Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft by Carroll Bryant

The 2014 NFL draft is almost upon us. It's just a week away. Many are speculating what the Houston Texans are going to do with the number one overall pick. Well, I am here to put my two cents in the kitty. I think I have this figured out.

After a whirlwind free agency, many teams remain unsettled at multiple positions. This draft will be unlike any other in recent memory. It's one of the deepest drafts football has seen for quite a while. Don't be too surprised if more 6th and 7th rounders stick this year than normal. So let's begin, shall we?

1) Houston Texans. (Blake Bortles QB, Central Florida)

All Houston needs is a QB. Period! Maybe some depth on the O-line, and perhaps someone on the DE side of the ball to compliment J.J. Watts, and they could use a little more depth in the secondary. (Who couldn't?) However, first and foremost, they need a QB. But who to choose? Well, the fan favorite going in would be Johnny Football himself, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel. This is exactly who I think they should not pick. Instead, I like this Bortles kid. He's big, strong armed, and can throw a country mile. Back in the day when they last had the number one overall pick, they had their choice of QB Vince Young, RB Reggie Bush and DE Mario Williams. The Texans went against the grain and selected Williams. While many suggest the Texans will do the same this time around, I laugh at the notion. The Texans need a compliment to Watts at the DE position, not another star, so South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney is out of the picture. Clowny will be a star, but the Texans need a QB like a fat kid needs to go on a diet. This is why I think they will go with QB this time around. New head coach, Bill O'Brien, likes the more traditional pocket passer type, another reason why I think they will go with Bortles. I know Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is considered the best QB in the draft, and most NFL ready, but I disagree. After his atrocious pro day, Teddy has dropped considerably in my book. He also needs a year or two to grow into his 6-5 frame. He needs to beef up a little in order to take some of those NFL sized hits he's going to get. The Texans always have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds to address DE, secondary, and O-line. But Bortles would be the best selection for the Texans with this pick.

2) St. Louis Rams. (OT Greg Robinson, Auburn)

While it is tempting for the Rams to trade this pick, I don't see it. This is their pick for trading with Washington Redskins a couple years ago in so Washington could move up and take QB RGIII. The Rams have a nice young RB in Zac Stacey, who could be a star in this league and nothing could help that woeful offense more than beefing up that O-line. Plus, Robinson is the blindside Tackle, which could help to protect injury prone QB Sam Bradford. This pick makes perfect sense. Sure, Clowney would be tempting, but this is a deep draft class, but O-linemen of this caliber is hard to find in any draft. Besides, the Rams have another pick coming up shortly in the first round and they can always take a DE with that one.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars. (QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville)

Once again, it just makes sense. The Jags need a QB and with Bortles off the board, and Johnny Football such a gamble (in my opinion) Teddy is in line to be selected at this spot. Oh, sure, Clowney will always  still be tempting, even to the Rams, but needs come first at this point in the draft and for the Jags, their biggest need is a franchise QB. Something they have lacked since Mark Brunell. At long last, they now have that franchise QB. And in a couple of years, they may actually be relevant. Though I wouldn't go with Teddy personally, it's not my call. But I do think Jags will go with him.

4) Cleveland Browns (Johnny Manziel QB, Texas A&M)

Here we go. The most crucial part of this draft. Cleveland is a wildcard at this spot, and I'll tell you why. They have an interest in Washington back-up QB Kirk Cousins. And with good reason. Cousins is in the third year of his four year rookie contract, so a good fit for the salary cap. Also, Kirk has game. I know the Redskins have gone on record saying that Kirk is not available for trading, then changed their mind later saying they would take nothing less than a 2nd round pick, however, with Cleveland owning the Colts first round pick from trading RB Trent Richardson, I still think they might dangle that pick in front of Washington for Cousins. If by chance the Redskins bite, then bye, bye Johnny Football and hello WR Sammy Watkins. However, assuming Washington is dead serious about not wanting to trade Cousins, then Manziel becomes the latest victim of the QB graveyard in Cleveland. He will sell tickets for a couple of years. That's good, right?

5) Oakland Raiders (Sammy Watkins WR, Clemson)

Oakland needs a lot of everything. They had 61 million dollars for the cap this year, and hardly used much of it to this point. This includes the 7 seven million raise of the cap by the NFL for all teams so Oakland had plenty of money to fill plenty of spaces on their team. One thing they couldn't buy with that money this year in free agency was a franchise QB although they traded for Matt Schaub. There's no franchise QB out there, and Bortles is already taken. Oh sure, Clowney is tempting, again! but they signed a free agent to fill any DE needs they might have. Even though Clowney would be my pick, the Raiders are the Raiders, and they play by their own rules. And they always get this first pick wrong. Until now.  

6) Atlanta Falcons. ( DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina)

Well, well, well, look who fell in the draft. The second best defensive player in college football. No bones about it, Atlanta couldn't possibly pass this gift from the football gods up. Cha-ching! Who is the best defensive player in college football you ask? Well, take a look at the next pick and you'll find out.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Khalil Mack OLB, Buffalo)

New head coach Lovie Smith loves defense. Just check out his past Chicago Bears teams when he was head coach there. With pressing need for another WR, and depth in the secondary, they also need a left outside linebacker to compliment MLB Mason Foster, and ROLB Lavonte David. The Mack Attack will do nicely. However, if for some unforseen reason that WR Sammy Watkins should happen to stilll be available here, which I doubt, they would be well advised to take him to add another another weapon for their young QB Mike Glennon to throw to. (Although McCown is said to be the starter going into the season) With Mike Williams gone, Vincent Jackson, could use help to making the TBuc offense light up the scoreboard each and every week, not to mention, give their young RB Doug Martin some more room to run. (As if he needs that.) There would always be the second round pick to nab a LB with, so if Watkins is on the board at this spot, TBucs will take him. If not, Mack will be their man. And yes, I think overall, Mack is the best defensive player in the draft.

8) Minnesota Vikings. (OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M)

I know, I know, they too need a QB, but instead of going with Fresno State QB Derek Carr, they will make do with Matthews. You see, the Vikings have already drafted a QB much higher than his talent level in Christian Ponder. If they don't trade down a few spots here, then Matthews is the logical choice. First, they could use him, and secondly, if you can't get the QB you need, then get someone who will pass protect the QB you already got and at the same time, open up bigger holes for RB Adrian Peterson. They can always hope that Carr falls to them in the second round, which he might, and or take a different QB in the second or third round. (I would target McCarron) There will be a few still on the board who they could work into their lineup. Remember when the Bengals did it a few years ago? (Andy Dalton) The Vikings would be well advised to follow that formula this time around instead of wasting another good high draft pick on another QB who is not a top ten QB. I think they learned their lesson. At least I hope they did.

9) Buffalo Bills. (Anthony Barr OLB, UCLA)

The Bills already have their QB from last years draft, E.J. Manual. They also have some young WR's on their roster and traded for Mike Williams from Buccaneers so they won't be looking for that either. They have C.J. Spiller to run the ball with Fred Jackson, so RB is out of the question. With OT Greg Robinson and OG Jake Matthews gone, this would be their most logical choice. And a great choice it will be too. He will solidify their LB corp, make no mistake about that. He has dropped in recent weeks, but I think this kid is a sleeper. He will be a steal at #9, in my opinion. The Bills would be wise to draft this kid. 

10) Detroit Lions. (WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M)

I know the consensus is they should take WR Marqise Lee here, but he had a rather disappointing senior season at USC, and he is injury prone. The Lions have had enough of injury prone WR's. They need a compliment to "Megatron" and they need one NOW! Okay, I know they signed Tate this off-season, but Evans is six feet and five inches tall, compared to 6-1 with Lee, so he will be another big target for QB Matthew Stafford. He could be "Megatron Jr." in fact. Not to mention, another great red-zone target. The Lions would be foolish to pass up on this guy. With such a deep draft to address other areas, to add Evans with Tate, Megatron, and their one two punch at RB (Bush, Bell) the Lions would be even that more tougher to defend against. They could be scoring points like a pinball machine. (Or is that outdated?)

11) Tennessee Titans. (CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State)

While the Vikings may be tempted to take this guy at number 8, I think they will pass for Matthews, but the Titans could use some DB help as well, especially since they didn't resign free agent CB Alterraun Verner. (Or sign a replacement) Dennard would only solidify their secondary that much more. And let's face it, the Titans, like everyone else, want to model their team after the world champs Seattle Seahawks, who had the undisputed number one secondary last year in the league.

12) New York Giants. (OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan)

The Giants need help all over the place, but while many seem to think they should draft a TE here, it is well known in the NFL that rarely do TE's ever really make an impact in their rookie season. Not even Jimmy Graham made an impact in his rookie year, so why go TE here at a spot where you need an impact player? It makes no sense. What the football Giants need is some help with that shoddy O-line. Lewan is that help. He will step in from week one as a starter. That's what you're looking for with your first round pick. Especially the number 12 pick overall. Besides, the Giants still have the second round to take a TE. There will be a good one still there.

13) St. Louis Rams. (DE Kony Ealy, Missouri)

This is a tricky part of the draft. While Marqise Lee would be tempting, they already drafted a WR last year in Tavon Austin. I doubt they will do it again. They could trade this pick to the New York Jets, who covet Lee, but that would require New York Jets to throw in perhaps a third round pick, something I don't see them doing. Still, the Rams could use a hefty DE to help with the pass rush. Ealy fits the bill. There is ample opportunity for them to grab another WR later, there are a plethora of WR's in this draft, so why waste a pick on one this early when you can get a pass rusher instead? Kony will shore up that defensive front for the Rams, make no mistake. And after passing up Clowney with the number two pick for OT Greg Robinson, it makes good sense. I doubt by seasons end that anybody will know the difference.

14) Chicago Bears. (OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame)

While LB C.J. Mosely and DT Louis Nix would be tempting here, the Bears need help on the O-line. They have one of the best RB's in the game in Matt Forte, and they just inked QB Jay Cutler to a long term deal, so why not make good on your investment by selecting the next best available offensive lineman in the draft? It just makes good sense to do so.

15) Pittsburgh Steelers. (ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama)

The Steel curtain needs fixing. None better to start with than Mosley.

16) Baltimore Ravens. (DE Dee Ford, Auburn)

With Mosley now gone to the Steelers, look for the Ravens to beef up their defense as well. Many think they will go WR here, but the Ravens already have Torrey Smith, second year guy, Marlon Brown, Jacoby Jones and young Tandon Moss. Not to mention their signing of former Panther WR Steve Smith. They needn't to add another at this point in the draft. Maybe later they might take another WR, but not here. There is a chance they could trade down and draft a linebacker though, otherwise, it's Ford.

17) Dallas Cowboys / New York Jets. (WR Marqise Lee, USC - FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama) (Draft position between Dallas and Jets will be determined on draft day.)

If the Jets end up with this pick, they take WR Lee. If Dallas is here, they either take Clinton-Dix or they trade down. My money is that they will trade down to try and pick up an extra pick in the 4th round. Whomever they trade down with, will take Dix. 

18) New York Jets / Dallas Cowboys.

Jets take Lee. 

19) Miami Dolphins. (CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State)

The Dolphins could use another O-lineman to open holes for Moreno, sure, but they are building something special on defense, and Gilbert will only add to that big time. Nice pick Miami.

20) Arizona Cardinals. (OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama)

When you have a chance to take a big offensive lineman at this spot in the draft like Kouandjio, you take him. Nuff said. Although I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Miami takes him.

21) Green Bay Packers. (Eric Ebron TE, North Carolina)

After resigning DT B.J. Raji, the Packers now turn to their biggest need, TE, and Ebron has been impressive thus far in all the workouts.But it's a known fact that most TE's don't make much of an impact their rookie year. As it is with the WR position, it takes most rookies at these positions to adjust to the speed of the defense while making the transition from college to the pros. But with Aaron Rogers throwing the ball, and all the talent they have on offense, Eric would probably thrive in the Packers system.

22) Philadelphia Eagles. (FS Calvin Pryor, Louisville)

The Eagles will look to shore up their secondary. They could go DT here, maybe, but I doubt it.

23) Kansas City Chiefs. (WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State)

KC needs another WR opposite Dwayne Bowe. Benjamin is that guy.

24) Cincinnati Bengals. (QB Derek Carr, Fresno State)

With no major needs, the Bengals have the luxury to take the best available player at this spot in the draft. Looking to push current starting QB Andy Dalton, Carr makes perfect sense here. If Carr doesn't beat out Dalton in pre-season, he will be a ready to go back up if Dalton gets hurt, or flounders. He could end up starting by seasons end, or in his 2nd or 3rd year. QB depth is always coveted, just ask the Redskins.

25) San Diego Chargers. (WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU)

The safe bet here is probably DT's Louis Nix, Timmy Jernigan or DT Aaron Donald, either would be nice, but the Chargers are needing another WR to go with last years rookie sensation, Keenan Allen, and Beckham will be too tempting to pass up.

26) Cleveland Browns (OG David Yankey, Stanford)

If Cleveland doesn't trade this pick to Washington for QB Kirk Cousins then it's an O-lineman for them. Although, WR Allen Robinson could be an alternate pick here, but with so many good WR's that will still be available in round two, this is an opportunity to beef up their O-line.

27) New Orleans Saints. (Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame)

After signing Byrd at CB this off season, the Saints continue to march on towards building a better defense, despite the fact they really should be focusing on offense after trading Sproles and releasing WR Lance Moore.  

28) Carolina Panther. (WR Allen Robinson, Penn State)

Cam needs a new toy. Seriously, Cam needs a few new toys.

29) New England Patriots. (DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh)

It's simple, the Pats need two things: TE and DT. While Amaro would be inviting, I think big Bill goes defense with this one. Wilfork is coming off of an injury and appears to want out of New England. It may be wise to have someone ready in any event. If you can't stop the run then your football games aint gonna be much fun - Brady or not. 

30) San Francisco 49er's. (CB Bradley Robey, Ohio State)

They lost some defensive free agents this off season. Make no mistake, Robey will absorb some of the sting.

31) Denver Broncos. (DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame)

This is a good spot to add some more defensive punch to what they already added this past off season.

32) Seattle Seahawks. (WR Jordan Mathews, Vanderbilt)

This is my "shocker" pick of the first round. After losing Tate to the Lions in free agency, the Seahawks need to fill the void. I have Jordan as a top five WR. I think he is going to surprise a lot of people. Seattle would be foolish not to take him. While Mathews is slated as maybe a late 2nd round or early 3rd round pick, I wouldn't gamble if I were Seahawks. Just take the kid and watch him make plays.

Okay football fans, there you go. My version of how the draft could go down in the first round. Obviously, trades could alter this quite a bit, but I doubt by very much. There's still a lot of talent left on the boards and in my opinion, this could be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. Especially at WR, defensive tackle, and secondary players. There's a lot of decent looking QB's and offensive linemen in this draft as well. A very deep draft indeed. Don't be surprised if in five years, we look back at all the future stars that came from this draft. There will be many I'm sure.

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