Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Post Free Agency

Here is my Post Free Agency 2014 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by regular updates up until the NFL Draft on May 8th.

My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports ReportWalter Football, FF Toolbox,, The Football ExpertFantasy Football Help Desk, The Huddle Report, Niners Nation, EDS Football, NFL Mock Draft Central and NFL Pro Zach in their Mock Draft Databases.

1st Round

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina:

Should the Texans draft a franchise QB like Johnny Manziel, or should the select a higher rated player like Jadeveon Clowney even though DE is not a position of need?

One one hand, the Texans aren't rebuilding, so they could use a QB like Johnny Manziel who could step in and help them win right away. On the other hand, Jadeveon Clowney is a once in a lifetime talent who's too good to pass up regardless of what position he plays and how he fits in the Texans 3-4 scheme.

I find it funny how some people have criticized Clowney's motivation and work ethic. This kid was supposed to be the clear cut #1 pick heading into this year's draft after his sophomore season, and he made no attempt to hide the fact that he did not want to remain in college for another year. Clowney made little attempt to hide the fact that he played last season not to get hurt, which explains his perceived lack of effort and production, especially against lesser opponents. Then showed up at the Combine and blew everyone away.

2. St. Louis Rams – Jake Mathews, OT, Texas A and M:

Do the Rams stay put at #2, or can they trade down and accumulate additional picks?

Ideally, the Rams could trade down a few spots and still land the impact LT that they so badly need. However, the only player that I really see as worth trading up to the #2 spot for is Jadeveon Clowney, and in this scenario he went #1 to the Texans. That leaves the Rams to take Jake Mathews at #2 unless another team really covets Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, or one of the QB's.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A and M: 

Will the Jaguars address their need for a QB in the 1st Round?

Much like the Browns, Jacksonville owner Shad Khan has already disclosed that he intends on finding a new quarterback for the Jaguars. The Jaguars will face perhaps the toughest question in the draft in deciding whether or not to draft that QB at #3, or whether they take another impact player like Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack. As it turns out, "Johnny Football" is the only marketable draft candidate who can serve as the face of the franchise when Khan ultimately moves the Jags to London.

4. Cleveland Browns - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: 

Is there a more dysfunctional franchise in all of pro sports right now than the Cleveland Browns? 

Having blown through two head coaches and two GM's in just over a year, it's been rumored that the Browns will pass on a QB at #4, and instead focus on David Carr or one of the top QB's who might fall when they pick at #26. While that's not a bad strategy in theory, when you have a pocket full of draft picks to work with and your best QB in the past 25 years has been Derek Anderson, it's probably best not to shop in the bargain rack. 

5. Oakland Raiders - Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Buffalo:

Will the Raiders pass on a QB?

At one point it looked like the Raiders might miss out on a chance to select the top three QB prospects at #5. Now it looks like they might even have a chance of having their pick of them should they so choose. However, John Clayton has reported that the Raiders are not expected to select a QB in the 1st Round, I'm guessing because GM Reggie McKenzie is trying to win a few games now and save his job rather than doing the prudent thing and rebuilding. Either that, or he truly believes that Oakland was just six or seven aging veterans away from being Super Bowl contenders.

6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson, T, Auburn: 

Will the Falcons target a LT or a OLB/DE in the 1st Round?

If Atlanta is looking for a DE/OLB for their new 3-4 defense in the 1st Round, it's looking more and more like they'll have to trade up to get one of the elite prospects like Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack. That leaves the Falcons looking at a LT. Whether it's Jake Mathews or Greg Robinson, the Falcons desperately need help at OT, and either would immediately represent a much needed upgrade over current LT Sam Baker.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A and M: 

Will Tampa Bay be better than they were last year?

Despite being very active in free agency for the second straight year, it seems like Tampa Bay simply made a lot of lateral moves. Likewise, Mike Williams finally wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay after his brother stabbed him in the thigh, so now they need to use a high draft pick to replace him. A big WR like Mike Evans would be an ideal replacement...Well, either Evans or Plaxico Burress.

8. Minnesota Vikings – Blake Bortels, QB, Central Florida: 

Will the Vikings land their franchise QB at pick #8, or will they wait until the 2nd Round to find a signal caller to develop?

Unless one of the top three QB's falls to #8, the Vikings could wait until the 2nd Round to find a signal caller of the future. As of right now, Bortels might be too attractive of an option to pass up if he's still available when the Vikings at pick.

9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan: 

What position represents the best value for Buffalo in the 1st Round?

Buffalo could go for an OT in the first round, or they could target an OLB, TE or WR. If a legitimate LT like Taylor Lewan is still available, the Bills could move Cordy Glenn to a more natural position like RT or even G where he could put his physicality to better use. Unlike a true LT, the other positions can be filled later in the draft.

10. Detroit Lions – Anthony Bar, LB, UCLA: 

Would the Lions really trade up for Sammy Watkins?

Don't mistake the Lions doing their due diligence on Sammy Watkins for an interest in trading up to the #2 spot to select him, because that's not going to happen. If Mike Evans is off the board, I'm starting to think that Detroit will pass on a CB even if they have their choice of Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. The Lions would really like to improve their pass rush, and OLB Anthony Barr may be the three down "flamethrower" that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is looking for at the SAM position.

11. Tennessee Titans – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: 

Do the Titans have the personnel to transition to a 3-4 defense?

Akeem Ayers and Zack Brown are both LB's that appear better suited for a 4-3 defense, but it's probably too early to given up on them without giving them a shot at rushing the passer first. Justin Gilbert would give the Titans a cover CB who can not only replace Alteraunn Verner, but should allow the rest of the Titans defense to play more aggressively.

12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: 

Will one of the elite T's drop to the Giants at #12?

The Giants offensive line is a complete mess, and drafting a LT would be the best place to start to address that problem. However, the Giants will be hard pressed to find a true starting caliber LT on the board when they pick at #12. High motor DT Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh seems to be a player that many GM's are clamoring for.

13. St Louis Rams - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State:

Will the Rams draft a WR in the 1st Round?

WR's have historically been devalued in Jeff Fisher offenses, so look for the Rams to sit back and address other needs with their two picks in the 1st Round. St. Louis could stand to upgrade their secondary at both CB and S. With Darqueze Dennard grading out higher than any of the safeties on the board, CB would be the most logical pick for the Rams with their second selection in the 1st Round.

14. Chicago Bears – Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State: 

Which DT are the Bears targeting?

Timmy Jernigan of Florida State or Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh would seem to be a perfect fits for the Bears as the type of disruptive and penetrating DT who could replace Henry Melton at the "3-Technique."
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame: 

Is a NT worth a mid first round pick?

The Steel Curtain is broken with holes at key positions like NT, S and OLB. Louis Nix III would have to be a strong consideration at NT given Steve McLendon's inability to stop the run last season in a failed bid to replace Casey Hampton. With age and injuries limiting Troy Polamalu's playing time and effectiveness in recent years, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama could also be an intriguing option at S.

16. Dallas Cowboys - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri:

Why did the Cowboys demote Monte Kiffin if they are still going to play a "Tampa-Two" style defense?

Dallas finally realized the deficiencies in Monte Kiffin's "Tampa Two" defense given their lack of appropriate personnel, so they replaced him with (wait for it)....Monte Kiffin...I mean Rod Marinelli. The fact of the matter is that the four most important positions in the "Tampa Two" are DE, DT, WLB, and S, and the Cowboys still have glaring needs at three of those four positions. While Kony Ealy may be a bit of a reach at #16, Dallas doesn't have much of a choice given the other options that are available...And no, while re-signing Anthony Spencer might be a step in the right direction, it wouldn't be an answer to that problem either. 

17. Baltimore Ravens – C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama:

Should the Ravens draft a WR or a LT?

Daryl Smith adequately filled the shoes of Ray Lewis last season, but Baltimore lost another MLB in Jameel McClain this off season. With the addition of Steve Smith at WR filling one need, ILB C.J. Mosley could help bring the Ravens defense back to being an elite unit. Plus, Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome is an Alabama grad who loves his fellow Crimson Tiders/Elephants.

18. New York Jets – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State: 

Will one of the top WR's fall to the Jets at #18?

If the Jets want to add another WR via the draft, they will likely be looking at the second tier of the projected 1st Round prospects. However, word has it that they are very intrigued by Florida States Kelvin Benjamin, who despite his concerns about his work ethic, route running and blocking has scouts drooling over his side, speed and potential.

19. Miami Dolphins Zack Martin, T, Notre Dame: 

Would the Dolphins draft Taylor Lewan after the Ritchie Incognito scandal?

The Dolphins addressed the left side of their offensive line in free agency, but still could stand to add another piece or two to the puzzle on the right side via the draft. Zack Martin has the ability to play either RT or RG, giving Miami some much needed flexibility. 

Even if Taylor Lewan of Michigan happens to be on the board, I can't see him being a consideration for Miami given that he has been charged with battery and is being questioned in connection with allegedly intimidating the victim in a teammate's rape investigation in two separate incidents.

20. Arizona Cardinals – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: 

Should the Cardinals reach for a tackle?

At #20 Arizona can either reach for a T or take the best playmaker available at another position of need. The Cardinals would probably be better served by going the BPA approach and getting value at a position like WR or S. A big S like Calvin Pryor would not only fill one of their needs, but provide the Cardinals with better value than any of the remaining OL candidates. They could also consider the explosive Brandin Cooks to play slot receiver and draw some coverage away from Larry Fitzgerald.
21. Green Bay Packers - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama:

Where should the Packers go in the draft to help their defense?

The lack of a playmaker at S was a huge problem for Green Bay last season. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama would give the Packers some much needed range and ball-skills in the back end of their defense.

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State:

Can the Eagles afford to use their 1st Round pick on offense?

Philadelphia could use a S to take over starting duties from Nate Allen and an OLB, but they also created a need at WR by releasing their best big play threat, DeSean Jackson. If Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are both off the board, the Eagles could turn to Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks. While there should still be plenty of quality WR's still available in the 2nd Round, only Cooks has the explosiveness to adequately replace Jackson.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina:

Should the Chiefs draft a TE or a WR?

Kansas City could go in several different directions in this year's draft such as S, CB, WR, TE or DL. With Alex Smith in need of another receiving target, WR could be an option. However, the Chiefs could satisfy the same need at better value should TE Eric Ebron of North Carolina fall to them at #23 in the draft. In fact, a TE with receiving skills may even be a better fit for Alex Smith than a WR considering the conservative west coast passing scheme that the Chiefs employ.

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State:

Will the Bengals find a DB worth drafting at #24?

On paper the Bengals look good at CB, but they are aging and injury prone. Leon Hall is coming off his second Achilles injury, and pro athletes aren't always lucky enough to come back after one Achilles injury, let alone two. Bradley Roby of Ohio State struggled at times last season, but he has the size and speed at CB that NFL teams covet.

25. San Diego Chargers - Dee Ford, OLB/DE, Auburn:

Should the Chargers improve their defense or draft a T?

With the versatility to excel at OLB in a 3-4 defense, Dee Ford would give the Chargers a much needed edge pass rusher. CB and T could also be considerations depending on who might fall to the later part of the first round, but in this scenario, a pass rusher like Ford represents the best value of any remaining player.

26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville:

Should the Browns wait until their second pick in the first round to draft a QB?

The Browns could be gambling if they wait until their second pick in the 1st Round to try and find their new franchise QB. Their ideal situation would have one of the top QB's like Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr falling to pick #26, but Cleveland also needs to be aware of other QB needy teams trading back into the 1st Round and taking a signal caller in front of them, which could leave the Browns standing empty handed with a pocket full of draft picks when it comes to the QB position.

27. New Orleans Saints - Kyle Fuller, CB, Texas Christian:

Will the Saints solidify their secondary, or go for the best player available?

With Patrick Robinson coming off of an injury, the Saints could really use some depth at CB, if not a starter. While Kyle Fuller is not of the caliber of a Justin Gilbert or a Darqueze Dennard, he is a big corner with the man-to-man cover skills that NFL teams value too much for him to slide into the 2nd Round.

28. Carolina Panthers - Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU:

With Jordan Gross retiring and Steve Smith having been released, do the Panthers need to draft a LT or a WR in the 1st Round?

While the Panthers now have a huge need at LT after the relatively abrupt retirement of Jordan Gross, their needs at WR have reached crisis mode after their release of all time franchise player Steve Smith. Given that they'd be reaching for any of the remaining OT's this late in the 1st Round, the Panthers should select the most explosive WR left on the board and target an LT like Joe Bitonio in the 2nd Round.

29. New England Patriots - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota:

Will Bill Belichick ever draft a WR in the first round again?

With Vince Wilfork aging and injury prone, New England can use a disruptive DT to either play along side or ultimately replace him at NT. Ra'Shede Hageman's size and versatility make him an ideal fit in a Bill Belichick defense. In fact, after playing in relative anonymity at Minnesota, he could end up being the steal of the draft.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi:

Who's the best fit at WR for the 49ers?

The 49ers biggest obstacle to returning to the Super Bowl are their division rivals, the Seahawks. The best way to counteract Seattle's super-sized secondary is with quickness, and that's where an explosive player like Donte Moncrief in the slot could help not only negate the size advantage in the Seahawks' secondary, but possibly even turn it into a liability.

31. Denver Broncos - Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame:

While the Broncos have needs at ILB and G, are either of those positions worth using a 1st Round pick on?

Denver would be better off waiting until the 2nd and 3rd Rounds to address their needs at ILB and G. While the Broncos did a great job of beefing up their defense in free agency, with Derek Wolfe coming off of a spinal injury they could still stand to add a versatile DE/DT like Stephon Tuitt to their rotation.

32. Seattle Seahawks - Marqise Lee, WR, USC:

Will the Seahawks trade up to improve a position of need, or choose the best player available at #32?

The Seahawks have relatively few weaknesses after winning the Super Bowl, although they did suffer some losses at DE, WR and T in free agency. Marqise Lee of USC would seem like an ideal replacement for Golden Tate if he happens to fall to the end of the 1st Round.

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