Posted February 18, 2014

2014 NFL Mock Draft 3.1: Adjusting for Marcus Mariota’s decision to return to school

NFL Draft, NFL draft 2014
Marcus Mariota is returning to school for his redshirt junior season.

Marcus Mariota is returning to school for his redshirt junior season. (Rod Mar for Sports Illustrated)

Marcus Mariota’s announcement Tuesday that he would return to Oregon for his redshirt junior season delivered an early jolt to the 2014 NFL draft board … and rendered our Mock Draft 3.0, released just hours before Mariota’s news, relatively moot.

So, in light of that, here’s Mock Draft 3.1, with the necessary adjustments made to account for Mariota being off the board.

1. Houston Texans: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Expect the Texans to finish out their evaluation of Case Keenum in Weeks 14-17, but this franchise needs a new start under center. In Bridgewater, they would add the best quarterback in this year’s class to a talented offense already stockpiled with players like Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Arian Foster.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

How desperate are the Jaguars to score their franchise quarterback in Round 1? Mariota was the pick slotted here in Mock 3.0, but with him off the board, here’s the dilemma: Stay the course and go with Derek Carr (or whichever other QB is behind Bridgewater on Jacksonville’s board)? Or continue to build up Gus Bradley’s defense and grab a QB later (either by trading back into Round 1 or using the high Round 2 pick). For now, it’s door A.

3. St. Louis Rams – via Washington: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.

Clowney to Jacksonville would make St. Louis’ decision a little easier here. If St. Louis lands around this spot with Washington’s pick, another RGIII-like move down the board would make sense. Working off the assumption they stay put, though, I’m dropping Barr in on that defense.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Disappointing turn of events for the Falcons, who would love to add Clowney. (How about a trade up to Jacksonville’s spot, with the Jaguars sliding down and taking Derek Carr here?) That O-line needs a makeover, too, and Matthews is the best tackle available.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Matthews slides up a spot in the Mariota-less draft, leaving the Buccaneers in need of a new selection here, too. So how about adding perhaps the best WR to complement Vincent Jackson and to give emerging quarterback Mike Glennon another weapon?

6. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

What happens after Bridgewater at the QB spot depends so much on which players declare — Mariota did not. Will Johnny Manziel? Blake Bortles? Brett Hundley? We know Carr, a senior, will be available. And if you think his prospects are gaining steam now, just wait until the Senior Bowl.

7. Cleveland Browns: Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

Up from No. 17, to the Bears, in Mock 3.0. The initial plan for the Browns here was to wait and nab a quarterback later on, with Sammy Watkins the choice at No. 7. Mariota’s departure takes a big piece out of the QB puzzle, forcing the Browns to strike a lot earlier. Mettenberger can hit all the throws, a must for Rob Chudzinski’s vertical passing attack. (Update: Mettenberger reportedly suffered a torn ACL in LSU’s last game, which will keep him out of LSU’s bowl game and likely cause him to miss most pre-draft workouts. With that news, Mettenberger’s probably a Day 2 pick at best, with Johnny Manziel leading the list of replacement options for Cleveland here.)

8. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

A few of you might love this. Most probably will hate it. Even in penciling it in here, I’m not sure on which side of the fence I fall. But Manziel is better than anything the Raiders have at QB right now, be it Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin (both of whom have played admirably at times). This could be a franchise-changing type of selection.

9. Buffalo Bills: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Count the Bills as a possible landing spot here for someone like, oh, TE Eric Ebron —  a matchup nightmare for defenses and a safety net for a young QB like EJ Manuel. But in Mack the Bills would add an athletic edge player to complement rising star Kiko Alonso inside. Mack’s abilities would allow defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to be even more creative with his hybrid D.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

It’s not too much of a stretch to see Pittsburgh addressing its aging defensive line or secondary early in the 2014 draft. This pairing, however, makes too much sense. If you watched Lewan against Ohio State, you saw a lineman who can win at the point of attack or get out into the open field. With what an OL-starved Pittsburgh team wants to do on offense, he’s an ideal fit.

11. New York Jets: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Blame Geno Smith all you want for the Jets’ offensive woes (and he’s certainly part of the problem), but who is this team’s go-to guy right now? There really is not one. The 6-foot-5 Evans would slide right into that role and bail out Smith on some of those errant throws.

12. Tennessee Titans: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame

Jurrell Casey is enjoying a monster 2013 season. Drop Nix in next to him on the interior of the line, and the Titans would have a DT combo to rival those of the likes of Detroit and Cincinnati. Tennessee would be set at tackle for years to come.

13. San Diego Chargers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

The first corner off the board (though Tennessee, Pittsburgh and a couple teams above could be in the market there). The Chargers have to improve against the pass, and bringing in an aggressive corner of Ekpre-Olomu’s ilk would set the table.

14. New York Giants: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

After I tabbed Mosley as a Giant in last week’s mini-Mock, ESPN’s Dan Graziano kindly reminded me that it had been three decades since the Giants took a linebacker in Round 1 — Carl Banks, back in 1984. Well, that Banks pick worked out brilliantly, and the Giants find themselves with a clear need at the second level.

15. St. Louis Rams: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

Thanks to Joe Barksdale’s surprisingly competent play at right tackle this season, the Rams do not appear nearly as desperate for help there as they did a couple months ago. Kouandjio here, though, might be too juicy to pass up, especially with Rodger Saffold on the verge of free agency.

16. Green Bay Packers: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

That’s three straight Alabama picks, if  you’re keeping score at home. This match has felt like it has been in the cards for months … so it probably won’t happen, if history has taught us anything. Still, the Packers have a clear need for a safety to partner with Morgan Burnett. That tandem alone would not fix Green Bay’s ills on D, but it would be a significant start.

17. Chicago Bears: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

This was a home-run pick in the earlier mock, with Mettenberger penciled in here as a Jay Cutler replacement. There could be other QB options on the board still, including a couple of those intriguing guys mentioned earlier (Bortles and Hundley, for starters). But with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings both potentially out as free agents, the Bears look for cornerback help instead.

18. Baltimore Ravens: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

Tuitt has taken heat for a somewhat disappointing 2013. His talent and ability to play in a number of different looks up front will win out in the end. Arthur Jones is headed toward a hefty free-agent contract while Chris Canty is due a roster bonus in March. Nabbing Tuitt would allow the Ravens to move on from one or the other without losing sleep.

19. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

My gut says that Ebron and possibly Jace Amaro are off the board by this point come May. In this Mock, the stars did not align until this pick. Arizona has to find an offensive tackle or two somewhere — Antonio Richardson, James Hurst and Jack Mewhort are all still on the board, to name a few. Ebron’s the best player available, and he would be a godsend for Carson Palmer or whoever is at QB next season.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Merely sliding up a cornerback here. Dennard was a Lion as of Mock 3.0, but with the Eagles’ pick in that first draft now up at No. 17, to Chicago, Philadelphia nabs the Spartan instead. He’s just what Philadelphia needs: an aggressive, physical cornerback capable of playing in man coverage.

21. Detroit Lions: Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State

The Mariota move really changed the gameplan here. As mentioned above, this spot initially was reserved for Dennard as a top-two corner. OLB Ryan Shazier could make some sense, but Detroit has a strong duo at linebacker in Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, plus spends a lot of time in nickel. So a swing for the fences with Joyner, an undersized (5-8) DB, who could be Detroit’s nickel starter or provide depth behind oft-injured Louis Delmas.

22. Miami Dolphins: Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State

The Dolphins traded for Bryant McKinnie. That happened in real life. Miami has to find some answers at its tackle positions, even if the top few prospects there are off the board. Erving’s a high-risk, high-reward pick here — a player who could develop into a long-term starter on Ryan Tannehill’s blindside.

23. Dallas Cowboys: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

For the Cowboys, who have not gotten what they hoped they would from Bruce Carter this season, this pick might feel like a steal. Shazier is undersized compared to the prototypical 4-3 OLB, but he gets to the football over and over again.

24. Cleveland Browns — via Indianapolis: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Swapped in a QB at the Browns’ top-10 pick, so the earlier choice of Tajh Boyd here is now null and void. Instead, the Browns address their need for another WR to work with Josh Gordon. Lee has not had a terrific last season at USC, but he remains a big-play threat.

25. Cincinnati Bengals: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

In paying Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, the Bengals all but assured that DE Michael Johnson would leave via free agency this summer. And in drafting Beasley, they would uncover a cheaper and possibly as-productive replacement.

26. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The 49ers have been searching for corner help since the offseason, which explains moves to add Nnamdi Asomugha (later waived) and Eric Wright. Verrett does not have top-end size at the position, but he’s demonstrated shutdown abilities throughout his career.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

A wholly underrated player who has produced all season despite being one of the few viable options on Penn State’s offense. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he can play a physical game and go up to get the football. He’s also proven himself adept at turning short passes into big gains, either via play call or by making defenders miss. That would work well with Alex Smith’s capabilities.

28. New England Patriots: Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Hageman plays smaller than his 300-pound frame would indicate, but it’s that size that would up his value for a New England team that lost Vince Wilfork and then traded for Isaac Sopoaga this season. The Patriots covet guys who can both anchor and press into the backfield from the DT spot, and Hageman has those traits.

29. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vandy

Not nearly enough attention has been paid yet to the second tier of receivers in this class — guys like Matthews, Jared Abbrederis, Tevin Reese or Jeremy Gallon who are destined to be productive pros. Matthews may not burn a lot of defenses deep, but he’s an ultra-reliable receiver at all areas of the field. He could complement Steve Smith now, then take over for him down the line.

30. New Orleans Saints: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

Considered really going for broke with someone like Oregon RB DeAnthony Thomas here — he’d be the eventual replacement for Darren Sproles, who has one year left on his contract and has battled injuries in 2013. But the line, particularly in relation to RT Zach Strief, needs a boost. Richardson, though a tad raw, does his best work as a pass-blocker — no small note, given Drew Brees’ presence in New Orleans.

31. Denver Broncos:  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer in the CB rotation, the Broncos could stand to get younger there. There is not much of a gap, if any, between the four CBs already taken and Gilbert. He’s a well-built corner who does not hesitate to fly up in run support.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

The rich get richer. Amaro’s in the midst of a huge year with the Red Raiders (98 catches for 1,240 yards), and he would absolutely devastate defenses up the seams in Seattle’s efficient offense. Zach Miller has done a serviceable job as Seattle’s tight end, but Amaro would represent a step up at that position.

59 comments
rmccafferty
rmccafferty

This entire mock draft it stupid.  There is a post on today's SI that the Cowboys won a coin toss with the Ravens for the #16 pick, with the loser of the flip apparently getting the #17 pick.  This mock has the cowboys at 23 and the ravens at 18.

rodmccrimmon
rodmccrimmon

No way possible Bears pass over a guy like Tuitt.  No chance.

robhinnenkamp
robhinnenkamp

Hurts your credibility when you put a guy in the top 10 coming off a torn ACL.  You get paid for this????

sportsGuy12
sportsGuy12

hey SI, for jacksonville= WRONG. I can see Oakland drafting Manziel with their pick

LeslieHoerwinkle
LeslieHoerwinkle

Not a great year for QBs. Lot of teams will be paying big bucks for projects.

MikeWatley
MikeWatley

Lions are on record saying that they are looking to draft bigger/faster DB. A 5'8 DB contradicts that. If the top two CB isn't there they'll draft the best Wr available.

JohnMatuszak
JohnMatuszak

Raiders need o-line help for McGloin but Johnny Kegger would be interesting

Dunedin51
Dunedin51

The way QB's have gone down this season, for most teams being able to protect them should be a priority either through the OL or being able to run the ball effectively to slow down the pass rushers

CjReidClayon
CjReidClayon

Joyner to the Lions............................idk what to say to that.....I mean....practically drafting a player to play back up, in the first round...

SamuelArchila
SamuelArchila

The Texans are losing Ben Tate to free agency. So bridgewater wont be working with him because the Texans cap space wont allow them to pay 2 RB's

Dustin3
Dustin3

The Cowboys need a DT or DE in the worse way. Yeah, Carter hasn't lived up to expectations to date, but still, OLB is less than a need than the D-line.

PaulS
PaulS

Add to the list of 5' 8" corners the Lions have drafted in the past 20 years.  Greaaaaat.

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

Why isn't there a gold standard for all mock drafts?  Someone at SI, Fox or ESPN needs to contact the best beat writer for each team and get their opinion on who they think that team will draft.  They must be real about where other guys will likely get drafted.  Communicate back and forth and release a realistic Mock.

Michael193
Michael193

Will Sutton from ASU will be a first rounder, if he makes it to 32 the hawks will snatch him up

amorosotom
amorosotom

Where the heck is Jordan Lynch? He's breaking all records. This QB is the diamond in the rough. Team that gets him will enjoy years of "Tom Brady" type gloating. 

AaronThigpen
AaronThigpen

Pretty sure the Packers drafting 16th is unbelievably too high. 

Iplaywithfire
Iplaywithfire

Wow, just the thought of being drafted by the Browns and the QB got injured.  I guess you have to do what you have to do not to be a Brown.

FLYanksFan
FLYanksFan

This is pretty stupid with 4 games to go.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

Hoping the Jets and Giants draft OL in this years draft.........

GaloofvonDorkmeister
GaloofvonDorkmeister

Apparently Burke doesn't know about the rules regarding the Draft Order.

He lists three NFC teams as 29, 30 and 32.

The Superbowl winner gets 32 and the loser gets 31.

The Conference game losers get 29 and 30.

So apparently Burke believes that Carolina or New Orleans will swap to the AFC before the end of the 2013 season.


tomcount047
tomcount047

Browns need to draft Marquis Lee, then trade Weeden and Colts first pick to Washington for Kirk

Cousins.  I'd rather have McCarrons' girlfriend than McCarron, Carr, or Metzenberger. 

jlaspence
jlaspence

re Mettenberger

He had one mediocre season and you have him going in the first round?  Ever seen him interviewed?  He makes the hillbillies from Deliverance seem like a colony of Rhodes scholars.  Add to that his history of off-field behaviour problems, relative lack of success at LSU (by their standards), and now a torn ACL.   The Browns are under new, smarter management (finally), the ditching of Richardson for a #1 pick being but one example.   The days when the Browns draft someone just because they're really, really tall and went to LSU are over.  Lombardi was with the Raiders when they drafted a really, really big LSU quarterback #1 named JaMarcus Russell.  That's how Lombardi ended up as a commentator on the NFL Network trading bon mots with Warren Sapp.  He doesn't want to go back to that (who would).    In what will probably be the deepest pool of quarterbacking talent in NFL draft history (even without Mariota), "Jethro" Mettenberger isn't going to be drafted in the 1st round by the Browns or anybody else for that matter.   It says here that he won't be drafted in any round.

jaxjaggywires
jaxjaggywires

Re-adjusted for Mariota...now you need to adjust for Mettenberger tearing his ACL.  Was too high at #7 in the first place, now WAY too high.

JubJub
JubJub

Didn't even get past the headline of this one.  Mock drafts this early are a complete waste of time.  

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

Buyer beware on Derek Carr. 2nd rounder at best IMO, I say mid 3rd.

RPbeer
RPbeer

I realize that you had to quickly reassemble this Mock Draft after Mariota's decision, but there is Zero chance that the Bucs take a WR in the first round. Please reference Mike Williams' new contract.

paulescalera075
paulescalera075

I would, it will keep the gravy train going!If the Texans win against Jacksonville washington will be dead last.because washington will most likely lose to the chiefs.and the rams pick at #11 as of now.if I was the rams I would trade down twice like they did to get brockers,pick up the best corner back and safety.and hopefully pick up and extra rd2 and next year rd 1.snead will do us proud again.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Rams will trade down. Bank on it.

paulescalera075
paulescalera075

Jacksonville doesn't have the 2nd pick for now washington(rams) do.

HeisManziel
HeisManziel

It would really hurt to see Manziel get drafted to Oakland. Basically a death sentence for a QB. Haha. As a huge fan of Manziel he needs to go to a team with a stable but aged QB that will be a good mentor for, at the most, two years. 

Roy1
Roy1

This probably coming from one those media types who said the Browns should trade Josh Gordon at the deadline for a 2nd round draft pick.  LOL.  Mettenberger at #7, pshaw!

Roy1
Roy1

Zach Mettenberger #7 overall.  Really?  Mettenberger was a solid LSU QB, the best since.... JaMarcus Russell.  Please Cleveland, don't pick Mettenberger.  Rather Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell than Mettenberger.  But I will take him over Weeden!

mjhellund
mjhellund

Clowney has Albert Haynesworth diseadse. None of those QBs will ever be any good. Aaron Murray will play as long as he wants in the NFL. He's bigger than Drew Brees and has as good an arm, easily. Manziel will be the second coming of Sanchez. Hero in his own mind.

Cool
Cool

Clowney going second in the draft?  Laughable, but somehow probably true.. the team that gets him will forever regret the decision.  

John4
John4

@JohnMatuszak Johnny Kegger?  So he's a typical college student?  Don't ALL college students enjoy a good kegger?  

John4
John4

@Michael193 I agree.  His play and production are NFL worthy.  He'll be gone by the end of the first round.  

John4
John4

@AaronThigpen In a normal year, yes.  In 2013, their record will give them a pick around 16.

gyffesme
gyffesme

@Iplaywithfire HA! Poor Mettenberger. I think it'll work out for him: he'll fall a round and get taken by someone able to let him heal and learn.. where he might not be sacked into unconciousness in the process (David Carr, meet Geno Smith..)

John4
John4

@FLYanksFan why is is pretty stupid?  You can easily see where most Non playoff teams will end, (within a game plus or minus).

gyffesme
gyffesme

@FLYanksFan heck, some run these starting before the season begins.. this is practically LATE.

John339
John339

At the risk of sounding foolish or looking like a genius two years from now. I think Derek Carr may be the next Aaron Rodgers. I say to the Browns: get him at all costs!

gyffesme
gyffesme

@JubJub And yet you felt the need to click the link and comment. Apparently, you love wasting time.

amorosotom
amorosotom

@DeeEmm1 Is David Carr his brother?  The Texans got burned on that number one draft. Just saying if genes are any indication. 

Keats1821
Keats1821

Agreed. I would think in this situation they would try to trade out to someone wanting a QB. Should they want to strengthen the offensive side of the ball they might want a TE before a WR. Trouble is, their offense minimizes the TE role.

GaryStewart
GaryStewart

@paulescalera075  for sure the rams will trade out. if no one trades with them and thats not likely to happen (too many teams want a qb) but assuming it goes with the number 1 2 or 3 pick they will probably take jake matthews of course if wash wins a few and the pick drops maybe they wind up with anthony barr either way having to picks in the top 12 or so is still a great position even if they dont trade out the trade out of the rg3 pick just keeps on giving.

amorosotom
amorosotom

@HeisManziel I remember John Elway was the first draft pick to publicly say he would not go to a specific team. Everyone thought he was an arrogant prima donna. Come to find out, he made the right decision. Archie Manning's career was  destroyed by being the Saints QB. No protection, no running game. Just pure hell for a legendary Ole Miss quarterback. 

jeffcooper71
jeffcooper71

@Cool Agreed. I just hope another team keeps the Falcons from making this mistake.