COMMENTARY| It’s really early for a 2014 NFL Mock Draft, but this is always a fun way to look at the draft. This mock draft features prospects I feel are in the early round mix and fit each specific team. I’m sure plenty will disagree with this mock so let’s hear the feedback!
- 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End, South Carolina
Mike Glennon might not be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Buccaneers, but he has shown enough promise so far that he deserves more reps. Glennon’s ability to make plays while avoid turnovers has been extremely impressive.
The Buccaneers can really improve on the defensive side of the ball if they add a dominant pass-rusher like Jadeveon Clowney. A pass rush is really the only piece missing on that side of the ball.
- 2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Louisville
The Jaguars need to come out of this draft with a new quarterback. They can’t head into another season with Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne under center. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater has the potential to develop into a top-level quarterback in the NFL.
- 3. Minnesota Vikings- Anthony Barr, Linebacker, UCLA
The Vikings are another team that needs to upgrade the quarterback position, but it’s a little early to pull the trigger on someone like Johnny Manziel or Marcus Maroita. Instead, the Vikings could add a game changer on the defensive side of the ball.
Anthony Barr is a versatile defender who can rush the passer, drop in coverage and support the run. His ability to generate pressure on the quarterback will help the team move on from Jared Allen who’s a pending free agent.
- 4. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jake Matthews, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
The Steelers’ offensive line has been an issue for several years in a row. Landing a plug-and-play left tackle like Jake Matthews would be a major step in the right direction. Matthews is a technically sound player who also features excellent athleticism.
- 5. Atlanta Falcons- Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
This year has been a complete disaster for the Atlanta Falcons. They can point the high number of injuries as a major factor, but other issues like the offensive line are also a concern. Atlanta has weapons like Julio Jones and Roddy White who excel at stretching the field. You need a good offensive line in order to run this type of attack.
Taylor Lewan is a good athlete who plays with a nasty streak. He has a natural bend and quick feet which help him protect the edge.
- 6. New York Giants- C.J. Mosley, Linebacker, Alabama
If Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan fall to this spot the New York Giants should pounce, but if they’re off the board then upgrading the linebacking crops is a must. Alabama’s C.J. Mosley is an instinctive and explosive linebacker.
He’s also versatile and can play either on the inside or outside. The Giants need someone who can make plays from sideline to sideline and Mosley fits that bill perfectly.
- 7. Houston Texans- Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Buffalo
The Houston Texans took a calculated gamble when they let Mario Williams leave via free agency. So far, they haven’t got the type of production they expected from Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed. This has resulted in the Texans being ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks.
Buffalo’s Khalil Mack has the potential to quickly develop into an elite pass rusher. He features an explosive first step, extremely long arms and a non-stop motor. The only issue is that Mack is still developing as a player and doesn’t have a ton of experience rushing the passer.
- 8. St. Louis Rams- Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
Despite his struggles, Tavon Austin still has the potential to develop into a game changing force. However, his limited size is a cause for concern so added a bigger wide receiver like Marquise Lee would make some sense.
Lee is a reliable target who can both work over the middle and stretch the field.
- 9. Buffalo Bills- Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
The Bills have to feel good about the early development of E.J. Manuel and should focus on surrounding him with more weapons. They have solid targets in Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, but someone like Sammy Watkins could add another dimension.
- 10. Baltimore Ravens- Louis Nix, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
The Baltimore Ravens are having a really tough year and are in real danger of missing the playoffs. They have some major issues on both sides of the ball, but have a chance to add a major piece along the defensive line in Notre Dame’s Louis Nix.
Because of his athleticism, Nix can play multiple spots on the defensive line including the nose tackle spot. This position is an area of concern because of the struggles of Terrence Cody and recent release of Chris Canty.
- 11. Oakland Raiders- Vic Beasley, Linebacker, Clemson
Looking up and down the Oakland Raiders roster you’ll have a hard time finding a ton of talent. However, they’ve found a way in win some games thanks in large part to the development of Terrelle Pryor. Still, there are plenty of holes on this roster that need to be filled.
Adding a potentially dominate pass-rusher like Vic Beasley could really help the defense. Beasley uses a quick burst, good hand placement and change of direction to work his way into the backfield.
- 12. St. Louis Rams (via Wash)- Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
The Rams have a young roster with a ton of talent, but Sam Bradford just hasn’t developed into a top-level quarterback. St. Louis has an opportunity with two first-round picks this year to bring in someone to compete with Bradford.
Johnny Manziel might come with some baggage, but he’s an elite talent who has shown a lot of improvement as a passer. Manziel is a fiery player who leaves it all on the field. This is the type of player teammates can rally around.
- 13. Philadelphia Eagles- Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Keep an eye on Riley Cooper because his development could have a major impact on this pick. Cooper has shown promise, but has also dealt with inconsistent play throughout his career. The Eagles need a bigger wide receiver who can make plays in the redzone and bail out the quarterback from time to time.
Texas A&M’s Mike Evans is a big and physical target who continuously attacks the ball at its highest point. He’d be a perfect fit for the Eagles should Cooper continue to show up and down play.
- 14. Cleveland Browns- Marcus Maroita, Quarterback, Oregon
Neither the Cleveland Browns nor Brandon Weeden himself appears to have confidence in his ability to win football games. The Browns must come out of this year’s draft with a young quarterback to take over for Weeden.
Oregon’s Marcus Maroita is a poised and athletic quarterback who features a strong arm. He’s able to make sound decisions and knows how move the football. Maroita will quickly help Browns’ fans forget the struggles of Weeden.
- 15. San Diego Chargers- Jason Verrett, Cornerback, TCU
The San Diego Chargers are going to have to decide if they want to upgrade the offensive line or secondary with this pick. TCU’s Jason Verrett is an aggressive defender who has excellent ball skills and athleticism.
He lacks great size, but makes up for it by quickly getting his head around and locating the football. His addition would help patch a leaky Chargers secondary. If they decide to target an offensive lineman Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson would be the best fit. He’s an athletic player who excels at protecting the quarterback.
- 16. Arizona Cardinals- Antonio Richardson, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
Antonio Richardson is a fluid athlete who uses his quickness and balance to protect the edge. The Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line has been a major issue for the last several years. Making the move to fix this issue should be the first move before they start looking at bringing in a young quarterback.
- 17. Miami Dolphins- Ja’Wuan James, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
The ugly Jonathan Martin situation only brings more attention to the offensive line issues for the Miami Dolphins. Even with Martin in the lineup, the Dolphins could use an upgrade at three offensive line spots.
Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James is a big-bodied and athletic offensive tackle prospect. He routinely uses proper angles and his long arms to keep defenders out of the backfield. Most of his experience has come at right tackle, but he shows enough ability to make the move to the left side.
- 18. Tennessee Titans- Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech
Jake Locker has taken a step forward in his development this year. He’s showing more confidence and better accuracy. The Tennessee Titans would be wise to continue to surround him with playmakers.
Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is a move tight end who can stretch the field and make plays over the middle. He’s a matchup nightmare because of his size and speed combo. Amaro has the potential to develop into one of the more dangerous tight ends in the NFL.
- 19. Chicago Bears- Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, South Florida
Aaron Lynch is struggling to produce the sacks expected from such at talented player. However, he still has an elite skill-set and tremendous upside. It’s possible that Lynch is still trying to work off the rust that comes with taking a year off because of the transfer rules.
The Chicago Bears pass-rush has been non-existent this year and it looks like they may cut ties with the struggling Julius Peppers next year. It’s also important to note that Bears’ GM Phil Emery puts a lot of value on a player’s athleticism and Lynch is arguably the most athletically gifted player in the draft.
- 20. Green Bay Packers- David Yankey, Guard, Stanford
The Green Bay Packers offensive line hasn’t been playing well for a couple of seasons, but they get bailed out because Aaron Rodgers is such a good athlete. They could use to upgrade several spots including right tackle and both guard spots.
Stanford’s David Yankey is a physical blocker who has experience at both left tackle and guard. That versatility is something the Packers will appreciate because of all the injury issues they’ve dealt with over the years.
- 21. New York Jets- Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina
Rex Ryan should be sitting on top of the coach of the year standings. He has put the New York Jets in playoff contention despite having a very limited offensive attack. Moving forward, the Jets need to add weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
An explosive and play-making tight end like North Carolina’s Eric Ebron would give Geno Smith a legitimate big-play threat. His ability to stretch the field and make plays in traffic will also help fix Smith’s turnover problems.
- 22. Dallas Cowboys- Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
As a whole, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line has been better this year. However, they still have issues at both guard spots. Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson would represent an immediate upgrade at either spot.
- 23. Carolina Panthers- Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
The Carolina Panthers greatly improved their defensive front seven when they drafted Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. They now need to focus on adding talent to the secondary-especially the cornerback position.
Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is a well-rounded player who both supports the run and aggressively defends the pass. He boasts tremendous ball skills and the ability to get his head around to track the football.
- 24. Detroit Lions- Odell Beckham Jr, Wide Receiver, LSU
It’s tough to see Ryan Broyles go through all these injuries, but the Detroit Lions need to start thinking about bringing in more help at the wide receiver position. LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr has the explosiveness and route-running ability to help draw some coverage away from Calvin Johnson. Or, at the very least take advantage of one-on-one opportunities Johnson creates.
- 25. Cincinnati Bengals- Bradley Roby, Cornerback, Ohio State
Adam Jones and Terrence Newman have both played well for the Cincinnati Bengals these past few years. However, both are on the down side of their career and will eventually need to be replaced. Ohio State’s Bradley Roby has a ton of potential because of his long arms and ball skills. He has the ability to step in and make an immediate impact.
- 26. Cleveland Browns (via Indy)- Justin Gilbert, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
Joe Haden is having the best year of his young career, but teams have been able to take advantage of the Cleveland Browns’ other cornerbacks. Adding a physical and talented cornerback like Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert would help prevent such an occurrence.
Gilbert excels at playing man coverage which would fit in nicely with Cleveland’s aggressive style of defense. The combination of Gilbert and Haden would give the Browns a talent young cornerback duo.
- 27. New Orleans Saints- Adrian Hubbard, Linebacker, Alabama
Adrian Hubbard hasn’t really lit the world on fire, but he’s a high-upside prospect who could develop into a top-notch pass rusher. At the very least, he’ll provide the New Orleans Saints with a stout run defender who sets the edge.
This pick is more about potential than production and could be seen as a bit of a reach. However, Hubbard is the type of athlete who will see his stock rise through the draft process.
- 28. San Francisco 49ers- Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, LSU
Jarvis Landry might have the best hands of any wide receiver in all of college football. He routinely plucks the ball away from his frame and at its highest point. His ability to control his body helps him make some very touch catches. This is the type of receiver who’ll consistently help his quarterback by making a play on poorly thrown balls.
The San Francisco 49ers could use another offensive threat to go along side Vernon Davis and the healing Michael Crabtree.
- 29. New England Patriots- Calvin Barnett, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma State
The interior of the New England Patriots’ defensive line was thin before they lost Vince Wilfork to injury. Even with Wilfork in the lineup, they lack that disruptive force in the middle of the field. Oklahoma State’s Calvin Barnett explodes out of his stance and consistently works his way into the backfield. He’ll instantly bring some nastiness back to the interior of the Patriots’ defense.
- 30. Denver Broncos- Ra’Shede Hageman, Defensive Tackle, Minnesota
Even after adding Sylverster Williams in the first round last year, the Denver Broncos could use help along the defensive line. Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman is one of the faster rising prospects because of his raw talent.
He’s quick off the ball and shows the ability to disrupt the timing of the offense. His upside is through the roof because his best football is still ahead. Hageman just needs some better coaching to reach his full potential.
- 31. Seattle Seahawks- Bradin Cooks, Wide Receiver, Oregon State
The Seattle Seahawks are facing a few tough offseason decisions surrounding their wide receiving corps. Sidney Rice continues to be an injury concern while Golden Tate is heading into free agency. With Percy Harvin in the mix with a big contract, it’s hard to imagine Seattle will want to give Tate a large sum of money.
Oregon State’s Bradin Cooks is a shifty playmaker who excels at creating in space. He has a lot of the same skills as Tate and will come at a much lower salary.
- 32. Kansas City Chiefs- La’el Collins, Offensive Tackle, LSU
LSU’s La’el Collins is have a very strong year in his first season playing left tackle. His combination of size and balance help him protect the quarterback. He also has the strength to generate a push in the run game.
Even after adding Eric Fisher with the No. 1 pick last year, the Kansas City Chiefs are facing the likely task of replacing Branden Albert. Collins would fit in at right tackle while Fisher handles the left tackle duties.