A (not so) quick note: I left a couple notable names out of this mock draft. I’ve have been the biggest proponent of Michigan QB Devin Gardner but he didn’t find his way into the mock draft. I decided to take the wait and see approach with Gardner and Kevin Hogan, who I think could be first round picks if they declare for the draft. With Gardner I think it’s likely with another solid season in Ann Arbor. Hogan, will be a redshirt sophomore and history says he’ll stay at least another season.
Another notable name not on in our first 2014 NFL Mock Draft is that of Johnny Football. I opted to leave Manziel off the list because there’s still a lot to be desired about him as an NFL quarterback. I’m a Manziel fan but he needs to show more as a passer this season before I start singing his praises as an NFL quarterback. At this point, I have a hard time not thinking Manziel is the latest college novelty quarterback. Harsh…maybe…but it’s my job to evaluate NFL prospects and I don’t see it in Manziel, in his current form. Bring on the hatemail, A&M fans and the City of Kerrville.
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1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
It’s going to be a rough one in Jacksonville for Gus Bradley in year one. Justin Blackmon is out the first four games of the season and this team needed a break or six to stay out of the NFL cellar. The Jaguars will be moving on from Blaine Gabbert if they don’t make marked improvement.
2. Oakland Raiders – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Clowney will be the highest rated defensive player in my days of evaluating players. He’s a special talent that is capable of being an impact defender from day one entering the NFL. The Raiders are in need of a pass rusher in the worst of ways and Clowney gives this organization a face to build on. The 2014 offseason will be huge for building the future of this franchise as Reggie McKenzie has a boatload of cap to work with.
3. New York Jets – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr was special last season. The scary thing is that it was his first full season playing OLB. If Barr can continue to develop he could push the top of the draft with the two big headliners. Barr is, by all reports, getting stronger and worked hard this offseason to develop as a player.
4. Buffalo Bills – Marqise Lee, WR, USC
I’m not sold on Marqise Lee as a top five talent at this point. He’s not as big or fast as Julio Jones and isn’t the player that A.J. Green was. That said, if puts up big numbers this season he could push that evaluation much higher.
5. San Diego Chargers – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Chargers go back to back years at the offensive tackle position. D.J. Fluker is a pure RT and Matthews could be the long-term answer at the left tackle spot. If the Chargers are selecting this high it will be tough to not take a long look at a quarterback at this spot.
6. Arizona Cardinals – David Fales, QB, San Jose State (Scouting Report)
Carson Palmer is not the long-term solution at QB and the Cardinals will look to this quarterback rich draft for an answer at the position. Fales’ skill set best suits Bruce Arians offense. In year one as a starter at SJSU, Fales was very good and is only going to get better.
7. Cleveland Browns – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Hundley doesn’t quite have Cam Newton’s size but is a similar talent with his arm talent and athleticism. Rob Chudzinski will be craving what he left in Carolina and Hundley is the closest thing to him in this draft.
8. Tennessee Titans – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
The talent of this quarterback class is beginning to show as four are taken in the first eight picks. Boyd has a tendency to get better in each game he plays and I could see him legitimatizing himself as a top 10 option with another season with talented WR crop. If the Titans are selecting eighth, they will be moving on from Jake Locker.
9. Kansas City Chiefs – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The Chiefs have addressed a ton of holes this offseason. I liked what they did as much as any team in the league. They could look at the long-term answer at QB at this spot with a Devin Gardner/Kevin Hogan type. If they don’t go QB, the defensive line remains a sore spot. Adding Tuitt to the Poe and Mike Devito.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cyrus Kouandijo, OT, Alabama
Tampa Bay will have the difficult decision to turn the page on Josh Freeman after this season if he can get this team over the hump. I’m not sure what it takes for Freeman to hang on in Tampa but below .500 would seem to not be that mark. Mike Glennon was taken as some competition for Freeman and could be a long-term solution. The offensive line is a tad overrated. Kouandijo is talented—he may have to move to the right side initially but is the answer at left tackle for the future.
11. Carolina Panthers – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Panthers are going to struggle at the receiver position in the coming years unless they elect to take a stud atop the draft. Watkins is a big-time talent that could give Cam Newton a guy to grow with for a very long time.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
The Steelers are on the hook for almost $8 million for the Heath Miller, who will be 31 and a year removed from an ACL. Cutting Miller will save the Steelers $6 million on the cap. Jenkins ran into some off the field issues this offseason but remains one of the most talented TE prospects in recent memory. He instantly upgrades the Steelers passing attack and can be used in a multitude of ways.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Roby was the best corner in college football last season, which includes the more heralded Dee Milliner. If he can pick off more passes this season, this spot will be a pipe dream. He’s a fluid mover with man cover skills for days. Cary Williams is very average in my book and is going to need replaced in the starting lineup.
14. St. Louis Rams – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Clinton-Dix is a big time talent that can play in the backend and step in the box in run support. The Rams drafted T.J. McDonald but he doesn’t give the Rams a solution to the problems at both safety positions.
15. Miami Dolphins – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The Dolphins are looking for a stopgap at either tackle spot. With Jon Martin best suited for the right side, they should be in the market for someone to protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside in next year’s draft. I’m not 100% sold on Lewan’s ability to lock down the left side but he’s the best of what’s available.
16. Detroit Lions – Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
“Tiny” Richardson was one of the many stalwarts of a very good UT line in 2012. Another season of starting experience on the left side for Richardson will go a long way in helping to solidify his ability as a pass protector. At 6-foot-6, 332 pounds with vines for arms, Richardson is going to catch the attention of NFL scouts but will have to show he has the feet to man the left side at the next level.