We’ve had the combine, we’ve had the initial free agency flurry, we’ve had most of the pro-days and we’ve had quite a few visits. The pre-draft process is at full steam and we’ve seen mock drafts left, right, centre and everywhere else.
I’ve been biding my time, soaking up rumours, speculation and misdirection in preparation for V2, and with a month to go until the big day on May 8th, it’s time to step up the mock draft generator and churn out some picks.
There are quite a few changes from the first version, and there are a few surprises too, after all the NFL is a very unpredictable place! I fully expect teams to trade back into the last third of the first round trying to snag a QB, so take a few of the picks with a pinch of salt.
(1st Round only, No unconfirmed trades.)
Mike White’s NFL 2014 Mock Draft V2
|1. Houston Texans||DE||Jadeveon Clowney||South Carolina||(Previous Pick: No Change)
It seems like the Texans don’t really know what they’re going to do yet, trading the pick, taking Clowney or taking a QB are the options, but there hasn’t been enough clear indication of the choice yet.
But due to the uncertainty over QB gradings, the play here has to be to take the undoubted top talent in this year’s class and wait for a QB at the start of round 2, or even trade back into round 1 to get their man. Clowney’s pro day involved broad jumping 17 million tackle pads from a standing start… apparently.
|2. St Louis Rams
|OLB/DE||Khalil Mack||Buffalo||(Previous Pick: Jake Matthews – OT)
Free agency hasn’t changed the complexion of this pick much, with only Oakland going after a starting QB in Matt Schaub. I still think a trade is likely with either the Browns or Vikings moving up to get their triggerman of the future.
However, if it comes down to it, I think the Rams will select the best fit on their board. My hunch is that the organisation believes that in Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Tavon Austin, they have a very talented group of WR’s already, so they’ll go with the pass rusher who can do great things in this defense. Reports have been suggesting the ‘falling in love’ thing is happening here.
|3. Jacksonville Jaguars||QB||Blake Bortles||UCF||(Previous Pick: Johnny Manziel – QB)
With the top two pass rushers off the board, any possible leanings toward not selecting a QB here should be almost gone. I just don’t understand the view that the Jags can afford to wait until round two, especially in this scenario where they have the pick of the passers.
You can’t win in this league without a good QB and while Chad Henne is capable, he’s not a franchise man. Gus Bradley wants a leader with a big arm who can lead the franchise out of the doldrums and with his very high ceiling, Florida man Blake Bortles could be that guy.
|4. Cleveland Browns||QB||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M||(Previous Pick: Teddy Bridgewater – QB)
Judging by the rumours, this is a tricky pick to project. It seems as if the Browns either love Derek Carr with their second 1st rounder, are looking to trade down a few spots to secure him in the middle of round 1, or are using him as a smokescreen to pick up a ‘top rated’ QB here. Of course they could even just pick Carr here if he’s the top QB on their board.
I’m struggling to slot Carr here, I just don’t believe that the Browns would gamble on him at 4, but stranger things have happened. They need to go QB, and the best QB here is Johnny Football. He could tempt them to inject life into a franchise that needs some excitement.
|5. Oakland Raiders||WR||Sammy Watkins||Clemson||(Previous Pick: Blake Bortles – QB)
The signing of Matt Schaub tells me that the Raiders don’t like the top of this year’s draft class at QB and would rather add a signal caller in later rounds to compete with the solid ex-Texan. And it could turn out to be a good choice if Schaub has someone of the talent of Watkins to throw to.
I’ve heard it said that he’s the most solid pick in the draft with pro-bowl potential, able to pick up passes at his ankles in full flow. He’d be a great start to the rebuilding process in Oakland.
|6. Atlanta Falcons||OT||Greg Robinson||Auburn||(Previous Pick: No Change)
When your passing game is light years better than your running game, it is imperative to protect your QB, something the Falcons didn’t do last year, and so they paid the price.
With none of the best tackles gone at this juncture and both of the top pass rushers off the board, the Falcons should be running to the podium.
|7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||WR||Mike Evans||Texas A&M||(Previous Pick: Sammy Watkins – WR)
Now that Mike Williams has been traded to Buffalo, the Bucs really need some weapons for Josh McCown/Mike Glennon not named Vincent Jackson.
Mike Evans has been credited in some circles as being the main reason behind Johnny Football’s college success, and his pro days and game tape back that viewpoint up.
|8. Minnesota Vikings||QB||Teddy Bridgewater||Louisville||(Previous Pick: Khalil Mack – OLB/DE)
Another team that seems to want to trade down and pick their QB later (reports suggest Zach Mettenburger in rd 2) but if they end up staying put and picking here at 8, it may end up being touch to pass on another QB when their need is so large.
The top pass rush talents are gone, so with Teddy Bridgewater sat there, despite his poor-looking pro day, it could be difficult to turn a blind eye to a man whose tape stands out a mile as being the best example of a pure passer in this draft.
|9. Buffalo Bills||OT||Jake Matthews||Texas A&M||(Previous Pick: Anthony Barr – OLB/DE)
The Bills look to be one of the teams willing to try and make a move up the board for a target, but if they stay where they are and the draft plays out like this, I’m sure they will be more than happy to take the #2 tackle in this year’s class.
|10. Detroit Lions||OLB/DE||Anthony Barr||UCLA||(Previous Pick: Justin Gilbert – CB)
Rumblings are becoming tremors about Detroit’s love affair with Sammy Watkins and their desire to trade up and get him, but they also have done a lot of research on Barr who fills a big need at rush linebacker. At 10, his potential could make him a steal.
|11. Tennessee Titans||CB||Justin Gilbert||Oklahoma State||(Previous Pick: CJ Mosley – ILB)
With the loss of Alterraun Verner, the Titans are missing something on the back end. To find the top corner on nearly every team’s board sat at 11 will be a welcome sight for the Tennessee front office: Gilbert should start straight away.
|12. New York Giants||DT||Timmy Jernigan||Florida State||(Previous Pick: Taylor Lewan – OT)
After Linval Joseph moved on to pastures new, the Giants have 3 DT’s on their roster, and at 12, they have the pick of all this year’s DT class. This is a case of need and could also be the best player on their board. Aaron Donald may be more explosive, but Timmy Jernigan fits the ‘all-round’ height/weight/speed mould that Tom Coughlin likes in the middle of his line, and has the big time competition advantage.
|13. St Louis Rams||FS||HaHa Clinton Dix||Alabama||(Previous Pick: Calvin Pryor – FS)
Clinton-Dix not only fills a huge need for the Rams, it seems as if his stock is rising faster than that of Calvin Pryor. He will be a top player in the middle of this defense and a very solid pick.
|14. Chicago Bears||DT||Aaron Donald||Pittsburgh||(Previous Pick: HaHa Clinton-Dix – FS)
The Bears are happy to see Donald still here as it sounds like all their eggs have been put in his rapidly rising stock basket. They need defensive reinforcements right up the centre of the unit, and the undersized yet persistent and effective Donald is a great player to start with.
|15. Pittsburgh Steelers||CB||Darqueze Dennard||Michigan St.||(Previous Pick: Kelvin Benjamin – WR)
Pittsburgh may be tempted to go with Eric Ebron here to add some spice to their offense, but defensive needs for the Steelers have long been regarded as more important. Ike Taylor was disappointing last year and the Steelers will be looking to get younger again on the defensive side of the ball.
|16. Dallas Cowboys||S||Calvin Pryor||Louisville||(Previous Pick: Louis Nix III – NT)
Safety has been a position that the Cowboys have struggled at for a long time, and Jerry Jones’ tem will love the physical leadership Pryor can bring to this team. I’ve said it before and I’ll stick to it: I think this kid could be something else, so it’s a good pick for the Cowboys.
|17. Baltimore Ravens||OT||Taylor Lewan||Michigan||(Previous Pick: Marquise Lee – WR)
The Ravens have a habit of waiting for the best talent available and taking that player regardless of position. GM Ozzie Newsome is a master at picking players who will have long and successful careers in the NFL, and if Lewan’s interviews go well, he has the potential to be a fixture on that line for years to come. There aren’t many better technically.
|18. New York Jets||TE||Eric Ebron||North Carolina||(Previous Pick: No Change)
Yep, Ebron is still only at 18, and I’m always going to be wary of putting him any higher. TE is just not a highly valued position, but for the Jets, Ebron’s height and speed in the passing game is exactly the kind of presence they want to add.
|19. Miami Dolphins||OT||Zack Martin||Notre Dame||(Previous Pick: No Change)
Not much has happened over the past few weeks to suggest to me that the Dolphins will do anything but take the best offensive lineman available here. That’s Zack Martin.
|20. Arizona Cardinals||DE||Kony Ealy||Missouri||(Previous Pick: Antonio Richardson – OT)
The Cardinals are in a great position where they can afford to pick the best player on their board, but their eyes may be drawn to a man who also fills a need. Kony Ealy is long and fast, and with a little tutoring from John Abraham, who is in the last year of his contract, he could be an excellent player in the desert.
|21. Green Bay Packers||ILB||CJ Mosley||Alabama||(Previous Pick: Timmy Jernigan – DT)
The Pack need to add speed and leadership to the centre of their defense, so CJ Mosley is probably not only BPA, he fits a huge need for the Packers.
|22. Philadelphia Eagles||WR||Marquise Lee||USC||Previous Pick: Darqueze Dennard – CB)
After losing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles want to replace the speed and dynamism he gave them in the offense. Marquise Lee may not be quite as fast but he is productive in a big league college program and I’m sure Chip Kelly loves the multitude of ways that he could use Lee.
|23. Kansas City Chiefs||WR||Odell Beckham||LSU||(Previous Pick: Kelvin Benjamin – WR)
The Chiefs just saw Dexter McCluster walk out of the door, and a player of his explosiveness will be missed, so how better to soften the blow than to take one of the most explosive offensive players in the draft. Beckham could make Alex Smith’s life a lot more enjoyable – he’s a home run threat from anywhere.
|24. Cincinnati Bengals||CB||Bradley Roby||Ohio St.||(Previous Pick: Kony Ealy – DE/OLB)
The Bengals have a few corners on the wrong side of father time and injuries, and need some youth on the back end to couple with Dre Kirkpatrick. This is such a Cincinnati pick: Roby has character issues but bucketloads of talent (See Vontaze Burfict), and sometimes these kind of gambles are worth it. His tape from 2 years ago was spectacular.
|25. San Diego Chargers||CB||Jason Verrett||TCU||(Previous Pick: No Change)
He’s too small. So was Tyrann Mathieu. That’s not worked out so badly. The Chargers are desperate for help on the back end of their defense, and a competitor like Verrett is exactly what they need. The man from TCU has great technique and fights for everything.
|26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis)||WR||Brandin Cooks||Oregon St,||(Previous Pick: Mike Evans – WR)
Draft a rd 1 QB and tradition emplores you to weaponize him. Brandin Cooks is fast and full of potential. He would fill a gap in the Browns’ offense, in the slot especially, providing a TD shot on any play.
|27. New Orleans Saints||DE||Stephon Tuitt||Notre Dame||(Previous Pick: No Change)
After losing Will Smith, the Saints need to help Cam Jordan and provide some pass rush. You can bet that Rob Ryan will be petitioning ceaselessly to spend this pick on the defense, and he gets his prototypical defensive end. Tuitt has all the physical tools to be a star in this league, but he just needs to up his motor and be a bit nastier. Ryan can definitely teach him to do that.
|28. Carolina Panthers||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||Florida St.||(Previous Pick: Allen Robinson – WR)
The Panthers will take at least two WR’s in this draft, and if they can lay their hands on Benjamin, they could be getting the safest hands in the draft. At 6’5’, he’s a big man with speed and strength; the prototypical no. 1 wideout. I like Benjamin and think he could end up being special. Cam would like that.
|29. New England Patriots||DT||Ra’Shede Hanegan||Minnesota||(Previous Pick: Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE)
Concerns over Hageman’s maturity and motor are ones that Bill Belichick feels he can work around when he looks at the potential of this huge, fast, strong defensive tackle. Mentoring from Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork should keep this talented player with both his feet on the ground, and that’s important for a guy with a ceiling that is as high as you can get, while having huge bust potential.
|30. San Francisco 49’ers||CB||Kyle Fuller||Virginia Tech||(Previous Pick: Bradley Roby – CB)
The Niners’ secondary wasn’t what it used to be last year and I’m sure that Coach Harbaugh is looking to add contributors to the back end. Fuller is good at everything required to be a top corner in the league, so this would be a very solid pick.
|31. Denver Broncos||LB||Ryan Shazier||Ohio St,||(Previous Pick: Kyle Fuller – CB)
Denver looked a little weak over the middle and through the centre at times last year defensively, and adding an athletic tackling machine like Shazier would instantly make this unit a different proposition.
|32. Seattle Seahawks||OG/
|Xavier Su’a-Filo||UCLA||(Previous Pick: Aaron Donald – DT)
As good as the Seahawks were last year, their offensive line struggled, and for Russell Wilson to stay effective and healthy, he needs better protection. Su’a-Filo is a great pick here, he’s versatile enough to play almost anywhere across the line, and Pete Carroll will love his durability and smarts.