With the 2014 NFL Draft exactly 100 days away, here is my first mock for this year’s first round. As we inch closer to May 8th, we’ll continue bringing you draft coverage and updated mock drafts here at Lombardi Ave.
Take a look at who I have going in the first round and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
1. Houston Texans – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Houston clearly needs help at quarterback considering the recent collapse of Matt Schaub. It might be a tough call between Bortles and Bridgewater, but I think Bortles has the better arm and is a bit more polished as a passer.
2. St. Louis Rams (from WAS) – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins may be the most dynamic offensive player in this draft. St. Louis did draft Tavon Ausitn last year, but they need more weapons in the passing game for quarterback Sam Bradford. Like Austin, Watkins can do a lot with the ball in his hands, but the Clemson standout is also dangerous downfield.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Bridgewater is a dual-threat quarterback that may not be as polished as Bortles or Carr, but he has a ton of upside and could add a lot to the Jaguars offense. Bridgewater’s ability to scramble also helps out a shaky Jacksonville offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last season.
4. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel rounds out an early run on quarterbacks. He lacks ideal size, but he’s a dynamic player that shows up in big games. Early word is that Cleveland is highly interested in the Texas A&M prospect, but who knows if Cleveland is just blowing smoke. Regardless, quarterback is a top priority for the Browns in the draft.
5. Oakland Raiders – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Oakland could easily take a dynamic pass rusher like Clowney or Barr here, but their offensive line also needs a lot of work. A group that gave up 44 sacks last season could use help from the top tackle in this year’s draft class.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
The Falcons were awful on defense last year. I’m sure they’d be overjoyed if the top defensive playmaker, perhaps the best player in the draft, just fell in their lap. Clowney has all the tools to be a megastar at the next level.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr may be better suited in a 3-4 defense, but Tampa Bay could use another impact player in their front seven. The UCLA prospect could play a hybrid OLB/DE role in the Buccaneers defense and bring a little more pass rush to their team.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carr could end up being the best quarterback in this draft class. The Fresno State QB has impressed scouts with his performance at the Senior Bowl, and Minnesota has spent years without an impact player under center.
9. Buffalo Bills – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
The Bills were awful in pass protection last year, giving up 48 sacks. Buffalo could go any number of ways with this pick, but they need to address their offensive line woes. There isn’t a better answer than Auburn’s Greg Robinson. He’s going to make a very good left tackle in the NFL.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Detroit has a dominant front seven, but their secondary has been their Achilles heel on defense for several years now. With the tenth overall pick, Detroit will get a chance to select the top corner in the draft in Justin Gilbert. Gilbert should help the Lions in a division where they face big receivers like Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, and Cordarelle Patterson on a regular basis.
11. Tennessee Titans – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Mosley is by far the top inside linebacker in this draft class, and Tennessee could use a force in the middle of their defense. The inside linebacker position has been a revolving door for the Titans as of late. Mosley would provide a consistent presence at linebacker.
12. New York Giants – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Mack is a ferocious pass rusher and the Giants could use some linebacker talent that can both play the run and get after the quarterback. Mack gives New York another dynamic playmaker on defense to line up alongside Jon Beason.
13. St. Louis Rams – Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Rams boast an impressive defensive front, but their secondary could use an upgrade. Dennard is a physical corner that can play on an island and be matched up against the opponent’s top receiver.
14. Chicago Bears – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The Bears defense is a shell of its past self, and a majority of their problems is at the interior of their defensive line. Hageman may be the most versatile and physically gifted defensive lineman in this draft, but he needs to show more consistency. Hageman could really help out a Bears team that struggled to stop the run this past season.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame
Since losing Casey Hampton, the Steelers haven’t had a consistent presence in the middle of their defensive line. Brett Keisel is also getting up there in age. Nix could be their nose tackle of the future and would bring the rugged type of play Pittsburgh has been known for in years past.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Joe Flacco was constantly harassed in the pocket last season. He was sacked 48 times, making that the second most in the league last year. Kouandjio is the best tackle left on the board and would be an upgrade for the Ravens pass protection.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
The Cowboys defense was awful last year. They lacked impact players, and Clinton-Dix could give them a playmaker in the secondary and help shore up a pass defense that finished 30th in the NFL last season.
18. New York Jets – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Jets clearly lack playmakers in the passing game. Geno Smith could use a big receiving target like Evans. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, the junior from Texas A&M creates mismatches on the field and could be a go-to guy for Smith and the Jets offense.
19. Miami Dolphins – Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Ebron would give Miami a weapon on offense that could work the middle of the field and allow Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline to get some single coverage. Ebron is also a willing blocker in the running game and can use his combination of athleticism and size to create mismatches in the passing game.
20. Arizona Cardinals - Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
Tuitt gives Arizona a versatile defensive lineman to play alongside Calais Campbell. Tuitt has experience as a 3-4 end, is stout against the run, and can get after the quarterback. The Cardinals would gain another difference maker on an already solid defense.
21. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The Packers clearly need safety help, and Pryor is a dynamic player at the position. He can play up in the box in run support, drop back in coverage and ball hawk, and deliver a big hit in the open field. Pryor could be an impact player on a Packers defense that needs more playmakers.
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
The Eagles shortcomings last season were primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Ealy is a raw defensive end prospect with a ton of athletic ability and upside. He could flourish in Philadelphia’s 3-4/4-3 hybrid scheme as both an end and rush backer.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
The Chiefs have plenty of playmakers on defense, but they need more fire power on offense. Amaro is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. He could be a real receiving threat from the tight end position, and be a guy defenses have to account for in the middle of the field.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.J. Green is one of the top receivers in the league, but the Bengals could use another guy that could take some of the pressure of Green in the passing game. Lee can line up in the slot or on the outside. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and would give Cincinnati a versatile offensive weapon.
25. San Diego Chargers – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Van Noy is one of the better all-around linebacker prospects in the draft. He can play on the outside or inside. He can play the run, rush the passer, and drop back in coverage. San Diego would be glad to pick up a guy like Van Noy near the end of the first round.
26. Cleveland Browns (from IND) – David Yankey, OG/C, Stanford
If center Alex Mack doesn’t re-sign and hits the free agent market, then Cleveland will be in desperate need of center. Yankey is the top interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft. He is a natural guard, but he can also play center. Even if Mack returns to Cleveland, the Browns could use Yankey at guard.
27. New Orleans Saints – Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Saints secondary could use more impact players. Verrett is one of the most aggressive cornerbacks in this year’s draft class. He’s a bit undersized, but he can make plays and would give the Saints a physical presence in their secondary.
28. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Steve Smith is going to turn 35 this year, and the Panthers need more receiving weapons. Benjamin provides a big target downfield for Cam Newton and company.
29. New England Patriots - Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson is one of the more polished receivers in this year’s draft. He’d be a great late first round find for a Patriots team desperately needing more receiving talent for Tom Brady to throw to.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby is one of the fastest defensive backs in this year’s class. The 49ers may not have many holes on their team, but cornerback is certainly a position they need to address. Trumaine Brock and Carlos Rogers are decent starters, but their defense could use a third talented defensive back to play nickel.
31. Denver Broncos – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburg
Donald is the best interior rusher in the draft. He’d be a top-ten pick if he was only a few inches taller and had a few more pounds on his frame. The Broncos could utilize Donald’s affinity for getting after the quarterback on their line.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Seahawks have a dominant defense, but their offense doesn’t always hold up their end. Seferian-Jenkins would provide a great threat in the passing game, and his ability to excel as a blocker would fit in well with Seattle’s ground-and-pound rushing attack.