would’ve gone Dee Ford here if he fell, but this solidifies the interior of the Offensive Line and gets a solidly built Center. He’s still got work to do, as his awareness is lacking, but he’s a tough, physical guy who plays through the whistle.
58. Minnesota Vikings (from NO) – Keith McGill, CB
Has a lot of character issues that will cause concern, but his physical attributes are perfect for the position. Has great range and can cover a lot of the field against the gigantic receivers like Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffrey, but needs to work on tackling ability and anticipation when jumping routes.
59. Indianapolis Colts – Trai Turner, OG, LSU
A big need for the Colts is at Guard, and unfortunately for them, Su’a Filo was already taken. Turner has all of the physical attributes to be a great Guard, but has a lot of room for improvement. His hands and footwork need to be heavily coached, but he plays very aggressively and physically to be a great prospect.
60. Carolina Panthers – Pierre Desir, CB, Linwood
Sure, the Panthers could use a WR, but this is too high a spot to draft one, so why not fill another vital need: the secondary. Carolina did an excellent job with their young crew last year, and because Desir has the physical attributes, the coaching staff can polish up his coverage technique to coincide with his excellent playmaking skills.
61. Miami Dolphins (from SF) – Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Very durable, strong athlete. Perfect for the 4-3 scheme they play, but is a little short at the position and needs to work on speed and closing in on a QB. Lots of explosiveness and great stance technique. Has fantastic character, coming from a great background.
62. New England Patriots – Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
The Patriots are not the type to draft a running back in the first round, and they need a downhill bruiser. Enter: Hill. Has a very spotty past that they'll need to monitor, but he's got great size, great catching ability, and only one career fumble (which I'm sure Bellichek will LOVE). They can worry about their TE need later, like drafting C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa.
63. Denver Broncos – Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State
The value they’d get out of CB is just not there at this point, but they get a Linebacker with LOTS of upside as a pass rusher, which is a big problem for the Broncos. Great quickness and flexibility, but will need to work on technique to help him past more powerful blockers.
64. Seattle Seahawks – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
They could probably wait here, as Guard is more of the need, but they get a huge presence to solidify their Offensive Line and someone with leadership qualities. Will need to work on his aggression and ability to pick up stunts and blitzes. Will probably play RT to start as he develops into a blindside protector.