BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino
I don’t recall a draft with more mixed opinions, projections and grades than this year’s, which should make for an exciting draft in May that is full of unpredictability. With one of the deepest draft classes I have evaluated, there is talent to be had in every round and ample opportunity for teams to fill holes and acquire talent.
1. Houston Texans – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: The perfect combination of best player available meets position of need just so happens to be the most important position on the field in this scenario. Bridgewater is advanced in his understanding of passing game concepts and throws with the most anticipation of any quarterback in this class. Behind Andrew Luck, Bridgewater is the second-best quarterback prospect since 2001.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Keeping Sam Bradford healthy and upright has been a challenge for the Rams. Matthews is far and away the best blindside protector in this class. He has the pedigree and skill set needed to be a decade-long fixture at left tackle.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: The Jaguars’ current top-two receivers are Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders. No quarterback is worth the No. 3 selection and Watkins is a special talent who can dominate on all levels of the field. He is an exciting target for any quarterback, but especially for a younger quarterback like the Jaguars could select on Day 2.
4. Cleveland Browns – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo: Mack is versatile and a perfect fit for Mike Pettine’s multi-front defensive scheme. With a plethora of picks, the Browns are best suited selecting the best available player on the board, and in this case it would be Mack.
5. Oakland Raiders – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: The acquisitions of Austin Howard and Donald Penn should not preclude the Raiders from selecting Greg Robinson with their first-round pick. Robinson is an elite run-blocking prospect who can be a big part of the Raiders’ rebuilding effort.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: If the most talented player in this year’s draft slips to the No. 6 overall pick, the Falcons should be thrilled. Clowney brings the pass-rushing element that the Falcons desperately need.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Pairing Evans with Vincent Jackson gives the Buccaneers a tandem in the mold of Chicago Bears duo Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Evans could bring much-needed help to the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing offense in 2013.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: It’s clear that the Vikings are in need of a franchise quarterback, and Carr gives them the best opportunity to have one among the quarterbacks still available. With excellent arm strength and accuracy combined with plus intangibles, Carr brings the key elements sought for in a franchise quarterback.
9. Buffalo Bills – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina: This pick is all about giving EJ Manuel every opportunity to become the Bills’ answer to their long search for a franchise quarterback. Ebron provides Manuel with an athletic, big-bodied target who can work all areas of the field. Accounting for Ebron, along with the Bills’ deep group of wide receivers, would be a challenge for opponents.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Gilbert is the clear top cornerback in this class and he would help solidify the back end of the Lions defense. In an NFC that is loaded with prolific wide receivers, Gilbert gives the Lions a player who can match up and contribute as a returner.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: The Titans need a face for their defense and Mosley can provide that. He is a polished, complete linebacker that is far ahead of the next-ranked player at his position in this class.
12. New York Giants – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: The Giants were 29th in the NFL in yards per carry and struggled to pass protect in 2013. In Lewan, the Giants would get a player who can help in both areas, started 50 games at Michigan and gives New York more flexibility with its current offensive linemen.
13. St. Louis Rams – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: Beckham is an explosive receiver who has arguably the best hands and route-running ability in the draft class. The Rams have a solid stable of receivers, but no one with the talent of Beckham.
14. Chicago Bears – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: The priority for the Bears in this draft is rebuilding their defense and there would be no better place to start than with a penetrating, playmaking force like Donald.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: I cannot remember the last time I went into an NFL Draft and didn’t think the Steelers needed to add a corner in the first round. If I were the calling the shots, I’d make this happen and finally provide the Steelers with a shutdown-caliber No. 1 cornerback in Dennard.
16. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: The Cowboys gave up the most yards per game of any team in the NFL in 2013. Selecting Jernigan would be an excellent step in rebuilding the Cowboy defense. Jernigan has tremendous upside and dominated in the BCS National Championship Game.
See page 2 for picks 17-32 and page 3-8 for rounds 2-7.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 NFL Mock Draft, Aaron Donald, Allen Robinson, Blake Bortles, Bradley Roby, C.J. Mosley, Darqueze Dennard, Dee Ford, Derek Carr, Eric Ebron, Greg Robinson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews, Jason Verrett, Jordan Matthews, Justin Gilbert, Kelvin Benjamin, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, Kyle Van Noy, Louis Nix, Marqise Lee, Mike Evans, Mock Drafts, NFL Draft, Odell Beckham Jr., Ra'Shede Hageman, Ryan Shazier, Sammy Watkins, Taylor Lewan, Teddy Bridgewater, Timmy Jernigan, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Zack Martin